Sweden Rock 11.6.2004

Helloween's press conference was kept the day after their show in Sweden Rock, which didn't give as much as it could've, but the guys enjoyed their time on stage. After Sweden the guys headed to Finland for two shows and then to Spain and other European countries. Helloween brought their well-known humour along with them to the press conference and brightened the dark and serious atmosphere in the tent.

Sascha Gerstner (guitar) - This was the first show after three and a half month holiday, so it's very exciting to go onstage in front of all these people and you're actually sweating all over the place, 'cos after three months you really don't know if it's gonna work or not.

Michael "Weiki" Weikath (guitar) - Did anyone know that PowerBooks are very liable computers ?

Markus Grosskopf (bass) - That's Weiki's question to you guys.

Helloween fans have been pleased with their album "Rabbit Don't Come Easy", which has brought some of that old Helloween back, but Weiki thinks "You're never satisfied. You can always do more, but with that record we didn't know how to make it more humongous. But on the next record Stefan will play. Look, it's a MacIntosh microphone, they're very good...".

Sascha Gerstner was mentioned as the man who comes up with a lot of new ideas and Weiki joked "I always come up with a lot of old ideas". Markus thought that Sascha "came up with a lot of good ideas so it was very easy to sit down and listen and just pick up the pieces you liked most. And I hope it's gonna get better for the next album".

The band joked about computers a lot, Weiki at least, and he wished "there were MacIntosh cigarrettes, I think they would be very good". And again Sascha's name came up as Weiki mentioned "he's not doing heavy metal with us. He's doing the MacIntosh-metal thing now...". Markus - "He's got that little PowerBook 887-megahertz, we bought him one. We thought since Weiki and I've got the 17 inches we thought the new guitarist can't have the 17 inches, he has to have a small one". Weiki mentioned that "Stefan (Schwarzmann, drums) doesn't have a PowerBook yet, so somebody needs to pay him one. So maybe you can make a collection or something to help him get one as well. Can I borrow your hat for that ? Maybe a competition would be nice..".

Stefan hasn't been in the band for long and played b-sides for Helloween's "Rabbit" album, so it was natural to ask his opinion about playing with Helloween "I enjoy drumming, I'm a drummer" (stretches with dark tone to his voice the word drummer, sounding like a vampire). "I enjoyed playing with Helloween very much last night, that's for sure". And again Weiki joked "It doesn't really matter what band you play for if you're a drummer".

Now that the summer festivals are over, Helloween starts working for the next record. Sascha prefers it this way, because "It's always good for me to be at home, it's shit for the boys, but I don't care, hah". He's now "collecting songs. The last solo albums were songs we didn't take for the Helloween albums. So I make solo albums. I would like to write complitely opposite material on purpose from Helloween". "It's always better to do the records and turn rich, because I also live there", Weiki added and then the usual silence from the press took over. Weiki couldn't resist joking about it with "Silence of the lambs...and Helloween band left the conference with no questions worth being asked".


Helloween took a different turn in their career when they released the more easy-going "Chameleon"-album, which showed a completely different side from the band. Sascha explained the reason why the band doesn't play the album live anymore - "We found out there were so many songs on the other albums and a lot of people punished us (for that). After the two hour shows they still came up with where was this and that song, blah blah. But you always have to bear in mind that there's eleven albums and it's not so easy to find something that's appropriate for the crowd. So this time we thought we'd go back to even "Walls Of Jericho" and "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" and stuff. There was this internet majority asking for "Keeper". So all this time we thought we'd rather do that than play too much songs from the new album. It's always a hard decision".

There were rumours going around about songs being re-recorded, to which Sascha thought "some of them we could look into, but then again it's always a matter of time. We started the tour September last year and we went all over Europe twice, USA, South America, Asia. When we came back we were nearly dead. But it's not only "Windmill", there were plans to even do songs like "Dr.Stein" and stuff, but it's always a matter of time and money. In the end of the day it sounds stupid, but when the boys come to dinner and you pay the flights, hotels, in the end of the day you end up with 20,000 bucks for 2-3 songs, which is not worth it. So if we want to do it or if we gotta do it, it would be a culmination of a proper album, when everybody's there anyway, with no extra costs".

Weiki - Wouldn't anybody want "Heavy Metal Hamsters" to be re-recorded ? (everyone yells a big no). It was supposed to be a b-side by the way. When it was put on the album I was strongly against it.

Sascha - "Dr. Stein" was a b-side as well.

Markus - I think Weiki should go on writing only b-sides.

Weiki - Which I do all the time. But it's always with the worst crap I write people want them to be a single. And the serious stuff I write they put as b-sides. But Sascha, how was it with the "Rabbit" ?

Sascha - I remember a lot of people showing up saying why don't you do something different. Then we decided to do a record like "The Dark Ride". We have many people mainly in USA who really appreciate very much what we did. But the old fans were totally disappointed. So in the end of the day you ask yourself should you actually change what you're doing, since all these years everyone was more or less satisfied, if we don't talk about "Chameleon"-album or stuff like that. When I joined the band we came back with "Master Of The Rings" and "Time Of The Oath"-albums and everybody was saying that's the way and appreciated it and we were happy with it. But suddenly, what I learned personally is the people who don't like something write it down in the internet, but the people who are satisfied they don't say anything, they just say cool. And you don't realize it, nobody tells you. In the end of the day you just read could you do something different. So you do and later on you're punished for that. It was very important to show that we're not actually unhappy with Helloween, but it was just saying yes to the demands of the people. So you do "The Dark Ride" album.

As vocalist Andi Deris has a past with Pink Cream 69, Helloween will always be connected to their name. The band actually "met Pink Cream 69 guys in the Rockfabrik in Germany few months ago. And it happens to be (that) my old manager who was the manager for Pink Cream being our new management now. So it was time to shake hands and say forget the past and look into the future. So yes, we're ready to go through their dressing room and eat their bananas" (Sascha).


Helloween changed their record label from Sanctuary to Steamhammer/SPV. So weren't they satisfied with Sanctuary management ?

Weiki - No, after a while things start to go apart and there's no hard feelings or so, but England and Germany are also very far away. And now we have so many new communication systems that why not take a different management. But this was a good opportunity to part without any bad feelings either from the band or the management. It wasn't possible before and maybe it wouldn't have been possible in the future either. So maybe it was good to do it now. But there's no hard feelings, there's good people working there, people we know who did not work with us in the beginning. People change, there's always different people in Sanctuary and always different people in Helloween...So you know, you can part. Logical, isn't it.

Another rumour going around is that Weiki sent an SMS to Roland Grapow saying he's out of the band, also Uli Kusch no longer played with them on the "Rabbit"-album. Weiki commented the whole thing with sarcasm "It is a lie. It was an e-mail".

Sascha - I have to say after weeks of discussion, weeks of tears and weeks of blah blah I wasn't surprised Markus and Weiki decided they should leave the band. Because all through the South America tour, the Dark Ride tour, it was discussions, discussions. And everybody was sick of it.

Weiki - Also in that e-mail it was explained. And they tend to say they still don't know why they got sacked, which is another lie. Also it wasn't possible to do it any other way. When we came home, Roland flew off to Los Angeles the same very morning. So he arrived in Hamburg and he stood there for half an hour and went back to LA. Then he said he had to pick up the news from his wife, he had his PowerBook with him, so he could've retrieved his e-mail. That's not my fault. It was a long e-mail with a lot of explanations. Would a piece of paper in an envelope or a telephone call be better ? No. Or would a talk be better? Yes, but it was not possible, we had no time from the full scale tour and we had to do something about it. Mainly, because also payments went on for six months after that. So the ex-members still got payments after six months.

Uli and Roland both play in Masterplan now, so what does Helloween think about their material ?

Weiki - I was not so surprised, because most of the tracks aren't all that new, Uli brought them before, but they weren't taken for "The Dark Ride"-album. There was a professional producer team, who also worked on the outcome of the songs. So later on the songs on the Masterplan-album are quite different still from what I knew, but to me it really didn't come as a surprise of what collection of tracks is on the record.

Sascha - And honestly I would not have expected something shitty, they're great musicians so there has to be a good comeout.

Interview: Satu Reunanen,
Pictures: Kari Helenius,

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