From Peter Pan to King Arthur, interview by Mark Gromen.

I don't mind if people compare us to Queen - if unless they were a heavy metal band, of course, says Hansi Kursch, bassist and vocalist of one of the most well-kept "secrets" of Germany: the melodic heavy metal band Blind Guardian. Besides Kursch, the band is completed by Andre Olbrich (G), Marcus Siepen (G) and Thomas Stauch (D).

Melodic heavy metal fans, near the progressive edge, will be delighted with the sticky melodies and rich instrumental passages of the group's most recent work, Imaginations From The Other Side. "It's just heavy metal", emphasizes Kursch, "but is not something dated. We constantly use the word 'classic' to explain our sound. It's a blend of the fastest speed metal with elements and melodies of classic heavy. It might not be the best definition, but even we have difficulty when trying to label what we do", he admits.

Some most famous bands, like Helloween of the Keepers days or its "spawn", Gamma Ray, helps a lot to define Guardian's style. For some time, Kai Hansen - who, as Hansi, is a guitarist and vocalist - has some kind of deal with Blind Guardian, consisting on both bands helping each other on the recording sessions. "Kai is with us since Follow The Blind. He helped us a lot. Now it's our turn to help him through Gamma Ray. I've done some vocals and the harmony of Farewell. Unfortunately, myself and Kai couldn't manage our agendas to play something together on Imaginations From The Other Side. If it wasn't for this detail, certainly he would take part with us".

On this record, Kursch changed the focus of his lyrics, leaving a bit the mysticism - but not fantasy, since there are citations to King Arthur and even Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland. He smiles: "I love dreams, legends and childish dreams, and Peter Pan is one of the most famous. I'd like to be like him or even meet someone like him: never become an adult, trying to be a child always when possible. I also like epic stories, even those violent ones have a very cool content. But I still prefer those that look like dreams or have something good to transmit".

Hansi is fascinated by the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table because "you can't define how much of that is real and how much is legend. There's a wide variety of characters. Most of them are composed of mad men, lonely people and excluded guys in general, and that's what catches me".

Another big change in comparision to the last album, Tales From The Twiligh World, is on the sound, which is much more aggressive - not that this means that melody was sacrificed. "He weren't very pleased with Tales", admits the bassist, "then we decided to look for another producer, Flemming Rasmussen, who ended to be the main factor for the heaviness and aggressivity of the songs". Flemming's participation was intermediated by Ronnie Atkins, of the Danish group Pretty Maids, who also took part doing backing vocals. Kursch explains the choice: "Flemming worked with Pretty Maids many times, I was a big fan of Pretty Maids, specially of its vocals. It's not my favourite band, but when we recorded our first demo, on '85, still under the name of Lucifer's Heritage, for sure it was one of my faves". Atkins took part on the title track, on The Script For My Requiem and the covers of Black Sabbath's The Wizard (note: that's from Uriah Heep) and Deep Purple's Hallelujah.

By the way, covers are something usual on the band's career, from Queen and Beach Boys to Satan. He explains the selecting process saying that "the most important on the song is everybody on the band like it. There must be something common with us. Sometimes it's not clear on the first moment. A good example is Barbara Ann, at first it seems to have nothing in common with us, but it transmits a spontaneity that is our face. This track is also great to play Beach Boys however you want. We also have been searching for a Deep Purple song to record, but we wanted one that wasn't recorded by another group. We weren't interested on a music that already had thousands of covers. And we like the gospel spirit of Hallelujah, it is different from everything that Deep Purple has already done. It goes back to the hippie days, it has an atmosphere of [the opera rock] Jesus Christ Superstar. Then we thought it would be cool to update it".

Imaginations From The Other Side is also a very up-to-date record, it brings lyrics dealing with day by day, although Hansi's narrative style being very fictional. "The title track talks about a person who has lost his dreams. He becomes a prisoner of his own reality and, when he realizes it, he fights to get them back. That's what happen when most of the people get mature". And Born In A Mourning Hall deals with the tele-evangelists, while Another Holy War tells the story "of a guy that is elevated by the people, against his will, to the condition of new Messiah. In the beginning, he denies to be this new Messiah, but as hard as he tries, the more he gets involved on this story. At the end, he is used as an excuse for a holy war".

Glauco Oliveira (