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Andre Olbrich – Guitar for Blind Guardian

Date: 8/20/06
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. So how has the reaction been to the new album “A Twist in the Myth” from both fans and critics?

ANDRE: It has been real good so far. We have been album of the month for a couple European magazines. From the fans its mainly positive although I think some of the new material is dividing the fans because some are only looking for the more traditional Blind Guardian style and don't like the lets say the more modern songs, which I can understand of course. I think they do accept it at least and try to get into it like our fans always did in the past. With each album we change a little bit and made a step trying out new things. You can see it live that the fans do get into the newer songs after a while, they just need time. After the new album has been out for a few months and the discussions is over about its direction the people will like the new stuff like “Fly” or “Another Stranger Me”.

2. Are a lot of people still asking for the older style of Blind Guardian to be part of the new music?

ANDRE: Yeah always, they say this or that album are my favorites and why can't you do an album like this again but you know we are a band and have to progress. Of course the spirit changes every year and we have to do what we like. You have to play music you are comfortable with at the time and for us we don't want to sound like an 80's band. Time moves on and I really think we found a nice balance between our roots and some new ideas. We have to keep it interesting for our fans and ourselves. It keeps it fresh too when coming up with a setlist for the shows. When you play live and add some new songs I think the fans appreciate that. I mean this music is not easy listening they just need some time to get into it.

3. In the future do you see Blind Guardian maybe incorporating more of the heavier faster riffs into the music without losing the direction you are going for “A Twist in the Myth”? Reason I ask is that many fans I think have the impression that you are trying abandon the style played on earlier albums like “Follow the Blind” and “Somewhere Far Beyond” where you used faster heavier riffs.

ANDRE: Could be of course I mean we are open to everything. It depends on how we feel when you do the song writing and what we think is the best thing to do at the time. Right in the moment there are no plans. When you start writing a bit then you can come up with maybe a heavier direction for the music. Of course one thing is clear is that we wont try to do another album like we have done already. I mean there are still fast songs on each album especially on the new album. If you follow our albums you can still see where we came from and we will always have guitar melodies in the music because that is Blind Guardian. Even if we play more modern sounds we will do it in such our own way that you will know its Blind Guardian.

4. How would you compare this album to the rest of your catalogue?

ANDRE: The last album I'd say was very epic, full of orchestrations, choirs, a lot of vocal melodies and we said we cant top this style anymore. So we went for a more of a basic sound and back to our roots a bit. The new album is more straight ahead song writing. Its easier to follow a vocal line this time. I think for “A Night at the Opera” Hansi and I were almost competing against each other (laughs) between the guitar melodies and vocals. The melody guitars are not on the same level as the vocal in the verse parts.

Now the songs are more compact and there is a clear distinction between the guitar and vocal melodies.

5. The last time you were in the States, which was your only time touring here, was in 2002. So has your audience and record sales improved since then?

ANDRE: Yeah we are still doing very good . I mean if you don't release an album, which we didn't do between 2002 and now, of course you wont have big numbers like when you release an album. The last album did very well world wide, we did a big tour of the States at the time and we are trying to build it up again with another big tour in November this year. We are hoping we can build it up in the States step by step just like we did in Europe what is it now like almost fifteen years ago. I am really happy there is still a very good Metal scene everywhere. We have been doing this promo tour for “A Twist in the Myth” and we saw there is something moving with Metal again which is building more up from the underground again.

6. When you write the music is it based on a melody line or the riffs?

ANDRE: It depends it can be both. Sometimes I have a riff I like then I create a melody around it or vise versa. Sometimes I will program a drum track first and write the music around that. It changes.

7. Does Marcus write any of the music for Blind Guardian?

ANDRE: No he usually doesn't. He did write one which will be a bonus track for “A Twist in the Myth” called “ All the King's Horses” which is a very nice song. He's not really into songwriting since Hansi and I have done it from the beginning. He is more of a supportive guy you know. He will try to figure out how to bring in good rhythm guitars for the music and he's doing a great job. When he finds the time and the mood from time to time he will write something. That's just how it works with us. Hansi and I are just a really good team and just works as a chemistry between us still and we are happy about this. As long as we get along together as well I don't see any change it that.

8. Can you tell us about the artwork and if the band had any say in its design?

ANDRE: This time we worked with an artist named Anthony Clarkson who had already some artwork for other Nuclear Blast bands. He was actually into Blind Guardian and said he wanted to create something based on his ideas that would fit Blind Guardian. So the concept was all his and we liked it very much. I would say it is my favorite cover along with “Imaginations”.

9. Do you see this European style of Metal finally gaining a bigger audience in the States?

ANDRE: I think within the underground yes and especially now in the States. You have a big following for this music there and now people are starting to look to Europe for bands. I think for a long time it was hard to hear about bands like ourselves and the music was only available as high priced imports. Even the younger generations are starting to find out about this music. Maybe if the bands can get to the States to play live the word can spread much better. I know we are trying to get to the States as often as we can to play because that's really the only way to build a fan base. We were signed to Virgin Germany for many years and for all those years there was no interest in releasing us in the U.S. With “Nightfall in Middle Earth” it came out in the States one year after the worldwide release. For “A Night at the Opera” Century Media did a nice job for us pushing that album. Now with the new album we try going to the next step. It was the fault of the record company that we couldn't have a chance in America .

10. The first two Blind Guardian albums “Battalions of Fear” and “Follow the Blind” are still relatively hard to get in the States even thought they have been reissued recently. Are there any plans to remaster those with bonus tracks?

ANDRE: Unfortunately the rights to those are still in Virgin which is EMI in Germany and we don't have any influence there anymore. Since we are signed to Nuclear Blast so we can only control what is going on with the new material. We can only hope they will see the interest in the band and give them a better distribution.

11. Were there any older Blind Guardian shows recorded, maybe ones with Hansi on bass, professionally shot that will see release on DVD?

ANDRE: I have about 200 tapes where we started recording as far back as 1993 and we may do a special Blind Guardian history DVD and would include some of that footage. Right now its not in the plans as we have the new album out, this orchestral project and tour dates but when we get time its something we would like to put together.

12. What's that you said an orchestral album?

ANDRE: Yes this is something Hansi and I have been working on since 1998 and the songwriting is almost done. We just need time to record it in the proper way which is difficult because we have never worked with a real orchestra before and everything works completely different. When we finish this tour behind “A Twist in the Mist” which is in about a year we want to start production and maybe release it in 2008.

13. Is this orchestral project going to be a Blind Guardian album or will you call it something else?

ANDRE: Yes it will be but it will be recorded for an orchestra and not for a metal band. The songs will sound like BG song but we will only bring in the band for certain parts. Its very unique. Maybe will can give one song to the fans before the release so they can see what they are going to get. We are working on it but it takes a lot of time to do.

14. What type of setlist are planning for America ? Can you tell us some of the songs?

ANDRE: We rehearsed “And Then there was Silence” and maybe “Punishment Divine” from “A Night at the Opera” and about six from the new one which we will pick about three every night that will rotate. Then of course we have the classics like “The Bard's Song” or “ Valhalla ” which if we didn't play we would be killed Hahaha . We have about 30 songs rehearsed to pick from and we did about three from every album so the setlist will change from show to show.

15. My personal favorite Blind Guardian albums are easily “Somewhere Far Beyond” and “Imaginations from the Other Side”. Can I put in my personal request for “Time What is Time” (interviewer laughs)?

ANDRE: Well we are of course doing the title track from “Imaginations” and we rehearsed “Journey Through the Dark” and “Time What is Time” which we want to play from “Somewhere Far Beyond” so you got your request.

16. Closing comments?

ANDRE: Not really I think we covered everything. Just good talking with you again thanks for the support and from the fans. We will see everyone on tour in November.
RICH: Well you will see me tomorrow at the listening party in New York .
ANDRE: O you be at the listening party tomorrow in New York ?
RICH: I definitely will.
ANDRE: O good then I will see you tomorrow Rich.

Official website: www.blind-guardian.com

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