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Andi Deris Helloween - Interview
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"My God Given Right" is the title of the new album from power/speed metal veterans Helloween who are coming up to an astounding 30 year career! There was bound to be some great stories to be told from all that time so we caught up with frontman Andi Deris to chat about the new songs, touring and his true passion in music.



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Andrew: So how has your year been so far?

Andi: This year, finishing and mixing the album, then to promotions for about 1 week now everyday for 12 hours. We have another week so we have to go to Paris, London and Milan, Italy. Then back home, try to relax haha as we only have 1 week. Doing some video inbetween and then straight to rehearsals and then straight onto the summer festivals. After summer festivals I think we go to Indonesia, from Indonesia I'm happy to announce straight to Australia doing 5 or 6 shows and then Christmas haha! And the European tour I would say February 2016 we start the European leg. I can't tell you anything else because now they are about to book it.

Andrew: Obviously we have to talk about the new album but are you looking forward to playing these songs live?

Andi: Absolutely, always that's the most important part about it. For me there are 2 parts to it, 1 sitting on the sofa composing or writing these parts which then sooner or later with a lot of sweat and work become a great song so this is the part where you actually work on it with the band. But my work to that part is always on the sofa with my guitar fiddling around and then suddenly you have a certain idea where your heart beats a little bit faster and you go 'Oh what did I just play?' So that's my favorite thing and then finally presenting the finished song on stage because the work is done then, ready to enjoy it.

Andrew: The title "My God Given Right", I guess it's pretty self explanatory but for some that maybe don't know what it means, can you give us a summary of what that title means and how it summaries the whole album?

Andi: Well it probably doesn't summarise the whole album because it's not a conceptual thing anyway but this was something that I was remembered by my own son when he was asking me last year 'Dad what do you think, what should I do now?' Because he made it through school and everything was fine and he was about to think about what to do for the future, go study or learn a proper profession. I just remember way back when I was in the same situation, I finished school and I was actually there completely unsure of what to do. When I told my parents that I wanted to at least try to make music and see how far it takes me, my mum was actually shouting at me like 'You are crazy and you have to work, you have to bring in money, you have to do a proper profession so at least go to a university and study'. The only guy that sooner or later took me aside and told me, which was my father, he said 'You are my only son and it makes me happy to see you happy so do whatever you think is best and it is your god given right to be happy. That is why you are here, you are on this world to be happy and nothing else'. And I thought, 'OK that's cool', the only thing that would make me happy is playing music and yeah there was a compromise I did with my mother, I promised her to go studying or learn a proper profession at the age of 25. So if I could not make my living with music then I would reconsider and maybe study something but I would always try to make music anyway so it's just switching priorities so to speak. But music I would always try, it's something that I always knew. I also had the idea that if I had to go to university I would have liked to study something like sound technician or something like that but at the end of the day I would of ended up with music anyway.

Andrew: So back when you first started then, not only were you a bit excited but were you a bit scared going off and doing something that you weren't sure if you were going to be successful or not?

Andi: We were all scared kind of, being scared just keeps you going harder. Just pushing harder because when you feel scared you do everything to actually calm that feeling with something like myself, new songs. I honestly was definitely in a situation where I found people who were as scared as I was, to reach something with music. And I think that's the key actually, I don't think we have bad musicians out there. There are lot's of great musicians and also great musicians who know how to write great songs, the problem is you always need a band following. So if you compare it to winning the lottery, the winner of the lottery would actually be 4 or 5 people dedicated as much as the most dedicated in the band and really go for it together. This is so seldom so if you really have 4 or 5 kids like that together, that's already winning the lottery.

Andrew: Getting back to the new album, there's some great songs on there. Obviously the trademark sound of Helloween is still there, one of my favorite songs on there is "Russian Roule'", it has such a great riff on it. Do you have any particular favorites?

Andi: Yeah "Russian Roule" is definitely one of them, it also connects nicely with the subject that was just talked about. Just go out there and play as a rock n' roller when everybody tells you that you are mad to try it. For me these days it felt like a Russian roulette and at the same turn was to do rock n roll so the French word would be "roule" so the mixture of the words "roulette" and "roule" is "houle" haha! (goes on to speak in French) My grand, grand, grandfather was French so I sometimes like to twist and turn words in French language and make new meanings out of it. So yeah a mixture of rock n' roll and roulette would be "roule'" so that's one of my favorites definitely. Also "Lost In America" [which] is also a true story, whenever I listen to the song I go 'Oh yeah I remember, bastards!' Because they closed the airport in Belize in South America and we were left stranded with thousands of passengers and all the flights were can't imagine! Imagine this happening in our western world in Australia or Frankfurt, Germany and people would probably start a revolution and tear down the whole fucking airport! I mean just imagine if someone says 'OK we're closing the airport now, fuck off! If you have a ticket or not we don't fucking care'. It was unbelievable, we were stranded there for 17 hours and if that wasn't enough, when we were finally on the plane from Belize to Sao Paulo after 2 and a half hours airbourne and nobody thought there was anything strange but suddenly the captain announced 'Ladies and gentlemen, captain speaking. As you may have realized the plane is flying very low, we should be higher'..and it was true, you could easily count the cows down there so after 2 and a half hours you should be somewhere like 10,00 metres, and the captain said 'The gauges are not working correctly, something is very strange here and as soon as it's daylight, we definitely would like to fly back by view if possible' and yeah haha everybody was scared to death and like 'Wow what's going on there' so he turned the plane and by view, actually followed the river back to Belize so unbelievable. You can imagine a rock n roll/metal band on the plane, again drunk haha! We were already completely pissed at the airport because waiting 17 hours, you cannot tell a metal band to stop drinking haha! Then again on the plane the guy announcing, his original words were 'The guages are not working correctly, we are somehow a little bit lost here in America haha! So I thought OK I have to write a song about it.

Andrew: You probably have a lot of amazing and bad tour stories over the years, is this something you still enjoy with the good and the bad so to speak?

Andi: Yeah but you just mentioned it, a black and white thing. Love/hate. There are definitely parts of the tour where without a second of thinking I'll say 'OK fuck it, I want to go home' because it's not a pleasure at all, it's bullshit. Yeah sometimes [there are] tough times you have to go through but then again maybe it's just needed because the black side is needed in order to enjoy the white side more, that's definitely true. So if it's always nice and shiny you probably get used to that as well and it would be boring after a while and maybe the black side or bad side of that coin is also good to polarise a little bit more. To be able to enjoy when the times get better, maybe it's a pretty important part of touring, to not always be in the 5 star shit.

Andrew: Being in the band for over 20 years now, and the band is coming up to 30 years, at this point in your career what keeps you going?

Andi: Definitely the love for music, all the love for my guitar. And for me personally I'm a hobby guitarist. I love my guitars. Unfortunately I'm never allowed to play guitar in the band so sooner or later I was always ending up with the microphone maybe because when I've written the songs I went into the rehearsal room and make my boys listen to my new songs. So at the age of 15 I remember it already started, I went into the rehearsal room with my guitar, I fiddled [around] with what I had with my idea and sang along with it. With 1 exception though, there was one song that nobody liked, all the other songs they fell in love with and they said 'Oh great song, great idea!' And then the singer of the band...because I was the guitarist...was always trying to sing my shit and never could, he never succeeded. So at the end of the day in each and every band I sang in, they threw out the singer and at the end of the day I saw myself standing at the microphone and another guitarist was brought into the band. And I said OK but I actually wanted to play guitar, and everybody told me 'Yeah but your guitar playing is bad and you sing much better' haha!

Andrew: Haha so which do you actually prefer now, guitar playing or singing?

Andi: Well honestly my heart beats more for the guitar. I enjoy singing, that's not the problem but still I love my guitar more. But maybe that's why I'm automatically writing so many songs because I want to play guitar. And then the connection of being the singer at the end of the day you automatically end up with a song idea. I wouldn't complain, it's nice but if you ask me what I like more, definitely guitar playing.

Andrew: I guess from a live perspective you get a bit more interaction with the fans as opposed to having a guitar in your hand.

Andi: Yes that's the fun part, that's something I definitely enjoy. Like smiling, connecting with the people, Yeah that's fun! But that has nothing to do with the singing. I mean yes you're right, it does give me the chance to do that because I'm the singer but having a good time with the people, that's one part. And me singing them permanently at the same time, that's the other part. I couldn't imagine myself playing guitar and doing the same shit with the people, I would have to be a very good guitarist. And OK you're right it's impossible because I'm not a very good guitarist haha! OK I should be glad to be a singer haha!

Andrew: Haha well I'm sure the band and the fans are very appreciative of the fact you do a great job on vocals so I think you should stick with it, you do a great job.

Andi: I always try to. Put it this way, I could not have fun on stage without the people but I have to have the people. And I'm always happy to have a few blokes in the first 2 or 3 rows that have fun with me, smile with me, just do some bullshit with me. That's always great so I would not like to miss that but at the end of the day it's a good thing in not really equalising the guitar playing that I can't do but it's definitely a bonus haha! I like it, its ok but nevertheless I'm still saying I prefer guitar playing haha!

Andrew: Yeah definitely! As I said before, the album sounds great and hopefully the fans will really dig it. And we are looking forward to hopefully seeing you in Australia later this year.

Andi: Yeah we will definitely be there with you, absolutely! It's about time, I think we only played in Australia once [for] 3 shows on the coast on the same side as Sydney. I just hope we have a chance to go to Perth as well because this is an area I definitely have not seen in my life so some new experiences this year.

Andrew: Yes we would love to see you in Perth. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us today!

Andi: Yes thanks for your time Andrew and as you say, see you down under haha!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on April 19th 2015