Blind Guardian


01 Décembre 2014



Interview André Olbrich (face to face)

Hello and thanks for answering the following questions for So you are here to tell us about your new album "Beyond The Red Mirror". When you think about this new opus, what is the thing you’re the most proud of?

Well, we really managed to achieve an album which contains lots of new experiments. For bands like Blind Guardian which have been around for more than 25 years it’s difficult to find new songs that we didn’t play before, because we have lots of albums and it’s getting more and more difficult with each album. But we really found a new composition of elements. It’s new for us, but contains the old trademarks as well. For example the first song: "The Ninth Wave", it’s like a futuristic fantasy/SF kind of sound. It sounds almost like a soundtrack. It’s a pretty new style for Blind Guardian, but I love it and I am proud of it.

Would you agree if I told you that this album is the most complex and progressive Blind Guardian album yet?

I don’t think it’s more complex than our other albums. "A Night At The Opera" was already very complex and "A Twist In The Myth" as well. I think that talking about complexity could confuse people in the way that they may think that this album is overloaded. I don’t think this is the case, I think that each song is very well-balanced and even if it has lots of details and lots of little melodies, the songs are very round, and even easy to play live. But it is progressive and since we composed three songs with a huge orchestra, of course that gives an epic sound and a kind of complexity regarding the tracks, yes.

Are you a bit apprehensive that some fans may miss the more straightforward approach you once had?

I think we are really straight, more than ever. Pre-chorus and chorus is like the usual song structure. We broke the rules in the first album, and we don’t want to go for a schematics or rules. We want to make music that we like, if a song needs three or four more parts then it will get it. It only satisfies us if the song has the dynamic build up to the end and if it keeps its interest. If it’s a short song or a long song doesn’t matter. It has to keep the interest and we want to draw you into a story, we want to really draw the listener in, so that he will get the emotions and his own visions and interpretations and can play around with the music. That makes our music interesting.

On "At the Edge of Time", you recorded songs with a real orchestra. This must have been a pleasant experience because you did it again on this new record. How was it this time?

In the last album it was the first time that we wrote with a real orchestra and it made us very hungry for more, because we saw that we were beginners with this and we learned a lot in this last album and we wanted to make use of all this knowledge. And we tried to improve, there’s a lot of space for new ideas. The challenge is to really make a fusion between the orchestra and the metal band. You can write in different ways to approach this problem. This time, I tried to write the orchestra parts first, and then bring the metal band in. It’s a complete different approach than writing a metal song and putting an orchestra on top... which usually is the standard way. But we really tried to build it up the other way: we made the orchestra composition, and then we tried to bring guitars and drums and make it sound like a metal song. For example in the song "At the Edge of Time", we even let the orchestra play first, and we adjusted to the timing and the dynamic of the orchestra. It was a real experiment. In the end I would say ok, I’m not sure if we'll do this way again, because it was really difficult: the orchestra is changing the tuning many times and the timing as well so it was difficult to adjust. I think it’s the easiest way if the band plays first and we adjust timing and tuning and the orchestra adjusts to the band. But you have to find out and learn this, and you can only learn this by doing it, doing this experiment. We did and I think that we improved. All the knowledge together is in the last song, "The Grand Parade", we brought on all those experiences and I think that this is the best composition we've ever written.

Do you think you will do this again?

Yes, we are not done with this. Epic style with orchestras is part of Blind Guardian now. I see there's lot of space for improvement. It’s not the end of this process of innovation and progressing. I think we can write some more beautiful songs with orchestras.

Once again you collaborated with the producer Charlie Bauerfeind. Is he the fifth member of the band?

You could call him that, yes. Because we have a great understanding with each other. He is really understanding the essential thoughts of Blind Guardian, which is innovation and authenticity. For this period he is really featuring his sounds and our personal sounds. He is not trying to change what we are. He is not trying to go a modern way or an old fashioned eighties way. He is not trying to put a sound on us. He is looking at what's there: who are we? How do we sound? What did we write? How are the songs? He features the good elements and the good ideas, and that’s what I like very much. And since we've known each other so well, for such a long time, I think we could improve producing. With every album we did together we always got a little bit better. The last album we made sounds better than all the albums we did before. It’s really a full sound with lots of dynamics and it is natural: it is not like synthesizer sounds or sample guitars that make it bigger, it’s really natural. I love this spirit and I’m looking forward to working with him again.

Do you think about playing live with an orchestra?

It is a dream to do this, but it is very difficult to accomplish because for only one example, the venues we play are not made for orchestra instruments. An orchestra needs a certain acoustic, this is why they play in operas: they are built for these acoustic instruments and then it sounds good. On a live stage, which is open, you don’t have the resonance that you need for these instruments and it would be very very difficult to make it sound good like everybody would expect. Everybody would expect that it sounds huge. But it’s not as easy as it looks. You really need to think carefully, because we want to present ourselves in a very good way and with a very good quality. We are always looking for good quality. And play live with an orchestra would represent a huge amount of work. We have to figure out a way to do it, and when we can do it. It could probably happen when we release our orchestra album. We are still working on it and when this is done, we think of bringing it on stage.

Speaking of this orchestra project, last time we met Hansi, he ws hoping for a late 2012/early 2013 release...

We made good progress. We have almost accomplished the full songwriting, we have recorded almost half of the orchestra, and Hansi has already sang four songs, not with the final lyrics though... but we are doing very well. It was the plan to release this album before but, since we did this remastering of all our old albums for the twenty-fifth anniversary and released this huge box of our lifetime work, we lost almost one year, and we thought we shouldn’t stretch time between albums too much. So we decided to put it on ice again, and now this album is done so we are already working on the orchestra album.

So can we hope it will be released soon?

Yes it could be finished in two years, but it really depends on Hansi. We have a really tough tour, it’s not fully booked yet, but so far, 2015 is almost packed with shows and as usual, Hansi’s voice will probably be exhausted from the tour and then we will have to see if the quality of the recording is good enough for what we want to do. We will decide then, if it sounds good, nice, but if not we will do it again later. And delay again. So I won't give you a date. It will be out when the quality is satisfying.

How are you going to choose the songs that you will play on stage?

So far we chose songs that we think are innovative and would fit well in our shows. We have some great ideas for the presentation of the next shows, and we have already chosen three or four songs that we will rehearse, but we have to see how the band will perform, we could change them again, because the performance has to be perfect, and we will only know when the show is completely rehearsed with everybody together. So far we are only preparing alone, so we don’t know yet, but we have a plan.

What can your fans expect from the next tour?

We are working on a very nice live setting, which is extraordinary for a metal show I think. We are trying to find new ways and to show that there's lot of room for improvement in the visual aspect, not only music but with the lights as well. I think what we're trying to do could be very interesting for our fans.

You will share the stage with Orphaned Land, did you choose the band for this tour?

Of course, we always choose our support bands. For the main part of the European tour, we always choose. Of course when you play little club shows you have local bands. In that case yes, we had some options, we listened to the different bands and styles and we thought that Orphaned Land would fit best for the music. It is the best combination for our fans.

Next year it will be the twentieth anniversary of your masterpiece "Imaginations From The Other Side", do you plan to do something special for this occasion?

No, I don’t think we need to celebrate this, I mean we still play lots of songs from this album in our shows, which should be enough.

The first and last DVD you released was "Imagination Though The Looking Glass" in 2003, do you plan to make a new DVD?

Yes we have plans but they are far away from now. We would like to have a new visual release but the concept is not really there. We are working on this, so far we didn’t have time to plan anything but we want to do something extraordinary like we did with "Imaginations Through The Looking Glass" because I think we reached a quality which was not the standard at that time. We watched all the other metal DVDs and we were not satisfied with the quality; even with the big bands, the big names’ DVDs were only so-so and I still like the quality of our DVD very much. When we do something like that again, we'd like it to be at least as good. But it’s about time, you’re absolutely right.

Back to the new album, in every Blind Guardian album there is something very new. What is it this time, according to you?

It’s this futuristic soundtrack touch in the first song and it has a combination with classical music like "Carmina Burana", it’s like an outstanding combination. There’s also down tuned guitars which have never been used before in a whole song so the sound is very different for some songs, not for all but for some, and the improvement of the combination orchestra/Blind Guardian. It’s very innovative as well.

Do you personnaly have any side projects?

No I don’t like to do this, to tell the truth. My focus is always on Blind Guardian and Hansi and I are the main songwriters. I always make the first step, I compose instrumental things to pass to him, then get forward with it. So if I had side projects, Blind Guardian would not release an album every four year, because I would be spending time somewhere else. I’m always working, and I’m always working on Blind Guardian and that’s why we can keep this pace. And I’m not so much interested in working with other people’s ideas, I’m so happy that I can make everything I like in Blind Guardian. I have my freedom, I can really go for my ideas and work them out, do everything I imagine and make my visions come true. I don’t need anything else; I’m one hundred percent satisfied with what I release on the Blind Guardian albums.

Thank you very much, do you have any last words for your French fans?

Of course, I hope you enjoy the new album and let yourself fall deeply in the music, as deep as you can, and I hope it will create some good visions for you.