Artist: Michael Kiske   

Date: 7 September 2010   

In this job you get to see hear and speak to some of the biggest names in the rock world and every now and again you get to speak to your idols and this is one of those moments when the new Kiske / Somerville release was announced and I was given the chance to talk to Michael, I just jumped at the chance.  This is the first part of a two part interview with one of the voices of the fantastic Kiske/Somerville release.

After a quick talk about the delights of Skype, we get down to the interview.

MM - Michael, it's an absolute pleasure to talk to you, youíve been one of my favourite vocalists for some time now, well since your Helloween days, but weíll not go that far back tonight.
Michael
- I donít mind, some people think I get angry when they mention those days but for me I really enjoyed it.  It was really cool, especially the first few years with Kai, it was really fun.  It was just afterwards that it wasnít that cool. 

MM - Well congratulations on the excellent Kiske/Somerville album.
Michael
- Yeh that turned out very nice, I was surprised myself how good it all turned out.   

MM - It genuinely has to be one of my favourite albums of the year and I know it's still September, but it will be hard to match it.
Michael
- Even though it was something that Serifino initiated, it's still a very passionate record.  Amanda wrote some very personal stuff, like a 'Thousand Suns' which I love, it deals with her failed marriage, and Matt has been working on the album for some eighteen months.  It's not just a job for him, he really put his heart and soul into it.   

MM - So how did you get involved in the whole thing Michael was it just Serifino giving you a phone call?
Michael
- Yes sort of.  It was an email in fact, it was just asking me generally if I would be interested in doing something like that, and I said if the music was right Iíd love to do it.  Iím into female voices anyway.  There are a couple of Americans that I like, some from the country side of things, Martina McBride I think has one of the best voices ever.  Iím not crazy about everything sheís recorded but her voice is perfect. 

I must say I wasnít really aware of Amanda.  I'd even worked with her without knowing it.  It was only when we met during the video shoot for the two songs that that was the first time Iíd met her in person.  She was doing a video diary and she came up to me and mentioned that weíd worked together a couple of times before, but that this was the first time weíve actually met.  I was thinking OK! ... It wasnít until after that that I actually realised it was her on the Aina project.  I was doing a song called 'Silver Maiden' and it sounded like the soundtrack to the 'Last Unicorn', and Sasha who produced it sent me a demo of that song.  Well, it wasnít a demo really, it was a quite well produced sample and there was this female voice on it, and I like the voice so much I said to Sasha that I didnít want to do it, I didnít want to sing it because I felt I couldn't sing it any better than that lady as she was just perfect for it.  I said to him ... "Why donít you get her to sing it?" and he said ..."I want you.  The record company want you to do it" ... so I sang it, but I thought her version was much better. 

I was quite happy when they made a special edition of the CD the included her version on it as a bonus track. But that was my first contact with her, and when she mentioned this on her video diary, I was looking on the CD and found her name of it.  So I really liked her voice before we met and when we did meet I really liked her personality as well, she's really nice.  It's not always a guarantee that that it's going to happen but we seemed to like each other, which is always nice.

So back to your question! (laughs).  Serifino sent me an email asking if I would generally be interested and when I said yes he contacted Mat.  I donít even think Amanda was the first person on the list, but the other person's band didnít want them doing something outside the band.  Iím glad though because they couldnít have made a better choice. 

MM - The two of you have very different vocals styles that shouldnít work on paper but when theyíre put together magic happens.
Michael
- It works as long as Iím not trying to follow her.  We have such different rhythm in the way we pronounce things and stuff like that, and when we try to sing in unison it doesnít really work.  Even when we were singing harmonies I had to push myself to get on top of her, it didnít feel right so I just stopped trying and when I started singing as a second lead voice it just worked. The funny thing is that it just worked from that moment on.

MM - It actually crosses so many boundaries. Style wise there are some great heavy stuff mixed with some great ballads.
Michael
- It's one of those albums that you have to listen to a number of times, to really get to know the songs, and for me those are the better ones.  Thatís the whole thing about the mp3 downloading thing, is that people only download what they like right away and you donít learn anything about the music.  When I was just getting into music you had to buy a whole record.  There were albums where I only liked a couple of tracks right away, but the rest I would go back to and thatís all part of the music culture I grew up with. 

MM - Yes I totally agree with you Michael, Iím from the same school of thought.  Yes there are some songs on albums that you need to grow with.  There are albums in my collection that I got that I didnít get musically first time around, but now I think ... yeh thatís a good track! ... and if you havenít got that full album you can't do that.
Michael
- Yes, Digital has a lot of benefits, Iíve got all that shit, Iím a freak when it comes to technology it's like everyday Iím on my computer, on the internet and stuff like that.  I really understand whatís going on.  Iím not someone who dwells on the past, I know a lot more about computers than some of the youngsters out there.  I built my computer myself, Iím really into it, but I still think all this mp3 downloading has killed a lot of music.

MM - Yes there are good and bad things about the internet.  Yes you get to know a lot more about bands and their music, but it also takes a lot away from bands financially.
Michael
- Yes it has benefits, even an unknown band that are unsigned can put out their music via the likes of Myspace and can communicate with like minded people all over the world.  Yes I love the Internet, I love all that stuff.  But this piracy and stealing stuff off the Internet is not just bad for the bands, but also for the other people who work in the industry.  Like a couple of years ago, we had this huge building here in Hamburg for Warner the publishing company.  I was there talking about a publishing deal, about four or five years ago and things were starting to look bad then.  The publishing thing never happened but what Iím saying is that they arenít there anymore, theyíve moved to small office down by the docks and there are only about three of four people working there now, and throughout Europe they closed their offices and thatís just publishing.  Take record stores and record labels, there arenít that many any more.  It's really, really sad and young people today can't seem to see the big picture. 

MM - Yes it's an easy way to get hold of music but if it keeps going the way it is, there won't be a music industry to get your music from.
Michael
- Yes everything has to be fast, they want it now and that damages the quality too. 

MM - Yes, Iím from the vinyl age where we wanted the hard copy, we wanted to read the lyrics and find out who played what on what track and all that.
Michael
- The art work was even better on vinyl.  I was really into Iron Maiden and those covers.  They had the perfect combination of great music and great album covers, with the whole Eddie thing and then CD's made this smaller, but you still had the booklet, but with downloads you have nothing like that. Sometimes after a couple of weeks the price of the CD will come down and sometimes it's cheaper to buy the CD than it was to download the album from the likes of iTunes. 

MM - Yes, although I do think there is the case of try before you buy.
Michael
- I think itís a case of listen to it and then buy it, because if you do that you're supporting the bands.  If you want them to keep making music. You can't change the music business, I donít believe in locking people up for stealing music, I think thatís the wrong way to deal with it.  I think itís more of a moral issue.  The people who are into music should want to support the bands.  They should be educated.  It has to be done via interviews by the people who make the music, to tell people that they are stealing music from themselves and stealing the music culture.

Iím a child of the 80ís, I was born in '68 and in the 80's I was a teenager, that was my time.  The music scene was so much more exciting then.  I donít think it has anything to do with me being older now, it's just the fact that back then it was a lot more creative.  There was a lot going on and it was easier for a band to exist by making music.  I hate the situation now where you have to do things cheaper because the money isnít there. 

MM - Yes, there is a lot of music out there now but the quality isnít there.  Anyone can make a record in a bedroom now, but that doesnít mean itís a good record.  I do think quality wins over quantity every time.
Michael
- Especially with the technical side of things today, you donít even have to be able to play instruments well, you can make a perfect sounding record just with the technology available, but as soon as you play live the truth comes out.

Thatís why the likes of The Beatles were so good, because they didnít have the technology thatís around today, they had to be able to play.  I mean Elvis, you take his early records with a band, they played live and recorded things say fifty times and picked the best, that was the magic of it.  The more you can do things live the better it is.  Take 'The Number of the Beast' by Iron Maiden, the majority of that album is played live.  The energy on that is great. 

MM - That's the way of the modern world, like you said everybody wants things faster, they want it now, sometime they want it yesterday!
Michael
- Yes but I think people can change that, when things get bad people do make changes and I think the more people talk about it, the more change will come.  It isnít so much about complaining, it shouldnít be about making them feel like criminals, they just need to know about the musical culture and how things effect the music business as a whole. 

MM - Itís a social thing, its been made too easy, itís something the labels didnít see coming.  
Michael
- The labels fucked it up completely, they did so many things wrong. 

MM - They didnít capitalize on the technology at the time.
Michael
- Also the attitude of the music culture, the music industry had a big part in that.  So many young people today donít value music because it has merely become a product, something to sell on the marketplace.  It's like this casting show crap thatís about at the moment, where everything is a total product, how they dress, how they move, they donít write their own music.  Everything is just a product, like Star Search here in Germany, the English and Americans invented it and now it's over here too.  That stuff itís the ĎTOTAL DISCRIMINATION OF EVERYTHING THAT MAKES MUSIC TRUE FOR MEí.  

Iím not saying that they donít have any talent when it comes to singing, you always get some among them who can sing, but what they are really doing is begging for mercy ... ďPlease like meĒ ... ďPlease buy my recordĒ ..., if everything just gets designed to please the next trend, then people will think this is how music should be, and that will damage the sense of honesty about music and people will lose the wish for something authentic. 

MM - Yes it makes me mad when you go to see young bands who started off in their parents garage making music, then start playing the pubs and clubs and working their way up the ladder and not getting the recognition they deserve. 
Michael
- Exactly, before theyíve even got a record deal theyíve done two hundred shows. 

MM - Now people go on the likes of X Factor and Idol and get record deals thrown at them and you never see them again.
Michael
- Itís so plastic, everybody knows.  Everybody knows that it's not real.  Anyone who wants to have a music career should not go there.  Everyone who appears on one of them should have it stamped on their forehead and it can't be removed.  It's not good, you have a short period of time when the media are all over you but it only last maybe two years and then you're thrown away for the next one, then the next one.  It's the worst thing.  It makes me physically ill inside to watch that sort of thing, with people begging for a career, where they are smiling up the camera and as I said, begging for mercy.  Asking people ... ďPLEASE LIKE MEĒ ... it's too opposite to what the music industry is for me.  

I like personality, I like the person who speaks out even if they piss people off. There is a vast difference between passionate and honest musicians and this product, everything is totally different.  They over-did this making music just a product.  As long as you're making music honest and you do what you want to do, yes there is a product, but as long as the piece of music is real then that's OK.

I donít know if youíve talked about this but everything is upside down.  It used to musicians and the bands who made their own music and got their own audience, then they made a scene happen. Now itís the industry who decides what the market is and not the musicians, it's just art slavery and musical prostitution. 

MM - Itís that quick fix thing again.
Michael
- It doesnít have the heart.  Music is a matter of taste and you have to do what you believe in.  I donít care what these people think about my music, I just do it the way I like it. 

MM - They are dictating to people. It's not what people are listening to, it's what they (the industry) think you should be listening to.
Michael
- You donít want to piss people off, you donít want to release music thatís not going to sell, but you want to do your own thing.  Who are these people that say they know what people want to hear?  Who believes that?  It's crap! 

MM - People find their own market.  Take Heavy Metal, it's never been popular but it's always been there, the fans have remained loyal, it's just the media that hasnít. 

MM - With the clock ticking faster than we'd hoped we realise that we've run out of time for tonight's interview.  With so much still to be said we say our goodbyes and arrange a date for the following week for part two of this interview with Michael.

 

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