Blind Guardian – Interview with Frederik Ehmke

Interview by Demitri Levantis

The German Power Metal bards returned to the city of London on 12 April 2015 to promote their tenth album: ‘Beyond the Red Mirror.’ I caught up with the drummer Frederik Ehmke to discuss the new album, the death of Terry Pratchett and the metal scene today.

Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke


What is the concept behind ‘Beyond The Red Mirror?
The concept is the next episode of a story that started in the 90s with the ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’ album. We had the topic of mirrors being portals from the other world and a little boy having a task to do. And the story wasn’t clear on whether he dared to jump through the mirror and fulfil his destiny or he hesitated. So, on the new album you find he didn’t dare to jump, so it has affected both worlds and caused bad things. His hesitation was the reason for the effect and so he looks for the last portal which is the Red Mirror. And by that he fulfils the destiny and turns everything to good. That’s kind of the story.
Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

 Is it influenced by any particular authors?

The mirror topic of worlds switching has appeared in many stories. I see the biggest influences coming from the ‘Dark Tower’ series by Stephen King. But we can’t say it’s a ‘Dark Tower’ album that’s just inspiration about the topic in general, not the story.

 One of the reasons I love Blind Guardian so much is because I’m a huge fan of Michael Moorcock and I loved your songs about Elric, so characters like him don’t play a role in this story do they?

Normally it’s Hansi who comes up with the lyrics and he gets topics from many books. I came up with a topic for my song ‘The Holy Grail’ and I thought it was pretty bland but it did work for Hansi and some of the lyrics remain in the final version of the song. So it’s nice it came together so well.

Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

Do you have a favourite Blind Guardian album?

Maybe ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’ because my favourite song ‘A Past and Future Secret’ is on there. I was a fan of Blind Guardian before joining and this was the first album I was really looking forward to coming out so I waited a long time.

 I guess you’ve heard by now that the fantasy writer Terry Pratchett unfortunately passed away recently. Have you ever thought of doing an album about Discworld?

I actually am a very big fan of Discworld but I don’t see the comedy aspect of Terry Pratchett matching the epic or serious tone of Blind Guardian. We’re more for stories like A Song of Ice and Fire, but nevertheless I love reading those books.

 What countries have you played so far this year? We just started our tour and we played the states and Caribbean on the ’70,000 Tons of Metal’ festival. Then we had a home show in Germany and then we went to the Netherlands, Belgium and tonight we’re in England and tomorrow we’re going to France.
Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

 Will you be playing any festivals like Wacken?

We’ll only be playing our tour shows and be done by next year. And as a big finale we’ll do some bigger shows like Wacken as it’s something big for everyone to look forward to.

 Do you have a favourite country or festival?

Wacken for sure is outstanding because of its size, and all festivals are fun to play really. I cannot name a country that isn’t fun to play because all the fans are amazing and sing along and are different to the rest so it’s good variety touring the world.

Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

 What do you make of the metal scene these days?

Do you see any changes going on? I think the metal scene that relates to us is getting stronger and more people who wouldn’t have thought of liking metal are listening to it so it’s certainly getting bigger. I think it’s the looks of people are changing because back in the 80s and 90s it was so clear who was a metal head and who was into things like techno, but today loads of people look similar. It’s still there despite all the people saying metal is dead or will be dead soon. But if you look out the window and see the big line for the show tonight, you know metal hasn’t gone away. So lots of bands see when they go on tour that nothing has changed for the worst.

Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

 For anyone reading this interview who is really into Blind Guardian and wants to find more music like this, can you recommend any up and coming bands who are quite similar?

Well if it’s power metal they like, I play in another bands called Sinbreed, it’s not just like Blind Guardian but it has the German power metal approach so really check it out.

Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

What are your favourite bands to listen to at the moment?

At the moment I like to listen to Porcupine Tree, Rush and lots of progressive stuff and Judas Priest is an all time favourite – they’re always great for me. Soilwork and older metal in general. I don’t have that many limits so I can enjoy all music.

 Is there any particular band you like to go on tour with?

As in, they’re really good friends of yours. We’ve met a lot of nice bands on the way and I think there’s lots of good contacts we find at festivals. The Helloween guys are very nice – we met them in Spain. But I haven’t experienced any bad bands so musicians in general are good people to hang around with so I’m looking forward to playing with anyone.

Blind Guardian Interview - Frederik Ehmke Blind Guardian Interview – Frederik Ehmke

 And we’re looking forward to seeing the show tonight. Auf wiedersehen!

 

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