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Dirk Schlächter and Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray)

Interview with Dirk Schlächter and Henjo Richter from Gamma Ray
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 28 June 2004, 6:27 PM

During this year's Rockwave Festival in Greece, Gamma Ray had a task to perform and that was to replace Running Wild who'd cancelled just a few days before the festival. On short notice Gamma Ray came and gave one hell of a performance (as usual) reminding people how alive they've always been and will always continue to be on stage! That happened on the 19th of June. On the 20th of June we were at the Metropolitan hotel (which has a bitchin' management towards reporters) in Athens and we got to meet Gamma Ray for the second time in our Magazine's course.
Alex and I went up to the roof garden and we sat together with Dirk Schlächter (bass guitar) and Henjo Richter (guitar, keyboards) to commence this interview.
Kai Hansen (vocals) was sitting with somebody else (from another Magazine) but that certainly didn't mean we were disappointed for interviewing Dirk and Henjo instead! I knew for sure how crazy these guys were (and friendly – you've simply got to love them!) as it wasn't my first Interview with Gamma Ray…but Alex had no clue! Read on you Gamma Ray maniacs, this interview is dedicated to all of you out there who love this band! Thank you for sending me all those questions you wanted us to ask the band, unfortunately we didn't have time to ask them all of your questions but fortunately we didn't just ask only one of your questions!

Alex: First of all I’d like to welcome you back in Greece and tell you I think you were absolutely great yesterday (19/06/04). How do you feel to be back in Greece again?

Dirk: Very good. It was about time we came back here since it had been a long time since our last concert. We only took the decision that we could play on Monday (14/06/04), instead of Running Wild and we were all yeah! We need to go to Greece again, we need to do this!. I felt we needed to come back to Greece and show the people that we’re still alive!

Henjo: So it was really great to be back! \[Laughs]

Alex: You were only told 4 days before the festival that you could replace Running Wild. Did you manage to do any preparations, any rehearsals?

Dirk: Nope, nothing! We just said we’ll go up on stage and play a set-list since three weeks ago we had this Rock Hard festival and we already had all these songs in mind. It’s not that hard, I mean, you just go on stage and play some songs you and your fans love for an hour! Well, it’s also funny if you think that we hadn’t been playing together for one month.

Henjo: Yeah, I was in Hamburg, alone I guess! \[Laughs]

Dirk: I was away helping my father with his house, doing the carpenter, the electrician, everything. Look at my hands, they’re all swollen! \[Laughs]

Alex: What’s your opinion on your live performance yesterday and the people’s response?

Henjo: A beautiful response!

Dirk: Except for the boiling heat! It was so hot!

Henjo: Yeah, I couldn’t see because the sun was blinding and the sweat in my eyes was hurting \[Laughs]! I was seeing white things all around me and I was getting dizzy. So I stuck to my microphone and kept my eyes closed! \[Laughs]

Alex: Do you have any intentions to release a new album in the near future?

Dirk: Yes, of course, that’s actually the thing we have to do right now.

Henjo: We were going to start that today but we simply had to come to Greece \[Laughs].

Orpheus: Kai mentioned something about a new album at the end of your live performance. I think he said that a new album’s going to come out early next year?

Dirk: I think so, if we manage to finish it first! \[Laughs]

Orpheus: How’s it going so far?

Dirk: We’ve already started doing some pre-productions, rehearsing some of the new songs together. We don’t know how it’s going to be yet and I can’t tell you anything more about it! \[We all laugh]

Henjo: I think we’re trying to do something different, like with No World Order, we’re trying to do it like we did it back when we were younger. We really rehearse and try to build the songs in the rehearsing room.

Dirk: It’s always been lots of overdubs during the production process and continuous additions \[during other albums] but this time we wanted to go in the rehearsing room, just the four of us and make these songs stand the test; then we’ll continue on with the recording process.

Alex: During you last tour for the No World Order album we didn’t have the pleasure of seeing you in Greece. Were there any problems with promoters here?

Dirk: Well, not exactly a problem. It’s always kind of expensive to come over here, we always have to fly all this stuff in. Wow, I remember the first Gamma Ray tour – we came here on a bus! \[Laughs] It’s expensive though, to bring all the gear, the technicians and then…Athens is a big city but there aren’t many venues for Heavy Metal concerts! For example, there was this…

Henjo: Rodon Club!

Dirk: Yes, Rodon Club…They reduced the amount of people they can have at a concert. That’s exactly the problem for the promoters because how can they pay us when their income is short because of the venue?

Orpheus: I’ve got a question from your official site’s message board. Your fans on the board sent me questions and during this interview I’ll be reading a few of those questions to you.

Henjo: Our message board? Great!

Alex: Gerardo Garcia from Mexico would like to know if Kai Hansen is going to work with Helloween on a Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 3. Is that true or is it just rumor?

Dirk: That’s silly rumor.

Henjo: Yep, silly rumor!

Dirk: If something like this was going to happen, I would know it. I can assure you that it’s just rumor, it’s not true.

Alex: Now for something else. You \[Dirk] did the sound engineering and Kai Hansen the production for a band called StormWarrior. Are you going to do it again for their next album? I think a new StormWarrior album is going to come out in June or July (2004).

Dirk: Yeah, Kai did it on their first album and he also did it on their new album too!

Henjo: Yeah, there was a release party in Hamburg, for the new StormWarrior album and Kai was supposed to mix the album but he couldn’t do it because we had to be here.

Alex: StormWarrior remind me a lot of Helloween back in 1985.

Dirk: StormWarrior’s mainman, Lars is a lot into that Helloween era and that’s why he wanted Kai to produce his first album. The second album, I popped in a couple of times and did a couple of things together but he \[Kai] did it on his own this time.

Alex: Some years ago you said that Gamma Ray would never play Helloween songs live ever again. Yesterday you played I Want Out. How come?

Dirk: We always do that. That’s a thing we always have discussions about in the band \[Laughs]. But you see, the people love these songs, Future World, I Want Out etc. We live playing those songs from time to time and the people really seem to love it! We’re just doing it for the fans because I don’t really need to play any Helloween songs…these are Kai Hansen songs, therefore I don’t care.

Henjo: Hey, I like playing these songs! \[We all laugh]

Dirk: It’s just a fun thing for us; they like it \[the fans] so we do it!

Alex: You’ve been together for more than 7-8 years already with the same lineup. Do you think that Gamma Ray has finally found the right persons for the band?

Henjo: Yup!

Dirk: Exactly.

Orpheus: It’s the right chemistry!

Henjo: It’s all about chemistry, yup! \[Laughs]

Dirk: It’s great you know because in the past there have been changes but now…we’re four completely different guys and it simple works out! And we sometimes wonder how can this really work out? but it does. We fight each other sometimes, we shout at each other but we also love each other…it’s really great!

Henjo: It’s good that everyone plays a different instrument \[Dirk and Henjo burst into laughter]!

Dirk: By the way, in the end of this year it’s going to be 15 years of Gamma Ray!

Orpheus: Are you preparing anything special to celebrate your 15th anniversary?

Dirk: I don’t know yet. I just told Kai a week ago. I told him Kai it’s going to be 15 years of Gamma Ray by the end of this year! and he said What? 15 years I’ve been dealing with you? \[We all laugh]

Alex: Two years ago you released a live album, recorded in Barcelona and Strasburg, which included all the songs your fans wanted. Are you ever going to record a live performance in Greece to use that recording for another live album; like Iced Earth and Stratovarius did?

Henjo: Why not? The audience here has always been beautiful. I remember a show together with Hammerfall…wow, that was a long time ago! It was fantastic, we still have the videos from that show.

Dirk: Yeah, Kai was jumping all around the stage like crazy! \[Laughs]. We’ve got plans of making a live DVD on our next tour.

Orpheus: I’ve got a question from your fans, concerning the DVD. Sebastian Roehr from Germany would like to know if your DVD will include all your video-clips!

Dirk: I think so.

Henjo: Maybe, because we have so much material!

Dirk: The plan is to do a really big show, one show with extra lights, a huge stage and six cameras…

Orpheus: Where do you think you can do that?

Dirk: We’re talking about it. We don’t know yet. We also have to talk with the record company \[Sanctuary Records] because they have their own stuff that they’ll maybe want to do. Many, many things have to be decided about this because it’s always about money…you know…Most of the shows anyway we’ll do on our own. We have a guy on tour with us always with a camera shooting some really nasty stuff. \[Laughs] You know…explicit stuff! \[Laughs even more] Drug addiction, alcohol, raping…\[We all laugh].

Henjo: We also have the whole Wacken show. We can use it on the DVD too! It’ll be our bonus feature!

Alex: I’d like to ask you \[Dirk] about Iron Saviour…

Dirk: Yes, I played bass on a couple of songs of the first Iron Savior album, Watcher In The Sky and another one. That was all and I was never really into Iron Savior. I just did this song because we also put it on the Gamma Ray album.

Orpheus: Szigeti Balazs from Hungary would like to know which are your favorite Gamma Ray albums and tracks.

Dirk: Ay ay ay! \[Laughs]

Henjo: I have to say I’m a lot into the Skeletons because it’s a live album and it really shows how we are! It’s Gamma Rau and that’s why I really like listening to it. Usually I think it was always Powerplant for me…

Dirk: There really are too many songs and albums to pick only one…

Henjo: Oh come on, only one! \[Laughs]

Dirk: Well, normally every band says our last album was the best etc etc but our last studio album was something like 3 years ago.

Henjo: Three already? Wow! \[Laughs]

Dirk: The No World Order album was a great album of course but when it really comes to the past, I always liked a lot of songs off the Insanity & Genius album. It was a great time back then and also a very creative process and production; we were like doing many things, probably overdoing but we were so much alive!

Alex: I don’t know if you knew Ingo Schwichtenberg (ex-Helloween drummer - R.I.P) personally but Gamma Ray have written songs about him, in memory. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to do a concert in his memory with friends of his (musicians)?

Dirk: I did know him, indeed. I never thought about this, I think it’s a very nice idea.

Alex: You know, you could play Helloween and Gamma Ray songs in his memory…together with other former or current Helloween members.

Dirk: No really, it’s a good idea, a nice idea but it’s really difficult to bring all these guys together with the time schedules everybody has. It’s not too easy to do a thing like this. We’d have to organize it first. The idea though is nice and we honestly should keep it in mind!

Alex: Concluding, would you like to send a message out to all our readers and to all your fans worldwide?

Dirk: Oh, always these messages \[Laughs]! Henjo.

Henjo: Oh sorry, I was somewhere else \[Orpheus: he was drawing the Metal Temple autograph]! What was the question again? \[Laughs]

Orpheus: Would you like to send a message out to all your fans?

Henjo: Ah! So, after yesterday we all thought we have to come back again really early \[to Greece] because it’s always great to play here, the people always seem to love us.

Orpheus: And how about the rest of the world? \[Laughs]

Dirk: Make love, not war!

Henjo: Yeah!



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