Helloween 18/11/2010

In 2007, HELLOWEEN released their twelfth studio album which was entitled ‘Gambling With The Devil’. It received many positive reviews, with most fans praising the album as one of the best Deris era albums. After this release, the band teamed up with Kai Hansen's current band Gamma Ray for their 2007 / 2008 "Hellish Rock" world tour. The tour took them through Europe, Asia, South America as well as a few dates in the US. The tour is notable for Kai Hansen stepping on stage with his former band fellows Weikath and Grosskopf to perform the hits "I Want Out" and "Future World" as a final encore.


In celebration of the band’s 25th anniversary, Helloween released ‘Unarmed’ in February 2010. The album is a compilation of 10 of the band's best known songs, re-recorded by the current line up in musical styles that differ from the original recordings. The release was not appreciated by all the fans, some of whom became quite anxious about Helloween’s upcoming  album. Helloween released their brand new album, ‘7 Sinners’, on October 31 in Europe and before its physical release, the band made it available worldwide for streaming via their Myspace page. The name of the album refers to the seven deadly sins and, according to Andi Deris, the record goes straight to the point: "after an acoustic album, we needed definitely something that shows the people without any question that this is a metal album".


"7 Sinners" is definitely one of the fastest and hardest albums in the history of HELLOWEEN, it is bursting with vitality. In part, this is due to the versatility of the various songwriters within the band, who over time have become so homogenous, that the 13 songs have formed a unity of their own in the studio.


It has become a cliche for metal bands to claim that their latest opus is their "fastest" or "heaviest" album ever made, but in HELLOWEEN's case, ‘7 Sinners’ is truly a return to form and it is indeed their fastest and heaviest release in years. HELLOWEEN bass player Markus Grosskopf stated: "For all those out there who found our special best-of 'Unarmed' to be too smooth and calm, I have great news: The new album will hit you right in the face! It's gonna be very heavy and contain all the classic HELLOWEEN trademarks! Some songs are very powerful and hymnic, others contain the fastest bass-drum patterns our drummer Dani ever played, and this means a lot!"


So in order to find out everything there is to know about Helloween’s latest effort ‘7 Sinners’, we made a telephone call to Germany, to get in touch with long-time member, Markus Grosskopf (Bass). Here can you read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-experience.com


In between ‘Gambling with the Devil’ (2007) and your new album ‘7 Sinners’ you released your 25th anniversary album ‘Unarmed’ (February 2010), a compilation album of 10 of the band's best known songs, re-recorded in different musical styles.


So let’s start from there. The album wasn’t exactly well-received by all of your fans, (but I do like it), what was the reason to record these songs in this manner?


Markus: We wanted to do something very different. We love to keep putting variety into what we do. That’s how we keep things interesting for ourselves. It is fun for us and we need to satisfy ourselves and keep us happy with what we do. We love it if fans like what we have done, but we know there can be people who don’t like it! We can’t help that because we cannot please everybody. It was really a lot of fun for us and that’s what keeps the spirit in the band going! It’s also very interesting to have people working with us who don’t come from the heavy metal scene. They can give us new ideas and new inspiration.


Did you work differently on ‘Unarmed’ than you did on the previous Helloween albums?


Markus: Well the process was almost the same as with the other albums, we do a lot of songs and music at home and then vote together with the ideas to see if we can all work with them. We went to Andi’s recording studio in Tenerife and recorded 6 or 7 tracks with bass and guitar and then vocals. We could leave our gear there and come came back for the drums whenever we wanted to. It’s easy to work like this, you don’t need to check the studio time that’s  left and it is way better than when you have to rent a studio somewhere!


Now let’s talk about the new album. What was the songwriting process like for ‘7 Sinners’? Did people come in with just a riff, or complete songs? How much time did you spend on the songs?


Markus: Yes we do, we start writing individually and then we come together and collect all the parts and ideas and riffs and so on. We will sit and think about how we can put all of these things together as a song. The directions were already there. It was very easy this time. Every ingredient was already there. We didn’t need to find any gaps to fill up. Probably we had enough fresh music in our heads after doing the ‘Unarmed’ album.


Which approach did you choose to create this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something all together different? Because it sounds a bit more powerfull and heavier than your previous albums.


Markus: As I said we were listening to ‘Are You Metal’ and ‘7 Sinners’ and stuff. We wanted to sound like this and it just came naturally.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘7 Sinners’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?


Markus: We didn’t really talk about goals or how it had to sound. It seemed that everybody had the same view and we could very easily put the songs together. Our ideas all came together because we all went into the same direction. We didn’t even have to discuss what to do next. It all just came out in the flow! Things being so natural and such an easy process is what I love about this album.



One of the most typical songs on the new album I think is “Who is Mr. Madman?”, a successor of 1994’s “Perfect Gentleman”. Can you tell me a little more about this song, who came up whit this idea and why did you choose to create this successor? 


Markus: This was the fun part of the cd. It’s good to go back to the relations and roots of the old songs. These are all little guys who belong to the Helloween family. We like this.


I hear a lot of keyboards in a couple of songs and even a flute solo during “Raise The Noise” (which reminds me of Jetro Thull), who was responsible for these influences and who played these instruments?


Markus: We had a keyboard player who helped us out on this record. He did a great job and performed the things we wanted. We like to mix things up and have a lot of variety. We love to use different sounds and music types like classic metal music.


Is this an influence you wish to develop more in the future, or can we expect Helloween maintaining the typical “Helloween” kind of melodic power metal sound?


Markus: We just keep doing what we think sounds right and what makes us happy.


Could you describe the implications of the title ‘7 Sinners’?


Markus: It doesn’t have a concept but number 7 has always been our lucky number. And the seven sinners is also related to Helloween somehow. We had to put the seven into the title.


About the lyrics, where do you get your inspiration from and can you tell me something more about them?


Markus: If I write lyrics, I just don’t know where it comes from. I sit there and think of a melody or a line, and if I have something in my head I just have to make a whole song from it. It pops up. I think it’s the most complicated part of the writing process because it has to be catchy and it has to fit to the music. It has to have atmosphere. So sometimes I can’t think of anything and sometimes I just start writing down what’s in my head.


How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?


Markus: It has always been very important for Helloween because we write about freedom and it has been almost a tradition for us. We do want to sent a message to the listeners. They may like the music because of the themes we stand for. There is also a kind of emotional feeling that people might get when listening to the songs/ lyrics. We like to see everybody free, everybody should be able to say what they want to say and be who they want to be!


With several albums under your belt, how far has Helloween surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?


Markus: Well I like the way I live now. Being part of Helloween is great, if I said anything else, lightening would strike me right away. It is a lot of work, we are also a company, so we have to make decisions at times, and work with time schedules. That is all hard work, but it’s also the life we love.



Which song is your favorite one to play live? And which song do you find the most challenging one to play live?


Markus: One of my favourite songs live is “Eagle fly free”. It is always challenging to play all the songs live, as good as they are on the cd. We do make mistakes like everybody, but it gives you a great feeling if the songs sound awesome when we play them live.


What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?


Markus: The lowest point was after our original drummer, Ingo Schwichtenberg committed suicide back in 1995.That was the hardest. We were young and a thing like this happened, we didn’t know how to react. Before all of this happened we tried to get him the help he needed, but that wasn’t enough. We will never forget this.


What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? What do you think of the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?


Markus: The scene is getting better, I think. It’s more accepted than a few years ago. Only time can tell what is going to happen with the music.


Finally: what does the future hold for Helloween, any touring plans? Where do you see your musical direction going for the next album?


Markus: You never know what will happen. We just did this one, so we don’t talk about the next album yet. I can only tell you it will be different. We also start touring soon, all over the world. And we will do some summer festivals in Europe this summer. We will see what happens after that.


Is there anything that has been left unmentioned?


Markus: As we come over to your place to play, if it’s possible I would like to drink a beer with a lot of people who come to our shows. But that will be a hard thing to do. I will give it a try.


Ok, thanks for your time!

Talitha Martijn





Andi Deris – Vocals 

Michael Weikath – Guitar 

Sascha Gerstner – Guitar 

Markus Grosskopf – Bass 

Daniel Löble – Drums


Former Members:

Kai Hansen – Vocals / Guitar 

Ingo Schwichtenberg – Drums 

Michael "Michi" Kiske – Vocals 

Roland Grapow - Guitar  

Ulrich "Uli" Kusch - Drums  

Mark Cross - Drums  

Stefan Schwarzmann - Drums




Studio Albums

1985 - Walls of Jericho 

1987 - Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1 

1988  - Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 2 

1991 - Pink Bubbles Go Ape

1993 - Chameleon 

1994 - Master of the Rings 

1996 - The Time of the Oath 

1998 - Better Than Raw 

2000 - The Dark Ride

2003 - Rabbit Don't Come Easy

2005 - Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy 

2007 - Gambling with the Devil 

2010 - 7 Sinners