MetalKings.com: My first question will be pretty unoriginal, which is why 'Masterplan' - what is the meaning behind the name, who came up with the idea and what other titles did you have in mind?
Roland Grapow: We had a lot of strange names in mind but Masterplan was the best for us, it came by a fan mail suggestion from a Mexican guy. He wrote: "You are master musicians and you got your future in your hands, why you are not using the name Masterplan". I loved the idea.
MetalKings.com: The new musical material - in my humble opinion - went pretty far from the traditional Euro-power sound, and went more in the direction of a more commercial (in the good sense of the word) pattern, with certain elements of alternative and the so-called nu-sound, with the music itself being on a more progressive hard rock side, but heavier. What do you yourself think of it and do you agree with the above opinion.
Roland Grapow: I totally agree, we like to combine our influences from the 70' 80'and 90' with a more modern sound and I love to be inspired my different kind of modern sounds. But for my opinion we didn't went too far.
MetalKings.com: The press-release lists you, Uli Kusch and Jorn Lande as the main song writers - how does the collaboration work, and what are your own impressions of the result? Also, how is it different from the creative process in Helloween?
Roland Grapow: For my opinion, we are a dream team. We are much more creative than it was in Helloween. We know to communicate and we like and respect each other a lot. I guess that is what you can hear!
MetalKings.com: Unfortunately I have not had a chance to listen to the whole new album yet, and have only listened through the maxi-single 'Enlighten Me', so how would you describe the rest of the record to a person who has only heard a couple of songs?
Roland Grapow: For me it's a great balance between classic and speed melodic rock songs with a lot of progressive elements. We really where focused, not to loose our song structures. Instead of doing too many solo parts and technical playing. With Jorns voice we created a new style I guess, with a lot of feeling and soul!
MetalKings.com: You are currently on tour with Hammerfall, how does the cooperation with the Swedes go, and what are the main highlights? Also, as far as I understand Masterplan are a support act on the tour - so how is it going back from the headlining position, which, I guess, you got pretty used to while being in Helloween, back to the position of a support band? What are the bonuses and the drawbacks of it?
Roland Grapow: The tour is getting really nice so far, the package works pretty well and we don't have any problem to support Hammerfall. I guess we will headlining soon again. So it is a very good lesson for the beginning of our new career.
MetalKings.com: The label positions Masterplan as a "brilliant new band with 2 former HELLOWEEN members" - at the same time as far as I understand the other members of the act are no less renounced musicians, does that cause any trouble or jealousy? Also, since, as far as I remember (although I may be mistaken) your parting with Helloween was not that painless, does it bother you and Uli in any way?
Roland Grapow: We are really nice guys without any ego problems. For us it is important to have the band feeling from the beginning. Even when Uli and I where a bit more the creators from the beginning. Helloween is the past for Uli and me and we don't think about them anymore.
MetalKings.com: The cover artwork on the debut album shows pictures of (as Lemmy of Motorhead once put it) "global catastrophes, natural calamities and mitigating hell" - why so depressing? And how does that connect to the album title? Is that what you see as a master-plan for the future of humankind?
Roland Grapow: Totally wrong, it shows in a more modern way the 4 elements. Blaze, storm, flood and quake (water, fire, air and earth) which is related to each musician. Jorn is keeping the 4 elements together as the soul keeper. Or keeping the masterplan (which is the artwork as well. It is an old book or masterplan!! It is for me a positive message, like the band and our music is.
MetalKings.com: The album was recorded with Andy Sneap - what are the impressions of working with him?
Roland Grapow: It was really nice, he made us sounding really tight and he is responsible for the great guitar sound.
MetalKings.com: Nowadays a band without a distinct image (such as stage-clothes, special gimmicks, etc.) quite frequently would look sort of stripped, if you know what I mean. What do you think of traditional heavy-metal image, how important it is in the career of a band, and do you consider Masterplan an image or an imageless band?
Roland Grapow: So far I still wear my normal outfit, I don't like the overdose of dress like Hammerfall or other bands. That is not me.
MetalKings.com: While still in Helloween you already accomplished 2 solo works - '4 Seasons Of Life' and the critically acclaimed 'Kaleidoscope', however after quitting the band you chose to join another band, as opposed to pursuing a solo career - why so? Is working in a band more comfortable? And will we see any more of your solo efforts in the future?
Roland Grapow: I never wanted to be a solo artist, for me it is a dream to play in a band like Masterplan with such a great musicians and songwriters. Bands like Journey, Foreigner, Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Queen are my idols. In the moment I'm not planning another solo album. Masterplan gives me all the freedom.
MetalKings.com: On one of the internet pages I've found a questionnaire by you, in which you claim that if you hadn't become a guitarist, you would have probably been a car mechanic - why so? And (an impolite question, probably, but what the hell :) - don't you think you would have been better off _financially_ as a car mechanic with Mercedes Benz than as a guitarist in a heavy metal band?
Roland Grapow: I was a car mechanic for 12 years and that is what I learned. You don't need to be rich to be happy and to be satisfied. Music is my life and I won't go back to my old job, never haha. If I won't be on stage, I will be a producer or just a songwriter.
MetalKings.com: There is also a tendency nowadays (esp. in Russia) for rock and metal musicians to work for pop-artists as session members, or road-crew - what do you think of it, have you tried such experiences yourself, would you try it out, and if so, what pop-artist would you consider to be worthy of having Roland Grapow on the guitars?
Roland Grapow: I'm not sure about that, depends if I like the music and the pop artist want to have a heavy guitar, than it will be ok. Like Michael Jackson did a couple of times. But I won't play cheesie funk guitar or stupid stuff which I would never play.
MetalKings.com: Working in Helloween and in Masterplan - what would be the main difference, what are the main highlights and drawbacks in both bands - on personal, professional, and musical levels?
Roland Grapow: Helloween had many good moments, too many too describe but also too many problems at the same time. With Masterplan we have just good moments, it needs the right balance. Like a marriage. Nothing is perfect but when you fight too much, it kills the creativity and the magic of a band.
MetalKings.com: You are already at an age, when one can really be proud of the many years of experience behind their back and probably be making long-term plans for the future. So if I ask you what would be three things you would like to accomplish as a guitarist, after which you'd be able to say that you can retire with an easy heart?
Roland Grapow: I really don't think about retirement so much, I have more power in my guitar playing than many other musicians. For me you get old when you think too much about that. In my heart I'm still 23 with even 20 years more experience.
MetalKings.com: Top-three guitarists of all times?
Roland Grapow: Michael Schenker, Uli Roth, Ritchie Blackmore
MetalKings.com: Going on a tour and rehearsing - what is better for you and why?
Roland Grapow: Touring is really nice when you know your stuff, rehearsing is boring but important.
MetalKings.com: And of course the traditional - 'plans on coming to Russia' - anything?
Roland Grapow: If we get the chance to go and have an offer, we will be there, believe me. I love to come back again.
MetalKings.com: Well, thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer these questions, and your final word...
Roland Grapow: Thanx a lot and check out our homepage: www.master-plan.net
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