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In Words: Heavenly

- Chris - Summer 2000 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Fred - November 2001 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Piere - December 2003 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Ben - March 2007 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Ben - March 2007 (by email)

It was a bit quiet after the release of Dust To Dust, coz some members left the band and so they couldn't support the album live. Now they are back with a new album called Virus - time to talk and find out what happened....

Before talking about the new album I want to go back in time a bit. Please tell us what happened in spring 2004. I guess it was a shock that 3 band members left... Or did you expect this?

In reality we had differences of music opinion since the beginning of the recording... They loved more aggressive and extreme metal and get bored with our melody style, this, of course Charley and I understood, but we also keep respect to our fans because I am not sure that Heavenly's listeners would love this music style changes... Then we get differences on music business... So we decided to stop working all together, of course we keep the name Heavenly because of our music style... heavy metal!!! It was hard when this happened but now I can say that it was a good thing because this departure was justified and carry on in that way would have probably been a bad thing... And the atmosphere in the band is now excellent.

Was it tough to find new people? Did you do auditions?

We began to search for new musicians in March 2004... Immediately we received a video of Olivier Lapauze who played sometimes with Fairyland... Charley and I were very impressed by his technical, we said this guy play like Kiko Loureiro or Michael Romeo... Then Olivier introduced Thomas Das Neves which one play a lot progressive metal and have also a high technical... For Matthieu Plana it was different this is Charley which talk with him in a music school at Nancy (MAI), they discussed together and decided to try with him, and it's working! Olivier and Thomas knew Heavenly with Sign Of The Winner album whereas Matthieu it was a discovery... Hopefully he likes to be in the band!

Please tell us a bit about the background of the new ones!

Olivier studied music and learnt guitar alone a long time before entered at ATLA music school (Paris); heplayed with different amateur metal bands, then he had to be additional guitar player for a Fairyland, he also play Jazz music beside for fun. He ever play too many times with Thomas (as I've said, he introduced Thomas to Heavenly). Thomas studied drums at M.A.I. Music school (Nancy), he played in different metal bands: Alchimie, Chameleon, Southern Crown, Evangelism, Death Stop. And Matthieu also studied music and bass guitar at M.A.I. Music school, he played in different Punk and speed metal bands.

Did the new line-up changed your way of writing songs? Or how much been the new members involved?

I'm still the main writter in Heavenly, but I always listen to the opinion of the other guys. The writing process is really simple, I bring a demo of a song and everyone can touch and do modifications to create the best. Charley and Olivier rearranged guitar parts if it's necessary and Thomas and Matthieu do the same. So in that way, each member is important in the writing process.

It seems that the new album Virus is darker... heavier... Was that intentionally? Or did it just happen due to the experiences you just made?

With this new album, we tried to make a 'good mix' between power and melody. On one hand, all the rhythm guitars and bass guitar give a powerful dimension to the music and on the other hand, all vocals and lead guitars bring the melody. In that way, we tried to keep these two aspects in our music. So Virus is probably the strongest Heavenly album, it's simple Heavy Metal. The atmosphere of this album is mainly dark too, that's right, but the inspiration came like that, we don't have a motto to write in that way.

Dust To Dust was a concept album. Virus is no concept album, but it seems that there is a red fathom through the album - well, beside the cover version. Are the songs kinda linked?

Virus album is not a concept album like Dust To Dust, this is an album with several independent songs, the themes mentioned in Virus are vast... war, nervous breakdown, farewell... Anyway, there is not a main idea which has been developed through the album.

Why did you choose Virus as the album title? Just because of the song? Or has it a deeper meaning?

We dicided to call this album Virus because during the recording session, our computer got a real virus and it contaminated all of our system, we had to record again some parts, so we wasted a lot of time, and patience too (lol). Then, we broke a hard disk just before the mix of the album, so we lost and wasted time once again because of this. That's why when it was time to find a name for this fourth album, Virus was an obvious choice.

Please tell us a bit about the songs... And what inspired you?

Virus contains nine indivudual tracks which deal with different themes. The first song The Dark Memories tell the story of a man who try to get out from a nervous breakdown. Spill Blood On Fire talks about all wounds that human beings accumulated through the ages, on and on ... war, poverty, terrorism, racism, pollutions... and the strange things is that we didn't learn our past lessons. Virus is the story of a spy which want only destroy and pain, to reign terrors everywhere. The thing very interesting is that I wrote these songs with the imagination and the vision of a spy call virus. The Power & Fury is just a crisis of conscience that time is running out day after day don't forget to cling to your dream as long as you have time.... Wasted Time is a story of a prisoner which reflects a lot of his own past life, just alone with himself in the dark. He feels that the time goes by so fast, but without knowing happiness moment. Bravery In The Field deals with civil war and those warriors very proud and full of courage in the battle field, this is something that you see a lot in movie actually. Liberty, one more time this song is talking about war and all people died to live in liberty since the beginning of human being area. This is the story of many countries. And the last one, Prince Of The World is a very beautiful song, the theme is a guy which have to say goodbye to his little life, all his childhood friends and family to go to a new destination... And reach the glory and dethrone the king of the kings.
I'm inspired by the everyday's life, good and bad moments, happyness and sadness... Well, I let the inspiration doing the talking! lol

You have some guests at Virus. Please tell us how they got involved?

It was such lucky coincidences, I mean Olivier and I went to see Sonata Arctica in concert at Montpellier in France, and after the show we talked with Tony Kakko and we had a good time together... And I asked him to sing with me just for fun and he told me OK, where ever you want me... lol ...For Kevin it was in a special night in the south of France with many French heavy metal bands, I talk with Kevin and said that we never did a keyboard solo in Heavenly. And it was a real shame... He told me "I can try, if you want to..." My answer of course was "It's a deal !! Let's try!" A good result, don't you think? For Tanya it's another story, we did with Edguy the European tour in 2001 and we had a lot of fun during 6 weeks of touring. Great memories. We still kept in touch since that days. When we decided to play the cover of Jermaine Jackson we were searching for female vocals and immediately we thought of Tanya. She accepted and her voice is perfect with song and in harmonie with my voice! Thanks to all this fantastic guests!!!

To cover you chose an 80's pop tune of Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora. Why When The Rain Begins To Fall?

We are really fan of this kind of music, there're beautiful melodies and riffs. This song, When The Rain Begins To Fall, has been covered in different ways like techno versions or dance ones. And so we decided to make our version, a Heavenly version. In my opinion, if you want do cover, I think is better to do something a bit different from our own music style, and we thought that a disco song was really interresting. On the original song, there's a duo between Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadorra, and we wanted to keep this on our version. So we called Tanya and she did a great job.

As usual the Japanese release has some bonus tracks. Why did The Joker was only released on the Japanese version?

In Japan, an album has, for contractual reason, to out before the other countries, and for the same reason it needs bonus tracks. That's why, on all Heavenly's albums there are bonus tracks. On this record, we've got two bonus track, a song called The Joker written and sung by Charley and a second one, the Japanese version of Spill Blood On Fire.

And who had the idea to do Spill Blood On Fire in Japanese? Wasn't it a challenge to sing in Japanese?

We did the Japan version of the song Dust To Dust on the previous album and we had a lot of good responses from Japan and this was really important for the band. For this one at the beginning we decided to do only one track and it was the song The Joker, but during the recording we decided to try one more time a Japan versionů So I said "Let me try Spill Blood On Fire", cause the tempo was not too fast... Hope that the response will be as positive as it was for Dust To Dust... Something important is that I take a lot of pleasure to sing it!

The artwork is also much darker. Who did the cover artwork?

The artwork has been done by a French guy, JP Fournier, who has ever worked with several metal bands like Edguy for Mandrake... As we wanted to call the album Virus, it was necessary for the cover to be in relation with the concept of the song Virus which is the story of a spy which only wants to destroy everything and so it was impossible to put a 'Heaven' cover with beautiful angels or something like that, for example like the first album Coming From The Sky. As you said, the cover is much darker, but it represents very well this virus described into the song. And more, the style of Heavenly is more aggressive and powerful than before so the cover also reflect this apsect of the music.

Talking about art.... You did a video clip for Spill Blood On Fire, please tell us a bit about it. Who directed it? Where do you shot it?

We wanted to make a video clip, and we thought that Spill Blood On Fire was the best song to do it, because this one is very easy to listen, a very catchy song. For a first experience, we're really proud of it and I hope this won't be the last one (lol)!!! The video clip has been directed by a French women called Lise Fischer, she did a very good job because she has worked in a short delay and she did it very well... Thanx a lot one more time for this. We made this video in an unused barrack, we set there and played the song too many hours lol...

And talking about video clips... Does it really make sense these days as there aren't many TV stations showing metal vids?

I'm agree with you, there aren't many TV stations which broadcast metal video clips, but I think metal vids aren't only for promotion. I mean it's also a gift for metal fans. I admit that music doesn't need images to talk, but it's a good present to give to our fan a video because for a lot of people, metal bands are only guys printed on a booklet or guys who play live only one time a year, so making and showing metal vids is important for the metalheads who are too many times forgotten by the media, even if those vids are only broadcasted on the web lol...

Talking about visual stuff... Many bands release DVDs these days, some think there are too many releases, others want more. Anyway, with the 4th album it wasn't too soon to do a DVD. Are there any plans? Are there any recordings from the former line-up? For example from the Wacken show?

I don't think it's time for us to record a Live DVD at this moment. I think it would be better to wait the next album to give to our fans a real contain, five albums is the good number according to me and a DVD has to recall a whole discography. So maybe with the next album... But as you've said Wacken show may be an interesting idea... If we got the opportunity to do that, it will be a real pleasure.

For Dust To Dust you couldn't really tour - due to the departure of the former members. Are there any plans to tour this time? Can you tell anything yet?

Actually, a French tour is scheduled as headliner. We hope we'll play in Europe soon too for a tour or summer festivals, we're discussing it at this time, so we want to play everywhere we could (lol). Maybe we'll know something more in these upcoming days...

Now that we come to the end, some more general questions.... Heavenly is one of a handful French bands. Is the French scene really that small? Or does it only look that way from the outside?

In reality the French scene in not as small as it seems, but it's really hard to export our music style.... I mean we got approx 10 really good bands in heavy metal which could be compared to others in the heavy metal universe!!! Unfortunately it's not the case because of label problems today.... You know now it's hard to find a good label ready to invest in a band, and particularly when you are French ..

And even if its a bit quite about Trust, they are still alive and kicking. Do you think there is any other French rock / metal bad which can be as influential as Trust been in their early days?

Wow .... You know, Trust is really really big here in France, you can't imagine a second band as famous as they are.... It's a different music style than we play, it sounds more like 80's heavy metal with lyrics political engagement. In speed metal we got Adagio, it's more progressive, but very interesting music. I know that they work a lot in Japan... It's clear that due to Noise Records in Europe we are the speed metal band from France, and to be honest with you we are very proud of this!

Any French bands you can recommend? Or from anywhere else? Some unknown ones?

Too many bands are recommended (lol)... Well, in France, I would say Manigance or Adagio and outside.. Germany, there aren't too many good bands... Blind Guardian, Finland... Stratovarius or Sonata Arctica... South America... Angra.... I think there are too many bands to mentioned (lol)

Anything else you want to tell?

First, Heavenly and I would like to thank everyone for supporting the band. I hope our new album Virus can please all of you guys. And maybe we could meet on our next Tour. All the best.

Again thank you for answering my questions. And I hope to see you on tour somewhere... So far, good luck and all the best for Virus!

Claudia Ehrhardt


Pierre-Emmanuel - December, 2nd 2003

It's been awhile since I last heard of the French Heavenly. Now they are back with a new album which is called Dust To Dust. I missed them during their promotion trip and so we arranged a phoner. Bassist Pierre-Emmanuel Pelisson called me up punctually to talk about the latest release. "We toured in November / December 2001 with Edguy which was great. Actually it was planned to start writing new material soon after, but due to personal problems the writing was delayed. The initial plan was to record in 2002 and to produce it until the end of 2002. But we got problems with the producer and so there was another delay. Finally we recorded in March 2003. The drum parts were recorded in Hannover with Ferdy Doernberg (keyboarder of Rough Silk and Taraxacum). The rest we recorded in our own studio." Produced was the 3rd album by Philip Colodetti and Sascha Paeth (e.g. Angra, Rhapsody). The new album is a conceptual album. "It wasn't planned, but after the first songs were written we had the idea and so we followed the red fathom." In the past they been called Helloween copycats and even if they always - and still do - love Helloween's music they wanted to change musically. "Due to the decision to do a concept album we had to change musically. On the last album we did too many happy songs, we felt that we had to change. To the story happy sound wouldn't fit and so this album had a darker mood. But we definitely not black metal or something like that." Surely there are reminiscence to Helloween, coz they are still a huge influence, but the band wanted to get away from the happy metal and with Dust To Dust they did the first step. The reactions from journalists are quite good and many mentioned that they are on their way to left the Helloween sound behind. "We have to be honest to ourselves. We are still into that music, but we didn't tried to sound like Helloween, coz they are successful or for commercial aspects. We really love this kind of music and with the conceptual album and what it demands we are on our way to find our own identity. Even if we'll carry the musical legacy of Helloween with us." A radical change the fans and the media wouldn't have accepted, but this album seems to lead them on the right path. "The story requested different sounds, moods and I think Ben was kinda forced by the music to change his singing..." The album is divided into 3 chapters and tells a vampire story, but don't expect another Interview With A Vampire story. "In the first chapter we tell the beginning of the story. We introduce our protagonist and tell how he was turned into a vampire by the bite of another. That happened in the middle age. In the 2nd chapter we leave the story a little behind. Here our vampire take a look back at the history, at his past and what happened through the centuries he lived. Reflected the events - good and bad - and thinks about the wars, etc. In the last chapter our vampire is searching for the one who made him a vampire. He wants to be human again. That's the story." The songs of the 2nd chapter could have been on any CD. The only link between the vampire story and these songs is that the vampire reflects what he experienced. "These songs can stand on their own, even if we have a link to the story. On headlining shows we probably divide the show in 2 parts and so do a part with the new songs... Actually we haven't thought about it yet." The guys are hot to get back on tour, coz beside the shows at WOA 2002 and Metal Dayz 2002 they haven't played live for 2 years. "It seems that we will tour in April / May 2004 with W.A.S.P., but I heard that they have problems to finish the CD... It might be delayed, so there might be a change of the schedule." Also there are headlining shows planned for France... "Yeah, we sale quite good in France and so we think about doing 7 or 8 shows in France as headliners. It probably will be June or September... Depends on the tour with W.A.S.P. We are confirmed for Sweden Rock and hope that we can play more festivals next summer. Our label and booker is working on it." Bands like Gamma Ray, Edguy, Stratovarius & co. do quite well in South America... "We have a lot of messages from fans at our guest book, but unfortunately touring South America is really expensive and usually just makes sense as a headliner... We hope that the sale figures will allow us to tour there soon. Perhaps as a support for some bigger name... But we have to wait and see!" So time will tell. Per;haps Pierre and Heavenly have some news about when they tour Europe... At least I'll talk to them again on tour and who knows...

Claudia Ehrhardt


Fred - Bochum (D), November, 6th 2001

The debut of the French band Heavenly was released in 2000 and now they are back with their 2nd album called Sign Of The Winner. The line-up changed and they are on tour with Edguy. In Bochum I talked to guitarist Fred who told me that he learned German for 10 years, but it's just enough for some small talk... Anyway, from time to time his answers were partly in German, but this is all English!

After the release of the debut there was a line-up change... Last time I talked to Chris...

Actually... Perhaps you know that on the 1st album also the bass player was a different one. The band fired the former one, coz he wasn't good enough anymore for what the band wanted to do. He got replaced. I was the keyboard player for the tour we did with Stratovarius. Than Chris, the former guitarist left the band just a week before the recording of the new album. So Ben ask me to join, coz he knew that I'm playing guitar as well. It was like "Hey, you got a new job! You are our new guitarist!" At the end Chris wasn't interested in this kind of music anymore and he was older then the rest of the band. He's 35 years old and we are in our early 20th, so it's better for the band.

This time the album was done in a different studio, studios... With a different producer.... Why?

The debut was produced by Piet Sielck in Hamburg and the new one we was recorded in Paris and in Denmark. The drums were recorded in Denmark with Tommy Hansen, then we came back to Paris, recorded the rest and headed back to Denmark to mix it. Tommy Hansen mixed it.

Again someone who is related to Helloween.  ;-)

That's not the easiest way to get away from getting called copycats of Helloween, I guess. But Tommy was great!

A great producer, definitely!

....and he worked on the Keepers albums, so.... He's a genius!

I remember the recordings...

Also Pretty Maids... Red, Hot & Heavy! So it was perfect. The different is that Piet Sielck put too much influence on the album, too much of Iron Savior. We can see that now that the debut sounds like an Iron Savior album. I wasn't there, but they told me that Piet was kind of "you have to do that, you have to do this". Okay, he's a good producer, but the guys were pretty young and so he took more influence.

He's a good producer, he worked with Blind Guardian in the past. He knows his job, but perhaps he put a little too much of his own vision into it...

Yeah, now the new one sounds the way we wanted to sound. That's good!

I think Tommy Hansen is a different kind of producer.

Actually he didn't produce, we are the producers. We recorded everything on our own. He just said "keep this, re-record that..."

He's more like let the band do it their way and say "perhaps you can do it this way, or try that..."


More the guy who's in the background, listening and telling his impressions and ideas.

That's him! He listens and than asks "what you wanna do? How should this sound?" It was more a cooperation. He realized what we had in mind soundwise.

But still people say that Heavenly sound like Helloween at the Keepers era. Perhaps because Ben's vocal lines are similar to Kiske's....

Ja, Kiske... I mean that's right, but Helloween isn't doing that kind of music anymore. So we are the keepers of the flame or... Got me?

Yeah, got it. But wouldn't it be more interesting to take this sound and add some own style? To get your own identity? I know it ain't easy.

Next time! ;-) No, maybe for the next album when we work more together as a band... Ben is doing almost everything, composing, writing the lyrics, the guitar lines... So, maybe next time we will sound different. We are trying to get away from this. It's pretty boring to hear all the time that we sound like Helloween. It's too much! Okay, it's cool, but....

Someone ask me if the first track you played tonight was a Helloween cover or one of your own songs...

Yeah, but that's not very nice to hear. We try to do our best. It sounds like Helloween, but in the beginning people said that about Edguy as well.

In the beginning they sound more like them then nowadays. I think that Edguy found their own identity, even if there will be similarities, coz they are doing the same kind of music Helloween did in the past.

Of course we have to find our own identity, but this is just our 2nd album!

And this is a different line-up and you'll get more involved, so there will be a change soundwise...

We are trying to, that's what we want. That's our aim!

On the other hand people seems to like what you are doing. You get good response from the crowd.

Not today! Today we did no encores, but yesterday, Offenbach was pretty good. And Ludwigsburg! We had to play a short set, because of the curfew, but it was great. In Hamburg we hope that we can do something together with Piet and Kai, but who knows?

Unfortunately I can't go to Hamburg... But I'll go to see you in Vosselaar at the Biebob. It's a cool place!

I like that club! I was there to see Annihilator a few years ago and I saw Symphony X there.

How is it going for you in France? Usually it ain't easy in France for metal bands...

Well, most are complaining anyway. Actually we are one of the most famous French bands at the moment. Don't get me wrong, we are no super stars!

Probably it's because here in Germany we don't know many French bands....

Maybe.... Now we are on Sanctuary Records and our album is available. I think we are playing in France in 2 or 3 days, we are waiting for these shows, coz they are more into what we are doing there. The crowd is pretty good for us and not so many bands are touring there. Good for us! ;-)

That was the point where we had to finish, more people Fred had to talk to, but while we were walking back to the restaurant he told me that they will do some festivals this summer. They will do Wacken, Gods Of Metal in Italy and Rock Machina in Spain, then start writing new material and hopefully the album will be done the same way as the current one. and if no other tour got offered the 3rd release will be in the stores in January 2003!

So, it's all wait and see.....

Claudia Ehrhardt


Chris (by email) - Summer 2000

A few weeks ago I got from Noise Records the album of the French band Heavenly. Due to the fact that the band been kinda chosen by the fans I decided to do an interview. In the past I learnt that many French don't speak Enlish very well, I contacted my friend Laurence and ask her to do the translations and encouraged her to add some questions as well. She agreed and so I have to say "Thank you very much Laurence!" Here we go:

Please tell us about the time before you signed with Noise Records / T&T. The history of the unsigned band...

The band was formed five years ago by Ben, the singer and Maxence, the drummer. Then there have been several changes of line-up, but the band has remained the same for one year and a half now.

How did you get in touch with Noise Records / T&T?

We sent a demo to Noise Records, they put it on the internet and people liked it!

Have you got other offers as well? Why did you sign with Noise / T&T?

Yes, we got other offers, but it was a dream for us to sign with Noise Records.

What do you think about Noise Records / T&T's idea to let the fans decide, the "Be your own label boss" campaign?

I think it's a great idea !

Many thought that they were listening to Michael Kiske when they heard Heavenly, and that it might be a project of Hansen / Kiske. Do you feel honored that people compare you to the old Helloween or is it more like a spell?

In fact, we're very happy to be compared to Helloween, but Heavenly IS different.

Are Helloween a main influence for the band at all? What are the influences of the different band members? What band / musician made you decide to make music?

No, Helloween is not our only influence, personally I have none of their records at home. Ben and Max are Helloween fans, Laurent loves Iron Maiden and Mr. Big. Our tastes are varied and different. Among our main influences we could name Angra, Queen, Gamma Ray and Thin Lizzy.

You named the band Heavenly. Why?

Because it sounds well!

How did you come up with the title Coming From The Sky?

We wanted an angel on the cover so the title fitted it well, the arrival of the angel on earth...

Who had the idea for the artwork?

We had the idea in the first place, then Noise found the artist, it's really cool.

Following these 3 questions... Do you know the Italian band Vision Divine? They seem to have the same kind of inspiration as you do.

Yes, but I like our angel better! I'm still looking for her...

And does the album tell a story?

No, each song tells a different story.

You recorded the album in Ham­burg with Piet Sielck as producer. I guess that was arranged by Noise / T&T. How was it to work with Piet?

It was very, very hard ! We didn't have the same vision of things, but he works really well.

How did the other guest musicians get involved? How was it for you to work with a well-known musician like Kai Hansen?

The idea to record a song with Kai came from Ben. He asked Piet about it and Piet spoke to Kai. We are very honored that he accepted, it's great!

Do you think that having Piet as a producer got you even more to sound like old Helloween?

Yes, absolutely. We had a very different sound at the beginning.

Some may complain that you are just copycat Helloween. What do you think about this kind of statements?

We don't pay attention to them.

What has been the reaction of the media so far?

Honestly, very good, apart from a few journalists in Germany.

Do you think it was harder to get attention from labels and fans, coz you're French?

No, not at all.

Do you think that there is a metal scene developing in France and that it gets more and more recognition?

No, I don't think so. Noise saved us !

Have you had the chance to play live in the past?

Yes, in Paris, it was cool.

Are there any plans for you to tour supporting a band later this year?

Yes of course. On Septembe,r 28th, we will start a tour with Vanden Plas, a German band, a very good one! It will be a French tour with a detour in Spain.

Do you have a homepage? (I haven't found one...). If you do have one, is it done by the band or someone close to the band? And if you don't have a page, is there anything planned?

An official website is being prepared, but we already have a site done by a fan.

Okay, that's it for today. It seems that Heavenly will let the music do the talking and that they are short of words in interview.... Perhaps this will change.... We'll find out somewhere in future...

Claudia Ehrhardt


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