Matt Phelps of Über Röck recently conducted an interview with German musician Kai Hansen (UNISONIC, GAMMA RAY, ex-HELLOWEEN). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Über Röck: I spoke to [UNISONIC/ex-HELLOWEEN singer] Michael [Kiske] a couple of years ago and that was when UNISONIC were just forming and you weren’t part of the band then. I believe it was being on the AVANTASIA tour that brought you back closer together, so can you tell us a bit about that?
Kai: Absolutely. I only just knew that he [Michael] had this new band and was ready and willing to come out of his secluded life and join the rock world again and go on stages and all that. I felt very happy for him because I always thought, “What a waste of talent,” with him creeping around and not really doing something big because he actually should deserve it, his voice deserves it. Anyhow, when we did that AVANTASIA tour, it was the first time for him on a stage again with me and immediately we felt there was still a strong chemistry and it was so much fun and went really well plus we got a great response from the audience. It was pretty amazing and the strong bond that we have connected and that led to a situation where we talked about doing something together. There were three options, a project, him join GAMMA RAY or me UNISONIC. Since the first two didn’t really make sense, we chose the third one and it feels really good.
Über Röck: So how did approaching the other UNISONIC guys about you joining go?
Kai: When we said that me joining UNISONIC would be the only option that made sense, I was still really doubtful because I didn’t really know what UNISONIC would be about, if it would be something I could really contribute to. I didn’t know the other guys, so a lot of things had to be sorted out first. So Michael talked to the others and told them that he thought it would be a great thing if I joined the band, and they liked the idea. So we got together and got to know each other. Mandy [Meyer] was not present at that time, it was Kosta [Zafiriou], me, Michi and Dennis [Ward] and we just went out and had dinner to get to know each other and it was fun and full of good spirit. We talked about things and I said that there were a few things I wanted to make clear up front because if I join something and I devote myself to it I can be pretty strict and pretty choosy when it comes down to saying what I like and don’t like. If I think a song is crap, I say it, you know? And they were all cool, we were all happy and it felt good. Then the final test was to make a date and just do jamming for a few days, see how it works out and see how it feels because sometimes you could be put together with the best musicians in the world and the outcome would be zero because you just don’t fit together. You never know. So we did that test and it went brilliantly, so in the end there was no reason for me to say no to joining.
Über Röck: But that’s not the end of GAMMA RAY, though, is it?
Kai: No, no, no. That’s not the end of GAMMA RAY. This is just like a temporary holiday from the stuff I do with GAMMA RAY. We will switch back and forth. We’ll work it so that one year’s a GAMMA RAY year and one year’s a UNISONIC year and that we we can work without leaving the other band cold.
Über Röck: One of the things that you didn’t like about HELLOWEEN was moving into more of a pop culture place, not so much the music maybe but the image or at least perception of the band…
Kai: Yeah it was not really the pop thing because even some of the songs I wrote, like “Future World” and “I Want Out”, had poppy elements. They were catchy and poppy as hell, but they still had heavy guitars so I never minded that. What I didn’t really like at that time and what I couldn’t really dig was we were a heavy metal band and heavy metal is underground and doesn’t belong in girly pop magazines and that’s where we ended up. I felt uncomfortable with that, I didn’t want to do any silly home reports with me sitting on a bed with little cuddly animals and stuff like that. [laughs] So that was my problem.
Read the entire interview from Über Röck.
“Unisonic” (song) video: