It's always a pleasure to talk to someone with an extensive background who is willing to share both his successes and disappointments, and this is exactly what you'll hear in this interview. Thanks so much to Henning for his time and for giving us such good insight into his work. Below you will find the full audio and contents. I've typed several highlights as well.
0:00 Uli Jon Roth (involvement, US tour)
5:30 Metalium's demise
6:45 Sons of Seasons (future plans)
9:15 Henning's taste in music
10:15 Day job (vocal coaching)
14:00 Background in singing
16:00 Firewind offer
18:00 Uli Jon Roth (forthcoming rock album)
21:30 Henning solo album
24:00 Gamma Ray (filling in for Kai)
26:30 Gamma Ray audition
28:00 Savatage audition
34:00 Future Uli Jon Roth plans
34:45 Meeting Bruce Dickinson in LA
37:00 Pronunciation of his name
How he got involved with Uli Jon Roth: First of all, I have to say I never was a huge Scorpions of the era where they became commercial or mainstream regarding all their hits and songs. I was never a big fan of Klaus Meine, either. But when I got the ability to have a jam session with Uli back in Hamburg (it was like June or July or August, I'm not sure), they asked me to do a couple of songs from the first 5 albums, like for example, We Burn the Sky or In Trance. I never heard of the first 5 albums, so I was really surprised when I was listening to the first moments for the first 5 albums and was really amazed by the songs, by the vibe of the 70s rock music stuff. I was right into that spot, I was digging the music, and then it became naturally to sing those tunes. Usually, I'm a metal singer, as you know. I'm not doing rock songs, or something like that. I mean, cover bands, for example, but never ever did any kind of Scorpions songs, so it was really refreshing and even inspiring. Regarding the tour, I was also curious, 'Will it work out having me in that band singing 5 shows in a row economically? Do I have the right condition, do I have the right technique, can I make it through it?' And you know, a little bit unsecureness in the beginning, but after all, a couple of shows went on, I was even more sincere doing that.
Jam session with Uli: It was a jam session for his friend, Chris Adams, who is doing this electronical tune system. We became friends after a while, and it turned out great. We had some special guests there also, and it was a great jam night, and Uli was happy with the result because I have another voice. I'm not like that kind of Klaus Meine sound. He wants to have even more stronger male rock voice, so it was fitting for him in a sense.
Future touring with Uli: I would never say no, but regarding this tour, it was really tough to make it. I have to tell you a story about the blizzard thing. We had such bad luck on this tour. We were busted at the border in Canada, where they kept us waiting for 3 hours, and we have to leave the bus and unpack our things out of the trailer. And then all of a sudden also the blizzard came on, and we got stuck into there. They had to pick us up with a truck after 5 hours waiting on the highway. And all those kind of different situations. You don't have a backstage here and there, you don't have a shower, so you have to use a day room, and you have to fight really hard to make it happen. But after all this kind of little issues, you're happy with the result, because you can see the shows are growing, the people came on. The reviews were great, and the people liked it. They're really digging the stuff, having me singing in that band. So it was worth it, so to say.
Why Metalium ended: We split up in 2010 because there wasn't any creativity anymore or even communication-wise, it wasn't possible anymore because Lars was moving to the Isle of Mallorca, to Spain, and he started up another business. Michael came up with Uli Jon Roth and had other jobs going on, and I was a voice coach back then and still I am. There were other priorities, so to say, and music-wise, it was always the same. I had the feeling from the last 3 or 4 albums it was always the same writing, the same music, and it was getting boring after a while, to be honest. I'm really straight to you now: it was boring. So we decided to split. Meanwhile, I was starting my own thing with Oliver Palotai from Kamelot, this Sons of Seasons band, so it was fine to have another atmosphere, to have a dark vibe in music, and even more brutal vocals I had to try out.
Henning's future plans and day job: After 14 years of voice coaching, I'm getting a bit tired, to be honest, having this only job. Maybe that's the reason why I'm so open-minded right now regarding music styles or starting new projects, because I want to spread out a little more. Because I don't have a regular band, a main band, I tend to be a guest singer. I'm like a fire department for 6 singers. For example, back in 2008, I used to replace Kai Hansen of Gamma Ray on the Spain tour because he went sick. I'm always open-minded for accidents or spontaneous things, you know. I really like to do something different right now. I'm at a crossroads right now, what I'm going to do, because I'm getting tired of this voice coaching. That's my main job, but you have to spread as an artist. That's really important for me.
To be honest, I wish I could have more talents, people who work in bands, people who want to create new stuff, create music, work on their voices. I have so many people right now working on their voices in that particular hour, but when they come back, they don't learn. They don't do their homework, and it's getting frustrating after a while when you kick their asses, and they come back and they don't learn anything, or they've forgotten everything. After a while, you get really bored about that. I like to be creative also in the voice coaching time, so I need to have people around me who are talented and working in bands. That would be like a little kick in the ass for me as well.
Invitation to join Firewind: If I wouldn't have the job for Uli, I was asked by Gus replacing Apollo for that tour they did already, so it was my fault, or it was his fault. It wasn't the right time, you know. I love Firewind, I love Gus, he's my brother. I love to play with him. He's a great guitar player.
Rock album in the works for Uli Jon Roth: Uli's like that kind of guy, 'I've written it already. I have it all in my mind. I can go in the studio tomorrow,' and you never know when he's starting. He's just planning things and talking a lot about it. He's planning a rock album after all these years. His friends worked to make it happen that he's going to do a rock album. And he thinks the same thing, he's ready for a rock album, because all these orchestrations, all the classic style he made in the past, it's another phase of his life. And now he decides to make a really good rock album. He asked me for a couple tracks on that album, so I'm very fortunate. I'm very proud to do it, you know.
Solo album plans for Henning: I'm really interested just to do it for the passion, for the love of my own stuff, to do it. I would definitely say yes for a solo album...When an artist decides to make a solo album, it is an ego trip to fulfill, to satisfy your needs, you know. There are so many ideas coming out of my mind right now writing lyrics already, and I think the time is right to do it.
Auditioning for Gamma Ray: That was right after Land of the Free. Kai just decided to sing again, like the people wanted him to sing, or even the record company in Japan wanted Kai overtaking the vocals again, so it was a big deal for them and even the fans wanted him on the vocals. But somehow, he thought 'Let's give it a try. I'm actually not a singer, I'm a guitar player and I want to focus.' On the other hand, it was like Jeckyl and Hyde. He wants to sing again to satisfy his creativity. But it didn't work out back then because I guess it was a political thing. The record company says, 'Okay, we need Kai Hansen on the vocals,' and the fans were screaming for that also, so that was his decision to make. I was really sad and disappointed back then because I was also young. You might imagine how that could be for a young guy. It was disappointing in a way, because I was hoping, but after a while, I understood, and we had a little chat.
Auditioning for Savatage: After the second album of Metalium, State of Triumph (that was in 2001), our American brother, Jack Frost, was quitting Metalium because he was asked for taking over the guitars in Savatage. And that was the time when Zak Stevens split with Savatage also. So Chris Caffery went back to the States with the record of the first album of Metalium, Chapter One, and Paul O'Neill was able to listen to my singing, and they invited me for this Trans-Siberian Orchestra thing. Again, it never worked out, because they said it was like a time schedule thing. After a while, they asked me again to join Savatage. You have to know what Savatage means to me. Savatage is one of my biggest influences regarding Jon Oliva's singing or even the music. And I was really overwhelmed by the fact that Adam Lind or Paul O'Neill came to me by email, and Chris Caffery also, asking me, 'Hey man, could you audition for Savatage?' And I was like, 'Hell yeah!' And then I turned totally crazy. I had an exclusive contract with Metalium regarding the next production, so I had to go out with that and I had to fight with the lawyer or something. And another problem was that I had to make sure that the songs were fitting me, so I was practicing a lot. I gave up my flat in Germany. I just had a fight with the lawyer and Metalium. It wasn't an easy time, man. And then I was waiting on the other hand, still in contact with Chris and the management. They just said, 'Hang in there. Please wait, it's a matter of time. The band has to come to New York so we can jam and try it out.' But after a while, they took another guy, because this guy was from Florida, and then they went on this world tour with the new album. Time went so fast, and I was just broken down, really sad and disappointed again. So that was just bad luck, those two chances. Imagine that you have to be strong and be confident again, and to make it happen for the future. It was a really exciting time, but also very disappointing time. And then I decided to go back to Metalium for the third album.
Future plans with Uli: The next shows with Uli Jon Roth, we're going to tour in Europe, like in Germany, Belgium, Holland. We will have that Wacken Festival, a headline show with Scorpions songs, having some guests on stage. For example, we're planning on Japan, and even his own record, so this might be interesting for me as well.
Meeting Bruce Dickinson in LA: Uli told me of course before, 'There might be a chance that Bruce Dickinson is coming up, and we have to jam with him, and you will be on stage with him singing his background vocals.' We wanted to do 'Mistreated' and 'Black Night,' and even maybe if he's in the mood for 'Run to the Hills'. So we were jamming that Run to the Hills song the night before. It didn't work out, because he was working with Roy Z the whole day doing this solo record*, and there wasn't any chance for him to sing live. I woke up, and I heard this really strong British accent in the back of the bus, so I came in and he was sitting there. He was really a gentleman, really down to earth, and we were chatting a bit and having a couple pictures.
[*As you see, this seems to be confirmation that Bruce Dickinson was working on a new solo album with Roy Z. as of March 2nd, the time of the LA gig.]