GAMMA RAY Mainman: 'Creating Music Is Something Very Selfish Or Egoistic'
February 26, 2011
Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen of German power metallers GAMMA RAY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
69 Faces Of Rock: Are you still faithful to the same influences you had when you began to write music?
Kai: I am, I think. I don't think it really changed. You always find new stuff that you start to like, and start to weave into your music. You put it through your own filter, digest it, and basically you shit it out your own way. And at that point, it becomes something that you do. I don't think it will ever change. I still find new things. I'm not restricted to URIAH HEEP, or whatever else I liked when I was growing up. I'm open to new music, and new inspirations. I try to look beyond my own horizons at times. I think the songwriting changes a little bit with each new album.
69 Faces Of Rock: And if we look at the current album, "To The Metal", what new elements do you think it brings into big picture?
Kai: You'll never know that before you hear the actual finished record. But, if we were to repeat everything we've done before, it would be getting boring for ourselves, at least for me. Whenever I start with a new phase of songwriting, and after the album is done, I stop and reflect on it. Then we go on tour, and afterwards, I refill my batteries, and digest the impressions of music, and what happens around me. And then suddenly there is the need to put down something. I have ideas, melodies, some lines, whatever. And then I switch to my internal home-computer, and start recording music. That's where it starts. And from that point on you'll never know, but it always changes, and it's never the same.
69 Faces Of Rock: It took you a quite a long time to make it to the United States with GAMMA RAY. How do you view the market here, and the fan base?
Kai: United States is like a question mark that never can get to be answered. We're unsure of the answer. I know we made it up to a very nice level with HELLOWEEN. And then there was silence. When I started GAMMA RAY, we released the albums in the United States, and they did pretty good. Not so bad. We never toured because there was no scene. The promoters didn't want to bring a German band over here in the early '90s. And then the whole grunge movement kind of destroyed the power metal, or classic metal scene. Everybody went alternative, and they didn't really reinvent the wheel. they did old style music in a new dress. There was no way for us to really tour here.
69 Faces Of Rock: When I visit various web sites or forums that discuss your music, I notice the fans often complain about liking or not liking certain record of yours, or the fact the current album is not like the old album or vice versa. Do you see these complaints, and do they affect you in any way?
Kai: We hear these things. And I do take them seriously in one way, but in another way, I have to say creating music is something very selfish, or egoistic. That's the way I see it, and that's the way I do it. I have to be happy first. That's my first objective. Satisfy myself, and be happy with what I'm doing because it's what I do. I don't set out to make this and that person happy with the new album. If I did that, I wouldn't be true to myself. Sometimes I do get a bit internally upset over something I hear or read. If somebody has a real criticism, and says, "I don't like that album because of this and that, and I prefer that." I have no problem with that. I'm a fan of the music myself, and I pick my favorite albums based on certain things. And I know why I like this album much better than the other. And I can say this album was the weakest because of this and that. But it's all a matter of taste in the end. But if somebody claims to be objective, and says, "This album sucks," that makes me mad because that's not fair. It may not be to your taste, and to your satisfaction, but we're dealing on a level where what we do we do it good. And if you don't like it, I have no problem with that. Listen to another record, another band. Tell us you don't like it, we accept it, but don't tell us "it sucks," because that sucks to hear it.