Helloween (Germany)

Metal-Roos: The new album “My God Given Right” sounds like the band as it was in the 80’s. Was this done intentionally to go back to the roots or is it just the way the band writes the material?
It’s just a natural process. We didn’t sit together this time and said we have to write in this direction or that. After a long tour all the guys just head home for a while to have some time off. Then we start to write individually from home in our own environment in our little corners. We don’t tell each other how to write, it just comes out that way very naturally. A very cool thing about it all was, when we were listening to everyone’s songs and ideas and there were some killer tracks there. There was no concept behind it, it just came straight from the heart.

Metal-Roos: Who thought of the new album’s title? Was this an idea you all agreed on?
We just heard the song after a couple of months composing, sending files and songs back and forth to let each know what we were doing. We all listened to that track and all of us almost immediately agreed that the song should be the title of the album. We liked the message, it’s not a concept thing but we all like that we have been give our God-given right to do what we want with all of your heart as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Also we thought it would be cool to call the album this too as it’s a pretty strong statement.

Metal-Roos: As you said before, you wrote the album and sent files to each other from home, have you always done this or have you just started doing this?
We learnt from a couple of other productions that this is the best way for us. Being on long tours as we are, we have a break for 2 or 3 weeks and come back together again. Hanging out in some other place is nice but after being on tour buses and planes flying everywhere we found it was easier for all of us to stay home and write. We can do it in our own time without being told to be somewhere at a certain time, it’s more relaxed and we need that space to have time away from each other. We all get back into the studio together and then back on tour together. This is the way we have done it on the last few records and seems to be the best way for us.

Metal-Roos: The Pumpkin character the band has created is just a recognisable to metal heads as Eddie from Iron Maiden. Has he grown up and matured with the band?
Yes, he has developed with each record. We have put him in different designs, with different colours and style. Just like Dr. Stein and the Keeper he will always be a part of the Helloween family.

Metal-Roos: Can the Pumpkin get away with things the band can’t. Has he taken the blame for things on occasions? It was the Pumpkin’s fault or that kinda thing?
Well he inspires us as well as others who listens to our music. He reminds us that things are ok, everything will be alright because we have the Pumpkin. It is just the way we are – the Pumpkin transports an ease of things that we are doing. Of course we always have problems in recording or doing things but that happens to all of us. It’s just attitude and at the moment we all are very positive.

Metal-Roos: The band is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Did you expect to still be around and making great albums?
I really hoped so, but I didn’t know how long we all really would be around when we first started out on this journey. Now we have been around for 30 years and I don’t know how it will end. I guess when people stop buying our albums and we stop getting people who want to see us will be the time to quit. At the moment we have shows booked and full venues so we’re not stopping… for a while at least! Hopefully we have another 10-15 years left.

Metal-Roos: With a lot of member changes over the years, did you ever think that once someone left it could be the end of the band?
No, the good thing about Helloween is that we are always able to sit down and talk. Sometimes we have to make some sad decisions especially if something isn’t working the way you want it to work – if we need to make the choice to find someone else to make Helloween the band we want it to be. We also don’t want people to come into the band and shut up and just play, we want them to be Helloween with their heart and soul and be a part of the writing and recording processes. We want them to take the freedom to write songs themselves and feel that they can contribute fully to the band. The line up we have now is cool though because we have been together for over a decade which makes things really easy as we know what to expect from each other in the studio. The longer we play together the stronger the unit is and we are really happy right now.

Metal-Roos: In 2007/08 Helloween played a few gigs with Gamma Ray, Kai Hanson’s band after he left Helloween. I understand he joined you onstage to play some older Helloween songs, did you like playing with him again? Were there any issues that arose from playing again?
It felt very comfortable playing with him. We have toured together for a while, hanging around on stage, doing sound checks or just waiting for the shows. It felt very natural and we didn’t have any problems at all. We’ll see what the future holds for us. If we do more tours together or hook up doing a festival or something. We liked it and the people liked it so I will be happy to do it again sometime.

Metal-Roos: What was happening in the band when “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” came out? It seems like a very strange album for Helloween. Were things OK for you at that time?
Before the whole Pink Bubbles thing we had this court case thing we had to fight against Noise Records, the label we were on at that time. There were money problems. We couldn’t record under the name Helloween anymore. We had Kai leaving the band and Roland coming in but he couldn’t start straight away because all of these problems. It was a really weird time for the band. There were fights in the band and we were always rehearsing the new tracks but weren’t allowed into the studio because the court case wasn’t finished. So we kind of over-rehearsed those songs and you can hear that on the record. You have to be in a good place when you record and at that time it wasn’t such a good time for us.

Metal-Roos: Helloween has done everything a band can do during the years you’ve been around. Is there a defining moment you’re really proud of?
The recording of the live DVD we did in Sao Paulo was a great moment. When people saw all the cameras and realised we were going to make a live recording they all went crazy. That was just perfect for the moment, the crowd was going nuts, we were playing really well and we were all in a good place personally. They made us feel really welcome to do this. I think this DVD really captures what we were at the time. For me it is one of the moments I was really happy to be a part of.

Metal-Roos: Do you think the band will head to Australia during this touring cycle?
Yeah, we were talking about coming to Australia coming via Japan. We are doing some festivals in Japan and the distance isn’t that far anymore so we might play some shows before heading back to Germany rather than going back home then heading to Australia. That’s what we are planning around August/September, playing 5 or 6 shows. In Australia it is hot and sweaty so you get very thirsty and have to drink lots of beer. We like beer.

Helloween tour

Interview Date: 2015-04-20

Interviewer: Adrian ‘Dren’ Barham