HELLOWEEN - The Hellride Is Over...
By Martin Popoff

Line-up strife, a record pretty much denounced, sick drummers, flooded pumpkin patches... these are the events that Helloween found inspiration from in (badly) naming their new record Rabbit Don't Come Easy. But one spot of good came out of the hell that was The Dark Ride: the new album is a return to the buoyant and brisk power grooves of the band's two critical peak eras, namely, the late '80s and the late '90s (I'll let you name the records).

Guitarist Michael Weikath charts the arrival alive and more than intact, after the destructive Dark Ride that marred the band's millennial party plans. "Actually, you know, you can't compare it, because The Dark Ride had been a step into the wrong direction, at least for Helloween. I mean, it's a good product and I don't really have much of a problem with that record anymore because it's so way back in the past. But near to that time, I can tell you I had a real hard time being around what I was around and I didn't want to be that at all. To me, it was just the wrong move to do after Better Than Raw and Jukebox. To me, we should've done something like this, Rabbit Don't Come Easy. That would have been the logical way of doing things. I couldn't conceive how one can go into that Dark Ride direction. And I made it a point right from the start. On the other hand, nobody obviously took great care of what I said, so what can you do?"

And now Helloween's output is going to be scrutinized more closely, given the defection of drummer Uli Kusch and guitarist Roland Grapow to vibrant, well-received upstart Masterplan. Again, that strange title - which would have worked at least a little better with a plural rabbit - hops back into play.

"It's a simple thing," answers Michael, on the naming of the record. "You obviously know that idiom, pulling rabbits out of a hat. So the trouble we had during the recording, Mark Cross got ill with that mononucleosis, Epstein Barr bitch of a virus; that didn't make things easier. But even on a lower base, we had some other difficulties like we had heavy rain and the rehearsal room got flooded so we had to get moved out of it and go to a different one where circumstances weren't as good. You know those days when you get stuck with your jacket onto the doorknob or something? Something like that happened to us all the time. So when I came up with the album cover idea, I've already had that idea for five or six years but it didn't seem applicable to anything we had in the past. So I just brought up that idea again. This one didn't come easy, so Rabbit Don't Come Easy. So yeah, man, that's the f**king title."

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