HELLOWEEN - yeah, you've heard that before, Heavy Metal, pretty speedy, that's the first impression you get. Also they made a new album and sold a couple hundred thousands of their first two albums. Aha, maybe not so unknown after all and maybe interesting for an interview. Why not and after a couple of phone calls I meet up with drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, at a photo session in Cologne.
The whole band, Ingo included, don't appear very 'Hard Rock'-like at first sight. Ingo could be described best as restrained friendly.
"We drove down from Hannover especially for this photo session. We are in the middle of mixing our third album at the Horus Sound Studio in Hannover, where we also recorded it. The album will have the title "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II"and our music changed pretty drastically. It's a lot more melodic than before and less speedy. Our producers were Tommy Newton and Tommy Hansen; working with them was really great. We are all very happy with the result - I'm sure we will surprise the audience quite a bit."
And why is Ingo playing Hard Rock?
In the past - 8 years ago to be precise - I was very often at a youth center in Hamburg. There was always a lot of really loud noise in the cellar and so I went down to take a look one day.
There was a band practicing - and I was immediately fascinated by the drum kit. Back home I begged for weeks until my parents finally bought me my first set. Weeks later I met Kai (guitar player of the band) in the same practicing cellar and asked him directly if he doesn't need a drummer. I boasted quite a bit - I think I impressed Kai because he took me with him to a band.
While all the other musicians were already quite good and I couldn't play shit, the first few rehearsals went accordingly. But I think the guys realized that I really wanted to achieve this - so they kept me until today: that band was and still is HELLOWEEN.
Today - 8 years later - I'm twenty-three now - I can recommend every drummer to play in a band as soon as possible. You learn a lot quickly, because you always have to try to keep up with the level of the other band mates.
How did you work as a group?
At first we rehearsed like crazy. Then I started an apprenticeship as an office clerk, but I realized immediately that it wasn't the right choice for me. I did all kinds of jobs to earn some money, I worked on the 'Großmarkt' (central market) in Hamburg for example. From all that money I gathered, I bought my first professional set - a Yamaha.
Then we recorded two songs for a sampler. It was like a dream come true for me when we entered the studio for the first time and I tried to imagine that I could soon hear myself play on vinyl. The whole thing was pretty much a flop because we had only two days for the recordings. Despite that we continued to improve ourselves and after a while we recorded our first Mini-LP. Afterwards we got our deal with the record label.
You are playing a double bass drum set now; did you play that from the beginning?
I discovered playing with the double bass only after the first album. At first I put the second pedal next to the first one because it looked great - it was a pretty old one from some jazz band and thought: "All Heavy Metal bands have two bass drums".
At first I had a few problems with the left foot, but today I have figured it out. I never had any lessons by the way. I learned everything by myself, practicing by playing after albums and so on.
Also we played a lot of gigs with the band in the beginning, that brought a lot of routine. After the first album I was approached by the company Sonor - and since I play the signature set, I'm totally crazy about beating the drums.
I think you learn the most in the studio and on tour. You get the necessary routine and you can use all the things you have rehearsed by yourself. An important factor at concerts is the audience which can push the band or a musician extremely. It stimulates you to raise above yourself and to accomplish things you never thought you could. I would like to give some advice: I think it's a good training method to play on a soft cushion to learn the stick-control-technique. You don't have a natural rebound with it and with this you learn to use your fingers and your wrist. Maybe that will help some of you.
You already been to the USA. Is the scene there any different to ours?
Awesome! The USA is awesome! But our first trip there was very hard work. In the US the look is more important than how good you are as a musician. We are no posers though and dress quite casual. The American Road-Crews are quite jaded and let it out on you if they are displeased. We also realized that the standards for musicians in the US is not much better than here. Only the marketing and everything related is done much more professionally. That makes a huge difference. Playing in the US is like school. You are able to gather a lot of experience.
Earlier you talked about a new album. What are your plans for the future?
We played in England at Castle Donington at the "Monsters Of Rock"Festival. Afterwards we started the Monsters Of Rock tour through Europe with the same line-up. In October we did a tour through Germany and in November we will go to the USA. After a break we will go back to the US in January and February of 1989 and in March we will go to Japan. We also plan to shoot a video for our album. Yes - and then I will do my first studio-job on the album of Tommy Newton's girlfriend.; he's one of our producers.
I will get a tape and will record the material with Klick-Track in the studio. I like working with Klick by the way, with the exception of slow songs, because too much groove and dynamics get lost. I keep myself fit with barbell training or exercising weight that is strapped to my wrists. That's helping me a lot.
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