Michael Weikath - Helloween
Michael Weikath is a quiet man, but he is also a very talented musician, having led Helloween for 25 years. He is the Father of Power Metal, and the maker of mischief. He is the keeper of the set of keys, and master of the ringtones. I was graced with the opportunity to speak with him prior to enjoying Helloween play live in Mokena, Illinois. Most of our conversation was very interpersonal, and inspirational. Here are the high lives of this engaging gathering between two souls searching for meaning, while still gambling with the Devil.
MettleAngel: Michael, I want to tell you how grateful I am that you were chosen as my interview candidate. You are a true legend, like the Lemmy of Power Metal, a real character.
MettleAngel: Not quite, he is way more voracious and opinionated, and seldom sober. Last time I met you was when you came to Dayton, Ohio for the Headbangers Ball Tour with Anthrax & Exodus. I was so excited to see and meet Helloween, that I skipped Anthrax. I actually spent most of my time talking to Mike Kiske. Have you heard his new album covering Helloween hits?
MettleAngel: Do you recall that tour, or that show?
MettleAngel: Well, I was really into Helloween, then, and I am still very much so today. Even 20 years later, I'm so excited to see you play live; especially, with Andi singing. There has been such a sound evolution of Helloween both musically, and stylistically over the years. I'm very attracted to your 'Keys' concept. What is the mystique behind the Key & Ring releases?
MettleAngel: Namely, Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Saint, Whitecross, yes I remember the movement...
MettleAngel: I remember this lame Fundamentalist Preacher named Bob Larson, who went on tour with Slayer in '88 looking for Satan, but only found debauchery. He claimed that Helloween could not be Christian, because of the lyrics from "Save Us", which stated, "We believe that the phenomena of nature...and thus, all men are children of God." So, do you consider yourself to be a Christian?
MettleAngel: I know all about that, given by background in Theology. I encourage you to read about his life, and Third Century Rome at Wikipedia, or other sites. Then you can start your own site and call it Weikipedia! Basically, at the Council of Nicea, rich, landowning, male, aristocrastic bishops decided what should stay and what should go. What was left out is known as the Pseudoepigraphical texts, and the Apocrypha.
MettleAngel: Yes, they were Medieval gnostics, and Hammerfall has brought to life their message.
MettleAngel: Like a dictatorship, where Religion decides all social ordinances, mandates all laws, and tells us what is right and wrong? I don't have to imagine a world we live in!
MettleAngel: The gnostics were all philosophers, who did not tell anyone how to live their life. They followed the model: "To Thy Own Self Be True". This lead to the wonderful teaching of "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself".
MettleAngel: Opened at page one...(referencing Jethro Tull) Absolutely, the Bible, even the Prostetant version you always find in hotel rooms, and all great wisdom texts throughout all of history, are a collection of stories, or what I call 'Mythistory'.
MettleAngel: There is no need to, as God is Love and Life, lived. You cannot give up on Life, right!
MettleAngel: Indeed, but The Brothers Grim also accounted for the sacredness of nature, a more Pagan concept. There were also Aesop's Fables, and 1001 Arabian Nights and the Bible has its parables. So there is wisdom, if we can read between the lines, and do away with the idea of being separate from our Creator. Life is a journey to be experienced in each moment.
MettleAngel: This is normal, and since we are all mirrors to one another, life is going to present us with challenges. Think of being in traffic, when some asshole cuts you off, you are rightfully miffed, and you may curse, but you mean no real harm. Call him a J.A.F.O., or what I dub as "Just Another Forgiveness Opportunity".
MettleAngel: None of it matters what you believe, based on what you have been told, what matters is how you live your life now. Life is for celebrating each precious moment. The Media is trying to worry me about everything from the bankrupt economy, to whom I should vote for in November. All I care about is being with Helloween & Gamma Ray this weekend. I manage my own thoughts, and I choose happiness. This is why I enjoy Helloween, because you know how to have a good time, and write fun music.
MettleAngel: Good for you, I'm so grateful you have proved your mettle, no matter what others thought. Helloween is such an important band to the fans. I remember when you were on a Noise Death Metal Compilation. You took Maiden, Priest, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, and made it faster, and more fun.
MettleAngel: Oh definitely, I won't forget them, I'll be seeing and interviewing Uli John Roth soon, so yes, they too serve as a major influence. There have been 1000's of Helloween clones, but the band still remains original. I consider you as the progenitors of Power Metal.
MettleAngel: (Laughing) Oh, no you misunderstood, not janitors, the pro-genitors, or the originators of Power Metal. I mean you were first, and you still are at the top of your game.
MettleAngel: Your English is excellent, I should be more weary of this when I rant. Oh, and I love all Helloween albums even Chameleon; although, I know it was a rough time for Roland Grapow, when that was recorded.
MettleAngel: Consider an album like Master Of The Rings, that and Time Of The Oath were such amazing comeback albums, showcasing Andi Deris' talent.
MettleAngel: Fair enough, I guess the point I'm making is that everyone loves the three Keys albums, but has issues with others; especially, Pink Bubbles & Chameleon. I mean, c'mon what exactly is a heavy metal hamster?
MettleAngel: Again the silliness ensues, too much "Shit & Lobster"!
MettleAngel: Well, Thank God for that! You are such an awesome songwriter, so you have utilized your talent accordingly, and I am forever grateful. Helloween has made a major impact on my life and my choices.
MettleAngel: I congratulate you on that, as the search for wisdom, and improvement never ends. We are always 'born again', or rather born anew, everytime we choose to make our lives better for ourselves and others. Michael, thank you so much for your time. I guess this was not your average interview?
MettleAngel: Life is a neverending destiny, I choose to respond to the power, corruption, and lies by encouraging everyone to celebrate what we all share in common. Tonight, I will join with all my Metal brethren and enjoy Helloween & Gamma Ray. Michael, go enjoy your cigarette, free of the concern that smoking is 'wrong'. Like Shakespeare said, "Nothing is evil, lest thinking make it so." Thank you for all your time, and opening up to me.
See also: review of the gig the same night