Blind Guardian Interview
Blind Guardian has been one of the premier power metal/progressive metal bands in the world for the last thirty years. After years on Virgin Records, Blind Guardian has found a new home on Nuclear Blast. Their new single has been dominating the charts and doing healthy business all across the world.
Grim Magazine: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! First of all, what can we expect from the new album?
Andre: No problem! From the new album, I think we tried to do something really new. We tried to find new elements which we’ve never used before and not to copy “A Night At The Opera” and I think we did pretty well there. You can still hear that this is Blind Guardian, but I think we found a new sound there. All the songs are really different, so you cannot say… um… I cannot really describe, it’s a little bit difficult. (laughs)
Grim Magazine: I noticed the riffs on “Fly” were a little bit chunkier and a little bit more jagged than what we’re used to.
Andre: Yes. Yes, that is a good example; we tried to bring in more rhythm things that we didn’t play before and more dynamics, going from very low parts to high, intense parts and play around with this. We took out this big, epic style we used on “A Night At The Opera,” we took out those really big choirs and the big orchestrations, so it sounds a little bit more basic.
Grim Magazine: I was curious, why did you not record the full eighteen-minute version of Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gadda Da Vida”?
Andre: I think the short, normal version is long enough. (laughs) I personally find the long version a little bit boring.
Grim Magazine: What can we expect for the cover art for the new album?
Andre: The artwork, right now, is still in progress. We have different options there and different concepts, but we don’t know what we will choose in the end. It really depends on the artist and we will give him as much free space as he needs. I mean, every artist should go for his own thing a little bit, so we really can’t say now. We hope that the album cover will be finished in a month and then we will see.
Grim Magazine: Now that you have the “Battalions of Fear” and “Follow the Blind” issued in North America for the first time, will you be playing songs from those albums when you do your next U.S. tour?
Andre: Yes we will play songs from every album. Since we have lots of albums out, it will be maybe two or three songs off each album, but we still try to play from the old albums too, of course.
Grim Magazine: Was the reason you chose not to play anything from those albums of the last U.S. tour simply because they were not available in North America?
Andre: Yeah. Of course, we have those songs like “Majesty” or “Banish From Sanctuary” that are always in the program somehow, but we have thirty to forty songs we play on the tour, but we change those every evening. Sometimes, especially on the U.S. tour, it was the end part of the world tour, we were not really in the mood to play the old songs. (laughter) I don’t know; it depends really on the mood when Hansi is putting the setlist together each evening; it can be that we skip those things some days.
Grim Magazine: I understand that Blind Guardian is going to be doing another North American tour towards the end of the year; what are the current plans for it?
Andre: I don’t really know much about the U.S. tour right now because I think it is still in the booking and the production is not really fixed yet. I only know about the European tour which is planned and let’s say, kind of equal to the show we did on the DVD. Not equal, but let’s say from the sound quality and from the lighting quality, we want to do something very good there. I hope we can do something great in the U.S., but it always depends on the conditions and on the deal we get. I mean, we still have to wait for what comes out there.
Grim Magazine: Okay, now how much difficulty did you have with the departure of Thomen and finding a new drummer?
Andre: That was, let’s say, we were totally lucky that we found Frederik so quick and so early. We didn’t expect this; we thought it was a big problem when Thomen left, because he has his very own style to play and it was not easy to fill a member who was in the band for twenty years, but then Frederik heard that we were searching for a new drummer and he sent me a DVD where he was playing Blind Guardian songs and that was really nice. We invited him, played some new songs and some old songs with him and it came out very good, because somehow he can play in the traditional way of Thomen and he can add his own characteristics and it fits really good to Blind Guardian, so we were very happy when we found him and we took the chance and made him a member immediately.
Grim Magazine: Now, is there any chance of a North American pressing of the “Tokyo Tales” album now that it’s the only one not available over here?
Andre: This depends on our old label, Virgin. Since we are not there anymore, we don’t have any influence on their release policy. We would be happy if they would release everything in North America, but we have no influence there.
Grim Magazine: Okay, I just have one last question and that is, when the “Lord of the Rings” movies were in filming, there were a lot of rumors that Blind Guardian was going to be involved in the soundtrack somehow. Was this…
Andre: There was a short talk with a bureau of the secretary of Peter Jackson. At the time, where they didn’t decide who would do the music part and since we were working on an orchestral project, which is really much into Tolkien from the music and the melodies, which is, let’s say, something between a musical and a film soundtrack, we thought we could offer this to Peter Jackson and we tried to do the contract. They were interested, but at the same time, we were in the middle of the production of “A Night At The Opera” or in a very intense period of songwriting and they wanted to listen to a demo tape, which was really hard to do at that point in time because an orchestra, you cannot quickly program it, you cannot quickly record. So there was not really time for us to do a demo tape and they needed a fast decision for the music for “Lord of the Rings,” so we were out very quickly. Now we will release or produce this material, which will be an orchestral album, which we will do next year and be released in two years.
Grim Magazine: Okay, cool! Thank you very much!
Andre: Thank you!
Blind Guardian’s Discography:
(1988) Blind Guardian – Battalions of Fear
(1989) Blind Guardian – Follow the Blind
(1990) Blind Guardian – Tales from the Twilight World
(1992) Blind Guardian – Somewhere Far Beyond
(1995) Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Other Side
(1998) Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle-Earth
(2002) Blind Guardian – A Night at the Opera
(2006) Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth
(2010) Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time
(2015) Blind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror
Band: Blind Guardian
With: Andre Olbrich (lead guitar)
Interview Date: April 8, 2006
Years Active: 1984 – present
Genre: Power/Progressive/Symphonic/Speed Metal
Website: Official Website
Label: Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
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