The formation headed by Hansi Kursch will step on Spain for the first time. Always on the second line of the german heavy battalion, Blind Guardian have in Japan their comercial haven. After ten years, the quartet seeks other markets with "Imaginations from the Other Side", their sixth album. Pedro Giner interviews them in exclusive:
- How did you manage to keep intact the formation of Blind Guardian during almost ten years?
"We had clear since the beggining that the important thing was to keep the same team and to avoid changes in order to assure stability and to progress. In 1985 we started as Lucifer's Heritage and in '87 we met Andre Olbrich and we changed to Blind Guardian. The most important is to put on the table the problems, the opinions and the arguments of the group members. Its stupid to use someone new to take care of a situation. Having everything clear makes it possible for us to keep going year after year. The only way that someone would leave is if he does not feel the need to play live anymore. When we started as Blind Guardian we already had large experience playing rock, but we knew we still had a lot to learn. But we didn't want to be like Iron Maiden or Helloween. Our way of playing had nothing to do with these groups."
- What kind of musical changes has the band suffered during these years?
"In 1990 we started listening to Queen and classical music to gather those influences and to use them. We decided to create a style of our own. The next step was to write some material. We started to use recorders. Each one of us would record something on his own, would take his stuff to the studio and we would work from that base. That is a step we usually give before rehearsing with the whole band. Andre and me, we listen to all the recordings. With this system we learned to arrange the songs. This method was also applied to this last record. This way we learned to see better what we can do, as much in recording as live."
- What novelties has "Imaginations from the Other Side" to offer?
"In songs like "Imaginations..." and "Bright Eyes" we notice an important evolution, specially in the drums. In this record its much more progressive. We added dinamism to the drums, its much more musical. It has classical components. It sounds quite different from the previous records. We used (doblage=doubling?) in the drums. There are also improvements in the solo guitar and in the lyrics. In this record, all is connected, each step with the one before."
- For what reason has the group changed producer?
"Flemming Rasmussen did 'Ride the Lightning' and 'Master of Puppets' with Metallica, and that's already considerable. He also dis 'Future World' with Pretty Maids, which is for me the best Metal album of all times. For these reasons it would have been difficult find anyone better. During the recordings we had an excelent relationship, he's a very calm guy. Regarding mixing, he has enriched us."
- To what is due Blind Guardian's success in Japan?
"We are one of the groups which still play in the tradition of metal. We are not following this or that trend. When someone buys one of our records, he knows what he'll find. That is the reason. In the USA thay are more into Thrash, and maybe that's what stops us from getting there. There they believe it's the evolution of the style. I don't think so. We are one of the few capable to keep playing real heavy metal with enough influences of the 90's to say that we play metal that is not old (shitty translation - sorry)."
- Do you agree that german metal is specially identifiable? With which groups from Germany do you mantain special relations?
"I don't agree 100% with your opinion, I don't know what is _german metal_. Kreator, Blind Guardian, Tankard, Rage... each plays in a different way, some more progressive, some more melodic. Its not easy to group them together. Gamma Ray and Rage, in Germany, are the bands with whom we keep a closer relationship. In the United States we like Iced Earth, they are our favourit band and we keep with them an excelent friendship."
- It is said that Heavy Metal is going through difficult times. Do you agree?
"It's not the best times, that's for sure, but, on the other hand, we are having more success than ever. We are working in another way. I think the problem is that many bands don't grow up, don't evolve, and that does not attract new audiences. If your last record is the same as the two before, the fans don't want to listen always to the same stuff. That causes a lot of problems. Maybe the reason that we are growing is that we try to give something new each record we put out."
- There are many german Hard Rock bands coming to Spain. Why did it take so long for Blind Guardian to visit us?
"Our first record to be distributed here was our first with Virgin. It worked allright, but we didn't come then because we were told there was not enough interest. The next sold a little better, but we were still told that it was too soon. 'Imaginations from the Other Side' showed up in Germany last Spring, and we did a presentation tour. During the fall, we did Japan, and now is time for Europe. After this, we'll be in studio recording our next work."
Interview by Pedro Giner in Spanish Metal Hammer, March 1996
Translated by Pedro Andrade