Shockwaves: Many people are not aware, especially here in the US, that Better Than Raw is actually your eleventh album. I find it quite astonishing that the band is still very successful all over the world, considering the fact that you've went through several lineup changes and still play traditional progressive metal. What do you think lends to Helloween's longevity, whereas most metal bands of your genre have died by the wayside?
Uli: When Andi and I joined the band in '94 and recorded the album Master Of The Rings, that was sort of a re-birth for Helloween. When I joined this band everyone was in an equal position, there wasn't one leader per se. So everybody contributed and we were all on the same level, and I think that is important for a band to have. We can discuss, we can shout, we can laugh, and we can cry. The band situation I was in before with Holy Moses and with Gamma Ray...it couldn't work. I had to leave because I didn't feel good with the situation. So, it is very important with Helloween to keep this alive with five of us working together. And this is one of the main reasons I think so many bands split, because of a band leader who wants to do everything their way.
Shockwaves: Speaking of Gamma Ray, that band featured former Helloween guitarist/song-writer Kai Hansen. Was it a somewhat strange vibe when you first joined Helloween, seeing that Kai was a former member of that band?
Uli: Yes, somehow it was strange. But during the first tour with Gamma Ray and the recording of their second record, it was a good time. But then suddenly things went bad.
Shockwaves: Over the last year or two, quite a few metal bands from the '70s and '80s have re-grouped. I've also noticed that several new bands, particularly from Germany, are emerging onto the scene playing very traditional metal music. What do you think of a lot of these new groups?
Uli: I don't listen to a lot of the new bands. I think Rammstein are pretty good...when they came out with their first record I thought it was quite a good thing. But, I think after Faith No More, there was nothing really special. I am still waiting for a really good band to come out, something inspiring. I'm not interested in Marilyn Manson or the sort...it's just not my taste. I suppose he has some good songs and his concerts may be strange, but it's just not my thing. I'm still into the old-fashioned stuff like Rainbow, Queensryche, Judas Priest...that's what I listen to and enjoy.
Shockwaves: Just prior to Better Than Raw, you released the double-live CD High Live, which was actually the band's second live record. Very few rock bands these are able to release a successful single live CD (other than some "Unplugged" crap) let alone a double-live CD!
Uli: We released Live In the UK back in 1981. I guess we did High Live to settle in...this was a new lineup for the band and we just wanted to have the new show on record.
Shockwaves: Better Than Raw is your first album through the new BMG label Velvel. How has that worked out for you so far?
Uli: So far I must say it's going better than in the past. Hopefully, it will just progress from here. But to be honest, I don't know too much about how the record is doing here in the States since we've been traveling around the world and our albums are released worldwide. But I can only hope it does good in the US because I would love to come back to tour America!
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