The info about the sacking of Jřrn Lande (leadsinger) and drummer Uli Kusch hit like a bomb last year. Media and fans were equally shocked, rumours of a break-up, first voices “Masterplan doesn´t have any future” went up… Now the newly formed quintett, strengthened with singer Mike DiMeo (“Riot”) and drummer Mike Terrana (“Rage”), are ready to draw back for a musical riposte.
With “MK II” the band around Mastermind and guitarist Roland Grapow is proving a true masterpiece, and encourages the old saying “dead-believed live longer”. Matter enough for STALKER to meet up with Roland for a comfortably dinner at Hamburg´s port.
Is the new forming affecting your music, does it give new impulses?
Were staying on well-known roots, we have a new line-up, but we´re sticking to our style. We´ve had a lot of stress throughout the last months. If something is working – and the first and second album did – you shouldn´t change much of the concept. This band is simply a concept of music, not lead or steered by individual performances. Of course, the message to the public was, Jorn is really important, and without him it´ll be incredibly hard. But I took it more from the musical-concept: Masterplan has a style!!! If you see Jorn (ex-singer) it was something huge. Jorn by himself isn´t the same, without devaluing him. He´s super-happy in the situation he is right now. What I mean is, he reached way more when he was with us. The whole picture needs a frame. Music is more than a small drawer, of what you think it fits. Masterplan belongs into more drawers, and that´s the same with the new line-up.
Did you have a concept before, a concept of how the new album should be like?
I´m deciding out of my stomach. I like to get inspired by my own feelings. Why changing a “winning team”? When I was writing the songs I was totally worth-free, and wasn´t thinking that we might become that much stress within the band later on…
Have you worked out the feeling-even, which you went trough by that time, also thematically? I´m thinking about “lost and tone” right now…
That´s an automatic process. Even more for the vocals, as for the music. I try to examine myself as a songwriter, everything that´s less than all isn´t enough. I´m not trying to say that I´m the best, but I want to create something big. Of course I also have idols, bands like “Queen”, the “Beatles”, which created something big, and that´s the direction I want to take. Simply obtaining the feeling, that you shouldn´t miss this band. If I´m listening to that band I know, it sounds like Masterplan. It doesn´t matter if you like the music or not, but it´s got to sound like Masterplan, that´s important!!
I´m going to prove you…
Are you satisfied with the result?
Yes, absolutely! From the outside we´ve had an enormous pressure, from the media, from our fans – two very important bandmembers left. “What can we expect from you now?” was the question. So you have to rebuilt yourself first, until you come to the point of thinking “yes, I´m going to prove you!” and that´s a really slow process. You´re fighting for you own existance. And with Mike DiMeo and Mike Terrana I took the best choice.
How was the selection process?
Oh, it was a lot of fun. I have an immensely joy to push, especially not so well known musicians. I really believe in these people, sometimes more than themselves. With Mike I was at the same wavelength, right away. You can specify quality, and I don´t want to deliver an album anymore, on which I´m really proud of myself. The last year was one of the hardest in my life. It was a mean time, loosing two band members, my father died, but still it became a really positive album. We´ve created melodies, which have nothing to do with frustration. And that´s got to do with art, you create something and let yourself surprise. You just have to believe in yourself all the time.
Isn´t it hard to fulfill your own expectations? Do you have moments, where you´re asking yourself, if you can top your own level?
Yes, that´s bad. I´m asking that myself all the time…When I´m on tour, playing the songs on concerts or festivals, I´m not thinking about the songs so much. While that process I can´t think about songwriting. I need the time for myself, to relax, distance from old songs, I´m listening to completely different music, classic or pop, or just to the radio. Being away from Metal for a while, to kindle the fire again. In that moment I want to start again, and think about the new album. Then I´m ready to push myself up. The first song is always a challenge though (laughs).
Do you have any rituals?
Yes, building the first song (smiles). Finding to the point, where you hooked by your own music isn´t easy. The beginning is really difficult! I try to change things again and again, and I don´t have any scruples to bring in some parts, again and again (laughs).
Do you have any difficulties in the band because of that?
No, mostly not – if it sounds better in the result, we´re all satisfied. There´s simply the trust in the band. A while ago I was a non-confident person, these days I´m way more self-confident. For example, the family of my new girlfriend, they have nothing left for metal at all, to find an entrance for music is a good experience for me.
What´s the most important song for you, on the new album?
Oh, that´s a really tough question... For me the whole album sounds complete, because it contains everything. From Heavy Metal to Pop songs, beautiful ballads… it depends, but if I had to decide, it would be “Call The Gipsy”. It rocks, it´s a wonderful live song…
Do you have any funny anecdotes?
No, there wasn´t much fun stuff, really – I´ve just been continuously frustrated (laughs loud), and was counting on a heart attack each day, and then something really glorious happened to me in Finland in the studio. I´m the only idiot in the whole career of the studios, which got completely robbed there. My briefcase, the band-camera – on which we had the complete film-material of the production. That was supposed to be our bonus material for the CD “making of the new album”. I was completely nerve-wrecked. But as it goes, somehow you get to the point when you would walk over corpses. The future of the band was more important at that moment, than anything else.
Author: Jasmin Froghy, Photos: Masterplan, Transl. Alexandra Martinez Date: 2007-03-17