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GAMMA RAY (Dirk Schlachter) (December 2007) ( Eng)
Bass-player from the heart

Interview with Gamma Ray has been my dream. Actually, it's always extremely interesting to speak with such experienced musicians on different themes, and this talk wasn't the exception. Thanks to SPV and Ute H. Kromrey, I met Dirk before the concert in Tampere, Finland (10.12.2007), and as backstage area was a bit small, we went to the tour bus.

Lucky: So, how is the tour going?
Dirk: Very good! Its really good, because we know each other for such a long time, if you know, members of both bands, and also guys from Axxis, they are some old guys (laughs)! So we know what were doing and we know how to handle a tour, what makes the tour convenient and what makes it stress Its really relaxed atmosphere. Definitely.

Lucky: To what countries have you been already?
Dirk, looking the schedule: Well! Weve been to Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria

Lucky: Oh, how was Bulgaria?
Dirk: Bulgaria, Sophia it was huge place, and it was really full, a lot of people, - thats all I remember! (laughs) And so far I dont have any show words uh, that was a bad show No! Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Norway and now were in Finland! And we are going onto Czech Republic. And that is only the first part until the Christmas, and then in the second part its going to be more shows in Germany, and Spain and France Will be the second show in Paris, because the first show on the 6th January is sold out, so we gonna do another one So therefore its really working time!

Lucky: So nothing to complain about?
Dirk: Uff, well There are always things to complain That, for example, if youre spread out as musician and dont stay with tour truck and you go, for example, for day-off and you say, Im not gonna stay with the bus, I will take day-off, and some people take a hotel by themselves and whatever Or go home And then the organizator is a little stressed its like 30 people on the road And with Axxis guys even more Then, sometimes its not correct, like a ferry from Stockholm to Turku was supposed to arrive at 7:50 in the evening. And it arrived 3 hours earlier, than in the schedule. So everybody laid down in his cabin and suddenly, in 30 minutes were going off! Uff! [surprisingly] But thats small thing and its nothing really to complain about.

Lucky: Where are you going to spend Christmas?
Dirk: At home. Im not that Christmas man, actually, I dont care too much about Christmas, because its a business thing Im not saying theres no God or nothing, but this Christmas thing, for example, I dont really believe in. I see its only a business. I will be at home or not, but Im not doing any Christmas tradition things.

Lucky: Its a pity that you wont come to Russia with this tour
Dirk: Why not?! Its not true; this whole thing will go to Russia as well. There are offers from promoters, who want us to do this Theres one offer for two shows just for Gamma Ray Actually the plan is to bring this rock thing all over the world, including Russia. Where are you from, from Russia?
Lucky: From Moscow.
Dirk: Well, I was only once in Moscow and once in St.Petersburg. And I remember this crazy trainride in the night. It was really weird! [laughs]

Lucky: And what are you impressions of that tour?
Dirk: Impressions? Moscow is impressive. Really. Its big and monumental But as for spirit, I prefer St-Petersburg. In this town you see buildings of all ages, - I mean, it looks like that, of course theyre not [laughs], but it looks like that, and I liked that very much. Maybe the reason is because I had a little time the next day after the St-Petersburg show to watch a little.

Lucky: It was that visit of Gamma Ray to Russia in 2006
Dirk: It was planned many times before! Many times! And then Some promoter got arrested [laughs]. Another promoter run out of money And I was always forcing our booking agency to double-check, if next time something is going wrong! [laughs] then we need to cut out Russia off the map! [laughs] Whatever!

Lucky: So was it scary to go to Russia?
Dirk: Nooo! Definitely not. The train ride was a little crazy, because we went with all our equipment there No, no [laughs]. It would be more scary to go to to Iraq, for example. [laughs] That would be something

Lucky: Do you have any favorite country to play in?
Dirk: Not really No Theres no one favorite. Youve got to get used to When youre on tour, you have these more heart-tempered people, who freak out from the first note to the last, and then you have countries where people are more listening to. And the problem is that you dont see directly if they are enjoying the show, or not. When somebody is freaking out, you know he likes it. But if not then you think: ah, is everything ok? Are we not so good today? You know, you stop downing yourself. I stop this. Because you need just to pick up a look into the eyes of people, and you see if they are happy even if they are not jumping around, you know. And for example in Scandinavia people are more like this. I remember this in Oslo, Norway, they are even not allowed to freak out, because the security guys come to them hey, guy, keep it cool, you know. So, well, its like like the weather! [laughs] But its okay and I can live with that, you know. Because sometimes when you come on the tour, you come to the countries certainly, you have a long trip, and the night before you had a show and people were crazy, and suddenly you have a show where people are more like listening concert, you know

Lucky: Is this tiring?
Dirk: Yeah, you think First, because you cant see anything, but you need to know. You dont see that the crowds jumping all the time, but when I look in their eyes, I can see theyre really enjoying it. And then its okay. If I would be in front of the crowd, where I get image that theyre not enjoying this, then Im feeling not good as well. But so far this hasnt happened on this tour! [laughs]

Lucky: How was the Moscow show?
Dirk: That was really good! But for me, I remember more St.Petersburg show. It was more intensive. And the funny thing was that it wasnt sold out, there was a lot of space, there were not so many people. But people were so Like I told you, I could see their eyes; they were so happy, so glad that we were there. The Moscow show was so maybe because of organization, and traveling, some shows are I dont know how I can compare this. You know, there are some shows you really remember as very special, and of course you would remember bad shows, you know, when something was really wrong! Its like sex. You know, it cant be always on top and always the best. So of course it should be good always [laughs] But the St.Petersburg show I remember really from the intensity of emotions of people. Really, really. Much more than Moscow. But thats my own impression. It was so few people, giving the same feeling to me, thats maybe that doesnt mean that the Moscow crowd was bad! It was also good, you know.

Lucky: Is it very tiring to have such long tours?
Dirk: Yeah, of course. Because energy, always away from home, and I have 2 kids One is 14 years old, hes living with my ex-wife, and its not easy in this age, when its important that his dad is there. So we try to keep an eye on not being too long on tour. But this is the first part and then comes the next part, and then comes Japan, it seems that South America will be fixed, the agency is talking about Russia, and even more, you know, North America Well see. This is the start of the tour, still, and were feeling already like uff But thats the matter of our age! [laughs]

Lucky: How do you rest, when you have concerts every day? How do you relax?
Dirk: Here in bus! When we have a day-off, we always have a hotel. When we travel by a boat, like a ferry, then we have a room there, some days are just travel days, but normally, a real day-off means that we go to the next show, the next day, and stay in a hotel there, to the next day.

Lucky: Do you have some time to see cities? Or its not interesting anymore? :)
Dirk: Yeah! Its interesting; I really enjoy this free time, and this bus. Its really comfortable, as you can see. I can be here, whenever, if I want to sleep I just go into my bunk and sleep. And also when the backstage area is too small, I use the bys to change my clothes, not to disturb others So I use this bus for everything [laughs].

Lucky: Do you go to sauna here in Finland?
Dirk: Uff! I dont know, if we will have time, we will go tonight, I think Or in Helsinki In Helsinki I have some friends, so It would be great idea to go to sauna directly after the show

Lucky: Or will you travel to Helsinki during the night?
Dirk: Could be. We will leave here, I think, 3 or 4 in the night.

Lucky: Will you have any after-party?
Dirk: Party?.. Well, its always a little bit in the bus. But [sighs] if you have the show other day, you need to take care and not drink much But somebody is always sitting in the front This part is non-smoking area, and in the front is smoking. They sit there.
Lucky: You dont smoke?
Dirk: I dont smoke. I used to smoke, but now I cant.

Lucky: Okay, now its time to speak about the new album I think, youve been asked already many questions
Dirk: Many! [laughs]
Lucky: So maybe something you want to say yourself? Some comments.
Dirk: Yeah, to sum up all the usual questions [laughs] in one! The new album is of course, many ask why is it called Land of the Free part II. This has some reasons. This album we had very relaxed atmosphere in studio. This was the first album we recorded in our new studio. We had to move since the production of Majestic. We already knew weve got to move, weve got to leave that place.
Lucky: Why?
Dirk: Because the place was sold by landlord, because the honor had some bills to pay, whatever, so the place was sold by law, or how do you call it. It was the old banker wall-shelter. The new owner kicked everybody out 3 months later. And this was our space in the world, and we built everything ourselves inside these 3-4 rooms we had in that banker. So this was really frustrating. And we needed to finish the album. Now we moved, we found the new place, and its bigger, its got daylight. Its close to the water, its the side of the river Elba, and the recording room has the direct window, so we can look directly into the water So, its very nice! [laughs] We had a little work, as this place has been a studio before, but not finished yet, or they used only some rooms So we had this feeling grow: Now were gonna do the next album in the new studio! And everybody was pretty much relaxed, so we had very relaxed time in the studio. Also we hired Tom Newton for the drum recording and for the mixing Well, so, the music of Land of the Free is really very positive, very relaxed, compare to Majestic. Everybody says like Majestic is dark side of Gamma Ray, which is bullshit, I think. It was just more basic, it was really too bass riffed, and more guitar riffed Of course it has the dark sound like Majesty song, but its not for me its not too dark. But you can hear the difference in the relaxed atmosphere that has Land of the Free part II. And the name came, because we were When we were doing first songs, we had this feeling hey, this sounds, this has the spirit like we had in the Land of the Free part I! Which is 12 years ago and when even Henjo and Dan didnt join the band at that time But they also said: hey, this is the spirit like Land of the Free stuff! So the idea with the name came up First we thought about calling the album Blah-blah-blah, subtitle Land of the Free part II. And then finally there was no idea for blah-blah-blah [laughs] So we stuck to the Land of the Free part II. We were aware that everybody will compare now, when we really name the album like this, the new stuff with the old, and why?! and so on But actually we didnt care too much during recording [laughs], and then another thing is that there are never commandments for the next album; we start the production when we have some songs. And sometimes somebody bring the rough composition, rough arrangement, and we start rehearsing in the room, or we listen to it, for instance, and oh, I dont feel like this in the moment So for example song like Beautiful wasnt on the Majestic, but Kai already had a basic thing at that time. It didnt fit to the Majestic. It was just too beautiful! [laughs] Well, now Im back to composing again. And it was not easy, because I lost this this way of working, because I did too many things in the last years

Lucky: What do you mean?
Dirk: Too many other things, besides music. I tried to live on the same island than Andy Deris, on Tenerife, because one of my cousins lives there; and we started to do a bar there. That was a mistake. I should have never done this. I was too busy with that, and then with the Majestic production, and I lost it, and he lost the control as well That was bad. It took from me maybe 2 years of creativity.

Lucky: And now youre back to Germany.
Dirk: Yeah. Im back to Hamburg I mean Ive always had a flat in Hamburg and I also lived in the house of my father And he died last year that was also Talking to my brother So many things which didnt have anything to do with music of Gamma Ray, happened since Skeletons Ive always had an opportunity to compose, always had a space, and keyboard and computer and everything, and small amp to record And I always had a nice set up. And then something happened and I had to move again, I had no basis I had no home! And now at the moment I dont know if I would stay in Hamburg forever. But right now this is my basis, and this is giving me power to to go on! [laughs] I am not a gypsy. I have gypsy roots in my blood maybe, thats why I love being on tour. But people might be different, but I think its good if you have some places

Lucky: When I read Gamma Ray interviews, almost every time I meet question about your relationships with Helloween. Isnt it boring to hear and say the same again and again?
Dirk: Of course! [laughs] Of course its boring, but sometimes you just think: ok, now comes this question 30th time, and I do this answer, because I have done it 29 times before. Or I can see if maybe its personal interest Of course I can speak only for myself. When I came to Hamburg in 89, and I first met Weiky, Markus, and Ingo, the first drummer of Helloween and everybody was looking at me like ah, this is the new guitar player That time I played guitar and who is it? Whatever Everybody was looking at me suspiciously, and also curious. First when Ive got to know them, I had feelings that theyre easy, and some of them of course think theyre something special, because they are Helloween, and I actually didnt care too much [laughs] So, when somebody is talking to me a little bit like from above, I say well, I dont need this! Go away! But finally, after all these years Also I have good relationship it means, we dont talk regularly, but I have no problems with Kiske, we met and we had a chance to talk, and it was really good! And with Markus, were both bass-players from the heart, you know, we have never had anything bad, we help each other when we can And their new drummer, I first met him last year when we played show together, when this idea of doing this tour grew

Lucky: Whose idea was it?
Dirk: Im not the one who says me, me [shows at himself], but I forced the continuing this idea. This idea happened really last year, when we had this Masters Of Rock thing, and we had the same hotel, and it was the first time we did this jam-session. And after this we went to hotel and we kept on talking about this, and I talked directly to Weiky, to Andy Deris, to Markus Grosskopf, if they could imagine doing a real thing out of this. And then it was for example, Weiky said, yeah, but lets see if we both have an album finished at the same time. If its so, blah-blah-blah Then it was pretty clear when we both started recording at the same time And then already some rumors appeared, you know. At that time I called Andy Deris, and we talked 40 minutes about how he sees it and how we can do it, how we can do this show together. Originally there was even an idea of mixing up the show, the whole thing, not only these 2 songs at the end what were doing together, even to do more But he told he cant sing half an hour and go off the stage, wait for another 20 minutes to come back and thats true. He is veeery experienced singer and he knows how it is on tour, he avoids things before they happen Yeah. Anyway, the rest was between the agencies, and us, and promoters, and managers, and blah-blah-blah. And finally it is like this, and we are on the road.

We run out of time... Axxis already started to play, Dirk of course needed to change clothes and get ready for the show. Still we spoke a little - he told about his children, that for the second one did the caesarean section, and how the first son was born. He was there, he was in hospital with his wife and this became the most intensive and emotional thing in his life...
Time for the talks ended.
Time for the show came...
, . .
21..2007 | - 4460 | - 0


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