» Michael Weikath - Helloween
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Interview conducted September 27 2008
Interview published October 09 2008

Michael Weikath is a quiet man, but he is also a very talented musician, having led Helloween for 25 years. He is the Father of Power Metal, and the maker of mischief. He is the keeper of the set of keys, and master of the ringtones. I was graced with the opportunity to speak with him prior to enjoying Helloween play live in Mokena, Illinois. Most of our conversation was very interpersonal, and inspirational. Here are the high lives of this engaging gathering between two souls searching for meaning, while still gambling with the Devil.

MettleAngel: Michael, I want to tell you how grateful I am that you were chosen as my interview candidate. You are a true legend, like the Lemmy of Power Metal, a real character.

  • Michael: I guess you could say so, but Lemmy is quieter, I think...

MettleAngel: Not quite, he is way more voracious and opinionated, and seldom sober. Last time I met you was when you came to Dayton, Ohio for the Headbangers Ball Tour with Anthrax & Exodus. I was so excited to see and meet Helloween, that I skipped Anthrax. I actually spent most of my time talking to Mike Kiske. Have you heard his new album covering Helloween hits?

  • Michael: I'm not interested in this...

MettleAngel: Do you recall that tour, or that show?

  • Michael: Vaguely, all the cities seemed the same then.

MettleAngel: Well, I was really into Helloween, then, and I am still very much so today. Even 20 years later, I'm so excited to see you play live; especially, with Andi singing. There has been such a sound evolution of Helloween both musically, and stylistically over the years. I'm very attracted to your 'Keys' concept. What is the mystique behind the Key & Ring releases?

  • Michael: The mystique concerns the Seven Deadly Sins, and Jesus Christ. When we became better known, there was a band called Stryper throwing Bibles. We embraced the basis of their beliefs, but did not want to be as obvious. Many 'White Metal' bands were becoming popular...

MettleAngel: Namely, Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Saint, Whitecross, yes I remember the movement...

  • Michael: Well, we are white, and we play metal, but we are not activists, so we thought we could bring the message across in a more subtle fashion. This is where the Keys concept originated. The mystique is still the message of Christ.

MettleAngel: I remember this lame Fundamentalist Preacher named Bob Larson, who went on tour with Slayer in '88 looking for Satan, but only found debauchery. He claimed that Helloween could not be Christian, because of the lyrics from "Save Us", which stated, "We believe that the phenomena of nature...and thus, all men are children of God." So, do you consider yourself to be a Christian?

  • Michael: Well, I don't know, because a lot of stuff has gone south, recently. I was really stricken to my core, when I found out about this character Constantine, and what he did with the Church and Bible.

MettleAngel: I know all about that, given by background in Theology. I encourage you to read about his life, and Third Century Rome at Wikipedia, or other sites. Then you can start your own site and call it Weikipedia! Basically, at the Council of Nicea, rich, landowning, male, aristocrastic bishops decided what should stay and what should go. What was left out is known as the Pseudoepigraphical texts, and the Apocrypha.

  • Michael: You do know about this then?

More than I care to elaborate, but at the essence of this was a group of soul searchers knows as gnostics. They wanted the 'really real' truth. Tobias Sammet does an excellent job of discussing gnostic wisdom in his first two Avantasia Tales.

  • Michael: And they were condemned, no less, I imagine the same with the Knights Templar?

MettleAngel: Yes, they were Medieval gnostics, and Hammerfall has brought to life their message.

  • Michael: So bad, bad, bad, imagine a world where society has no rights...

MettleAngel: Like a dictatorship, where Religion decides all social ordinances, mandates all laws, and tells us what is right and wrong? I don't have to imagine a world we live in!

  • Michael: Yeah, I remember when it was alright to smoke...

MettleAngel: The gnostics were all philosophers, who did not tell anyone how to live their life. They followed the model: "To Thy Own Self Be True". This lead to the wonderful teaching of "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself".

  • Michael: So all these Greek stories made it into the Bible? What about Gideon's Bible?

MettleAngel: Opened at page one...(referencing Jethro Tull) Absolutely, the Bible, even the Prostetant version you always find in hotel rooms, and all great wisdom texts throughout all of history, are a collection of stories, or what I call 'Mythistory'.

  • Michael: Then the Bible is really a 'Greatest Hits', a collection of stories I can learn from; because, I don't want to abandon my God.

MettleAngel: There is no need to, as God is Love and Life, lived. You cannot give up on Life, right!

  • Michael: This reminds me of Grim Fairy Tales, they were a great collection of bedtime stories which children could understand, and there was a lesson to them.

MettleAngel: Indeed, but The Brothers Grim also accounted for the sacredness of nature, a more Pagan concept. There were also Aesop's Fables, and 1001 Arabian Nights and the Bible has its parables. So there is wisdom, if we can read between the lines, and do away with the idea of being separate from our Creator. Life is a journey to be experienced in each moment.

  • Michael: I want to love more, but some people really irritate me. I don't really mean them harm, but I get so angry.

MettleAngel: This is normal, and since we are all mirrors to one another, life is going to present us with challenges. Think of being in traffic, when some asshole cuts you off, you are rightfully miffed, and you may curse, but you mean no real harm. Call him a J.A.F.O., or what I dub as "Just Another Forgiveness Opportunity".

  • Michael: I like that, you get me, you understand my heart. I have my God, and I'm not to sure about his son, but...

MettleAngel: None of it matters what you believe, based on what you have been told, what matters is how you live your life now. Life is for celebrating each precious moment. The Media is trying to worry me about everything from the bankrupt economy, to whom I should vote for in November. All I care about is being with Helloween & Gamma Ray this weekend. I manage my own thoughts, and I choose happiness. This is why I enjoy Helloween, because you know how to have a good time, and write fun music.

  • Michael: Well, we get criticized for not being too serious all the time. Even previous band members think we take it too far. This is why I chose to be in the Entertainment Business.

MettleAngel: Good for you, I'm so grateful you have proved your mettle, no matter what others thought. Helloween is such an important band to the fans. I remember when you were on a Noise Death Metal Compilation. You took Maiden, Priest, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, and made it faster, and more fun.

  • Michael: Don't forget the Scorpions, they were very important to me...

MettleAngel: Oh definitely, I won't forget them, I'll be seeing and interviewing Uli John Roth soon, so yes, they too serve as a major influence. There have been 1000's of Helloween clones, but the band still remains original. I consider you as the progenitors of Power Metal.

  • Michael: What the poor 'janitors' of Metal, or the 'genitals', how so?

MettleAngel: (Laughing) Oh, no you misunderstood, not janitors, the pro-genitors, or the originators of Power Metal. I mean you were first, and you still are at the top of your game.

  • Michael: Sometimes my English is not so good, I just learned what a turnstyle is.

MettleAngel: Your English is excellent, I should be more weary of this when I rant. Oh, and I love all Helloween albums even Chameleon; although, I know it was a rough time for Roland Grapow, when that was recorded.

  • Michael: Yeah, his brother had died, which is why he wrote the song "Cry No More". I guess that album, and Pink Bubbles were slippers for us, nearly damaging our career. I had difficulty before Roland departed, I did not speak with him for a year, which is why I have issues with songs on The Dark Ride.

Yeah, and Masterplan really only recorded two decent releases. I'm sure you had issues with Uli Kusch, who wrote a great deal of Better Than Raw. His Ride The Sky project was doomed to fail. What is your favorite Helloween album?

  • Michael: Well, that is a difficult question, you see, because I like them all, and there are songs I really like from albums for which I'm not too fond.

MettleAngel: Consider an album like Master Of The Rings, that and Time Of The Oath were such amazing comeback albums, showcasing Andi Deris' talent.

  • Michael: Master Of The Rings seems to be predominantly pleasing to the ladies, but it is not my favorite. There are many great songs on it, so I consider it as our Alice Cooper album.

MettleAngel: Fair enough, I guess the point I'm making is that everyone loves the three Keys albums, but has issues with others; especially, Pink Bubbles & Chameleon. I mean, c'mon what exactly is a heavy metal hamster?

  • Michael: What that song reflects is the situation of the band at that time. There is a printing error in the booklet, it is not "nose bags", I mean what is that? It should read "nose bikes", that is shades, eyeglasses. We could have said, "shades", but that took the fun out of it, and now the song has lost its meaning.

MettleAngel: Again the silliness ensues, too much "Shit & Lobster"!

  • Michael: Well, we are actually more serious now. I could have been like you and persued Theology, as it has always fascinated me, but I chose to do this, instead.

MettleAngel: Well, Thank God for that! You are such an awesome songwriter, so you have utilized your talent accordingly, and I am forever grateful. Helloween has made a major impact on my life and my choices.

  • Michael: The thing is I would have never stopped searching for meaning, which is what I am still doing with this band.

MettleAngel: I congratulate you on that, as the search for wisdom, and improvement never ends. We are always 'born again', or rather born anew, everytime we choose to make our lives better for ourselves and others. Michael, thank you so much for your time. I guess this was not your average interview?

  • Michael: I really enjoyed it, especially, your knowledge of religion. I appreciate that you understand where I come from. You don't judge me, you seek the best in others.

MettleAngel: Life is a neverending destiny, I choose to respond to the power, corruption, and lies by encouraging everyone to celebrate what we all share in common. Tonight, I will join with all my Metal brethren and enjoy Helloween & Gamma Ray. Michael, go enjoy your cigarette, free of the concern that smoking is 'wrong'. Like Shakespeare said, "Nothing is evil, lest thinking make it so." Thank you for all your time, and opening up to me.

  • Michael: Yes, you have really inspired me, and I look forward to speaking more about this in time. Now, I will go have a smoke.

See also: review of the gig the same night

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