UNISONIC (2012 - English Version) - Kai Hansen

Everybody has heard a lot of things about UNISONIC the project uniting Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske. Kai Hansen was happy talkative about it. The phone rang, and it went like this:

Kai Hansen : Allo !

SBM : Allo Kai ? Nice to meet you!

Oh, pleasure! Thank you.

You’re currently in Paris for the promotion of UNISONIC with your band mate Michael Kiske. Can you tell us more about that project?
Huum yes I can! (Laugh)
What do you want to know?

First of all, when did it born. And of course, when and why did you join them?

Ok. First of all, UNISONIC was not planned to be a project, it was planned to be a band that last long. So it’s not one of these things that we do in a year. We wanted to take it into the years and into the future. Actually it happened that Michael, after like, 17 years of experience from stages and the rock scene, came back to the point of making something, calling Kosta, Denis, saying them “Why don’t you wanna do a band to change again?”. So in the end they said that they’d do something and the united with Michael, Denis, Kosta and Mandy and they had already planned to do an album in 2010 but for some reasons it never happened.
In the end, Michael and me went on tour with Avantasia, and we found that there was a great chemistry going on and a real strong connection and that we should do something together. And after checking out the various possibilities we could have had for doing something together, we ended up with “It would be the best thing if I would maybe join UNISONIC”, and then we got together with the other guys, talk about things and jam together and it went very very good so… I said “Yes I’m in”.
From there we started some writing, and put all ideas together and finally we were with an album.

As you said you were a part of the Avantasia journey, and now you’re a part of UNISONIC. Did you need these projects to breathe a little, change your mind or that kind of things?

Actually, you know… It’s just a welcome thing for me, because I did Gamma Ray for years now and I was never thinking of doing that, I never did any solo project, anything beside. So it was a good thing and of course getting back together with Michael is a great opportunity to do something different and a real worthy opportunity, so I didn’t want to miss that.

I had the chance to little the album, which will be soon available. How do you feel about the release? Are you excited to release something new?

Yeah absolutely we are excited, because UNISONIC is a bit different; it’s not exactly a metal band, we’re a rock band and our range comes from pop, to rock, to metal, we have things from everything in that, and that’s something different. And of course we have a history with Helloween and all that, and of course it’s a lot of expectation from people but on the other hand this album is different and of course we’re very curious of how people will take the album, how will it go down, if it’ll be successful or not.

Can you tell us of goes the writing process in the band? How does it work? Is there one person writing? Or does everyone give his ideas?

I think that… yeah, in the end everybody’s part himself into the song writing. The main part maybe was made by Denis and me but it was a lot of rehearsals and stuff going on so we put our demos and ideas on the table and said “This is what I’ve got” and then we started working on them, and played it in the rehearsal room and made arrangements, and made changes to rock and tried out with vocals and everything until we finally said “This is a good song now”.

The first song that we’ve heard, also the first clip, is the song “Unisonic”, which is very powerful and we can hear the “Gamma Ray touch”. Is it right?

It does have the Gamma Ray touch, and it’s funny because when I heard just the basic riff, that comes from Mandy, he was in the rehearsal room recording it there with some people and when I heard it, I was like “Shit, it’s definitely like a song I have once wrote”, it’s pretty similar to “Into the storm”.

Yeah exactly!

And I immediately liked the riff and said “Yeah we should make “Unisonic” as a real storm powerful song” and it’s simple but it’s catchy as hell and I had the idea for this chorus “Unisonic”, that I wanted to put in another song, but finally it fits together very very well.

This song is very powerful, but all the others are not so… metal and we can hear many influences. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems like I heard some Bon Jovi on “Never change me” or U2 on “I’ve tried”, am I right?

Well, actually, as I said, UNISONIC is not just a simple metal band. And of course we’re just able and we like to do stuff that is beyond the normal metal stuff and you will find some influences and others will find some other stuff, but everything is based on rock.

Are there special influences in the rock domain? Or do you take everything?

It’s not really special influences I would say; I think that our influences are coming from everything that we like, our inspiration in music that we have. And this can be Gun and Roses or Elvis and other stuff as well and so on. Denis is more the AC/DC guy, and so we can combine various styles and melt them all.

Who’s in charge of the lyrics in the band?

Michael, Dennis and me.

In Gamma Ray, lyrics are almost based on fiction and fantasy. Do you have the opportunity to write thing who have never written before?

It’s not a matter of opportunity. That’s not depending on UNISONIC or Gamma Ray. Lyrics can be put on all kind of music that you can create. So I’m not fixing on “In UNISONIC I write about this and in Gamma Ray I’ll write about something different”. So it’s all the same in some way.

About that… We don’t have the chance to hear you sing with Michael…

Actually you do, but I’m more in the background, so all the harmony vocals and the choirs, so if you listen carefully you will hear me.

Yeah but have you ever thought about doing lead vocals? Or did you let all this to Michael?

It was not planned, but in one of the song there was a part, because I sang on the demos, and I gave Michael the ideas for the vocals and we were working on it when he said “I don’t think you should give it to me… Maybe you should sing it”. But in the end I said “Well give it a try and check it out” and I thought it sounds great so I said “No, I don’t want to be on it as a lead singer. You do the lead vocals and I step back”.
Because I can do a lot of lead vocals stuff in Gamma Ray, and I’m finally happy to step back in UNISONIC. And if it comes in the future, that I have to sing a part or so, why not?
Or if we play live, I can take all the parts to Michael, if he’s having a break in some complicate songs, I’d be happy to do that, but it’s not a programmed.

What are the next steps, now that the album will be release? Touring around the world?

Yes, obviously of course, we have to start playing live, and we’re very very hot to doing this. We actually want to go on stages. We already had one show, in Japan, on the Loud Park festival, and it went down very well. We’ve never been on stage together and it was very very cool, so we’re very keen on playing live now and we will go on tour in May, starting with South America and Japan. After that we will do some festivals in summer all over Europe. And in autumn, there will be a real tour for Europe.

As you’ve already done some gigs with UNISONIC, what was the reaction of the public?

Really amazing… we’ve already done one, in Loud Park Festival in Japan, and the reaction of the audience was just… really great. We expected some good vibes, but it was more than we expected. People were crying and screaming and it was really great.

I guess the tour will be great. But you seems really busy with UNISONIC, so will Gamma Ray be put in standby?

Yeah of course, I have to split all my time between the two bands, and we decided to take it in the way of “one year is UNISONIC, one year is Gamma Ray”. So this year I will start some writing and producing. Beside touring with UNISONIC, I will start some writing, producing an album with Gamma Ray, which will be out next year.
And we will go on tour then, with Gamma Ray next year, and so next year UNISONIC will step back a little bit, and we’ll try to make a cycle.

For now you’ve recorded 11 songs for the first album. Have you other songs or some ideas for a second album?

Yes of course. In the end with UNISONIC we had, well… thirteen songs, and in the European version there’s a special version with one extra track, and the Asian version has another extra track, and there’s one song that we did not finish because it was a bit too different and had not is place here. So there was more.

Right, so we can expect a second album…

Absolutely, yes… Sure of course you will… You have to expect a second album. You will when I’m done with Gamma Ray next year. Then we’ll go for a next production with UNISONIC, and we’ll go touring, as we do now, with the next album, and I’m really hopeful with doing that.

Ok so next year will be very busy for you…

(Laugh) I think so yeah…

And do you have already ideas for the successor of “To the metal”, the latest Gamma Ray album? Or do you exclusively focus of UNISONIC?

No, I have already ideas for the next Gamma Ray album and of course, and since my hard rock or rock side was used with UNISONIC, I think that my metal side will be much stronger on the next Gamma Ray album.

Actually I also wanted to know if your experience with UNISONIC has changed the way that Gamma Ray would take…

I think it might, yes, of course. It will be more metal.

That sounds great! One last question… if Tobias Sammet goes on in Avantasia, would you be part of it?

If Tobi wants us to come along with it and do something on the album, we’ve already said yes… Of course. Because Avantasia’s a great thing and we had much fun with doing this and all the touring. So if Tobi wants us we’ll be there.

Well now I leave to you the final words, if you want to say something to the French fans?
Yeah! Well… I hope that everybody will give the album a chance and have a listen. Hope that everybody will like it, see what’s happening and we’re very very happy to come in France to play.

Ok so we’ll be waiting for you…

All right!

Thank you so much for giving me a little piece of you time, enjoy Paris, and see ya!

Thank you! I’ll see you!


Critique : SBM
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