Artist: Michael Kiske   

Date: 16 September 2010   

Having run out of time during our earlier interview we re-scheduled a second interview with Michael in what would turn out to be an epic discussion where we cover all things Michael Kiske, including his new band Unisonic, Place Vendome and a few other things as well! 

MM - Hi Michael how are you doing this evening?
- Iím doing fine actually.

MM - I was doing an interview with Amanda last night and sheís very excited about the release of the new album.
- Oh yes, thatís nice.  We have a very good chemistry together, not only when we sing together but also when we are doing interviews and hanging around together and stuff.

MM - Youíre doing the album release party at Rockfabrik together.
Michael -Yes.

MM - Amanda said it was going to be more you and her just hanging out and doing a meet and greet sort of thing?
Michael -Yeh.  It's one of those things.  I donít really like that sort of thing, I mean being in a venue with thousands of people.  They said that they are expecting something like two thousand people to turn up. Then they put us right in the middle, as you say the centre of attention.  It's not like when weíre on stage.  I donít really like this sort of thing but it has to be done. You donít know, maybe I will be surprised, I havenít done that sort of thing for such a long time.

MM - I thought that that would be the perfect opportunity for you both to get on stage with a band a do a couple of songs from the album. 
Michael -Yeh, but thatís not going to happen.  It's more about signing autographs and having photoís taken with the fans.

MM - When I was talking to Amanda we touched on how you'll both appearing together on the Avantasia tour.  Are you looking forward to it?  I know it's been a long time since you were asked to do it the first time round.   Back then you just appeared on the album and never went on the live tour. 
Michael -Yes I wasnít ready for that the first time round, but now Iíve done a few shows with Unisonic I feel ready for it. 
They asked me the first time, but I didnít feel like it at the time. 

MM - Will you be using the Ernie moniker this time?
Michael -That was around '89 when I was really having an in and out time with the whole Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal scene.  They kind of persuaded me.  I didnít want to do it in the first place but Tobias phoned me up and talked me round.

MM - The whole Avantasia thing has grown into quite a phenomena, I donít think anyone realised just how big the whole thing would grow.
Michael - It was quite unique at the time to have all these different musicians and singers and artists all together on the one stage. And they like the fact that there are so many things going on at the same time.

MM - Itís a good concept, I donít think there is perhaps as much pressure on the singers as there would normally be with a live show.  It's more a case of you sing your song and get a break while someone else sings a song, rather than having to sing in a straight row.
Michael - It's good for all of us.  You're only on stage for a matter of minutes, you do a little bit here, a little bit there ... This will be the first time Iíve been on stage with Kai Hansen for over twenty years.

MM - Have you remained in contact with Kai over the years?
Michael - Oh yes, we've always kept in touch.  He was here at Christmas time.  We talked about me singing on one of his Gamma Ray tracks, we talked about Classical Music, we had a very interesting conversation about that.
MM - Itís nice to get away from a subject youíre both known for and find something else in common.  

MM - You touched earlier on the Unisonic thing.  Youíve got back together with Dennis Ward, Kosta and this time Mandy Myers has been brought into the fold.  I must say you seem to have attracted the crŤme de la crŤme of musicians around you once again Michael. 
Michael - It's awesome.  Mandy I didnít really know but I liked the band he was involved with.  I was into Krokus in the 80ís but I didnít know him.   Then when we were talking about guitar players Dennis suggested Mandy and that was it.  I totally agree with him now that I know him.  Heís a great melodic guitar player and a really nice guy.  Very down to earth.

MM - So what was the idea of putting Unisonic together?  Was it a vehicle to get yourself back on the road and back on stage?
Michael -The first thing was Kosta as part of a management team.  He said to me, Michael I donít think youíve been managed properly over the years and I replied that I havenít been managed at all.  After Helloween I was still being managed my Rob Smallwood, nice guy, but he didnít know how to handle someone like me. So this whole thing started when we were throwing ideas about and I said let's make a whole new band.  

For me, Dennis is the main element because I know what he is capable of doing.  I know he can do things I can't and what I have to offer is something they have a use for.  For example I offered them a very nice song and Dennis took it worked on the arrangement, did a few things different here and there, it's still the same song but now it's better than before.

I am a songwriter but I havenít been doing that many songs like he has. Heís good with the arrangements and finding the instruments for you.  He does things I can't imagine doing.  Iím the kind of rough songwriter, I come up with the raw ideas.  I mean the sort of songs Iíd do for a solo album are kept very simple, the way I would play a song to someone, but for me being in a band with someone like Dennis, now I'm able to give him a song and he adds this quality to it, it's just awesome. 

MM - I know what you mean, he does seem to have this Midas touch with everything heís involved with.  There is that certain touch of class in everything he does. 
Michael -Thatís the right word for it, he has ĎCLASSí, but he is also very talented musically, he can even play guitar better than me.  I know he plays bass too, but heís a musical all rounder and that was the main reason I was really interested in doing this, I knew they were also looking for someone like me too.

For me itís the best thing I could have done, because not only am I in a band where I like everybody very much I have a new manager who looks after business now. I donít have to deal with that side, I just pass it on. 

MM - Iíve read that youíve actually put around nine songs together for Unisonic. 
Michael - Weíve got a lot of songs but at this stage we are being very over critical.  What weíve done now is a decent demo with five songs that we are sending to the record labels that were interested in us.  Weíve actually had a big label asked for demoís and also Serifino is very interested which was beautiful.

MM - Yes with the line-up youíve got Iím sure youíd be right up Serifinoís alley.
Michael - I ím sure weíll have no problem getting it released, but we want a label that will do something for us, with the likes of, you know video production, promotion and tour support.  If we were to go out on tour, say in the US to support the likes of Nickelback, that would take a lot of money and we want a label that would support us in that.  So we are looking at all our options.

MM - Iím really looking forward to hearing something from the band just based on the line-up alone.
Michael -Yes itís going to be cool.  I already know of course a lot of the songs and they are all very musical.  When I write a song it sounds one way.  When Mandy writes a song it sounds a different way and when Dennis writes a song it sounds a different way again.  So we have all those three colours coming together and of course we have Dennis doing the production.  With all his skills and heís also very open about things, if any of us donít agree on something it's all very open, which is good.  This certainly isnít going to be a boring record.

MM - So what is happening on the Place Vendome side of things? 
Michael -Thatís been put on ice.  To my management and to Unisonic it is history, but I never say never.  You never know after three records or long touring when we take a break and maybe I'll go back to it.  You never know.  At the moment there is no time.

MM - Personally I loved the two albums you did with Place Vendome. 
Michael - With Unisonic we're not trying to sound to 80ís like Place Vendome.  That was supposed to be a bit of a tribute to the 80ís AOR and the songs turned out really good, especially with my voice as I donít have a typical AOR voice.   But for some reason it worked and they were very interesting albums.  If someone like the vocalist from Survivor had sung those songs then it definitely would have sounded very 80ís AOR, because I donít have that voice, thatís what made them interesting.  Iím not trying to blow my own trumpet here but Iím just saying I was surprised at how they turned out and how well they worked.

MM - While talking to Amanda I commented on the fact that both your vocal styles are so different and  thatís the reason I think the album works so well.  Amanda summed it up nicely by comparing the two vocals to the colours red and blue, that when mixed produce purple. 
Michael - Absolutely!  With me and Amanda I had the benefits of singing my parts while Amanda was already there.  When we were supposed to sing a chorus together I had to sing on top of her, it didnít work, because her rhythms were so different to mine.  I sounded so stiff when I tried sing the harmonies, so I stopped trying and sang the part as a lead voice instead and it worked. 

MM - The Kiske / Somerville album is the album of the year for me and itís gonna take one hell of an album to make me think otherwise. 
Michael - You know thatís exactly the same thing I said to the guys from Unisonic.  We got to do some real work.  This is a good piece of music. Thatís what makes these things so interesting.

MM - I've already asked Amanda and now I'm going to ask you, will there be a second Kiske / Somerville album?   
Michael - Of course it will depend on how it is received and sales and that sort of thing, but Iím sure we can top this record now we know each other.  We didnít know each other that well on this album but now weíve gotten to know each other I think we can better it next time.

MM - I know Amanda is very interested in doing more song writing on the second album. 
- Yeh sure, sheís a damn good songwriter.  I might even consider her doing some lyrics for me when I do another solo album.  Iím German, Iím ok with the street talk, but in German I can express myself very well.  Iíve become quite educated over the last 13 years.  Iíve educated myself.  Iíve read a lot of books on philosophy.  Iíve spent over 30.000 Euros on books, I was really into the German philosophers.  I can express anything in German now, but my English is not as rich as my German is, so to have someone like her who can express things better in English would be great, because I think she writes very good lyrics.

MM - With Amanda being based in Germany now something like that would be a lot easier to do. 
Michael - I could even write my lyrics in German and she could put them into English because her German is very good.

Did I tell you that when I first met her I didnít realise it was her?  Because she spoke to me in German and she didnít have an accent.  You know when Germans speak English they have an accent and when Americans and the English speak German they have an accent also, but she didnít, she just sounded completely German.  Sheís been living here for 11 years and her German is better than some German's German! (laughs). 

MM - When I spoke to Amanda she came across as being very knowledgeable and very passionate about what she does, a bit like yourself. 
Michael - We have a lot in common, we really understand each other.  It would have been a shame if when we finished the album we didnít get along.  It kind of helps that you like the other person you're working with.

MM - It comes across on the album as a very genuine thing, especially when youíre singing something like a love ballad.
Michael - Absolutely, things are on a very personal level.  Maybe thatís what people are feeling when they are listening to the record.  Iíve done quite a few interviews now for this record and everybody has said the chemistry between us is something that everyone has noted upon.  I was surprised people were actually listening to the album so thoroughly. 

MM - So what have you got lined-up apart from the Avantasia thing? 
Michael - With Avantasia this year is pretty much wound up.  I still think I should get my ass together and write another couple more songs for Unisonic, I think it needs it to add some more colour to it.  With the combination of Dennis working on the songs Iíve written it works so well, but I would really like a few more and see what happens with them.

I still have to prepare for the Avantasia stuff.  I still donít know what songs Iím going to be singing and then there will be the recording of the Unisonic album.  I have a lot to do over the next couple of months. 

MM - You seem to have given yourself quite a busy schedule there. 
Michael - I love it, itís better than just hanging around here.

MM - It's getting your name around a lot, ever since Frontiers took you up for the Kiske album your name seems to pop up a lot more now. 
- I like to do that.  Over the last couple years I've just been living my own little shell and that has its benefits, but Iíve done it enough now, hopefully Iím opening up to the world again.

MM - After talking to you last week, before I did this second part of the interview, people were saying to me ... "Oh, you interviewed Michael Kiske!  He has a bit of a reputation" ... and I said thatís not the guy I was talking to last week. 
Michael - Iím always nice! (laughs), I just express my anger when Iím angry about something.  I would never be nasty to someone in an interview or have no respect.  I have that reputation because I speak out if something angers me.

MM - Yeh thatís your right, if you want to speak your mind you do that.  I donít want to go down the Star Search road again, even though you're on the same wave length as me about the whole fifteen minutes of fame thing. (laughs)
- I pissed the whole German metal scene off, with the comments I made about it being false and people just kissing ass, but thatís just me having a different understanding about true music. Musicians have the right to express themselves, Iím not saying that every band should change their styles of music from one record to another, say making a metal album then a country album, then a pop album, that would be stupid.  If you stop your creativity just because you have concerns that your audience won't understand you, then thatís wrong. As I said earlier I disagree with the satanic thing and that alone got me a reputation.

MM - Yeh thatís the label the whole metal community got associated with back when Metal was in its early years. 
Michael -Thank God itís not that way now because the better bands are different.

MM - People find it difficult to get their heads around Heavy Metal and Rock fans because we like a wide spectrum of bands.  You can like Metallica and Slayer but still like the softer edged rock.  We like to see different bands with different styles of music.  
Michael - Yes thatís how I always was back in my metal days.  I was really into Iron Maiden and Judas Priest when I was a teenager.  I got into them with the 'Number of the Beast' album from Maiden and 'Screaming for Vengeance' from Priest.  They are still great albums, but at the same time I was listening to U2, Eurythmics, Pat Benetar, Kate Bush, even Simon and Garfunkel! ... you can't get any softer than that.

I forgot Elvis Presley and The Beatles.  I grew up with the Beatles playing them on an acoustic guitar, they were a major part of my life I couldnít live without it. 

MM - There are some styles of music I wonít listen too, electro dance, thatís a big no no, techno and all that.
Michael - Rap music drives me nuts, I just donít get it, rhythmically talking.

MM - So Michael itís been an absolute pleasure, I want to wish you all the best with the Unisonic thing. 
Michael - I have the feeling that it's going to be an album youíll have to give a couple of listens to.  Iíve thought about that with a couple of songs weíve done already, which is usually a good thing.  Some people will only review it after one listen and make a snap judgment.

MM - Yeh Iím all for listening to an album a few times to really get the feel for it.  I know you can't like every album that comes through the door but you have to give each one an equal airing.
Michael - We arenít trying to reinvent music, we have our own style and thatís something that excites us.  We have our own elements and we're just trying to do the best we can with the instruments that we have, and that should be enough.

MM - Iím really looking forward to hearing it, whatever label you release it on I'll try my best to get hold of it.
- I hope people support us when it comes out because everything depends on the record sales, although record sales arenít as important as they used to be when it comes to financial existence as a band, that comes through live performances now.  But the initial record sales is where a band really gets noticed and thatís important for a band, for people to buy the music and not steal it through downloading.

MM - That goes for any band or music you like, the best way of supporting any band is to buy the albums and go to the live shows.
- All of us, we all have jobs to do.  You get up and go to work from nine till five and it would seem strange if you didnít get paid at the end of the month and thatís what its like for a musician or someone who writes computer programs, why shouldnít they get paid for it?  And stealing takes that away from them and people lose their jobs.

I havenít even mentioned record stores or graphic designers, the music industry is a huge industry, people should be aware that it's anti-social to steal music, why not pay for it. 

MM - Yeh.  Plus why download one song?  Why donít you want to listen to a whole album?  Bands work hard in the studio to put ten to twelve tracks out on an album, so why not buy the whole album? 
- Band put twelve good tracks on an album, not just the hit single and some nine or eleven fillers.  Yes there are those bands but bands like us and other Rock bands write a good whole record.  We donít just write singles, we think about writing a whole record.

It is possible to change this, wherever and whenever this interview is published you should mention this. I cannot change the whole music business but I can tell people like you and you can help spread the word.  If you share something in public you can have a big influence of people. 

MM - Well Michael once again itís been an absolute pleasure talking to you.
- Iím sure weíll be talking again very soon.

MM - Yes as soon as you get the Unisonic album underway Iíll be back in touch! (laughs). 
Michael - It would be great to play back in England again. 

MM - Thanks again Michael and all the best with all your endeavors, the next time I call you I'll look forward to talking about the success of Unisonic. 
Michael -Thank you.

At the end of each year we give you our pick of the best new bands, best albums, best live shows etc, but we've never done best interview before.  However this year we will be including this category and without a doubt, this year the best interview will go undoubtedly to Michael Kiske.  A really nice guy, a man passionate about what he does and what he believes in and someone I could talk to time and time again and would never get tired of listening to his views on modern day life and music.


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