Interview Blind Guardian: Marcus Siepen

blind guardianAfsluiter op de laatste dag van het Power Prog & Metal Fest was niemand minder dan Blind Guardian. Groter dan deze Duitse power metal band vind je haast niet in het genre, ze gaven dan ook een waardig optreden. Festivalblog had de kans om gitarist Marcus Siepen te interviewen.

Hi, how are you today? Are you glad to play here at PPM fest?

Yes, and I’m very fine. Just came from home and unfortunately I missed all the bands that I wanted to see because of dinner, signing sessions and interviews. I’m really looking forward to our show. This is the second show for us this season and it’s going to be fun.

This year is Blind Guardian’s 25th anniversary, can we expect something special for that, maybe already this evening?

Let me think about the setlist… Yes, there is something unexpected in the set. A song I’m looking forward to very, very much because it’s one of my favorite songs, we didn’t play it in a very long time.

You recently released a best off album called ‘Memories of a Time to Come’. Is it because of your 25th anniversary that you’ve decided to release a best off album?

Yes, we were approached by our old record company EMI. They suggested since it’s our 25th anniversary that it would be a nice opportunity, and it really was, to release a best off album. After 25 years I think it’s ok to release a best off. That’s how the idea was born. We don’t really like regular best off albums where you just take a couple of songs and put them together and release them like that. We did some re-recording and remixing, so it’s still something new and special for the band. We don’t like to put together songs that everybody already knows and just say to buy them again. We wanted to do something special, cover the whole timespan of our career. We wanted to have at least one song of each album to be on that compilation. Bu we also didn’t want to over-represent the aspects of our music. We wanted to do Sacred Worlds and skip Wheel of Time. We think the song is very strong and would deserve to be on a best off album but it would have been the first very long, very epic and orchestral song on the album and we thought that would be a bit too much, so we skipped it. There was some old stuff that we rediscovered because we had forgotten about them ourselves, stuff like Somewhere Far Beyond, Last Candle, Follow the Blind. So it was a hard choice. I mean, you can’t put all the songs on there, you have to make a choice at some point.

What can you comment on the link between Blind Guardian and the Wheel Of Time novels by Robert Jordan?

We like them, that’s actually the link, haha. I read I think something until book 4 or book 5, I’m not sure. I have to continue them, I’ve put some on my Kindle. They will be next once I finish the Game of Thrones books, I’m at book 5 there at the moment. Since book 6 is not released yet, it’ll be a break, haha.

Why specifically did you pick those novels as a source of inspiration?

It’s not that specifically. With Game Of Thrones, I think some fans recommended it to Hansi [the singer of the band]. Then Hansi read it, loved it and actually through Hansi I discovered it. I heard about the books but didn’t read them and when Hansi came up with the lyrics I was like “I will read it”. And I must say, those are the best books I’ve read in ages. So yeah, a fan recommendation. We are big time into fantasy stuff but of course you don’t know everything. There are always some fans coming to us “have you heard about this book?” and sometimes we give it a try and like this we discover very nice stories sometimes.

The Power Prog & Metal Fest seems to be a perfect festival for you guys to fit in. How do you think about that?

I Agree. Like I said before, there are a lot of bands that I would have liked to see, unfortunately I’ve missed them all. But that’s the thing about festivals. Whenever we get booked to play a festival, I check out who else plays and then I see I can see those and those and those… But half of them are playing when we have to do interviews or signing sessions or whatever, so unfortunately again I missed most the bands that I wanted to see. But the good thing is, we play so many festivals this year so there is still a chance to get to see them.

What’s your favorite metal album and did it have an impact on your musical career?

One??? (laughs) Then that would be for sure Black Sabbath with ‘Heaven Or Hell’, ‘Mob Rules’ and stuff like that. Also ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, that’s amazing stuff. Tony Iommi is one of the main influences on me. I’m just a rhythm guy, I loved rhythm playing and he is like the riff god, heavy riffs, he is the man!

One of my all time favorite albums is ‘Awaken the Guardian’ by Fates Warning. They definitely have had an impact on us. The guardian in the name… Haha! Also early Iron Maiden with ‘Number Of The Beast’, great stuff. And for sure Metallica with ‘Ride The Lightning’, ‘Master Of Puppets’… There are so many great bands, if we have two or three more hours we could continue. It’s not possible to limit those albums to just one album or one band because there is so much good stuff out there.

You’re working on a new, orchestral album. Could you briefly explain a bit more about this?

Yes, we started working on it in 1995 if I remember correct, so that’s the never-ending story from us, haha. It’s very interesting, because it’s typical Blind Guardian music but you won’t hear the band play. So no heavy guitars, no drums, nothing, just orchestra playing the typical Blind Guardian melody lines, arrangements, everything, and Hansi singing on this.

This idea was born in the middle of the ’90. It took us 8 years because it’s unusual songwriting for us obviously and the big thing was that back then we didn’t have a chance to record with a real orchestra. But finally when we recorded ‘At the Edge of Time’, we did record it with a real orchestra. That was a big step for us and speeded up things big time. We already recording 6 songs I think but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We need to record more songs but it’s going to be the next album or the album after it. We don’t know if we’ll be able to finish first the next regular Blind Guardian album, for which we also already started writing, or this orchestral thing. But we’re progressing, big time.

About the new stuff, can we expect something of it this evening?

No, we won’t play new songs tonight. If we are starting with writing new songs for a new album, this means that the songs are not finished and even if they would be, we don’t like playing new songs live before we recorded and released them. Because if we play a version now today, I’m pretty sure that it would change until the day of recording. Then we would have different things online and that would be confusion. So we only play songs live once they are done and released.

Thank you for this interview!

No problem!