Since we are all waiting for the new Michael Kiske solo record, the next Place Vendome and a new Avantasia album, there is a little travelling back in time. Basti who did run the Gamma Ray fanclub some years ago, did for his fanclub magazine ‘News of the Rays’ an exclusive interview with Michael Kiske in summer 1996 (July/August 1996). Here you can read our translated excerpts of this interview:
You can additionally download the magazine ‘News of the Rays’ number 6/1996 with the full interview in German language here: Click here
Basti: Michi, since you have been fired from Helloween more than two years ago, there was almost nothing heard from you. Well, you were a guest musician on the “Land of the Free …” album, but what else has happened since then?
Kiske: I did a lot of thinking, just to come up with other ideas. There had happened indeed some not so nice things. And then trying to be a little creative and I just took my time for this. Most of the time I did what I wanted to do: holidays and a lot of reading.
Basti: When we met us at your last concert (22.12.1993 in Ludwigsburg) you said, that the next CD has again harder music. So you would have done the “Master of the Rings” record, if you would not have been fired?
Kiske: I would have never fought against any songs written by the other guys. For us, it was always like that because everyone had his own songs written and then we tried to do the song as good as possible together. I would have still done what I find interesting. Although, it was a pretty shitty state in the band, especially when Ingo was no longer there. Nevertheless, I said to myself: “If you are inside of such a band, you don’t throw this away so easily” because I still felt connected to the whole thing. I joined the band directly after school and then we toured the whole world. Also, I did not want be the one who destroyed it. I was heartbroken.
Basti: Have you never talked about it?
Kiske: Oh, that was not possible because there was no honesty in the band anymore. Only intrigues were going on. First I didn’t realize the whole thing so much, but it became more and more. I also wanted that Ingo returned to improve the mood in the band. I originally planned for myself to do at least one more record, also because at that time I was not as consequent as nowadays. In the meantime I know exactly what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. At least I don’t have to regret anything that I did, because I always stick to my decisions.
Basti: Is it possible, that you are quite publicity-shy? Ingo told me that it is like winning the lottery to meet you somewhere.
Kiske: (laughs) Well, that’s true.
Basti: Talking about Ingo, too bad that such a cooperation didn’t happen in the end. When I spoke to him, he said that he was only waiting for you to give him a call and he would be there. Was it a mistake to leave him in the dark?
Kiske: I was not ready, so why should I call him?
Basti: …To tell him that you want to work with him together.
Kiske: Originally I wanted to do this, because when he was fired from Helloween, he made a really good impression on me. But unfortunately later this changed completely.
Basti: Then why was he fired, when his condition at that time was very good?
Kiske: This is a special story and it would take a long time to discuss every detail about it. But then I would have to tell a lot of awful and secret things and I really don’t want to do this. I only say: The band cheated, betrayed and sold me, as well as they cheated, betrayed and sold Kai Hansen and they also cheated, betrayed and sold Ingo. Of course nobody wanted that Ingo ended in that way, the same goes for me and I also didn’t want him to end in that way. It does not help now to blame someone and it would only open wounds. The whole story was terrible and I also suffered from this.
Basti: From a conversation with him I realized that Helloween was (almost) everything for him……
Kiske: Yes, unfortunately it was all for him. This is not good because it is important what you do and not how you look through other people’s eyes, what other people think about you or if magazines write about you as the great drummer. It is important to have your own identity, but in Ingo’s case he identified himself through the band. And after he was no longer in Helloween, he saw himself as a nobody, since Helloween was everything for him as you correctly noticed. In the whole story you have to simply be aware that Ingo was very ill and he very early started with the drug abuse. Sometimes it was so bad that he could no longer play. No one behaved as he should have done; these were mistakes out of helplessness, because it is not so easy to deal with something like that, since you often don’t know what you can do. In the end Ingo was responsible for what happened, he maneuvered himself into this situation.
Basti: Well, let us end this sad chapter and talk a little bit about Gamma Ray. Has the band ever made an offer to enter?
Kiske: (laughs) No, we never talked about that. For me it was very clear that I first wanted to do a solo album that I try to go my own way and try new things out. This has indeed some advantages when I can do everything that I want to do, that is great. So I didn’t really think about it, it is also the musical style that Kai does and he does a very good job on it, because it is actually his thing. I’m Interested in totally different things nowadays. Of course there are a few pieces that I would find very cool, we indeed did a few things together.
Basti: How do you like “Land of the Free … “?
Kiske: I must honestly say that I have not heard it so intensively, because at the moment I listen to other things and I absolutely don’t listen to metal. But what I heard so far is well done; however, it is not what I would do now. Kai once asked: “Would it be silly if I ask you now, if you would enter Gamma Ray?” “Then I said,” Yes, this would be silly.”
Basti: In any case, that was really my first thought when I heard that Ralf is out…
Kiske: It was also Ralf’s first thought. I really Kai like, you know, and for me it is really important, I’m also incredibly happy about the fact, because now I have at least a person with whom I had good times together or better said the best times of Helloween. It was the time in Helloween when the feeling was great and the chemistry in the band as well.
Basti: And what about joining other Bands? I know that the band ‘Power’ from California would like to get you.
Kiske: No idea, nothing arrived at my side, because the management does not forward such things because it’s now no deal for me.
Basti: But there should be several requests, since you are definitely not one of the worst…
Kiske: Yes, requests have probably arrived, but I didn’t get any information about this.
Basti: In any case, the Gamma Ray fans did not forget you and frequently questions about you arrive. They would pretty happy with you joining the band.
Kiske: Yes sure, that would of course fit, but as I said, that does not stop me from working with Kai and I must not be in the band to do this. It is really cool that he sings these songs now and I think that’s a personally important experience for him. I also have the feeling that he really enjoys doing this and if they once again have a song where they have the feeling that I should sing it, and then I don’t have a problem with this. I can quite well imagine that could happen.
Basti: So let us switch to your solo project. Why does the record appear so late in August?
Kiske: I don’t have any songs for B-sides finished, and also there is football.
Basti: Tell us about the musicians who participated?
Kiske: Very different people. In the first year I flew to England and I was in the house of Adrian Smith and I wrote a couple of things with him, for example “New Horizons”, which you previously heard, the only double bass song for which also Kai contributed a little bit. I also wrote “Calling” together with Adrian. All this happened, while I was still searching, what to do. Also in the first year I did some things of my own, e.g. “Hunted”, “So sick “,” Thanks a lot “or” Always “. Then I wanted to do completely different things, because I was used to write things alone, so I found it quite interesting to write with other people together. I also wanted to work together with Kai, we had so many things planned, but it didn’t happen because of time schedule problems, always when I had time, he was busy and vice versa, so in the end I did not write much with him together. Last Year a Greek guitarist appeared and I really found him very interesting because he wrote completely different songs, e.g. “Somebody, somewhere “which is my personal favorite on the record (mine is ” Always, “note Basti). The most interesting songs arrived later from the younger people. I can say that the record is a mirror of the last three years.
Basti: And how would you define the style of the record?
Kiske: It’s really hard to define. It is more a rock album …
Basti: There are some quite hard sounds on it…
Kiske: Yes, there are some really hard things on it, just a few quiet things. Many different sounds and some acoustic elements…
Basti: There are piano parts… something which never happened in Helloween.
Kiske: No, this was never done…. Yes, there are lot things on it. It was just time to finally do something again. According to my wishes, I would have waited another two years and then the record would have been completely different.
Basti: But … but it already lasted long enough
Kiske: Yes. That’s why I thought: Let’s do this record now and on the next record I will go much further, because I want to create my own sound, definitely no Heavy Metal. But I have absolutely no fear of hard sounds, no aversion of pure energy which is connected to this. But this typical language of Heavy Metal bores me. I always prefer to use an acoustic guitar where you can sit down and do some jamming…
Basti: Like … “Longing” for example. A really wonderful track…
Kiske: … yes … I was already looking a little bit for that kind of sound. But I have always expressed what I feel and I want to continue to do it that way.
Basti: I always thought your songs are by far the best on the lastest albums.
Basti: Yes, “Your Turn” for example…
Kiske: thanks … It is honestly just the way I feel and I will not be limit myself to any expectations, also not fan expectations. The fans must expect quality, but they should not expect that an artist reproduces himself, because this kills the artist. Therefore, it is for me very important to tell people, what artists really kill nowadays. Nowadays only the business is important, so if something is successfull, it will be reproduced, until you see yourself completely ruined, then they all have their big house and their big bank account. But sooner or later the people will be stupid, because they don’t have any musical horizon anymore and the music itself becomes completely dishonest. The biggest part of the music nowadays is profoundly dishonest and nothing more counts than taking away the money of other people. I do not say that there is a problem to make some money, but the basic principles of what art was actually about, is completely forgotten nowadays: that must has to do with honesty, that you have to express through your music, without any restrictions, trends or what the record company wants, what they can sell. Richard Wagner, for example, a man with an awareness of what real art is and what honest art must be. We today have no real art more.
Basti: So for me, Helloween was never a certain style of music, but rather the music these people play.
Kiske: Yes, and that was exactly what I always liked in Hellowee to be creative. Weiki also had phases where I really admired him when he really did great things, where he was incredibly creative. This is just one thing that you have to keep, otherwise it is not fun anymore and I’m just one of the people that say this, I also mean it. This can make me act uncomfortable for some people, because I do not just follow the money because I do not like it. If someday I should not sell records anymore, that I can no longer live from the music, then I know this is no longer my business.
Basti: What I still want to know: Why did you not participate as a guest musician in the release party for the “Land of the free “? There were ideas that you could sing “Time to break free ” live there.
Kiske: (laughs) I don’t like release parties. Also, I really don’t want to play live at the moment, it is not that I have any fear to do so, it just doesn’t excite me right now.
Basti: That means we won’t see you live right now?
Kiske: If at some point there is a fixed band, with the right chemistry and another album with enough Material, because I don’t want to play the old stuff again and again, then perhaps there may return the hunger to play live again. The whole thing has two sides: on the one side there is the party side which can be cool. But the other thing is to “be adored,” I think it has something unhealthy. I think it’s not good if the kids always identify with other people, the music must be cool and you have to find this cool. But this cult to identify with a person is not good; it especially came from the U.S., this really disgusting cult to identify with a person. I like to do music, but to play on stage the macho is so boring. I only need one or two weeks on tour then it starts boring me. At the beginning it makes more fun, in Helloween it was always so that we started making nonsense to make it fun again and so we always got better.