As they return with a new album, Helloween's Markus Grosskopf opens up about the band's expanding line-up and tackling epic setlists...
Over the course of their 37-year career, German power metallers have seen a fair few members come and go.
The band's original line-up consisted of Kai Hansen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Michael Weikath on lead guitar, Markus Grosskopf on bass, and Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums, with singer Michael Kiske soon joining the band.
Weikath and Grosskopf have remained throughout the period, but Hansen departed in 1989, and, after a fallout among the group, Kiske was fired in 1993 to be replaced by former Pink Cream 69 frontman Andi Deris.
Drummers have come and gone for the band, but the core line-up has remained steady as they continued their career, pushing the limits of power metal until they buckle over the course of 15 records.
Then, in 2016, fans were delighted when it was announced that Hansen and Kiske were re-joining the band and the line-up was expanding to a seven-piece with three different vocalists.
Now that seven-piece, having toured extensively, have laid down roots in the studio and produced a new LP, which is self-titled and out today (June 18th).
As the album drops, we spoke to bassist and founding member Markus Grosskopf about the band's expanding line-up and tackling the epic setlist...
This is your first studio album for six years, had you planned to have a decent gap between records or did it simply work out that way?
"We released a live album in 2019, United Alive in Madrid. It is not really a big gap in between considering what we did and how much time we had to concentrate on new songwriting. We had our reunion, then went on our Pumpkins United World Tour for almost two years and right after we went immediately into the studio to start working on the new record."
The last time you made a record there were five of you, now you’re a seven-piece, did that change the dynamic in the writing or recording of the record?
"Yes, it did. We have now two more gifted, creative musicians and songwriters and therefore many more ideas were floating around. As far as I know, Andi Deris was really happy with this because while writing he figured out that some songs would fit much better for Michi’s voice. It was a win-win situation for everyone."
You worked with Charlie Bauerfeind, as you have for your last 10 albums, what is it about that relationship that keeps you coming back? What does he give you as a producer?
"Charlie knows the band very well, he always knows how to get the best out of us and he was also a fantastic leader with this project. He coordinated everything so well, very organized, very creative and you can always rely on him. He is our man."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"No, this is not a concept album and therefore no theme that runs through the songs. Every song is individually and stands on its own. As many members as we have everyone has their own ideas and put these ideas into their song."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"Probably 'Skyfall', it has so many facets and making it was very long and the arrangement was very laborious."
And which came together most quickly?
"'Indestructable', I would say, it is very much a straight rock song."
You’ve waited until album Number 16 to have a self-titled record, why now?
"It is a new era for Helloween and we wanted to emphasize this. Old and new Helloween members now united, the circle is closed and we are starting a new chapter."
You’ve got a big tour booked for 2022, you must be excited to get back out there…
"We all are, we can’t wait to play live again and to finally interact with our fans."
16 records! How will you decide what makes the setlist?
"It's a bit early to decide. We probably will play around five songs from the new album, but nothing set in stone and not even touched in discussions yet."