Blind Guardian: Interview with Marcus Siepen
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Blind Guardian: Interview with Marcus Siepen

In January you are going to play on the “70.000 tons of metal”. Are you excited?Yes, I’ve never been in a cruise so far and I think this will be a pretty special one(laughs)… Of course it’s cool. There are some very good bands, friends of ours, playingthere. So it will be great meeting them. Normally we meet each other on a one day basis in afestival and then you have a couple of hours before one of the bands has to go on stage. But,we will all be there together on that cruise for a week. That sounds like party time (laughs).We are definitely looking forward to this because this is something that we never did so far.It’s going to be a new experience.I would like to talk a little bit now about “Blind Guardian” working together, during an albumrecording. How do you guys work? For this new album, for example, how did you guys workduring these past 4 years? What was the dynamics of the group?First of all I have to say, the time spend between album releases is 4 years, but it doesn’tmean that we were working on an album for 4 years because, for example the last tourlasted 1 and a half years. So you have to count that off. The way we are working is:everybody working on his own. We all have our studio set-ups at home, so we can work onour ideas and actually we exchange them mostly over the internet. So, it’s not that we meetin our studio, where we record our albums, every day. Actually, we hardly ever meet there(laughs). If André, for example, has an idea for a song he records some riff or melodyguitars, sends it to Hansi, and than he tries singing into them. If it works, fine… we cancontinue working on that basis. If Hansi doesn’t find anything to sing for that, we mightchange it or skip it completely. Start all over again. So, that’s how we work. We are not thekind of band that meets in the rehearsal room and just jams on some riffs because ourmusic is way too complex for this type of thing. Normally we have those choirarrangements, tons of harmony guitar, etc. So, if we wanted to try out all these things whilejamming, we would be limited to 2 guitar voices since there are just 2 guitar players in theband. But, when we work on our studio set-ups, we can work on the studio conditionsobviously. We can record and try whatever voice comes to our mind. That’s the way thatworks out the best for us.When you are composing… does your inspiration come randomly or is there something thattriggers that?No, unfortunately not. It would be great to have something like that. An idea can comein any situation. I don’t know any way to control this. Normally it’s related to grabbingyour guitar and playing around. But sometimes also, an idea can come whenever… forexample, when driving your car and suddenly having a melody in your mind. You think:“Oh, this would be nice”. The problem is that if you are somewhere in a highway, by thetime you get home, you forgot the melody already (laughs). But as I said, I don’t know howto trigger something like this.But do you get inspired with something particular like a trip, for example?Of course. Anything can inspire you, you know? Touring can inspire you. You catch thevibes in different cities, you see different places, and you talk to different people… Any inputyou get can be inspiring.Any professional need some type of recognition. For you, personally, when do you feelrecognized? When do you say to yourself: “I did a good job” or “I’m proud of myself”? And

has that already happened to you with this new album?Yes. First of all, you know, we have a pretty big self confidence (laughs). When we startrecording, we are convinced that we are doing something good. We always try to do thebest album, concerning song writing, which we can possibly do. Same applies toproduction. We try to deliver the best production, the best cover we can possibly do and weare convinced by this. You get this recognition, obviously when you read reviews thatpraise the album, that’s a nice thing. But the ultimate recognition in my opinion is when yougo on stage, play your songs live and see a couple of thousand people going completelynuts, signing everything, cheering. You clearly see that they love what you are doing. Thatis for me the ultimate recognition.Until now… is there something that you guys did that you are really proud of or anything thatif you could go back you would change it?I don’t think I would change anything. Obviously when I think, for example, about ourfirst albums: if we did them today they would sound different … yes, they would. But Iwouldn’t change them because they represent what Blind Guardian was back in that time.When we did Battalions of Fear in 1988, that was Blind Guardian back than. That’s how wesounded and that was the stuff we were able to play and compose. I wouldn’t change it,because all albums were steps in our career and led us to what we are now, so why changeit? About things that we have achieved: a very special thing for us was that Blind Guardianfestival that we did. The Blind Guardian Open Air. We also released the DVD back in 2003,I think… That was something very special because we had never done something like thatbefore. We had obviously played in many festivals before but we never organized oneourselves and headlined both nights with complete different sets. It was a lot of work toprepare, to plan and to organize everything. We were nervous obviously, but we were very,very lucky. Everything worked perfectly fine, even though in the first night we hadhurricane warnings. In the end, everything worked perfectly fine and we could do thatDVD. That was definitely one of the highlights of our career.So, any thoughts on doing the second one?Yes there are thoughts about it and people keep asking about it. But, right from thebeginning, this was not meant to be something in a yearly basis; we wanted to keep this assomething very special. The only thing that we do know is that yes, we will do one again butthere are no concrete plans at this moment. There will be one, whenever we think that’s theright moment and we will try to do something very special again. It doesn’t have to be inthe same way, it doesn’t have to be us headlining two nights. It might be somethingcompletely different. But we are pretty sure that we will do another Blind Guardianfestival.Talking about festivals, have you seen any new bands lately that have caught your eyes or thatimpressed you?I have seen a couple of bands live this year, but, they are not really new bands. One ofthe best shows that I’ve seen was Nevermore playing in a festival in Germany, presentingtheir new album, which I absolutely love. In 1995, Nevermore opened up for us in Europeduring the Imaginations From the Other Side tour and since then we are close friends.That’s for example, one of the bands that I’m really looking forward to meet in the cruiseship. They are also playing there. I’ve been to one of the anniversary shows of Opeth. That

was very special because that is one of my favorite bands and there were only 6 showsworld-wide. That was a very cool night. They played for 3 hours: the entire BlackwaterPark album and one song from each of the other albums. And a band that is not that wellknown yet, but very, very good is Orphaned Land from Israel. Very cool band. Kind ofethno death metal … or whatever you want to call it (laughs). I’ve actually seen them in thesame festival where I’ve seen Nevermore.Do you have a “favorite” CD right now? One that you are completely addicted to?There is one CD that I got pretty much addicted to, since the beginning of the year. It’sactually not a metal CD. It is John Bonamassa’s “Ballad of John Henry” album that hereleased last year. I have to say: I didn’t know this guy. I actually heard his name and sawit on the top lists of guitar players for the last I don’t know how many years. And peoplewere telling me: “He is great! He does blues rock but in a harder heavy way”. At some pointI said: “I have to check him out because everybody is praising him” and I just got curious. Ibought that album and it completely blew me away. I got pretty addicted to it, so thatwould be my album of the year, I would say.In your opinion, what were the biggest changes on the metal scene for the past 10 years? Howthese changes did affect Blind Guardian’s work?Hum… I think the core of the scene is still the same. Different territories opened formetal. Like, lots of Eastern countries opened up for metal. We could do tons of shows inRussia, Poland and Hungary and other places like that. That didn’t happen in the earlydays. We got offers to play in China for example, which would be a place where we wouldreally love to play because we haven’t been there yet. And going to a place where you havenever been before is always something very special because you have no idea of what toexpect. So, new markets opened. I think more and more people discover metal. You can alsosee it in the charts that more and more metal bands get very high positions in the charts. Inour career, we had a couple of number one hits. Metal is more and more recognized bypeople outside the basic metal scene, which is a good thing.So, now the final traditional question: Any plans for the next couple of years?For the next year, it’s pretty fixed that we will be on the road. We will be here in the USuntil Christmas; we will come home on the 24th of December sometime in the afternoon.Than, the next thing will the “70.000 tons of metal” festival. After that we will actually have2 months off, at home. Yes… resting (laughs)!!! After that touring will continue until, mostlikely the end of the year. I think then the whole thing starts anew. We will sit down, thinkabout new stuff, write new stuff, record new stuff, and tour. We don’t plan to change much.Thank you so much for the interview. Have a nice concert here in LA!You are welcome. Thank you.Editor: Deesse de la Nuit /2010/(

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