Blind Guardian

Interview date

10 Juin 2010


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Hansi Kürsch (face to face)

Well, four years after "A Twist in the Myth" comes your new album. It now seems that four years between two albums is the time your fans have to wait. Why so long?

It's not reasonable for the fans, I know. It's quite a demanding time, I would say. But I think they have a certain expectation and they know that we don't wanna come up with crap. And so, we need some time before we’re able to reinvent ourselves and that has been the case since "Imaginations from the Other Side"… You know, there’s a lot of stuff: touring for eighteen months, then we take three of four months to get back to our regular lives, and then we’ve got something like two and a half years for songwriting and production. That’s more or less a reasonable time. Maiden does the same thing!

For the first time in your career, I read a lot of disappointed comments concerning A Twist In The Myth, because until then, all your albums had had excellent reviews and it seemed that each new record was your new masterpiece…

André (comes along and interrupts me): That’s wrong! That’s absolutely wrong! When we released "Imaginations from the Other Side", we really felt that people were shocked because they expected Somewhere Far Beyond 2, and it was not Somewhere Far Beyond 2. Some said “Hey, I’ll never listen to Blind Guardian again… those slow songs like "Mordred’s Song" are totally crap!”. We had had slow songs before, but this time it was more extreme and, at that time, more experimental. For example, a song like "Bright Eyes" pissed a lot of fans off.
And it was exactly the same thing with the next album "Nightfall in Middle-Earth": “Oh my god, all those talking guys, what is this crap? I cut it out, I don’t want to hear this shit. Nightfall is too slow. Where is the good old speed metal Blind Guardian? This is for girls only bla bla bla…”.
And "A Night at the Opera": same thing again! It was a disaster. And then they said “Oh my god, it’s too overloaded, it’s overproduced, all this orchestra shit, I don’t wanna hear this…”.
You know, I could tell you stories for every album we’ve released. Every new album has received a lot of criticism, and then a bit later, it becomes a masterpiece in people’s mind! (Laughs). Sorry, I have to go.

Then André leaves because he has another interview.

Still, many fans were disappointed by "A Twist in the Myth". Do you understand why some fans didn’t like it that much? How do you analyse their reaction?

Hansi : Well, it’s less epic and there is no doubt about that, from all the albums we’ve done, "A Twist in the Myth" has gone the furthest way away from what we stand for. It may have confused some people, I understand. For us, it’s a good album, we wanted to explore something different, artistically. We still like the album, and we feel there are strong songs in it. It’s a very important album for us. Still, it is a fragile album, also because Thomen had just left the band and I know that it made some fans uncomfortable. Some were even angry with us because of that. It definitely had an impact on the album too.

"At the Edge of Time" sounds much more epic and bombastic, and is definitely faster and heavier than your previous album. Can we assume that it’s your answer to reassure your fans or is it a coincidence?

Any output is always natural. We don’t focus on pleasing someone or trying to justify what we’ve done in the past. We figured there were some links to the past during the production. It was not so much during the song writing. It was not really done on purpose. We have to please ourselves first. Of course, we want to please our fans and catch new fans as well, but we can’t produce something we that doesn’t come from the heart.

Each new album has its surprises; can you tell us about the new things you tried on this one?

Well, the involvement of a real orchestra, definitely. And what we tried to do with it because it’s not about a band supporting an orchestra or the other way around, but really both are on the same level. They both have their individual patterns but they always relate to each other.
I would also say that the oriental approach we used on "Wheel of Time" is something we’ve never done before, even though there was something like that on the "Night at the Opera" album, it was different.
The Irish Folk element we used on "Curse my Name" is also different and sounds more authentic than what we’ve done before.

What is your favourite track on the new album?

My personal favourite at the moment is "Wheel of Time".

Your DVD "Imaginations through the Looking Glass" was absolutely amazing. Would you like to do another one in the near future?

It’s too soon for another DVD, I think. It will become a necessity with the orchestra project. We still work on that one, you may have heard about it…

Yes! It’s actually one my questions. So, what about this symphonic album? You’ve been working on it for years…

Well, we haven’t abandoned or forgotten about it. We’ve recorded some stuff but we still have some recording to do… and I have to record all the vocals. Three songs are musically covered so far. When all the recording is finished, we’ll hopefully be able to release it at the end of 2012 or at the beginning of 2013. Then it will make sense to organize another festival like the one we did a few years ago… and for that occasion, a DVD is definitely possible.

Will the symphonic album be released as a Blind Guardian album?

That’s open. I would rather think we don’t do it under the name Blind Guardian. Because during the first part of the album, the band will not be involved except for me. So there won’t be any heavy elements. So maybe we’ll release it under the name Blind Guardian but, right at the moment, I think we’ll go for a different name.

Your first drummer, Thomen, had been in the band since its creation before he left it a few years ago. How did it affect you, personally and musically speaking? Wasn't it too hard for Frederik Ehmke to take his place? Are you still in touch with Thomen today?

Emotionally, it was something that hurt us. It revealed the fragility of the whole setup because we never expected someone to leave. It was not in any of our hands… It was just the fact we couldn’t work together anymore. We still have a good friendship. I think he figured that he probably left the band too quickly… but it’s too late now. The writing for "A Twist in the Myth" had already been done when Thomen left, so the album wouldn’t have been that different if he hadn’t… When Frederik came, the good thing was that he never tried to copy Thomen or substitute him. His identity fits the band perfectly, and now, he’s definitely the fourth Blind Guardian member.

When Frederik joined the band, the previous album had already been composed, was his implication in the new one more important?

Yes, he brought some stuff. The writing of the album was done by André and me, completely. But he did bring something in the writing of the drums arrangements. We sometimes (André and I) had drums patterns in mind for a song, but mostly he came up with his own ideas.

Are you planning a lot of touring for "At the Edge of Time"? How many songs from the new album will be part of the setlist?

We’ll do a lot of touring. We’ll start the tour in September, we’ll be in Paris at the end of that month… Unfortunately, that’s the only date in France for the moment, but there’ll be more touring in 2011, so we’ll see how things turn out. We’ll be on tour until the end of next year on every continent. And we’ll play a lot of new songs, that’s for certain. We have rehearsed four songs so far: "Wheel of Time", "Sacred Worlds"… Also "Tanelorn" and "A Voice from the Dark", and they all work very well. We’ll also rehearse a fifth song, probably a heavy one, we have to think about that… And then, we’ll play three or four songs each night.

Are there any other projects on the side? Is another Demons & Wizards album possible?

We have discussed that matter twice so far. But we always have to skip it because of time problems. I would guess there’ll be a third Demons & Wizards album, but I can’t say when. Jon (Schaffer, leader of Iced Earth) and I would really like to do it, but he’s working on his new project Sons of Liberty at the moment, and I’m involved in Blind Guardian, there’s a tour coming… Maybe in 2012 or 2013…

Ronnie James Dio has recently passed away. I remember that you once recorded a cover of “Don’t Talk to Strangers”. How did that news affect you?

More than I expected. Everyone was aware that he had cancer, and that’s the sad reality of it, you might expect something like that might happen when you have cancer… still, I was quite shocked. What can I say? He was the master, he was THE vocalist, he really had something unique, everyone could feel that… and his whole career was really impressive!

The last word?

Thanks to our fans for their patience! I hope you’ll like the new album. Enjoy our show in Paris, come and see us at the end of September!