» Andi Deris - Helloween
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Interview conducted April 12 2015
Interview published May 19 2015

"Actually everything I hate on him is exactly the way I am too."

With Helloween's new record, My God-Given Right, coming out May 27th, vocalist Andi Deris and guitarist Michael Weikath for a couple of days traveled across Europe on a promotion tour. Due to the guys' fully loaded itinerary, I talked to Mr. Deris at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, right after their arrival from the airport and although him being a little tired and even if this man kind of likes to exaggerate his personal efforts, he answered my questions properly and open-hearted and also our chat took a few interesting turns along the road regarding former members etc.

"…and sometimes even I had to sit down and play my guitar again, because he didn't play it right."

Tobbe: I reckon you have lots of promotion at this point?

Andi: Yeah. The last 3 days, we've slept like all together 9 or 10 hours. Which is not enough in 3 days. Because of money preserving thoughts your schedules are always getting tighter and tighter. I remember my first promotion tour, like some 20 years ago with the boys. Weiki and I had kind of 2 days for the stuff we do now in 1 day.

Tobbe: Yeah, I know. It's a tough schedule.

Andi: Yeah. Because they try to save on hotel rooms. Sure, fewer days means less nights to pay.

Tobbe: It's like that in every business, you know. Like, whatever you work with, there are less people working, with a bigger workload actually.

Andi: With a bigger workload, yes. And the bands are supposed to kind of record the double of what they used to record some 20 years ago. It's unbelievable and I personally think that's stupid. Because I mean, as a consumer, as a fan of my old idols for example; I think it was 2 records ago, Judas Priest released an album with over 70 minutes of playing time [Nostradamus, 103 minutes] and I was completely pissed off, because after 40 minutes I'm sick of it and I can't enjoy it anymore. I enjoyed it until then, but then I thought more, more, more…

Tobbe: But your new album is pretty long. It's over an hour. [61 minutes]

Andi: Yeah, which was not my decision. It was a management and record company decision. At the end of the day it was a compromise down to 13 titles. I was really pissed off, because in the beginning there were talks about 14 or 15 titles on the CD and I said "No, please.". We don't have 2 and a ½ minutes songs, so you can't do that. I mean, the shortest is somewhere around 4 minutes and the longest is around 8 minutes, and you'd kill people.

Tobbe: Yeah, I prefer like 40-45 minutes.

Andi: Yeah, maximum vinyl.

Tobbe: All right, let's go on with a few questions. Of course we're gonna talk about the new album and then I have some questions in general and I'm not gonna bug you with too many questions about Michael Kiske [former vocalist].

Andi: You know what? I'm fine with Michael. Everybody is.

Tobbe: Okay, let's take it there. I talked to him just over a year ago and there were talks about him singing a couple of songs live for Helloween, together with you. Was there any truth behind those rumors?

Andi: Oh, the rumors are there since a few years, you're right. We're planning on it. Actually we invited him to think about it. He thinks he's betraying himself when he now gets back with a metal band on stage, because all the years he was kind of preaching that metal is… blah, blah, blah, you know the story. Nevertheless, I think sooner or later, we're gonna do that. I mean, he's getting older and we have gotten older, so everybody is more cool than we used to be twenty years ago. Nobody is gonna harm him and he won't harm us, I'm pretty sure. My dream would be a 3 hour show. That's my personal dream, because it would be so relaxed for me and for him as well to have 2 singers. Imagine; he sings a tune from the old days and I'm singing tunes from the new days, we're singing a tune together, he again, me again, together, 3 hours, 2 guitarists, or 3 guitarists. I mean, you can't tell them to play constantly for 3 hours, so they have to kind of change, but there are 3 guitarists if Kai [Hansen] would show up as well. We could easily do 3 hour shows. A dream come true for me and Weiki likes the idea, so maybe Michael is sooner or later saying "Yeah, okay.".

Tobbe: All right, cool. But you realize that a lot of people actually think that some of your albums actually are better than the Keeper albums? [The Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part I and Part II.]

Andi: Yeah, but that doesn't matter. The fact is that when you were young, you had your idols, and you connected, so these albums will always be your favorites and strongest albums.

Tobbe: Yeah, it's when the band became big in the first place.

Andi: Exactly. Fortunately we have now the next generation in the audience and they first listened to Master Of The Rings or The Time Of The Oath, so they probably can't understand why you would prefer the old albums. Vice versa, the same, but that's the answer to the question, I think.

Tobbe: It makes me think of Paul Di'Anno and Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

Andi: I'm one of those "assholes" who actually quit Iron Maiden after Paul Di'Anno. I mean, Phantom Of The Opera on the first one. And then the second one [Killers], I listened up and down that shit. I didn't dislike it with Bruce, but I somehow lost the clue. There was still some songs that I enjoyed, but I was never that Iron Maiden fan anymore, that I used to be on the first album. I was seeing them supporting Kiss in '78. [The Kiss/Iron Maiden show took place on October 6th 1980 in Schwarzwaldhalle and is probably what Andi is referring to.] I remember we had like tons of G.I.'s in Karlsruhe, down in South Germany, and they were all going to Kiss. Same here, Kiss fan, you know. And everybody was going like "Who the fuck is Iron Maiden?" and then they were starting out and they were doing really good, you know. Then I bought the first record and I really fell in love with it.

Tobbe: Okay. My God-Given Right is kind of a direct title. What lies behind it?

Andi: It's the simple truth. It was actually my first argument with my mother and it was like in the age of 19. I had just finished school, because she wanted me to. I did it for her more or less. I was not good enough to find a university to study in and with those results you would have to wait at least 3 or 4 years, so my decision was then that I would like to do music. Then the army came knocking on my door, so I couldn't do music. I had to go to the army, because being German, born in '64, good chance you had to go. I went, with my guitar, and with my Carlsbro amplifier. And fortunately I had a more or less very productive time in the army. I remember myself sitting in the middle of the shower room with the Carlsbro and the Flying V guitar. It was sounding great with all the reverbs and echoes. I was like composing the first two Pink Cream 69 albums in a military shower room. So it was not lost time at least.

When I came back from the army, my mom told me to go to the university and learn something proper. I told her that I wanted to do music and maybe in 3-5 years I could go and studying or whatever. It was arguing left and right and… because my dad has been a musician as well, but he's born in '44, so directly into the war and after the war there was no left or right. You had to go like the German way and build up the cities. You know that shit. So for him the dream was 2 seconds and gone, you know. But he loved playing the saxophone and he had the dream and he understood what I meant. …he told my mother, if you translate it into French English it would be "It's his goddamn fucking right.". And that's where it comes from.

I still remember it. I mean, if you would translate it into English, it would be "My God-given right.". That's where it comes from and I think it's very important in our lives to actually understand that, from a religious point of view, but even from an intellectual point of view, we still don't know what the fuck we are doing here on Earth. Why are we here? Even the biggest philosophers of all times, since thousands of years, still try to find the answer to the question. And I think if there's one truth, one common truth we all have, it's that we are here to be as happy as possible. To lead a happy life as much as possible. And I think this is definitely one of our God given rights.

Tobbe: So what do you think differs My God-Given Right from your few latest releases, musically?

Andi: Not so much from the composition point of view. When we listened to the 30 something ideas we had on the table, there was an unpurpose decision to maybe try to find that bridge to the 80's, sonically. Actually in combination with the new gear Charlie [Bauerfeind], our producer, bought, suddenly you see yourself maybe in a good position to try to get back to the 80's with the sound. You should not try it if you have to produce only and solely inside the digital domain. Then you should actually keep your hands off the 80's, because 80's sound means analog, tape compression, all these great analog compressors and not to talk about really class A super great microphone preamplifiers. All together makes the analog sound of the 80's.

Nowadays there are only a few bands who still have actually the financial power to go into an analog studio and do the 80's shit. If you just have a few bucks left for the digital shit and you just do it on the computer, you cannot reach a real good 80's sound. It doesn't work like that. So when Charlie said that he had bought this and would buy that and blah, blah, blah, we could actually try to do that again, and combine it. Not only pure analog, but combine it. We could record everything that had to be 80's style recorded, and everything that is better in the digital domain, we left in the digital domain. So this is what we did.

Tobbe: You once again recorded with Charlie.

Andi: Yes always, in Tenerife, in my studio. Charlie packed all of his shit together in a big van and drove to Tenerife, kind of. He drove from Nuremburg in Germany down to Cadiz in Spain and took the boat for 2 days.

Tobbe: 2 days… Awesome.

Andi: Adventurous, but he loves it, because he's scared to death of flying. He hates it, but if you knew the story, you'd know why, because in the 70's, a Starfighter, one of the jet plane fighters, flew directly into his house. His father was killed and Charlie was like 80 percent burned. Nightmare story. Anyway, from that day on, he is completely afraid of flying.

Tobbe: I can see that. So this is your 10th studio album with Helloween. Has it become significantly harder to come up with things that you haven't done before or is it like a walk in the park to write a song?

Andi: I think the truth lies in the middle somewhere. Sometimes it becomes hard to come up with new ideas and next week it's becoming easier. It's very much depending on your daily mood. For me it has, thank God and knock on wood, never been a big problem, because it's my hobby to sit down with my guitar. Actually I'm a guitarist. It was always the thing I wanted to start out with. As soon as I have a chance to sit down on my sofa and grab my guitar, I'm happy. And I think, as soon as one is happy, everything is like coming and going without actually planning it. I sit down, have a guitar and am happy and then automatically there are ideas. That's the fan, the guitar fan in me. I don't know how I should describe it, but as soon as you give me a guitar, I have ideas. Because I'm never allowed to play the guitar. [Whines, points at Weiki a few tables away, and laughs.] Just when I'm back at home. Bastards!

Tobbe: Just pick one and play, man. Ever since you first joined the band or actually almost since the beginning of the band, there's always been like 3-4 different songwriters to each record. Now it's you, Weiki, Markus [Grosskopf, bass] and Sascha [Gerstner, guitar] and I guess that makes your workload much easier?

Andi: Absolutely.

Tobbe: You write most of the songs, or have done since you entered the band.

Andi: Life is much easier now. First of all, Markus started to write songs and it was a big relief, because then I thought that when Markus is actually writing at least 1 or 2 songs for the album, that automatically means 1 or 2 less from my side. So I don't have that must-bring pressure, you know, which is perfect. Then Sascha joined the band and in comparison to the former guitarist [Roland Grapow], Sascha is writing 100 percent more songs, because the former guitarist did not even write one song the last 4 albums he was with us and it was embarrassing. [The correct number, according to the songwriting credits on the albums, is actually 7.] Suddenly we had another songwriter next to Weiki and myself and nowadays it's just super easy, 'cause we have 4-5 from him and 4-5 from him, like always 12-13 from my side and 5-6 from Weiki and then we have like 30 songs to pick from, and whatever direction you want to go, you probably have the songs.

Tobbe: That makes you have a great amount of time to actually write those songs and really think about what you're doing.

Andi: Well, you have to take the time, put it that way. But as I told you, my biggest hobby is playing guitar. On an off-day, 'cause I'm always traveling with my little guitar, I definitely play guitar, because it's my hobby.

Tobbe: Maybe you should quit singing and start playing the guitar?

Andi: Well, I don't know. I mean, from my heart, yes, from my head, no, because there's so many better guitarists out there. Technically I'm versatile, but I'm not trained, so probably each and every mediocre guitarist would outplay me. And then I would feel the pressure. I think we are all like that: as soon as there's pressure put on us, we don't enjoy it anymore, and I actually don't wanna see myself hating my guitar, you know.

Tobbe: When you're recording, don't you put pressure on each other to perform in the best possible way or do things just come natural?

Andi: That comes natural. If you are the guitarist, you put so much pressure on yourself. Same with me on the vocals. As soon as I'm standing behind the microphone, I try to sing as good as I can for the boys. For my songs, it's pretty much automatically done, but for new songs from the others, it's always like you have that extra kick in your ass. You know, you want to prove that you're not only singing great on your own songs, but you can do even better on their songs. It's a question of honor. [Laughs]

Tobbe: But you're such an experienced band nowadays.

Andi: Nowadays, yes. It used to be different, but I think since Sascha and Dani [Löble] are in the band, it's so much easier, because with Dani on the drums and Sascha on the second main guitar, you actually just leave them alone. You don't need to actually be there. You know it'll be done perfectly. But I remember with Uli [Kusch, former drummer] or Roland in the band, you always had to go to the studio and double check or triple check and sometimes even I had to sit down and play my guitar again, because he didn't play it right. So I kind of became Dr. Midnight, as we say in the music business. To cut a long story short; with this band I don't need to be there for the whole production, so I just stay out there for at least 3 weeks and occasionally maybe pop in when Charlie goes "Hey, you gotta listen to this. It's great.". But never to check. You know, you don't need to be there to check and this makes your life so much cooler.

Tobbe: You've had a solid lineup now with Sascha and Dani for 10 years, so what makes you guys connect? You know, to put up with each other and not going on each other's nerves too much?

Andi: The first 1 or 2 years, it was not so easy at all, because they had to get to know the old rabbits, like Weiki, Markus and I. And Sascha for example, he did not quite understand certain things and needed at least 1,5-2 years to finally get to know the past of the band and to understand certain behaviors. The more he learned what we went through, the more he realized that it was becoming more clear and more logical, but in the beginning it was, as he described it "In front of a big mountain and I didn't see the top.". Poor boy. Dani is in between us. He's not as young as Sascha and not as old as we are. He's like 7 years younger than I and still connected to my generation, but also connected to Sascha's generation, so I would describe Dani as a perfect bridge.

Tobbe: Speaking about generations. Many big bands are in their 50's or even 60's and will there ever come a time when your generation has to give more room for a younger generation of bands?

Andi: We always wait for younger bands actually, because sooner or later I think we are, if not already, the last or one of the last big power metal bands in the world. Honestly I would love to have 2-3 bands on my iPod, which I would enjoy listening to, but there's nothing new. But you know, I think it's not so easy anymore. How would you start out as a new band? I mean, where do you have a possibility to actually get your head above the water? There's no money anymore. That's the first point and the most important point, because you have to buy each and every service and you do it with money. As sad as it is, but that's the truth. No producer can afford to work for nothing. He has to make his living with it, so at the end of the day, a good producer costs an extra amount of money.

A studio, where you have a sound which is good enough to actually compete in the world, costs at least 400, maybe even more, per day. A great producer, who is actually capable of doing a world competition sound, is 300 a day. Then it's a cheap one, but at least he is playing in that league. So we are talking about 700 € just for one day. Who has that money? - Nearly nobody. So you wait in vain actually. Everybody goes and produces on his laptop and home studio. It can't compete in the world, so where would that new music or the new bands come from? Locally, okay. There's something happening maybe here or there locally, but they never go world wide. Never.

Tobbe: Do you, in the band, sometimes discuss the problems with downloading and not getting paid for what you do?

Andi: Yeah, very often. But then again, actually not because of our own asses, but mainly because of the younger bands. I'm completely directly connected, because my son is 23. So I'm there in the middle of the fire, trying to burn the woods, or vice versa, to kind of cease the fire. No solution here, not yet. And yeah, you discuss and discuss and discuss. Everybody knows that the situation they are in is shit and bad, but even I, playing in a successful band, have no solution.

Tobbe: I'm a little worried about the quality of the music in the future…

Andi: Yeah, that's the problem. Music which don't have production costs where you necessarily don't need a good producer is techno and dance floor. Electronic shit. That's the future.

Tobbe: So how has the internet age affected your band?

Andi: Sales-wise, I would reckon, maybe not as much as pop music, but I would say we lost 80 percent. Maybe there are 10-20 percent left from the sales like 15-20 years ago. Which is still great in comparison to other genres I know, but it still gives us a really hard time. I remember I was gone on tour for 7-8 months and nowadays, to compensate the money that's missing from non-existing sales, we have to leave home for 12-13 months. So life is not better now. Actually musicians lives have become miserable because of downloads and stuff like that, because the money is missing everywhere. And that's the main reason why we actually had the discussion from the first question; like Why are there no new bands? - Because of that. The record companies don't have the money anymore, because there are no sales.

Tobbe: Yes, I know. So they put more pressure on you?

Andi: Well, we are in a good position, I think.

Tobbe: Yeah, you totally are, but you're a different generation still.

Andi: Yeah, the new generation, I'm so sorry for them actually.

Tobbe: So does Helloween actually has something to prove still?

Andi: You always have to prove something. I mean, from album to album, we were happy to climb one step higher on the so called success ladder. I always like to prove another step and another step. It's funny, because I just had that talk with Weiki in the taxi from the airport to here. To a certain point, I would never like to be as successful as Metallica and Iron Maiden, in our genre. Not to talk about people like Michael Jackson or someone like that. I would definitely try to find a nice flat somewhere on the moon if I would be Michael Jackson, you know. And probably he did. He's still alive. [Laughs]

Tobbe: All right. Conspiracy theory.

Andi: Yeah. Conspiracy theory. Coming up every now and then. No, but honestly. Something still to prove is we would definitely like to go from the Billboard Top 100 to at least Top 30. That would be one big goal, one big aim. Top 30 in the U.S.. We hit the Top 80 last time. But that's it. I don't wanna climb up more. Okay, Germany would be fine, because I'm since 18 years not living in Germany. A number 1 in Germany would be cool.

Tobbe: So why do American bands get popular in Europe while European bands have a hard time getting popular in the States?

Andi: If I would have that great music scene myself here in Europe, I would not need the Americans, and vice versa, that's the truth. The Americans really don't wait for the European bands, because they have such a great scene there. And it's not like American Hollywood-made big bands, because they are great. They're really good. They have so many great bands and nearly all of our idols come from America, expect maybe Judas Priest, for my ass. They brought it to life. Rock 'n' roll is America.

Tobbe: Which somehow brings us to the new song Lost In America. That's one of your songs, isn't it?

Andi: That's my song, yeah. But it's a true story. That's the fun side about it. But it's not Lost in the U.S. America. It's actually over the skies of Belize.

Tobbe: Yes, I know.

Andi: That's where the pilot said "It looks like the gauges are not working anymore. We know somehow, more or less, where we are, but I think we are a little bit lost here in America.". And then I thought that that's a great album title or a great song title.

Tobbe: Totally. Helloween always has catchy songs. It's one of your trademarks.

Andi: I hope so. Don't ask me that. [Laughs] I'm very objective. Honest answers, hmm. [Sarcasm]

Tobbe: Yeah, right. But all the songs aren't catchy. Anyway, how much effort do you really put into making the songs catchy? Is this something you talk about?

Andi: But I think it's only catchy for us. For people who have maybe a common background, like probably you, as well as I. Loving Kiss or Judas Priest and all these great bands. That's my past and probably you're connected to it too, so when it's catchy for you, it's catchy for me and vice versa. So if I'm sitting there, the bloody hobbyist on the guitar, and play something and find something cool, then maybe in a perfect world, if I at the same time have a melody that fits to it, I'd go "Woh", and when I go like this, you will probably go like "Wow. Cool." too, because you've got the same background. So thank God, we have lots of people around the world who have probably more or less the same taste as you and I. So when I love it, you probably love it too, or vice versa when you listen to a new band and you go like "That's fucking fantastic!", and make me listen to it, I would probably say "Right. Wow. That's cool.". That's the whole formula, I think. To do something you like.

Tobbe: Last time you did a radical change, was when you recorded The Dark Ride about 15 years ago. Have you been thinking about doing an album like that again? Maybe not that dark, but anyway.

Andi: Whenever the time demands it. I mean, that was an unpurpose decision, because our management those days had, with every right, the feeling that, now in the year 2000, people didn't demand "Happy, happy Helloween.". The times were calling for more dark tunes. You saw that each and every band who had a little bit more success or were more popular did like this cool, bad shit. Cool, happy shit was not in. It was not hip, unfortunately. But then again, I am a fan of not only happy songs, so my favorite bands sooner or later had songs of like dark and mean stuff. So when they asked me to write dark songs, I had no problem to do that.

Tobbe: It's actually a great album.

Andi: The song which did perfect for us was If I Could Fly.

Tobbe: Yeah, that was the first single.

Andi: It opened so many doors, especially here in Scandinavia. And everybody was bitching in the beginning "It's not Helloween.". But then again, the whole album only has 2 or 3 songs, like Salvation for example, that are typical Helloween. Even Immortal, which I think is a very nice ballad, is not Helloween. The whole The Dark Ride was not supposed to be typical Helloween. Helloween stands for "Happy, happy" and I think we're allowed to do that since the last 2-3 albums again, because times change, so people are into, I wouldn't call it into white metal, because you know we aren't white metal. I mean, we are assholes like you and him and everybody. I would never call myself a white guy. I try to be a good guy, but I'm not a good guy at all, but probably in comparison to all the dark, trashy bands, everybody looks at us as the good guys of rock 'n' roll kind of, you know. Still wonder why. [Laughs] But nowadays, it's great to see that you may have funny lyrics again and that's cool.

Tobbe: Let's talk a little about your live performances. How hard is it to pick your setlists nowadays? There's 15 albums to pick from. That's a lot of songs.

Andi: We have a formula. The must-be-played songs, so that's quite clear, from Future World, to Dr. Stein, to I Want Out, to Eagle Fly Free and maybe a few more. The shit you have to play if you want to survive on stage. It's the old generation. You know how they are. They are very radical.

Tobbe: Yeah, but for me you can skip those songs, because you have many other songs.

Andi: You still have to play them, you know. You know the story. If we don't wanna be whipped and bitched and sentenced to virtual death on the next day on the internet, we have to play them. This is already 45 minutes and then you have the must-be-played from my albums. Like If I Could Fly for example, which you should play very often. Nowadays you have Are You Metal? and then Power. With all these songs, at the end of the day, you have another hour. And this hour, we change from show to show. This is one hour we have to have, for whatever reason.

If we play South America, it's the same there. If you don't play Power, you're dead, so you have to play Power. If we go to Indonesia for example, or Korea or Japan, and don't play Forever And One (Neverland), you don't even need to go there next time, you know. So you have to have these number 1 hits. You have to do that, but that's okay. And then, the next rule, from the new album, 3 or maximum 4 and that means you need to rehearse a 2,5-3 hour program and then you pick. Each and every continent has a little bit different preferences.

Tobbe: Have you picked the songs from the new album, which you will play live during the festival season?

Andi: I would reckon that we stick with plan A, which would be My God-Given Right, because it's the title track, and Lost In America. Typical Helloween shit, so I think no surprise for the guys, except the surprise of "Oh, it's Helloween again.".

Tobbe: Well, you should totally play the title track. It's a good song.

Andi: Yeah, most definitely. And then we go on for the tour and there will definitely be a few more from the new album.

Tobbe: What's funny is my relation to the song Power. You know, I have never liked it. Never. And I know that so many Helloween fans totally think it's such a great song and I say it's like 10 better songs on that album, because I think it's one of your absolute best albums.

Andi: The Time Of The Oath.

Tobbe: Yeah, I love it.

Andi: Well, it's pure. Pure analog, pure dirt. But hey, as I told you, you can't afford that anymore. This was the Château Du Pape studio in Hamburg and to have this sound, to have this dirt and this rock 'n' roll shit, you need that studio. And the SSL studio in the Château is 1600 per day.

Tobbe: That's a lot of money. But in the old days the albums generated money too. Let's talk about your vocals. How do you try to adjust from your studio work to your live performances nowadays?

Andi: Heavy. It's always heavy for me. For the last 3 or 4 productions I actually just decided to completely shut down the system and don't do anything for at least 2 or 3 months. And then invest 1 more week of rehearsals and really slowly stress my voice. After 2 weeks of rehearsals I try to sing with full power for the last week, preparing for the tour, for the first show. But I think it's always a compromise. Actually you should sing every day, but I've never been a singer.

Tobbe: Do you warm up properly before the shows?

Andi: Yeah. 15 minutes, max.

Tobbe: What does the smoking do to your voice?

Andi: Well, some 9 years ago I switched completely from cigarettes to cigars, which means I don't inhale anymore. That is something I realized and as soon as the smoke doesn't pass the vocal cords anymore I got 2 or 3 halftones more up there, and that's great. Smoking itself is bullshit.

Tobbe: And expensive too. Depending on how much you smoke though.

Andi: I'm a weak man. I can't get rid of it.

Tobbe: A quick question about The Bad Bankers too. [Andi's latest solo project.] How much will we see off that project in the coming years?

Andi: I can't answer that one. The next 1 and a ½ years, definitely no.

Tobbe: I can see the point in that.

Andi: It's on hold, as always. It did good, so lots of nosy people, lots of promoters want that shit on stage, so there is a chance. But honestly, if I go with The Bad Bankers I definitely want to do another album, and then go on tour. On a little club tour. That would be a plan. Now, definitely no. It's too early.

Tobbe: I'll ask you this question again in 2 years or something.

Andi: I will still call it a nice project. It was a lot of fun to do, because with the youngsters it's always fun to be in the studio and see their shining eyes. But I told them from the beginning on "This is probably just a nice project. We are a nice band here. We kind of have fun.". We did some little gigs here and there. Just jammed around and only played Cock and Don't Listen To The Radio. It was a lot of fun, so I could imagine being somewhere out in the world playing with the boys. But not at the moment. Now when the big pumpkin calls, forget it.

Tobbe: I guess it was different when you did your solo albums in the late 90's. Back then you just put your own name on the albums and now you have put The Bad Bankers to it. Was that more of a good gesture to the boys? You could have called the album Andi Deris number 3 or something.

Andi: The intention was to actually separate it from the typical Andi Deris solo albums, which are more experimental, romantic hard rock, I would say. The Bad Bankers was lyrically clearly a different world, because I had so much aggression for those assholes, and still have. I had to write it down and get it out of my system, which I did. All the songs you have in your mind, they always pop up again and again. If you don't get rid of the ideas, for the next songwriting period, they pop up again and they block you. Still I love them, but I know they can't be used for Helloween. They are too far away. And then you do a solo album and it's like erasing or reinitializing the whole system, and [exhales] it's gone. That was important, and probably in 10 years I'll do another one, I don't know.

Tobbe: We'll see what happens. So when you write the lyrics for Helloween, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?

Andi: Party. Is it compatible? If it's not compatible, but it's a party song, then I definitely sit down and find another subject. Which is sometimes very, very hard, because sometimes you fall in love with a certain headline. The headline might be cool, but suddenly I realize that it's not fitting at all to the lyrics, because maybe the headline is stupid and the song is dark. Doesn't fit at all. If the lyrics don't fit the song, it's the most horrible thing you can do, I think. I hate that. But then it's like you have to start over again, kind of. In my eyes sometimes, it's very hard to separate something that in my eyes belongs together, but as I said, if the meaning is wrong, you have to kind of force it to be separated. Lyrics are super important though. Many people would tell me that in my genre there's not many people who actually go through the lyrics and that they are not interested. Yeah, maybe, but I have to be satisfied.

Tobbe: But the album 7 Sinners didn't have the lyrics in the liner notes. That was a bad choice.

Andi: I apologize, but it was not our choice. It was Sony Music who kind of had to learn what it means to have a metal band. It's double stupid. It's triple stupid. Because nowadays you want to avoid downloads and now you tell people to download the lyrics. "What the fuck are you thinking?". How sick can you be?

Tobbe: Yeah, I know. The first thoughts that went through my mind were "Where are the lyrics?" and "Do you really want me to look this up on the internet?"

Andi: Yeah, encourage the people to download from the internet. That's what you do with that.

Tobbe: To make people buy this new album, what does My God-Given Right have, that other Helloween albums don't?

Andi: I don't know. A white cover? [Laughs]

Tobbe: Yeah, with snow and a statue.

Andi: Yeah, it's not cocaine. - It's hard to say. Maybe it's got more happy, happy shit on it. It's definitely a little bit faster here and a bit faster there. More aggressive because of the sound. It's definitely has a bit more 80's sound. That gives you that direct feeling of more aggression, because now with analog compression you can twist the trebles again without hurting the ear in an unwanted way. That's what happens in the digital. In the digital domain or the digital world, you tweak the trebles and it hurts and not in a good way. Besides that, I mean, I honestly have to say how often I was disappointed before by not having the success I thought it would have. So what I want to express is that every album and each and every song I've written is a baby of mine. I love it to death and I couldn't understand that other people did not love it as much as I did, you know. So I can't give you an objective answer to this one.

Tobbe: One thing that comes to my mind when I listen to a Helloween album is, I was talking to my brother the other day about this, that every time I pick up a new Helloween album and I listen to it a couple of times, I think…

Andi: Total crap. [Laughs]

Tobbe: I wouldn't go that far. I wouldn't say crap, but more that this wasn't their best album. Then I listen to it a few times more for a couple of weeks and I think it's an okay album. But then, when I pick it up like 6 months later or something and put it in my audio system on kind of full volume, I'm thinking "Damn. This was a good album!". So for me it takes a long time for your albums to really sink in.

Andi: I know why. Because we are one of the few bands who really don't copy. As you know, you cannot reinvent the wheel nowadays, but we always try to find melodies which at least we haven't heard before, so that you could say that this melody is from me. Maybe there's another bloke who wrote it 35 or 20000 years ago, I don't know. I can't check that. I'm not saying that I'm Mr. Original, but it's definitely true that I think I'm Mr. Original for my mind, for my heart. If another guy comes and says "Oh. This is the melody from blah, blah, blah.", then I listen to it and say "Oh shit!". If it's that way, I skip it, you know.

But at least I may say that our albums are created with melodies which are from us and not heard last year or 2 years ago from another band. This makes it a bit harder for people when they listen to it the first time. It sounds like "Not used to it. New.". The style is not new, we know, but the melodies are probably not as common and not as used as with many other bands. I don't wanna mention names.

Tobbe: All right.

Andi: [Takes my words out of my mouth] Do it!

Tobbe: Yes.

Andi: I wouldn't like it in any other way. I could never see myself copying something. I would hate myself for that and this is another question of honor.

Tobbe: In your personal Helloween career, which has lasted for like 22 years.

Andi: My own? 21.

Tobbe: Okay. 21 maybe.

Andi: Actually it's not clear if we should celebrate it this year or if we should have celebrated it last year. It's 30th or the 31st year of Helloween and it's my 20th or 21st. A long time anyway.

Tobbe: So have there ever been times when you've thought about quitting?

Andi: There were seconds. Very often I thought "Fuck it all!", but not really like throwing in the towel or something like that. Not really. I mean, there have been bad times, where we were like kind of nearly fist fighting. But it's like with every family, man. I cannot say that we never had bad times. Which family always has good times? It would not just be the truth. But the more years, the cooler we got. With more years, you accept your mirror. When I listen to or look at Weiki, I just look into a mirror. He's a Leo in the way I am. Actually everything I hate on him is exactly the way I am too. So sooner or later you have to admit that it doesn't matter. I mean, if he's behaving stupid, I just have to cool down and admit that I very often am the same way.

Tobbe: So when was the last time you were really mad at each other?

Andi: Like a real quarrel? Oh, that's at least 6-7 years ago in South America. The 2 of us had a big discussion. Long time ago. We do still have our arguments. That's not a problem, but meanwhile we both go like "Okay. We'll see each other tomorrow.".

Tobbe: And you spend a lot of times together on tours and you can't really leave the tour for a couple of days and then come back.

Andi: Well, you could.

Tobbe: Yeah, you could, but it would be strange to see Helloween without a singer for 2 concerts.

Andi: No, no. That's not what I mean, but you can see each other on stage, like 10-11 years ago I remember myself going off the nightliner and said "Well, you can kiss my ass!", you know. I just took a flight from hotel to hotel and we saw each other on stage and like "Fucking asshole!". [Laughs] But sooner or later, it seems like a joke, you know. The more days that pass, the more you think it's stupid and childish. And you think "Okay. How do I get out of this without losing my face?". But then he's cool. He doesn't give you the feeling that you're an asshole. Or vice versa. When he comes to apologize, I never give him a hard time. It always takes 2, you know.

Tobbe: He had his issues with Michael Kiske.

Andi: Yeah, but that was different. They were too young.

Tobbe: They are back on better terms now, Kiske told me.

Andi: Yes, it works. They had a little talk together in Switzerland and were getting a little closer again. But in those days, it was impossible. I mean, you have to imagine that we were in our 20's. All the hormones and all that shit. I mean, we were so stupid sometimes. Not ready to think in a clear way, but also steered hormone-wise and ready to really fist fight, you know.

Tobbe: It's so different when you're young.

Andi: When you're getting older, then the hormones are a bit more controlled from here [Point at his chest.] and through experience and everything. You really know it's not worth it. It's definitely not worth it, because you look back in time and you see dozens of pretty similar situations and you know it never worked out. It never paid out, so why should it now? So shut the fuck up, wait a little bit, cool down and then the whole world looks different again. That's the cool thing about experience. You have seen it before and you know that the result has always been the same.

See also: review of the album My God-Given Right

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