Pumpkin Smahsers ... Andi Deris Speaks out about the new Album.
German pioneers of melodic Speed/ Power Metal 'Helloween' return with one of their must exciting albums in over 2 decades with this stunning new album 'Helloween' which is their new album rleeased recently through Nuclear Blast.
This band have been making some fine music ever since their debut EP which was also self titled originall released back in 85, a 5 song epic release that was followed by 'Walls of Jericho' in 85 and featured their cult classic song 'Ride the Sky', I mean who doesn't love that song?
The band have recorded 15 previous albums, toured the world numerous times and played some of the biggest festivals and concerts in their career. UI managed to have a Skype chat with Andi Deris recently, it was great to catch up and chat after so many years. Here is what Andi had to say about his previous band Pink Cream 69, as well as the reunion of the 'Pumpkins United' tour and of course the new album. So sit back read on and blast out their new album.
Hi Andi, how are you today? Thank you for the interview I hope you are well, I'm good thanks. Well I'd like to start the interview by congratulating you on a fine new album. It's been some time since we last did an interview for the website so I will start by asking you some warm up question. First of all I'd like to ask you out fo the albums you recorded with your previous band 'Pink Cream 69' which is your favourite album and why?
"Hi Jason, hope you are well, yes I do remember you and I know it's been some time since we last met. Thank you for the congratulations, the album is doing extremely well. To answer your question, I had some great times with Pink Cream 69, we recorded some great albums together and if I had to pick one album which is my favourite it would be the debut because it was our debut so it meant a lot to me and the band."
Moving on, how do you feel about been in Helloween? Do you still have to pinch yourself and ask yourself 'Am I really in this band'? I mean you have been with them since 93, you must feel ecstatic.
"Well I didn't even know Michael Weikath and I met him in Hamburg and when he introduced himself he didn't say 'Hi I'm Michael from Helloween, I just received a gold record for Keeper of the 7 Keys', he just introduced himself by saying 'Hi I'm Michael and I love your music with Pink Cream 69', I didn't know how to take that. We sat around for 2 hrs eating pizza and he is such a cool dude that is how I got to be friends with him and the band and then I joined them.
I think it has to do with the journey of been in a band for such a long time with the boys has been a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, with changes within the band and and it was a bit sad when we had to say goodbye to Roland and Uli because of the way they betrayed the trust within the band so they had to leave the band. You cannot go on with people who betray you I think and it becomes a solo career that you can fuck up. My dream was to have friends around me and to share the same stuff whilst we are playing together, recording together and so on...
I still kind of feel like I am 16 to make music and be a band with cool people and musicians, and then we can celebrate music together. I just wanted to conquer the world with my band and we are doing this and I love it!! When Kai is doing his melody I stand at the side of the stage with Michael Kiske drink a glass of wine and it just feels fantastic!! I think you have to be super grateful for what you have achieved in your life, and every night we have tears in our eyes because we are so happy. I wish that every musician could have this just once in their life times."
What is your favourite past album with Helloween you have recorded?
To answer your question I would have to say my favourite album is 'Master of the Rings' because like Pink Cream 69, it was my debut with the band and I was always compared to Michael Kiske who is one of the greatest singers around and in this style of music you have the Gods at the top and then I come in and replace a singer like Kiske and it was only possible by not trying to copy him.
I just sing the way I feel and thank God there wasn't too much punishment and I feel that with the fans the band needed to keep on top with Heavy Metal music, and not trying to go in the direction of Pop Metal music like the 'Pink Bubbles go Ape' or 'Chameleon' albums.
The tour for 'Masters of the Rings' tour was awesome, we had a great promotion tour for that album and our manager at that time told us not to let slip that we were #1 in Japan with pre-sales, so the expectations were super high with the sales for that album. So that album is my key introduction to the band. (Ed: I saw you on that tour in Bradford - UK, what a great show). Yes that was a great tour packed full of energy and sweaty too haha we played a lot of shows in the UK for that tour if I remember correctly, good times indeed."
Moving on how did the whole idea come about to have the 'Pumpkins United' tour come to be? What did you think about having Kai and Michael been back in the band? Did you think it was a great idea or did you have any doubts?
(Laughing) "Well at the beginning of the tour it was like having stay dogs we all knew we had to take care of our positions within the band and I didn't feel out of place with the 2 other singers, I feel that our management made a good choice sorting out this tour. They said at the very beginning that it was a great idea and not letting it turn out into a nightmare and we should take it super slow and to get to know each as a team and that is what we did.
I invited Michael Kiske to my house here in Tenerife and I told him I knew Hamburg as I had lived there for some years, why don't you come to my place and we can try some songs in my studio, in the end that didn't happen we just sat around and drank wine and some beers (laughing).
It was a easy thing for us all to be on stage, we did some pre-production with all our crew involved, we hired a place in Hamburg for 2 weeks and we had to build the whole stage production so we could get use to the whole full package. We have had the same crew for the last 15 yrs so that really does help as everybody knows what to do. I think if you have a long pre-production than things work out fine.
So in the end we spent a lot of time together getting to know one another so things would turn out smoothly and we went everywhere together just to get to know each other. The lead of the pack is Markus that's for sure."
So after the successful tour you then realized that you need to all go into the studio and make an album together, that must of been so exciting. Was it hard in the writing process with the lyrics having 3 singers all doing their parts of the album?
"Well we all decided to make an album half way through the tour as it just felt right to make an album together, would be exciting and fun to do. Everybody on the tour was happy and things were going great and so we there was always a rumor that we would do this album and there's a famous you tube footage of Kai accidentally spilling the beans that we would be recording an album together, it was all hush hush until he opened it mouth and it was out of the bag sort of speak (laughing). Live you can get away with been on stage with somebody that you may not like, but in the studio it's a totally different thing. Thank God we all get along great, that has really helped a lot.
In the studio you have to see each something like 3 hours a go for 3 months and and if I didn't like them I would more than likely kick their teeth in so you really have to think carefully if you want to do an album together. On the tour we had so many laughs it just felt great we knew this would be a great album to record and a special times too. It was not hard writing songs together a we all had our own parts in the writing."
Ok Andi so why did you decide to call the new album 'Helloween' what with the the debut EP also called the same name that was originally released back in 85. Did you have any other titles for the album?
"Well we had a few names in mind, the 1st title was were going to call it was called 'Fear for the Fallen' and then we had 'Skyfall', but that sounded too much like a James Bond movie. Markus came forward with the title to be simply called Helloween just because it seemed to be a new chapter within the band, and we are here to stay as far as we are all concerned. It just seemed right to call it a self titled album."
I noticed that the album cover has the rings in it like the most of the previous albums I guess the album covers will continue to have these rings in the future releases?
"Yes well everything in in that new album cover, we tried to make this album to have a bit of everything a bit like a roller coaster with different moods and changes, we wanted to make 30 years of Helloween which reminds you of albums like 'Walls of Jericho', 'Master of the Rings', 'Keeper of the Seven Keys' and I think we have achieved just that."
Looking at the cover it kind of minds me of a comic kind of cover in some way, tell me more about the cover please.
"Yes you could call it like that in someway, it's a strange cover to some people but it captures the whole essence of the bands music."
So who wrote the lyrics for this album was it Michael, Kai and yourself? Was hard to write the songs together?
"When it came to writing, we all checked our lyrics and we had friends in the UK and America who would have to go through the lyrics again because our English grammar isn't always right, so they checked it for us to make sure the wording was correct. We are good at writing songs and lyrics but we don't speak native English and so that was always the problem we kind of Germanize things and certain English guy would know what we mean but if you know what I mean it isn't good enough for the lyrics. I cherish the English language and I think the English language should be the 1st universal way of singing. We write our own lyrics and if we need to we put some together."
So moving on.. what's your favourite songs from the new album?
"That's a tough question, it depends on my mood, right now I like 'Best Time' because it is a sunny day right now, and when the lights go out I would go for 'Skyfall' or 'Fear of the Fallen'. Sometimes it's songs like 'Mass Pollution'."
This album was produced and mixed by Charlie Bauerfeind known for his work with such bands like Saxon, and Dennis Ward your old bassist in Pink Cream 69. That is one hell of a strong and powerful production team isn't it? How did this come about having these guys together making a superb album? There's certainly lots of strength in this album and the production really does show this. Please tell me more.
"Well as you mentioned earlier Dennis was my old bass player and Dennis is a great producer, he knows who to get a great sound as you will know by his productions with other bands, and he certainly kicked my ass on this record (laughing). It was our German management and our old Pink Cream 69 management idea, we went from Sanctuary management to Iron Maiden management and back to our old Pink Cream management.
Dennis was involved with Pink Cream management and my old drummer Kosta since 2005 my tour manager.
We just felt it was right to have both Dennis and Charlie involed as there 2 great producers and sound engineers that did a fanatic job for the record.
So it was super important for us to start out recording in Hamburg we had to hook up 2 analog machines to the old analog studio which is called 'Home' studios which was a sacred hall were the 1st Helloween drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg had recorded the 'Keeper of the seven Keys' albums and other albums before he committed suicide sadly.
The idea was to have the 'Pumpkins United' with Ingo so when we produced the drum banner on our live stage you would see Ingo on the big screen battling against our drummer Daniel I thought it was a fantastic idea at that time, we just wanted to keep Ingo spirit alive.
And so we found the guy who bought Ingo Sonor kit and asked if we could use it in the studio to record the new album in the original studio with the original mixing boards that the band used back in the day which to this day sounds super nice. So it was good to record it firstly with analog and use digital recordings later on in the production."
How long did it take to record this album?
The album took a while because to we took a lot of breaks, and we wanted to finish it in February of 2020 and then the pandemic hit the world and so we decided to take our time and Michael Weikath was on my island and he wasn't sure if he could get back to Germany. So I made a joke why don't you stay here in Tenerife for a year which wasn't the worst thing to do (laughing) so Mike Dennis and Charlie was staying in my house and I have a studio downstairs which wasn't a big problem.
So we had a lockdown here and there was a lockdown in Germany and the rest of the world and we finished the album in May."
Are you happy with the end results? Like I said it has a fantastic and powerful production.
"Yes I am happy with the end results, even though it was a bit of a riot when it came to the mix down, which was 2 digital again and we also used analog as well which was a little muddy in sound until we mixed it together with the right digital equipment. One of the guys involved with the mastering was in New York and he had worked with Rammstein and we could not fly out there to assist him but lucky we both had the same equipment to send flies to each other which were both remote share file sending, so after 2 days it was done and sounded amazing."
Moving on how many videos have or will you be doing for this new album?
"We 1st did one for 'Skyfall' and then we did one for 'Fear for the Fallen', and recently we did one for 'Best Time' ."
How excited are you to be touring again next year with this massive tour with Hammerfall as your support act. I noticed you are only doing 2 shows in the UK why is that?
"Yes we are only doing London and Manchester for the UK shows and I am hoping there will be more than just 2 shows, maybe another 3. It will be good to have Hammerfall on tour, they were in my studio for 3 months doing their album and I became friends with Oscar and we became book nerds after reading 'Game of Thrones' which became a TV series and it was fantastic but the ending is complete bullshit!!
So yes it is going to be a great tour playing on the same stage together. It will be a great tour and me as a fan I can't wait to see shows never mind playing them, so I am very excited for this, I need it and I miss it!!"
Well Andi thank you for taking your time out and doing this interview it's been so long. Do you have anything to say to the people reading this? Please be safe and I'll speak soon.
"Yes I do, it was nice to speak to you after all this time and it's great to see that you are still doing 'Friday 13th' after so many years. To our fans in the UK, we love you and the UK has always been special for us and thank you to the fans for their dying support. We hope you like the new album it has been a roller coaster for the band, it's great to have Michael and Kai back in the band. Be safe all and see you on tour!!".
Thank you to Markus @ Nuclear Blast and Andi from Helloween. Interview conducted on 25.6.21