Gamma Ray – Rising…Again

Thursday, 28th March 2013 Do you think that is the result of having the same lineup for 10 years?

Kai: For sure. That is one of the differences between the first Land of the Free and this one. With the first one, we were still getting used to each other, but this time around, it’s much easier. We have an instant understanding of one another and it makes the songs come easier. You’ve been on several labels since you’ve started Gamma Ray – Noise, Sanctuary/Mayan. What do you think about the work SPV has done for the album so far?

Kai: So far I feel we’ve made a good choice. There’s been a lot of feedback from people in the States telling us they’ve got the album, so something is happening there and I hope we can keep it up. In regards to the lineup, compare and contrast the Gamma Ray of today and Helloween when it was at its peak in ‘88/’89.

Kai: Boy, that’s a tough one (laughs). I think we were a bunch of uncontrolled youngsters in Helloween trying to find ourselves and our career. It was tough for us to deal with each other at the time because there we so many personalities and egos. Now with Gamma, we’re a bunch of mature guys and we know lots of things we didn’t know back then. Now it’s much more self-explaining. We’re not asking “Why?” about certain things – we know the score. At this point in your career, would you make a good sideman? I know that was a bone of contention during your time in Helloween…

Kai: Well, everyone in the band knows that I’m the person of focus. That’s just the way it’s always been since we started this band. They have no problem with it, although I think we are a band of four people in support of the same thing. We’ve been together for 11 years with this lineup, so we seem to be doing something right. When you left Helloween towards the end of ’89, what type of lessons and values did you want to instill in Gamma Ray?

Kai: For me, it was important to stay away from the ego things. The band should agree on the same thing, even though that’s hard to do sometimes (laughs). It wasn’t easy when I was in Helloween. It’s a definition of taste and it’s impossible to find people who think similar, but in Gamma, we don’t have those kinds of problems – we’re pretty sure of ourselves at this point. How has the “Hellish Rock” tour with Helloween gone so far?

Kai: It’s been amazing. We expected a few things to go well for the tour and so far, it’s been all positive. It’s a great atmosphere and it’s a rock ‘n’ roll business with surprisingly no BS. We [and Helloween] get up and do a jam session at the end of the show. So you’ve buried the hatchet with Weike?

Kai: Yeah, there are no problems between us. We went through a lot of shit over the years, but now we’re good friends, joking, pulling pranks, laughing. It’s been great. Is there any chance of you bringing this package over to the US?

Kai: We’re working on it. I know both bands want to go. It’s a possibility, but we need to make it work so we don’t have to pay for it (laughs). We love to tour and would really like to come over to the US with Helloween. Finally, what would you consider the watershed moment for you in Gamma Ray, where you knew you could do this on your own without the guise of Helloween?

Kai: I’ve never thought of that, to be honest. I think it was necessary to split with Rolf (Scheepers, current Primal Fear vocalist; Hansen’s first choice for the Gamma Ray vocal spot). The band was used to me singing during rehearsals, plus Rolf lived so far away, so maybe when I took over vocals permanently that was the moment.

I’ve never considered myself to be a great singer. The one thing I’ve found out through the years is that character is the one thing that makes a great singer. It’s not about the notes you hit – it’s really about the character and when you look at guys like Bon Scott or Ozzy, neither of them were fantastic singers in a technical sense, but they had their own personality and that’s what made them great. Once I realized that, I was able to relax as a singer and have fun.

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