Helloween – Across The Ocean


German power metal band Helloween are returning for Australia for their second tour here as well as celebrating the release of their fifteenth studio album My God-Given Right. It is a big year for the band celebrating thirty years of Helloween with plenty of things for the fans to look forward to. Markus Grosskopf tal;ks to Across The Ocean about all the latest goings on for Helloween.


Helloween are celebrating the release of their fifteenth studio album My God-Given Right which also coincides with the ban’s thirtieth anniversary. Does it feel like quite a journey for you?

Thanks you! It has been a long journey, after thirty years of rock ‘n roll I could write a book. The thirtieth anniversary is in autumn and there will a lot of extra stuff going on, there’s lots of really cool stuff out there for the collectors.

Do find that after so many years when you look back that you get nostalgic?

Yeah, there are lots of pictures from my childhood, my friends, friends of the band and it is a bit of nostalgic journey back. I like it, it’s great to see and fun to watch.

Would you ever document the history of Helloween in a book?

No, I’m not a real writer or could have ghost writers I guess! I don’t know, I haven’t had that idea yet.

Do you think line up changes over the years has helped to keep the band’s sound fresh?

Well, we didn’t do it because we wanted to refresh the sound just to fire a guy and get another one in. That would be too cruel you know! There have been lots of problems and we’ve had to make these decisions but it was always like if we needed a new guitar player they needed to be involved in song writing and play a big part in Helloween. It’s not just getting a guy in to play a guitar and shut up the fuck! It’s like now we have Sascha who is a killer guy, killer song writer and he’s a killer guitar player and that’s what we want in Helloween. Everyone should be free to bring their ideas in to Helloween’s music.

Compared to 1985 right up to now, how do you think the band has changed evolved?

I don’t know, it is very hard to say of course the music has changed. No band could do another Walls Of Jericho album. Each album we write sounds different and with those different people we get in the band has a different kind of sound but we still try and push it in a Helloween direction which makes it easier if you have a stable line up because you know what to expect from someone who has been in the band for ten years more than the new guy. That makes it easier to hang out and to write and for the Helloween working and touring flow it is very good. We have changed of course, living and doing that business for more than thirty years you have a lot of shit in your head. Can we write it down and make some songs out of it? If we believe it we’ll feel better…

Fifteen albums is quite prolific is it getting harder to keep pushing the creativity and delivering something different?

The challenge is if you have some ideas that you’re working on you have to show some care that you’re not repeating yourself too much from what you did twenty years ago. It is hard keep all that in memory and you do have listen back and say ah yes I did that fifteen years ago. At the end of the day it is like Helloween style that you get to create somehow without repeating yourself to much. That’s a challenge actually! We have four song writers in the band you never run in to that part where you repeat yourself too much because there is a big variety of material on one record and that’s what I like a lot.

My God-Given Right has been described as “back to roots’, was that a deliberate decision to head that way with the album?

I don’t know if it was deliberate to go in that direction but I think we’re much too close to say so. We’ve been living with those babies on that CD for more than a year producing, recording, writing and arranging it. If you’re so close to that you cannot be really objective about it. I think it is interesting what people say who are listening to it for the very first time. Those are the most interesting reactions and some say it is similar to Masters Of The Rings or some say that there’s a couple of songs that sound like The Time Of The Oath or some say it is like Rabbit Don’t Come Easy. You know, that is very interesting and at least it fits in to the Helloween catalogue a lot.

Is it hard narrowing it down to the final thirteen songs?

There was a lot more stuff on our demo tapes, there were a lot of ideas that we really didn’t use so we didn’t record them. If you record thirty songs you’ll never get out of the studio and at the end of the day you need to find the right tracks so we reduced it down to sixteen. Then you get the record together and those extra three you’ll find on the digital releases. It’s really bonus tracks for Japan and all that. The band never really records more than what we need.

Do you find it frustrating when your album gets leaked online ahead of the official release?

It is the one aspect of the new modern way of living life like being able to send files back and forth without travelling and communication is great but on the other hand you just have to deal with it. I’m not the one to judge you know, who am I to judge? I get that albums cost money and that there are financial pressures that are around before you can release a record like we did but you have to decide if you’re going to download it for nothing or doing it the honourable way but I’m not the one to judge it. We just have to live it and go with it. It wouldn’t make my life easier if I was getting mad or worrying about it. So I decided to do what I do and get the best out of it. It hasn’t stopped people coming out to the shows! How about they download a live show!

How cool is the art work for My God-Given Right?

Yeah! It is usually left up to others, we love creating music and we have some fantasies about our music in terms of cover designs but we have great management who are coming up with ideas and if we like it we’ll say alright. That usually gives us more time to work in the studio to work on the music, work on the tracks, do the mixing and all that. For us, it’s looking pretty good.

Are you looking to returning to Australia for your own headline tour?

We’re looking forward to Australia, we’ve played shows in Tokyo and that’s the closest we’ve got for a while. I enjoy touring even though there’s lots of hanging around at airports, getting lost in America and waiting for seventeen hours to find that there’s no flight going that’s exhausting. At the end of the day it is better than working in a fucking factory.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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