Michael Kiske – There’s no secret, I think I’m just doing things right

Can you give me an anecdote on the twelve tracks on the new album “City of Heroes”? I can’t say that much because all I really did was sing on it in my own place. I had pretty much everything recorded including Amanda’s voice. Usually when you sing something like that, where you only sing parts of it, it goes quite fast. Most of the songs, I didn’t spend more than one evening. Sometimes you do a second day which is quite fast, for not knowing the songs.

But they were nice and fun to sing. I like the melodies, that’s all I really care about. Of course the lyrics has to be good too, but when I start singing a song it’s always about the melodies. I thought there was a whole bunch of very, very nice songs on it so I enjoyed the recording process when I finally got to work.

I was busy with other things, so they were all waiting for me. But when I got around to do it, it all went pretty quickly because it was very inspiring. I just liked the songs very much, like Walk on Water and the one that Amanda wrote with her husband, Breaking Neptune. I thought that was nice too.

I don’t remember there was any song that I didn’t like to be honest. I thought they were all very cool.

How did this collaboration come about? We did the first one like five years ago. That came about like most of the stuff that isn’t from Serafino. By the time that I did that first record I did not have Unisonic. I didn’t have much to do so I was kind of open for suggestions and one day, Serafino from Frontiers Records, asked me if I would be interested in doing something with a female singer.

Like a whole duet record where both of you sing, and I thought that was a cool idea. I also said it was not something that has been done so much in that genre as far as I remember. At least I didn’t know anything in that direction.

And in the first place there was supposed to be someone else, it was a different singer from a different band that I didn’t know. I didn’t consciously knew Amanda either, although I knew her voice without knowing that it was her.

I didn’t know her personally by then, but the lady that was supposed to do it at first was already part of a band and that band didn’t like the idea very much. They got kind of jealous if she would do something like that.

So she didn’t do it, and that’s when Amanda came into the game and I’m pretty happy that it turned out that way because I like her and I think it turned out very well. The first time that we met, was a year later when we made the first video.

In fact the first video I had done for ages. But. The thing is when I met Amanda and we talked I found out that she was involved in the AINA project. And it was this song called “Silver Maiden” that they wanted me to sing. A song that I like very much. It has this medieval kind of feel, a really beautiful song. And they had sent me that song with a female voice on it, as a guidance.

And I fell in love with that female voice. I said that this is a perfect voice, why don’t you take her version. I can’t do this any better. And that was actually Amandas voice, but I didn’t know that by then. Anyway. It ended up with, that they used both versions on a special edition. So. I fell in love with Amandas voice long before I even knew her. I thought that was nice.

Who was the singer that came about in the first place? I don’t remember. It could be that she was called Simone — Simons, EPICA. I think she has some kind of gothic band. Supposed to be quite famous.

Were there a plan to release more albums all along, since the first one in 2010? Nah, I don’t think that far ahead, you know. I saw the collaboration as I see Plasma Dome. It was like a record project without planning to do anything else, like playing live or whatever.

Not like Unisonic which is a real band where you do everything else that a record involves. As with these two projects it’s just really that – a project, and when something like that comes up, you don’t think that far so I wasn’t thinking about if there would be a follow up or not.

That also depends since Serafino is the one who brought it up and is financing it and he’s like co-producing it in a way, it’s usually up to him.

If the offer came to do another album with Amanda, would you do it? It’s an economic matter, but I would say yes. But if I would be totally busy with Unisonic and I just wouldn’t have the time for it, I might skip it or try to push it to the future.

Would you say this project could be considered a singers album? Like Joe Satriani or Tony McAlpine is guitar albums. Yeah, sure. I mean the whole idea has been created around the voices. Usually the records are based around singers unless you have like a full band of course like Maiden or Priest This is obviously built around the two singers.

You sound pretty much exactly the same today as you did in the ’80s, how have you kept your voice so intact? You think?! I think I sound much better (laughter). I think I sound like a teenager in the ’80s because, well, I was. I think my voice is fuller and better these days.

There’s no secret, I think I’m just doing things right. When a singer is damaging the voice there’s always some misbehavior, there’s always something they do wrong.

They kind of violate the voice. It really has to do with how you treat your voice and how you work with it and also with the changes over the years, when you get older and your vocal chords are not like they were before because you’ve grown older. And you just have to work with it and enjoy it and figure out how to deal with these changes.

Being a front man, any singer has to be able to convey a certain feeling recording music videos. That sounds pretty much like an actor to me. So have you ever considered that occupation? I love movies and I really like good acting. I watch a lot of movies, but I hate doing videos. Because of exactly that. I don’t like to act. When I’m on stage I don’t act. I just sing, and I have a bit of fun there.

That’s how I see it, but I don’t act, you know. It’s a different story when you do a video. You just mime to it. Or maybe you sing for real, but it’s not what the people are hearing. They hear a pre-recorded song. I really, passionately hate videos, because of acting (laughter).

To be an actor is something really special to me ’cause you have to get in to other people. You have to become someone else, get into the role. I don’t really know if that would be me, because I’m always trying to be myself. Anything that goes in the direction of acting is making me feel uncomfortable.

Even when I do a interview session, and it’s a camera there. Some musicians, off camera, have a certain way how they talk and behave or whatever but as soon as the camera is turned on they are different.

They have like a camera personality, and I’ve always hated that. So when I’m off or on camera I’m the same. I don’t want to change or put on a camera face. When you do a video you have to act a little bit, and I do ’til a certain extend, but I’m always telling the video shooting guys “I’m not gonna give you the clown” ha ha ha, laughs out loud.

You started listening to Elvis and The Beatles? Yeah, especially Elvis, The Beatles came later. I started with Elvis when I was 9 years old and 1970’s when he died because they started to show him on TV ’cause of his death and I just thought “Wow, what a cool guy!”.

Before that I didn’t even care about music. But Elvis got me interested. An old friend of mine who I was in school with, got me into The Beatles and I think I was like 13 or something when The Beatles showed up, and then we started to play acoustic guitar and sing all of those Beatles and Elvis tunes.

Michael Kiske and Somerville
Michael Kiske and Somerville

Just a few years later you sang with Helloween on the big stages. How did you make that transition in style and genre? I think pretty much when I turned 14. I got into Metal a lot. It was also because of this guy, who got me into The Beatles, but he also brought me Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, you know, those type of bands.

I was a big Iron Maiden fan around the age of 14, 15, so I was in that type of music anyway. The room that I had in my parents house was covered with Eddie posters. Metallica was also very important to me. Up to Master Of Puppets it was a band I really enjoyed.

And when Queensrÿche came out we went to a live concert, when they were supporting Ronny James Dio. And we were really impressed by Queensrÿche. It was around the release of “The Warning” —from 1984. We bought that record and we fell in love with that!

But my main bands was always Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but I was never making a religion out of a musical style. Though I was really into metal as a teenager, and I looked like it too with that long blond hair, wristbands with spikes and everything but in the same time I was also listening to Elvis or even Kate Bush and Eurythmics.

Classical music, Simon & Garfunkel. I was always very open to different styles of music. I was never narrow minded. There’s a lot of great music out there.

There was a rumor going around, in the latter part of the 90’s that you tried out for Iron Maiden, since Bruce left. Is there any truth to that? I never wanted to join them because I didn’t think that I would fit. We knew the guys from the same management. At that time we were managed by Sanctuary and Smallwood, who was the manager of Maiden too. We knew the guys but it was never any discussions about it.

And later, I saw on a TV-show, “Hard & Heavy” or whatever that was. It was hosted by a girl. She said that I was the new singer of Iron Maiden, which was very interesting because it was on TV and I didn’t even know about it (laughing).

The thing is one or two years later I had an interview with a French guy. We talked about this, and he said that he had done an interview with Steve Harris (bass player of Iron Maiden) and Steve had said that I was one of the three he could imagine in Maiden. My suggestion is that, that’s where it came from.

But were you not even tempted? No, no no. It would be an honor, but you got to remember the politics. Iron Maiden is a British band and they can not take a German vocalist. It sounds stupid but the British fans are very nationalistic.

Maybe they would accept an American but a German in Iron Maiden, forget it! Smallwood was the one that explained to me that for a band like Iron Maiden it would probably be a big problem even though it’s stupid. It’s kind of racist, but a lot of people think like that and the British people are really proud of their country.

I wouldn’t care. I mean, like in Unisonic. Me and Kai are German, Dennis Ward is American, Mandy is from Switzerland, you know, we’re like a mixed bunch of everything.

What’s next for you now with Unisonic? A new record. We’re just gathering ideas and I think this summer we’ll probably have enough songs all together that we’re gonna meet up for the first time and see where we get with it.

Fool around with it in the studio and as a band. That’s always the biggest fun of it. It was really great on the last record, we were planning a bunch of days in the studio, we booked it and we were done in like 4 or 5 days because we were just so creative. The ideas came together and it was great fun and I hope it’s gonna be the same next time.

Michael Kiske


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