to Pedro Andrade
from Blind Guardian/Hansi
May 3, 1996
thanks for your Fax and a much bigger thanks for helping us in promoting Blind
Guardian worldwide via Internet. We were aware about your work since Mark Althoff
started his page for us. We are still suprised about the enthusiastic way you do
your page. It looks pretty cool. If there are any other things you need, feel
free to contact us directly. Best way will be by Fax I guess.
Now we should better start with the interview, because as you know "Time waits for noone".
Kindly greetings from Germany
Andre, Hansi, Magnus and Thomen
I was very suprised, that "Somewhere ..." seems to be the most impressive album for a lot of our loyal fans. For us it's still a good album, but I believe everyone in the band prefers "Imaginations ...". The reason is quite simple. We know how much love and work we put in to it, which was a lot more than into "Somewhere ...". I am, as everyone in the band, very proud about all of our albums, but from the standpoint of enthusiasm "Tales from ..." and "Imaginations ..." gave us the most and from the technical view it's "Somewhere ..." and "Imaginations ..." which are the most impressive. For us "Somewhere ..." has always been the album between. Which means it was the period of development and creating a new style. I agree 100% with our fan Saxon, who said a change is not for better or worse, it's just progression. That's exactly what we feel and how we see the future of "Blind Guardian". We can't tell you the definitive direction we will walk with the next regular album("The Forgotten Tales" is just an outstanding thing), but I'm pretty sure who's into "Tales...", "Somewhere ..." and "Imaginations ..." will not have bigger problems to enjoy our next one. I'm sorry to say, we can't stay where we are, I'm pretty sure after a while everyone would be tired to listen to us, then, and we probably would be the first. (Hey Arne, don't be afraid "Mr. Sandman" means nothing, although we still love the fun aspect of this number).
My top 5 of the best songs would be in the moment:
1. Mordred's Song(both versions)
2. The Script for my Requiem
3. Ashes to Ashes
4. A Past and Future Secret
5. Lord of the Rings("The Forgotten Tales" version)
God damned! Talking about touring in other countries is not the easiest job. I failed so many times in telling where we will be in the future and where not, that I'm really anxious about telling you a bunch of shit, again. After talking to our american management, who is in charge for all our tour activities, since "Imaginations ...", I'm pretty optimistic that the touring for "Imaginations ..." is not finished, yet. Germany we will not tour in 1996(that's 99% sure). It seems that we play one bigger festival on July 6 in Dietzenbach(Bohse Onkels, Motorhead, Pro Pain ...) and that's it!
Spain. The spanish fans can be very happy! After giving us 5 great shows in march, we decided
to go back there in June:
June 20 - Madrid
June 21 - Aviles
June 22 - Orense
June 23 - Ejea de los Caballeros
This, as every touring, depends on highly motivated tour promoters. You seldom can find as good people, as these guys from spain!
Greece. To me the most exciting show of the last year(1995) was the one in Athens. There's a 95% chance, that we will play one festival in Greece. I guess(I'm not sure!) it will be in Piraaus. Date: somewhere between July 12 and 15
Sweden. I don't have any idea, why we didn't play there, so far. We are aware of the fans we have. The album sales are pretty good(not tremendous, but good). The only problem is, we can't find a promoter, who is willing to do 2, or 3 shows. Our management is checking on that since 1994. But he´s very optimistic to find a good possibility to come to Sweden in October/November. So watch out!
Italy. As Kai said, we played four shows in the last year, which is already a lot. Even though we would like to go back to this beautiful country within the year, I don't think that we will play there before our next regular album is out.
Austria/Suisse. The Metal scene is really strange. We have some really loyal fans in these countries, which make it nice to go there for one, two shows before, or after touring Germany, but it seems to be very difficult for our style of music to get more attention, there. Which means, there's not a big interest by our record company.
Portugal. It seems that this is really a "Blind Guardian" Die Hard fans country. The people are into our stuff, a lot. On the other hand we are almost unknown. The problem is that the domestic record company doesn't believe in Heavy Metal by any reason. They probably don't know how to promote it. I don't think, that there is a bigger chance to see us in the nearer future. Sorry.
France. The french record company has started working for us very optimistic. So, after having a lot of good supporters in France for a while, I'm very optimistic that you can watch our show in the nearer future
Netherlands/Belge. Only god knows.
Great Britain. I heard about a british guy, who really likes us.
Scandinavia. If we will tour Sweden, everything is possible.
USA/Canada. Even with a northern american management - the hardest markets in the world. The underground knows us, the underground loves us, but no label wants to sign us. End of the story, for the moment.
Eastern Europe(incl. Russia, Poland, Slowakia, Latvia, Hungary, etc.). I really believe that we will see the biggest change in our touring activities, there. It's getting easier for us to go there and have some fun with the people. A 90% chance, that you can see us in some of these countries before the year is over.
South America. Another big territory where we haven't played, yet. It's only a question of time when we will play, there. Lots of people are into the group and even the record companies started to recognize us.
South-East-Asia. There's a 90% possibility, that we will be there, again. It is still our most successful market, which makes a lot of things easier.
"The Forgotten Tales"
As I said before, we can talk about an outstanding album. The reason for the release is quite simple: It will take time until we will be able to release an album better than "Imaginations from the other side"! So we decided to release an interesting thing between, which would make the long time we've to wait a little easier for us and for you. Even though some people will not like our coverversions(by any reason), I believe, the high quality of our older songs and the way we recorded them this time, should make this album enjoyable for almost everyone. If you like our aggressive stuff most, well probably then it's not your album. Sorry. I'm sure there will be enough aggression on our next one to satisfy you, again! Whatever people say, or will say, it's not a commercial one, although I think that the sales will be very successful. It's not done for any special group of people, except maybe ourselves. We absolutely love to play strange cover versions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy the album, or the parts on there, you like! This album is full of hidden jewells. I'm sure you will find them.
1. Your new "Imaginations from the Other Side" has brought a new style of playing into the band, there is no doubt about it. Some fans like it better, other don't. How would you explain this style change?
The biggest change we have done so far, was between "Follow the Blind" and "Tales from the Twilight World". We don't think that there are such big differences between "Somewhere..." and "Imaginations ...". From our point of view we only did a little more of everything and everything a little better than on the previous one. The only change I really feel is progression! The change between the older one "Follow" and "Tales" was more drastic. I would call the first one a melody thrash album and the second one an epic metal album. Basicly I hope, that is what we are still doing, with smaller changings.
2. This album has also brought a new producer. How did he influence the style of this new work?
Flemming did a tremendous job. We were looking for a kind of Co-producer, who would give us the opportunity to be part of the production process, because we had a bunch of good ideas to realize, which would have been impossible with Kalle Trapp. If you have a chance to listen to the pre-recordings, you will find out, that there hasn't been a big change, comparing it to the final recordings. That was exactly what we needed. Flemming is very open minded, so it was a pleasure to work with him. He pushed us hard. By that he formed better musician out of us. Comparing the sound with our older ones, Flemming featured the drums much more, which makes the album`s sound more aggressive, than everything we had done before.
3. How has been the fans reaction to your concerts? I heard your concerts in Germany were all sold out!!!!
Most people do like our stage acting and the more traditional, raw sounding of our songs. You can't compare our studio work, with what we do live. We try to keep both things seperate. We are not perfect on stage. That's for sure. Most people do enjoy our shows, because they are the most important part in it, because they have to play backing vocalists, almost the whole way through and sometimes even more(Listen to the "Bard's Song" on "The Forgotten Tales"). If the crowd is good, we are good, if not - well, than we both have a problem. Fortunately,this happens rather seldom! The first German tour we did with "Nevermore" in may, was almost sold out at most of the places we played. The second one in December was visited pretty good. But the venues we played were too big to get them sold out by ourselves. We enjoyed the first much more. It's better to play smaller venues almost sold out, than to play bigger venues, with a half covered capacity. So far, I guess that 95% of all people who have seen us playing live(it doesn't matter where) enjoyed it. Whereever we played we got good positions for being one of the best live bands in 1995. There's no doubt, all these people can't be wrong.
4. I've received some comments from fans around the world saying they were expecting some Blind Guardian originals in the singles that came out. Why did you decide to include only covers and demo versions of older songs?
I'm sorry to say, that there wasn't anything left. We decided to go for "Bright Eyes" as the 2nd single, but the record company begged us to go for "Mr. Sandman"(I'm not kidding - it's really the truth). They really believed in the song - and so did we. We thought it would be interesting for the fans to listen to the demo versions. "The Script for my Requiem" contains some aussum parts which we decided not to have on the album, later, which was a mistake. I do like that version more, than the one on the album.
5. This one has made me curious for some time now... Why do bands or music labels like so much to distribute different, and normally better, versions of the albums in Japan? I suppose you sell very good there, but wouldn't you sell as good with the normal version? Or wouldn't you sell as good in Europe with the Japan version?
The reason for that is a problem the japanese companies have with Import sales. By an earlier release in Europe, or the States, our japanese reocrd company has to face with the fact that our most loyal fans(and you are right, there are more than a few in Japan) will buy the import album, which is also a little cheaper than the domestic one. That leads the record company in a little financial desaster, because they are losing some money. For us, on the other side, we lose numbers for the japanese album charts, because they don't count imports. Caused by that you lose an important high position(in our case, that means: instead of being No. 1, you are only on 2, or even weaker). By that the request from the record stores is a little less. So after a while it looks, like you've lost popularity, because a lot of magazine(especially Teenie, and normal rock magazines) don't recognize you, and than you lose big numbers, there. As I said, the albums are a little more expensive, there. We also try to be fair to the japanese fans, who have to pay more, so we think it's fair, if they get a little more.
6.In Portugal, and in the USA, your albums are not distributed. They must be imported directly. This way it's almost impossible to find any album in music stores. This way, your music never gets on radio's playlists, and is never known by most of the Portuguese (or others). Are you happy with Virgin's distribution?
In some countries the Virgin distibution really sucks. You can imagine, how angry we are about that. But in the moment we can't change anything. Our record company in Germany isn't happy about that, either, but their hands are tied, too. I don't like to say more about that - execpt that it is a shame. Some buisiness people say, that we are the best hidden secret Virgin has. Unfortunately some secrets, you like to keep a secret.
7. This leads me to another topic of great displeasure for the Portuguese fans (we are much more than you may think). Why don't you come to make a concert in Portugal? You came to Spain, for FIVE concerts!! Nevertheless, most fans don't have the possibility (and some are not enough addicted ;)) to go to Spain to see a concert, but would no doubt go to a concert in Lisbon. What can you say to the Portuguese fans about it? (And it's not only the Portuguese that are complaining: US, Canada, Argentina, Honduras, Latvia, Russia, Sweden are some of the places from where I got comments of people asking for you to go there.)
Who wouldn't like to come to Lisbon! What can we do? Praying, probably. As I mentioned before. Some people in some countries will have the chance to see us within the year, some don't. Another shame.
8. What can you tell me about the Forgotten Tales? What was the ideia behind making such an album, so different from what we're used?
"The Forgotten Tales" had been fun and stress from the beginning of the decision to do it, until now. We enjoyed the recordings, although everything went complety exhausting in the end, because we changed the Deadline, a couple of times and by that we led everyone who has to deal with in a much more stressful situation.We needed an album for "Mr. Sandman". The opportunity would have been a "Best of", and we were not into that from the beginning. So we looked for something extraordinary. That's still the best dicription for the whole thing.
9. We are already waiting for your next album. Some fans are affraid that it'll sound as soft as Mr. Sandman or have lots of covers like Forgotten Tales. What do you have in mind for this new work?
Don't be afraid. I don't think that there will be any coverversion on the next album. There will be changings, but none which will be trendy. I can't say that there won't be any commercial aspects on it. But believe it, or not, that's what we had on each album. You always try to keep the old fans and win some new. I still believe, that each of our albums, but especially "Imaginations ..." had a much higher sales potential, than the numbers we reached(which weren't bad). Don't think that we are only looking from the buisiness point of view, but a progression in sales is the only real chance to survive for a longer time. Noone in the band, as far as I know, has got a "Porsche", or a "Mecedes" at home.
10. It's obvious you like very much reading fantasy authors, like JRR Tolkien, Michael Murcock and Stephen King. Why did you choose to make lyrics about this fantastic worlds, and how deeply does fantasy influence your music? (and by the way can you advice us other nice fantasy authors/books)
Over all the years Fantasy literature has been a very important part of our music. When Andr_ and I started the band years ago, we both felt the same about music. We decided that entertaining the people, and ourselves is more important, than to face with reality, again, and try to use the music as a medium to show on which political side we are, which personal problems we have and so on. We don't think, that it is bad to talk about these things and have it in the lyrics sometimes, but it's more our task to give some good vibes(which mustn't be happy) and lead you into the world of dreams and illusions. It doesn't matter if we play easy things, or technical things. It must fit and have a certain attitude. In the beginning we used stories(like "The Lord of the Rings") to fulfile what we have created musically in a straight way. Nowadays we try to combine it in a little different way. I try to be part of the story and be able to change things. That's how you should see our music and mainly the lyrics. Try to be part of it and change it into your direction. Some lyrics became more personal since "Somewhere ...", but most of them are still open. Some other great authors I read in the last time are Stephan Grundy, who did a tremendous job with "Rhinegold", or Gary Jennings, who's a historical writer. Noah Gordon`s "Physician" blown me away, like Ken Follet with his historical stories. If you prefer the Arthurian epic check out Marion Zimmer Bradley, T.H. White, Mary Stewart, or Gillian Bradshaw. On the fantasy side I'm really waiting for a good new one. I'm into Stephen King, Alan Dean Foster and lot of others, but still, there's noone compareable to Tolkien.
11. We know you are good friends of Kai Hansen and Gamma Ray. How do you get along with other German bands? What are your favourite Bands?
We get along with most bands, neither good nor bad. A good relation we have with "Rage" and with Chris Boltentahl of "Grave Digger". "Iced Earth" and "Skyclad" are the nicest band we toured with. Especially with the first one we have a loyal frienship. Kai and all the guys of the "Gamma Ray" clan are pretty cool guys. Whenever we meet each other we have fun, together.
12. I get lots of people asking for where they can find videos, where they can get merchandising and albums, bootlegs, song tabs, and even people (like us) searching for your demos as Lucifer Heritage. Are you planning on releasing a video of a concert, or with clips? How about a guitar tab book?
Check out with the fanclub. Kai Karczewski will help you, even though you are no member. There's not a lot stuff, which we send out. You probably can get the Videoclips, some older demos(bad sounding) and that's it. We are waiting for the right moment to do a perfect live video. Live video might be the wrong word, because if we do, we want to do something really special. A guitar tab book depends on a few things, which are difficult to describe here. We are working on that, but it will take a while.
13. What would you say to the starting bands out there who see you as an example to follow? How to start, what to do?
Don't believe in anyone(not even yourself)! Don't expect too much! There's almost noone who can help you! Learn to bite! Learn to eat shit! Learn to bleed! Try to manage yourself as long as you can! I don't think that you have to play a bunch of shows in the beginning, but take as much time as you need for each song - that's the more important part! Don't be afraid to spend the little money you have for a good production, but before that be sure that the songs are really good. Don't sign a record contract with 99% of all existing record companies. If you have an offer, try to contact us, and we will tell you how much it is worth!