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Interview with ROLAND GRAPOW

Last year every MASTERPLAN fan was shocked when they heard the news about JORN LANDE and later ULI KUSCH (together with ROLAND GRAPOW founding member) leaving the band. Was this the end of MASTERPLAN? The answer is no, MIKE DIMEO (RIOT) and MIKE TERRANA (almost every German Metal band) replaced them and recorded a new album which will be released on 26th of February. We did an interview with ROLAND GRAPOW and asked him about the departure of JORN and ULI, the new album and some personal things.

Roland, congratulations with the new album, it is amazing. I must admit that I was a little skeptic after the departure of Jorn and Uli.

Thank you very much.

Let’s start with the first question. The departure of Jorn was not a surprise for me because he said more than once he likes to sing Classic Rock instead of Metal. Can you confirm that this was the main reason for him to leave the band?

We all knew he would leave the band some day, but we always hoped that he would stay as long as possible. But during the last tour he said he had problems with singing the difficult songs especially the ones with the high notes. He didn’t feel comfortable with the songs anymore, he wanted to change the music direction of the band to that of his solo albums. The rest of the band didn’t want that so he had to leave the band.

It was a surprise was that Uli left the band mainly because you both left Helloween to form a new group. Can you explain why he left the band?

That was a surprise for me too, me and Uli had some arguments with each other that I don’t want to talk about. We already had some personal problems during the recording of the second album, I left my wife he his girlfriend, so it was a negative time back then. Uli was not really motivated writing songs for the Aeronautics album, I wrote most of the stuff. On the first one we did 50/50. He was also busy with writing material for the BEAUTIFUL SIN album. At the end I think the main reason is that he had problems with me sort of leading the band.

The new record is called MK II, I presume referring to the new line up (like Deep Purple)?

Yeah that’s right, our keyboard player (Axel Mackenrott) came up with it. It fits good with the new line up, a new design. You can compare it with cars which through the years also have new types.

Would the album be different if Uli and Jorn didn’t leave the group?

The album would be totally different, because Uli and Jorn would have written songs and Axel for example probably not.

Mike diMeo sounds on the album very much like Jorn, a little bit different than on the Riot records, did he listen to the previous records or did you ask him how he has to sing on the songs?

When he first sang in the studio he sounded too much as on the RIOT records, then I told him that MASTERPLAN needs melodies which stay in hour head the whole day and you can sing-a-long to during the gigs. It has turned out really good.

Can you tell me something about the creating process of the songs. Where did you get the inspiration from, are all the members involved in the writing process?

In January and February last year I did most of the writing. Later in the studio I let the guys listen to the songs and they gave their contribution to it. For example Mike did the lyrics and vocal melodies for the song “Warrior’s cry”. Axel wrote three songs for the album. The song “Masterplan” is written by Uli which is the heaviest track of the album with a lot of shouting during the chorus which explains his angriness about leaving the band (Roland laughs). (Editor: a bit like Kai Hansen’s “I want out”) “Enemy” and “Keeps me burning” ,which is a favorite of mine, were leftovers of “Aeronautics”. For one song I got the inspiration from my girlfriend, a particular morning she was humming a melody (Roland hums the melody) and I thought that sounds great. I worked it out on the guitar and it became the song “I’m gonna win”.

I think the music of the new album is closer to the first record then the second one, do you agree?

Yes, but it is not a copy. Different is that on the first one there were a lot of older songs which already have been written during our HELLOWEEN period like “Enlighten me”, but were turned down by the other members of HELLOWEEN. “Aeronautics” was a more darker record because of all the negativity around the band, this time we wanted to be more positive.

Are there any stories behind the lyrics on the album?

Mostly all lyrics are about the band winning the negative situation that surrounded us lately which inspires the lyrics on “I’m gonna win”, “Warrior’s cry” which about to be brothers in the band. It is not a concept album but it has definitely a main subject.

If we could travel into the future say 30 or 40 years from now and I would ask you what have you done with your life, what are you hoping you can answer?

Oh that’s hard then I am really old (laughs). I hope that myself, my girlfriend and family is safe and that I made people happy with my songs and guitar playing. I am not really interested in fame and money.

At last I have some short personal questions

First bought LP: Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)

First gig: Grand Funk (1975 in Hamburg when I was fifteen)

Favorite singer: Mark Farner (Grand Funk)

Favorite guitar player: Mark Farner (Grand Funk), Uli Jon Roth and the Schenker brothers

Best Helloween song: Eagle fly free

Best Masterplan song: It depends on my mood, we have so many great songs, at the moment of course the songs from the new album

Favorite food: Indian, Greek, I like spicy food but also the usual German food and sometimes when I have not so much time junk food

Favorite drink: Water (during gigs), Beer (After the gig)

Favorite country: Slowakia where I live at the moment, I like the green nature there but also love Germany, Belgium and Holland

Favorite sport: Like to walk with my dogs, ride the bike and do some exercise to keep fit.

Best place to play a gig: With Helloween in Spain, South America and Japan, With Masterplan in Sweden, Germany and Holland

Most important person in your life: Can I name more than one. My girlfriend and my mother

Anything to add for our readers:

I hope everyone likes the album because it was such a hard time for us to record it last year. I hope to see you and the fans on tour.

Thanks for the interview.