TreasureChest.de recently conducted an exclusive interview with GAMMA RAY/ex-HELLOWEEN frontman Kai Hansen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
TreasureChest.de: What did you think when you learned the new album would be titled "Keeper Of The Seven Keys – The Legacy"? Do you believe it was the right decision to do another "Keeper" album without you and [Michael] Kiske?
Kai Hansen: "(laughs) Good question. My initial thought was, 'Oh, nooo!' I would not want to take up something as big as this. Not with a different lineup. It's a great task. At first I thought HELLOWEEN shouldn't do a 'Keeper' without Michi [Michael Kiske]. Is a 'Keeper' possible without me? I don't know, you can that decide for yourself. With all the songs I wrote for the 'Keeper's — take 'I Want Out', for example, I had Michi's voice in mind and that influenced me a lot. It wasn't just the songs that defined the album, it was the whole chemistry we had at that time. Of course you can record an album with that title but if it will develop the same magic, that's another question. So, these were my thoughts when I first heard the rumors. The title causes a lot of anticipation, the press is enthusiastic, there automatically is a lot of interest in the album. A clever marketing maneuver for sure. But however, there is a danger that the album doesn't measure up with the expectations."
TreasureChest.de: Speaking of "I Want Out", there have always been rumors the lyrics were a sign you wanted to leave HELLOWEEN.
Kai Hansen: "Yes, that's true. It was how I felt. Things were going downhill because HELLOWEEN was split into two groups at that time. One consisted of Weikath and Kiske and the other of the old gang — Markus, Ingo and me. There were differences about our musical direction. We leaned more towards what we had done before. We were open for experiments as long as it was metal. And they kept saying, 'Do you want to stick to this metal thing forever? We should look into what the BEATLES did more…'"
TreasureChest.de: How did it feel when you finally said you were leaving HELLOWEEN?
Kai Hansen: "Complicated. It took me more than one year to make a final decision after I first thought, 'You have to get out of this band, something has to change.' It took me a long time because HELLOWEEN meant the world to me, more than anything else. On the other hand I'm not the kind of guy who clings to things. When I'm under the impression that something is going downhill, I am absolutely capable of quitting it. And I didn't think too much about the future. I was confident that I had made a name for myself among the record labels and that I still could write good songs, was a talented musician and even had a few fans. The only problem is when you make a big decision as to leave an already successful band in order to move on to start your own project, and I considered GAMMA RAY as one, a real band has to grow first. But I was sure things would work out well. And I was sure it could never become as big as HELLOWEEN. During the production of 'Heading…', there were some people in the marketing department who dreamed about going gold with the record. It was me who stopped their soaring dreams. I know of only one musician who managed to accomplish something like this and that was Ritchie Blackmore when he left RAINBOW. For me, it was a relief to get out of that carousel… but I had to get my bearings anew. I tried not to think about it too much and just did it…"
Read the entire interview at this location.