HELLOWEEN's Michael Kiske has opened up about using taped vocals during the opening show of the band's fall 2017 "Pumpkins United" world tour. The trek was HELLOWEEN's first featuring the reunited expanded classic lineup of the German power metal outfit, consisting of seven musicians, including Kiske and returning guitarist Kai Hansen alongside singer Andi Deris and guitarist Sascha Gerstner.
Although HELLOWEEN's October 19, 2017 concert at Escena in Monterrey, Mexico received mostly positive reviews, fans in attendance and others watching clips on YouTube accused Kiske of faking his way through some of the more difficult singing parts of the gig.
Now, in a brand new interview with Spain's Metal Journal, Kiske addressed the "playback" accusations leveled at HELLOWEEN, explaining that the move was necessitated by his ill health.
"I never did anything like that, and I will never do that again," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "It was just a situation where the management and the band wanted me to do it. It was such a difficult phase. I was so desperate, you can't imagine. You do this reunion after 23 years, or how long it was, and you sell out big arenas and big venues, and everything's perfect. And you have a fucking vocal cord infection and you can't sing. It was a very heavy test.
"I learned later why that happened," he continued. "It sounds maybe a little strange, but I was kind of reaching out for my spiritual guidance, and it was that I always try to be too perfect — I always wanna be perfect in what I'm doing — and I needed to learn that's not possible. Failing is part of humanity, and that's why they did that to me. It was a very tough lesson, but I was in a situation that I didn't feel like I could do it, so I wanted to cancel, and next time I will. If I'm ever in a situation like that again… I said that to the manager. I understand we didn't wanna start this tour with cancelations and all that; I understand it was a choice that we had to make somehow; but if I ever catch a virus like that again, and if after maybe two weeks on tour I'm not getting better, I'm flying home. I'll just get rid of it. Because you damage your health.
"It was really bad. I should not have done this… I was limping," Kiske explained. "I started to limp. Four weeks into the tour, I could only go on stage with two huge glasses of red wine and painkillers. I was swallowing a strong Ibuprofen, because I was limping. My immune system was getting into my left leg. And after the tour, like a year later, in 2019, I had a big… I don't know what you call it. Around your vocal area, you have these thyroid — I don't know what they call it — this organ there, and I had a big ball in there, which had to be operated out. It was very risky, because they have to cut the area where the nerve of your vocal cords go, and the doctor said, 'If I cut wrong, you won't be singing anymore.' So that was a 'pleasant' experience."
According to Kiske, everything went well with the surgery. "It wasn't cancer or anything like that," he said. "But I think it was another result of me not taking a break, of me going through that tour even though I had a freaking virus. We had two or three days off before, I think, Spain; there [were] two spots we could fly home for three or four days. And as soon as I got home, I got really sick. I had high fever — the whole night through. I was sweating — completely soaking wet — and that went through the whole time. And then when I had to get into the taxi to the airport, I got better. It's, like, you can tell how your mind controls your body. As soon as I understood, 'Okay, now you have four days,' my body said, 'Okay. Now the virus can come through.' So I was completely sick. And then I got to Spain, and we did that show and stuff like that, but it was a torture for my body. And I'm not gonna do that again. It was a situation that they said, 'You know what? We still have a recording of the previous show, and we do have recordings of the rehearsals we did. So you sing, and whenever we feel like you fuck up, the front guy sneaks in those other live recordings.' I never did that before, and, of course, I'm failing, because I'm not used to doing these kind of things. When you do a playback, you've gotta be doing the same thing as on the recording, and I was, like, holding the microphone to the audience and my voice was coming through the P.A. and stuff like that. Honestly, but I don't care. I didn't have a choice. The other choice was to cancel the show, and the band didn't wanna cancel the show. So I had no choice; I had to do it. But it's not gonna happen again. Next time I'll fly home when I'm sick like that."
HELLOWEEN will release its much-anticipated album on June 18 via Nuclear Blast Records. The official music video for the disc's first single, "Skyfall", came out last month.
The cover artwork for "Helloween" was painted by artist Eliran Kantor, who has previously worked with HATEBREED, SOULFLY, TESTAMENT, ICED EARTH and SODOM, among others.
The "Pumpkins United" lineup features Kiske and Hansen alongside Deris, guitarists Michael Weikath and Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Daniel Löble.
Produced by Charlie Bauerfeind and Dennis Ward, the new HELLOWEEN LP was recorded in part at the H.O.M.E. Studios in Hamburg (where everything started in 1984). The same recording console used for such HELLOWEEN albums as "Master Of The Rings", "Time Of The Oath" and "Better Than Raw" was utilized to record the band's new material. The effort was mixed at the Valhalla Studios of Ronald Prent (IRON MAIDEN, DEF LEPPARD, RAMMSTEIN).
The "Pumpkins United" tour marked the first time Kiske had played live with HELLOWEEN since 1993. Hansen, who departed HELLOWEEN in 1988, had been joining the band onstage on various tours and festival appearances throughout the years. The set featured 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 — sang a medley of several early HELLOWEEN classics, including "Ride The Sky", "Judas", "Starlight" and "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)".
HELLOWEEN's European "United Alive World Tour Part II", which was originally scheduled to take place in September and October will now take place next year.
The "Pumpkins United" lineup of HELLOWEEN previously released one new song — aptly titled "Pumpkins United" — in October 2017.