All Interviews

Demons & Wizards

Hansi Kürsch and Jon Schaffer
Posted on Jul 16, 2005
by Anders

Before I received the promo copy of Demons & Wizards new album "Touched By The Crimson King", I had never heard the band. I had of course heard about it, how can one not notice a band contaning Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth and Hansi Kürsch from Blind Guardian? It didn't take many listens to get me convinced that the band was great and that I had to check out their debut album as well. "Demons & Wizards" is not the same great experience as "Touched By The Crimson King", but still a good album though. I got more into the band's new album and one afternoon the phone rang, and in the other end I had Hansi. We had a great talk about the new album, his inspiration for his lyrics, his lyrical themes and in the end he came up with a couple of news from the Blind Guardian camp as well.

Will you please start off by telling a bit about yourself and why you play metal?

I'm Hansi Kürsch and I sing in Demons & Wizards and Blind Guardian, the latter being my main band. Jon Schaffer and I started Demons & Wizards 5 years ago now. We released our debut album "Demons & Wizards" back then and are now finally ready with the follow up to that.
I play metal due to it being very honest and intense music, to make it short, it reflects all what I like in music.

How did you get into metal and how did you end up being one of the greatest singers in the genre?

When I was 11 years old, I listened to Deep Purple for the first time, and I fell in love with the music, later on it became a passion. In the 80ties bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica bloomed and I became very inspired by that and wanted to make music myself. I found Andre Olbrich (Blind Guardian guitarist, ed) and we started to make music. We attacked the music very strongly and were very ambitious. Even though we thought both our spirit and music were great, we soon realized that we needed to progress, to keep it up. I choose to take song lessons to progress, and it did pay off!

You are finally ready with the new Demons & Wizards album, how psyched are you about the release?

I am actually very relaxed. I was a bit thrilled and anxious in the beginning of the year, when things started to fall in place. But now I am all cool. I am not too concerned about the feedback on my records anymore. It is a great feeling to have the album ready for the release, we have done what we can do, and now we just have to wait. Even though it has become more difficult to sell music these days. Though we have received some good reviews and a lot of interviews, so I am pretty confident.
Jon and I are great friends, we have a lot of fun working and recording together, we are mostly doing this to please ourselves.

What do you expect from the album?

Well, I hope people really enjoys the album, I know I do. Besides that it won't be bad if it sells a bit. I always make what I enjoy myself, and apparently my taste is good, it seems like many enjoys what I do.

What do you want to accomplish with your music?

I want to be able to be creative and express myself, and then I want to entertain people. I do also want to progress as a songwriter

How big a part of the Demons & Wizards universe are the lyrics?

They are of course very important for me, due to me being the one who makes them. Though I always write them very late. I feel there is a very strong connection between the music and the lyrics.

How do you find inspiration to your lyrics?

I find most of my inspiration when reading books. Both fantasy and classical literature. I read and I get inspired to write, that does also mean that I sometimes have to wait for the right music to come along, to fit a lyric. It is important for me, that the atmosphere in the music and lyric fits. The lyric for 'Dorian' on the new album, was actually supposed to be used on the last Blind Guardian album, though there weren't any fitting songs for the lyrical concept. The lyric is inspired by Oscar Wilde by the way. Besides the fiction I read, I get a bit inspired by reality too, and philosophy and thinkers as well.

Is there anything specific that have inspired you when you wrote the lyrics for the new Demons & Wizards album?

The strongest vibe I had when I was writing the lyrics for "Touched By The Crimson King", was from The Dark Towers by Stephen King. After I read the books, I couldn't think of anything else. I think 70% of the lyrics are inspired by something else, than The Dark Towers, but those books had a huge impact on me. 

Can you tell a bit about the lyrical themes on "Touched By The Crimson King"?

I can pull out of couple of tracks, 'Beneath These Waves' was directly inspired by Moby Dick. The fate of one man and the struggle with nature, symbolized by Captain Ahab, an amazing story. 'Wicked Witch' is my interpretation of The Wizard Of Oz, with a couple of twists.

Who is the crimson king?

Haha, the crimson king, that's a good question. It is the Stephen King crimson king, which is satan. I didn't actually know that, when I was writing the songs for the album, it was first revealed later, haha. The crimson king is the ultimate evil.

Do you want to bring a message to people with your lyrics?

From time to time I have a message, but it is mostly entertainment. Though it is never straight messages. On the first album, we had the 3 last tracks 'Tear Down The Wall', 'Gallows Pole' and 'My Last Sunrise', which is a concept. A philosophical view on the apocalypse and lack of faith.

Do you think you can influence people's lives with your lyrics and music?

I think we do, to the positive I hope. People are taking our music as something positive, the music has a positive vibe and a positive message. We have heard from people who say that our music gets them, through the day, and speaking for myself, music really kept me up in the past. "The Number Of The Beast" by Iron Maiden was a very positive album for me when it was released.

How do you know if you have a lyric for Demons & Wizards or Blind Guardian? 

I have to wait for the music to decide that. There aren't any conflicts at that point. Lyrics demands a certain musical attention, so I know when I have a lyric for one of the bands, when I hear the music, haha. Even though the lyrics I made out from The Dark Towers, usually would have been Blind Guardian material.

How much influence do you have on the final music, do you contribute to the song writing too?

I have quite some influence on that… I have to get the music arranged so it fits the vocal melodies. We are finalizing the songs face to face, so Jon and I do work a lot together and we both have our share of the decisions.

You recorded the album in Morrisound with Jim Morris at the helmet, why did you choose him?

Jim has become a great friend of mine and his studio is really good. I would go so far and say that Jim is the 3rd studio member of Demons & Wizards. He has been working with Jon for a while in connection with Iced Earth, and he knows him well. Jim knows what we wants and it is a great feeling to work with him. He is a really good lead guitarist as well, I really like his attitude. (Jim Morris delivers the lead guitar on the new album, ed). 

What were your favorite and least favorite parts during the recording of the new album?

The best part was the recording of the vocals for 'Gunslinger', that went well. The worst part was the recording of 'Lunar Lament', which is a bonus track on the digi-pack version of the album. It should have been the strongest track on the album, but I didn't get along with the vocals. The recording of the vocals on 'Dorian' was quite bad as well. I had the doomy part written in my head, but it was quite a wild experience to get it recorded.

How did the band end up with the name Demons & Wizards?

It was Jon's wife who came up with the name. She first came up with Demons & Angels, where Jon was the demon and I the angel, though I am not that angelic, so after some thinking she came up with the wizard, the perfect name for the band.

Will you and Jon Schaffer continue Demons & Wizards?

We certainly will. It may take a while before we both will have some time to do a new album. I have my schedule full with Blind Guardian until the end of 2006. Though we will eventually get together and see how we can continue.

What would you like to accomplish with the band?

To be creative together with Jon. And to entertain our fans. It will of course also be great to sell a lot of records.

Any good news from the Blind Guardian camp?

Well, the songwriting for the new album is almost done. We are also getting ready to do some promo-photo shots, and we will most likely introduce our new drummer in a couple of weeks.

What would you like to be remembered for, what should your epitaph say?

Haha, I don't want to think about that now, I want a long life. Well, had a great life, don't worry be happy, should do it for an epitaph I guess.

Thanks a ton for doing this interview… do you have anything to add?

Thank you for conducting it. Check out the new album "Touched By The Crimson King", it is good and will not disappoint you. And I promise that the new Blind Guardian album will be released during 2006, expect nothing but the best!

Demons & Wizards website
Blind Guardian website
Iced Earth website

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