Helloween – Crazy Men Still Doing Fine

Sunday, 14th June 2015

Dead Rhetoric: You played that many guitars on the album?

Weikath: I had to. I was merely playing my tracks and some of Markus’s and Deris’s.

Dead Rhetoric: The three of you have a lot of songs on the album. Uli [Kusch] had a bunch, too.  

Weikath: His tracks were recorded by Grapow.

Dead Rhetoric: Tommy also brought up that you should go into the middle of the big lake in Hamburg, the Alster, and do some solos.

Weikath: I’d be set up in a tree and record it, just to capture some magic. That’s what we did with “Revolution Now.” Markus recorded the bass in a sandbox outside. We forced him to get drunk and stoned. Then he was going [mimics bass parts]. It was crazy. That’s just what we wanted.

Dead Rhetoric: Recording an album can be tedious. That breaks up the monotony.

Weikath: It can be. We were just looking for vibes. We wanted to do some crazy stuff, if possible. That’s the classic teddy bear recording session – we needed one for “Rise and Fall.” And then the “King of Los Angeles, got himself a teddy bear…”

Dead Rhetoric: “And the queen became shameless, she did it with a chair.”

Weikath: Right. We didn’t have a teddy bear sample, so we had to go to a toy store and sample a few teddy bears. The owner strongly disapproved and went, “Get out of here!” He said if we want to have a teddy and record one, we ought to buy one. The other employees whispered to us, “He’s going to be gone in an hour, you can come back then.” So we came back with some recording equipment, like a professional Sony Walkman, a real good microphone and recorded teddy bears for fuck’s sake. This teddy didn’t have a good sustain.

Dead Rhetoric: You have a lot of bonus tracks for the new album, maybe moreso than in years’ past. Was it hard to come up with the final running order?

Weikath: Yeah, it was somewhat difficult, but then we asked people what they thought of the tracks, and they go “Weiki’s tracks are crap.” I worked too much for that, and we had to find a different solution.

Dead Rhetoric: “Battle’s Won” is a great song, and that’s yours.

Weikath: That was the one that was most clear, but when I want to do something else, I run into trouble and I’m walking on thin ice. Something that sounds different than “Battle’s Won.”

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve said before that you tired of doing the epic power metal “anthems.”

Weikath: On the other hand, I’m stuck with it, and I bow to it, and said, “Okay I’m going to do it.” Then if you listen to “Creatures in Heaven” and “Claws,” which could have been on Walls of Jericho. So much hub-bub about “What’s this supposed to be? There’s no cheesy lyrics! Is it about some hawk or strange animal killing things? That’s not Weiki.” And blah, blah, big problem. It was really strange with the b-sides and bonus tracks this time because we were waiting for a few tracks to evolve. That didn’t happen with a few tracks that we thought would, but with others we didn’t deem so good, they turned out really good. There are some surprise elements in the whole thing. But more or less, we had an opinion, and that’s what you get to hear. The other tracks, we deemed not as strong are bonus tracks or b-sides.

Dead Rhetoric: “Like Everybody Else,” which is one Sascha’s songs, turned out really well.

Weikath: That was already recorded on the 7 Sinners sessions, but then it didn’t make it on the album because someone said we don’t need a ballad on the record. And that’s been lingering ever since. I always said, an American band would launch that as a single, they would probably sell 70 million units. I thought that “Like Everybody Else” is an amazing ballad, a real good song. I really like it. That’s why it made it on the record because a few more people were thinking “Okay, this time around, it’s okay. We’re being 80s, put a ballad on there.”

Dead Rhetoric: What’s your take on ballads?

Weikath: Every band that wants to be a serious rock band has to be able to come up great ballads. There should be at least one ballad on each album.

Dead Rhetoric: I’ve never heard you say that before.

Weikath: That’s been my reasoning over the years, and you can ask people who heard me say it and they would quote me back with exactly those words. I mean ballads that don’t suck.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve never really done the wimpy love ballad.

Weikath: Well, I did, but it’s debatable.

Dead Rhetoric: Which song?

Weikath: “If I Knew.” I like it less when I heard when it has a few similarities with some Finnish artist who did some kind of stuff like [Deep Purple singer Ian] Gillan would have done. He was the Finnish Gillan. I put too many in the structures in there I knew of one track he did, and I felt so shitty after when I realized I maybe a ripped off a few things from that track. Still, the track is good. He isn’t exactly famous, and mine is, so there can be discussions, but like how many other things we ripped off unwillingly that became the most famous Helloween track or whatever.

Dead Rhetoric: There was a stretch around Better than Raw when the band’s religious side was in focus. That has died down a bit, so are you okay that people still view you in that light?

Weikath: Now we say “God.” It’s a joke when I’ve done in a few interviews where I said I asked Andi Deris not to use the term “lord” so much because we’ve had it in four or five tracks. I said, “Say something else,” and he says “God.” [laughs] It’s like a finale. The ultimate word for an entity of the spirit that protects you or gives you hope. We mean it in the sense of Buddha, or Krishna, or Allah, we mean the one God that everybody has. People may disapprove, but to each one’s own opinion. If I listen to Venom, if I want to, I surely ignore the message.

Dead Rhetoric: You came up around the same time as Venom and Hellhammer. What did you think of those bands?

Weikath: I wouldn’t think of Hellhammer as a satanic band.

Dead Rhetoric: Venom was more over-the-top.

Weikath: And they meant what they said. I enjoyed their live video. It was fun to watch. I never forgot the review in one magazine where it was like, “Cronos sounds like cows birth giving birth to a small one.” I think maybe it was Kerrang. I thought they were so spot on!

Dead Rhetoric: Did your paths ever cross?

Weikath: No. We did shows with Celtic Frost, which was the closest you could get.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve hit all of these career milestones. What’s the one thing about your career that’s surprised you the most?

Weikath: How things can go badly wrong. And how long hair people can be so fucking uncool after you met so many cool people in the 70s, and how that changes and how you need to be aware of who you mix up with. The 70s, I glorify so much, there were also people with daggers and other stuff in their pockets that they used to rough up other’s people’s faces. It wasn’t as ideal as I want to put it. It wasn’t as cool. It was also violent. It was never good.

Dead Rhetoric: Another five-year wait to come back here?

Weikath: From what I heard, we’re going to be around there some time in February. Someone said, probably the manager, US and Canada.

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