You'll hear about the EP, why they chose to cover Sweet, how they put together Skeletons, what it's like to record without Daniel Zimmermann on drums, and what's planned for Unisonic. You'll find several highlights below, but I would encourage you to listen to the audio, as he said a lot of interesting things during our conversation.
Master of Confusion: We got two brand new songs that we actually wrote for the upcoming album, but since we saw that it would be kind of impossible to make it for a full length album towards the tour, we said 'Well, we don't want to go on tour naked. We want people to listen to some new stuff, at least something,' so we said, 'Let's take two songs which are in some way representative for the album and record them, and add up two cover versions plus some live stuff.
Covering Sweet's 'Lost Angels': Definitely one of my absolute favorite songs from Sweet. I mean, there's many, but this is one of them, a song I really love from the point they put it out. It's called 'Lost Angels', and it's very nice. It was on the later albums, but it was a great song. Actually, this is the only song from the new recorded stuff that has been drummed by Daniel still, because we had already recorded the drums and bass for this song, and we never finished it. So we dug it out, and this time we made it. Actually, we could see while working on this song how much this band actually has done in terms of playing and being really good. All the choirs, and the guitar work is really brilliant, and it's not so easy to reproduce or pick up. But I think we did a real good job on it. And whenever I'm going to meet Andy, I'm going to play it for him and give him a copy and see what he thinks, but I think he's going to be alright with it.
Daniel Zimmermann's departure: It was a hard time since he left. We had the feeling, and of course it came along with me playing in Unisonic and especially for Dirk and Henjo, this kind of feeling that the band starts to fall apart. And for me, it was like falling into a black hole. This lineup was stable, and we were happy, and it was great, and Daniel is somebody you cannot just replace. He was a very unique guy and unique drummer, and he was a real big part of Gamma Ray as well. So when he actually left, we were kind of hanging there and didn't really know, because nobody really wanted to go for this 'Oh, we're looking for a drummer, let's do auditions' shit. For a while we were hoping he might change his mind, and we kept things open.
Skeletons & Majesties Live: Let's write down all the songs on a list that would be in the boat to be played and give that to our fan club people and let them make a choice. And it's a tough thing, because with our fans there's always some songs that are favored by everybody, but the rest is divided up so much that it was kind of a tough thing. We put our own opinion on top, and then finally we had a setlist that we were ready to rehearse, and made a few changes here and there. And then of course we included this acoustic part to make the whole thing kind of different and interesting. I think we're happy with the outcome now.
Michael Kiske joining them on Skeletons: We said, 'Since we want to play something from the Helloween era, wouldn't it great if Michael, since he's now back to going on stages again and being out in the open, ask him if he wants to join in.' And of course, it wouldn't be enough if he just sings one song, so let's try to find something special. So I came up with the idea pretty late. I said, 'Listen, man, we have this kind of vocal/piano/ballad thing, and wouldn't it be great if we did that as a harmony thing?' And we actually didn't even have time to rehearse it here in the rehearsal room. So I think it was pretty spontaneous, and we both partly fucked up the lyrics, but I think it was very entertaining for us and the audience as well. It is definitely something special.
Sharing the stage with Michael again: It is new and old at the same time. It seems very familiar in some way, and in the other way we're not the same persons anymore as we used to be. Only part of us is, but some other things have changed. So that's the point where you start to really find yourself and check out what the other is doing and how he's responding to things you do on stage and so on. But that was kind of easy play for us, and maybe that comes from our past.
The future of Unisonic: We came up with this 'one year is a Gamma Ray year, one year is a Unisonic year' policy, and we'll try to keep that working. Of course, that doesn't mean that the other band is completely resting in the respective year, but priority is one band at a time for me. Otherwise I couldn't handle things. So now at the moment, I'm concentrating on Gamma Ray, and I don't think about Unisonic too much. And whenever I'm done with this here, and we've done our album and touring, it's time to get back to Unisonic and start songwriting.
On getting older: I know that we're not a young band anymore, and of course we're at this point where you really put some concrete under what you have and make it really stable, or that you as well might lose it, and just wimp out and go down the drain, which definitely we're not planning to do.
State of the metal scene: Metal is vital, man. Metal is like a fucking dragon with many heads, and each time a head is chopped off, a new one grows on the other side. So it's still there, it's alive, it's been mixing up with all kinds of music and influences and styles, from jazz to folk to whatever. Still the basics, and what it's all about, is that there's a certain need for rough sounds, for aggression, for power, and for this kind of feeling of kicking ass, and that's what unites us.
Technology: What can you say? I just stand in awe and watch, and think 'Well…' You will not turn any wheel back. It's going to roll on, until we're complete techno zombies with individual iGlasses that keep us away from real life and just leave us in the digital world with movies and music and tits and asses, whatever. You know, that's the way it is, and I'd rather take my guitar and play.
Digital downloads: It's more about what a band is creating in total, and that's not dependent on albums, even though albums are still in people's minds as the thing. And, of course, well that's with rock music. If it comes to radio pop, nobody gives a fuck about the album. It's just the song or the two songs, the hits. The rest, don't care. Even those people who buy the album still or download it, but normally it's more about the songs, and the songs that stick out. You know, it's fair, because no one is forced to buy an album and then maybe have like 3 or 4 songs that he actually likes, and the rest, he says, 'Well, average. Don't need. Still have to buy it.' On the other hand, the artists are full of shit because it's like they're doing a painting, and you don't sell the painting as a whole. People come up and say, 'Yeah, I'll only take this part of the painting, and the corner down on the left,' and you'll sign. It's kind of weird.
The inspiration for Master of Confusion: The lyrics are about our own kind of confusion, because as musicians we are not office and businessmen that are always on time, that have a fixed plan about the schedule of the day, and all that stuff, and we like it that way. We are chaotic in some way. We can organize ourselves, but we don't run on a fixed schedule all the time. So that means that many times, and that of course includes our private life (girlfriends, and kids, and people surrounding us, friends), things get to be chaotic. So, somebody's waiting for you, you're not on time, you fuck a date up, whatever. Things like that happen. So that's the thing behind the 'Master of Confusion' stuff, even the record label. It's all in the lyrics.