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Hansi Kürsch – Vocals for Blind Guardian

Date: 8/9/10
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. After 20 years of making music what was the goal for the new album "At The Edge of Time"?

HANSI: Well basically to make good music, we don’t want to release an album just for the sake of but we wanted to be confident about each individual song. It’s always trying to meet that standard which is why we are still able to make good music, plus of course we like to have a certain progression. But then on the other hand, it’s important to include all the qualities of the band that stand for the old era and new era. A diverse album but an outlook on what people can expect in the future and this has begun with two more orchestral songs on "At The Edge Of Time", but also having songs like ‘A Voice In The Dark’ or ‘Tanelorn’ that recall our past. With "At The Edge Of Time" we wanted to combine all the styles of Blind Guardian to make it enjoyable for everyone, like ‘A Voice In The Dark’ for example which has a strong intensity but does have the composing aspects of "A Twist In The Myth" or "A Night At The Opera".

2. Do you think "At The Edge Of Time" is a continuation of the direction from "A Twist In The Myth"?

HANSI: It does have some of those qualities but an improvement because we did have a slightly different song structure on "Twist In The Myth" compared to the other albums. So with "At The Edge of Time" we tried to adjust that and put it in a more proper way. "A Twist In The Myth" has been a sort of pathfinder, as was "A Night At The Opera", because without these two albums "At The Edge Of Time" would have not been possible.

3. Why the title "At The Edge Of Time"?

HANSI: Its based on the lyrics as they all deal with the subject of time, signaling change in the story, and the title connects the album cover with the fantastical impressions of Blind Guardian in general.

4. Are the lyrics to one or more songs connected to each other? This is not a concept album, right?

HANSI: No. musically it does give you the impression there is one idea but the songs and lyrics were individually written, aside from the theme of time which does somewhat connect the lyrics. But each song tells different stories based on stories I have read or created myself. Its all about inspiration. Things differ a little bit, like in ‘Curse My Name’ where it deals with the death penalty from Medieval point of view. Then ‘Control The Divine’ deals with the individual way of questioning, inspired by Paradise Lost and John Milton. ‘Ride Into Obsession’ and ‘Wheel Of Time’ are inspired by Robert Jordan and his story The Wheel Of Time. ‘War Of The Thrones’ which can be related to ‘A Voice In The Dark’ and ‘A Road Of No Release’.

5. Do you find the fans and critics support the band in its creative decisions?

HANSI: I definitely do. We do have the privilege to have very open minded fans and they allow us to try out different things. Of course you have to deal with critics who don’t like what you are doing on a particular album, but all and all we have been very successful in our 25 years and were able to bring in new elements without getting too much backlash. For example "A Twist In The Myth" was hard to consume for some old school Blind Guardian fans, and "A Night At The Opera" may have been to complex but this is something we have to live with. All and all our fans are very tolerant and the critics do somewhat expect us to come up with something new with each album. I think the worse thing happening would be a Blind Guardian album without any surprises, I think people would complain more. The band has a few different sides, there is the orchestral elements, the Celtic/Medieval sounds, the progressiveness, a modern approach to some of the newer albums, and then the classic speed metal stuff.

6. Was anything done differently with the music on "At The Edge Of Time"?

HANSI: Yeah, a few things. Most of all was for the first time we used a real orchestra, on past albums the orchestral sounds were always programmed keyboards. But with ‘Sacred Worlds’ and ‘Wheel Of Time’ it was essential to use a real orchestra to get those organic sounds. The treatment of the Irish/folk music, like we have done with ‘Curse My Name’, is completely different, and has been treated differently, than what we have done in the past because usually we do have that, how can I say this…a more German approach like for example ‘The Bard’s Song’ or ‘Skalds and Shadows’ its Blind Guardian Irish, hahaha, and with ‘Curse My Name’ it’s more authentic Irish with the addition of the tap dancers which we have never used before.

7. What are the touring plans and will it include North America?

HANSI: At the moment we are preparing the live show but the European tour has been scheduled and announced and that will start in late September. The next step will be the U.S. and Canada before the end of the year but that has not been announced yet. We will not be bringing over any bands with us for the tour, it will be all American support bands.

8. Will you be dusting off any older songs for the tour. For example, something else from "Follow The Blind" or "Battalions Of Fear" instead of ‘Valhalla’ or ‘Majesty’?

HANSI: There will be different songs, yes, but concerning ones from those first two albums ‘Valhalla’ and ‘Majesty’ have become the most required ones and of course the main focus would lie on the albums from "Tales From the Twilight World" on. At times we do play ‘Banished From Sanctuary’ but I would rather see ‘Majesty’ and ‘Valhalla’ on the setlist more than any other song from this era. But we will play some of the older stuff from "Tales From The Twilight World" and "Somewhere Far Beyond" that we haven’t played in a while.

9. ‘Time What Is Time’ and ‘Traveler In Time’ are two of my favorites. Any chance of hearing those?

HANSI: Well the goal for this tour is to change the setlist from day to day. So far we have worked up 40 songs and will work on five more before our last rehearsal. ‘Time What Is Time’ is definitely a possibility and ‘Traveler’ is definitely in.

10. Who of your Power Metal contemporaries are you a fan of?

HANSI: Well they are not really power metal but Nevermore, Iced Earth, Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Edguy, Jon Oliva’s Pain…I do really like Savatage but I like his solo work. I like Annihilator, Fates Warning.

11. Do you think the genre has earned the respect it deserves from the fans and critics?

HANSI: It can always be a little more of course but considering the wasteland the record companies have left, yes…the genre gets enough attention for the moment. But I’d say there is only a handful of good power metal bands around. Then again there is a level of ignorance in the mainstream audience and in the mainstream media about this style of music but I consider that to be healthy because it gives us the opportunity to deliver the music we like to without meeting the pressures of being a mainstream success.

12. What does Blind Guardian have yet to achieve?

HANSI: Well…I don’t think we have made the perfect album, yet. I think "Nightfall In Middle Earth" and "At the Edge Of Time" we got very close to it, but I still think we have yet to transfer to album our best body of work. Also, I don’t think we have achieved the mainstream side of our career.

13. Has Blind Guardian ever been offered in the U.S. to open up for bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Kiss, etc?

HANSI: No, I think one problem was during the 90s our label (at the time) did not release our albums in the States. Later on towards the end of the 90s that changed a bit thanks to Century Media, but unfortunately no promoters, or band, asked for Blind Guardian to be support. We have been successful in other areas of the world and maybe the only thing offered to us in the U.S. was in 2002 or 06 some sort of power metal package tour but that never came to be. Other than that our success has been based on our own strength and we never really supported another band.

14. A video has been made for ‘A Voice In The Dark’, will you do another?

HANSI: Not sure. It takes so much work to make a quality video. We were offered to do two videos at once, but instead of releasing two mediocre ones we decided to do one great one. At the moment there is no time. If we did another video it would be for ‘War Of The Thrones’.

Official website: http://www.blind-guardian.com


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