The LOTR Movie Site
October 9, 1999
Welcome Marcus, André, Thomas, and Hansi. Im glad Ive gotten this opportunity
to talk with you.
Hansi: It's a big pleasure for us to do this
interview. As we all are big Tolkien fans, this is a good chance for us to present
ourselves to people who are not familiar with the band so far. We might find a new
Jeremiah: Id like to begin by getting a tiny bit of
background information about yourselves and the band as a whole. You are one of the more
popular heavy metal bands in Europe, I understand. When did you start playing together,
and when did you start gaining the popularity you now have?
Hansi: To talk about the band is always a little
boring. I try to make it as short as possible. We were all, more or less, born as Tolkien
fans and started our skill, the one or the other ignorant of course call it rubbish, 14
years ago, when we all were almost ready to enter our "tweens." From these days
on we gained popularity day by day and finally, even without the big push of any record
company, we became one of the biggest heavy metal bands worldwide. The biggest step we
have made with our actual output Nightfall in Middle-Earth. This one has caused a
lot of attention everywhere and is announced as one of the best metal albums ever, not
only by the fans, but also by the critics.
Some even call it an album beyond any categories,
because it simply contains more than just Heavy Metal. Fortunately all of our albums
achieved a high acceptance by a huge amount of people. They are not only liked by Metal
fans, but also appreciated by people with open ears and minds.
Almost each Metal fan on that planet recommends at least one piece
of our catalogue to be one of his best. This is not only a German or a European phenomena.
You can find the same kind of movement in Japan and also in the States. Of course it is a
slow movement on the American market, but the buzz around Blind Guardian is
increasing. People over there recently started recognising that the most valuable music
nowadays is being performed by European artists and we belong to the most significant
ones, I am happy to say.
So far we have released 8 albums and if someone would ask me to
recommend some of our albums for a first Guardian experience, I would have him
listen to Imaginations From the Other Side, Tales From the Twilight World, or Nightfall.
To a Tolkien fan I would suggest Nightfall in Middle-Earth and that's not only
because of the lyrics. The lyrics are supported by the music with each beat, or opposite.
The album is based on The Flight of the Noldor my favourite section of The
From the early days of the band's career on Tolkien had always been
an important influence. In a lot of cases even more musical, than lyrical. Majesty as
an example was our very first attempt to come up with a mixture of Tolkien lyrics and
music based on the emotions we had while we were following Frodo on his way to Mount Doom.
I believe everyone who is into the story knows how many emotions, smells, pictures and
noises he/she has to face until he/she reaches the end of that magnificent journey. We use
these feelings and transpose it into music. In the beginning we were far away from being
perfect. Unfortunately we still are. On Majesty we were very young and very
inexperienced. Both from the musical, as well from the lyrical side we were partly able to
catch the spirit of that amazing story, but not more. It was too early. I would call that
a Sword and Sorcery song more than a High Fantasy song. On that one the
The same I could say about Run for the Night
and By the Gates of Moria. Last one is an instrumental, which already shows our
classical ambition in a metallized way. Although I wouldn't call these songs perfect, a
lot of people reacted very positively on the mixture: Tolkien inspired fantasy lyrics meet
extremely melodious heavy music. People appreciated our music and the lyrics. By that they
have started reading The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit for their
first time afterwards.
Later we attempted Tolkien stuff again on Tales
from the Twilight World, when we did a song called Lord of the Rings. We did
far better. It is a nice song, which people like in general. The song sounds a little
naive and almost simple structured. This one is a homage to Frodo again. Though Frodo is
structured a little more intellectual than his hobbit companions, he still is a hobbit.
This basically is the reason why we have chosen this more folksong-like piece as another
tribute to Professor Tolkien and his splendid world. We did a song called The Hobbit on
a later album called Somewhere Far Beyond and this one is a good example for our
progression as musicians and songwriters. The song contains a lot of strange elements,
starting with a slightly different rhythm. It also features a unique arrangement.
Jeremiah: For those readers that
dont know, you have some songs that were written per inspiration by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Quoting from your song Majesty on the Battalions of Fear album:
and hiding I'm left for the time
To bring back the order of devine
Hunted by goblins no Gandalf to help
With swords in the night
Oh the last part of the game
Decision of death and life
Blood for Sauron they'll call tonight
The final battle cry
How have you been influenced by
Tolkiens works, and why have you chosen to honor his amazing work of fantasy through
music some would call unorthodox?
Hansi: Up to our latest release, the songs
mentioned before is all we dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien lyricwise. 5 songs out of 50.
Nevertheless, if people have talked about Blind Guardian's music, they combined it with The
Lord of the Rings. This proves how much the music itself must contain some
significant "Tolkienish" elements. Which is indeed how we feel music. As
musicians we are inspired by the stories in each single moment. J.R.R. Tolkien has woven
so much music into his words that it hardly can be overheard. You might hear it different
than the next one, but we as a band seem to hear it in the same way and so do a lot of our
This explains why the combination Metal and
Tolkien is not unorthodox for us at all. Whatever we are doing musicwise, it only can be
one aspect of Tolkien's world -- our personal one. A guy will like it and call it
"Middle-Earth music", while the next one will hate it and call it "not even
Mordor worth music." On Nightfall we dared to dedicate the whole album to
Master Tolkien. I personally am very proud about that one. It features the story in a
suitable way. I am sure that in the future whenever a song calls for it, we will continue
using lyrics inspired by Frodo, Maglor, Olórin or whoever is closest to our hearts in
these moments of giving birth to a song. Whatever people finally think about our songs,
they should not forget to consider that we always try to honour Tolkien's world with our
music and not to stain it.
Jeremiah: I can see a general
influence in your music through fantasy and adventure stories, as well as stories from the
Bible. Do you feel your music reflects the values and the styles of these types of
Hansi: It at least does for us. Some people will
agree, others won't. It is a very personal point of view. We try to match things which
have attracted us somehow and we have to be amazed by those things in complete. Otherwise
it would not work. From my point of view we are taking an advantage out of theses stories
in finding some of our ideas there. On the other hand, we deliver this emotion to people
who might be attracted to read these stories. We never steal things or copy them and we
always try to make clear where we have taken our inspirations from. The essential spirit
of these words motivates us, gives courage and strengths to us and is an enormous
inspiration in our music and also in our lives.
To a lot of our fans, our music contains the
same vibes and the same brightness . This proves that the music does reflect it, I guess.
Jeremiah: To come to the point, you
have hopes that you will be asked to compose and perform the soundtrack to the Lord of the
Rings movies. Why do you feel a heavy metal soundtrack would compliment the stirring and
fantastic vision Peter Jackson has for these movies?
Hansi: First of all hope plays an important role in The
Lord of the Rings, so it's good to have some and there's no need to lose it at any
point. Second, in case we would get the opportunity to do the soundtrack, I doubt that it
will be a Heavy Metal soundtrack. It will be unique music which has not been heard before.
Like you guys we are die hard Tolkien fans and pretty familiar with The Lord of the
Rings, which is one good point for us. Comparing us with established soundtrack
composers our advantages are a bigger hunger, a higher freshness and far greater
Of course, we can't mess with Mr. Goldsmith or Mr.
Williams orchestral-wise, but I am sure inspiration-wise we are at least even. As these
people are established, they are connected to certain sounds, we in the end can do
whatever we feel fits best. The point is we are prepared and to be honest we recently
started working on a classical project. Guess about what? Either we will be involved in
the movie or not. One day we are going to release our acoustical vision of that tremendous
story. The Lord of the Rings deserves fresh new music far away from all clichés
and categories. We have prepared some samples, so whenever there is a request we are ready
Jeremiah: If you were asked to compose a soundtrack for the movies, how would
you go about doing it? What process would you take to make sure music matches scene,
character, etc.? Would you try to include more traditional elements into your music to
emphasize the fact that these are, first and foremost, fantasy films, not cult films?
Hansi: If we were asked to do it and we would be
independent, it would turn out to be a musical, which does not make sense for a movie. So
I, as a vocalist, would have to keep my mouth most of the time, unfortunately. The
vocalparts would be leaned on Tolkien lyrics taken from the story and as well would be
presented in Quenya, Sindarin, or whatever language fits best to the particular part. I
have prepared some big, almost "Carmina Burana" like choirs, as well as some
single voice folk stuff. Though we know the story almost perfectly, a screenplay will be
necessary and from a certain point on it will be very important to work with the moving
pictures as well.
As we have written down several parts for almost each
character already, this would simply turn out to be a difficult arguing to find out which
one fits best. As I have heard all the music André has written down for a happening like
that, I just can say that it will be a trip through almost all kinds of music. It is
pretty much like the music of the Ainur: vital and colourful, but also cold and
threatening. This music will comfort everyone who is willing to listen. So it neither will
be a heavy metal soundtrack, nor a Hollywood orchestral score/soundtrack. It simply would
be far beyond imaginations.
Jeremiah: Id like to thank
you all once again for allowing me the pleasure of this talk. Good luck in all your future
music projects, whatever they may be.
Hansi: It has been a lot of fun talking with you. We
can't wait to see the movie and we are already counting the days. Music-wise we'll
definitely try to release a regular Blind Guardian album next year. We will, of course,
keep you informed. I am sure that one song will contain a Tolkien theme. The road goes on
in any case. Good luck to you!