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BLIND GUARDIAN - The Past, The Present, The Future

 

The Past, The Present, The Future

- Tekst av Pia Nordli, 10. august 2006 -

 

It’s been 4 years since Blind Guardian released a record. Now they are finally back! The new record is called ”A twist in the myth” and will be released 1 September through Nuclear Blast. I took a little chat with guitar player Marcus, to hear about the new album, Tolkien and the recent break with Virgin Records.

 

Hi, Marcus, thanks for calling!
Thank you for your time.

First of all, congratulations on your forthcoming album!
Thank you very much!

What can we expect from it?
You can expect a kind of mix of everything that we did so far. After we did ”A night at the opera”, the last albums have all been kind of complex, pretty epic with a lot of things going on in the music and especially after the last one we just realized that we couldn't go on in that direction because it was just not possible for us to top those songs if we would try to do the same thing again. So we decided to go a completely different direction and write songs that are much more basic, less quires, less guitar arrangements, less classical instrumentation. They are focused straight to the point. Like this the songs get some kind of “back to the roots” vibe in some way, but in the other hand we also of course tried to continue what we started on the last one, so there are a lot of elements that we didn’t work with so far, we’ve always tried to broaden our style and get new influences into the music, and the result is “A twist in the myth” which is a perfect bridge between the past and the present of the band.

So I guess you are quite satisfied with it then?

Yes, we are pretty happy with it, yeah.

I read today that the single ”Fly” actually reached no 1 in the charts in Japan, and like no 4 in Spain and Hungary, that’s quite amazing. How does that feel like? It feels very good, I mean, Blind Guardian is definitely no single band, and our main focus is definitely not on releasing singles like some pop band or anything. But of course it’s perfect for us to see how the fans react to new material. Our last studio album was released 4 years ago, which is not a very long time in Blind Guardian term (laughs)… But quite a long time for the fans to wait! Yeah, but we are more than happy to see how the fans appreciate this single, especially because ”Fly” is not really a typical Blind Guardian song, it’s not what most people would expect from us. We chose it on purpose to be the single to show people that they can expect a lot of new things from us. And of course we had no idea how people would react to that song. But you know, those results of the chart entries and the feedback that we got from our fans is perfect. I know that some people were very surprised in the beginning when they listened to the song for the first time, and said ”Ah, that’s not what I expected”, but then they listened to it a couple of times and then they were like ”Ah, yes, cool, it’s a Blind Guardian song!” Which it is!

Well, then you answered my next question which was why you chose “Fly” to be the single of the album. Can we expect a music video from the new album?
Yes, we’ve already done a video for ”Another stranger me”. I think Nuclear Blast will put it on the web server soon, and it’s supposed to be released and shown on tv stations when the album comes out. It’s based on the lyrics, the basic story is about a private detective working on some murder cases and realizing during the story that he has a split personality and that actually he himself is involved in the murders. The band appear too and the whole thing takes place in a kind of 1930’s environment with that kind of clothing and stuff. It’s definitely in my opinion the very best video we’ve ever done.

I look forward to it! So, do you personally have some favourite songs that you like to play live more than others?
Well, there are some, but it’s not that I have one favourite live song, because this changes every day, you know, it depends a lot on my mood. But I love playing songs like ”Nightfall”, ”Time stands still” and ”Journey through the dark”, cause those songs are one of the absolute highlights. It’s easier to say that there are songs that I don’t really enjoy playing live anymore, because we’ve been playing them 3 billion times! But we still play them because the fans love them and want to hear them, so of course we play them then. But there are definitely other songs that I prefer playing.

You’ve been along for over 20 years now as a band, how can a band last that long and still come up with new ideas?
It’s just a matter of dedication, I guess. We put a lot of work in this band. And what’s very important in my opinion is that we still love what we’re doing. We’re still enjoying it. Whenever we start writing songs for a new album we always take it as a challenge, we always try to come up with something new, something that we didn’t do before, something that no one else have done before, and also something that’s hopefully better than everything that we’ve done so far. And as I said, we just enjoy playing in this band, we enjoy doing our albums, we love touring, and everybody still have the same goals, dreams and visions about being in Blind Guardian. And I think that it’s this devotion that keeps us going.

Well, I just have to ask, being a Tolkien fan myself. What is this connection between Blind Guardian and Tolkien? There are a lot of rumours going on that you wrote some music for the Lord of the Rings movies etc.
Well, we didn’t write any music for the movies. We love Tolkien, we love Lord of the Rings, we love the story and we’ve had songs about it. And we have been in contact with Peter Jackson’s team back then when they did the first movie, and we have been asked to send in some material, some demos and stuff. But we didn’t even do this, cause at that time we were in the middle of the work on ”A night at the opera” and in case we would have got the job to work on the soundtrack it would’ve meant that ”A night at the opera” would have been delayed much more. And it was already late, so we definitely wanted to focus on the next Blind Guardian album instead of starting on something completely new. So it didn’t happen then, but it might happen in the future if someone else would make another movie about Lord of the Rings, I don’t know.

Well, it would probably be no good!
I agree, it would most likely not be able to compete with Peter Jackson’s movies.

You have a new drummer now, Fredrik Ehmke. Was it hard to find a replacement for Thomen?
It was much easier than we thought because we didn’t really find his replacement, Fredrik found us! It was very nice. We were thinking and talking about possible options that we had, we were talking about several people that we would like to talk to, and have some auditions and jams and stuff. And at that time Fredrik contacted Andre so in whatever way he found out his phone number and he called him and said; ”Hey, my name is Fredrik Ehmke and I would like to become your new drummer!” And what he did was that he sent in a dvd of himself playing Blind Guardian songs. And we were pretty impressed, cause he played fast stuff like ”Journey through the dark”, and he even played ”And then there were silence”. And this whole way of introducing himself really impressed us and so we invited him to visit us so we could get to know each other, we gave him a new song to see how he would get along with material that he didn’t know yet. Because he is a long time fan of the band, so he was perfectly familiar with the old songs and the style. But it worked just perfectly fine, and he’s a brilliant musician and as important he is a really nice guy that perfectly fits to us. And like this it was very easy because we immediately knew that we had our replacement for Thomen. And it’s great working with him, it’s great to play live with him, we’ve played a couple of warm up shows. And we can’t wait to start the tour now in September, it will be great!

Are there any guitar players that have inspired you more than others?
Yeah, definitely. When I started playing guitar when I was 11 or something it was about the same time as I started listening to metal. And back then my idols were the guys in Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath etc. But over the years I discovered other guys that I really admired as guitar players, like David Gilmore from Pink Floyd is outstanding. But to stick with the metal scene I think that Zakk Wylde is brilliant. What I really admire is when I can hear somebody playing and I immediately know that it’s him or him, like Brian May from Queen is one of those guys. Like he plays two notes and you think; ”That’s Brian May.” Those are the guys that I really admire.

  You changed record company recently, from Virgin to Nuclear Blast. Are you satisfied with the change? We were signed on Virgin for many years, but after the merging with EMI and a lot of people got fired in both companies it just became a nightmare and suddenly everything started going wrong. The people we had to deal with had no idea about metal, they didn’t have any idea about Blind Guardian and thus nothing worked anymore. We just couldn’t stand that situation anymore so we talked to them and luckily we could get out of the contract. So we talked to a lot of record companies, of course, but the guys from Nuclear Blast just had the same vision and ideas on how they would like to work with us, and it just matched perfectly. So we signed with them in the end, and concerning how things are going now everything are perfectly fine and we can just say that it was the right decision to sign to Nuclear Blast…. Well, ok, finally, do you want to say anything to your Norwegian fans? I just want to thank everybody for the support we’ve got over the years. I can’t wait to play for you guys in the middle of September (23.9, Rockefeller, Oslo). I hope everybody will show up at the show, it’s gonna be a lot of fun! See you there!

Thanks a lot for your time, Marcus, and good luck on the upcoming tour. Bye bye! Thank you and bye for now!




Well, that's all for now folks. Don't forget to check out 'A twist in the myth' and don't you forget that Rockefeller, Oslo is the place to be on September 23rd.


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