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Kerby's Exclusive Interview With Helloween Guitarist Michael Weikath

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Monday, September 1, 2003 @ 8:33 PM


I Want Out: Kerby’s Exclusiv

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It started off with one beer -- one frosty Budweiser that I thought I owed myself as a reward for making it through yet another morning under the oppressive skin-searing heat of the desert. Well… by the time this interview was over, the six-pack was gone, and I wasn’t exactly sure what the hell had just happened. You see, Michael Weikath is a friendly enough guy and all that, but talking to him for any extended period of time can definitely leave you with a case of conversational vertigo. The guitarist has a tendency to enthusiastically jump from one story about blondes to another story about blondes while also managing to comment on the everyday dilemmas that an older metalhead from Germany might encounter upon entering the uber American melting pot known as southern California. Listening to Weikath that afternoon constantly made me think of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when Keanu Reeves and that little white-haired afro boy inadvertently dropped all those historical figures like Abe Lincoln and Genghis Kahn on an unsuspecting San Dimas. His responses consistently emphasized some of the cultural and language based barriers that many of us don’t consider when talking to people from another country. From the first exchange where Weikath thought he heard the word “politic” instead of “prolific,” I realized this conversation was going to go where it was going to go and that was that.

Hell, after twenty years in a metal band, who cares about linear thought anyway, right? Although Weikath’s group never made it past a cult type status in this country, there is still that sense that Keeper of the Seven Keys could have done better here if it would have simply been promoted more aggressively and placed in the right portion of the genre. If it had, Helloween would surely have enjoyed increased success, and there would have been even more opportunities for young rockers to see the group and purchase concert shirts with the ever-present pumpkin logo emblazoned on the front. Besides, who would have ever guessed in ‘88 that anyone would still be doing interviews with Helloween and that the band would still be carrying the torch of metal decades later? The fact that they are still around says something… and I’m pretty sure that whatever that is it includes a blonde girl and a tour bus.

KNAC.COM: Does it really seem like it has been twenty years since you guys started?
WEIKATH: Yeah, it does.

KNAC.COM: So you’re not one of those guys who wants to tell me that “time flies” and all that?
WEIKATH: No, it really does seem like twenty.

KNAC.COM: Helloween has averaged a record every one or two years since its inception. How do you guys manage to stay so prolific?
WEIKATH: No, I mean, we are politic. I don’t know, it’s just like our opinion. It’s just what we do, and we try to bring something across. I had a chat with someone one time at the Hard Rock in Germany, and I thought the interview was going alright until I got to the very point where he asked me if I thought that rock bands or artists should make political songs. At that point, I asked him what he thought, and he said, “I don’t think so. I don’t think they should get involved with political matters.” I said, “Really? This is what you think, and why?” He went on to tell me that, “Yeah, it doesn’t have anything to do with music.” I said, “Goddammit, what are you thinking!? I mean, this is about putting across messages isn’t it? Aren’t you from a country that is supposedly democratic? How can you live there and say that artists aren’t supposed to be political?” He finally just said, “Let’s skip that fucking question.”

KNAC.COM: Exactly, you do have an obligation to comment on the world around you, do you not?
WEIKATH: If I could just change it a little bit for the better… I just want to actually try. I think there’s a reason why Helloween has been blocked to the American media. I think we did say something somebody didn’t like. One time I had a conversation with this woman who was the head of public relations at the record company, and we had a lengthily talk about things, and she said, “Yeah, Michael, thanks very much for the talk. It was great to know what your opinions are.” The next thing I know, she’s communicating with the tour manager and telling him, “Don’t let him do any interviews because he doesn’t have the right attitude.”

KNAC.COM: And what year was this?
WEIKATH: I don’t know. I gave her a few freaky phone calls until I think she changed her number or lost interest. Her talking to the tour manager directly instead of me doesn’t work, you know? I mean, the tour manager is employed by me. I pay him, so what world or planet is she from?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, yeah… and to keep you from talking to the media—
WEIKATH: Yeah, you know, there’s something to it. I mean, she must have been one of the people who were trying to block us. I just don’t know. Right?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, sure. Why do you think that Helloween got blocked when a band like the Scorpions, who are also from Germany, seem to have gone over pretty well here?
WEIKATH: Do the Scorpions have much of a political output though?

KNAC.COM: Hmm, maybe “Winds of Change,” but other than that, I don’t think so. They did whistle a lot in that song, too—maybe that was it.
WEIKATH: We have anyway. We have merely been a band of conservative democrats. That’s what we are. We are not some left or right wing outfit that’s trying to summon hell on Earth. We’re just talking about the way things are going to be or should be. You know? We’re a democratic band. What of it?

KNAC.COM: Exactly, so what do you think the problem would be then?
WEIKATH: Well, maybe they don’t want trouble. Or maybe we just say things out of the ‘70s that don’t belong in modern times. I don’t know. I mean, we’re not left wing, so what are we talking about? This is a great opportunity to mention it because no one has ever asked me about it before, so what can I say? It is the same thing like when we had that interview with Ace Frehely on Headbanger’s Ball. He was a bit mixed up, but he was cute. He kept asking, “You guys are Satanists or… you sing about Satan?” It just reminded me of Saturday Night Live. I was just like, “No, we have nothing that goes on with Satan. We are Christians, and I have a cross around my neck.” I usually wear my cross and talk about Christians and democrats—whatever.

KNAC.COM: Do you think that if you had been promoted differently during The Keeper of the Seven Keys that Helloween could have been much bigger?
WEIKATH: Yeah, there was a key experience I had at the office of RCA in New York, and I’d been getting kind of aggressive about things at the time because of the advertising they were doing trying to promote Helloween in the States. One of the slogans was, “I want out—the outcry of a generation.” Then they wanted to put us on tour with Slayer. We refused. We wanted to go on the road with something that was a little more positive. I don’t care what different generations are up to, dammit. It was a good slogan, it was just was misplaced. They didn’t know where to put us. It was mixed up. I said, “Why do you want to put us on that antisocial, aggressive level like Megadeth or Slayer?” I thought they could just come up with something more decent—we have our own fucking identity. We have a very real band called Helloween, and I thought they should have just promoted us the way we were rather than inflicting something upon the public to make them realize what we are not.

KNAC.COM: Do you think it’s worse for a band to try to make it in America with the publicity machine being what it is here?
WEIKATH: It’s logical because it’s the way things have been run for many other bands, so if you take any other band like Bonfire or Warlock, those bands were made by some management, and they collected the musicians and gave them a contract. Then they gave them outfits and choreography. They gave them choreographers and put them in mirrored rooms to rehearse what they do, and we never did that. We went out on the tour with Armored Saint and Grim Reaper and during that time there had been a few people coming on the bus. One guy -- and this only goes to show how artificial things are sometimes -- one person came up and told me, “Ok, Weikath, I just saw your show and it was amazing. Please tell me who’s your choreographer and who’s your songwriter?” I said, “Fuck, we do all this on our own.” And then there would be the girls who would come on the bus and say, “Oh, I love your blue lenses, where did you get them, and who’s your optometrist, and how much were they?” I’d just tell them, “Look, these are my real eyes! I’ll take my lenses off, and I’ll still have my blue eyes.” This kind of thing would happen more than once.

KNAC.COM: Hard to win in that situation, isn’t it?
WEIKATH: There’s many superficial things going on, especially in the States at that time. There was one lady, and she was blonde, and you know, looking good and blah blah blah, and she was sitting on our tour bus. She ended up going to the next hotel with us, but nothing went down, ok?

KNAC.COM: I hear ya.
WEIKATH: Right, nothing went down, and we were talking all night, and she mentioned that she wouldn’t mind if I wanted to marry her or something. Obviously, getting married in the States doesn’t require that much attention or anything—you just do it. I was just surprised because in Germany, you usually get married after you know someone for ten years or something.

KNAC.COM: Right.
WEIKATH: And I said like, “Oh God, you’re looking good and nice. Why not? Maybe at the hotel we can make out some more, right?” And you know what’s going down on tours in America, so we went to the hotel, and I just talked to the lady and said, “Yeah, uh, how’s it gonna be? Are you gonna come to my room now or should I go to yours or how do you want it?” She said, “I’m not that type of girl!” And then she talked to another girl we had on the tour who had been taking care of so many things and um… guys… and she told this girl her entire life story. It included things like, how she got betrayed by her guy and how he beat her up and everything. You know, the next day I told her to leave. All we had been talking about all this time was gibberish, and she goes and tell this other girl everything. I was like, “Why didn’t you fucking tell me?” Right?

KNAC.COM: Right, right.
WEIKATH: Those other things like promoter ladies who thought they had to end up with me in one room because that’s the run of things, and then they end up in bed with me and say, “I’ve never done this before.” I’m like, “Why are you here then?” It’s like you gotta go to bed with young rock stars because they require it, no?

KNAC.COM: Yep.
WEIKATH: Just knock on the door and say, “Here I am—make good use of me.” Then, they turn around and say at the same moment that they’ve never done that before.

KNAC.COM: Damn groupies, huh?
WEIKATH: You know, there were groupies, and then there were non-groupies. There were some girls who were interested in the personalities. There was something else I found out, too. There’s a shortage of men in America, right? I mean without having been to the States, I never would have known. So there’s what? 70% of women and only 30% of men? Sometimes, those men are sometimes gay or ugly—

KNAC.COM: Or poor or dyslexic.
WEIKATH: Or disabled or whatever, so there’s this huge majority of women because of all the GI’s that America send into wars. There’s not many male people left in America depending on where you go. I mean, this stuck out to me. Now I know why you have so many lesbian girls—there aren’t enough guys.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, that’s one way of looking at it for sure.
WEIKATH: Yeah, but it’s simple and true. I mean, some people come up and say, “He’s talking a lot of bullshit,” but that’s the way it fucking is.

KNAC.COM: We’ve got better looking girls here than in Germany though, right? Little better grooming and all that?
WEIKATH: Yes. Although you do have a few German descendant girls in America and a few Irish.

KNAC.COM: They should make them wear T-shirts, though. Did you have a lot of problem with people staying on the bus too long or just not wanting to leave?
WEIKATH: There was one person we had to get rid of. We had to act kind of unfriendly towards him.

KNAC.COM: Oh.
WEIKATH: We had to kick him off the bus because he wouldn’t listen. It was only one person. We felt sorry for him, but that was the situation. The other people were always easy to handle, and it was just that they took some things for granted. Like they would just open the door and walk on the bus.

KNAC.COM: It’s kind of like someone just walking into your house, isn’t it?
WEIKATH: Yeah, open house. It’s like, “Here I am, who are you?” There was this one lady who sat down, and she was looking well, so I asked her how she was doing. She said, “What I say goes!” I said, “Oh, really. What do you say?” She said, “What I say goes!”

KNAC.COM: Nice.
WEIKATH: “Ok, ok, ok,” I said. Then, I told her that, “You better go somewhere else. There’s no use in staying here. No one here is interested in S + M.”

KNAC.COM: How hard is it to deal with the different nuances in language for you?
WEIKATH: In the states, it’s different from state to state. Some people called me queer when it obviously had a different meaning, so kind of like unusual. Whatever—not the real meaning. It’s been used on many occasions. I thought, “Why am I queer?” I wasn’t talking queer. Then they said, “You’re talking queer and this and that queer.” Odd.

KNAC.COM: You had no idea what they were talking about then?
WEIKATH: No. In California they may say something entirely different than they do in another state. Another story I want to tell you is that there was this one girl—blonde and good looking. She’d been running around the bus, and she was like, “where’s the party?” I said, “look, this isn’t Bon Jovi and something. There is no party to expect.” She kept asking me where the party was, but what she wanted was to get laid. At the time I was a bit stupid and naïve. I didn’t correspond to the terms they use, and then I didn’t get it. I just slapped myself later for being so fucking stupid. Then, there was this other good-looking blonde girl, and she was standing there in stretch jeans, and she was looking at me all the time. It was in the parking lot. She was standing there in high heels... [Cell phone rings.] Godammit! I can’t take this call. I’m doing an interview! Shut up! Can’t we wait til this is over?

KNAC.COM: That’s quite a ring you’ve got there.
WEIKATH: Stop! I’m hearing impaired in a way, so I set it to sound like this so I could always hear it.

KNAC.COM: I’ll bet you can.
WEIKATH: Ok, so there was this lady in the parking lot looking at me with bright blue eyes. She was all, “You know, I love you.” I asked her what she meant, and she said, “I love you with a double L.” I went out, and she was still standing there. I was actually shy to approach her. I don’t know.

KNAC.COM: Really.
WEIKATH: It seemed dangerous.

KNAC.COM: You’re in Los Angeles now, right? Yeah, you’d probably better watch out for those girls who seem ‘dangerous.’ You might wind up needing ointment. What else are you doing in California?
WEIKATH: I’ve been going to Burger King each morning when we had to stay up there for two weeks when we had to wait for the equipment to be shipped to Japan. I would just go to that Burger King place very often and early in the morning because they offered the… um, double Whopper with cheese for 99 cents. That’s where I went every morning, and I enjoyed it.

KNAC.COM: Really? A double Whopper with cheese for 99 cents?
WEIKATH: Yeah, and then there’s those people in LA who come up telling me, “You’re impossible, the way you look. You look like shit. Now go out and get some tattoos…”

KNAC.COM: No way! That’s funny.
WEIKATH: …go and get some piercings. How can you live?” This is what I got told, and I mean it’s accurate because I didn’t really blend in with LA. I was walking the streets, and I didn’t even have a fricking license. Can you imagine? LA is a town where you need a car, so I hated it. There are so those areas where you go around a corner and the day goes dark in the middle of daylight. It goes dark if you go around a corner and you go, “Uh, oh. I shouldn’t have put my foot in here.” There were some uh… black people in a yard?

KNAC.COM: Yeah…
WEIKATH: And they go, “What are you doing here, and where did you say you put that gun?” I went away and people say, “If you want to get entertained properly, call this line. These guys really know how to party!” I’ve seen that spot on TV thirty times today. I couldn’t stand it anymore. It’s like one of those lines where you go there and you like deposit twenty dollars and there’s for chips, crackers and drinks and you go over there eventually and pick a girl that you like and take her home. I thought, “Godammit, what is this?”

KNAC.COM: Sounds like a place where you could get yourself a good old-fashioned girl with fake tits and balloons for lips. Maybe some Botox injections in her forehead, too.
WEIKATH: I’ve seen a review about this where there was this guy with artificial muscles, and he has had them now for ten years, and he doesn’t even know the difference. He trips over if he has to run or jog a bit too much.

KNAC.COM: That could be a problem—especially on the beach. Have you guys had a chance to go there?
WEIKATH: We’ve been to the beach, but it was a different area. It was merely for a meeting with a representative of a management company that wanted to sign us. We went down to the beach for drinks and all this, so there was some time left to go and see the youngsters. My eyes just nearly fell off. There are some beach hunters on the Internet, and I think they took a picture of the girl that I took a picture of as well. I think it’s the same girl. I haven’t been to the beach that much, but I once had a girl who to Redondo Beach and came back with a bad case of herpes and had to go to the hospital. From what I heard she must have had every guy on the beach who wanted to access her. She had been writing me back cards about how nice it was there, so when I went, I didn’t cherish it much because that isn’t my world.

KNAC.COM: Is that kind of the way you feel about California?
WEIKATH: Yeah, entirely. That’s not my place. It’s like whatever I say or do, it’s not corresponding with the movie that’s playing there.


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