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Interviews : “I only expect the best from our Australian fans!” – An Interview With André Olbrich (Blind Guardian)

By on June 3, 2015

Blind Guardian 2015

André Olbrich – Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian have always been a band that have fascinated me, ever since I was first introduced to them in my early high school years. Perhaps more so than any other band in this subgenre of metal, Blind Guardian epitomise that dream of fantasy. With their musical, lyrical, and stylistic approach, they carved something unique from a tried and true formula; and furthermore established a persona that has become adored the world over – that of ‘the Bards’, the metal minstrels. To this day, that remains. There isn’t any other band that sound quite like them, and it is for that reason it is not difficult to understand their universal appeal. I was my pleasure then to speak with guitarist and band co-founder André Olbrich in the lead up to their short-and-sweet Australian tour.

After exchanging pleasantries, André and I got right into the thick of it, discussing their upcoming tour. “The excitement level is high as always!” André began, before we spoke about their latest album ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’. “Usually our fans need time to get along with the new songs in the live set, but this time, even songs like ‘Prophecies’ have been celebrated from the beginning, and that was unexpected. But we are very happy about this. I think it’s the musical approach that people really appreciate with this new album. We’ve brought in even more of this epic style to work on the fusion between orchestra and band.” He then notes enthusiastically, “For the Australian shows, I don’t expect any different. Our experience in Australia [in the past] was really nice. I only expect the best from our Australian fans!”

It is no secret André is a big fan of the global phenomenon that is World of Warcraft. The gamer in me simply couldn’t go without talking about this, as well as André’s thoughts on the upcoming Warcraft movie: “Yeah, I’m curious to see the movie,” André revealed, “but I’m really much more into playing than watching movies right now. I need this interaction. For me, the most important thing is playing MMO’s to communicate with other people, play in raids or something, you know? This interaction with other people is the most important aspect. Of course, the movie will be awesome! I like the trailers of all the add-ons in the main game; the trailers are really awesome. So, yeah, let’s see what they are doing!”

We then spoke a bit about how he’s been with the Blizzard title since the very beginning. “Yes, I had some headway and it’s still cool! The last add-on was really good, and I’m still playing every day. It’s fascinating! Even during the tour, I have my laptop with me and am always looking for internet every day to play a little bit!” [laughs]

After sharing a laugh over his last comment, I asked about his character class and what he prefers to play as. “I am a Holy Priest. I am a healer most of the time. For my guild, when we do raids, I’m healing. But I like the other classes. I tried out a lot over the years, and we even have a contact to Blizzard. There’s one guy from Blizzard who’s visiting us on our shows on a regular basis and we meet him on the role-play conventions. There’s a very good friendship between them and us already!”

BG - Beyond the Red Mirror

Beyond the Red Mirror – out now via Nuclear Blast

I snuck in a question then about a potential collaboration there in the near future: “Yeah, we have been thinking of this for years! It was almost happening that we were opening a show for them for a Blizzard event, but then the timing was a little bit messed up. But we are working on this. Maybe in the future we could work on something together.”

As a native fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, naturally, I’ve always been drawn to Blind Guardian’s 1998 release, ‘Nightfall in Middle-Earth’; a concept album based around the post-humous work, The Silmarillion. I posed to André whether Blind Guardian would ever consider following this format with a concept album based, perhaps, on The Lord of the Rings? “We were thinking about this in earlier days,” André noted. “When we started writing about Tolkien books, there was not this mainstream market for this. There was not the movies or anything. So we were one of the first bands grabbing these themes, and back then I thought it was quite interesting to do that. But nowadays it would look like we would try to jump on the commercial train, you know? Now the movies are done, The Lord of the Rings is really a big theme that everybody knows, and I think it wouldn’t be smart to do something like this. So we like to stick to our own themes. I really appreciate that Hansi brought his own story for the new album.”

Speaking of projects in the works, I asked if André could give us an update on where Blind Guardian sit with their oft-teased orchestral album (something that’s been brewing in the background for some years now). “Yes, we are very far already in the production,” he enthused. “We had to put it on ice again because of the new Blind Guardian album [‘Beyond the Red Mirror’] and the tour, but once the tour’s finished at the end of the year, we have an appointment already with Charlie [Bauerfeind], our producer, in the studio to work on it again. Songwriting is almost finished. There’s only little things here and there to change, but it’s almost done, and we have even more material than we can put on the first album. I think that the general plan is to finish this album in 2016 and then release it, hopefully, in 2017.” So definitely some good plans for the next couple of years for you then, I noted. “Yes! It’s something different and I think it will be very interesting for our fans as well. To see it from this other perspective.”

2015 also marks the 31 year anniversary for Blind Guardian. I asked André how it feels to be celebrating such a milestone, especially given all that Blind Guardian has achieved since then. “Actually, I’m only a little bit sad that the time was running so fast because it doesn’t feel like this. It feels like fifteen years, but not such an amount of time! [laughs] I don’t know where the time is running. It’s unbelievable. But I’m still happy to be part of this. The other guys are very nice guys and it’s really great fun to play music with them. Everybody still has this spirit and passion for music, and everybody is still into reaching higher goals. We are not done yet. We are still in a learning process, working on ourselves and trying to get better. So I hope there’s still a long future for Blind Guardian. I’m looking more forward than backwards, let’s say!”

Lastly, I asked if André had any words he’d like to offer his Australian fans before their tour kicks off? “So expectations are high for the Australian shows. We always have some really great fun in Australia, and not only with the shows, but everything. The people are nice, we had nice celebrations there, good food, everything! [laughs] I hope that we have a little bit of time to see new places. I would really enjoy seeing a little bit more of the landscape there and enjoy the people. We have a lot of friends there; friends that we will meet again. I think we will have a good time together and the shows will be very nice there, I don’t have any doubts.”

All allocated tickets for the Melbourne show (June 19) have now SOLD OUT, but general admission tickets for the show in Sydney (June 20) are still available. Be sure to get yours while they last!

http://www.metalobsession.net/product/blind-guardian-sydney-ga/

https://tickets.thehifi.com.au/default.aspx?Event=50604

Friday 19th June @ The Hi-Fi, Melbourne (*SOLD OUT)
w/ Divine Ascension and Bane of Winterstorm

Saturday 20th June @ The Hi-Fi, Sydney
w/ Divine Ascension and Taberah

blindguardian

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.