Blind Guardian – Singing the Bard’s Song Part I

Saturday, 30th March 2013 Switching gears, your career is invariably based off your first six albums. Have you reached the point where you can look back upon those works and know how crucial they were to your current status?

Kursch: Ever since Imaginations, it has been obvious. I’d have to go back toBatallions of Fear or Follow the Blind. We were definitely focused on it. We were influenced by bigger bands like Maiden, Queensryche, Helloween, or whoever has had an impact in terms of music, Metallica of course. We considered ourselves as a band already, to be one of the more influential metal bands in Europe. We were already working on it back then. We did have faith in ourselves and the right influences, I would say. From there, everything went in a perfect direction for us; we never doubted we’d be a successful heavy metal band. I’d also say our individual way of songwriting with each album had progressed so fast and it helped us.

Even when the whole scene vanished in every part of the world, we were able to establish our name on Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations. There wasn’t much of a metal scene left. Yes, Japan was a strong market and some European countries, but the rest of the world was more or less ignoring bands of this style, but it went the opposite direction for us. Imaginations has held up about as strong as any record from that time. Are you surprised as to how well it has endured?

Kursch: [pauses] I’m surprised to sing these songs every night or during rehearsal and find that we still enjoy playing them. We’ve played them a thousand times, and when I go to “A Script For My Requiem,” it overwhelms me how the song still sounds. It’s a great feeling to have an album like that. You cannot expect an album to have that kind of longevity. It makes me really happy and is something that is not typical – you cannot count on it. I don’t think Somewhere Far Beyond or A Twist In the Myth are weak albums, but they won’t have the impact of Imaginations, even though on Somewhere Far Beyond there’s “The Bard’s Song,” which is our most successful song we’ve ever written. In terms of albums, and in terms of impact, I’d say it’sImaginations and Nightfall. You’re at the 15-year mark for Imaginations and the trend now is for band’s to play their seminal albums in full. Any temptation there?

Kursch: Yeah. We have discussed doing Nightfall In Middle Earth many, many times because that’s our best album. It has such a nice concept and you can bring actors onstage and extend the whole thing even more, but we have always given up the idea because I still believe that all of the albums do have a certain right to be featured. I really would regret if we didn’t play a song like “Valhalla” for example. So many people dig that. Same for “The Bard’s Song.” Things like playing the whole album…you may get problems with playing what people want to hear. We’ve always given up that idea, but once we get closer to the release of the orchestral project, anything is possible. We have to promote that album in the live situation, which will give me some headaches [laughs]. With that, we could have the orchestral stuff on one end, andNightfall on the other. I don’t think anyone would be disappointed about it. You mentioned “The Bard’s Song” and how you can’t get away without playing it live. Everyone has their reasons, but to you, why is this song so special?

Kursch: [pauses] I don’t know…I think it has a very strong balance. It’s emotionally one of the songs I have composed in one of the stranger situations in my life when my father was going to pass away. It’s tied to that era, so it’s an emotional song [for me]. It’s a nice melody and we were the first band to do something like that in quite a long time. I have no explanation. It’s been long discussed what that song is really about, but is it truly about Blind Guardian?

Kursch: No. I think it was very closely related to the time-traveling bard onSomewhere Far Beyond, and about the approach of the great music of musicians which passed away over the years. Bands which vanished without having any real recognition, but I always felt their geology and energy still lives through the music – that’s what the lyrics and song was about, not so much ourselves. At that point, we had a strong feeling that Blind Guardian would become a successful band, but it was about music in general and the necessity of musicians, doing what they always have done – entertaining people when they don’t have the biggest of success, but being important nonetheless. How much pressure did you feel when trying to come up with the follow-up to Nightfall, which eventually became A Night At the Opera?

Kursch: I did feel a lot of pressure, but it always changes in terms of that. I didn’t feel any for At the Edge of Time and when we did A Night at the Opera, it was the other way around. I somehow figured how strong Nightfall had been and it was…a very exhausting album for me. The album, with the narrators coming in from England, performing it, mixing it, and figuring this would be probably one of the most special albums we’d do in our career, I felt that during the production already. Then when we did the touring and for the first time, I didn’t play bass was something different for me as we. So I felt a lot of pressure when we started songwriting. Andre decided to change the way of songwriting because it was during the period when the millennium, but the technical progression made a different songwriting mode. Andre was already working with a digital recording system, which made the whole situation unusual for us. So I felt the pressure and it took a long time before we accomplished the first song. In between writing songs for the orchestral project and with the first ideas for A Night at the Opera, you could tell we were trying to get away from Nightfall.

We had big problems establishing something new. The first song we composed was “Maiden and the Minstrel Night” and I was not really moved by that one, and that was something strange too. On that particular album, even that went slightly different, so I was confused. There was more and more stuff coming from Andre that was overwhelming with so many elements and I didn’t have an idea how to get through this stuff. Somehow, we managed to do so. For me, the most important moment during that whole process was when we started composing “And Then There Was Silence.” That was big, and the most important moment. It changed the whole attitude, then it started to be more enjoyable.

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