Blind Guardian – Twilight Tales Never FadeSunday, 15th February 2015
Dead Rhetoric: As for Beyond the Red Mirror, this is one of the first times you’ve gone back to certain themes and concepts, like the ones found on “Bright Eyes” and “And the Story Ends.” Was this done on purpose, or was it coincidental?
Kürsch: It was coincidental. There was a certain moment in the songwriting when I felt, “Okay, things are tied together and the particular ideas I had for the single songs…they do not deliver exactly what is being supplied by the song.” All of the sudden, I saw these links in between the songs and at the same time, we were working on stuff like Imaginations where we did The Traveler’s Guide to Space and Time, and so, I somehow got back to the storyboard when I read Stephen King’s Dr. Sleep and he used the technique with revisiting one of his protagonists from The Shining. I liked the idea. This altogether made me think of a conceptual album going back to the Imaginations direction.
The other point was that there was an atmospheric tie to Imaginations. There was a stronger dystopian feel to the songs compared to what we have done on A Twist in the Myth, At the Edge of Time, or A Night at the Opera. I felt, “Okay, if there is that strong disturbing element in the music and they have that somehow more reality-related approach as well, why not deal with two different universes? Again, I was driven back to Imaginations where I’ve had this situation already. Then, of course, once dealing with Imaginations, you see the artwork with the mirror and you see these two worlds. Everything got a little frame in my mind already.
Dead Rhetoric: And musically, you guys are as complex as ever. Most bands as they advance through their career tend to get less elaborate, but that’s not the case here. It’s perhaps fitting for the concept you developed. Is it more daunting than ever to come up with a new album?
Kürsch: For me, it was not, but for Andre [Olbrich lead guitars], it has been. He has the pressure. Funny enough, he doesn’t even consider the music we’re doing as complicated; he would have gone even further, and I had to take him back sometimes. Even with the support of Charlie Bauerfeind, it turned out to be very complicated. What you hear is a sort of compromise in exploring new dimensions. The unbound output in Andre’s ideas alone might have been even more complicated. I think it’s a pretty good cooperation we have. The one calms down the soul of the other, and at points where it might become necessary. For me, my first idea was to do not a “back to the roots” album, not even a simple album, but maybe a more open album to giving space. When Andre threw in his ideas, I knew we had to take it as things came in to see how the final output would be. [laughs] Charlie reacted the same way.
For us, it’s being as innovative as possible, but with a passion. It’s not that anything is really designed in this way before. Things come in, and we deal with it, and whenever I get a drawing from Andre, I’m eager to bring in as many colors as possible. And the other way around. He’ll say, “The green you brought in is not what I want there.” He comes in with two different colors and I’ll say, “These two colors might be better than my green.” And we work from there, so in the end, we have these constructs, these buildings which we feel both comfortable with. We stand behind it. That’s important point in Blind Guardian. Whenever we finish a song, you can be sure the creators of the song and hopefully the producer, in this case, Charlie Bauerfeind, really believe this is the maximum we can do for a song. We try to treat each song individually and hope to finish with the best result.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the 90s now? You were playing such an unfashionable style of metal, but you had so much success. Do you look at it with amazement?
Kürsch: [laughs] I look at every part of our career with amazement. Nothing ever seems to be very far away when we’re talking about the years. I still sense the excitement when we did Battalions of Fear. The 90s were somehow strange, because yeah, as you said, the scene was going in a different direction and everyone said, “Metal is going to be dead soon.” There were not a lot of bands having success, but for us, it was going in the opposite direction. We felt somehow, privileged, but on the other side, we considered that as proof we did the right thing. It was doing what we believed would be good. It was never trying to figure out where the wind was blowing and which way it would lead us. We did what we felt was the best for the band. This hasn’t changed over the last 20 years. Whatever we’re doing, we truly believe in. Of course, failure has been an option. This has been the case in the 90s, and today, but in general, as an advice for any band, if you do that, you fail because of your own fault.
Dead Rhetoric: We talk about unfashionable stuff, and it makes me think of when you first came to America in the 90s. Now, you play to really strong crowds.
Kürsch: To be honest, we were told in the 90s, “You have to come over and establish the market.” This is one of the mistakes you make. I was believing our record company who said there was no market. We were signed to Virgin, a major record company, but it was halfway true. There was an underground and we probably could have come over earlier. I regret this mistake, if you want to say that. I was just happy when we finally got the chance via Century Media to get some exposure in the U.S. and Canada. All of the sudden, when we came over, it was a challenge for the promoter. We figured there was a strong underground market, we just have missed ten years. That was my first impression.
Then I started enjoying it, then I learned about the hard way of rock ‘n’ roll in the USA. You play in clubs and no one gives a shit about you, promoter-wise. It’s different than touring in Europe, even if you are touring on a small level, the promoters and the venues, they try to give their best. They treat you like a human being. There were some places on the first tour, where that wasn’t the case. It was a great experience. Over the last 15 years, we haven’t figured anything like that. I tremendously enjoyed the tour, but it was also very demanding. Ever since, I have to say, whenever we come over – we still have another philosophy than other bands – touring constantly to make a bigger buzz, create a new audience, we believe in coming with each album once. Maybe that’s old-style European, but I believe it makes us special. People know, “If I miss them, I have to wait for the next round, which means four years.” [laughs] I feel really privileged with the way things went for us, especially in North America, where despite our age, we’ve become bigger and bigger. This is going the biggest tour we’ve ever played when we come over, and we’ll be over by the end of the year. Another philosophy of Blind Guardian, is if possible, then we come over as a headliner or as a co-headliner, and this also helps. We’ve done three tours so far, and they were successful. It’s not that we regretted coming over or the promoters lost a lot of money. It was well done, and that’s a good experience, and I hope this is going to continue when we come over for the next one.
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