Josh Rundquist of That Drummer Guy recently conducted an interview with frontman Hansi Kürsch of German power metal veterans BLIND GUARDIAN. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On BLIND GUARDIAN's new all-orchestral album, "Twilight Orchestra: Legacy Of The Dark Lands":
Hansi: "The 'Legacy Of The Dark Lands', obviously, for myself, is the magnum opus of BLIND GUARDIAN and maybe the magnum opus of my career. We started working on this one in 1996. That was during 'Nightfall In Middle Earth'. Having two songs which were so different that we finally decided not to use them on 'Nightfall', but instead [we decided to] establish a new style and a new sort of music, which over the years we called the 'orchestral album' and the 'orchestral BLIND GUARDIAN' music. It takes us to the year 2019, where, finally, all the stuff has been accomplished and we will be able to make it public to the people."
On whether he ever felt "Legacy Of The Dark Lands" would never be released considering it took BLIND GUARDIAN 23 years to complete the album:
Hansi: "Yes, especially over the last five years. The first time I really announced that album to be released was maybe 10 years ago where I was sure, 'The next thing we're going to do is going back to the studio, then finishing this album including all the recordings.' But it never came to happen because BLIND GUARDIAN is such a big thing for us and all the albums we did in between needed the time they needed, not only production-wise, but also for touring and songwriting as well. But especially once we started singing, I think in 2017, I was quite sure that the album was about to be finished. Then, finding out every day, well, we still have to find a way how I can conquer the orchestra that it will be to my liking. That was almost driving me into a desperate spot. It seemed to be a mission impossible at points. There is so much dynamics and energy in an orchestra and singing to it was quite the experience. At that point, I was almost afraid of not being able to accomplish that one."
On getting his vocals to fit with an orchestra:
Hansi: "That was the surprising thing for us and that struck me by surprise how difficult it was when working with the orchestra. When we started doing these songs, we were obviously not working with an orchestra, but with a programmed library with a computer, with a keyboard. That allowed me to really shine to this stuff. It was really easy for me to master all these compositions while doing the songwriting. We had a very good feeling of how my voice would sound along with the orchestra. That is the reason why we decided not to use a band as an addition to the whole thing. But when working with an orchestra and having these dynamics, I was so overwhelmed by the power. I thought, 'Well, it's going to take a while until I'm really able to compete with such musicianship.' We really had to adjust, not so much because of the voice itself, but because of the intensity because we just felt, 'Well, if I go too much into a BLIND GUARDIAN heavy direction, then I would spoil the fine dynamics of the orchestra.' On the other hand, we felt if I go too much into an opera direction, I would deny the BLIND GUARDIAN origin. So, getting that exact mode was something we really worked on for at least six or seven months until we really knew, 'This is the way I need to treat each and every track.' Saying that, I sang that album with all the layers and everything on there three times for a proper version, just different intensities."
On proving that BLIND GUARDIAN could create an orchestral album:
Hansi: "That's a good thing about being in a band like BLIND GUARDIAN — we take our time and really do things we want to do. It's not like anyone is forcing us to be part of BLIND GUARDIAN or to do certain music which we might not relate to. This is not the case. Obviously, with a project in process for 23 years, there must be a lot of patience. [Laughs] In general, when doing music, I don't think about the time I've been in it. It's still the same excitement. I'm not nervous when I'm in the studio, but I'm really excited. There will be points in a production I'm now aware of where I will totally question everything I'm doing at the moment. There are other moments and these are the magic moments, when I, myself, just feel one hundred percent on top of the game. Of course, these are the moments I am chasing for and these are the moments Charlie Bauerfeind, as a producer, is chasing for. These moments cannot be created; they come instantly. But, you really work and enjoy what you're doing and forget about anything. I have no idea how people will relate to it. Maybe there are people who will not be able to catch the magic of it because the metal band is not involved. It is exactly what we wanted to do right now. This gives me such a good feeling. It almost gives me the chance to even look at it as an outsider. I'm not depending on anything. I'm just sure that this is our masterpiece. What can I say?"
"Twilight Orchestra: Legacy Of The Dark Lands" was released November 8 via Nuclear Blast.
To create the concept, lead guitarist André Olbrich and Kürsch worked alongside German bestselling author Markus Heitz, whose latest novel, "Die Dunklen Lande", was released on March 1. The book is set in 1629 and contains the prequel to "Legacy Of The Dark Lands".