Forefathers of the German power metal sound, Helloween were initially introduced to American audiences through their brilliant debut, which was followed by the enormously successful "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Parts I and II." The group scored a major push from MTV on its Headbangers Ball program (Anybody out there remember Adam Curry?), with the release of their "Halloween" clip, a video that is still much revered by metalheads to this very day. Helloween went through certain lineup shifts, but never faltered in their ability to issue compelling metal albums over the years. In 2005, fans have finally gotten their third "Keeper" album in the band's latest offering, "The Keeper Of The Seven Keys: The Legacy", a double album of thundering rhythms, astute fretwork and powerful vocalizations. That singing comes courtesy of a one Mr. Andi Deris, who provides Gauntlet Editor-In-Chief Erin Fox with the story behind the new record in the conversation that follows�
The Gauntlet: Why did you decide that it was time to finally make a third installment of "The Keeper Of The Seven Keys?"
Andi Deris: Well, the first reason was to have that headline back again, so that a lot of people would be interested in our stuff. If you name it whatever, they probably think "whatever." Because this is a "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" album, there are a lot of people are actually paying attention to it, and I think they will not be disappointed. We felt very confident when we listened to the full album, the final mix, that we may name it "Keeper Of The Seven Keys." Nevertheless, the main actor is The Keeper anyway and the whole album roundabout him, standing up against and fighting for the key of greed, about being betrayed by one or a handful of guys, believing those sweet words of the devil, such as they would use the key to open the portal of evil, such as they would be rewarded with a reign for 1000 years, and being the king of them.
The Gauntlet: How do you feel about this record? Do you feel that this is the best Helloween record that you have been associated with thus far?
Andi Deris: Well, when we listened to it in whole, for the first time, we were kind of surprised by it. We took three songs that were recorded for bonus tracks and still ended up with a grand total of seventy-nine minutes. Well, it was great, of course. It was a great journey and at the end of the day, we found ourselves looking at each other, wondering if we really did that. So, we are totally satisfied with the results.
The Gauntlet: Of course, the first taste of the new material, "Mrs. God" was initially released in Europe. You also did a video for the track. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like for you to make that video?
Andi Deris: The video-making was as good as recording the song, actually. It's meant to be a counterweight to the long "King For 1000 Years" song, because I think a lot of people would ask, when they listened to "King For 1000 Years" only, they would ask "And where's the happy, happy Helloween aspect?" So, we actually choose the most stupid song on the album and the video was as stupid, and very funny. I mean, sitting there bald-headed? It was only a trick, yes, but at the end of the day, I really felt like I had no hair anymore. The girls were great, by the way. A�girl from Hamburg, she lives in Germany, playing Mrs. God. It was a lot of fun.
The Gauntlet: Helloween has always been known for having that sense of humor, something that is an aside to the fantasy-oriented material�
Andi Deris: That's pretty much like Halloween itself, as kids, we go out there with all of our masks and blah, blah, blah. We knock on doors and ask if it's sweet or sour (trick or treat). It's all about fun anyway, you know? It's that dark meaning and it the end of the day, it's fun for the kids. We feel pretty much the same, concerning an album. It should be all that devil shit and all that dark stuff but next to that, we shouldn't forget there's also happy, happy stuff you know? Encourage the people go on living because I think that after "King For 1000 Years", it's easy to go out and commit suicide. But that's not the intention, actually.
The Gauntlet: So you would say that this is an album that marks yet another definitive point in the band's career?
Andi Deris: Well I hope so, put it that way. I only can say what we think or feel as a band. We discussed it big time. And the discussion was going that far that we actually made a business decision as well as a sonic decision with a title like "Keeper Of The Seven Keys." We are totally honest about being aware of the headline (title), as bringing a lot of people into the record stores, and hopefully, they will buy the record. But they will not buy it unless they are totally convinced about the music. Nowadays, you have tons of possibilities to find out if you really like it or not. I'm quite aware that a headline like "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" might bring a lot of people into it with a bit of skepticism, from beginning on, you know? So it's not like they would go in and glorify it blindly, I don't think anything like that. On the contrary, I actually think that they will be very skeptical, but then we are confident that the people will love it anyway..
The Gauntlet: Obviously the album cover takes on a much different tone visually than on your recent records. It seems to signify that thins is a much darker album from the band.
Andi Deris: Well the cover itself, there was a little thought in the back of our minds, that we wanted to have the cover in a clich� way as in good vs. evil or evil vs. good, but this time we wanted to have the good not as good and the evil not as evil. That's why you see a long blonde-haired devil in high heels, sexy devil, kind of, and The Keeper you can only see from the back. You turn around and he might be some kind of werewolf or something like that. We are actually having problems nowadays, in what the media is telling us, television is telling us that "We are the good guys." Or "We beat the bad guys" or "We killed the bad guys for whatever reason." And at the end of the day, you find out, we haven't been the good guys, it's only for the reasons they told us, and the bad guys turn out at the end of the day not to be as bad, because they had reasons to fight themselves as well. If you watch television today, you don't know what to believe anymore. That's why we have a clich� cover with a not-so-evil devil and a not-so-good Keeper.
The Gauntlet: What was it like for you to do the duet with Candice?
Andi Deris: Well, Candice was great and she was easy, actually. She was the first name to be mentioned anyway when we talked about having an angel voice on "Light The Universe." It was so easy, actually, contacting her and in plain talk, she said "Well, if I like it, I would like to sing it and if I don't like it, I don't sing it." She obviously liked it.
The Gauntlet: How much of the material from "The Legacy" will fans be hearing in concert?
Andi Deris: I guess like, thirty, forty percent�
The Gauntlet: You have now been in Helloween for some time. Is this a step that feels comfortable for you?
Andi Deris: I don't know. With an album like a "Keeper" album, if people accept it as a "Keeper" album, then it's definitely something where it is a chance to be the same size pumpkin as Michael Weikath or Markus Grobkopf, the founding members. For me, it's not only my job. It's a big part of my life, automatically and as you may know, that as a musician or artist, you actually think about music as a job, twenty-four hours a day. So it's one of the biggest parts in my life, next to my family, definitely.
The Gauntlet: What do you have planned for Halloween this year?
Andi Deris: Oh, probably take my son, he's thirteen and walk around here. I'm living on the Canary Islands and they have a lot of Halloween parties going on here. Exactly the same as you guys that are having parties there in America.
The Gauntlet: Halloween is a holiday that is more often associated with children. Many of the fans who were growing up at the time of the release of the original "Keeper" records, me included, will likely recall the time in their life that they first heard the originals with the new album being a continuation of the theme. The album is a continuation of childhood feelings for all of these fans that are now a little older�
Andi Deris: Well hopefully, hopefully. But it's one thing that the album cannot bring you back, like the memories of your first kiss or your first sexual embarrassment that you had during "Keeper I" or "Keeper II." We talked about the first-generation fans. If exactly that is what they think they can get back, they will probably be disappointed. Musically, they will not be disappointed. But we had a lot of discussions with first-generation fans and they all feel that this is like taking them back directly into their youth. No, some feelings may appear again, but all of the great experiences that we had at the age of fourteen or fifteen, some sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years ago, it is something that we probably cannot bring you back, you know? That is something for the new generation of fans. It's something that we did not plan. It is something that happened when we listened to "Keeper I" and Keeper II" and we listened to the "The Walls Of Jericho", the first album, as well, and we tried to rebuild the magic without copying the music, that was something we tried to do. I don't know if we actually did that, but nevertheless, the times that way tried the way with modern music or in this day, we try to find our way through these strange days of music because metal was said to be dead, then grunge music came next you have Nu-metal going on. For example, there's a lot of rap involved in metal and all this stuff, so we had to make a decision of where to go. We did not want to have rap in metal music, for example, that's something that we would not enjoy. Nevertheless, you have great sounds from Korn, which I really enjoy, and why not combine it with heavy metal. There, while the Devil is singing, you have some Korn guitars going on, which is, I think, great. But there was no copying on purpose of what other people do. I think that would have been a mistake.
The Gauntlet: What is the message that you would most like to send to those fans which have stuck by your band through all of these past years?
Andi Deris: Well, this time I would like to excuse ourselves, because this time we took a little bit more time to produce that new album. We had them on our minds and we wanted to achieve something special. We ended up putting eighty minutes and with bonus songs, we did a double album and it took us double the time to make it. So thanks for waiting, I would say.