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In Words: Gamma Ray

- Dirk Schlächter - November 2002 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Kai Hansen - October 2005 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Kai Hansen - live 2005
© Claudia Ehrhardt

Kai Hansen - October, 19th in Oberhausen (Germany)

Too many interviews been requested and so we got hooked up for interviews. The young guy from had jotted down some questions, so he started with his questions and I got in whenever I have a question or add some at the end of the interview. But first we had to wait a bit, coz Kai wanted to purchase a guitar on Ebay and after he got the guitar he was ready to answer some questions. As usual someone - or everybody - has a cold while on tour and even if Kai was feeling better already he decided for hot tea with honey. Time to start now.

Thomas:You just finished sound check, are you satisfied with the stage sound?

Kai:I'm pretty happy with the stage sound. I like it when the sound isn't too dry. Especially for singing its better. Okay, the sound isn't as clear, a bit less differantiate, but for the singing a very dry sound is no good. Then you get the feeling to sing into a sandbag. That sound don't support the voice.

Thomas:How was the tour so far? Have you been satisfied with the shows and the sound?

Kai:The shows been great. Sure, there been shows where we had the feeling that it wasn't optimal, that someone played a wrong note, etc. Also some shows seemed to be not optimal from the sound... But that's just normal. Every venue, every stage sounds different and you have to live with that. There are places where you think "no, not again!" But that's life.

Thomas:Well, I guess, you are concentrating on tonight's show, but you are already think of tomorrow's show in Hamburg - your hometown - aren't you?

Kai:Yes, I try not to think of that. I'm always a bit more nervous when we play Hamburg. It's exciting and so many people, friends come to see you and to say hi. The backstage area is a mess, full of people and you get the feeling to hide somewhere. But there is no hide-hole and you have to get through it.    (laughs)

Thomas:The other bands... Everything's fine?

Kai:No problem at all. Great.

Claudia:With Nocturnal Rites you have toured before, so...

Kai:Right, the guys are really nice and we had some drinks already.

Thomas:Where have you played together?

Kai:Ähm... Claudia, do you know?

Claudia:Nocturnal Rites have supported you. It's been awhile... Mid-/late 90's...

Kai:Right, it's been a few years.

Claudia:I think it was in 1997... Not 100% sure about that, but it was their first tour.

Thomas:Your latest album - Majestic - is out for awhile now. How did your friends react? What about media reactions?

Kai:Well, friends... Actually we don't ask our friends, coz they have a different relation to it anyway. But actually the reactions been pretty good. And the fans are really into it. When I take a look at the forum then the fan reactions are extremely good.

Thomas:I would think that friends are the ones who tell you what's good and what's not?

Kai:Well, that's something which happens during the production. While we are in the studio friends visit us and then we play something for them and ask them what they think about. Sometimes you give a tape to someone, so we get some feedback.

Claudia:There you can hear different versions sometimes...

Kai:True, and there are many friends who aren't into metal and they just say "yes, good" or "not really". So you usually ask the ones who are into metal. They can give you a feedback.

Thomas:So you are listening more to the ones who are into metal?

Kai:Sure! It won't make sense to play it to some aunt who doesn't like it anyway. Well, she might say "nice ballad", coz a ballad she might can cope with, with songs like The Silence. A ballad she might like, but when it gets to the heavy stuff, then she can't comment anyway.

Thomas:It's been 4 years between the release of No World Order and Majestic, have you got the feeling that the fans get a bit impatient?

Kai:Well, yes. It's connected with the fact that the fan club wasn't working and that the website haven't been updated frequently. The guy who is doing our fan club had an accident and wasn't able to care about it. The girl who did our website found a normal day job and hadn't enough time to care about any longer. And so there been questions like "Are you still together? And what are you doing now? Beside being on vacation, do you do anything seriously?" But that's not fair, coz we worked hard - the whole 4 years. We did the Skeletons album which was as much work as a regular studio album.

Claudia:But the fans don't see this. For the fan it looks like you record a show one night and that's it.

Kai:Right, and some bands do it that way. They record it and someone else is mixing it. But we work differently. We do it on our own and mix it in our studio.

Claudia:Your fans should be aware of the fact that you work in your own studio as you did a few albums there already.

Kai:Right, but the fan is egoistic and wants a new album. But we take our time.

Claudia:Better then to do it rapidly.

Kai:I think it ain't important when the album hits the stores, it's important that it turned out good.

Claudia:Now you have the freedom, in the early days of Helloween it was different... At that days the label wanted something new and you had to deliver it.

Kai:Exactely, luckily these days we have more freedom.

Thomas:Did it happen to you that the people don't like it? Do you think about that kind of stuff? Or is it more like "we did what we wanted and what seems to be the best"?

Kai:No, not really. With Gamma Ray we had no such problems. Sure, there been some CDs which were a bit more difficult like Sigh No More for example. That album was a bit different, in a way our departure from Helloween and their sound. But we didn't really had problems. In general it worked out very well for us.

Thomas:Good for you.

Kai:There are thousands of different opinions. One prefers this album, someone else another. That's the way it is.

Claudia:You have several songwriters in the band which gives you a larger variety. You can be happy about that.

Kai:Absolutely! Not all the same... More diversity.

Thomas:What do you think are the differences between the last one and the new album?

Kai:There are a few. First, No World Order was more straight. Straight and a bit 80's-like, in comparison the new album has more variety and more playful regarding the songs. The arrangements are less straight, more complex and a bit progressive. To a certain point it's also more melodic and at the same time a bit more rough as No World Order. It has a live feeling, coz we recorded a lot without click track. And we haven't done demos, we worked everything out in the rehearsing room. But still the production is more bombastic with all the keyboards and choirs. That's the main differences for me.

Claudia:I think that is based on the fact that this is not conceptual album like No World Order.

Kai:Partly. Here we wanted to let it flow. I didn't want to parts repeated. I wanted new things. That's just what I had to do.

Thomas:On your website you have a voting where the fans can vote for their favorite track of every album. From your new album it's Fight. As a musician, do you try to analyse why this track is favorized by most fans?

Kai:No, and I can tell you that we will change the voting thing, coz the way we do it now is discriminating the other songs. There are songs which have the potential to be a hit and these will be voted for most. But it's not fair, when you can just vote for the best song. There should be a rating from 1 to 10 points and you have to rate each song. The way we do it now, it's impossible that 2 songs are the same, coz you have to make a decision. If we change to the rating system, then you can give several songs 8 or 9 points. That's the better way and it's fair. The current system is a bit confusing. At this tour we play Strangers In The Night off Powerplant. We chose that song, coz we wanted to play it live and we haven't played it live yet. We checked the voting and there the song got only 3 or 4 percent. But when you see the reactions of the audience and at the website, then you see that people really like it. They say "great song, cool that you play it this time". So the voting didn't really shows what the songs mean to fans. We thought about changing the voting to a ranking system.

Claudia:Many fans will do the voting soon after they got the album, when everything is fresh. So the catchy ones will be the ones they vote for, coz others need more time to grow... And usually these are the songs which last...

Kai:Right, this album needs to grow, that's obvious.

Claudia:Many think that No World Order is the better one, but after a few more spins they discover Majestic. I think that has to do with the progressive parts. The complex arrangements. The album needs time to grow.

Kai:Yes, I know what you mean. The amount of musical information is big, so it takes time.

Claudia:But that might make people vote for the catchy ones. That's influencing the voting.

Kai:Exactely, and that's what the comparison shows.

Thomas:Well, it's obvious that you don't let this influence you. Seems you aren't thinking "We need more songs like this and more like that."

Kai:No, we write what's in us. We never sat down and planned to write some 2 or 3 minutes long songs or a long one. Everybody writes what he wants, feels and then we work it out together.

Claudia:You have to be comfortable with the songs. To write something which will probably liked by the fans, can work, but can also fail...

Kai:For us writting a song is pure egoism.

Claudia:That's the way it should be!

Kai:Exactely, it has to be fun. Never write a song just to please someone, only please yourself.

Thomas:The discussion about Helloween seems to be quite alive. A never-ending story...   (Kai moans)
...Oh, I know the answer to that one... It's nerve-racking.

Kai:Yes, it's nerve-racking on the long run. The rumour emerged somehow. In reality, I don't have a problem going on stage with them and play some old Keepers tracks. A reunion - to call us a band again - is bullshit! How should that work? We are totally different personalities and we haven't dealed with each other for years. It would be great to revive the old spirit... Bring back the magic. And to do a tour like Accept did would be cool. But I will continue releasing albums with Gamma Ray! Another factor is Kiske who has not into this kind of music anymore. Beside that there is a band named Helloween which just has some new members and is trying to pick up the old style and spirit. For them it would be a disaster. If we would do a reunion, everybody would want to see that and nobody would care about the new guys. That's not fair! Nobody should have to face that.

Claudia:And there been reasons for the split.


Thomas:But without all the talk about picking up the old sound and style, there wouldn't be this discussion. I grew up with the Keepers albums and for me there is no 3rd part without you and Kiske.

Kai:Sure, but I'm not talking about an album, I'm only talking about a tour. Even if we would tour with the original line-up - except Ingo - it doesn't necessarily means that the magic will be back. We were young, naive and the chemistry was right. If we could bring that back, I doubt. And that's the reason why I would agree to do a tour and play the old tunes live. I can imagine that this would be fun - for all of us. If in that situation we realize that it works, that the magic is there, then we can think about writing together again. That would be a basis for thinking it over and perhaps it would work. To plan this is wrong.

Claudia:I guess that Kisike could handle a tour, as long as it's for a limited time... But more? I doubt that.

Kai:It probably won't work... Imagine we fight all the time... That would be no good.

Claudia:A tour where you record some shows for CD and DVD release would be a good idea. Especially the young fans who had no chance to see you at that days, would love that.

Kai:I think that's something we should do, but not wait too long. In 10 or 20 years it would be ridiculous... We would look ridiculous on stage.

Thomas:The whole thing got started with the announcement of Keeper Of The Seven Keys Pt. III. Without this there would still be Gamma Ray and Helloween and no reunion talk.

Claudia:But through the 20th anniversary this discussion would have come up anyway. It was expected that there will be some kind of anniversary show or release... A DVD or something like that at least.

Kai:For the 20th anniversary it would have been great. For years I'm talking with Sanctuary about the live material which they have in the archives. We recorded 3 shows for Keepers - Live and they just released this 5-track thing which was ridiculous. We recorded a whole 2 hrs. show with songs like Halloween, Keeper and tons of others. Why not doing a double CD of this? I can't understand the record label, coz this is big money.

Claudia:Obviously the 20th anniversary would be the best time for this release. The tapes are there and so no need to invest money into something.

Kai:Sure, it would have be making money with almost no investment.

Claudia:Not everybody had the chance to see you and you haven't played everywhere and can't play everywhere.

Kai:A big tour would be damn cool - for us and for the fans! And it would end this discussion.

Claudia:It's been a long time since you left the band...

Kai:Right, I'm much longer doing Gamma Ray then I have been in Helloween.

Thomas:Many fans say that the new songs on Majestic sound like old Helloween tracks, but I guess that's normal...

Kai:I'm still the same and I still have my spirit.

Thomas:The song Revelation is more then 8 minutes long. How do you write a song like that? Is it planned? Or do you just add something here and there? Do you wanted to have a longer track on the album?

Kai:It can happen in different ways. Sometimes you have a kind of opus in mind or you know at once that it's a short one. Usually the way it starts the song develops. There is no rule. I don't sit down to write a 9 minute song. When I start writing it can be a 4 min. song or a twice as long one. If I have the feeling that the song needs something more, then it's just that. With Henjo it's the same, he wrote this one.

Claudia:I think you can't sit down with the plan to write something, if there isn't the urge in you. Or as long as you don't have an idea. Sometimes it's just flowing and sometimes it doesn't. Then you probably work on a song for days, weeks and sometimes months.

Kai:There are songs which don't turn out the way you want and then you change things. Add something here and take out something else. You do that until the song flows and so the length of the song varies.

Thomas:What inspires you lyrically?

Kai:Out of my head... Actually for a few years it starts with a few words which feel right. Or I have a few lines which are linked to a riff in my head. With the others... Well, I usually do a demo at home and then I start singing. Not really knowing what beside the key words. The rest is flowing then. About 80% of that make sense and about 20% sound good and fit to the meaning, but have to be overdone. It happened that I actually didn't knew what I wanted to say, I just sang. For example My Temple that is one of these. I had no idea, just sang and at the end I looked at the lyrics and understood what was going on in my mind. Coz I just sing and don't think about it. At the end I analyse it and its like "Oh, I see..." Perhaps I should see a shrink... (laughs)

Claudia:Perhaps that's more easy then with a concept... Like on No World Order.

Kai:For me it's quite easy to sing in English and to do it in a way that it fits to the song idea. The words are just coming out of me.

Claudia:But the concept you got from a fan, right?

Kai:Yes, but the album isn't a recitation of the book. It's the same theme and there are some fragments which can be found in both. But it's two different things.

Claudia:But still you have to keep to the story you have in mind and make it fit to the music.


Claudia:And that can't be as easy as doing a track which isn't linked to a story.

Kai:Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

Thomas:Have you ever thought about doing German lyrics?

Kai:In the past I did... It happens once in awhile. Just for fun I did once in the studio a German version of Send Me A Sign, but in the style of Lindenberg. (A German rock musician - editor.) We worked it out and it was a lot of fun. Lindenberg had influence on my decision to make music.

Thomas:Is the song available somewhere?

Kai:No, that was just a fun-thing for the band.

Thomas:So, there won't be a chance to hear it one day?

Kai:I don't know. I don't feel like doing it. Perhaps one day I'll put all the strange ideas together on one CD, but actually that's not how I want to present myself in public.

Thomas:In the beginning you didn't sing in Gamma Ray, coz you had Ralf Scheepers as a singer. Well, can it be said that after awhile you had the urge to sing again? Was it like "I want to sing!"?

Kai:Actually I never stopped singing. I always sang on the demos or in the rehearsing room when Ralf wasn't there. When I left Helloween I was used to work with a singer and so I didn't really thought about singing again. It partly had to do with the knowledge I had from times of Walls Of Jerico that it's damn hard to sing and play guitar. So it was nothing I thought about. But when Ralf and Gamma Ray departet, I felt it was right. I was up to sing again and to go out on stage and do both. It wasn't planned, just happened. And now I'm on tour and as always have to fight vocal problems. (laughs)

Claudia:As you said before - and you know yourself - that you aren't one of the best singers. But it's fun for you. Nobody expects you to...

Kai:But I got better.

Claudia:True, that comes with the experience.

Kai:Meanwhile I became a decent singer...

Claudia:Sure, but first you are a guitarist, then a singer.

Kai:That's right.

Claudia:One can't compare you with Ronnie James Dio...

Kai:Sure, but...

Claudia:Therefore you have a unique voice and which stands out. Your voice is a trademark. And whatever music you would do, people would recognize you. And that's something you can't learn! You have it or you don't.

Kai:It's the same with Ozzy Osbourne or Bon Scott, nobody will say "Wow, what a singer!" They have a characteristic voice and that's what counts.

Claudia:Or like Children Of Bodom. Alexi isn't a great singer, but it fits to their sound.

Kai:The feeling is more important then the vocal abilities.

Claudia:Fans wanted to hear you sing still, even if they loved the Keepers albums and Kiske... In the days of Helloween, so I guess they are happy that you are back singing.    ;)

Kai:Sure and it is fun to sing again, especially the Stormwarrior show where I just sang.

Thomas:How come that you do so much with Stormwarrior? Do you see them in a way as your successors?

Kai:Actually... It just happened, I don't really know how. In the beginning it was a guy called Lars Ramcke who tried to convince me to listen to his demo - it was at Headbanger's Ballroom and he was totally drunk - and to produce their debut. One day I listened to the demo and I liked the spirit. The raw nordic sound of them. When the band was ready to record and album, we gave it a try and it worked out.

Thomas:You always found a way to develop and you have the certain something, but you stated in several interviews that there isn't much new to expect from power metal / melodic metal to come. Can you tell something about the future of the genre?

Kai:No way to tell. For us it's a kind of urge to survive. We won't get bored by ourselves. Surely you will repeat some stylistic things, but there are new ways to do it. You can include other influences without sounding like Rammstein. But there is the possibility to pick something from Marilyn Manson or Rammstein which probably make you change the way of working. And that's what make us sound a bit different everytime.

Thomas:So you listen to many different stuff? Open to every kind of music?

Kai:Yeah, but not deliberately to get fresh influences... ideas. But I'm open-minded. If it's good, it's good and then I can enjoy it as a fan. So it takes influence in a way.

Claudia:Just for a handful of bands it works to stick to their sound and repeat themselves again and again.

Kai:Sure, but you should never listen to what fans or media say. If you do that, you are done. Then they complain that you repeat yourself. But if you do something new or too different, then it's wrong, too. So...

Claudia:I think that's the right way, coz you have to live with it. You have to be satisfied with what you're doing.

Kai:There are bands where every song sounds alike. That's bullshit. I like diversity. And as an artist you should have the freedom to do what you feel like.

Claudia:One is in different moods. Partly you got influenced by what happens around you. Life takes influence and I think that's important.

Kai:I can't imagine that people are always like the same, so that they want to do the same all the time. If you do death metal and you are melancholy, then you probably want to do a ballad. That's bad. But it's cool, if someone of that genre is able to do it.

Claudia:But it's questionable, if the fans would accept it, even if it's more then well done.

Kai:Right! But you shouldn't listen to others, coz the one who's saying "i love your fast songs", will be bored when you release the 3rd album full of speed metal tracks. Then one is compaining that it's always the same. So, never listen to it!

Claudia:At the moment you are touring here in Europe. But what about other parts of the world? South America?

Kai:We continue the tour in November. Then we go to Japan. Russia is planned. Finland too... Schweden.... And there are talks about playing the US....

Claudia:That will be in 2006...

Kai:Right! We will surround the globe.

Claudia:But there are differences, right? For example between Germany and Brasil...

Kai:For sure!

Claudia:If there should ever be a reunion tour, the fans in Japan and Brasil would go nuts.

Kai:It's the mentality. Here the people aren't as enthusiastic as in the South. Like in Spain, there you can see a difference already. But there is also a difference between cities. In Bonn we had people who opened up a mosh pit and stage dived. Not bad, right?

Claudia:Right, that won't happen in Hamburg!

Kai:Let's wait and see!

Claudia:No way! (Kai starts laughing...) What about a DVD?

Kai:We plan to do a DVD.

Claudia:The live album would have be a good possibility...

Kai:Right, after we did the shows it came to my mind. We been a bit too idealistic, coz we said "No, we want to have all the classic tracks on DVD." And Skeletons... We didn't want to be part of this overkill. Every band is these days releasing all and everything on DVD and double CD. But now I think, Skeletons should have been recorded for a DVD. It would have been worth it. On the other hand I'm a bit nostalgic and I want to people to go to the concerts and not to sit at home at their couch and watch a DVD.

Claudia:Okay, but the DVD is also for fans who don't have the chance to see you live. You can't play everywhere, but you have fans everywhere... Also in places like Peru.

Kai:True, but soon the people expect to get a new car with the concert ticket. The expectations are rising.
With Skeletons we been very consistance, we wanted to do a live album and that's what we did. Now we regret it, coz it would be easy to film the shows. But it's too late! Bad luck, so we have to do Skeletons again and then record it for a DVD.
Anyway, on this tour we will ban something on tape for a future release on DVD.

Claudia:Have you already decided where you'll record?

Kai:South America... Japan... The obvious choice, I think. We are still in the planning this and it also depends on the label. Nothing decided yet.

Claudia:Looks like we have to talk about that again.


Thomas:Your early releases are now re-released as digi-packs with bonus tracks. What's your opinion about it? Don't you think that fans are upset, coz they want to have the new, nice version with bonus tracks, but already have the original releases?

Kai:If it's a re-release like our old videos which been re-released on DVD, then it's great. It's a new thing, so it's quite okay. To re-release old albums - like the box set - is okay, if they are a couple years old. When it's a "nice price"-thing, that helps to sell the old releases, but it should be limited. I don't mean a limited edition or so, just do it once.

Thomas:Seems like Iron Maiden will now do a live album with every tour, at least that's what my brother told me...

Kai:No mercy, right?

Claudia:Same as Manowar. They release a live album, then a best-of and another live album, but that comes with a DVD then.    ;)

Thomas:As a fan you are pissed, coz you want to have the bonus tracks!

Kai:That's in the end when internet is a fair thing... At least for me. I bought a Priest album once more, coz I wanted the bonus, even if I had that one already. That's where the internet seems to be the best thing... To download this. That's something to discuss, is it fair to pay the full CD price for only 2 songs? That would be pretty expensive. But everybody has to make one's decision how to handle it.

Thomas:Differnt topic. How do you came up with the name Gamma Ray?

Kai:Oh... That was when we were at the Horus Soundstudio in Hannover. At that time we were still working as Hansen/Scheepers. But I wanted to have a band name, coz I don't like all this solo projects and personification. So, we been in need for a name. We talk about all and everything, but didn't came up with something. One night we been to a discotheque and there they played the old Birth Control track Gamma Ray. It sounded cool and so we looked up the meaning. Gamma rays are radioactive rays with the highest intensity. "Wow, that fits!" That's the story.

Thomay:What do you expect from tonight's show?

Kai:A good show. (laughs) A wild audience. (laughs) Actually I don#t expect anything before going on stage.

Claudia:Well, that prevents to be disappointed. You can only be positively surprised...

Kai:Right! I usually tend to expect the worse. "It'll be shit, anyway."

Thomas:Are you always nervous before going on stage? Or just when you play in Hamburg?

Kai:Well, just before the show I'm always a bit nervous. But it depends on my mood. Even when you sit in the dressing room and aren't in the mood to play and only want to sleep, then you go on stage and it's there! The people came to see you and they paid for it, so you won't act like an asshole. You will give them something back. No weakness! I don't tolerate that, I always give as much as I can.

Thomas:Other plans? Have you thought about playing Wacken next year?

Kai:Hm… We talk about, but if it will happen...

Thomas:Famous last words!

Kai:Heavy Metal, luck and money! (laughs)

And we would have talked more, but the Meet&Greet had already started - without Kai. But he has to show up, coz for many fans he is Gamma Ray. But this won't be the last time we talk... One day we will meet again and talk again....

Claudia Ehrhardt


Dirk Schlächter - live 2005
© Claudia Ehrhardt

Dirk Schlächter - November, 4th 2002 in Bochum (Germany)


Actually it was planned that I see the show in Strasbourg / France and do the interview there, but sometimes things happen which aren't planned. So I was going 2 days later to Bochum at a cold November afternoon to find out, if there is a chance to do the interview and probably see the show. I arrived during the sound check and afterwards said "hi" to the band. Bassist Dirk Schlächter agreed on doing the interview and we were looking for their tour manager to check out the possibilities. Thanks to their tour manager Jörg who was so kind to put me on the guest list with a photo pass.
Then Dirk and I walked out to the red nightliner to sit down at the lounge for a little chit-chat. The most obvious question was the reason for this tour. "Well, on the last tours we always focused on the songs from the current album and added some classic tracks. Fans asked for certain songs which we hadn't played for years or partly never played live. So we came up with the idea to play these songs one more time. Songs which are kinda our skeletons in the closet." The idea was to play songs which the band never played live or at least just played at one tour. Surely you never can satisfy everybody, but to get close to that the band decided to let the fans vote for the songs at the homepage. About 780 fans took part and the band choose from that poll and also added some songs which they though are a must. So the set list had a few surprises. "We had the set list and then our booking agent contacted the venues to see who is interested in the show. Unfortunately not that many venues wanted us, coz they were not sure, if fans would be interested in this special tour." Only a handful of shows were booked, unfortunately... "We would have loved to play more shows... But at least it was great to play these shows." The tour trail led them from Hamburg to places like Katowice (Poland), Barcelona (Spain), Strasbourg (France), Paris (France) and at least to Bochum (Germany). Long distances to go... "We usually had about 1,000 km to go from one show to the next, but it was okay, coz we have two drivers." Due to the fact that they just toured for about a week not that many fans had the chance to see this unique set. "We recorded the show in Barcelona and Strasbourg. A live double album will be released next year. I think it will be in the stores around March." Nowadays everybody is doing a DVD and this tour would be a good possibility. "Right, but we will just release the double live album of Skeletons In The Closet. We plan to do a live DVD on the next tour. We don't know where we will record yet." It seems that it'll take a while until we will hear from the Hanseatic again... "We already have some songs written, especially Kai already wrote quite a few. But we will play a few shows in the States and Canada this year, but the whole trip will only take about 5 days. And then we'll prepare the live album, a few festivals next summer and we will enter the studio for the follow-up of No World Order! In fall 2003. So, the album won't be in the stores before March 2004." Plans long range... A long time to wait for fans for a new studio album. With 4 song writers in the band they are in the lucky situation to have a larger variety and number of songs to choose from. "I can't say yet what the new album will sound. It's too early to say. Dan has a song he started working on before the last album, but which wasn't finished when we started recording." In Gamma Ray everybody is writing songs and has the freedom to write even unusual or strange stuff. If it ends up on the album, know... Perhaps just as a bonus track, perhaps never will see the light of day. Sometimes the circumstances aren't right for the creative process of song writing. "Actually I haven't set down and wrote some stuff for quite awhile. I have to, but I haven't had the peace of mind. The last time I really wrote something was when I was still married and lived with my wife and son. Not that I want my ex-wife back, but since that time I hadn't the peace of mind. Creativity is - at least for me - depending on my mood. I have to be in the right mood to write." Creativity can't be forced and so daily life may effect this. An advantage for the band is that they have their own studio and don't have to wait for a free spot in the schedule. "That's right. And since we produce on our own we even don't have to wait for a producer. We thought about working again with a producer, but then you have to wait for them to have time... Beside that we know best how we want to sound and through the years we learnt a lot and now know exactly how to do it." The studio also gives them the freedom to spend as much time on the production as they want, only the release schedule limits them and not other bands who booked the studio. "Right, and we spend a lot of time in the studio and it costs a lot of money still. We spend more for the rent of the studio then I spend on the rent of my apartment." On the other hand they partly spend more time in the studio then at home. Therefore the band made the studio their second home with a place to hang out and relax. "Without having the studio we wouldn't have been able to do the box set." For the box set the band got criticized by fans. "That's true! And I can understand the fans, coz when you buy the single CDs it's less expensive!" For Dirk it was important to explain the fans what happened. "Actually we wouldn't have done the box set when we would have known how much the box would cost when it got in the stores. And I wouldn't have spend the time to overdo it. But after someone from the record company explained me the reasons and what made this so expensive I can understand. Anyway, the fans are right when they say it's too expensive." The box set is limited to a small number and won't be re-pressed later... At least it shouldn't. "The problem is that the costs for layout pattern, etc. are the same for 1,000 or for 10,000 copies or even more. So, the basic costs are there and have to be covered." It's not the band who did this just to make money and the fans should know that the band of Kai Hansen is down to Earth and are far from ripping off the fans. "What made me upset was that the booklet of Sign No More isn't the original booklet. It's just the 2-page booklet of the re-release! To be honest, if I would have known all these things before we did the box set, then I would have denied to do it." The guys are really grounded and so they try to give back the fans something, coz they know that without their fans they couldn't do all this! "We have planned to got for a week to South America next year to play there, but we honestly don't know, if we can do it. We really want to, but there are business reasons which probably keep us away from touring Latin America." The economic situation is what make bands cancel their tours at the moment and which put the tour of Gamma Ray on stake. "We really want to play, but there are costs which have to be covered. We have to pay our crew for example and this cost have to be covered. If that is guaranteed we will play, even if we as a band don't make money. But we can't spend money just to make it possible. Let's hope that we can go!" The Hanseatic are really care about their fans and even if Kai Hansen is a guitar God for many fans - not that he feels that way - he and his mates are grateful for the possibilities they have and the freedom to do other things beside Gamma Ray. Like Dan who is playing with Freedom Call or Kai who produced the debut of Stormwarrior. "Actually it was planned that I'm involved as well, but finally I just did the drum sounds and gave a helping hand here and there." At the moment it looks like Kai will also produce the follow-up of their fellows. "I did a lot productions and jobs as a sound engineer in the past. I cut it down a little now. Actually during the last 12 years I spend 5 years in the studio! Now I have to change priority, but that doesn't mean that I totally stop. I think I'll do the drum sound, if Kai is doing Stormwarrior and probably some mixing..." Our little round-up was finished at that point. We talked about the current tour and the future plans everything else time will tell. Afterwards Dirk and I chatted a little longer and he told me that in just a two days after the tour he is flying to Tenerife where he has a rented apartment and where he now is opening a pub with a relative. But that is a project which don't effect the band. Only another piece in the mosaic of his life. Let's see what he has to tell next time, even if it'll take a while until we talk again. It will take a year or longer... When I do another studio report!
Thanks for the time and the kindness to do this interview which wasn't scheduled for today. I really appreciate it and again it was fun to do!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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