MICHAEL KISKE On His Personal Relationships With Other HELLOWEEN Members: 'It's So Great Now'

April 21, 2023

In a new interview with Belgian Jasper, Michael Kiske spoke about his personal chemistry with the other members of HELLOWEEN before and after the initial "Pumpkins United" tour, which saw the band reunite with Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "At first I thought the idea [was just to do a tour with the classic lineup]. At first I thought, without firing [Kiske's replacement] Andi [Deris] or anything, they just wanted to make a 'Keeper [Of The Seven Keys]' tour or something like that. But I realized it doesn't make sense because you create another HELLOWEEN that is sort of in competition with the HELLOWEEN of the last 20 years. And it was pretty quickly clear to me, 'It doesn't make sense. I agree.' Jan [Bayati, HELLOWEEN's manager] was putting that to me that it doesn't work: 'You guys have to do it together.'

"It's so great now," Kiske continued. "It has so many benefits. I get along with everybody. I have a special relationship with each individual. It's normal [because] everybody is different. I have a different relationship with Kai. We meet on a specific level, like we always have. That hasn't changed. My relationship with Weiki [HELLOWEEN guitarist Michael Weikath] is completely different to how it was, because Weiki is completely different. I'm different too, but he has changed completely. He used to be a troublemaker; he used to be someone [who would play] games behind your back. He's not at all like that anymore. The only thing he cares about is smoking a cigarette and having a good time. And he sticks out of all arguments and fights, and that has completely changed. He's like the most easygoing person ever. And Markus [Grosskopf, HELLOWEEN bassist] is pretty much the same; he's just matured. He can express himself a lot better than he used to. When he was young, he wasn't able to put [his feelings] into words. But now he can. But he grew up too; he has matured too.

"The most important thing for me is that I get along with Andi so well," Kiske noted. "We even hang out privately. When we rehearse, for instance, we always sit together eating something, or somewhere outside or drink something or have a coffee or whatever. And that's perfect. And so you function on stage too, because all that works out. And that is something that I'm really happy with. If it wouldn't have been that way, I don't think we would still do it.

"We only made contracts for until after the first tour. We only made contracts for the 'Pumpkins United' tour. I think it was ending in 2018 or something, and the contracts were over. So if anybody wouldn't be up for it anymore, you would be free to leave. But since everything went down so well… we kind of thought, 'Well, how about a record?'"

Kiske's first album back with HELLOWEEN, 2021's self-titled effort, 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 analogue 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)".

HELLOWEEN will return to the U.S. and Canada this spring as part of the "United Forces" world tour alongside supporting special guests HAMMERFALL. The trek will commence on May 13 in Dallas, Texas and wind its way through a total of 13 cities, the journey drawing to a close on June 3 in San Francisco, California.

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