As it is commonly known that Blind Guardian are one of the biggest acts in the history of power metal, a discussion with the lead guitarist and founding member of the band Andre Olbrich is definitely a pleasure. Andre, who was really in a great mood, recently talked to Metalpaths about all the current activities of the band, the writing process of the new upcoming album, the Orchestral Project and also revealed us his expectations for the upcoming decade.
Hello Andre, greetings from Greece! This is Panagiotis from Metalpaths, how are you?
Hello, I’m fine!
So what are your activities in this period of time, what are your latest news?
Well the latest news is that we started the song writing one year ago and we have almost seven songs ready so far. We have already recorded two songs last year and now for since like two months we are recording four more. The drums are ready already so we started the guitar work now and I think that we will be recording the whole summer. In between though, we are going to play in some really big festivals in Europe so we are rehearsing again, focused on some songs we didn’t play so far. After the summer activities we want to do another break for song writing and write some more songs for the album which is planned for 2010.
So the new album will be out in 2010 ?
Yes, we hope so. It will be out on the end of 2010, that’s for sure. But we hope we can manage to accomplish everything in the first half of 2010.
What can we expect from the music? On what music paths are you going to move on this album?
We have already released one song that is called “Sacred” for a computer game that is called “Sacred II”…
Yes, Hansi posted a message on your website which says that the last album will be a 100% Blind Guardian release and also that “Sacred” is the new song that will be the music definition of the new album. Do you think that this song will be the highlight of the album?
No, it’s not the highlight, for sure not. It’s a good song that I like very much but so far we have already three or four songs which are maybe a little bit better. All songs have their own characteristics, you can’t really compare them. It’s a real Blind Guardian album, we have a mixture of songs and so far right now we just finished a song which is very fast, a speed metal song from the old qualities but with new techniques. It’s my favourite song. For me it’s a masterpiece so far and we have another power metal song that it’s really brilliant and reminds me the style of the “Nightfall” album very much, it’s a little bit different but very good as well. We also have a very nice ballad but it’s not finally a real ballad, it will be hard in the end! So we have a real good mixture so far. It’s working very good between Hansi and me right now because we have a new system that we can exchange our ideas everyday over the internet, we don’t need to meet each other. In the last song writing process from the “A Twist In The Myth” we met like once a week and now we can exchange our ideas like everyday, we have a much better and faster feedback, so we can react better our ideas and I think that this makes the songs really better.
Are there any ideas about the album’s title so far?
No, that will be in the last second like always! Hansi needs to have all the lyrics before and then we decide about the title and since it will not be a concept album it is not important to have the title so early.
And what about the lyrics part, do you already have the lyrics ready or just the music?
I think that Hansi has the lyrics almost complete for those six songs that we are recording but for the rest of course we need to write the songs. One song is about 80% finished and since Hansi is really trying to fit the lyrics very well with the music, we start writing the lyrics when the songs are complete because otherwise it makes no sense, we have to change them too often and that would be a double work, so lyrics is last.
If you listen to the first Blind Guardian albums, the music is the definition of speed power metal. Through the years you changed your style a little bit like in Twist In The Myth which is more orchestral and more symphonic maybe. What’s the reason of your experimentations with your music? Is that something that naturally breathes out of the band or you try to develop from album to album?
You know it’s a little bit of everything. Of course we want to find ways to develop our music and it’s also a little bit the taste that you don’t like any more, like some riffs you played some years ago and you don’t like them any more, maybe the taste changes a little bit and of course in the older albums you have just like one style; fast. If you listen to the “Follow Of The Blind” it was so fast and now we have more variety on the albums. There is not a song that you will say that it is like the album. You have 10 different songs, and a bright variety and I think that that’s what makes Blind Guardian albums interesting and what keeps the interest over the time, because when I have an album that’s the same for 60 minutes I will listen to it some weeks but after that I will not put it again in my cd player, it becomes boring. But if I go for example to the “Queen” albums and I have from 10 songs 10 different songs, I like to listen to it again and again, even twenty years later. I like to listen to these albums because they still keep the interest, like some “Queensryche” albums for example and that maybe the goal that we want to reach too with our albums that we create, something that will not be boring after a short time. So we try to write different songs.
Have you already decided who will be the producer of the new album?
Yes, we are the producers, we have the last word our own and technical wise our advisor is Charlie Bauerfeind again. We are really satisfied with how he is trying to bring out what we want. He is not trying to bring in his own colour, he just tries to engineer our ideas and that’s what we like because we don’t need to be produced in a classical way, we really know what we want. So we go this way again and if you listen to the song “Sacred” you maybe get an idea from the sound of the album, because this is the sound we are driving so far. We really like the drum sound and the guitars as well so that’s basically how the new album will sound.
You said that “Sacred” will be also used for a video game. What kind of a game exactly?
Well it’s a game that is called “Sacred II” as I said above, and it is a single role playing game.
I know about your passion with games like Warcraft and RPG stuff…
Yes! I’m addicted! (laughs) I’m a real maniac player and when this opportunity came up I was really on fire, like a dream that came true! In my opinion metal music and especially those epic and power metal music fits very well to role playing games. So we tried to do something special for this game and I liked the song very much and in the game is really cool the fact that they captured a performance of us and they put it in it, so you can see the song performed by us in the game, the whole video but in 3D graphics, it’s looks cool, with all orcs and stuff! It’s really nice. I think it’s a good role playing game. If you are not playing multiplayer games and you prefer single player then you have to try it out.
So let’s move back two years ago when you released “A Twist In The Myth”. Are you finally satisfied with the result or is there something that you would like to change if you could go back in time?
No, I’m still satisfied with every album we did because it was the result of the time and only of that time. Right now I’m writing different things, I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to do the same things now. We did this and that’s a closed chapter for me. After the production was done, I was satisfied at that moment and I keep it like that. I don’t want to change the past. I’m really happy that we changed the drummer. It was brilliant that we could manage to accomplish a really good album like this because Frederik entered the band and we started the production. It was really strange and now we have a better condition, the band is really close since the last tour, we really feel that Frederik is deep in the band now and so I think that the result is even better. As I already mentioned the song writing between Hansi and me is working very well and I think the whole mood since we don’t have many problems any more. We are more free minds in this season and the song writing is much easier and you will see that in the songs. They go deeper from the feelings in my opinion, a little bit deeper than the “Nightfall” album and really bring our music forward.
Did you ever get into the process of comparing a new album with an older one?
I think the new one is again something different from anything we did. It has some technical features we learned in the last albums and it has from the feeling and the mood something from “Imaginations” and “Nightfall”. It is a mixture, it is something new again but I think it goes more back to the speed power metal roots that I like very much!
Yeah! I like it too and most of your fans I guess! So do you plan to make a video clip from a song taken from the new album or it’s too early to talk about it?
It is a little bit too early, I would like to of course, but the problem is always who will play it in the end and that is a discussion we have to do with the record company and then we have to see the possibility to show this video in a good way. I mean, of course you can spread it on the internet but a video is still very expensive to do and we need to see if it makes sense. But I hope we can manage something.
So you have already said some words about Frederik and I would like to ask you how do you finally feel with him on drums, are there any moments that you miss Thomen?
No, I have to admit I’m so in love with Frederik (laughs) and how he is playing, with the passion he is playing, and I don’t want to change him, that was like the best thing that could happen to us. He is such a good person, somebody who is bringing, let’s say, calm aspect in the bend which we need sometimes because when Hansi and I are in rage, we need somebody to be calm and Thomen was more like the third person in rage! Then it was sometimes something like disaster but I think that now we found the perfect balance and if you hear the drum recordings that are just finished for four more songs it’s so brilliant how he is playing. Everybody will see that he is really an awesome drummer and I’m really glad that he came in the band.
So, as I know, you are going to give just a limited number of shows this summer. That’s why you want to stay more focused to the new album?
Well, when the new album will be released then we have to do a really big tour of course. This is only now where we have the feeling that we want to play in between and not get bored, we need to be on stage, we need to play some festivals. The summer is very nice for this, and festivals are a good opportunity to play in front of lots of fans and since the album release will take some time, we are glad that we have the opportunity to give our fans something in between and play some festivals and have some kind of a party with our fans and then the album will be there in 2010 I hope.
However, it’s our honor that Greece belong to these countries. You are going to visit us this summer for the Rocking Athens Festival with Heaven And Hell. How do you feel that you are back in Greece again?
For me is always the best, my half of my family is Greek, my wife is Greek and my son is half Greek and of course I won’t miss the chance to visit my Greek family.
So you do not visit Greece only to play shows?
Yes of course, I’m like once a year in Greece. We always visit our family and for me is the best being in Greece. And as about the summer is the most perfect as we play to the festival and after this we do a little vacation there.
What are your memories from the mini tour that you did in Greece about two years ago? I think that you gave about three or four shows and also played for the first time in Larisa?
The last time was amazing. The crowd in Greece is getting better and better, I mean it was like already unbelievable how it was to play in Greece, I don’t want to sound like stupid but the Greek audience is the best audience. Nobody is singing the lyrics so loud like the Greek fans and that was always impressive. For us it cannot be enough shows like these. We like those shows better than when people stay quiet you know!
So do you prefer playing live or being in studio?
I think that both have good sides and bad aspects. On a tour I think that being on stage is better but to be on stage is just two hours and the rest of the day on a tour is very hard and boring, the travelling part etc. You don’t want to have this. In the studio you are more comfortable, you are at home. But the work in the studio is very hard, you have to concentrate deeply. The good thing is you can be very creative, which gets lost on tour sometimes. When you are on a long tour like a whole year you miss the creativity. You cannot write in between in a hotel room, you are not relaxed enough to write a song. Sometimes in the studio is so concentrated work that you wish to be on stage and to feel this pure energy of the stage and the fans.
Germany was always a strong power of metal music with bands such as you, Kreator, Helloween, Destruction, Accept etc. Are there any new born bands from Germany that can successfully continue this course?
Oh, I have to admit that I didn’t listen to many new releases cause I didn’t have enough time. I was really deep into our own work and so I am not able to discuss about this but I hope!
So the first decade of zeros is almost gone. What are your expectations for Blind Guardian for the next ten years? What would you like to do?
I hope that our Orchestra project will be a blast because we started also the production of the orchestra project which will hopefully be released in 2011.
Would you like to tell us a few things about it? About the project?
Yes it is songs Hansi and me wrote the last ten years and it’s just classical orchestra which I wrote plus Hansi’s voice. And he is singing different than in a metal band, he is like a different character and it’s a really amazing music because his vocals sound in a very epic way and it’s just awesome. We tried to find out how we could produce this album during the last years because it’s really difficult to find the right orchestra and how to finalize this work, but now we found something, we are already in the pre-production and we will record this with a real orchestra. So this is lots of work but it depends on someone’s time and we do this in between. So far it is scheduled for 2011. This is like our dream project and we want this to be released and after this we may can arrange something like a big Blind Guardian festival and play this whole orchestra album one time live on stage with a real orchestra. That would be my plan for the future and I hope to realize this.
So is there anything else we should now, any other news or something special you would like to tell us?
I can only tell that the mood of the band right now is really good cause we are satisfied with the new songs we have and everything is working out good. We will hopefully play some nice shows and we will play some songs we didn’t play lately for…ten years? SO it will be an interesting Blind Guardian show. Maybe not the best but at least funny and well.
So Andre thank you very much for your time and the interview, we are looking forward to meet you in Greece on summer.
Thank you! It was a very nice interview and I hope to meet you in the festival in Greece!
We wish you the best for the band and yourselves, goodbye!
Thank you, bye bye!
Interview by: Karagiannidis Panagiotis