The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Andi Deris Helloween - Interview
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It was only just recently that we spoke to Helloween frontman Andi Deris (read here) about the possibility of the band touring in Australia and fast forward a month or so and a headline tour with Helloween is now a reality. Not only are they coming back downunder but they are also hitting a few more cities that they missed the first time around on their last tour. With the new album "My God Given Right" having just been released, we caught up with bass player and original member Markus Grosskopf to discuss the album, touring and a little about bass playing.



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Andrew: Hey how are you doing?

Markus: I'm alright, doing very good!

Andrew: Good to hear, great to be talking to you today. Are you guys on tour at the moment?

Markus: We're doing a lot of festivals where we fly in and fly out on the weekend to do some shows and during the week we are at home relaxing a little and then go back for the weekend. In the summer time in the festival season we have 2 or 3 festivals each week. It's nice, I like it!

Andrew: How are the festivals been going so far?

Markus: Very good! We have a couple of new songs and we even have an audience part on the new songs included so it's going good. We have some nice shows with Judas Priest coming up for the next weekend and I like that.

Andrew: You mentioned you are playing 2 new songs, which ones are they?

Markus: We play "My God Given Right" and "Lost In America" and we have 2 or 3 more spare from the new album that we squeeze in whenever we like to. We thought for the festivals 2 songs would be enough, we play a lot of old stuff of course which people like to party with.

Andrew: How are the new songs going with the fans? Are they responding well to them?

Markus: It's nice, they even sing along with the chorus lines because we squeeze in that God Given Right audience part. It's going very well!

Andrew: Now you guys are coming to Australia in the next couple of months and we are really looking forward to seeing you. I guess you guys are excited about it as well?

Markus: Yeah it's nice because we have only been there once in our career and it would be nice to come back and say hello again!

Andrew: Last time you came here you only played a couple of cities but this time around you are also coming to the west playing Adelaide and Perth as well.

Markus: Yeah we thought we play a show in Japan, the biggest rock festival there called Loudpark in Tokyo so from there it's kind of close to go to Australia instead of doing the trip from Europe. So it's kind of on the way if you compare it to flying from Europe so it's good to come by and say hello and then go home from there.

Andrew: Yeah it is a long trip so we definitely appreciate you guys coming all the way over here. On this tour what can the fans expect?

Markus: Well we have a hell of a set, of course we don't have much staff with us and we don't have big stage gear as it's very expensive to cargo that to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Australia as we're not doing big venues. You can expect a great, cool party with Helloween on stage, it will be a good night out.

Andrew: Yeah it's going to be fun! What do you remember from the last time you came here?

Markus: It was nice, we played a couple of clubs and people were very excited being there for the very first time. And a lot of heat haha!

Andrew: What did you do while you were in Australia? Did you do all the tourist kind of stuff?

Markus: Yeah I was just walking around between shows and soundcheck. Just wandering around and that's what I'll do this time around too. There's a couple of places I haven't been, go to some rivers and have a nice meal and a beer and hang out.

Andrew: How did you find the fans in Australia compared to some of the other countries you have played in?

Markus: It's just like [any] rock fans, they come with the patches on the jacket or on their jeans and you talk to them and they are very nice just like rock fans all over the world. They are very decent, nice people and very friendly. They like to have a beer and they like to have a chat and hang around talking.

Andrew: So pretty much anywhere in the world, a metal fan is a metal fan.

Markus: Yeah that's what can definitely be said, they all like to be different from what's there and they have their heavy metal music and they want to enjoy what they listen to. It's easy and I like that.

Andrew: Now you have the new album out "My God Given Right" and it's a fantastic album. My favorite song is "Russian Roule", do you have any personal favorites on there?

Markus: It's hard to say, every time I listen to it I have another personal favorite because this is cool and this is cool! But then I'm not really objective because I'm very close to it since being recording it and being with all those babies for more than a year haha!

Andrew: Haha! What kind of reviews and responses have you been getting?

Markus: They seem to like it, some compare it to "Master Of The Rings", some compare it to the old because we have a little bit of the dark side of it. So the opinion is that they actually like the album and they put it in the era of the old like "Master Of The Rings" or "Rabbit Don't Come Easy". It's very interesting to hear because they hear it for the very first time with fresh ears so that's interesting for me.

Andrew: What about yourself, how do you feel about the songs and do you feel you are in a really good spot with the band at the moment?

Markus: Yeah it's nice, that statement is just like we're still standing and having a record out like this, there's nothing wrong with Helloween haha!

Andrew: No there's definitely not! You guys have been around for a long time now so at this point in your career, what keeps you going?

Markus: It's just the wish to do it again. Having a lot of albums, it's always a challenge to do another one. When you start writing you think [that] when you sit in front of an unfinished paper and there's nothing there but then you think in a couple of months, they expect a killer album from you. So you think how do I this and it's this big mountain you have to climb but once you start it and are into the songwriting, it all goes away. This is actually the challenge, to do it all over again without sounding too similar to what you did before. Of course it's still Helloween and you have very similar trademarks but still writing different songs and that is going very well because we are 4 song writers in the band and will always be sounding a little different.

Andrew: Is it a very collaborative effort between all the members when you write and record songs?

Markus: Yeah it's a big variety of styles, a big variety of ideas which I kinda like because it is more interesting rather than only having 1 song writer or 2 or writing in just 1 direction. I think the variety of it makes it much more interesting.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. As I said before you guys have been around a long time and with all the tours and albums that you have been a part of, do you have a personal highlight or anything that sticks out in your mind?

Markus: From the shows?

Andrew: Or just in general maybe.

Markus: Hmm I don't know, I think it will come in the next decade haha!

Andrew: Haha so you have a lot of hope for the future then?

Markus: Of course haha! It's still right on the track, if you feel fine and everything is working smooth, why not think about the future? Haha!

Andrew: Does it get more difficult as the years go on to be creative and come up with original material and get inspiration for ideas?

Markus: Creation is such a thing that it can hit you in the toilet at some Indonesian airport, you might have a melody and don't know why it hits you in the toilet. It's kinda funny where the inspiration comes haha! With a melody I put it in my iphone or mobile and in my memory so I keep the melody and later on at home I listen back to it and decide if it's good or if it goes into the bin. It comes and hits you everywhere, it's just a challenge to not sound too similar to what you already did, you have to find a start. But then being experienced and doing it for a long time, you trust yourself that there is something coming at the end of the day.

Andrew: These days, what inspires you the most?

Markus: As I said I don't know. It's can be the surroundings, what do I know anything? Sometimes I don't know where the inspirations are coming from, it's just a melody that's there and then I keep it. If I think too much about where it's coming from in that moment it will be done haha!

Andrew: So you obviously playing bass in the band, who are your biggest influences in getting you into the music?

Markus: Getting into music I pretty much started with punk music like the Ramones and Sex Pistols and all that kind of stuff. Later on I became a big fan of AC/DC, Kiss, UFO, Iron Maiden. I can remember falling off the chair when the very first Iron Maiden record came out, that got me going and listening to Steve Harris. My biggest influence on bass is still John Entwistle, I like the way he was revolutionising the role of a bass guitar in a rock band. And there's Geezer Butler and all those guys in Black Sabbath, fantastic!

Andrew: Do you play with a pick or do you use your fingers?

Markus: I do both actually, just the way I feel. I have certain songs I always play with a finger and then there's songs you do only with downstrokes like Cliff Williams and I love that as well. I actually do both and if I can decide, I make it the way I feel on stage. But there's songs I play with fingers and there's songs I love to play with a pick.

Andrew: OK so it depends on the song then.

Markus: Yeah definitely.

Andrew: I don't really know the difference as I'm not a bass player but what is the difference between playing with fingers and with a pick sound-wise?

Markus: It sounds a little warmer if you hit it softly with the fingers or if you downstroke it like an idiot with a pick then it sounds like gan-gan-gan-gan a little. It sounds a little more aggressive from time to time.

Andrew: Is that a common thing in metal to use a pick on a bass guitar?

Markus: Well I see a lot of people play with a pick because sometimes it's easier if you play very fast songs. If I play fast I can be a little more precise because you hear the attack a little more with a pick and you squeeze more high ends out of the notes and that's just the way I play. Other people I see playing with a pick they probably have the same reason.

Andrew: What was the very first song you learned how to play?

Markus: It was "Cocaine" by JJ Cale haha! It's funny because he played it with a punk band haha! But we had a punky version of it somehow.

Andrew: Now something that I had read about you recently was you had a side project some years ago called Bassinvaders, are you still doing that?

Markus: Haha it came out and it was very interesting because I had this idea to do it without guitars and to me it was working, it was just like an experiment. I put it all together on my own doing all the organisation and all the contacting to all the different artists on it, it took me more than a year to put it together. To do something like that and in the middle of a Helloween tour, it's very time intense. I have to find really some spare time to do another one.

Andrew: Yeah it's a very interesting idea to have all bass and no guitars. What ispired you to do that?

Markus: That was actually Lemmy (Kilmister, Motorhead). We played a lot of festivals and having Motorhead on the bill and always watching and hearing him play and when he starts playing bass, it's like 'Why do you need a guitar if the bass can sound like this?' Haha! It sounds like a very mean, distorted bass guitar and really dirty and that gave me the idea of 'OK let's try to do a whole album like this'. So Lemmy actually inspired me to do this.

Andrew: Yeah it's funny because Lemmy does play the bass like a guitar.

Markus: Somehow yeah.

Andrew: As I said before we are looking forward to seeing you guys in Australia and also first time in Perth as well so thanks for your time today!

Markus: Alright thank you very much!


Wed 14th - Melbourne: 170 Russell
Fri 16th - Sydney: Metro Theatre
Sat 17th - Brisbane: Max Watts
Mon 19th - Adelaide: The Gov
Tues 20th - Perth: Capitol

Tickets from Metropolis Touring.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on June 23rd 2015