South Park Festival, Tampere (Finland)
Text: Margarita Khartanovich
Photos: Boris Kashentsev
MGM caught up with bassist Markus Grosskopf, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Daniel Löble of Helloween during their tour of 2015, at South Park Festival in Tampere (Finland). We talked to Markus, Sascha and Daniel about the new album, Helloween’s trademark, the band’s present and past, recalled the time when Sascha and Daniel entered “Helloween University” and laughed at Helloween harvesting ripe musicians and Sascha never actually being asked to join the band. Well, we laughed quite a lot. Yeah, A LOT.
“The next moment I found myself at a photoshooting, and I was like, oh, OK! Seems like I’m in the band or something”.
Markus: (laughing) They learnt everything from what happens after the show – like drinking, shouting…
Daniel: (laughing) And not showering. Not taking a shower afterwards!
Sascha: I don’t think it’s a tricky question, as we look way younger than we are!
Sascha: We have been doing that for a long time already. Daniel and I, we did it for quite a long time even before joining Helloween, and we knew the scene. But of course, if you have people doing it for a longer time, you learn a lot. And most of the time we learn by their behavior. I learnt a lot by Andi’s and Michael’s behavior, what it is about to be in their band and how to keep it going. We didn’t know everything, all the history before we joined the band. Of course, it helps if you communicate and speak about that. But it was pretty clear what the music was about since we grew up, both of us, with their music when they started out.
Markus: (laughing) We grow our own musicians! And when they are ready, we just take them!
Daniel: So, you can say that Helloween is kind of a university with professors, and they send us on a journey that will never end. It’s a tough travel but if you take a look at different chapters in Helloween’s career, the answer is just to follow the way on the longevity of the band. And I have to admit that this is really something special about this band: since we joined it, we had a lot of freedom! When I joined the band, I was free to compose. That’s not very common in the majority of the bands when a newcomer can do that. I’ve got a lot of freedom to be creative. When I went off course then they interfered.
Markus: (evil laughter) Mua-ha-ha-ha.
Daniel: Of course, there is some direction, and they lead you that way. I enjoy freedom there, and I’m thankful for that.
Markus: We have new members to choose someone to come in. It’s not just like be there, play the guitar and shut up. We want to have them in the band for their ideas, and because they fit in character-wise. And me as an old fart (laughing), having fresh blood is also inspiring. This is a challenge too. We see them acting this or that way on stage, and we say “Well alright, I can do it like this again instead of getting sleepy”.
Markus: When I heard of Sasha for the first time he was in the studio already because we needed a guitar player.
Sascha: Actually we rehearsed for the album before we came to the studio.
Markus: Yeah, sure!
Sascha: But somehow it was Michael’s decision that I should be in the band. And actually till this day no one asked me to join the band. It was there, recording with them. Let’s try it for an album or so. And then in the end I just was there in some photoshooting. And I was like “Oh, OK. Seems like I’m in the band or something”.
Markus: (laughing) And he was “or something”.
Daniel: And he was actually the guy who asked me to join in that band.
Markus: (laughing) So, we kind of forced them!
Sascha: When Daniel joined the band it was kind of “Oh, wow this guy has different swell, he fits there so well! Yeah, all done!” No one was quite wondering if he wanted to join us or not. I went straight to him and was like “Because no one will ask you ever, just telling you by my own experience, I’m going to ask you now: Do you want to play with Helloween?” And that’s the story.
Markus: (laughing) And what did he say?
Daniel: Actually, Sascha, you are not a real member of the band, as you weren’t asked yet.
Markus: (laughing) Nobody asked me! I was just there in the rehearsing room and did a couple of gigs. Actually this band doesn’t exist!
Daniel: Yeah, because no one was asked! Ever!
Markus: And the very first producer that we had doing those two tracks on the death metal album. When it was about time to say something to the record company and producer asking how things are going, the guys said “Oh, it is such a horrible band, never sign them!” (laughing)
“If we tried to make it more old-fashioned and it sounds very modern, the next album we should try to make more modern and we will come back to the 80s with it maybe”.
Sascha: That’s funny that you say so. We tried to go back to the 80s, when we recorded that album. But the 80s are back so I guess it makes it kind of modern.
Markus: If we tried to make it more old-fashioned and it sounds very modern, the next album we should try to make more modern and we will come back to the 80s with it, maybe.
Daniel: That’s the story of the music business. Years ago there were the 70s, and now we are in the 80s. What’s up next? Maybe there will be the 90s, you never know.
Markus: The most important thing is to keep Helloween, the trademark of Helloween as people expect it to be, as it was before in the past. Each element of this trademark – the solo bits, the singing, the twin solo stuff – combine it with some new ideas.
Sascha: Staying original. It’s the key! Helloween is a very original band. Back then, when these guys started, I was at school. And I remember the time when there were 2 or 3 bands that were in this range of music. And they just stood out back then. And still it’s happening. There are a lot of metal bands out there but Helloween keeps it original very much. It’s not so constructed like a lot of newer bands – they have a different background. Of course, I have a different background too, as I grew up in the 80s. They grew up with The Rolling Stones – ha-ha-ha! – and The Beatles, and the UK punk bands, and Deep Purple.
Markus: I shared a cheek with Chuck Berry. Ha-ha!
Sascha: And Danny and I, we grew up with originals, like Scorpions. Of course, we have different influences that make us different artists. A lot of younger bands they come out now, and maybe Helloween was their influence or Metallica. That keeps it original in a way too having different backgrounds, listening to different music and writing the songs the way we always did. For example, we play twin guitar solos and leads, and song arrangements are special.
Markus: We keep a touch of rock’n’roll a little, you know, the fun side of it. Especially, on live shows – it is a rock’n’roll show. We don’t take it too serious. We always have a laugh, and we have a good time. That’s also a big part of Helloween, I guess.
Daniel: Exactly, we do not pretend to be something. We play what we feel. That’s the honest way!
Sascha: And not taking it too serious… It’s Entertainment Business anyway. Of course, we are here to entertain. Some people just take it too serious. They want to be very metal and very successful. We do it because we love it. And we have a lot of fun with it. And that’s what we transfer on stage as well.
“Is there a difference between playing in Tampere or Los Angeles. And Los Angeles is overrated”.
Markus: We have been here before, lots of times.
Sascha: Every tour we come here in Finland. 2 years ago we came here for a festival as well. Then we were with Ozzy Osbourne here. What was it called? Sauna festival or something like this. I remember it was a cool thing.
Daniel: It is nice coming back. During the wintertime. I remember there was a lot of snow.
Sascha: He is going to hunt reindeers. I haven’t tried the reindeer meat yet.
Markus: I did. It was more like a ragout. You go as the locals go.
Markus: The place doesn’t really matter. I could record the tracks that we’ve got in our heads and we play them in the studio, I could do it anywhere. It wouldn’t make big difference. We go there for recording; it’s our comfortable headquarters. Each band finds its way to record the best way it could, its own way. You could easily do it anywhere on the globe, on Galapagos Islands or somewhere.
Sascha: No matter where, success is success. If you have success in number one music scene it gives you cars and houses maybe. You are very successful. It’s great that we are able to play in the USA from time to time, for a couple of gigs. We are not that huge in the USA but it’s great that we can come there and play. It’s same great to travel to Australia or Indonesia.
Markus: That’s what we do as musicians. We are lucky to bring our music all around the globe. If they invite us to play, we will be there and play.
Sascha: We don’t make a difference between playing in Tampere or LA. And LA is overrated.
Upcoming tour dates in 2015
Rock Fest Barcelona
Liberec, Czech Republic
Auditorio M. Rios
Getaway Rock Festival
St. Goarshausen, Germany
Cieszanow Rock Festival
Moscow Metal Meeting
Moscow, Russian Federation