Interview – with Hansi Kürsch before tourBefore tour interview: Blind Guardian arrive to Moscow during their A Night At The Opera2002 / 2003 world tour and it is chance to interview with Hansi Kürsch....Hello Hansi, nice to hear you!Hello (laughts), like to talk with you!Congratulations to A Night At The Opera album, sounds great. Surely best your album forlast seven years!Thank you! Already you have it?Sure!It´s great!Also my first question surely due to last album. When you beginning the work on thisalbum?Songwriting we started during 1999. But we take break according to some problems withDemons & Wizards project. To the end of 1999 we concentrated again to A Night At TheOpera. Writing take a lot of time. The songwriting just took so long, because it was kind ofcomplicated to get rid of the Nightfall In Middle-Earth attitude and create something asspecial as Nightfall, just to get on the road and to the right direction. Took a while. After 16months we started the production, and due to the fact that there were so many instrumentsin our songs, the production took more that 14 months. So that's where the time has gone.When we were about to finish the album, during the mixing we decided to change thealbum'cover concept and we went for the cover concept connected to opera and orchestra;on the cover you see a bunch of people in an orchestra playing music. Plus the fact that weare QUEEN fans and plus the fact that the music is somewhat orchestral too, we decidedthat a title connected to opera would be good too, so finally the first thing coming to mymind was A Night at The Opera. I suggested that to the other guys in the band and they allloved the idea. We have known from the beginning that it's kind of offensive, because somepeople really take it serious with titles like this, you know, all these QUEEN supporters andso on.There's a lot of hits on the album, so I'm pretty interested in the fact that And Then ThereWas Silence, a song that lasts for about fourteen minutes, became the first single...
The reason for that is rather easy, because we announced the album' release for June 2001first, then we started the production and understood that we could never achieve that date,so we risked and said the album would be released in August. Then it was September andfinally it turned out that it wouldn't be even in 2001. So we decided that we needed to havean output out in 2001 to make clear to people why the whole thing had taken so long. AndThen There Was Silence was the perfect number, because it's probably the most intense andmost complicated and most skilful song of the album. Just to give a sign of life to people,that was just good enough, I thought, to pick up the best song (laughs). From the beginningit was clear there wouldn't be any kind of commercial value for a heavy metal single andthat it got in to Spanish charts on #1 was kind of surprising for everyone. The single wasjust kind of 'thank you' to the fans who waited so long and to make clear why this took solong...haha.Oh, I see... As far as I know you guys are great Tolkien fans, right?...That's true....And your previous album Nightfall In Middle-Earth was fully dedicated to him...Yeah! (laughs)Well... The question is: what inspired the lyrical themes your last record?Due to the fact that the movie was announced, I mean The Lord Of The Rings movie, wedecided not to go for conceptual Tolkien album this time and I also decided not to take anylyrical topic from Tolkien for the album. So, the topics differ this time, there's kind ofreligious and historical stuff, also mythological things, I call it more free-style lyrics aswell... And Then There Was Silence deals with the Trojan War, then we have the song calledThe Soulforged, which is......which is my favorite track!Oh, that's good to you! (laughs) Lyrically, the decision, which direction it would go, wasmade by the users of our homepage that had the chance to take part in a voting where theycould vote for their most favorite topic and finally I've chosen the figure of a Wizard, a veryevil Wizard, which I like a lot. Precious Jerusalem tells us a little bit about finding yourself,I've taken Jesus Christ as an example, I tried to point out the situation when he realizes whohe is supposed to be. The song Battlefield deals with the very old German poem, which isone of the oldest still available German poems, so I'm into such stuff also.Ok, since we began to speak about Tolkien, how did you like the screen version of thefamous Lord Of The Rings?I've been deeply impressed by the movie. I just had the chance watching it twice in cinema,but I was blown away... (laughs) Of course the director has changed the story a little bit,but just for the sake of having very interesting and very entertaining visual transforming ofthe whole thing. So, I was deeply impressed.What do you think 'bout the soundtrack for it?The soundtrack is good, almost spectacular, there were so many things... Kind of... Notstolen, but... You've heard them before, like some Star Wars influences, but part from that
it's great music, I mean even the ENYA song I liked a lot, but I wish we could have donethat.As for me, at the end of the film I'd like to hear YOUR song of the same name!(laughs) That would be nice! I mean, I would be fine with that, but I'm sure you've heardabout it - we worked on some orchestral stuff, which was supposed to be included in themovie as well. For a long time we, you know, were supposed to do the soundtrack, becauseso many people on several homepages voted for us, the Tolkien-related homepage made avoting for that movie, for the soundtrack, it had us in first or second position. Peopleconsidered us to be, you know, a part of the movie, but finally that did not happen, becauseof the company that made a different decision, because we never had the chance to supplythem with material. But, nevertheless, it is a very entertaining great movie.I was always delighted with your cover artwork. Hansi, I know that there were threeversions of the cover for your last album. Why do you think the one we can see is the mostsuitable?You mean the latest one?Yeah.Well, there were not that much of the choice. I think it's a great cover, but we have been in akind of disappointing situation, because the first painter somehow refused to complete thecover and disappeared for a while, so, the guy Anry who did the single never came up witha cover for the album. The second cover provided to us did not achieve the level we wished itwould, so we made a change to the third painter, that was Paul Raymond Gregory and in avery short amount of time he came up with the painting we can see on the album, which Ilike a lot, but I wouldn't consider it to be as good as Imaginations...Perhaps... Well, let's digress from a theme and speak 'bout the DEMONS & WIZARDSproject. It was a great success, that mixture of ICED EARTH-like music and your superbvocals. How did you manage to get into that project and will there be a continuation of it, thesecond DEMONS & WIZARDS album?I appreciate that you called it a 'big success'! (laughs) So do I! Jon and I are friends for avery long time, we toured in the beginning of the 90's, since then we have a really strongand close relationship. Since 1995-1996 we were talking about doing something together,but we never had the time. All of a sudden, when Jon was doing the promotion for ICEDEARTH and I had a touring break, we hooked on together here, in my own town and did ajam session. In a very short amount of time we accomplished the song which can be heardon the album called My Last Sunrise. So we said, well, let's see how we can, you know, comeup with more songs, how quick, and let's join together in 1999. And we just, you know,needed three months to accomplish the whole songwriting and then went to the studio foranother four weeks. It's a big story. I think it's a very impressive album, especiallyconsidering the circumstances and the time limitations we had. Next time, and there will bea next time, we will dedicate a little more time to DEMONS & WIZARDS, of course, withregarding to song-writing and probably even with regarding to production to make it theproper album. I hope that this is going to happen in 2003, as it is difficult due to timeschedules we're both on. It was even more fun for us, you know, we didn't do that for the
sake of success or making money, we did that because we enjoy making music together. Itwould be really a waste of talent not to do it.Now you are planning to tour. And then, I guess, we'll see the second live record from you,am I right?You see, things usually do never go to, you know, to where they are supposed to go, buteverything is set up properly right now and seems that we are going to record about eachshow we'll play on that tour.Well, I hope it will happen. You have a couple of videos, so what do you think 'boutrecording a full show and releasing it on VHS or, maybe, DVD?I hope we are able to accomplish that as well on that tour. Plan is to film a bunch of shows,let's say like between three and five, and do a very decent DVD with the release of the livealbum as well.Okay... How would you compare your ultimate LP with your first three?Errrrrrrr... With the first three? You talk about Battalions..., Follow... and Tales...?Exactly.(laughs) Oh, that's a long way! I mean, it's difficult to figure up the rules, because it's stillmetal music and it's awfully still intense as in the beginning, but it truly is not thatspontaneous like these three albums have been, but somewhat skilful and hopefully withregard to the songwriting more professional as well.I see. Hansi, how do you keep your voice in shape when you're touring?Well, I did not find the right solution so far, to be honest, because getting into the highpitchedparts like I did in... A Night At The Opera, for example, always makes trouble.(laughs) That is, unfortunately, a natural progress and I haven't found the miracle cure,which, you know, keeps your voice healthy for such a long time period. But I do not smoke, Idon't do it in general, I do not drink, especially on tour, especially on show days, and try tosleep as much as possible, but even that does not help. Usually after four-five showseverything is gone! (laughs) That's, unfortunately, the truth. I mean, if you listen to theGUARDIAN albums and compare them with other albums, the quantity of vocal lines wasdiminished, because I need time to rest during the song, that's why there are so many sologuitar parts. I don't know how I will get through it, but I usually manage it somehow.There's a lot of people who think that bands that had success in the 80's should just give itup already, their time has passed. What's your response to that?We fortunately have not been successful in the 80's! (laughs)I don't mean you, I mean on the whole!(laughs) Well, still JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN do good albums and as long as they dogood albums they deserve the credibility they get. But, of course, if they do a bad album,they have to pay the price and they had that experience several times, I'm sure. I mean, thatbands that are still at the top do have very high quality, and so, they deserve to be there. It'sonly a question of, you know, doing one good album to be up there. bands who started in
the 80's and still are there did please the fans for so many years, so they deserve it. I don'thave any bad feelings, and as long as there's still an interest in other music, everything'sfine, I think.As far as I know, about a week ago you received an album from the Russian heavy-powertband THE ARROW, do you remember it?Yes, of course.How did you like the record?It is great music, I try to help them to get a deal here in Germany. I've sent their stuff to thecompany called SPV, waiting for their response. We'll see, they might have a chance here. Ithink it is very interesting music, the mixture they play is really great, it reminds me of USpower metal bands of the 80's, but also bands like STRATOVARIUS and SONATAARCTICA. Everyone who is into good traditional power metal, skillfully arranged andtechnically well played, should check out THE ARROW's album Children Of Gods. Songs likeMetal's In The Air or Lady Nite prove how good Russian metal nowadays is: excellent.So you think THE ARROW play power metal? As for me, their style is closer to traditionalHard'n'Heavy...Well, the question is - how do you describe power metal. That's a big question, because if Isee how people describe bands like SONATA ARCTICA or STRATOVARIUS, I would say it'sdefinitely power metal.Agree.And I see THE ARROW in the same direction.Okay, perhaps. My next question will be kind of provocative. The personnel of your bandremains the same for about sixteen years. Tell me, if in BLIND GUARDIAN' story weresituations when any of your band mates wanted to leave?So far we did not have that problem, because we prove very healthy as a band and all theseyears have had a very good chemistry. The reason why that never happened in terms ofBLIND GUARDIAN is, because we take our time for songwriting and that means you canbuild up your private life, you can go different directions without, you know, getting onsomeone else's nerves. In our case, we take our time for songwriting, like fourteen months,and during that period, you know, we always do have the time to solve our problems, notonly between the band members, but also in your private life. That's why everyone's stayingin the band.Hansi, you're a talented singer. What musicians influenced you as a vocalist?As a vocalist?Yeah.Freddie Mercury, Ian Gillan...What about Ronnie James Dio?
Completely agree with you. Hansi, name me three bands that you like most.QUEEN... QUEENSRYCHE... and... DEEP PURPLE.Aha! You like DEEP PURPLE!(laughs) Yeah! I'm a DEEP PURPLE fan, if you would, you know, ask me of which band I'veheard the most records, it's DEEP PURPLE. I like at least 15 or 16.Well... And did you like their last record?(pauses) It's okay...(laughs) I mean, I like The Battle Rages On!... But their old stuff is moreappreciated!I see... It is known that you guys will play in Russia. Not long ago EDGUY/FREEDOM CALLvisited our country and both bands were extremely pleased with the reception and theaudience. Hansi, what do YOU expect from the forthcoming shows in Russia?Well, first of all, I'm in contact with both mentioned bands, I've heard about that already(laughs), so that's really cool! We expect ourselves to be in a very good shape to pleasepeople, I mean, it is one of the most important experience we will do on that particular tour,because it's always the best thing to come to a country you have not been before, play forthe people, because the reactions are, you know, usually are really warm, but they differ!They differ everywhere, it's the biggest impact on US musician to have that feeling for thefirst time.You see, there's a lot of BLIND GUARDIAN fans here, almost everywhere you can meet afan wearing the T-shirt with your logo. That's why I hope everything will be fine here for you.I hope so! I'm sure, I mean, it's not only hope.Well... Hope is a great thing! Okay, Hansi, it's time to finish. And in the end, some words forthe Russian fans.Be prepared......For the metal attack!(laughs) Is it metal? For sometimes people do not consider our music to be metal! (laughs)Be prepared for talented musicians and a lot of fun!Thank you! I wish you luck guys, we'll be happy to see you here! And as for me, see you atthe press-conference!(laughs) That's great! I'm looking forward to see you there!Thank you so much for the interview, Hansi!Thanks, Olga!So long!Bye-bye!
Special thanks goes to Nikolay "Dr.Venom" Simkin for organizing the interview. Edited byOlga Schmierova.Editor: Olga Shimerova (www.ice-vajal.com, 1995)