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Andre Olbirch (Blind Guardian)

Interview with Andre Olbirch from Blind Guardian
by Michael Dalakos at 27 April 2006, 12:58 AM

The fact that Blind Guardian is a living legend in the Metal scene is something I don't have to mention every time I talk about them. Though I found the new single review.asp?id=1391 to be a terrible piece of work, I still have hopes that the forthcoming album will rise to the band's standards. I had the chance to chat with guitarist Andre Olbirch a little while ago and here's the outcome of that discussion…

Andre, thanks for your time. How many interviews do you have lined up for today?

\[ans]I think around eight, yes only eight.

Only? It seems you are getting old \[All Laugh]. Let’s get down to business. How difficult was it for you guys to change record labels after all those years?

It sounds difficult but in the end it was easy. We were not satisfied with Virgin anymore. The problem with them was that over the last years they changed their structure completely and so all the people who worked for us left and in the end there was nobody really in charge of Blind Guardian, nobody knowing how the Metal scene works. Nobody knew how to promote a Metal album. That was a big problem. After the DVD release, we decided to split with them and I think that was the best for both sides.   

The new single. Does the song Fly reflect the entire album as a composition? I ask this because I found it really different than anything else you have done in the past…

Thank you for the compliment. I don’t think it represent the whole album since the album also contains what you could call classic Blind Guardian songs. However, as a song it reflects our mood to go back a bit to basics. We went back and since A Night At The Opera was a more epic album with lots of choirs, we took them out and we created something like a new style, more guitar based, more dynamic and focused on the song that now you can follow the main vocal line. I think as a song it is less progressive than the songs in A Night At The Opera were. The concept of the whole album is to be a little bit new and less complicated than our previous works.

Some people say that your previous album was a really good one but you somehow sounded stuck in a specific type of songwriting that stretches the compositions a lot…

Yes, I think that with the new album we didn’t follow the same way. You see, the concept of the previous album was to be epic so everything was big and overloaded, but we only do things once and now with the new album I think we have changed a lot. We have found a new sound for Blind Guardian, a sound that fits in 2006, a sound with traditional trademarks of the band but also new ideas. I think that the whole new album is a bit more modern and innovative.

There is an acoustic version of the song Skalds And Shadows. Have you ever considered the possibility of releasing an album with acoustic versions of old songs or brand new acoustic songs?

There was an idea after we played a little acoustic tour in South America. But unfortunately we never found the time for this and if you see our schedule for the next three years, we have so many plans that I really find the possibility to do something like that rather hard.

And why have you chosen to do a cover on Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida? Many bands have covered this song already…

We have done lots of covers in the past. We were looking for a good song to cover and that song came in mind. It is one of the favorite songs of my parents and I think it is one of the first songs that had this heavy riffing. We wanted to cover this song in a Blind Guardian style. The thing I like best is Hansi’s vocals, that are very deep and mystical. I find it very interesting.

Why is Oliver Holzwarthmentioned as a guest musician? Isn’t he a full member of the band?

He is not a full member; he will stay as a guest musician, as our keyboard player. We don’t want to become a big band with six or seven members involved in the compositions. We want to stay as a four guys set up. He also plays in other bands and they are all important to him. If you are a full member of Blind Guardian, you must only focus on this band.

You are one of the biggest bands around. However you are one of the less copied bands in Heavy Metal as well. Can you explain this?

Good question. I think it is very difficult to find ideas and play like we do. Trust me, it is very hard to sound like Blind Guardian, even for us. To have an evolution in a way like we did, it is very difficult. I am not saying that our songs are difficult to play but to write something original is very difficult. Our style of composing songs is very different from writing a straight Metal song, a straight Metal album.

Your fans always have high expectations from you. Does this make you nervous when entering the studio?

We also have high expectations. We always try to do something better or at least as good as in the past. Every time you start from zero, when you are making a new album. This is a lot of stress and pressure to begin with. I think we proved in all the albums we did that we have what it takes to deliver quality music. This is a challenge for us. Yes, I see it more as a challenge…

Do you like any new bands?

Right now I can’t say that I follow the Metal scene that much. I know that there are some bands that do extraordinary albums and work real hard. But I don’t know if young bands have a lot of potential…

Virgin never really took care of releasing your albums with bonus material and cool editions. Will this ever change?

Yes! There will be a limited edition pack with one bonus track from our upcoming orchestral album. I don’t know what else Nuclear Blast Records is planning but they are more active than Virgin…

Orchestral album?

Yes, this is material we are writing the last eight years and we have never found the time to release the album. But now we have almost finished the songwriting and we’ve started the production with our producer Charlie Bauerfeind and Viktor Smolski (Rage) who is involved in the orchestral recordings. The album will be released in 2008.

We are talking about strictly new material…

Yes, new material, just orchestra and Hansi singing. Its is without the Heavy Metal parts! There are really good things there and I really hope we will tease you with the song we will put on the album.

I am pretty sure that you will! If you had the ability to change one thing in the music industry, what would that be?

Oh, so hard (Laughs)… There are so many things I’d like to change (Laughs). it is pretty unfair for musicians that work for years on the music they create and get in the end very little money in exchange. They get the smallest piece of the pie. It is unfair.

If you were not a musician, can you imagine what occupation you would have followed?

That’s hard. My heart is dedicated to music. I think that I would probably follow another creative kind of work. I dream of making a movie one day so maybe I would be part of the movie industry. Maybe a movie producer.

Do you recall the early days of the band?

Yes, I do (Laughs)! What I don’t miss from the early days is that we drunk a lot. There were times that instead of rehearsing, we had this party thing going on. Some days we just sat down and played cards or something (Laughs). What I miss is that back then there was a growing feeling, that something was changing. Now I think that the scene has become a bit stereotyped and most people walk on safe roads. Few people try now to have a revolutionary feeling in their music.

I really want to thank you for your time…

Thank you very much. We are really looking forward to coming once again to Greece, we’ve always had a great time there. I hope people will like our new album.

* Photos of Hansi Kursh (vocals) as well as the band photo are courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records and Blind Guardian.


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