Masterplan's Roland Grapow Looks Back At Helloween
On looking back to when Grapow first joined Helloween after the Keeper albums: "But then, when I joined the band, I was totally free and without any pressure to be honest. But then, when we started songwriting, of course, I wanted to do a good job and wanted to be the best for the band. I found that I was maybe one third of the main songwriters. The other was like Michael Kiske and Weiki. They went to a different direction totally. I was shocked and surprised - like these ballads we had and 'Heavy Metal Hamsters.' And then 'Windmill' which was on the 'Chameleon' album, which was supposed to be on the 'Pink Bubbles [Go Ape]' already. The producer Chris Tsangarides was like, 'What's going on here? The new guy is the only guy that writes heavy metal songs.' [Laughs]
"That's why I was confused. They had a lot of problems there. But it was not about me. It was about Michael Weikath and Michael Kiske. They wanted to go somewhere else like the Queen direction, which we did on the next album. But you can imagine - I was the oldest guy in the band but I was the new guy. I was very shy. I could not speak English at that time. So especially talking to Chris Tsangarides and management, Sanctuary… I forget the name - the Iron Maiden management! So I was really always behind listening and analyzing and thinking 'Something is not right here [laughs].'"
On Helloween's 'Chameleon': "I think it's something that the band needed to do. I know that a lot of people hated it in the beginning but a lot of people now - they're 20 years older - and they just realize it's like a good rock album with heavy metal guys playing rock and all these instruments that we had."
On Michael Kiske changing and leaving the band: "Michael Kiske wanted to sort of keep this kind of style for the next album. He wanted to follow this path and he really wanted to go away. And because he changed - there was something going on in his kind of mind. I don't know what it was but he changed. He went at that time vegetarian - everything at once. He changed let's say in three months, he tried to change so much and everybody was confused. He was always talking. I mean, he is a really strong character. You can talk and try to make a discussion with him. It will take hours because you can't change his opinion! You know, if he has an opinion, he's hard to change. You know his story about heavy metal. He is now back a little bit but it wasn't easy [laughs]."
On his diminishing songwriting contributions around Helloween's 'Better Than Raw' album: "I think that the album is pretty good to be honest. I mean, my impact is still there as a guitar player. And I helped on the Uli Kusch songs and I worked very close to the songwriting with the other guys but I was a little bit out of batteries. I don't know what it was. I wasn't really inspired anymore. Like I said, it started at around the time of 'Time Of The Oath.' I had lots of fun anyways - a lot - but I only wrote one song! And then for 'Better Than Raw', I contributed two to three ideas, and then Andi Deris said, 'That's crap! [laughs]' He did not like it and slowly, the band started talking behind my back. 'This guy is not working for us anymore 100%. He's just into his solo albums which are really good.' You know, they really liked it. Deris said to me: 'Why are you not presenting these great songs to us? [laughs]' That's why we had big trouble after 'Better Than Raw.'" Check out the full part one of the interview here.