1. Tell us about where the name Place Vendome comes from?
MICHAEL: It is a place, a square, in Paris France. It just so happens to be the band name. Serafino Perugino from Frontiers Records got the musicians together for this and different people contribute to each album.
2. How much writing do you do in the band?
MICHAEL: Well it’s really a project. I’m another band with Dennis (Ward, bass), Unisonic with Kai Hansen from Gamma Ray. Dennis did the writing and producing for the newest Place Vendome. I just do the singing and its nice just to do that. In Unisonic we work together as a band writing lyrics and melodies.
3. Does Place Vendome ever play live shows?
MICHAEL: No, its just a studio thing. We play live and tour with Unisonic.
4. How do you like playing the more melodic radio rock of Place Vendome in comparison to Unisonic and Helloween songs?
MICHAEL: I like it, it’s a different taste for my voice. I always like working and singing different things, makes my voice more flexible. Even when I was totally into metal Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Black Sabbath, I still listened to the Eagles to Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beatles. It makes it exciting. But my own songwriting style is different like that, I wouldn’t usually write lyrics like those bands.
5. You listening to different music like the Beatles was also something that influenced Helloween on the “Chameleon” album.
MICHAEL: Well at the time we were dysfunctional as a band too. Everyone was doing their own thing and trying different ideas that worked, and some didn’t work. A lot of people at the time said they hated “Chameleon” when it came out, but now appreciate it for the variety it had. I like several songs from the album too even though it’s not cohesive for what Helloween was known for with “Keeper Of the Seven Keys 1&2”.
6. Will Place Vendome maybe do a couple summer festivals?
MICHAEL: Not that I know of. When I started singing with Place Vendome I wasn’t even in a band. Dennis does his thing with Unisonic and Pink Cream 69, and then when Kai is not doing his thing with Gamma Ray we do Unisonic.
7. Will the Place Vendome get a U.S. release:
MICHAEL: Yeah that is the plan. I’m not sure of the date. I enjoyed singing on this album.
8. Where are things at with Unisonic? And Kiske/ Somerville collaboration?
MICHAEL: We are working on songs for Unisonic and hope to get the new album out this summer. Still involved with the collaboration with Amanda Somerville. I am also this winter concert tour singing with the Christmas Metal Symphony in Europe which includes Joey from Anthrax, Chuck Billy (Testament), Udo, Floor from Nightwish, a bunch of us doing a couple holiday songs, and then each of us does a couple tunes from our career with the symphony. We even do a version of ‘Longing’ from the “Chameleon” album. For the Kiske/ Somerville thing she has written a few things for me to check out. I have some ideas for them to check out.
9. Do you write lyrics for Unisonic?
MICHAEL: Yes I do, with Kai and Dennis. It’s really easy to write a song with those guys
10. Did you again sing on the latest Avantasia album?
MICHAEL: Yes I did, but I don’t get involved in the writing end of that. It’s all Tobias’ thing. That’s a real interesting project as well, and I like performing with them live. When I started singing on those songs and performing live I was still kind of in a phase of denial about my heavy metal past. But working on those songs and seeing the fans enjoyment with me singing this music again it was very inspiring.
11. Could you possibly be involved in anything else musically?
MICHAEL: Actually yes, I’m doing some music with Sandro Giampietro who played guitars on the one Supared album I did. He has worked with me on my last two solo albums, “Kiske” and “Past In Different Ways”. It is an unnamed project as of now.
12. What new music do you listen to?
MICHAEL: I like Queens Of The Stone Age, Kings Of Leon, but I also like Cara Dillon who is an Irish singer, and still listen to Elvis a lot. A lot of variety in my tastes. When it comes to hard rock and heavy metal I always go back to the classics from the 70s and 80.
13. We briefly mentioned “Chameleon”. I’m also curious to your thoughts on “Pink Bubbles Go Ape”?
MICHAEL: Everything unfortunately went wrong at the time, Kai was on his way out looking to start something new and that was the beginning of the end. And when that happened I lost interest in Helloween too. We got a new producer on “Pink Bubbles” which changed things too, he brought in his own influence, I didn’t think Chris Tsangarides as right for us. We just did the best we could at the time.
14. here has been, I don’t know if it is talk or rumors, about a Helloween reunion with you and Kai Hansen?
MICHAEL: Yes I heard, it’s not something that interests me at the time. It’s very hard to turn back time and relive the past and make it as good as it was. I saw Michael Weikath at a festival recently and it was a nice conversation. I don’t know, I have my doubts if that would come together. At the time when things fell apart with Helloween a lot of the blame was put on me, excuses for the change in the music and that really pissed me off. I felt really treated unfairly. Right now I have Kai with me in Unisonic and I enjoy working with him, and have worked with Kai several times over the years. So that is good for me.
15. What Helloween songs do you still enjoy performing live?
MICHAEL: I only perform the ones Kai wrote and I sang on, ‘March Of Time’, ‘Save Us’, I Want Out’. But you know one of my favorites was written by Weikath, ‘Eagle Fly Free’, I always have great memories of that song. We would open with that and its such a strong entrance. Looking back Helloween was such a strong band and we never got to finish what we started together.
16. Plans for the next year?
MICHAEL: Working on Unisonic, the Christmas Symphony, songs for Kiske/ Somerville. Finishing the music with my friend Sandro for that project. And I’d really like to play in the U.S. again. It’s been a long time.
Official website: http://www.michael-kiske.de