The reunited expanded classic lineup of German power metallers HELLOWEEN has announced plans to take the next few months off from the road to make another album to follow up 2021's acclaimed self-titled effort.
After playing 60 extremely emotional shows in support of their chart-topping album "Helloween", returning singer Michael Kiske and guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen along with vocalist Andi Deris, guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Daniel Löble are now going directly into the songwriting process.
HELLOWEEN's recent "United Forces" world tour took the band to 26 countries on three continents, bringing together more than 800,000 fans. The trek included sold-out headline shows in Los Angeles, New York and São Paulo, as well as highlights like the show at the Prague O2 Arena, the Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart, or in front of 14,000 metalheads in Santiago de Chile and HELLOWEEN's first-ever sold-out concert at the iconic Budokan in Tokyo, Japan — the Holy Grail and the ultimate accolade for every rock band. Without a doubt, there were tears in everyone's eyes at the bombastic Hell & Heaven festival in Mexico City, which closed the tour.
Deris, Kiske, Weikath, Hansen, Grosskopf, Gerstner and Löble send their thanks to all their fans in Europe, the United States, Canada, Central and South America and Asia and are incredibly grateful that everyone kept their tickets even with all the ongoing postponements and, that they stayed true fans, waiting patiently to see HELLOWEEN live. As well, the band would like to thank their friends in HAMMERFALL supporting the tour for most of the dates and spicing things up with their pure Swedish metal, ensuring a sweaty, energetic and bombastic package.
Andi says: "What a ride! This world tour was something special for all of us — to get together with all our fans after the long waiting, a feeling we all missed so much! We enjoyed all the shows: our fans were superb and gave us only strikingly happy moments that led to an even stronger cohesion of the band! Personally, I can't even imagine doing this without Michi and Kai anymore! And now we are looking very much forward to our next studio album with the crazy pumpgang we've got!"
Markus adds: "Hi HELLOWEEN folks all over the globe: you were the ones who welcomed us with open arms and hearts all over the world and you turned our world tour into an unique, euphoric party! We love you all and we are very much looking forward to continue this party with you, our HELLOWEEN family in 2024 — right after we are done with the new record."
Sascha states: "Wow, what an incredible tour once again! I've met so many wonderful people, and the atmosphere during our concerts has been filled with love and energy. Each tour gives me a steady growing and fulfilling experience! Much love to all the fans out there, our hard-working crew, dedicated management, and my talented bandmates!"
This past March, Kiske told Canada's The Metal Voice that Kai had already sent him a demo of a song that he was working on that "I was very happy about, because it's not what you would expect; the song was a bit outside of the box, which I am always grateful for," Michael said. "I always thought that was exciting about HELLOWEEN. When you check out the 'Keeper [Of The Seven Keys: Part] I' and 'Keeper [Of The Seven Keys: Part] II' records, now they're classics, but when they came out, it was very different to what the 'Walls Of Jericho' record sounded like. But we had the balls to do it. And I think that's why I'm still here, because those records had an impact because of being pretty fearless. And it is always the benefit of the youth; most of the time, the younger people are very fearless.
"What I like about WeikiandKai, they can't fool themselves. They just write songs. They don't function in any other way but just making the song, and whatever it is, that's what it is. And that song was a bit QUEEN-like. It had a lot of piano parts in it — very operatic, with big choirs. And then it gets rocking again and stuff like that. It's another Kai Hansen sort of symphony. But I really liked it. And I'm glad that he does something like that. I just hope the rest of the band has the balls to do it. I would do it."
Asked if he will be contributing any musical ideas to HELLOWEEN's next effort, since he didn't write anything on "Helloween", Kiske said: "I don't know. I'm not so much of a metal songwriter. I was when I was a teenager. But these days I just don't write metal songs; I just write songs on acoustic guitar somehow. And if I have something where I feel like the band could make a HELLOWEEN song out of it, of course I will present it to them, and then if they get a kick out of it, something's gonna happen. But we have so many songwriters in this band now. And they're all really capable of writing that sort of material that everybody loves, and that's mainly Andi, Sascha, Weiki and Hansen. And I think that's more than enough. If I have an idea, I sneak it in. But I don't really push myself."
As for whether the rest of HELLOWEEN has also begun composing music for the band's next LP, Kiske said: "I know that Andi has songs, and I know that Kai has a whole bunch of songs. He was a bit lazy last time; he only had that one great song, [the 12-minute] 'Skyfall', which was maybe good for three songs, and that's why it's justified, but I would have wished for even more from him. And I think this time he will be presenting a whole bunch of songs more. At least that's my impression, the feeling that I have — there might be more coming from him this time. Andi is always in the game. Andi has this gift; he can just sit down and write 10 songs. He can just do it. I don't know how he does it."
In August 2022, Kiske told Chile's Radio Futuro that the overwhelmingly positive response to "Helloween" "was pretty unexpected. I was expected it to do good, but it was, like, perfect.
"It is very difficult for you, when you're involved in an album, to have an objective view at what you're doing," he explained. "You just do what you do. You always try to make the best out of every song. And obviously the spirit within the band is very good, which helps, but you never know how people hear it. So the best thing you can do is fade it all out, not think about it, and just try to make every song exciting for yourself; that's the best thing you can do. The less you think about success or how critics might see it, the better for the album. It's not easy, but you've gotta have that discipline to kind of fade it out and not let it get to you.
"I was surprised how well it was received, but, of course, it was a very welcome motivation, especially [in 2021]," Kiske added. "We released it right in the middle of the whole pandemic crap, and that was a positive lift, doing the interviews and seeing how people reacted to it."
Regarding how HELLOWEEN had managed to pull off the seemingly impossible by splitting vocals on the album between returning singer Kiske and longtime frontman Deris, with added contributions from Hansen, Michael said: "It was actually great. It was very easy. I was kind of expecting it to be difficult, but it wasn't, because there was no ego fights going on between me and Andi. We were just there on Tenerife meeting up almost every day.
"Before we started recording, we had Dennis Ward making a rough draft of what he thinks could work in terms of splitting: 'This sounds like Andi. This sounds a bit like Michael.' And that was how we approached it. It was some kind of pre-draft of how we could do it, but was nothing written in stone.
"One day I came to the studio and the evening before Andi was recording something, or had recorded something, and he wasn't feeling so happy with it. He came and said, 'I was trying this and that. And maybe you should give it a try too.' And then we figured out what sounds the best for the song.
"There are a whole bunch of songs where you can hear right away, 'That's an Andi Deris song. He should sing that.' Or, 'That's a typical Kiske song. That sounds great [with Kiske vocals].' It's like 'Angels', for instance, it was very clear that that was mostly a Kiske song, and Sascha [Gerstner, guitar] had written it with my voice in his head. But there are other songs, especially when Andi writes his own songs, usually it sounds best when he does it unless he wrote it with my voice in his head, like he did with 'Fear Of The Fallen'. 'Fear Of The Fallen', he was writing it with both singers in his mind, and that works out.
"But it was very easy," Kiske repeated. "Because you just try it out, and you very quickly hear what works best. And I would say, like, 70 percent of the time we knew before that that would be sounding better with him or that would be sounding better with me. Or even with Kai — there were even spots where we thought he should do it."
Upon its release in June 2021, "Helloween" landed in the Top 10 in more than 10 countries, including Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria. The cover artwork for the LP was painted by artist Eliran Kantor, who has previously worked with HATEBREED, SOULFLY, TESTAMENT, ICED EARTH and SODOM, among others.
Produced by Charlie Bauerfeind and Dennis Ward, the latest HELLOWEEN LP was recorded in part at the H.O.M.E. Studios in Hamburg (where everything started in 1984). The same recording console used for such HELLOWEEN albums as "Master Of The Rings", "Time Of The Oath" and "Better Than Raw" was utilized to record the band's new material. The effort was mixed at the Valhalla Studios of Ronald Prent (IRON MAIDEN, DEF LEPPARD, RAMMSTEIN).
"Helloween" saw the legendary German power metallers going "back to the roots," with the band recording fully analog and Daniel Löble playing the drum kit previously used by HELLOWEEN's original drummer, the late Ingo Schwichtenberg, on the legendary "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" recordings.
The "Pumpkins United" tour marked the first time Kiske had played live with HELLOWEEN since 1993. Hansen, who departed HELLOWEEN in 1988, had been joining the band onstage on various tours and festival appearances throughout the years. The set featured several duets with Kiske and his replacement, Deris, along with many rarely played songs, including "Kids Of The Century", "Rise And Fall" and "Livin' Ain't No Crime". Hansen — who fronted HELLOWEEN until late 1986 — sang a medley of several early HELLOWEEN classics, including "Ride The Sky", "Judas", "Starlight" and "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)".
In 2022, Deris told the "Metal Command" podcast that he "strongly" hoped the reunited expanded classic lineup of HELLOWEEN would eventually make another album to follow up "Helloween". "I mean, as long as the vibe is great, chemistry is great and everybody's having fun with each other, it would be a crime not to do so and not to plan for a future together," he said.
"'Pumpkins United' is not only the name for the last tour, I think that's something like a brand," he continued. "HELLOWEEN 'Pumpkins United', that's something like a band — a new or something like [that] growing from the old band."
On the topic of how HELLOWEEN has managed to maintain internal harmony with so many members involved, Andi said: "I just can tell you getting along with each other, I think it's rooted in the matter of fact that we're finally too old for the other shit. [Laughs] From a certain age on, you let other people live and you don't take everything personal. Talking for [myself], whenever somebody told me something that could be looked at in a negative way, I took it the negative way. Even though when you look at it from the positive side of you, you could say, 'Well, man, maybe it was even a compliment, because have you seen it from that side?' 'No.' That's what happens when you're getting older — you don't take everything on the negative side: 'Oh, he's attacking me' or 'he's meaning bad' or 'he's meaning to annihilate you or intimidate you' or whatever. Everybody in the band, even together now with seven people, I have to say everybody is old enough to not always look at it from the negative [point of view] but also try to realize who's talking. So I cannot imagine that the boys are meaning bad if they speak about me in a sense that I could take negatively, but because I like everybody, I personally think, 'Well, I don't think they're talking negatively.' So I try to find the sense in a positive way, and most of the time — 99.9 percent [of the time] — it's exactly that. It's nothing negative; it's positive. But back in the day, everything I took was negative — when I was in my 20s and 30s. Then when you get [to] 40, it's getting better. [Laughs] Or maybe it's just you don't give a shit anymore."
🎃 The world tour everyone longed-for since over two years took us to 26 countries on 3 continents. After several...
Posted by Helloween on Wednesday, November 22, 2023