-First of all, how are you doing during these pandemic times?

I’m actually doing very good because, you know, we’ve been always on tour with HELLOWEEN throughout all these years. I mean, I was at home for a while taking care of my family and friends and stuff like this. But there was nothing you could do, we weren’t even allowed to go out after 21 (laughs), or drinking alcohol on the streets or in the bar. That was the hard part of it (laughs). But I survived. Then I’m kind of very privileged, I know a couple of friends who lost jobs and everything. They had many problems and they lost business. For some people it was much more cruel.

-Okay, very good. And before talking about this album, I have to say that I like it a lot, for me it’s the best Metal album of the year…

Thank you.

-When did you start to think about writing a new album with this line-up?

When we started doing the tour, which we did to check out how we were functioning together again. It was like an easy way to check out how things are going. How things are rolling you know. And after a while… You know, the energy from the audience was overwhelming. It was just so great. And the understanding in the band was great again. You never know after all those years, and it was well-prepared, but that doesn’t ensure it’s going to work. And after a while we found out that we had come along very, very well, and started thinking, “wow, there’s a great feeling within the band, we could easily go into the studio and record a new album”. It was actually doing the tour.

-About the songwriting I have seen that most of it is done by Andi and Weikath, what is the reason? Why you and Kai only have one song? “Indestructible” and…

I don’t know. I don’t know. We had lots of ideas. We have six songwriters you know (laughs). We just followed what it would be the cool picture of what we were trying to do. It’s just like, you want to create something and you have to get a picture in your head, right? And then you try to do the best. This was the best we could do at this time for the record.

– For me the album is a mix of the best HELLOWEEN eras, there are songs that could perfectly be on any Andi albums and other songs that could perfectly be on the Michael Kiske era. What is your opinion about this? And what do you think about the people that wait for an album as big as “Keeper Of The Seven Keys”?

The idea was just… The variety of the songs that you can hear stuff from different material comes from having lots of songwriters in the band, and we allowed ourselves very, very different things. Whatever we liked we squeezed it into the HELLOWEEN costume. If you come up with the melody, it’s easy for us to make a HELLOWEEN song out of it. If we just like the melody or if we just like the riff or if we just like an arrangement… It’s a kind of routine where whatever comes up, whatever idea comes up, we’ll make it be HELLOWEEN when we play it, you know. We are not limiting ourselves with saying “this is too Pop” or “this is too much far away from Metal” or something like this. If we play it, it becomes HELLOWEEN. The idea was to do some cool tracks and be open-minded, just not being scared to try out. It’s just what we like to do. And then this variety is overall coming from very, very different backgrounds: I’m coming from the Punk going into the Metal, and then there’s Sascha coming more from the progressive kind of background, Andi who’s from 80’s Hard Rock, then you have Weikath doing stuff all of the time and Kai Hansen doing his unique stuff… It’s like very different, but then we needed to squeeze it into a HELLOWEEN costume which turned out to be very, very good I think.

– When did you start the recording? Did you want to start the record earlier or was it delayed because of the pandemic?

Well, we started very early. We started writing after the last tour. Normally the release date would be a whole year earlier. We would be actually on tour right now somewhere on the globe, but the pandemic held all this back. So we thought it might not be a good idea to release it too early and we kind of delayed the release for like a whole year. And now it’s time to get out, there’s been enough time to wait for the tour (laughs).

– This album was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind, who has worked with you over the last 20 years, and this time with Dennis Ward too. Why did you go for a co production between Charlie and Dennis this time?

It’s a very good collaboration. We know Charlie and he knows what HELLOWEEN needs and he knows what HELLOWEEN wants. And having a fresh pair of ears in the team… I mean, he’s a really good musician, he can say a couple of words on the arrangements, because working with our own material is not always easy to be objective about it. So having four ears listening to it, saying what the song really needs. If you try to create on your part, or if you try to create new melodies or something, it’s always cool to have somebody with fresh ears not being in the band, not being a composer or anything giving advices, someone who is not into the writing, saying “alright, this is what the song really needs”. This is good to have around, that’s why we hired Dennis. He’s very, very good at this, and I was just always recording bass with him, which was fun, he’s a hell of a bass player, and we were throwing ideas at each other and trying things out. This is great fun and a great creativity with people like this.

– You were supposed to be on tour last year 2020 but with pandemic it was postponed, do you think that you will return to the road next year? Are you optimistic about this?

I hope so, at least in Europe. We pray that next year April, when we start touring, the whole dangerous situation is more controlled, or even gone, or at least controllable and you can travel and you can visit shows and stuff like this. It’s about time to get more freedom. It’s about time to go out there. It’s about time to go back to normal. That’s what we pray for.

– OK, and in case that you will go back to touring, have you thought how to decide the set-list? I guess it might be a difficult task. Can’t wait to listen these new songs live.

(laughs) Well, yeah, we don’t really have the final plan yet, but at least we play two or three songs from the new album. We can’t play more because we have so many songs to do! And even so many long songs! We have a very long song right now here. With this package we’re going to play this one, definitely, but how many long songs can you play in an hour? Maybe four or something? (laughs). We have so many more stuff to do. We got to check out, sit down and have a real big discussion about it. You can’t really satisfy everybody, and it’s even harder to satisfy the band members concerning the set-list (laughs). But somehow we’re going to get it together sitting down and talking.

– About this reunion a lot of fans miss Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow, but would some kind of collaboration be possible in the future?

I don’t know. This was meant to be like the “Keepers” stuff you know, where they weren’t involved actually. This was meant for like the “Keepers” people are coming back. And as they weren’t involved in that era of HELLOWEEN that’s enough to have two people back here. Whatever happens in the future, I don’t know. I cannot really tell you. I just know that we’re in a very good stage of understanding and the band is great. We definitely want to do touring, we want to do more records and another tour and whatever happens in the future, I don’t know. Maybe.

-Yes… That’s all, it’s been an honour for me. I’ve listened to the album everyday.

Alright! (laughs).

 -And hope to see you in Barcelona next year. If you want to add something, feel free to do it.

Yeah! It’s definitely time to go out and play. It’s time for some HELLOWEEN circus. And I hope and I pray for everybody everywhere that they didn’t suffer too much from the pandemic to going back to normal in a good way and stay healthy. Yeah, we need to get back to normal soon. Hopefully this will happen soon.

-Okay, and thank you so much. I hope all goes well. See you next year I hope.

Thank you! Bye Bye!

Philip Graves


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