Interview date

05 Octobre 2010




Interview Sascha Gerstner (by phoners)

The cover is straight forward so is the music. Was it important to the band to do something that catch immediately the listeners attention?

Of course. After the "Unarmed" record, which was totally different from what we are used to do, we had a long break after tour. Then we did "Unarmed", which was not metal at all so we just wanted to get back to heavy metal and make a lot of noise on this album as well. It is just make a lot of heavy metal in an album.

Why did you want to have this heavier sound on this new album?

It just came out naturally because we have so much fun when we are playing the music. We had the long break, the last time we were on stage was in 2008, then we did our twenty-five anniversary album. So it came up naturally that we had heavy metal aggression in ourselves to made songs that way. It just felt we had to do that. With the break, we didn't have chances to play heavy metal for a long time. Every songwriter had his own heavy metal impact on this record.

What delights you the most on this new album?

What I prefer the most on this record is the mixture between old traditional Helloween we provided on the last couple of albums and the modern impact we had now on the record. That is the most important thing I like about the album, modern and old traditional heavy metal combined.

"7 Sinners", thirteen songs, the release date... you are playing with superstition, aren't you?

It's not like a concept to do this thirteen songs, or a concept album or something. Of course, seven is a tradition that we have. "7 Sinners" was just an idea of Michael to have seven stars logo on demo songs on his Ipod so at the end. That's how it came out and we were talking about seven sinners and it was naturally for the five musicians to have "7 Sinners", the pumpkin and the keyboards of seventies. Some lyrics have relation with that subject, but it's not like a concept album or something like that!

Is there a song you had more difficulties to play during the recording?

Basically, I would say for drums, it was a little bit difficult than before because we had just few tempos map and Dany was just drumming the songs the way he felt it. So we had go and sit on the drums with our guitars and play on the same feeling. It was a little bit difficult compare to the last album because we were so used to this computer technique with always the same tempo and then we have tempo changes on every song. I really like this, it gives fun and a real dynamic. We did the same things with tunings, we have different ones. Normally we always went with this key tone, or keynote A. It was really hard to get the instruments' tune and we also tried a lot of things different than before. And nowadays, everyone is a producer, everyone as the studio with a computer and people came to record an album in some ways. We have the luxury to record for three months in a well fit studio, so we just wanted to use that, do something different than before, not using too much computer technique and put things more dynamic into the record. You can feel that if you listen to the record, there is more energy than what we did before. We wanted to do something more dynamic and energetic.

"Not Yet Today" is the intro for "Far In The Future". This is something that happens a lot nowadays, to separate the intro and the song. Why did you do that?

Basically, the story is about a friend of Andi who has a girlfriend who was in a coma. He was there for three months and sitting there, he was acting like it was his fault, he didn't want to give her up. The doctor said he should give her up because if she awakes, she won't be fine anyways, she will be probably disabled. He didn't want to give her up, he was saying, "not yet today" and that's all the song is about. He always thought he can go through it. The end of the story is that she really woke up and everything was fine. That's the good part of the story. But Andi wanted to write a song about it because it really sucks if someone you love is not alive anymore. That's what the song is about.

There is also this song "Are You Metal". To you, what is it to be metal?

Basically, "Are You Metal" is more a typical humoristic Helloween song. What is metal? We thought that, even ourselves, we're not so open-minded. I'm not saying me as a person, but if you are a heavy metal band and a heavy metal fan, most of them are not so open-minded. And they don't accept anything else than metal. That's what the song is about, asking yourself "Am I metal? " is how metal can you be? It's not a world cheaping metal song like "our metal is the best", but asking yourself, are you metal. Is there anything else you want to listen to or you are not accepting anything else? That's what we actually did a lot in the past. I mean the band did different kind of albums, and sometimes we had breaking rules with our music styles and people are not so open-minded. So it's more like a humoristic looking into this metal subject. People justify all the time like "if you don't have long hair, you are not heavy metal!" it's all bullshit! "If you had tattoos and long hair, then, you are heavy metal!". I even remember that when I joined the band. I had short hair because I was playing a pop band so people told me that I was a shitty guitar player because I didn't have long hair. That's metal! (Laughs).

Is it also an answer to the fans you were a little bit too narrow-minded to understand "Unarmed"?

No, it's really a humoristic song. It's is just a wink to say "hey, how metal are you?". We just wanted to have this message. Last week, we did a video shoot for the song and we had as many clichés as possible, things that you don't expect from Helloween. We are making fun all the time, and people don't expecting us to do this kind of stuffs.

What will you do the October 31st to celebrate the release of this new album?

First of all, personally, I can't speak for the other guys, I'd really loved to go on tour. I'm over that part "oh, the album comes out, oh how is it going?". I mean, of course I'm gonna be excited, and I'm going to fear the response and I hope people will like it, but first of all I'm so dying to go on tour. We will come here January as well, in France, and we haven't been on tour since 2008 so... The tour will start at the end of 2010 and will follow in 2011 and I'm really looking forward to be on stage again. As I'm a musician, not being on stage for two years, that's really hard! (Laughs).

Have you already thought about the songs you will play?

Yeah, of course, because we just started rehearsal because, this time, we are so proud of this record and we want to play more songs of this record!

Which song are you looking forward to play on stage?

Surprise, surprise! (Laughs).

About "Unarmed", did you understand why this album met with a harsh reception?

I personally understand it because I know how heavy metal fans think sometimes. But, for us, as a band, it was really different. We tried to explain that was a twenty fifth anniversary album, we should do something different, something special for our twenty five years. It's an anniversary; it's not like another studio album! And sometimes, people were just to dump to get it... It's hard you know, because when you are an artist, you don't do things on purpose. People should go back home and think most of the time "oh they are artists and they do something on purpose because they want to make money", or something like that. But that's not the way you start as a band or as a musician. It's hard because you do something you like to do, and if people like it, it's good, then you got money from your work and you can move on and do another record. Because, doing a record also cost a lot of money, that's what people don't see. People think we are rich: "they are rich, they are all living in big houses, they don't have to work.". I mean, it's a lot of work going on tour, it's a lot of work doing a record. I worked for three months; I wasn't at home at all. I was just on an island in the studio, recording songs and composing you know. It's not being at home, it is work. And then you do something, like the "Unarmed" album, which was a lot of work because it was not a style of music we are use to play so it was really different and a real challenge for us. Of course it's a little bit hard to understand what people didn't appreciate. But on the other hand, I understand. If you are a total metalhead, you don't like Britney Spears either. But personally, I don't like the reactions of the fans, because it was so much efforts we put in this record. It's sad, we tried to explain that it was a special thing and that the next record is gonna be heavy metal again, but people don't get it. They keep asking if the new album is in the same way, if it is the music we wanna play now... I don't know... Maybe they will like this album in the future, you never know. But we had new fans with it too so...

Are you a little bit more confident about the reactions on "7 Sinners" because you are doing heavy metal again?

Of course. But that's what we already did before with "Gambling With The Devil". It was a real album of heavy metal. The line up right now is so strong, we've been touring together for a couple of years, we are doing albums together for a couple of years... We all are pretty confident about the band so that's why we are saying "if you don't like it, fuck off!". We do our art and there will be people who will like it. If you don't like it... And some people are never satisfied anyways in their own lives and always have to be bitchy about something. That's my definition of being an artist, you don't do things on purpose, you just do it and hopefully, some will like it and so you can move on.

When you write a song, do you cut yourself off from the world, or what happens in the world and your own life has an impact on your writing?

Everything has an influence on my writing, everything. We are travelling so much, so for me, when I came into the band, I was twenty five years old and I never sat in plane before. From that point on, everything has change, my life has change. Being on planes all the time, earning money with the thing I always wanted to do and was able to concentrate only on the music. This is what I wanted to do since I was thirteen years old. Everything had a big impact on me. So that also came out in the song writing, a lot. You keep thinking about new things, and different things, about life in general, important things and not so important things and you try to express yourself in a song. On this record, I got this song, "You Stupid Mankind". That's a thing I was thinking a lot of and I always wanted to write a song about how stupid mankind is, including me. We are thinking we are just living on this planet, but we are not a part of it. That's stupid! And we are thinking we are alone, we are the best that the universe can provide... That's dump! Everything is possible, that's what I think and that's what the song is about. It could be someone else, another kind of being that is much more intelligent that we are, a way more violent that we are and that's what came out... This is all the impact of travelling, keeping my mind open, talking to people...

How can you summarize your career with Helloween?

(Hesitant). What a question! (Laughs). Actually, I don't think about career. Really, I'm a lucky person, I'm totally happy because I'm able to do what I always wanted to do. I don't think about career, I don't think about where to go, I just want to do what I want to do. I just enjoy the freedom I have. That's all I wanted, so I'm happy and I don't think "oh, I want to be you, rich and I want to have Ferrari !". I'm not that kind of person.

You are also a photographer. What does photography bring to you that music doesn't?

It's a different way to express myself. To me, it was important to know that I could do something else in art. Sadly, I didn't come to this idea earlier, but I did it for some reason. I really want to be an artist, that's the main thing I'm thinking about, I'm not thinking about being the best guitarist in the world. Some people do, they want to show off their skills, that's not important to me. I want to write songs, I want to make some art, whatever it is and that's what I will try to do in the future. The music is a part of it, it was one of my expressions, it was a kind of a therapy I needed when I was young. It could have been something else, but it was the music, but I just want to work in different kind of arts I like and I'm interested in.

In 2006, you have opened your own studio. How is it going?

The studio just broke down because I didn't have time anymore! I recently moved to Berlin and the studio was in the south. Naturally I gave it up because I wasn't interested in working with other artists anymore. I just wanted to do my own music, the music I do with Helloween and I'm not interested anymore in producing, recording... So I have my little place at home where I record some ideas for demos. I'm not that interested in working with bands anymore as a recording engineer or a producer. I don't want to do this, I just get bored! (Laughs).

It's not enough artistic for you...

No, it isn't! (Laughs). And you have to deal with people who are on a total different stage on their lives... I don't know, it wasn't amusing at all. It was fun to make a studio, to have it, but I was doing it with friends, we had a lot of fun... But it just turned out that I'm not interested in doing it anymore.

Do you have a last word for the fans of Helloween?

Yeah. Dear fans, friends and fans (laughs), please listen to the new record, and if you may like it, then buy it, because if you buy it, we can buy food then we won't be starving anymore! (Laughs). Seriously I hope to see all of them on tour. That is the main thing that attracts me, being on stage, seeing a lot of fans who like the album and begging for the new songs.

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