Lo and behold, as German metal masterminds HELLOWEEN have released their 14th album “Straight Out Of Hell” on January the 18th, 2013!
We caught up with Andi Deris, the articulate and straightforward lead-singer of the band, and questioned him regarding the new material, the end of the world and the current status of rock music’s legends.
Always good-humored and eloquent, Andi let us in on some secrets regarding the way he writes music for Helloween, and the eternal conflict between being a „vintage” composer, and embracing the advantages of contemporary technology.
Read the outcome below.
MRM: You have released your 14th album. How does that make you feel?
Andi: Excited is the right word to describe our feelings. We’re not anxious at all. We’ve released so many albums that we don’t feel like that anymore. As for scared…not at all. We know it is a great album. We’re always excited, though, because you never know what comes up, what goes down.
So you still manage to feel excited after such a lengthy career?
No passion is lost. On this album we’ve added some extra spices, some extra experiments, and it’s always interesting to see how the people accept this stuff. On the other hand, if we were to repeat ourselves, that would be boring, but somehow we always manage to put in new things.
The new record is very articulate and has a strong social message. Songs like “World Of War” and “Nabataea” describe the shortcomings of contemporary times. Would you say that the world is becoming a worse place?
The social aspect is very important to us and we always have discussions going on between band members. We have this main opinion that if you have a million good people capable of living a great life together, it only takes a handful of assholes to take everything down. That’s what’s going on in the world. You have the majority of people trying to live a happy and secure life, wishing only that their kids grow up healthy and safe, but then there is this handful of stupid idiots who will always destroy everything. In our 20th century world we would call them bankers, shareholders, and all that corporate shit. When I see that only a few people bring everything down, I get very angry. That’s what the whole album is about, actually. You have Nabataea, for instance, which is the greatest example that mankind can live a wealthy, prosperous life in peace and harmony. However, there will always be a level of envy from the surrounding nations, which will try to destroy and conquer what they don’t have. You spoke about “World Of War” and I have to tell you that it’s actually a sad story, because all of us have the chance to look into the history book learn from the 3000 years of tragedies…Only we don’t learn, or, probably the majority does, but it takes a small number of people who don’t learn, and everything is sent back to Hell. This is the main problem: how can we control this handful of maniacs?
“Nabataea” raises some interesting problems. It flourished in isolation, but in the end it was conquered and destroyed by the Roman Empire. Do you think that cultural isolationism is a valid solution nowadays, what with all of the political alliances which make it extremely difficult for nations to be neutral when it comes to conflicts?
Obviously I think isolation is not a good idea, because Nabataea was isolated. They even kept Petra – the main metropolis – secret, and not even the Romans managed to find it. They destroyed everything that was connected to Nabataea, but they never found the capital. You can be as isolated as you want, but as soon as you are successful, a lot of other countries will want to have what’s yours, so they will probably try to conquer you. The world we’re living in could be ok,actually: we have communities like the European Community, and all sorts of alliances. It would work if a handful of assholes wouldn’t try to destroy everything. They are not connected to any community because they live in their own community of greed for money, thirst for power etc.
How is the name of the album connected to all of these things?
Actually, it is only a joke about the end of the world, which was supposed to take place 2012. If mankind did survive, there would only be a few people left, and if we were among them, we’d come “straight out of hell”. We were arguing to release the album in January, instead of October, because we wanted to see if the world truly goes to Hell or not. Because if it did, we wouldn’t have had to rehearse for the tour (laughs). You can imagine that no one actually thought that the world was going to end.
So I guess you didn’t go to the supermarket to buy stuff necessary in order to survive the Apocalypse.
Lord, no! How many world catastrophes have been predicted so far? In theory, the world has blown up a million times, but it’s still turning.
The advent of new social media has changed the way in which artists interact with their fans. Today, you have to post stuff on Facebook, create teasers etc. Do you ever feel that this exposure takes something away from the art; that, maybe, it gives fans a bit too much?
I didn’t ask myself that until now. It is the way it is. You have to deal with it. It’s the 21st century. Looking back to the old days when you went to the store and bought a vinyl, it is something that I’d prefer to do, because that feeling of joy has been taken a away. To walk into the store and buy a disc, then sit with your friends in the evening and listen to it – that’s how we did it and it was awesome! We used to go to the guy who had the best sound-system, open a bottle of wine, have a chat, and enjoy the music. Nowadays, people seem to love music in a different way, so to say. I don’t know if they enjoy it as much as we did, when we bought Van Halen, called 6 friends over and had fun together. Today, nothing sounds as good as those discs. Music sounds cheap. Ah, it was awesome. We had the greatest hi-fi systems available! (laughs)
In 2014, Helloween turns 30! Now, when a person reaches that age, everyone agrees that they are fully mature. Is it the same with a band?
Probably not, because we are rock musicians, so we’re as stupid as always. Rock’n’roll is not for adults. It is for people who want to stay young, and who are young. I’m still 19, 20 years old, and I still have the same shit in my head. I have the same awesome feeling in my heart when I’m strumming my guitar. It’s something that will never change.
Some of the legendary bands out there – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and maybe even Led Zeppelin – are releasing new albums. What do you think about this “trend”? Does a band ever grow old?
Let me see them on stage and I will tell you. Last time I saw the Rolling Stones live, I didn’t feel like they were too old. It still looked like they were having fun, and the audience was clearly having a blast. I think everything is connected to the performance. Let me see the band live and I will tell you if they are too old. But I’ve seen bands made up of people who were 24, 25 years old, and they were acting old. They were standing on that stage, doing nothing. Go off stage and do something else because you’re too old to be a musician! I remember when we played with Black Sabbath, back when they had the reunion with Ozzy, and I never had the feeling that they were too old, even if Oz was very ill and going through some serious treatment. Whenever he entered the stage, his eyes were gleaming and he was having fun. So who am I to tell him that he is too old? It is not only a question of age, chronologically, but of age in your mind, how old you feel, and act, and live your life. There are plenty of 26 year old guys who live life like a grandfather. I can’t imagine myself living a boring life like that – not a pure hearted rock’n’roller like me.
How about the music itself? Can the music made by the legends ever become outdated? Moreover, can the legends themselves stop being so important?
Certainly not! They are the ultimate landmark, the inventors, and the number ones, even if new bands try to copy their style. Nothing EVER beats the original. Even if you play Sabbath with a much better sound, you will never be Sabbath, because the band has created something that cannot be repeated. Led Zeppelin will always be the kings, even if there were bands like Kingdom Come, who had a better sound that they did. However, that’s all they were left with, because they never beat Zeppelin.
Back in the day, someone sat on a chair with a guitar in his hands, and wrote a song. Nowadays, people sit in front of the computer and press buttons. How about your manner of writing songs? Are you vintage, or are you contemporary?
Yes and yes! (laughs) The old fashioned way would be me and my guitar, because my guitar is my life. I never ask for anything else – material stuff or other things – except to be able to play my guitar. That’s how I lay the initial pattern of the song, so that’s what I enjoy the most. Sitting on my sofa and diddling and fiddling my guitar are my greatest hobbies. I constantly have a Gibson Flying V guitar behind my sofa, so that when I get a quick idea, I just grab it and start playing. The major point is that I love to sit down without any computer, just me and my guitar, and suddenly I have that feeling, like when your bulb flashes and I nail it down. Then I switch to the computer. I have a MacBook here in my room, and I record the song with it. After that part is done, I shut down the computer, and start fiddling for a new idea. When it comes down to really finishing the song, and you have to go into production, and program the drums for the demo, then it becomes a little bit of work. In that moment, you are actually working on the computer and trying to play stuff as good as possible.
What’s your favorite track off the album?
I’d have to say that “Nabataea” because the whole story is there and I enjoy a good plot. The song is very well arranged, so the guys did an awesome job with it. “World of War”,”Asshole”…hmmm, yeah every song (laughs). The thing is that we have so many ideas to choose from, and we select those that each and every one of us enjoys! Every song that we put on the album is a tune we like.
The gig in March will be your third in Romania. Do you have any surprises in stall?
We have some cool ideas that we’re thinking about but I won’t say anything about that just now.
Any memories from your past shows in Romania?
The las show was great! the people were going bat-shit crazy. I remember it was freezing cold. I only saw the city – Bucharest – by night, so I can’t tell you much about it. However the weather was FREEZING.
What are your plans now that you survived the end of the world?
13 months of touring from February 2013 to march 2014. I know it sounds brutal, but when we change continents, we have a 2 week break to recharge our batteries. The European leg will be the hardest, as we’re talking about 9 weeks of constant road activity, but we’ll manage somehow. I’m sure.