On the occasion of Helloween's upcoming reunion tour with Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen by their side, after many years, Rock Overdose and Dimitris Aloras communicated with guitarist Michael Weikath, who gave us details for the tour, remembered the impact of the two ''Keeper...'' albums, apologized to us for being late in answering the interview (!) and we came up with the news that they discussed a date for Athens, with nothing having been confirmed yet!
RockOverdose: Hello Michael, it's very nice we can talk about something that brought joy to all of us, the reunion tour of the band with Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. Where do we find you at the moment and which are your actions lately?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): We are currently having guitar pre- rehearsals with the three guitarists in Hamburg, preparing tracks for the tour set list, which also needed to be decided beforehand.
RockOverdose: Many people believe that the idea about this reunion was brought upon when you toured extensively with Gamma Ray some years ago. Is this true, or was it something that came up naturally, as 2017 marks 30 years from the release of the first ''Keeper Of The Seven Keys'' album?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): Indeed, Kai Hansen had always spoken about that we ought to do this since a long time, and usually a few things had to fall into place for it to be transformed into reality. We had done the Hellish Tours 1 and 2 way after that meeting Michael Kiske again at Metal Fest France where he was performing with Avantasia. We carefully touched ground and the ocassion was right and led by Kosta Zafiriou, who is our tour manager and then drummer in Unisonic… After it was decided to try this, Bottom Row management took action to get into planning for what would be called the Pumpkins United.
RockOverdose: Though it is still early, how do you plan these gigs? People are waiting anxiously and they have already started asking about a possible setlist and the stage show. Will you include tracks from ''Pink Bubbles Go Ape'' and ''Chameleon'' as well? Or is it going to be something of a best of show, with a little more ''Keeper'' aura?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): So far it looks like being a Best of show, one track from ''...Bubbles'' is included, none of ''Chameleon'' yet. We are looking at various songs and eventually adding and taking off tracks during the run of events. It’s a lot of work deciding, it is impossible to take everything into account but we are trying very hard to please everyone and ourselves.
RockOverdose: Three decades have passed and the question remains ''Why did the two Keeper albums had such an impact on the whole metal music in general''?How were you facing it as a band member back then and how do you see it now after all these years and with younger kids still digging those albums?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): It was a magic time with magic preparations and magic convictions. Then the magic shattering of the dream to do a double album, the magic conception and appearances of two albums over time. The magical appearance of particular tracks as Eagle Fly Free and a mix of hopes, expectations, touring, mental suffering, obligations fulfilled, until both albums had been recorded. It was a crazy process that took a lot of nerves, which one could have done different ways but boldly came across the way it was in fact. We don’t know what happened and how it happened but we are able to say everyone involved was not really prepared or ready for this. The band had plans to do something and the record company was prepared to make something else out of it. Looking at it from a distance it must appear ok, many things could have been done even better as always but it had the magic impact and still does!
RockOverdose: So, there's going to be three guitar players with the addition of Kai and two vocalists with the addition of Michael. How easy or difficult will it prove to be to adapt the material with two extra people? Will both Michael and Andi sing the songs of the setlist, will each one sing his own era's tracks? What's the plan? For the record, it would be interesting to hear Michael's interpretations to some of the post ''Master Of The Rings'' tracks.
Michael Weikath (Helloween): Yeah, that is more or less exactly what we will try and we will come up with something like that. It will be rehearsed and set up and we are in the process of combining many things and we are also pretty eager to see what it’ll be like.
RockOverdose: How many shows have been booked so far for this tour, if this has already happened?Needless to say that people in Greece are already crazy, even at the thought of your possible visit. Will we have the joy to see you or are we left out of this tour?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): Show date updates are coming in bit by bit over time, there has been a great response so far, I don’t know when or if this would ever end! Dates are shown on the official Helloween Facebook page. I have JUST heard about a possible date in Athens this morning, but it's not 100% confirmed yet.
RockOverdose: We see many new bands coming out, bringing something new to the whole metal scene and on the other hand, we see many old bands sounding very fresh. A perfect example comes from your country, with the latest releases of Accept, Rage and Running Wild. How do you see the whole scene now that we're entered 2017 and which bands you might not know have caught your attention?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): I can say I was very surprised and pleased by Battle Beast and had the opportunity to watch one of their shows the last festival in Finland. The old band sounded fresh, everyone has to spend the care on what one wants and what has to happen, I was also very pleased by Judas Priest’s latest efforts also having played with them at some occasions. And one may be glad to see there’re ups and downs in the metal music scene but it is mostly energetic and there is not a general decay to be seen yet, and that hopefully will never happen. All of us and everyone else want to have a good and exciting time!
RockOverdose:The million dollar question of many die-hard Helloween fans: Is this tour going to be a one-off experience or would there be a slight possibility of all of you recording a new Helloween album?
Michael Weikath (Helloween): The intention is doing the shows, keep it going for as long as there is interest and opportunity and stamina, and as for a new album: We all got to see what is happening in the world and our lives may keep us from doing something , you’ll never know but it sure has been considered but with the extensive touring until 2018 we won’t have the time to finalize anything.
RockOverdose: Michael we'd like to thank you for your time,it was a real honour and pleasure to host you and we leave you the space to send a message to all your fans in Greece and worldwide.
Michael Weikath (Helloween): All the best to everyone, thanks for the interest and support, and as we all know without the fans no one is going anywhere and SORRY SORRY I took so long to answer this interview.