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Interview with Markus Grosskoph (Helloween)

Interview with Markus Grosskoph (Helloween)
BANDS : Helloween


Half of an interview is better that no interview at all. Hoping that you agree and you accept our apologies for the missing half, we invite you to pay attention to what Markus Grosskopf, bass player and founding member of Helloween, has to say. He was kind enough to answer some of our questions, not all of them, unfortunately, but he helped us to bring to light some of the most important moments in the band's history. You can see this as the the first episode of a series that we plan to complete with an interview we hope to do with Andi Deris, before Helloween's concert in Bucharest scheduled for January. For this is the way we see it.

Metalfan: First, I would like to say it is a special moment for me, Helloween is one of my favorite bands and it is great to do an interview with you guys. I mean, with you.

Markus: All right.

Metalfan: It's the first time has the chance to talk to you, so I have some questions about Helloween's early years and some questions for Andi Deris, as his appearance in the line up marked a rebirth for the band. But since he's not here, I'm going to ask you.

Markus: Mmm, alright

Metalfan: The beginnings of the band are back in the early eighties, you recorded the first albums ("Helloween" and "Walls of Jericho", which are now cult-albums) in 1985.

Markus: M-hm.

Metalfan: What was the metal scene like back then and what were you hoping to achieve at that time?

Markus: Well, the metal scene was a lot smaller, you know. There were a couple of labels, SPV, and people like this, Manfred Schultz and Karl Walterberg [I hope I got the names right] they were trying to actually build a scene, starting up with punk bands, and starting up with Grave Digger and Kreator. SPV actually started that punk scene coming from Berlin, you know? I have actually started my musician career in a punk band, so I knew all those bands. So the scene was just a lot smaller, there weren't so many labels; there weren't so many bands. And then, yea, then I switched over to metal, it was just like a bigger challenge for me as a musician so to say…hahaha…and I liked the band of course, you know. We were aiming to create something new, to go out and play, we wanted to do more than just little clubs, so we created all this… this… hardcore, well it wasn't hardcore, it was like speed heavy metal with a lot of melody.

Metalfan: 1987 came along and Helloween released the "Keepers", that I think are two of the most influential albums in the history of heavy metal. I guess you were aware, as you were making them, they are going to be something big, but did you imagine you were writing history?

Markus: Mmm. I don't know, we just wrote all those songs and then there was Kai Hansen writing Halloween, that fourteen minutes song and Weiki was doing his Keeper song and giving the whole thing a name. We didn't know by that time that it was going to be such a big historical thing. We were of course trying to be one of those bands going out there and play, carry on and doing albums. We wanted to create something that wasn't there before and, I don't know, it was like such a right time, we had the guts to do so and we all had the same kind of thing in mind to go out and prove to everybody… you know, being young and wild haha. And the scene was different from that promotional point of view. Nowadays there's the whole Internet thing and the whole on-line thing and more promotional activities to be done, you got the CDs and the DVDs and all that stuff. When we started off with Helloween there were some magazines two or three or four or five and that actually was it. There were just like a couple of rock magazines. And doing promotion meant you were going out, doing some interviews with some magazines and that was it, you know? But today it's the whole Internet thing and there are a lot more magazines, there are the DVDs, you need to do bonus-tracks and extra-scenes and this and that, the whole media thing it's so much bigger. It's just so much more work to do than just to wing an album, to give some interviews and then to go out and play.

Metalfan: Why do you think "Keeper 2" is the band's best selling album?

Markus: Because you can see it in the figures, hahahaha.

Metalfan: I remember I once read in a magazine that the album went gold or platinum but they took back the award, I can't find any information about this now, did this really happen, or was it a joke?

Markus: Oh, I don't know, they didn't take it back. I mean we had that entire struggle with that record company [Noise Records] going to court and having such a big case. It was a strange time we weren't allowed to do anything so we have been put on ice, because nobody knew what was going on, nobody knew the truth about the whole thing, they couldn't figure out what was wrong and what was right, so they've put us on ice until the case was going to be closed and and everything was going to be ok. And this was just a part of all this struggle and I don't know how they figured out something that wasn't right, I can't really tell you, you know. It was just a big struggle, it went to court several times and the whole case was eating up so much time, it was like… more that two and a half almost three years…

Metalfan: How do you feel today about "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" and "Chameleon"? Do you think they were a mistake of some sort?

Markus: Oh, I wouldn't say mistakes. We got twelve or thirteen albums out now and to have them in the back catalogue now is something interesting. At least you cannot say that Helloween is always repeating you know, hahaha. So it's kind of interesting to have those albums in the back catalogue now, if you look back they are not all sounding the same. They are not musically and artistically the best albums we did or the hardest albums we ever did. But it's interesting, they created controversy, you know, something to talk about, why not? Hahaha…

Metalfan: I have seen only recently a live video of you playing "Mankind" (great song, by the way), with Ingo Schwichtenberg and Michael Kiske, and I couldn't help noticing there was no communication between the band members, you weren't even looking at each other, it was so strange and disturbing. You must a have had great chemistry in the band when you did the "Keepers", it shows on the live album even, so how did things go so wrong so fast?

Markus: We were under such a pressure… When you do music and go out on tours being so close to each other there will be hard times and struggles and fights about a cover, about music about the whole way you want to go… Now about Michael Kiske, if you knew what Michael Kiske is doing and saying about heavy metal now, then you would probably understand what kind of struggle we've had with him. Do you know what he is telling everybody about heavy metal and the heavy metal scene?

Metalfan: No, not really.

Markus: …because if he doesn't like the music he shouldn't have done it. You have to know about him to have the slightest idea about what kind of fights we've had with him. He is not really in the metal scene anymore, he is telling people that he is not going to do this anymore because he doesn't like it and actually it has never been his kind of [musical] style, you know. So we had struggles with him because we wanted to go on with heavy metal music and he would have liked to change the whole thing. It wad good for him, probably because he was feeling better doing something different, but then… you have to go separate ways if you want to do separate things. So this is how it was with Michael Kiske, and everybody said, "Oh, how could you hire such a singer?" and so on, but… If you want to do something different then you should do something different, but then you should do it alone if the others don't agree and accept the consequences.

[This is the place where we would have liked to put the answers of Andi Deris, but since he wasn't there… we're just going to jump to The Dark Ride album, and pray for better luck next time.]

Metalfan: How did you end up with this very dark and heavy sound and concept for The Dark Ride? The previous record was quite happy, appealing even, starting with the cover and ending with a "midnight sun" [title of the closing track on Better than Raw, their previous album].

Markus: We had this producer, Roy Z., he was actually a pretty nice guy but he had been probably told by the management what to do and how to do things and it wasn't always what we wanted to do. And that was a tough production; they wanted to move the band again in a totally different direction and that was something we did not entirely agreed. I like the album but it's like an album from another band, you know?

Metalfan: What is it about this whole rabbit story, I thought you guys were more like the hamster type, or, at least you were back in the "Pink Bubbles" days? [Heavy Metal Hamsters is the name of a track on the Pink Bubbles go Ape album] Are you planning on opening a pet shop?

Markus: Hahaha, yea, we're going to create a Zoo, you know? Hahaha… No it was like after all that pretty dark stuff we did with The Dark Ride, we just wanted to do something more typical Helloween, with a lot of humor in it, which you would probably be used to listening to Helloween. So we wanted to show that this dark period was actually over, so if you have an artwork like this in your hands you definitely know that this isn't going to be another Dark Ride. This is what we actually wanted to make clear. Haha…

Metalfan: Were you satisfied with the response you got for your last album (Rabbit don't Come Easy)? I am sure some of the fans have missed Roland's and Uli's input, how much do you think their departure affected the success of this record?

Markus: Yea it ok, I like the album a lot, we had a great time recording it and then we had a pretty successful tour. There might be a couple of people missing Roland and Uli but then they have to chance to buy the Masterplan album and everybody will be satisfied. I mean I was satisfied with them having success with Masterplan, this way they won't go anymore on our nerves. If they would have stayed with their solo projects they would have talked a lot more bullshit about Helloween, but this way they have to concentrate on their own careers, and that is good, you know? Hahaha…

Metalfan: Moving on to the new album, Keeper of the seven Keys - The Legacy, why did you feel it was really necessary to a make such a clear reference to your most successful album, some people would see this as a bad sign, even as lack of creativity?

Markus: Well if you listen to the album you will soon realize that there is no lack of creativity, because we even extended the story. For a long time we weren't able to create something like this because of the guitar players. For some horrible reason they weren't able to do such a thing together. There were just to guitars playing left and right and they just couldn't come together so close to do such a thing. But this time we were so close that we could actually work together in a different way and this is what gave us the idea to do such a thing, extending the story. It's not only adding one song going for fourteen minutes, we have done two songs that go with that concept and there are some more tracks on the album going with the same kind of thing.

[Sadly, this was the last of our very interesting questions that Markus agreed to answer, so you won't get the usual thank yous and best of wishes and not even the words to the fans or the tips for all you young musicians dreaming to become famous rock stars. As for the twelve questions that remained unanswered, well, there is always a next time.]

Thanx to Cattani, Balaurul, Sake

Autor: Klawz
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Helloween

   September 09, 2005  | 0 Comments  | 8298 Views « BACK

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