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Gamma Ray Guitarist Kai Hansen w/ Dirk Schlachter (bass), and Daniel Zimmerman (drums)

Date: 09/21/08
Venue: Backstage at BB King Blues Club, NYC
Interviewed By: Rich Catino






1. So we have the press release posted at the Asylum about your forthcoming DVD set to hit stores in October called "Hell Yeah! The Awesome Foursome”. It really looks like its gonna be great with the concert, behind the scenes, promo videos, etc.

KAI: Yeah jheez… that is finally coming out. The thing that stalled its release was first we had to do the new album “Land of the Free Pt.2”, then with that was the label change. So with that we decided to record some more footage from the “Land of the Free” tour and include a few of those songs on the DVD. So those things prevented it coming out earlier but I’m glad because it worked out for the best and we got include some songs played live from this current tour for “Land of the Free Pt.2” and the Hellish Rock dates with Helloween.

2. For the featured concert (recorded in Montreal) on the DVD did you get to play all the songs you wanted?

KAI: Yeah I think so. I mean we always do have some songs that we would like to play that are maybe not favorites of the fans which we kinda skip or leave them for another “Skeletons in the Closet” tour. So there are a couple different songs that we will throw in for the next tour like “Money”, “Changes”, “Dreamhealer” which is on the DVD but we don’t play it that often.

3. You know what I like is “All of the Damned” and “Abyss of the Void”. The title track to “Majestic” is excellent it has that Rainbow “Gates of Babylon” type of melody.

KAI: Yeah I really like those two also. “All of the Damned” is on the “Skeletons” cd and “Majestic” we did a few times on that tour but I think we really need to work on it some more before we play it live again. I would like to play “Abyss” again, yeah we’ll see.

4. Any plans for a new album in the near future?

KAI: O yeah. After this tour we will take some time off and maybe around December over the Christmas holiday get together and bring our ideas to the table and maybe jam a bit. Whenever we feel ready then we will start production on it.

5. Is there an album or any songs titles?

KAI: Ahh no not yet. We are not that far along.

6. How was “Land of the Free Pt.2” received and did it meet all your expectations?

KAI: So far is has been received very well because I think when it comes to a follow up people are usually disappointed. Its never as good as the first and I think we got around that Haha. In general overall it was well received.

7. Are there any songs left over from “Land of the Free Pt.2” that may appear on the next album?

DAN: Umm I don’t think so. Not that I know of.

KAI: I think there may be a couple of rough fragments that may be left over that I may work up for the next album.

8. Have you ever thought of re recording all, or some of, the songs from “Walls of Jericho” with the guys in Helloween or Gamma Ray? Reason I ask is now that you (Kai) are older your voice has changed a bit from when you recorded that album and plus with today’s production values those songs would really possess some power.

KAI: You know that was something I always thought about doing…but “Walls of Jericho” has such a special atmosphere and its because being young at the time my singing was not the best plus the sloppy playing, the ruff production. But I think if you put it up to date it will be much better sonically, but I’m not too sure if it will have the same impact.

DAN: Like Kai said, I think it is very dangerous because it is such a classic album you will never get that spirit again in the music and that is why people love it so much. Of course it would be fun for us, especially myself, to record that stuff with Gamma Ray’s energy but its hard to do that when you have such classic material.

KAI: Normally, any time I look back on songs that have been re recorded by artists I like the songs may sound better but they didn’t give me anything more. Maybe when we play these songs live its an option.

9. Dan and Dirk, are there any songs you particularly would like to either perform live or re record?

DIRK: We had “Victim of Fate” in the set for a while. KAI: We do “Ride the Sky”, “I Want Out” and now “Future World” with Helloween as an encore which is fun. DAN: “Judas” we played on the “Powerplant” tour. DIRK: Well Kai re did “Gorgor” during his time with Iron Savior and “Heavy Metal (Is The Law) was in our set at one time.

10. Do you still like “Walls of Jericho”? How old were you when that was recorded?

KAI: O yeah I still like that album. I think I was.. lets see… (thinking) I was twenty two. We recorded in 1985.

11. Were there any concerts professionally recorded at that time that could see release on DVD? From “Walls of Jericho” or the “Keeper of the Seven Keys” tours?

KAI: Well I think no because there was no real professional recording done, if I recall.

12. Well you did that one tour with Grim Reaper which was broadcast on MTV.

KAI: O yeah that was recorded. That was the Headbangers Ball tour but that has not been officially released yet. That is still floating around.

13. How about the first two Gamma Ray VHS tapes “Heading for the East” and “Lust for Live”. Are they both available on DVD? I have “Heading for the East” but “Lust” is hard to find.

KAI: I’m pretty sure they are both on DVD. The problem is they were released on Noise when they first came out on VHS, then they switched to Sanctuary and when they took it over they kind of fucked things up. I have a copy of both. They were straight reissues.

14. How about newer metal bands. Who are you guys listening to?

DIRK: O I get all this stuff from my son, he downloads it onto my computer like Killswicth Engage, Children of Bodom I like, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold. KAI: Soilwork, Sonic Syndicate.

15. How about from style you guys play. Are there any new Euro Power Metal Bands that you like?

KAI: Dragonforce I think are cool.

16. Really?? I can’t tolerate them. I think they have some good songs but they all start to sound the same because they are all lightning fast in the same format. I find most of their music one dimensional.

KAI: Yeah I think they are cool. I find them entertaining. You know, when we started with Helloween everybody said “O this is Iron Maiden on speed” hahaha. Now everybody sais “Dragonforce is like Helloween on speed” (group laugh).

Listening to one of their albums is tough stuff though because you never know what song you are in.

DAN: When my band Freedom Call toured with them after four songs you know what is going on. But live they have a lot of fun, they are fun to watch.

17. Does a band like Dragonforce recognize what came before them, that Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Blind Guardian are the reason why they exist?

KAI: I think their guitarist Herman said in an interview “I just recently listened to a Stratovarius album and I have no idea why people put us into that category”. I don’t know how he can’t hear the similarities.

18. I can’t believe they can say that. I am a middle school Graphic Arts teacher, and in my classroom I have many heavy metal band logos on the walls to give the kids some ideas for when they do designs for a logo project which I give them. I have an ad for the last Dragonforce album up and all the kids recognize the name because Dragonforce are on the advance level in Guitar Hero game. So I say to them ‘So you like Dragonforce…now do your homework and listen to what came before them like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Edguy and Hammerfall”. And of course they look at me like am speaking another language.

KAI: Haha…Yeah I know your right. I understand why kids kind of have this ignorance like “forget the old shit” because they are kids and don’t know any better. They are at an age where its all about fashion, trends and what MTV says. Can’t really do anything about it.

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