HELLOWEEN: 'Rabbit Don't Come Easy' Details Unveiled

HELLOWEEN have finalized the track listing for their new album, "Rabbit Don't Come Easy", due on May 5 through Nuclear Blast Records. The album will be released in a jewel case and there will be a limited edition in a very special digipack available, including the bonus track "Far Away". The first single off the album, "Just A Little Sign", will be released on April 7.

The track listing and songwriting credits for the album are as follows:

01. Just A Little Sign (Andi Deris)
02. Open Your Life (Sascha Gerstner)
03. The Tune (Michael Weikath)
04. Never Be A Star (Andi Deris)
05. Liar (Markus Grosskopf)
06. Sun For The World (Sascha Gerstner)
07. Don't Stop Being Crazy (Andi Deris)
08. Do You Feel Good (Michael Weikath)
09. Hell Was Made In Heaven (Markus Grosskopf)
10. Back Against The Wall (Andi Deris)
11. Listen To The Fly (Sascha Gerstner)
12. Nothing To Say (Michael Weikath)

B-sides/Possible Bonus Tracks:

01. Sheer Heart Attack (QUEEN cover)
02. Fast As a Shark (ACCEPT cover)
03. Far Away (Markus Grosskopf)

According to the band's official web site, former drummer Mark Cross played on two of the tracks, his replacement Stefan Schwarzmann (ex-ACCEPT/RUNNING WILD) played on the B-sides, and MOTÖRHEAD's Mikkey Dee played on all of the rest. The track "Do You Feel Good" is a track originally written for the "Dark Ride" (2000) sessions, but was never used.

In a lengthy interview posted on HELLOWEEN's official web site, guitarist Michael Weikath discusses the album title, the drummer change, and the musical direction of the new CD, among other topics.

Here are some of the highlights of that conversation:

On the album title "Rabbit Don't Come Easy":

"It's actually 'Rabbit', it's not plural it's just single. Because it strikes me as odd, because one cannot go out and say 'Rabbit don't come easy', because everyone will say, 'Rabbits? What rabbits?' We also said, 'Pink Bubbles', and people asked, 'Why not 'Pink Bubble'?' Anyway, it's like this, if you want to do a trick, say, as a magician or as an artist or anything, it requires a little bit of knowledge and this and that, and anyway you are trying to pull a trick, which is also called pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Now, maybe when you are trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat, maybe the rabbit doesn't want to come out, or so many weird things are happening that you cannot get the rabbit out of the hat or cylinder so the 'Rabbit Don't Come Easy'. You can compare it to the production we had for the album. We had heavy rains in Hamburg that flooded the rehearsal space and we had to go to another room. Mark went ill and Mikkey had to play the drums, and this and that so when we were trying to pull the rabbit out of a hat the rabbit didn't come easy... Now what did I say? hahahaha I didn't say a thing! Yeah well..."

On Mark Cross' departure from the group:

"Well, he caught the Epstein Barr virus otherwise known as mononucleosis. This thing actually made him so weak that his body couldn't function properly. It seemed all of his power in his body was withdrawn. He took some weeks off to try and cure himself and regain some power and all of that, and eventually after three weeks we would try some new recordings and all of that because he said he kind of felt OK. This didn't work out too well, so [producer] Charlie [Bauerfeind] decided to bring in Mikkey Dee of MOTÖRHEAD to record the drums, and he did so very well. We started out doing five tracks only so we could continue working, and the idea was that Mark could go home and cure himself as much as possible until eventually he feels good or we have nothing else to record. So Mark came back just being himself the way we were used to and we went to the studio and recorded and it went well for only a day. Afterwards his power was all gone, and his drum recordings were shakey, and we couldn't use them so we needed to figure out what to do. We had to have Mikkey come again and all this... As it looks, even if Mark fully recovers and everything, Mark really can play, he is a really good drummer and everything and he could go anywhere now and maybe play a festival... However, the insurance side of things nobody would cover us. As bad as it looks to everyone, and as sad as we are about those circumstances, we had to look for another drummer, so that's what happened. I just rethought everything and remembered that once in the early days we shared a rehearsal room with RUNNING WILD and I remember that when their original drummer left the band Stefan Schwarzmann came in. I got to know him and I remember that in the short time I knew him we had a good time together, we were all laughing and having fun blah blah blah. It struck me as odd because I was not even thinking of that guy, but we had to call him because we needed to record some B-sides and a bonus track really fast, because Mikkey wasn't available as he was out with MOTÖRHEAD playing shows, so Stefan came in and played the B-sides really well, then we got him in here for a video, and during that time it was decided that he would be the future drummer. We are happy Stefan is here and we're also sad things went pretty bad for Mark."

On the new album's musical direction:

"Well, we have always been modern whatever one wants to call modern, also the usual HELLOWEEN style I also call modern. In modern countries like Japan, which is more modern than any other country in the world, they like our music very much and always will... I hope... so what's modern in that sense?! We are just trying to get the typical HELLOWEEN style, which is not boring, because anyone who knows HELLOWEEN knows we own many cassettes and we can select various styles to use in HELLOWEEN. Its only that this 'Dark Ride' direction I never liked right from the start, and I have said so, and I have made it plainly clear, and obviously there was this movement that I could not bring my point across properly and you know we had that change later on when we asked [guitarist] Roland [Grapow] and [drummer] Uli [Kusch] to leave the band so we can go on with a new HELLOWEEN lineup and get back to where HELLOWEEN is supposed to be. So during that process, we recruited Sascha Gerstner, formerly of FREEDOM CALL, and it's like this, because you can't really hear him on those FREEDOM CALL records because he is only required to play on those records and not have anything to do with the writing process. So when I sat together with him here in Tenerife we found out we have quite a similar style. He is in his mid 20s, and when you have a guy like that that does not play crossover but actually knows how to play proper guitar and with a feel that is quite similar to what I have, it's such a gain and we are both pretty surprised and also happy about that. So we came up with song ideas and recorded it then we went back to Hamburg with our recorded ideas to rehearse and we had a lot of collected material. We also had a lot of fun and even though it was hard it was very enjoyable, and that's the way it goes. What you finally have now is a typical what do you wanna ask for HELLOWEEN album. Some people from the press came into Tenerife for some interviews and when they heard the album they said it was the best HELLOWEEN album with Andi Deris singing on it. Well, that tells me a lot and I like that. This will all show everyone we have done a good job."

On new guitarist Sascha Gerstner's contributions to the songwriting process:

"Yes, he wrote three songs that are on the album. They were developed by him and the band until the songs got to the point where they are now. He also helped out Markus a lot on a song called 'Liar', which is one of two songs Markus has on the album. So right now we have 12 songs on the album, three by Sascha, three by me, four by Andi, and two by Markus... They are all great, different, and the variation is there. It's a heavy, speedy album. 'Just a Little Sign' is a very fast song by Andi, 'Open Your Life' is another fast song by Sascha, 'The Tune' is a mid-paced to fast song by me, 'Never Be A Star' is a typical commercial number by Andi Deris, 'Liar' is a very fast track by Markus, 'Send For The Word' is a mid-tempo to fast-paced by Sascha, 'Don't Stop Being Crazy' is a nice ballad by Andi, 'Do You Feel Good' is kind of an uptempo track that I've done, 'Hell Was Made in Heaven' was done by Markus which was done in a classic heavy metal paced style, 'Back Against The Wall' is a very obscure, spooky number by Andi Deris with a few elements in a modern style with some loops and weird sounds but has a very HELLOWEEN-ish chorus, 'Listen To The Fly' is another fast track of Sascha and my favorite track of the three he wrote for the album, 'Nothing To Say' is another track of time that goes to recreate my version of an old LED ZEPPELIN or YARDBIRDS tracks from the time when Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were doing tours in America which I imagine could have sounded like this track and as you can imagine it was recorded with a modern setup and low tuned guitars and things like that and its as modern as you can go with a track like that. The Japanese bonus track has not yet been determined, but I don't know which one it's going to be. We recorded 'Fast As a Shark' by ACCEPT, 'Sheer Heart Attack' by QUEEN, and another track of Markus called 'Far Away'."

Read the whole interview with Michael Weikath here.

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