Interview conducted August 07 2015
Interview published November 08 2015
Before power metal kings Helloween
went onstage at Getaway Rock, Metal Covenant had the opportunity to get
a chat with the band's bassist Markus Grosskopf.
The German was a very cheerful fellow and a nice, relaxing time was had
outside in the sun.
Mozzy: Let's start with the new album. Are
you happy with it and the response it has gotten?
Markus: Yeah! It's nice. We play a couple of
new ones live. One has an audience part and it's working great.
It has been high in the charts as well.
Markus: Yeah, people seem to like it and that's
what I like too (laughs).
Mozzy: Compared to the previous albums,
do you like to try things just a bit with each album, or?
Markus: Well, it's not like we have a master
plan to change things. It's just comes out like this, you know. We don't
plan to go in this or that direction; you just write songs and they
come out like they are and then you see the result. Maybe you could
feel that you need one more fast song to complete the album or whatever,
but the general feel is not something you can plan. It just comes out
in a very natural way.
Mozzy: Well I like the album, maybe a bit
more than the last one although I liked that one too.
Markus: Ok, good (laughs).
Mozzy: You played with Judas Priest recently.
That must have been fun.
Markus: Yeah! It was planned before but it didn't
come together for some horrible reason (laughs). But it was very nice.
I grew up with them and their music and saw them live. So to play with
them was a great thing.
Mozzy: So in those occasions you are still
Markus: Yeah! It's great. They are still playing
very well and are in great shape. It's still touching and emotional,
I like that a lot.
Mozzy: This line-up of Helloween has now
been together for ten years, which is the longest in your history.
Markus: It is actually! A whole decade! (laughs)
Mozzy: Do you feel like you are a strong
Markus: Yeah. It helps working together if you
know what to expect from the other guys, you know. And if you have a
kind of routine going on, it makes things very comfortable.
Another big anniversary is that you celebrate 30 years since Walls Of
Jericho, the debut album.
Markus: Yes! It makes me feel a bit old (laughs).
Mozzy: I remember when it came out, and
now it's been thirty years, that is amazing.
Markus: Yeah. And imagine that I was listening
to Judas Priest before I even was in Helloween (laughs).
Mozzy: 30 years is a big achievement. Do
you feel some sense of pride about that?
Markus: Well, of course I can feel lucky and
happy about it. The thing I once started is still going very well. That
makes you feel very good.
Mozzy: Have there been some tough times
Markus: Of course. Ingo's (Swichtenberg, late
record company issues
and other struggles
we had from the early days. Being in a band for 30 years is not just
about partying and all the good stuff. It's also about struggling in
some bad situations and making tough decisions. You even have to make
some cruel decisions sometimes to keep the band going, you know.
All of that comes with playing music and spending
your life in music. Then you have to deal with that stuff, it's not
just partying. I mean, we had a lot of good times as well as bad times.
It's not always easy but you can only survive when finding solutions
and making decisions.
Mozzy: You mentioned Ingo, and it's actually
20 years since that happened.
Markus: Yeah, that was probably the worst thing
that happened during this time. Because we were young and nobody knew
what was going on with that situation, and then having to face that
is cruel for a young musician, you know. It was the toughest time we
Mozzy: There have been many highlights too,
can you single out some?
Markus: Yeah, there have been those too of course.
Like I said, it's been up and down. Luckily, in the last years we've
had a lot of highlights. And through our career we've had
more than one beginning. I call it a second beginning with Master Of
Rings (1994). Everybody thought we were kind of dead and then we came
back with that album. That was like a second birth. And those situations
you bear in mind, like that feeling of 'yeah, we did it again', you
Like you said, the last few years have been really good for Helloween.
Also, it feels like you have a very strong brand in that everyone knows
the name "Helloween".
Markus: Yeah, and I feel great about that we
have a 30th anniversary and that there has been no break. A lot of bands
have been around for 20 to 30 years but they have had a break in between
somewhere. That was never the case with Helloween, we were there all
the time. Even when some albums were called bad or was disliked we were
still touring and going on, trying to make it. Trying to keep the brand,
Mozzy: And you have had great songs too
which has helped, of course.
Markus: Yeah, there has been a few after all
these years (laughs).
Mozzy: Today's business is even more about
touring than before.
Markus: Yeah, but we learned to tour a lot even
in the beginning. And because we had all this success with the 'Keeper'
albums, we learned that the only way to keep the band up is to go out
on the road, you know. So we got used to it in the very beginning and
it didn't really hurt us.
It hurts a little more when you are a little
older, but still we can find our own speed and way of touring here and
there with gaps in between and so on. But we're still going: we're doing
the festivals, touring America, Australia
there's Japan and Asia
It's still going on; we're just doing it at a bit different speed. We
can decide how, so that's good.
Mozzy: Are there some places you have not
been to where you would like to tour?
Markus: I don't know, there are probably many.
We've been to China and Indonesia, but we haven't been to South Africa
for example. There are more too, I'm sure. We have not played in the
Arctic yet (laughs).
Mozzy: People are often speculating about
rumours of a reunion with the old line-up. Does that bother you?
Markus: Well people are asking and still have
that in mind. But there is no talk about it, because we're touring and
we have this strong bond now.
So some kind of temporary reunion thing would not be possible either?
Markus: No. We're doing this tour, then the
next one and then we will think about the next record. We take it step
Mozzy: Kai has guested the band a couple
of times, however.
Markus: Yeah, that was nice. It felt familiar.
We had fun and shared a couple of drinks. It felt comfortable and I
liked that a lot.
Mozzy: You have a book coming out as well,
Markus: Yeah! We are putting it together and
giving some advice. It's just like a little hello after all those years,
for some collectors. It will be one of those big collector items, I
Mozzy: To conclude, I remember when you
filled in on bass in Edguy at Bloodstock in 2010. I saw that gig.
Markus: With Edguy? Oh yeah, it was England
Markus: Yeah, Tobias' (Exxel) wife was expecting
a child so I jumped in for that gig.
Mozzy: You really seemed to enjoy that one.
Markus: Yeah, to do something different is always
good for your brain (laughs). It's fun to do things like that from time
to time. I did some gigs with Gamma Ray too when Dirk (Schlächter)
had a bad knee. But Helloween will always be the main thing, of course.
of the album My God-Given Right
See also: review
of the gig the same night