With Gamma Ray on a break because of a well known pumpkins reunion, Michael Ehré is able to focus one hundred percent on The Unity. That means a new album, only a year and a half after the debut.
First of all: congratulations with the new album! I like what I’ve heard so far.
Michael: Thank you so much! We’re glad you like it! The reviews were fantastic so far, what makes us very, very happy.
I guess it’s been a while since the album was recorded; what are your reaction towards it now, hearing it outside the studio and not being in «recording mode»?
Michael: We’ve finished the production a few weeks ago, so the album is still very present in my mind. We started the songwriting in January and directly after that we recorded all the songs. When you’re so deep in the record mode it’s hard to hear the songs in an «objective» way, but even if we listened to all the tracks so many times I still love to hear the album. I’m curious how the album will sound to me in one year.
I’m sure it’s always a nice feeling being finished with an album. Is the touring and promoting the «big award» afterwards, or is writing and recording as much fun?
Michael: Writing and recording is much fun indeed, but you’re right: the big award is to get the reactions afterwards, especially when they are as positive as they are right now. When you’re working so hard on something like an album, where you put so much time and energy in, you loose your objectivity. This is pretty normal, but sometimes you ask yourself if the product is good enough for the fans. The good thing is that everyone in the band is extremely experienced and we knew that we had something cool in the making.
Brace yourself, this is a long question: but how was the writing process towards this album? I mean: when do you find time to write? Is it like Gamma Ray is your number one priority, and that writing and recording The Unity’s song comes whenever Gamma Ray has a break? Or do you manage to have both bands in your head at the same time?
Michael: At the moment we are able to focus 100% on The Unity as Gamma Ray is still having a break because of the Helloween reunion. But even if we start Gamma Ray again we will be able to spend a lot of time with The Unity. As both bands have different musical directions I’m pretty sure we will be able to manage both bands at the same time. And to be honest: we have no idea what will happen with Helloween in the future. If they decide to continue with this line up, we still have The Unity and are not forced to do nothing.
I read somewhere that you and Henjo Richter (guitarist, Gamma Ray) founded the band to make music that was somewhat different than in Gamma Ray. How important is it for you to have several platforms to create music on?
Michael: For me this is very important. Not only because of the music, but also because of the different people you are working with. It’s always refreshing to play in different bands. And nowadays it’s almost impossible to have only one band if you’re making a living of being a musician.
What can you tell me about the new album, Rise. What are the lyrics about, and where do you find inspirations to the lyrics?
Michael: Rise is not a concept album. The lyrics deal with «real» things that happen or can happen to all of us. Some are fictional, some are things that we’ve went through. Though I love lyrics about swords, hammer and dragons, we know that those those kind of lyrics won’t fit to our music. We have different songwriters in the band, so everybody writes stories that are important for him. Some are serious, some are funny, but all are real.
And now it’s time for the road again! What are your thoughts about touring? I guess you spend some time on the road during a year?
Michael: Yes! We will be on tour through Europe with Axel Rudi Pell in October/November. The tour starts one month after the release of Rise [14 September], which is what I call perfect timing. Touring is the most important thing for bands like us. It’s the perfect way to reach a lot of new fans. Especially in the metal/hard rock genre, the people want to see their bands live and we love the contact with the people and get their feedback from eye to eye.
I must also ask you one Gamma Ray question, even though you have touched the topic: the last album came out in 2014, when will the next album be released?
Michael: To be honest; I don’t know right now. The Helloween reunion is very successful and I’m pretty sure they will continue as long as possible. If they decide to do a new record it will take time, so… no idea! [A few days after this interview, Helloween revealed that a new studio album, with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske, will be released in 2020].
[As written above, the interview was taken a few days before the news about the Helloween album]:
Kai Hansen is «quite» involved in the Helloween reunion at the moment. What do you think about the reunion, and will you bet wether or not there will be a new Helloween album involving both Kiske and Hansen?
Michael: As I said: this reunion is very successful and the fans love it! I visited a show in Bochum and I have to say it was awesome! I’m pretty sure they will do an album, I can’t see any reason not to.
And finally: what happened to Metalium, one of my favorite bands during the early 2000. Is that a closed chapter?
Michael: For me this chapter is closed. All the guys from Metalium are involved in other bands and projects and that’s absolutely okay. To be honest: I’d like to focus 100% on The Unity right now, and that needs a lot of time and energy. I love the band, our music and what we’ve achieved so far. No reason to think about something else at the moment, haha!
The Unity’s new album, Rise, is out 14 September, on SPV/Steamhammer.