Levi: I was just re-watching your live DVD “Through the Looking Glass”, my favourite part is the end of the song “Valhalla” where the crowd continues to sing the song for a few good minutes. What is that feeling like when you get that kind of response from a crowd?
Hansi: It become a trend, is started with ‘Imaginations: Through the Looking Glass” when people picked it up. That show might not have been the first one, but since now many people have seen the video they repeat the same thing when they have the chance. It is a privileged feeling, knowing that I don’t have to sing a song like “Bard Song” for example. We have another song called “Last Candle” which people tend to do the same thing as well. It’s just amazing because it refreshes the Show, gives us some air and the people can enjoy themselves, which is the most important part of a concert situation.
Levi: You’ve got a new album out called “The Red Mirror”, you still sound as powerful as ever. How have you remained in top form this long into your career?
Hansi: The passion for music. It’s creativity which comes out through our inner-selves. No matter how old we get we still feel inspired and enjoy each other’s company. I think we are in the best shape ever, this can not only be heard on the album but also when you come and attend a Blind Guardian show.
Levi: I’m from Brisbane, I know last time you came you skipped us and this time as well. Why just Sydney and Melbourne?
Hansi: We were expecting to have Brisbane and Adelaide on this tour, but the promoter decided to go to just Sydney and Melbourne again. The problem is the distances are so big, not only traveling but accommodation, finding the right venue for us might be a problem as well. I know the promoter had problems getting the right venues he wanted for Blind Guardian in Sydney and Melbourne and I assume it would be the same in Brisbane.
Levi: I know you guys pull big crowds in Europe, but I don’t think as many people know about Blind Guardian in Australia. Do you mind playing smaller shows?
Hansi: No, it’s not a problem at all. Even in Europe we’re facing different situations every night. There are countries where we draw say 700 – 800 people and other countries we draw 2000 to 5000 people. We adjust to that, it’s no problem for us and that will be the same in Australia. We are playing two shows and expecting to play to 900 to 1000 people and that will do the trick. We will play with the same energy and usually we play with a backup system that will provides people with a good sounding audio experience even in such small clubs. Usually these shows are a little more in-depth so I prefer them a little bit more.
Levi: What songs can we expect to hear on the tour? Will it be mostly songs from the new album or more of a greatest hits set list because you don’t come here that often?
Hansi: Well I prefer ‘best of’ set lists anyway, it’s quite difficult when you’re a band like Blind Guardian and you have a discography of ten or eleven albums. We need to pay justice to each of those albums, still the main focus will be on “Beyond the Red Mirror” and “On the Edge of Time”, our two latest albums.
Levi: What new bands are you digging? and who would you like to tour with in the future?
Hansi: I really enjoyed the tour with Orphaned Land which we did in Europe. They’re a band from Israel, quite a different style from what we are doing but still we have some things in common. It worked out very well, I hope we get the chance to do more touring with them in the future. I also like different kind of bands, no matter whether they’re old or not. I could imagine a good touring package with a thrash metal band like Sepultura, I like a new band from Sweden called The Unguided, that could be a good package also. There are a lot of good bands out there.
Levi: Most people know you were influenced by heavy metal, but you also have songs like “Bards Song” which is much more Celtic/folk influenced. What got you into that style of music?
Hansi: Growing up I was into bands like Queen, Deep Purple and Electric Light Orchestra, this had an influence on my musical development. Later on the new wave of heavy metal come over from Britain. I listened to punk music a lot but then in the 80’s it was only heavy metal, starting with bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and later on following up with Testament, Metallica and all these other bands coming over from the States. Nowadays it’s very different, I like to find new stuff which is sometimes very difficult but there are still good bands around. I like each kind of style it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not, one of my favourite bands is Muse for example another one would be Mumford and Sons. So quite a mixture of stuff which all has an influence on me. The folk stuff came from… I don’t know, maybe because of artists like Bob Dylan but it could also be from bands like Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull. Sometimes it’s hard to define where a musician finds a particular influence.