Unisonic Ė Old Kids of the Century
By: David E. Gehlke
Kiske (far left) and Hansen (second to right) in vintage Helloween...
Blistering.com: When you were putting together the album, what were the writing sessions like? Were they as productive as they seem?
Kiske: Very easy. A lot of things that stuck in my mind were that it didnít feel like work. You want things to be perfect, but have fun. The songs came very easily. Dennis [Ward, bass] did a great verse and bridge, and you can be sure Kai has a chorus. Those two worked together very well. And it didnít take very long. Kai wasnít afraid of pushing a song completely around Ė if something was not the way it could be, he just goes for it. No one in the band was afraid of that. Thatís why Iím enjoying it so much. Even I have my influences here and there, and while I donít have as many credits, my influence is there. I loved working as a band, and thatís the way it should be.
Blistering.com: In my notes, one of the things that stuck out was the title track had some resemblances to one of your Helloween songs, ďKids of the Century.Ē
Kiske: I never thought of that! ďUnisonicĒ reminds me of ďJailhouse RockĒ or ďBlue Suede ShoesĒ in the verse. The chorus has a Judas Priest-like feel to it; they always had songs with a very simple chorus, but yeah, youíre the first one mentioning that, which is funny [laughs]. It was a guitar lick from Mandy [Meyer, guitars], and Kai had the chorus [Kiske sings ďUni-sonic!Ē] in his head for years. He was doing the vocal lines to the verse over Mandyís part and he said letís do the chorusÖand thatís how it came together. It wasnít even written by me.
Blistering.com: It sounds like something you would have come up with back in the Helloween days.
Kiske: [laughs] I would never do a song with a chorus like that! ďKids of the CenturyĒ is more like [Kiske hums the chorus line] and melodic. Thatís how I write melodies, whereas ďUnisonicĒ is more like [sings again] ďUni-sonic!Ē I would have never come up with something like that.
Blistering.com: Or maybe I enjoy ďKids of the CenturyĒ more than Iíd like to admit.
Kiske: Itís funny, because I see the song in a different way. Thatís the beauty of music.
Blistering.com: In terms of your growth as a vocalist, can you compare the Michael Kiske of today to the one in the late 80ís?
Kiske: Iím very different now. I have gone through so many phases of my life and I have grown up. Itís beautiful being a teenager, being blue-eyed and believing that the whole world is nothing but chocolate, which is how it was when we started. But I grew up. I have learned a lot and I think Iím a much better singer these days because I have been through so much more. Iím not really an issue of technique. A lot of singers have great technical skills and can sing high, but they donít move you. They donít sing with their heart or they donít touch your heart, and I think the more you change as a person, the better youíre going to sing. Itís difficult to explainÖitís more of a spiritual thing why certain singers can tell a story and others canít. It has to do with growing up and having some kind of professional skills. Thatís the only way youíll get better.
Blistering.com: That being said, if you had to do those Helloween albums now, would you approach them differently?
Kiske: I canít see myself singing on those records anymore. I like the records and I like the songs, but I just want to run away when I hear it. I sound so thinÖI was just a kid then. I can hear it. Itís one of those things Ė you canít blame a baby for being a baby. We did what we could do in those days and the best we could. I could sing all of those a lot better than in those days, but itís good. It shows that you learned something more and that you grew.
Blistering.com: You did some solo albums in the mid-90ís. Do you think those didnít a get a fair shake from metal or even rock fans in general?
Kiske: Thatís part of the reason why I got even more pissed. I was very disappointed with how heavy metal ended, with the last two [Helloween] records (1991's Pink Bubbles Go Ape and 1993's Chameleon). Even now, looking back, I understand a bit better. I was confused back then and I took things very personal. When Iím singing a song, itís not me doing a job, itís personal. So any criticism criticizes me as a person and Iíll take it personal, up to this day. Iím a bit more relaxed and grown-up, so I donít pay attention to all of the crap, but I take it personal when someone criticizes something of mine.
With the way it all ended with me [in Helloween], I was very frustrated anyway. There were certain journalists who kill everything that doesnít sound like what theyíre used [to]. I learned a lot about what is right and wrong about culture. I was shaping in terms of understanding, right or wrong artistically a lot better, and being able to define it a lot better in interviews. It was difficult. Everything was beautiful in the beginning; like a big party, actually. Huge satisfaction, then everything got negative. And believe it or not, Iím not some dinosaur Ė I started making music out of the pure passion for making music. Itís not about girls Ė I like girls Ė but itís not why I made music. Or cars, or anything else. I wanted to do this. When everything turns negative, it eats you up inside. It takes away the joy of music, and I had years where I wouldnít even sing a song. It shows the state I was in and itís why it took so long for me to do something like this.
Blistering.com: So youíre saying youíve come to terms with how things went down after Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon failed?
Kiske: There are certain things that I have not worked out yet, on a personal level. I havenít spoken to (Helloween gutiarist) Michael Weikath at all. One day, weíll run into each and see what happens, but that wasnít a good thing. I understand fans better. I understand why they get frustrated. Critics should never work against creativity. Anyone creating opinions or promoting or not promoting records for the bandsÖpeople that work in that realm should have an understanding of music culture. If a band makes a weak record, thatís a different story, but if a band makes a record that sounds different than the previous one, thatís nothing negative. I donít accept that, but I do understand why fans arenít able to follow everything, so Iím not pissed about them anymore.