Michael Kiske – To Be ExceptionalWednesday, 22nd April 2015
Dead Rhetoric: That’s remarkable. A lot of other guys have trouble hitting those notes.
Kiske: It’s also a mental thing. Eighty percent, if not more, is just in your head. Singers, good singers, are always good singers because they are emotional. They have a sensitive soul – they’re not primitive, at least what I call vocals. I’m not the person who likes any death metal vocals. It’s the noise they create to be unhuman as possible. With good singing, it doesn’t matter which direction, you have to have feeling. They’re usually quite sensitive. Singers are always fighting with their daily conditions. If you have a little flu, or you didn’t get good air in the bus or plane – all of these things have an effect on your voice. There’s always this psychological pressure on vocalists to be as good as they can onstage. Some singers build up a pressure they can’t overcome. Everything that is in your soul, is also in your voice. There are problems singers have in their voice and every vocal coach or doctor who deals with vocal chords will tell you the same – when you feel bad or are depressed or in doubt it all lays on your voice. You can’t fight it. Your soul controls your muscles and the voice is controlled by very complex muscles. It’s complicated and beautiful. There’s so much wisdom in the physical that alone, that should make you religious. The state of your soul and mind, but basically, has a huge effect on your voice.
Dead Rhetoric: And you’ve never been a big alcohol or drug guy either.
Kiske: Not at all. For the first time in my life I started to drink a little red wine in 2011. Just for the fun of it if I feel a little stiff. If you don’t overdo, it makes you relax. I do that to make up for the stiffness I built up over the years.
Dead Rhetoric: Back in the Keeper days, was it hard to resist those temptations?
Kiske: There was no temptation at all. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I’ve always been quite strong when it comes to that. Same with women. I love women. It’s that I’m sexually dead – there are a lot of girls who I find attractive, but I always was faithful. I didn’t look too bad in my 20s, and there were a lot of beautiful girls around us, even in America – you have a lot of pretty girls. That was always tempting, but I’m strong enough to where I’m not a slave. I was always faithful – I never betrayed any girl. Same with alcohol – I never wanted it. Nowadays, I want a little alcohol to have that effect. I’m not getting drunk, it’s just a little bit to feel a bit more relaxed if I feel like I need. I’m too old now to become an alcohol anyway.
Dead Rhetoric: Moving along to City of Heroes, what do you enjoy about working with the songwriting team of Mats [Sinner] and Magnus [Karlsson]?
Kiske: I think they know what they’re doing. Mat has been producing a lot; I like him. Magnus is mainly a songwriter and Mat is a producer, and he’s a lot like Dennis Ward. Dennis is really a producer. He’s a little kid when it comes to equipment and what’s fun, and it’s beautiful. He’s excited about this world. He’s at first a producer, then a musician. While I’m first a singer, then a songwriter, then maybe a producer. Mat and Magnus are professional enough to write this stuff with me and Amanda in mind, lyrically and where it could go. I think they know what they’re doing. I’m pretty sure about that.
Dead Rhetoric: Was the process a little easier than the debut?
Kiske: Yeah, just because I’m easier. [laughs] I’m so much more peaceful now, relaxed and happy. I was pretty much in my own world there, and almost in a protective mode. Everything is easier these days as opposed to five years ago.
Dead Rhetoric: And working with Amanda, whose such a professional. What’s it like?
Kiske: She’s beautiful. Not only from the outside, but she’s a beautiful person. She has a big heart, she honest, and she’s fun to be with. She’s not in any way a diva.
Dead Rhetoric: We consider that to be a negative term here in the States.
Kiske: She’s a woman of course, and she should be! Women have their own ways, but she doesn’t have that negative side that girls sometimes like to have. She doesn’t mess around or play stupid games. She’s in many ways, and in a good way, like a guy.
Dead Rhetoric: Are you sitting on a batch of songs for another solo release?
Kiske: I’m a person of the moment. I wanted to do a solo record with one of my best friends Sandro Giampietro, who has been participating on many of records because he’s a better guitar player than I would ever be. He’s also a better producer I’d ever be. In 2012, I thought I’d love to make a solo record, I wanted to make a record with him, but not my solo record where I produce it and you function as a studio artist. No, this time we write the songs together. You produce it; we do the songwriting together. He was up for it, but his own band got in the way somehow, then he got lost in the work of his own Starchild band. And that’s okay. I lost my fire around that time for doing it. Now I don’t really care at the moment. It might come up again. But if it comes to something besides Unisonic, I would much rather do my own acoustic recording of Elvis tunes.
Dead Rhetoric: Is that something you’re thinking about doing seriously?
Kiske: The way it’s going to end up has changed, though. It turned out – I always loved Elvis. He was the individual who made me get into music. Without him, I wouldn’t have cared about music. I was very young when he died – I was nine. I only recognized him when he died and they started to show the stuff in Germany. It’s his personality, his charisma that I haven’t seen anywhere since. Elvis, to me, is unreached. He’s the perfect entertainer. He’s a beautiful person. He’s an absolutely great looking guy. I love him when he’s in his early 30s around 1969 or 1970. He already had the side-burns. You should see him in ’69, he’s a panther, and he’s on fire. My favorite Elvis is 1970 or 1969. He was on fire. A lot of things went wrong management-wise in my opinion. They didn’t let him come to his final firework that he could have done. The story is very well known.
When I started with Unisonic and had to work on my voice and get it in shape to do this kind of vocals for a whole show, you have to figure how to train it, and it ended up that singing Elvis tunes as a warming up procedure was perfect. It’s not the “Jailhouse Rock.” He was signing it very rough; if you listen to Elvis’s version and compare it to the Motley Crue version, they sound like harmless cheese…I don’t know the right word. It doesn’t have the energy of Elvis – he was much more rough. That’s not the stuff you can do for warming up. I do the ballads, or if it is not ballads, like, “It’s your baby, you rock it.” It turns out that it’s not only perfect for my voice, but it gets me into such a joy mood. I feel so great when I listen to Elvis tunes that it’s the perfect start.
I ended up buying all of this Elvis karaoke tunes that cost 99 cents. I have about 150 Elvis karaoke tracks and some are very good, done with real musicians and great girl backing vocals. Even when I started to do vocal recordings at home, it’s almost an hour singing Elvis. I just ended up pressing “record” a few times, and I thought, “That sounds nice.” I sent those songs around to friends, usually female friends because they listen in a different way. And they loved it! Then I sent it to an old friend who used to work at my record company during my teenager and he thought it was so cool because I was signing it with so much love and joy. He said, When you do a record like that, people will love it. You do it in a way that’s very convincing. I’m not trying to be Elvis, but I know this in my heart. I have love for him in my heart. And that’s something you can feel. That’s how the idea came up.
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