» Hansi - Blind Guardian
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It was such another holy warrant for Wendy and I to sit down and engage in a mirror to mirror discussion with his majesty - Hansi Kürsch. I know he does interviews all the time, but this tryst in the myth was definitely another stranger meeting two longtime fans of all his bands and metal affiliations. For a brief moment, time stood still; while Wendy and I were lost in the twilight hallucination of our own reality. It was as if the great Gods of Valhalla had summoned us to follow our blind imaginations to otherland, somewhere far beyond our expectations, banished from sanctuary, with our souls forged in reverence. So seize the day, welcome to thy yin and yang. Join us on our journey through the dark path of glory, as we deftly attend to this operatic theatre of painstaking effort, and Hansi's personal symphony of doom - his own inquisition; that we may all become better acquainted with the dark wizard and his script for recreation...come turn the page and harvest no sorrow...

MettleAngel: Man, I have been waiting for well over 15 years to see Blind Guardian live, now here I am speaking with you, Hansi Kürsch.

  • Hansi: Yes, hello good to meet you Michael and Wendy.

So let's begin with discussing this new American tour with Leaves' Eyes...

  • Hansi: The Twist In The Myth tour officially began about six weeks ago in Europe. This is our second headlining tour of the US. We played here about four years ago with Symphony X. So far this tour has been very successful for us. We are all blown away by the US experience. The shows are mostly sold out. Even on Thanksgiving, in Chicago we had a decent crowd, given that it was an American holiday.

MettleAngel: What kinds of numbers are you noticing as far as turn out?

  • Hansi: On a good night, normally we can gather 800 to 1000 attendents. We expect that to increase when we get to the East Coast.

That is fantastic! I'm pleased to hear that this tour is doing so well. What have you been enjoying most on this US tour?

  • Hansi: That would be the weather! There is no snow anywhere. The weather here is absolutely beautiful. This was not the case, when last time we passed through here.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I expected snowfall by now, too. We are really enjoying the Indian Summer effect. Sadly, we know, overall, this is a by-product of global warming. We know nature will balance herself out in the long run; so we will definitely enjoy it while it lasts, I guess.

  • Hansi: Yes, we are enjoying it as much as we can...

MettleAngel: So what age demographic are you seeing coming to the shows. I imagine that the older fans from the other side are really becoming the minority?

  • Hansi: Yes, we are definitely noticing a much younger audience and fan base, who must have discovered us during the Nightfall or the Opera years.

MettleAngel: Well, I go back to Lucifer's Heritage, myself. I actually prefer the earlier Blind Guardian aggressive sound. Any chance of your playing Lost In The Twilight Hall, Last Candle, or Majesty tonight? What about Valhalla?

  • Hansi: Well Valhalla, of course! We actually played Majesty by accident in Chicago. We were planning to play A Past And Future Secret acoustically. Apparently, our acoustic guitar technicians mistuned the equipment, which messed up our sound. The result played unplugged was just horrible, so we plugged back in and ripped into Majesty. We have everything straightened out for this evening, though.

MettleAngel: So I guess this means no Majesty tonight, bummer! I do like the new CD too. I love all of your music. Will you be playing a great deal from A Twist In The Myth?

  • Hansi: We will be doing two new songs: Fly and Another Stranger Me.

MettleAngel: The video for Another Stranger Me is really out there; what inspired this bizarre concept?

  • Hansi: We filmed this in Serbia in only one day. We feel that the video truly complements the song structure. Serbia was a great atmosphere for filming. It was cheaper to do it there, and the people treated us well. The video is inspired by the Mickey Rourke movie Angel Heart.

MettleAngel: Man, I love that movie. It really carries some seriuos memories when I look back on first seeing it in theaters. Be honest with me, did you figure it out before it was all over?

  • Hansi: Usually, I do decipher the ending for movies, but not this time, though. I mean I did catch on to the Louis Cipher name.

MettleAngel: Yeah, me too, I knew that DeNiro was really Lucifer; but I did not realize that Johnny Favorite had done all the brutal killing; Do you remember the dude who died by oral asphyiation, in as much as the cop says in the movie, "...basically someone cut off his dick and choked him with it..". Man, that movie even had the chick from the Cosby Show doing her Voodoo vibe...

  • Hansi: Yes that is such an awesome movie. There are also elements from the Dark Tower thrown into the Stranger video context. It took a while for us to figure out the right concept. Originally, we were going to go with the Swedish director's approach. The label did not go for this. So we changed it up a bit. The whole thing was still edited heavily; especially the American version. We had to remove the whiskey bottle and gun. If you notice, he now puts a finger in his mouth (not a gun). The girl is also a reflection of him; it's all about him, and overall, he is a crazy, insane, whacked out guy!

MettleAngel: So then it really is just like Angel Heart! I saw the video on You-Tube, it must have been the European version, as I did not notice too much taken out. Now, back to this tour, you obviously love the weather, what have been some of the downsides or set-backs?

  • Hansi: Nothing really, this second US tour we have found ourselves an excellent American booking agent which allows for easier travel all around. We have noticed several cultural differences, though...

MettleAngel: Yeah, like what exactly?

  • Hansi: You defintely have a major homeless problem here...

Yeah, tell me about it, those panhandling pervasive poseurs of lethal munificence stole our car here in Cleveland (more on that later...). What else have you noticed that is different?

  • Hansi: The lay-out of your city structures is more widespread. In Germany, our buildings are all fused together. In the US, you can look up and actually see clearer skies.

MettleAngel: That's encouraging, so let's discuss the recording process for the new CD. Do you feel that everything went as planned?

  • Hansi: We have received very positive feedback for the new CD. We entered the studio with a very enthusiastic attitude. While recording the album, we all had positive feelings. In it's actual developement, we knew that it would be something new. We wanted to maintain the quality of Blind Guardian. I strove to create more vocal lines. Overall, Twist is on the fairly same level as Night At The Opera. With ideas more raw like what is heard on Imaginations From The Other Side. For me, everything has to please the vocals. Opera really had no lead vocal lines. We wanted to maintain our focus on the critical songwriting. This took over six or seven months to fully capture that sound and record the new CD. We wanted to focus on both quality and quantitiy to please our fans.

MettleAngel: What about writing and recording with your new drummer, Frederick Ehmke?

  • Hansi: All the drum arrangements were already written before Thomen's departure. Andre and I worked together to create the best drum sound. Our new drummer does add his own technique, so there is a slight difference in our sound. Thomen Stauch is not a songwriter, which is why Savage Circus sounds like Blind Guardian circa '94.

MettleAngel: I'm glad you mentioned Savage Circus. What do you think of their singer Jens Carlsson? Many critics claim he sounds just like you.

  • Hansi: As a vocalist myself, I hear a nuance in his vocal style. In Persuader he has his own style.

MettleAngel: Yeah, Persuader is not Blind Guardian. From Evolution Purgatory on, though reviews claim he sings better than you, and that is why they all love Savage Circus. I like Persuader and Savage Circus, but, they are definitely not Blind Guardian clones.

  • Hansi: When I hear Savage Circus, I hear several influences. I know Piet Sielck very well, and I hear his influences in Savage Circus. Jens tends to sound more like me now, than in earlier Persuader; but I guess this is becoming intentional.

MettleAngel: Getting back to Blind Guardian, with the advent of the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, do you think that has created some newer fans for you?

  • Hansi: No, I don't think so. I mean we all love the movies, but actually, we have held off on using any Lord Of The Rings themes for like seven years now, because of the movies. We want to return to writing more Tolkien inspired lyrics, when the time is right.

Yeah, there are still plans to do The Hobbit and Silmarillion; although, Peter Jackson has not been asked to do them by New Line.

  • Hansi: Blind Guardian the band is our focus. We want to maintain the headlining philosopy. We will be touring for Twist all throughout 2007. We have been asked to open for some major bands because of our Tolkien affiliations. People need to realize that Tolkien is not just about the 'sword and sorcery' motif. We are also very inspired by Stephen King. He is not just about horror, either.

MettleAngel: Yes I know this. One of my favorite books by Stephen King is called On Writing where he explains how to write proper fiction. I suscribe to Entertainment Magazine, and even though most of it is your typical Hollywood B$, I look forward to the Stephen King editorials every month. He also just interviewed the creators of Lost like J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cuse, in the most recent issue which was an incredible read, as they themselves are major fans of his. The even admitted to establishing the Charlie character based on his character in The Stand. Stephen King also just contributed a short story to this month's edition of Playboy. He may be almost 60, but he is just as popular now as he was like 20 years ago. There is even a new show on the TNT Network called Nightmares & Dreamscapes. These vignettes are based on short stories written by him, which may be decades old; but, given today's technology, they make for great visual storytelling. You should check this out. We don't watch TV, but I found it on DVD at my local library.

  • Hansi: I'll have to check that out, it sounds very interesting...

MettleAngel: Yeah it's like a modernized and updated version of Cat's Eye. Now, I know this may seem like a dated question, but I would really like to know the origin for the band name.

  • Hansi: Blind Guardian is named after Stephen King's novel - It. I love the whole It theme: the kids, they are the guardians of the blind through their determination, spirit, and will.

MettleAngel: I had heard that your name was based on some obscure reference in Tolkien. I'm pleased to hear that it is Stephen King, after all. Now, Stephen King never calls the children the guardians of the blind, so the name you created is just an allusion, correct?

  • Hansi: Exactly, I intuit the meaning which Stephen is expressing.

MettleAngel: Blind Guardian lyrics have always been an incredible inspiration for me in my voracity for veracity, or should I say my quest for Tanelorn. Where exactly did you find a reference to Tanelorn?

  • Hansi: Michael Moorcock, he discusses Tanelorn...

MettleAngel: I heard rumours that the creators of American Pie were working on making Moorcock's Elric sword legends into a series of movies.

  • Hansi: Now, that should be quite interesting...

MettleAngel: What inspired you to do so much reading and create all these amazing lyrics, over the last 20 years?

  • Hansi: When I was young, I had a very overactive imagination. I came from a big family, so I was always discovering new possibities. I was forced to deal with religion and find the ultimate truth out for myself. This resulted in a great deal of reading, and soul searching.

MettleAngel: Many Lord Of The Rings fans are not aware of Tolkien's zealous Christian beliefs, or that he convinced Clive Staples Lewis to convert from being an atheist. The Lord Of The Rings is riddled with rife Christian typology, if the spectator carefully reads between the lines. He was also a scholar of Middle Earth and it's cultures. He wrote a reknown treatise on Beowulf and The Song of Roland. In time, he was able to tell those ancient stories in the context of myth, without preaching too heavily. I guess you could say that he put a twist to the myth; whereas, after C.S. Lewis wrote Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, his Chronicles Of Narnia and his science fiction Perelanda Trilogy, were much more overt in the Christological sense.

  • Hansi: Yes this is true. Reading has always been an outlet and escape for me...

MettleAngel: Well, I know we need to wrap this up, so you can get ready for the show....(MettleMaiden:) I have one last question. Hansi, as a true metal fan, have you noticed a major return to all things metal, in the scene over the last few years?

  • Hansi: Well yes, especially here in the US. This was never an issue in Europe, as we have always been into metal. The newer bands here are building a bridge for the audience and younger fans, which allows them to discover and get into the older bands.

MettleAngel: You are right, they are establishing a precedent which allows for metal enthusiasts to learn about the artists who inspired the bands they love. A good example of this is when fans of Leaves' Eyes can learn about Atrocity and Theatre Of Tragedy. Now, I have one last favour to ask of you, my brother. There is a band from Norway called Gaia Epicus who are major fans of Blind Guardian. Are you familiar with them?

  • Hansi: I don't think so...perhaps?

MettleAngel: Well, I'm sure you will really enjoy them as they are seriously influenced by Blind Guardian. They have really had a tough time with corrupt labels ripping them off, and their bass player from this CD - Symphony Of Glory, died tragically in a car crash. We became really good friends with them when they played Minneapolis Metalfest this summer. Thomas personally sent me this CD, and I want to officially present it to you, on their behalf.

  • Hansi: Thank you, I'll definitely check it out...

MettleAngel: Thank you too! Are you familiar with the amazing Blind Guardian tribute from Eastern Europe called - Tales From the Underworld which came out in 2003, and is now becoming increasingly more difficult to find?

  • Hansi: Yes, I know about this, and I think there is one out of Canada, too.

MettleAngel: The unsigned bands on this tribute are incredible. They truly show their dedication to Blind Guardian by covering your songs with every genre of metal incorporated. My favorite track is the one by a band called Cruel who play the song Lost Tales From The Twilight Of Valhalla. This medley has a female vocalist covering all the Kai Hansen parts of both Lost In The Twilight Hall and Valhalla. This is why I'm giving you the Gaia Epicus to hear, even though they are not on this particular tribute.. Their guitarist Joakim is such a fan of yours and Metal Covenant. He was so excited when we covered your album release party for A Twist In The Myth. Now I know this will truly brighten his holidays. (Then for a minute, Hansi enjoys the silence and looks at the Gaia Epicus CD)

  • Hansi: Thank you for eveything, it was really great getting in touch with you, as you are definitely a big and old fan of our band!

MettleAngel: Thank You ever so much! (Then we pose for pictures and I say, "Time, what is time? Time to go!").

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