When you’re a band that’s been around since the mid-’80s, eventually there’s going to be a time when the past meets the present. It might be through rediscovering old approaches and techniques, or even through former members rejoining the band after decades away. For Hamburg power metal legends Helloween, it’s the latter, with vocalist Michael Kiske coming back into the fold in 2016 after departing in 1993.
This reincorporation of Kiske’s talents has the band featuring two singers, with Andi Deris also contributing vocals. This new era for Helloween is being physically and digitally represented in their self-titled and 16th album that’s due out on June 18 via Nuclear Blast.
With the album being the band’s first since reuniting with Kiske, there were some surreal moments, but overall, the recording process was seamless. There is one moment from being in the studio that Kiske did find quite comical.
“It was, of course, sometimes funny,” Kiske says, on being back in the studio with Helloween. “We did a lot of touring before we started working on the album, so we got used to each other. I had a situation where I recorded the vocals at Andi Deris’ studio on the island of Tenerife in Spain. I was supposed to try out a song that I needed the lyrics for, and Andi went up to his office, printed them out, and handed them over to me. The picture of that just stuck in my head, and it was funny. A number of years ago, a situation like that, where I would be laying down vocals for a Helloween record with someone else handing me the lyrics, would have probably been the last thing I could have imagined to happen.”
With both Deris and Kiske on vocals, this is also the first time Helloween has done an album with two singers. It’s a bit of a rarity in bands these days, and it can be hard to pull off, but the dynamic between the two actually enhances the trademark sound the German giants exhibit.
“It was actually perfect; there was no competition or anything like that,” Kiske says about sharing vocal duties with Deris. “It was the way it should be, and we had Dennis Ward handle the creative organization while making this kind of pre-draft in terms of splitting up roles to obtain a vision of how this might work. That was how we started it; nothing was written in stone. I was giving things a try, and if I didn’t feel like it suited me well, Andi then gave it a try, and vice versa. We both only cared about what works for the song best, which was pretty amazing.”
In support of the upcoming album, the band released a music video for the single “Skyfall” on April 2. The video is very sci-fi influenced with spaceships, aliens, lasers, and other elements to go along with the lyrics of the song.
“It was fun, and most of the stuff was done with green or blue screen,” Kiske says about the making of the music video. “The idea was really based on the lyrics and the entire song, it’s about the story you see there. ‘Skyfall’ is about an alien crash landing to Earth, it gets caught and they do these experiments on him, and Andi is showing up to help the alien escape. That was the basic idea behind it.
“It’s a shorter version in the video, and in the album it’s longer, but that’s why the video is like that. We could have made the lyrics more metaphorical, and you can understand “Skyfall” in many ways so it’s not directly about aliens, but Kai Hansen wanted the alien story, so we just went for it.”
For what fans can expect from the self-titled album when it’s released, Kiske says:
“We don’t do anything else than what we always do. When we write songs we have certain inspirations, we make a song out of it, and in the end, you choose the ones you think are the best ones, which is how an album comes together. With all seven of us working on the album, we have a naturally balanced kind of thing when it comes to the style of the band. You do have a little bit of the older vibe coming in from Kai, but when Andi writes a song, it’ll always have that sound of the later era, so it’s a mixture of everything.”
Images courtesy of Helloween. Featured image credit: Franz Schepers.