Germany's Music Interview Corner conducted an interview with guitarists Kai Hansen and Michael Weikath of German power metal legends HELLOWEEN prior to their appearance at the South Park festival in Tampere, Finland. They spoke about the band's current "Pumpkins United" tour, which also features former vocalist Michael Kiske, current vocalist Andi Deris, guitarist Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Dani Löble. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how Hansen feels being back in HELLOWEEN:
Kai: "Pretty normal, actually. But, it feels familiar all the time. It's nothing special, actually. It's great."
On the idea for the "Pumpkins United" tour:
Michael: "He [Hansen] had that idea 20 years ago or 25 years ago, or shortly after he left, he said 'We should do something together.'"
Kai: "It wasn't actually shortly after I left. But, at some point, there was this idea to say 'It would be kind of cool in the future at some point to do something together.' Actually, when we played festivals with HELLOWEEN and GAMMA RAY and we sat in the backstage and had a good time. Yeah, [we thought] it would be cool if we did something together. It was a long, long process until it finally happened, actually. Nobody was really pushing it up until a certain point when we started pushing things. Yeah, that's how it got on the way."
On whether Hansen stayed in close contact with his former HELLOWEEN bandmates after he left in late 1988:
Kai: "No, not close. Not even with GAMMA RAY, I didn't even have close contact all the time. I think it's normal in a band that when you play together for some years, or you stop, or not so much hang out together in private because everyone is going their own way. For a while, you do things together. In the beginning of GAMMA RAY, we used to go out in the evening together. At some point, you stop doing that. It's a normal process because you tour so much and you're hanging on each other all the time, so it's good to have a break from the others."
On recording last year's "Pumpkins United" single:
Kai: "It was fun. It was a bit like time traveling. In the end, it was left for Weiki, me and Andi to really develop it. The others somehow stayed out of it because they relied on us and Andi is a great songwriter and he delivered something really good. Then, we put our heads together and threw all of our ideas together. We sat in hotel rooms and had brainstorming sessions and in the end, it was me who combined all of these ideas and turned them into a song, a song that contains almost everything that each of us had contributed, at least the most important parts."
On whether HELLOWEEN will record new music beyond the "Pumpkins United" single:
Kai: "Good question."
Michael: "The thing is, we all want to procrastinate and put that point into the future as much as we can. We don't really feel like starting with it because it's going to be a lot of work and it's going to take a lot of time and right now, we are kind of comfy with what we are doing, so to say. So, we are not lying. It's very easy to say; we are just too lazy to get started with that."
Kai: "Actually, we have the idea to do something. There's a lot of ideas in the room for what we do next and so on. But, nothing is kind of decided. Nothing is ripe for the decision. We leave that open, kind of. Everybody can speculate and write songs and send them to us. [Laughs]"
The "Pumpkins United" tour marks the first time Kiske has played live with HELLOWEEN since 1993. Hansen, who departed HELLOWEEN in 1988, has been joining the band onstage on various tours and festival appearances throughout the years. The set features several duets with Kiske and his replacement, Deris, along with many rarely played songs, including "Kids Of The Century", "Rise And Fall" and "Livin' Ain't No Crime". Hansen — who fronted HELLOWEEN until late 1986 — sings a medley of several early HELLOWEEN classics, including "Ride The Sky", "Judas", "Starlight" and "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)".
The North American leg of the "Pumpkins United" tour will kick off on September 7 in Las Vegas and conclude on September 15 in New York.