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Interview with Fair Warning

In this interview I chat with Fair Warning's guitar player Helge Engelke. Fair Warning are a German hard rock/power metal band whose influence and name spread all across the globe increasing their fan base by the year. In this interview Helge chats to me about why their music is so popular in Japan, his hobbies and interests, the history of the band and much more.

Metalship : Please give us some information about the history of the band?

The journey started when me and Olof decided to form a project where we wanted famous artist from the “Gothenburg Metal scene” to join forces on an album. Before we even got there we asked Andy to just help us out with some screams and it was the same story with Elize.
I remember I called Andy one day when the mix was done of the song he helped us with. I just told him “you’re in the band,” haha. I don’t think we even asked Elize to join, actually. It just was something that fell naturally in place.
Olof (Guitar) and Morten (Drums) shared the same buss as they did a tour together with Nightrage.
Olof and Morten became good friends and a year later or something, Amaranthe (Avalanche at that time) started to be more than just a project in the computer. Olof Directly said that we’re gonna have Morten behind the drums, so we asked him to join the band. To complete the line-up, we then asked our good friend Johan Andreassen (ex.Engl) to join the band.

Metalship : Could you introduce us to each member in the band? How does each member contribute to Amaranthe to make the group popular, especially in Europe?

Without making a fool out of myself, I must say that every band member in this band is one of the top musicians in their profession. Not many drummers can do what Morten does.
I’ve never heard a better screamer then Andy, and I don’t need to say anything about Elize do I? Everyone strive against the same goal. That is what keeps making Amaranthe what it is today!

Metalship : It’s original to have three vocals in a metal band and especially a woman with two men. How did you come up with this lineup?

Well. As I said in a previous question it was all a coincidence, but after we listened to the first demo, me and Olof just wanted to form a band around it!

Metalship : The video of “Hunger," one of the singles in your album “Leave everything behind”, has been seen more than100,000 times on YouTube. Why did you choose to release this song before revealing your album?

At that time, we released “Leave Everything Behind” while on tour with Kamelot.
We still negotiated with the labels, but needed something to show to the Kamelot fans, so we decided to release two demo songs recorded at Studio Fredman on our own independent label. We just picked two strong songs and who knew that a year later "Hunger" would be the first “official” single with an awesome video

Metalship : Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What hobbies you have as well as playing your music?

I have many hobbies such as guitars, music, music, music, guitars, playing guitar, playing my music, making lists of guitars I 'd like to have, wondering what's wrong now with a certain guitar, getting guitar sounds, blowing up guitar amplifiers, ehem… did I mention playing the guitar? Sometimes, while making records and mixing there is only limited time for playing the guitar. That I don't like about my job.

Metalship : Tell us what you do in the band and who the other guys are?

We have Tommy heart on vocals, Ule Ritgen on bass, CC Behrens on drums and, it might surprise you, my feeble self on guitar.

Metalship : As a child what music did you grow up listening to?

Oops, those were dark times, my grandma used to play me German Schlager, which you have to imagine as a mixture of Engelbert Humperdinck and slimy alien substances. Children songs as well. I was quite relieved at the age of 12/13 to find out that there was music like Led Zeppelin and Rainbow.

Metalship : What was your first experience with metal?

The hot iron my mother dropped on my right foot when I was a baby. The scar is still there.

Metalship : How did you and the other guys in Fair Warning meet up?

Most of us played in a band called "Zeno" by the end of the '80s. When the main songwriter, Zeno Roth, called it a day, we decided to go on as Fair Warning.

Metalship : Fair Warning could be described as power/symphonic metal. Did you ever foresee or plan in advance that you wanted to be a in this kind of genre?

No, not at all and I still don't see it. No offense meant, but I don't believe in categorizing music. I prefer to call it music, if there has to be a more specific name, maybe rock music. Coming across new efforts for naming a certain style of a band every six month is rather tiresome.

Rockahoolaslayyourmotherdeathmonsterdoomhaveabiteinbetween metal?? NAHHHHH!

Metalship : What would you say are the main lyrical themes present in your music?

A broad variety. There are personal issues, like love, despair, joy and sometimes rather political issues like, despair, no love for politicians, no joy in seeing certain things in the world.

Metalship : "Aura" came out in 2009, and the question on everybody’s mind is when can we be expecting a new Fair Warning album?

Yes, that is on our minds as well. My estimation would be 2012.

Metalship : Your latest live album came out late 2010. Where and when did you record this and why choose the places you played?

We recorded two shows--one at "Loudpark Festival," and a second one of an entire Fair Warning Show. Both were recorded in Tokyo, Japan for the simple fact that we have the strongest following over there.

Metalship : Why did you decide to call the live album "Talking aint Enough?"

Well, maybe it is because of this "big in Japan" thing. Telling the story in words is a bit of a different affair than showing it on film.

Metalship : Japan are big Fair Warning heads. When did Japan pick up on your music and why do you think there are so many crazy fans out there?

[Japan picked up on it] immediately after the release of our first CD in 1992. It might has to do with the times. In the beginning of the '90s, the world decided "Rock is dead, lets go for grunge". Not so in Japan. Apparently the Japanese were quite aware of grunge being just another fashion that vanished as quickly as it appeared.

Metalship : After the recent events in Japan, would you like to give a message to those who may have been effected by the recent problems?

I would like to help, but am helpless. Yes, each and everyone is sending messages just demonstrating how stranded we all are concerning this situation. I saw a video of a quite well known singer on the net, holding up a paper saying "be strong". Doesn't change much, does it? All I feel is anger and sadness about our own stupidity. The nature of the unexpected is being unpredictable. No matter whatever risk clever scientists predicted, took into consideration or calculated to excuse the use of atomic energy, it's all a big load of bull.

Metalship : If you could describe Fair Warning’s music as an animal. What animal would it be and why?

A hedgehog, for one was just passing by outside my window.

Metalship : If you could be in a super group, who else would be in the band?

John Bonham on drums, Rick Wakeman on keyboards, James Jamerson on bass, Paul Rodgers on vocals, and this band should replace their lousy guitar player. Better get a Beck or Clapton.

Metalship : Ok Helge, thanks for your time. Can you give our readers a brief summary of your new live album entitled "Talking aint Enough?"

Since there are two concerts including three hours of music, you could get more than a glimpse of what Fair Warning is all about. We did our best and I am proud being able to say "We played well." The rest is up to the audience to decide. Thank you for putting together this interview.

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added by The Dark Lord, on March 31, 2011 for Metalship


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