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Daniel Zimmermann (Gamma Ray)

Interview with Daniel Zimmermann from Gamma Ray
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 27 May 2010, 4:05 PM

GAMMA RAY released “To The Metal” under a new record deal and then hit the road all over the world to support. Daniel Zimmermann was eager enough to talk to METALTEMPLEreaders and give them some additional info for the band’s recent whereabouts.

(many thanks to MariaV)

Also read: GAMMA RAY - "To The Metal" review
Hello is Daniel this is Dimitris from METALTEMPLE. How are you?
Hi Dimitris! I am very good and you?

Fine man, so let us start, you have a new record deal; how did you contact with earMusic? I mean, what did convince you to sign with them?
They knew GAMMA RAY because they had been following the business all the time and when they heard what was going with SPV and since GAMMA RAY was free of any deal at the moment and on summer they contacted Kai and some meetings were scheduled. I think it was 3 or 4 meetings, where we exchanged opinions about the scene, the deal and the future. Of course, we talked about the contract and the things were growing and we liked and had respect on each other and the band decided to go with this new record company. The good thing with this label is their motivation, to get big in the Metal scene and all these made us to ink a deal.

Can we expect that FREEDOM CALL will also join earMusic?
No, FREEDOM CALL stay with SPV.

Fair enough, you have a new album on the way; how did you come up with the title, first of all?
20 years GAMMA RAY and 10 studio albums are a reason to celebrate and we thought since we love and play Heavy Metal for all of our lives we should hail this music for all that it stands for. You can feel this atmosphere in the entire record.

What about the lyrics? Do they have something to do with the album title or not?
No, they are about different themes. For instance, let’s take the album opener “Empathy”; it is about a critical thing in all societies and especially in Germany where many empathies exist and if a tragedy incident happens like when Hanover’s goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide or when a person under amok killed 15 people in the South of Germany was also last year. Then, the society shows empathy for these events but in the end it does nothing to change things. So, they don’t change the laws, having weapons and after all you have to help somebody that’s very depressed and the society is not doing that. Some people can not do this but neither the society nor the politicians do something…

This is not only for Germany; this is a global thing
Yes, but I can only give you some samples of Germany. So, I think that’s a global thing, you are totally right. And you have “No Need To Cry” a very emotional and sad song that is about the death of Dirk’s father who died some years ago so you see, the lyrics are totally different.

What about the artwork, you chose to have 3 different artworks. This is because you like all of them or there was some else reason for this?
So, we have friendship with the artist, he usually paints 2 or 3 pictures and we said “ok, we need a new cover album” and he made suggestions. And we thought that all 3 versions were very strong and very expressive somehow and we decided to use all of them.

What cover do you prefer?
I prefer the one of the special DVD edition. It’s a great motive (laughs)

What about the album tracks, you chose to record two bonuses; do you have any data on that?
Yep, the one called “One Life” is by Kai and the other is by me. My bonus track is called “Wannabies”. And it about all these wannabies you meet on tour that do not stop talking trying to give you the impression that they are good and better than you. I met one guy in Mexico City and he came in right after the show and I was totally exhausted, it was hot on stage, awful sound, great audience and I wanted to have at least 30 minutes on my own to really calm down and get dry. But 5 minutes later, this guy came in and talked to me about how great the show was and I was wondering who left him to come in and I said to him to give me a half an hour and all this is about this guy inspired me in Mexico City. So, this song is a little bit different; it is heavy but also has a funny side and an almost rap part.

When someone hears the term ‘bonus track’, he thinks of, let’s say, ‘left over tracks’ that could not make it in the regular album. How do you feel about them? Are in this way left overs or regular songs?
In many cases it’s like this; songs that are not so strong may not make it into a real album and then you can put them as bonus tracks. But, in our case, we didn’t; when we first wrote our songs, we had 12 tracks. And 12 really strong songs and I wouldn’t say that one of these is weak or not so strong song- all the 12 songs of the bonus tracks are very strong, just in this case the record company wanted us to do that and there was no intention to, when we started to write the songs to say “huh, so we write 10 songs and then we need 2 bonus tracks and lets see what we have left”. There were 12 songs and we were working these and so, it was no intention to do these bonus tracks.

Lets go to the tour; first of all, will you hire a session keyboard player?
No, most of the songs will be without keyboards. In those cases where they are important we will use pre-recorded ones. After all, GAMMA RAY the keyboards are not that important, it’s more a guitar band.

 I always wondered how a tour program is being planned, do you choose what countries to visit or some countries that you don’t like maybe?
No, it’s just the booking agency. It’s not that we don’t want to visit a country, it is just we go where we get the gig and the booking agency tell all the promoters everywhere in Europe and also the rest of the world they tell that GAMMA RAY album will be released on this date, the tour will be in this period and ask the if they want a show. Sometimes there is no response or interest. Especially, like in Scandinavia where there are too many shows in the same period and the promoters don’t want to do that and tell us we’ll do it in a different time. So, normally, the booking agency has to do with the promoters and they work well together they have trust on each other and this is the thing.

Great. You also have FREEDOM CALL; how can you manage two live sets?
I don’t play in FREEDOM CALL, I play in GAMMA RAY. The thing is with GAMMA RAY the condition for Kai and Dirk when I was talking to them to take FREEDOM CALL with us was that FREEDOM CALL can play when I play only in GAMMA RAY; because Kai and Dirk want me to focus on GAMMA RAY and I understand and except this, this is ok and so, I will have a substitute. I was talking to the FREEDOM CALL guys and I said that you can stay at home or you can play with a different drummer. And I mean I can not force them and I can not say, “I go on tour but you have to stay at home”. The guys said that they wanted to play and this should be done with a different drummer and that’s ok. We had used the substitute in FREEDOM CALL in 2008 when GAMMA RAY were on tour with HELLOWEEN. His name is Klaus Sperling and was the drummer for PRIMAL FEAR.

Will you go to the USA? Do you have any plans there?
Yes, probably. We will tour around the world starting in Russia, then we go in Asia, Australia, then we go Japan, South America, Mexico and then the States. Only 4 or 5 shows have been confirmed.

Lets go back to the new album; you have also Michael Kiske doing some guest vocals; how did you convince him since he has stated that Heavy Metal is not his thing anymore?
I know… during the rehearsals of “All You Need To Know” Kai was singing. When we listened to the vocal line everyone said this would be the perfect for Michael Kiske’s voice. And then Kai said, “yeah, right, why not, I try to contact with him and asking him if he wants to do it”. After all, Michael and Kai have been in contact all the time and have a good relation. So, when Michael heard the song he said “yeah, why not? I am your guest” and he did it.

 So, what about the tour; do you rehearse only the songs in the setlist or you like to have changes from concert to concert?
Normally we rehearse about 5 more songs than we have on the setlist because there are always songs that sound good during rehearsal but when you play them live they just don’t work.Then we have to change it. We are always trying to find the optimum set list.

Is there any song from GAMMA RAY that you would like to play but for some reason you haven’t?
There is one song that we played once in 2000 when we did the ‘Blast From The Past’ tour that is called “Changes” from “Sigh No More”. It’s a nice groovy song, with a progressive touch but when I am suggesting it to the band they don’t seem to like it during rehearsal. So, I don’t know if we ever will play this song, but on this tour will be some changes, big changes in the set list. Of course, all classic GAMMA RAY hits like “Rebellion” will be in the set but we will have a lot of new staff, like 5 or 6 tracks.

How many songs can we expect?
It depends, around 14 or 15.

Ok. Daniel, these were my questions; say anything you would like now; we gonna see you in a couple weeks here, in Greece, so, say anything you like to close this interview.
Hi everybody out there, this is Daniel from GAMMA RAY and I hope you like our new album “To The Metal” and that we can see you on tour in Athens and Thessaloniki to celebrate a great Metal party there.

Thank you very much for your time and see you on stage.
Ok, thank you Dimitris, bye bye.


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Edited 06 February 2023

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