Masterplan interview (05/2007)

With: Roland Grapow and Jan S. Eckert
Conducted by: Baz Anderson (in person)
Published: 26.05.2007

Band profile:


Saxon and Masterplan hit Nottingham's Rock City in May 2007 and I was not going to miss this! Before the show Roland granted me the time to have a good long talk with him about the history of Masterplan and the future of Masterplan including what happened with Jørn and Uli and future plans including a new album and DVD - all this as well as what happened with Helloween and the plans with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske for a new project!

Barry: When was the last time you was here in England?

Roland: With Masterplan? I guess... we played Bloodstock here, once indoor 2003 and then 2004 we did Bloodstock outside, so two years ago.

Barry: It's been a while then.

Roland: But I was in England in London for promotion in February.

Barry: Are you looking forward to the show? feeling happy to be back?

Roland: Yeah, definitely I mean it's nice.. I hope that Andy Sneap is coming - our producer from the first two albums, he lives here quite near and... he promised to come but you never know, he's always busy and then thinking "hmm, its just support" - we're not playing so long today its just 40 minutes, normally 45 or if we don't have another support then one hour, but yeah, yesterday was great and the day before was a very good start... Notting... hmm... Manchester and London it was great.

Barry: And this tour was originally put back about because of Biff in Saxon...

Roland: Which is good, honestly if you like Masterplan - we're much better at the end of the tour then we are at the beginning - we had some problems to find our chemistry, you know its normal when you have two new members, and after two years not touring then you have to get in your... kind of good shape, you know... takes a while.

Barry: So how have you had to change touring with Mike and Mike?

Roland: Yeah, like I said it was quite tricky, but yeah, chemistry in the band is much nicer then before - you know me and Uli had too many discussions about unimportant stuff for my taste, and now yeah we just play and still have a good time on tour even with a very rough kind of schedule - two and a half months on the road. we had a break, we had an eastern break but finally we are a little bit burnt out so looking forward to finish this tour and to recover the batteries.

Barry: Is there going to be a big gap after this tour then?

Roland: Yeee... not so much, it's just two week and then we're going to Japan for three shows and then Korea, one show, then another month break and then we do two festivals on one weekend... and then we have a break. I guess if we're not getting an offer from South America then we stop touring this year and working on the new album already.

Barry: A new album already?

Roland: Ummm, yeah! I mean I'm really into it to write songs now for the new album so I have some ideas and with the new line-up it's really inspiring you know...

Barry: You're doing most of the song writing now?

Roland: Umm, finally I would say something like 60, 70% but not all the songs so Axel the keyboard player has big impact now, he took more or less the place of Uli and also one song was written by a Swedish guy, a friend of ours, "Lost And Gone" the single, Uli still had one song on the album called "Masterplan" but I want to work with the new album more closer with Roy Z again which is my favourite friend-producer , he's very inspiring - I think I'm not recording with him because we have different kind of taste, I like the Andy Sneap style much more - but for writing songs and arranging Roy is unbelievable good, that's what I'm looking for.

Barry: So it's a lot more light hearted now on the tour bus - because I know Mike Terrana is a bit of a joker...

Roland: He's just sitting there [points to an open door 10 meters away, and raises his voice] Mike, you a joker?!

Barry: hahaha [he gets no reply]

Roland: Fucking deaf man, haha - yeah, so he will be busy after this tour with Axel Rudi Pell between these two weeks.

Barry: How do you think Mike DiMeo has fit into the band then... do you think he's...

Roland: I think of course it's the heaviest part you know, to replace Jørn, but he has a different style and a different kind of strength that he brings to the live show.

Barry: So how well do you think the album "MK II" has come across?

Roland: I think pretty good, honestly, because I think people, you know, lost a bit of faith in this band and when we released the album of course many people checked it out to see "how bad we are" - but people were surprised that nothing really changed so much, I mean the music is still the same kind of style and yeah, it's good. We did our best not to change Masterplan's styles so drastically, of course Mike has a different voice but his kind of endings of the melodies are always kind of bluesy, very similar to Jørn's style, you know and I guess I wanted to keep this kind of style.

Barry: Mike Terrana has a different drum style to Uli as well, I think Uli is... hmm... well I wouldn't say a lot more technical... he's...

Roland: More busier you could say - he fills every gap with drum fillers...

Barry: So how was fitting Mike Terrana into the band? had he fit right?

Roland: Yeah of course, I said for the new album - play as much as possible for the new album tasty, don't play too much, and he feels it, he knows what to do.

Barry: So why "Lost And Gone"? why that for the new single?

Roland: Because we always took from our writing the most commercial kind of song - I don't think it's necessary for a metal fan to have another metal song, so we always try to get more radio kind of possibility with this kind of song - like "Enlighten Me", "Back For My Life".

Barry: Track two [I say that because the single is always track two on the albums]

Roland: Track two, yeah. Haha. and yeah! I just sent three songs when I was mixing and they asked me which could be the possible single because we're running out of time - should it be "Gonna Win", "Keeps Me Burning" or "Lost And Gone" and they liked "Lost And Gone" the most... of course you can always have a different philosophy and always present the heaviest, most brutal song just to satisfy the people. Always we have like, you know thinking a little bit just to get some different people.

Barry: Yeah, anyone that is interested in the band will get the album anyway...

Roland: Yeah, I mean of course when you are a big fan you always want to get the bonus track, we have some I guess with blah blah talking, special 20 minutes like video film with the new band line-up just to get the people that are more interested, and finally the days of the single was over a long time ago - it was in the 70's when there was the big hype.

Barry: So are you happy with how things are going then with the new line-up and touring?

Roland: Yeah, I think the new line-up is still growing together and I still think it takes some time, maybe another album to be on the same kind of level spot, but as far as this CD the sales are quite nice, especially in Sweden and Norway had better sales then before, and Germany I don't know... I suppose we'll keep the same chart levels as before - so it's quite nice but I'm looking forward to... like I said getting stronger with the new album and coming back again first time as a headliner and.. supporting is cool, I mean we reach a lot of Saxon fans I guess - they saw us and people are mainly coming for Saxon... that's the idea, you know, of making support - this is to get to some people that never even read the magazines any more, I mean most of the fans are older like my age and also young people come out, I am surprised but it's good to hear us live or see us and "whoa I have to buy the album" so we're doing really nice merch. So it's like we were running out of t-shirts now and we have just long sleeves and girly shirts, but the people really like to buy the CDs - that means they don't know us and that's a good sign - I hope we get a lot of English fans tonight. It's good to see the people like to buy a lot of CDs and it's better this time as support then last time as a headliner.

Barry: So did you have when you was selecting a new singer, because Jørn was hard to replace, did you have any other names that you was thinking of?

Roland: You want to know names?

Barry: Yeah, was you thinking of anyone else...

Roland: Yeah of course, Jens, no not Jens, Patrik Johansson, he's from Astral Doors he's quite a good singer, very Dio-ish... yeah and what's his name - from Outworld? a singer from America, I forget his name but he was great - he was on Beyond Twilight, the second to last album after Jørn... what's his name... [he was thinking of Kelly Sundown Carpenter] but these really were the main guys - of course I had some favourite singers but Uli didn't like them, it's always tricky when you have two guys deciding - so finally, Uli was still in the band, we decided Mike DiMeo was the best for both of us - we had the feeling he could go closer to Jørn's style without copying him, you know some other guys were copying Jørn so close it was stupid, it's not good to replace someone that is just a fan of Jørn.

Barry: Like Tim Owens replacing Rob Halford.

Roland: Yeah, its' like people compare it always too much and Mike has his own style, I think he has a little bit more freedom - of course people might think "oh Jørn's better" or "I'm missing him" or whatever but comparing it still - I think the music, I think maybe people think too much about Jørn so special, but I guess the whole band and music is important, you know the melodies and the arrangements and if people like just Jørn then they should go and buy his solo CDs because it's totally different music.

Barry: So what happened? Was it beginning of last year... when Jørn decided to leave?

Roland: Oh we did a festival in Spain, April I guess - I think May we had a discussion about the future because he was always complaining about the music direction and the situation with the band and we just felt that he wasn't 100% really behind us or not happy so we didn't have any fights, it's just that I like the style we created really with the first album and he always wanted to go more towards his solo... which is too much Whitesnake and Dio and too much rock, old fashioned rock and... I like it as well, I like the '87 Whitesnake album but when I said one of the best albums was John Sykes - he said "oh that's the album I don't like" - "I like the old stuff, the very bluesy stuff" - I said "oh my god..." that's, you see the difference of taste - and anyway, so it's like too much talking and Uli was tired about listening to all of this so we just decided "hey! just make a decision - stay in the band and give 100% or leave" so he was like "ok, I feel like I have to leave" - but he was still helping us with the other two festivals after that - we couldn't find a singer and he came and yeah we're still friends, so we invited him in Oslo last week and he promised to come and he didn't show up... which is like... really unfair, we were really looking forward to inviting him onto the stage...

Barry: Oh well, and then it was late last year when Uli decided to leave as well - and that shocked me because you and Uli left Helloween together and started, brought Masterplan to being a proper band - so how come he decided to leave, what was all that about?

Roland: I guess... hmm... I have a strange feeling about this, I have the feeling that he never liked this touring so much any more, he was really on tour giving us the feeling he wanted to stay home, you know he has a new girlfriend since two or three years and yeah, he got a baby last year, and when he realised we had a long tour going with Saxon, which was planned already July last year, I felt it strange that he didn't like it so much, the idea. He was always like "if I'm not getting this or that then I'm not going on tour" and then finally on the end of September, the beginning of September he started getting... you know, making trouble about book keeping, because I'm the main guy in the band managing everything, taking care of all the advances and about the budget and the production, you know, this time I'm meant to be the producer, and yeah - finally he just started fighting with the emails "hey! where's this, where's that" and I was like "what's this? you want to control me now?" and he gave me the feeling he was not trustable any more so he was from one mail to the other involving already a lawyer so I was like "oh my god this looks like a big fight" - and so finally we decided to put this "Masterplan G.B.R." which is the Limited name in Germany so to put it up, you know, separate - so he wants to be out, he said and he said that "you should keep the band" but you know, that's the last thing I heard from him...

Barry: Wow, you've not been in contact since?

Roland: Not with me, but he is with the other guys - always sending SMS and writing with Axel and I feel kind of strange with it because you know, they can make a decision as well - they feel like sitting between the share. anyway, so it's like, I don't know, I don't feel anything bad so much to him, I guess he is just out of his mind for a while - I guess he wanted to keep his family more...

Barry: His new band Beautiful Sin, is he not touring with them?

Roland: They're planning, I saw just today writing on the Internet they have the same touring agency [he says with a slight sarcastic chuckle] from Hamburg like we have... "great!" [very sarcastic] and finally they are announcing something, some tours are coming up around winter this year, so I thought "oh cool" new band, it's even harder to start with a new band to tour with, maybe as a support, but we will see what he is planning, yeah I just heard some new stuff already on the MySpace they are putting up already.

Barry: Back in 2001 was it, when you decided to leave Helloween, why? was you not happy in Helloween at that time?

Roland: No we were fired, both - we didn't decide to leave, I never wanted to leave the band - but I had a little bit of trouble with Weikie, talking about some - different thinking, and after so many years I thought I am able to be in the position to tell my feelings but he felt because of my direct kind of talking hurted or something or hurt - and three months later and the tour was over so he fired Uli and me together [he says with another quite sad chuckle] so it was like strange - so I didn't even feel there was any bad feelings any more, we just solved this problem, you know but finally he said "oh fuck this guy" - "who is he" and no, they fired us without warning... just an email... and still saying "thanks for the touring and hugging each other and etc. and say hello to your wives and blah blah" - and then they knew already from weeks before that we were getting fired. Anyway that's life, it's the same like Nightwish with the girl singer there - after the last show "hey, here's a letter.." - [concerning the new singer hype] I thought it was always good to announce a new singer quite fast, not with the single release which is like in a couple of weeks.

Barry: All of a sudden I think it was announced with Mike and Mike for Masterplan...

Roland: I thought it was cool finding a new recruit because people are always talk too much when you don't have a singer or a new drummer "oh what's going on with the band?" and the release date was already at the end of February and you have to let people get used to the faces so that they can check out maybe the new singer, some Riot songs or something... anyway...

Barry: Yeah, there was all sorts of rumours - Michael Kiske! Maybe he should join Masterplan.. and all the rest of it...

Roland: I asked him again and asked him a second time - "I know it's stupid to ask you but are you interested to join the band?" and he said "noo"... but people would compare it even more because he has such a different voice to Jørn you know, and I think the "Heroes" song fits nice because it's really nice to hear this clean voice and this distorted, crisp voice - but for Masterplan it wouldn't be good.

Barry: I've read that you, Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen are supposed to be getting together to do... to "do" something.

Roland: Yeah we've had a couple of meetings already, and last time Christmas, just after Christmas and we decided now when we have time - writing songs for Michael, so Mike said "I don't want to write songs because it's too far away metal style" so Kai is writing separate first and then me when I am coming back in a couple of months I guess and play the first songs to Mike and see if he likes it.

Barry: So this is going to be a completely separate bands then?

Roland: It's a totally new project it would be first and then if it's successful then we'll see, but then we're planning lots of touring and playing gigs.

Barry: Will this be a predominantly power metal album?

Roland: It will be very tasteful power metal, nothing too drastical or brutal or too stupid fast - I mean many people know about Mickael Kiske's opinions about this but I guess he's a bit more open, definitely, when it's coming from Kai and me - also we will have some double bass, haha, but it will be very melodic from the vocal side because I guess the only strength on his vocals if it's really melodic, like if you have songs like "Eagle Fly Free" from Helloween, or you know "I Want Out" or "Heroes" from Masterplan, this fits in very nice you know, or the Avantasia stuff as well - but his solo stuff is always just one note, he's always holding... [and then impersonates Michael singing and holding just one note] and it's always like a bit boring you know... without criticizing him, he likes this kind of style but I guess his strengths are much more melodic. Like anthems you know, these kinds of melodies you know, like the ballad like the one from Helloween which was number one in Korea you know [and then sings] "in my heart, in my soul.. da da da-da" - it's not easy to write but you know if you write the stuff with voice and it's quite nice compared to Jørn or Mike DiMeo - I would never write stuff for them like this, it's too pitchy, but with Michael Kiske's voice it sounds really great. I think that is much more important then if it is just a fast double bass track or if it's just aggressive guitar playing, I don't think these are as important any more. The whole concept should be good.

Barry: So you're going to see how successful this is then and then the possibility of touring...

Roland: Yeah! that's what I said, if we have a good... good... good feelings with this whole thing and we are getting of course a bass player and drummer and then we're recording it and then looking for a record deal - and then if we get a good kind of deal then I guess we will announce already tour dates, and we will also be playing some older Helloween stuff written from Kai and Kiske and me - and I guess people will have a lot of fun hearing the old Helloween stuff with the new stuff, and if we make it clever then I think it should fit - but that's the idea we are definitely looking forward. Mike, Mike Kiske has already said of course you could play some shows already, maybe people asking us already if we would just be playing the old stuff of Helloween but it would be wrong - you should present a new album and then some older stuff, that's it - not like some Helloween kind of cover band.

Barry: So are there any names kicking around at the moment? Any other band members?

Roland: No, no - the best would be if Markus Großkopf would play bass, and maybe he is doing it - we have to ask him, it's just if he gets into trouble with Helloween, he had a very unique style which is really great, he is very kind of playing his own melody bass instead of just copying the rhythm guitar, and... but for drummer definitely would maybe be Uli - I mean Ingo would be perfect but he's not there any more... we will see, the drummer is what we are not sure - I mean a long time ago I asked Uli if he would join this project as well and he says "meeh, probably" - he has really problems with Kai, they're not really talking to each other, and now I don't really like to play with Uli any more. Haha, so we have two reasons. Yeah, then I am planning many many projects like doing another solo album, or something like... something... which I don't want to tour with, something like totally different from the metal like a rock/blues, very basic album and maybe singing with some great singers on it... or I am also planning something very dramatic, you know... not like a metal opera or something, but very more basic, progressive kind of stuff which is dynamic and very tasteful...

Barry: Did you listen to stuff like Saxon when you was little then?

Roland: Umm, the new album I do not have - and I have one album from about four, five years ago or six, seven years ago when Charlie Bauerfield gave it to me and I guess... and I liked it. I saw Saxon also in '82-3-4, I can't remember the year, supporting Judas Priest in Hamburg, and yeah - I liked the band from the beginning and when I had my first professional band called Rampage... yeah, we had a little bit of this kind of style but more melodic singing with choirs, but the guitar riffs were similar, you know old English, British style... what's the name... British metal? Yeah... Saxon created it. when I hear the old stuff of them it sounds totally like my old band - very naïve kind of, imitating Saxon riffs. What I hear live now every night, I'm getting used to all the songs now and I really like it.

Barry: Yeah, they're playing a lot from the new album.

Roland: Yeah - I don't even realise because I'm not such a big fan, but finally I am a fan and I am really happy to get a DVD or something, I want to see them you know as I am remembering this tour, it's really nice and everyone is fantastic, very nice people.

Barry: So do you only like the more melodic side of metal, do you not like more extreme metal - death metal or black metal?

Roland: Me? no, that's not right, I like modern stuff a lot and I think we have always had a little bit, like 5-10% some very modern licks here and there just to make it more fresh sounding, you know. and - no I like In Flames a lot, American bands like Korn other stuff... I really like it a lot - but I don't like it if it is just brutal stupid - you know, I don't hear any melody in the voice or the whole music is just "bleeegh!!" no, but In Flames is cool and there are many other bands I like, but I guess Slipknot is not to my taste, haha, all this kind of stuff, but yeah, I like Linkin Park and all this stuff - Rammstein are my favourite band, Rammstein is fantastic - to me the best band on the fucking planet, to me they are so cool and so successful that I'm getting jealous. but I also like the opposite, you know, like I said I was never a big 'Maiden fan or Saxon fan - but now I see the quality much more as I get older you know - and of course, if 'Maiden were to ask me "hey, would you want to support us" - Masterplan support 'Maiden, perfect... so I am pretty open for many styles, but of course in Masterplan I try not to be too crazy, making it like anti-social. Even we had one song recorded already for the first album which I think was very Sepultura sounding and I never had the balls to release it - it's too modern, always singing very melodic on the top but the guitar was all "dum dum duh-duh-duh-duh pfff! dum dum dum, duh-duh-duh-duh, doo-de-doo" [impression of very down-tuned guitar] - very modern played you know, inspired by Roy Z, like I said this guy is very open for other stuff.

Barry: Do you think that your new album is your best album so far then?

Roland: The "MK II" album is definitely the best album in the moment we could make, it's new line-up, everything was time-wise very short to record and everything and... but we are pretty proud of it, I guess it's a good way, a good start to the new line-up.

Barry: On this tour so far you have been playing most songs from the first album...

Roland: Yeah, the plan is, normally that we get one hour playing time and we had three, beginning we had four songs but we canceled already after three-four shows "Masterplan" the song and also we didn't think it fit to the Saxon audience - it's too kind of progressive, too complicated - when they hear it the first time - you know when you know the album title or song from the album you are used to it, it's fine as a fan but new - like "dumdumdum dum-dum dumdumdum duuh" [more guitar impersonating] - it's just too complicated and then we realised without it is better and we had one hour set which is fine - but then 45 minutes we have to drop another two songs and today it's even five minutes less.

Barry: so it's looking good for the future then for Masterplan, there's a new album already in the works...

Roland: Yeah, we are planning like a faster release next year, that's why I like to start, as fast as possible to write songs and so the plan is, to release the single around the July, August period that we play already festivals next year. We are already booked 90% for Wacken next year and for Sweden Rock and for many many more, hopefully we will get a festival tour presenting the new single - and then the album comes out around September or sometime like that, so it's like six months earlier then normal - so I think that's a good plan and then touring and doing the first DVD.

Barry: Have you got anywhere planned were you would want to record the DVD?

Roland: Nothing really at the moment, but I think it should be somewhere special - not this typical live in Japan or Brazil, it's always the same you know - we should play it in England!

Barry: Yeah!

Roland: I mean Manchester was really loud audience - crazy, in London they liked it as well - but yeah, just to make a special event - a lot of promotion and maybe bring in a lot of people, you know just very cheap to this venue and then just play it life in England... no body is doing this any more...

Barry: Yeah. There's some people that normally like power metal that aren't such big fans of Masterplan but there's also people that normally aren't such big fans of power metal but are big fans of Masterplan - do you think you can explain this, do you think there is any reason why?

Roland: I guess we are more cross over of melodic metal to power metal - we have also a couple of power metal songs, but like I said from the Helloween years I am a bit tired just to have "digadigadiga" [impersonating double bass drums] always the same you know - I call it already German Kinder metal and I don't like this style so much any more, that's why I think... we're more tasty you know, we're more...

[after sitting with us for over ten minutes, Jan chips in]

Jan: Not scared of mixing sound elements and styles.

Roland: Yeah.

Jan: That's a big point.

Roland: I think we are the most colourful metal/rock band. you can say we have a lot of stuff from the 70's, 80's and 90's and like I said some very modern element you know, especially I use down-tuned guitars, I use also you know so licks which are normally played by very, you know... Sepultura... just very tasty a little bit just here and there - I could show you the licks but people don't even realise... so it's like they think it sounds cool but they don't know what I am doing - it doesn't matter what I am doing, it's just I'm not analysing what I'm doing so much... just everything I like I put in this fucking melting pot of Masterplan - and I don't even mind to have a song that's very clever with rap kind of talking or even screaming stuff when it's tasty like In Flames - but then on the other side it's very melodic to keep it like a tension between melodic, melodic kind of stuff and the aggression.

Barry: Will the next album be similar to the last album then?

Roland: You never know... hmm, I'm looking forward to make a next step - I'm not trying to copy this album or the first one - don't know, I think we should always get better and better, and like I said when I am trying to work with Roy Z and the band and everybody has new input - I think it will definitely be sounding different, just from natural kind of developing because - I'm not in the same situation like I was in 2001 when I was writing songs for the first album - it was a different time, different feeling... and we will see.

Barry: Are there any places around the world that have really embraced Masterplan or anywhere that you really like to play?

Roland: Umm, lets see what's happening today but definitely England at the moment, it's very nice for me I'm surprised and they like us really a lot - so they don't think of us as just a German band with an American singer and they're watching us and would get big applause - the Saxon guys are very proud of it that the support band makes a good drop here without making compromise... and I like England a lot, Scandinavia - I can say Sweden... Finland was one of the best shows, first time in Finland - Helsinki... hmm, the east - Poland, Czech Republic, Greece was great - Italy, Spain... even Germany is great but...

Jan: At the beginning of the tour, hahaha.

Roland: At the beginning of the tour we fucked up... I was thinking last night in the bus on my bed - I would like to say something to the fans like "yeah, we had some great shows" ...and I was thinking which shows were great, and there was so many... you can say like fifteen were unbelievable good, different quality, then ten were ok, good - everyone was satisfied, but then about five or so shows I would say we should even play - we had technical problems in the beginning - the first show in Holland was good, people liked it, the second was "uughh?" - the third one the technical problems made us... in Cologne... most of the press in Germany were there - they said "what the fuck is this?!" hahahaha - bad reviews throughout - a day later or two days later in Hamburg, a fantastic show - next day Berlin.. "hmm...", next day Leipzig, great show, next day again... "huuuuuuh??" haha - Lichtenfels, fucking people are the laziest people I ever saw - I had it always, first line-up of Masterplan and in Helloween the same I remember always this place - they are total countryside people... and then we had the eastern break, and after this break we came to south Germany again - to Munich, fantastic Munich...

Jan: Since then it's good...

Roland: Everything has been great...

Barry: So then a headlining tour in the future then - that will be next year?

Roland: The end of next year, yeah, shortly after the new album release I guess we should have a tour and then playing like with one or two other bands... living room tour in England, we'll play on this stage here. Haha [points to a stage about three meters wide across the room]

Jan: Not more then 20 people in the audience allowed.

Roland: No, we're doing a good job here - a time to remember.

Barry: I'm glad to hear that finally England is making a good impression.

Jan: Yeah! I was nearly shitting my pants before the first show in Manchester... I was like "oh sheiße" yeah, because I had never played in clubs in England, I've only been here twice with Masterplan at the Bloodstock festival, I never played clubs and I had no clue what the audience is like, what the people are like - but I am rally glad, I love this, I love it here - fantastic audience, fantastic people, it's great - only I have to complain about the beer.

Roland: Hahahaha.

Jan: And the food - terrible man!!!

Roland: You know, I was so many times here in England with management and Helloween and all the crew members were English but they always invited us for something like restaurant and I was always like "what terrible food they have" - the only thing that's good is the Indian...

Barry: Haha yeah, when I saw Helloween the beginning of last year, Andi was saying on the stage that he was quite scared about coming to England because they are a German band and I'm thinking "why are you scared of coming?"

Jan: Yeah, there are many many rumours if you have never been here - and then some people tell you "ooo! you have to be careful, they throw stones on stage and like, like bottles full of pee..." haha - but for us now it is completely different - it feels like a warm welcome - the people don't know us, I think the first one or two songs they stand in front of the stage, like looking at us and its like "what's that?" and then they start to like it, because most people are here for Saxon of course, and, but it's like the opposite of what I expected.

Barry: So Mike Terrana will be doing a drum solo during the set - that must be different for a Masterplan set...

Roland: A drum solo? yeah, he's always doing a drum solo - today he makes a very short one because have to cut it down...

Jan: Yeah, only 40 minutes...

Roland: So I told him just two minutes.

Barry: But Uli never used to do drum solos...

Roland: No, Uli never liked it - "doesn't have anything to show" he says, no, he never liked to do it - we forced him in Japan to do some drum solo but he made something more rhythm kind of singing you know with the people with special effects, but he didn't show his tricks - but that's fine - not everybody needs to do that thing, I mean I do my three - four standard licks here as a solo and./. but fifteen years ago with Helloween, I had in Japan ten minutes alone for solo./. but that was the time of the 80's or the 90's - no body needs long solos any more - and also Mike did it in Rage for twenty minutes, I said "this is fucking boring" - twenty minutes of drum solo, you know that is the time when people go and get a beer...

Jan: But you know why drum solos are so long?

Barry: Why?

Jan: They should never stop because when the drum solo stops then the bass solo begins, hahaha!

Roland: No but he's definitely going to show some minutes his drum parts, people always get crazier...

Jan: Yeah, they're impressed.

Roland: He learnt many many years just to twiddle his sticks and all this...

Barry: What was it about him that you wanted for a drummer? what was it about him you liked?

Roland: He's an old friend of mine from my solo albums and I know he can play everything, and he can be very powerful - Uli is a very quiet drummer, but it doesn't matter, in the studio, live you can always hear it... anyway, it's time for me to prepare - for food...

And then after a short discussion about Akercocke (who we could hear sound checking who were also playing at the venue that night) and how "the bass drums are so fast you can't even hear them any more" - Roland was off for food followed shortly by Jan carrying a pair of his freshly washed socks with "the best invention ever" clipping two socks to each other...

Thanks go to Roland Grapow for his time and for this opportunity and also Jan Eckert for his time,
Conducted and transcribed by Barry Anderson


Posted on 26.05.2007 by Member of Staff since 2006.


Comments: 13   Visited by: 30 users
26.05.2007 - 08:49
Baz Anderson
..and I will add that when I saw Jan a little bit later he said the food was really good. ha!
26.05.2007 - 13:38
Account deleted
as always...awesome interview man!
26.05.2007 - 14:20
Great! I especially loved the part where he explains what went on with Helloween, Jorn and Uli. I'm also looking forward to that new project with Kiske and Hansen.

Very interesting interview
La belleza no reside en lo que puedas crear, sino en lo que eres capaz de transmitir
Beauty resides not in what you're able to create, but in what you're able to communicate

Txus, Mägo De Oz
26.05.2007 - 15:30
Brilliant interview Baz.... Really in a lot of depth, nice one...
27.05.2007 - 03:49
Winter is Coming
Yet another brilliant interview from you, sweet

I simply love his raw description and answers! He just says it as is, no sugarcoating
And already he is thinking of new materials for the new album, that's good news along with the side project with Hansen and Kiske!!

And so I gather the band members fell in love with the English fans!!

So what sorta reception did they get from the fans in this show?

And no offense to anyone in England, but I agree with them on the food matter
"Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died."
Ser Jorah Mormont
27.05.2007 - 04:33
Baz Anderson
thanks a lot!

yeh! he was straight to the point and just said what he wanted to say without any hesitation..
it was absolutely amazing to meet Roland! and of course Jan but he came a little later

at this show.. I think it went probably as well as it could - I was singing along and I think I could hear quite a few other people singing along as well..
outside the venue I saw a guy wearing a Masterplan "Aeronautics" top and I was thinking "I want that!" hahaha

seeing as probably quite a majority of the audience didn't know them it went really well - people seemed to be into it and especially with Mike's drum solo it showed people they they were a serious band!!
all of their shirts apart from L and XL longsleeves and girls tops had sold out even before they got to Nottingham! so that was a really good sign!

also I just want to add something here regarding the review I did for the "MK II" album when it was released..
after this interview I have had a much greater insight to how Roland works - and that while reviewing the album I was looking at it from a wrong perspective
I was expecting a power metal album, but Masterplan are not a power metal band - they are a mixture of power metal and a bunch of other things in there as well and it wasn't what I wanted to hear at the time. I still gave the album a good rating but if I were to review it after this experience it would have a higher rating!

thats all
27.05.2007 - 06:53
Advice Troll
Written by wrathchild on 26.05.2007 at 14:20

Great! I especially loved the part where he explains what went on with Helloween, Jorn and Uli. I'm also looking forward to that new project with Kiske and Hansen.

Very interesting interview

Yeah! I'm second to that! I'm looking forward to that project with the ex-Helloween members! Especially if it's like the "I Want Out" song.
Bitch! Please
27.05.2007 - 08:54
Account deleted
Jaja... Kiske will retire again from Metal after that.
28.05.2007 - 08:45
Bitch Boy
Your interviews are always nice. I liked this one very much, especially that questions about Helloween. Congrats!
28.05.2007 - 13:11
You have done a huge work's've done it very well...
Go ahead, make my day...
28.05.2007 - 17:48
Yeah great work and a nice read...again. As always good questions.

I'm glad they didn't snatched Patrik Johansson from Astral Doors (and Wuthering Heights) eventhough he could have been great here too

Dreams are made so we don't get bored when we sleep
02.07.2007 - 20:49
Account deleted
Great, great interview !!!!
21.11.2010 - 18:37
Baz Anderson
I just read this interview back... it's crazy to think that it was me that did it.
I guess I am much more prepared for interviews these days... is that a good thing, or a bad thing though?
I quite enjoyed reading this back.

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