He is back
Prodigal son of power metal is coming home, I mean to the metal scene. With His voice he defined the development of the whole style and unreachable bar for countless number of imitators. Michael Kiske, it’s about him, of course, I’m talking, is back not with his old project, but with brand new band UNISONIC! And, surprisingly, but a band with no album released were invited to participate in such huge festival as Sweden Rock and some more shows as well, which shows that interest to his person is still there. Our little conversation happened to be soon after his first big show on Sweden Rock and he shared his first true emotions and feelings of being on the stage again, told us a bit of what we should expect from coming album and the most important, gave a pledge to come to Russia ….. one day ;)
People shouldn’t complain about bad weather so much. Otherwise they wouldn’t have topic to start a conversation.
Sorry, my PC is dead so I have only this little piece of paper with notes.
You mean energy wise?
You don’t have a hotel room, where you can charge it?
No, I’m camping, and I’m really, really freezing, because in the night it’s fucking cold!
Yeah, it’s very cold, we did these three warm up shows, very small spots in Germany – very hot! Really summertime in Germany, especially in Karlsruhe and its surroundings, where we were rehearsing. Probably, it’s Sweden; I don’t know, I hadn’t been here very often.
Well, I’m from Russia, you know, and it’s pretty much the same weather, but in Russia I have my home so can sleep in the bed, not on the ground. *laughs*
But then you shouldn’t freezing so much if you used to it.
Well, I always felt, you know, like I don’t belong here and many people say that I look a lot like Brazilian.
Ja, ja, ja, you look actually like coming from warm country.
Yes, yes and I feel like the one.
I hate it too, to be honest. I’m coming from Hamburg and it’s a lot like this. It’s beautiful city, but it’s too cold. Too much rain and stuff like that. Sometimes we don’t have real summer. Rain, rain, rain!
Same in my town!
It’s pretty like London; though I think London it’s even better than Hamburg weather wise.
I’ve never been to London, but I’ve been told there’s a lot of fog.
London is known by being foggy in the morning, a lot of rains.
But I guess it’s a bit warmer, here it’s like rain and cold.
It’s like mad weather like in Iceland, where Björk is coming from. Everyone goes insane, because it changes every second.
Okay, let’s drink and start.
Do you know how to say cheers in Russian?
"Skål?" No, it’s not Russian… “Na zdorov’e”
Yeah!! Great!! You know that!!
First of all, I’d like to give you my congratulations for starting doing live shows!
Unbelievable, that they booked us, isn’t it? We haven’t done a record yet. I was really impressed when I’ve heard that they wanted us to play here. No record, band just starting. That’s really an honor.
You must have some friends and team that organizes that.
I’ve got Les Paul, I’ve got it for free from Gibson, just because the guy there who loves the past and stuff like that. That’s how it goes.
Is it your first real live show?
Yeah, it’s first real show. We did 3 very small clubs in Germany couple of days ago. We rehearsed in rehearsal room for 12 days or something. It’s pretty silly what we did, but it was okay for that.
What do you feel right now? Because you were not performing live for… how many years?
Wow, that’s really, really long time!
Ja, ja, that’s a long time.
So how do you feel now?
Really good, exciting! I was kind of nervous, of course, especially, in such a big place. We were kind of lucky: we supposed to go earlier, but then this thing happened…
With the wind?
Exactly! I don’t know how long we had to wait, but it felt like an hour or so. It was good for us, because weather changed, it got better and people got more. For us it was a good start. We played shorter, as we had to cut out some songs.
I was very excited about it, it was very exciting to see the faces and I could see them! It’s not like in a venue where you don’t see much usually - it’s just a noise mass, darkness in front of you. Maybe you can see something in bigger venues. But here I could see everyone - very mixed audience too!
Of course, people are coming from different countries.
Ja ja ja
Seriously, I have two friends coming from Brazil!
When we did that warm up shows, we were talking about, really small venues, 150-200 people most, there were three people coming from Russia, and there was one Turkish guy from Turkey - just for that! I’m really honored. We’ve got them backstage, spent some time with them. Because they come from that far and when you hear about it, you just take some time for them. It was very nice.
But those clubs were very small. It’s the first real thing.
It was also very exciting when we had a signing session; it was just two or one hour ago or so. How many people have my solo records?! I was kind of surprised!
It’s different, it’s different in Germany! it doesn’t known very much
I saw as well Avantasia, Gamma ray CDs, where you were participating.
Ja, ja, ja, everything!
Avantasia, Edguy, Aina, Masterplan, everything where I was.
I don’t remember you were on Masterplan…
Yeah, one song once.
I don’t remember *whispering*
On the first or second one album. It was just one song I sang but it’s quite awhile ago. It could have been first or second Masterplan.
Okay, because I don’t remember *laughing*
Yeah, yeah, I did one song. That’s for sure!
Okay I’ll check it out, because I do remember you on other stuff like Avantasia… yeah by the way let's talk about Avantasia right now.
Do you remember what character you play there, for example, I know Jorn Lande represents some kind of devil. And who are you there?
As far as I remember … Was it some kind of wise man or something, or teacher?
A wise man who teaches Tobias which way to go
Maybe you’ve got to ask him *laughing* He told me the story, but it’s quite awhile ago.
When we did the first one, I’m not really remembering. It went little bit this direction:
“You’ll be la la la, you’ll play that role” and stuff like that.
Why did you actually agree to participate in first Avantasia, back then it has no name, no one could imagine what it turned out to be. Why did you say “yes” to Tobi?
Because I liked him, he called me up on the phone, I just liked him
So, you were just friends or what?
Yeah, we haven’t met personally yet, I just had him on the phone and e-mail. I just liked him. That’s important to me. He was obviously… ah, I don’t think I should say it, but some kind of stuff sounded a bit familiar, you know. *laughs* It was fun to do, he talked me into it. I wasn’t really doing anything during that time, all sorts of the offering I was not doing. Only thing I did was Gamma Ray «Time to Break Free» and another thing. I didn’t do anything else and I didn’t want to do it in the first place, but then I did that silly thing. I don’t know why I did that. It was some funny phases you go through. He talked me into it, he kept going, and then I did it.
Have Tobias invited you to participate in the Avantasia tour yet?
Not yet *laugh* I haven’t been asked yet.
But if there’s gonna be a tour and Tobias will invite you, are you in?
I think I would do it, because I’m touring now again. When he asked me for the first time, he offered me a lot of money and I didn’t do it because I wasn’t ready for it, I didn’t feel like doing it.
But what changed since then, because only one or two years passed, it’s not so much time.
It’s difficult to say; sometimes you just have to go through certain phases. I was stuck with my solo record, I didn’t get anywhere, couldn’t write songs for month. I was kind of really stuck and then Kosta and Dennis wanted to meet me in Hamburg, and we met up. Kosta is part of Bottom Row Promotion, it’s a management company and he said something like, “I don’t think you have ever been really managed” and he is right! I didn’t have management. I was with Rod Smallwood; he does just Iron Maiden these days. He was manager of Helloween too and he managed me too, but we weren’t really doing anything. I was no longer in Helloween; I was doing my solo record. I liked them, not all of them, but most of them. It’s very good experience and you learn a lot, especially the producing things and stuff like that, but I was never managed: nobody ever tried anything with it; nobody was trying to reach the audience. It was just release and then very few people who know me from the past who can like it. That’s it. But you don’t gain new audience by that. Mainly, the reason was - I was kind of stuck and it was the right time. It’s like two years earlier I wouldn’t have done it, but you can’t really say why, you just feel it is good. If I don’t do it now, I will never do it. Ten more years I’m 52, now I’m 42 - it’s okay, ten years later I’m too old.
Well, not necessarily, there are many artists, who’s touring and touring and I can tell they are pretty old, it doesn’t stop them.
Yeah, Rob Halford is 64 or something and he’s still awesome!
Yeah, I know what you mean, but to start something new - it’s kind of too late…
Yeah, for example Timo Tolkki after he was apart with Stratovarius, created Revolution Renaissance, where you were participating, by the way.
Yeah, that was nice.
Yeah, and you know it’s sad that most of people really didn’t appreciate or understand that band, because it sounded different from Stratovarius and people were like, “oh, that’s not Stratovarius, I won’t listen to it”
It’s wrong, it’s wrong.
It’s really sad that some fans want to hear the same music over and over again.
They shouldn’t, music is about being creative. But it depends on the audience that you have.
Yeah, but I read such kind of things about lot of bands, when the band changes its sound…
We had this problem with Helloween too, when we changed the sound.
And the fans start complaining, “oh, why did you change, it was so great before” and blah, blah, blah.
It’s one of the things I was always complaining about, when I came to the metal scene. Because I think that’s not true music. True music is when you express yourself. What gets criticized by rock fans very often in pop industry is … Let’s say boy group production, for instance: everything is made, they don’t write their own songs, people dress them, show them how to dance. They are just puppets. It’s just a product. Where’s the difference when you take hard rock band or metal band- they just reproduce their best selling records. Where’s the difference? It’s actually the same, the same spirit. True music means you express yourself and you’re not afraid of what you’re doing. And as soon as you start to try to please your fans in a way when you just copy yourself, you become fake. That’s what I criticized very often about metal scene- that many people are like you described them and it kills music. They become clones of their own, they reproduce blueprint of their best records- that’s exactly the problem in pop industry, where everything is orientated on market. Who knows what fans wants to hear anyway, because this fan and that fan, they are not the same. I always surprised in meeting a lot of people, maybe because of what I’m saying and stuff like this. I meet a lot of people who actually very pissed, when bands trying to count them out and not being creative. A lot of people understand what I was saying in the past.
They should think about it. I understand that… when you're fan and you like a record very much… they don’t mean bad. It's not that I don't understand their disappointment, when they get something they don't understand, but they should listen to it couple more times, maybe it’s even better! I know how it is when you don’t get what you have expected and you first thought like, “hmm”… But in my life I had that many times, but I never actually put record away too early. There were like Cds that I didn’t understand in first place or maybe one song on the record I didn’t like, when I listened to the record for the first time. Later on that turned out to be my favorite. Because you need time sometimes to get into it. And if rock music wants to be living alive and foodful stuff, fans also have to open up; they should not turn their backs on the band just because they're doing what is their job, just because they are trying something new. If you’re confused in the first place, it’s understandable, but listen to it, just listen to it! Bands need to be creative if they don’t; they lose their ideas sooner or later. If you start to copy yourself, you actually start to sell your soul. You’re not musicians anymore; you don’t do it with passion,
you just write with your head to please the audience… It’s the end of the band. It’s morally wrong to do that.
Yeah, but, you know, sometimes it’s even funny: when the band doing the same music, the fans complaining that they’re doing the same music. When the band trying to do something new, they start complaining that it’s not the band they love anymore.
Exactly, exactly! But I guess, probably, it’s not the same people. If it’s the same people, they are kind of insane. *laugh*
I’m pretty sure it’s the same people.
Really? Omg! *laugh* “You can change but just a bit”.
This is ego; people just want their egos to be served. I think musicians need to have an ego, if
musician does 100 % of what he wants to do totally selfish, he does the right thing, because it’s what all about - express yourself, make your visions come true.
In some cases, I think too much ego is bad, because there are many bands that had a really strong leader who wanted to have control of everything and the band fell apart, because other musicians cannot express themselves.
Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s a destructive ego; I’m talking about constructive ego.
I meant it in relation to what you said, when I try to please my audience, I don’t have any personality, I don’t have any ego, I just copy myself to please my audience, I become a prostitute basically to my market. When I have an ego, I need to write music I believe in, I need to write this record, this song. It’s a constructive ego. Ego is actually wrong word. It means having balls, having personality; I think it’s a better word for it. It’s kind of lame; it’s kind of wimpy, when bands become coward, when they know if they keep record, for instance, they would never exist, they would never see the day light. We wouldn’t been brave enough, we didn’t even think about it, we just did the record before “Keepers”-“Walls of Jericho”, it sold hundred thousand or something. “BigFoot” - small label, of course, they was worried a lot when they heard songs like “Dr.Stein”, Rise and Fall”, they didn’t wanna do it, but we said, “fuck you", that’s it, we do it or we don’t do anything. We just didn’t care, we were like young and naïve, but sometimes it’s something you need to have. We were totally convinced about it, I was totally convinced about it, I knew it would sell big time, I don’t know why, I didn’t even think about it, it wasn’t just wishful thinking or anything like that. It was an instinct somehow. It was a great phase, a great time and the fact that this record still means for people NOW for new generations proves the point: if you do something like that for the right spirit - it lasts, if you don’t – it’d be forgotten quickly; many records had been forgotten quickly.
But many records haven’t been understood as well …
I think there are two kinds of fans: who likes the musicians and who likes the record, I’m not talking about glorifying people, I’m talking about being interested in an artist, of what he might do next. It’s a different thing: if you like the band, you are interested in what they might do, but if you just like a record, you’re not really a fan of the band; you’re just a fan of the record.
I always love Queen, for instance. I don’t care if Freddy was gay or whatever, you know.
Just for the sake of music: awesome vocalist, awesome songwriter, awesome performer, what a band! Bands like that don’t even exist anymore. Show me one! Maybe U2, then it gets rare. There are a lot of good bands, but Queen was special, really special. Look at the records they have done, they’re different, very different, but you can always tell it’s Queen, but they always sounded different. And their fans were trained by the band to be a fan of the band and not just one or two records. I think it’s what you gotta do as a band - gain yourself the right audience, the audience that lets you to be creative.
That’s pretty difficult, because the person itself really should have something special inside… that people would be interested in.
Yeah, yeah, that’s true! And Queen had that.
Same with the Beetles! Look at them, they changed generations! So many different records they have done. It was totally different time from now and I’d really wish it’ll change again in this direction. To do much is just market these days… market, market, market; not so much about music.
Good questions, by the way, you are very aware of what matters.
Thanks, you made me blushed, that I forgot all questions I had.
Oh, I’ve got my memory back.
Maybe you heard that Helloween released “Unarmed” CD, where they recorded new versions of old songs.
Ja, ja, ja, I’ve heard about it. It’s interesting, you mean with classical instruments and stuff like that? Is there a woman in front of the cover with a cello?
Very good cover! Very good looking cover. I think it’s very brave for them to do that, it’s good, it’s good, and I know they’ll get a lot of shit from a lot of people!
Nicolas: They’ve already got.
Yeah, yeah, but I’m a bit, what would be the right word, I’m a bit impressed!
So, you listened to it?
I haven’t listened to it, I’ve just been told and I’ve seen the cover. And I know what it is, I know what they have done, just the idea of doing something like that, I’m impressed! I don’t know, maybe I should listen to it, I haven’t listened any of those records from them.
Okay, because when I was talking to Kai Hansen, he said that he completely didn’t like the song, they sent him version of “I want out” and asked him to play solo.
It’s okay if he doesn’t like it – I haven’t heard it, so I don’t know maybe it’s not done good, but the idea is cool to do that, I think it’s brave to do that.
And if we’re talking about Gamma Ray, I know you were participating on their last album and I’ve heard that you liked 2 songs a bit more than that song you sang on.
Ja, ja, ja, but he wanted me to sing on that one, he actually sent me about three songs. I was actually happy, “Oh, it’s cool songs”
“Oh, but I want you to sing on that one”
But it was also good, but two other songs I liked even a bit better.
Tell me about your project…
It’s not a project, it’s a real band.
Oh, sorry, my mistake, I know the difference. *laughs*
Place Vendome was a project.
Okay, so tell your Russian fans what they should expect from your brand new band Unisonic.
A good rock record
We don’t want to cause a metal band, we wanna cause rock band. if you wanna have hard rock songs we can do it. We want it to be it very colorful, but we gotta work first, we gotta write couple of songs, we have a lot of songs, but we are not totally there yet. It was good for us to do this to get how it feels for the band. Now we feel like a band actually and it was necessary to do. I think it’s a good idea that we haven’t done a record yet, the main work comes now. What you can expect is structure of my solo, Dennis, we’re still the same people with the same sorts of techniques, we will make songs for our generation, we don’t try to be fashion, we will do what we can do best. We don’t wanna sound like Place Vendome totally. Place Vendome sounded a bit 80th like and we’ll sound a little bit modern, I think. But it’s really hard to tell you what it’s going to be, but I’m sure it’s gonna be good!
And when it’s going to be released?
I guess fall or something, if we are very fast. But this year.
And… should we expect you in Russia?
We are planning to do a lot of touring next year.
Nicolas: Russia is definitely on the list, in top section.
See? He’s from management, he must know
And there will be only Moscow or Saint-Petersburg as well? Because Saint-Petersburg is my home town…
Write it down just for her *laugh*
Nicolas: Moscow and Saint-Petersburg are of the same importance, I think.
Yeah, but most bands come only to Moscow…
Nicolas: But you know what we did with Gamma ray and Helloween package, it was even more: Moscow and Saint-Petersburg and Krasnodar.
Yeah, that was great; I visited two from three shows: in Saint-Petersburg and Moscow.
Nicolas: In Moscow it was great show.
Yeah, in Moscow more people can afford to come to the show, there’s more money.
Nicolas: Yeah, we could see that.
We will actually missing G’n’R tonight, won’t we?
We have to leave earlier…
Nicolas: Yeah, otherwise we stuck with the traffic; we have a quite long drive, you know.
Yeah, we also leaving soon after G’n’R to Stockholm by bus and it’s a long way too.
Is it somewhere on TV?
Nicolas: Funny thing, but Sweden Rock - not, many other festivals- yes, Sweden Rock –not…
Okay, you can talk more when the record is out.
Yes, sure, thank you for your time and nice interview.
5 àâã 2010
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