Germany's power metal sensation Blind Guardian erupted onto the metal scene in 1984, and from the beginning its musical mission was to perfect the fusion of thrash and a traditional, symphonic, more classical approaches to heaviness. With heavy and pounding bass drums, and ravaging riffs, Blind Guardian's music was inspired by tales of fantasy and science fiction. The band's albums are tales, each song a shorter story within the greater epics. The subjects are limitless but have included battles of good vs. evil, wizards, gnomes, ancient prophecies, and portals to other dimensions. Fans have loved the band's sound and story telling ability. The music is loud and, over the years has retained its melody and increased its speed and aggression, incrementally adopting more elements of thrash metal.
The band is celebrating three decades, and counting of an international following, 10 full length studio albums, including the most recent, Beyond the Red Mirror, from earlier this year. Longtime guitarist Andre Olbrich recently took time to speak with the Weekly about Blind Guardian's upcoming tour with German old school metal band Grave Digger, the popularity of heavy metal music on the world scene, the band's upcoming appearances on the big European metal festivals in 2016, the best places to play in America, and more.
OC Weekly (Alex Distefano) :Tell us about the band's upcoming tour with Grave Digger.
Blind Guardian (Andre Olbrich):We're all looking forward to it, they are another great band. We all love touring in the U.S. because it is always such a great time filled with super energetic fun shows. The fans we see at each gig make it worth it to us for the time, but in all honesty we love the traveling meeting fans and seeing the country. Each show is special to us, and we try to make the fans see, hear and feel that.
Tell us about the band's latest album, Beyond the Red Mirror (2015).
Well it came out almost a year ago, at the beginning of 2015, and it's a concept album about imagination and a boy who has to make decisions, it's all connected to another dimension. It's a sequel of sorts. Musical wise we continued with epic songs and brought in new elements this time to create a new invigorating sound. We used 10 string guitars and tried to create a different element in the studio on this record. But of course its still traditional Blind Guardian, and fans of our music style and songs will all be pleased.
Do you guys have favorite cities to play when you tour America?
I think that it would be kind of unfair to name some cities as special for the audience as opposed to other cities. The audience is amazing everywhere we play. We love them all. But, we especially like major cities like New York, Chicago, Houston, Boston, and states like Florida and California, because we love the warm weather and all the sunshine. But, because of the time permits, we cannot travel to every city or even every state in your wonderful country, but if i had it my way we would tour much longer and get to all those places we never got a chance to play.
Blind Guardian is playing some of the huge metal festivals, next year. Does the band regularly play these events?
We only play festivals after we do our own headlining tour so we will only play next year. We will headline the biggest in the world, Wacken, in Germany, and from there we will play many festivals in many countries all across Europe after our own tour. But only in 2016 because of our own tour for the album. The a band still has not made it to Africa, India, China, or the Middle East, which we would love to play. We love traveling and bringing our music to the fans. It can be tricky. You have to find the right promoters and you need to make sure it's the right deal. But we're always working on it and looking into it.
Do you think that heavy metal music, and rock music is becoming more popular and accepted on the international level?
I think that kind of constant. There is always new people entering the scene and some people leaving the scene but I am under the impression that rock music and heavy metal music has always been able to get new people in, no matter where you are in the world. We saw this in Germany and all over Europe with the fans of our band and all other heavy metal bands. We have reached beyond the old generation and into the new ones, and with technology now it's even more so. But, from the 1960s and 1970s, with bands like the Rolling Stones, who still have a big following, to bands like Metallica who will never go away. As for Blind Guardian goes, we try to make magical music that we love; the heavy metal that is in our traditions, and hopefully our fans love it too
Any final comments for fans who will be at your concert on Nov. 21, in Anaheim, at the Grove?
We are looking forward to rocking out with all of our fans in Anaheim, the tour with Grave Digger is going to be phenomenal. We love the weather and crowd in this part of California, they never disappoint and we always know we can count on a great time!
Blind Guardian with Grave Digger, Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806714-712-2700.