Inspired by X Japan

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German power metal pioneers Gamma Ray, founded by former Helloween’er Kai Hansen, have been in existence just as long as the giggling gal who eagerly whips out her ID at the bar for the first time. And just as the 21st birthday is a milestone in the life of a young American adult, it’s also a milestone for Gamma Ray’s members, who have undoubtedly seen themselves grow from young bucks into elder statesmen of the heavy metal world since the creation of Heading for Tomorrow in 1989. Drummer Dan Zimmermann, member since 1997, spoke to this Teeth scribe from his hotel room in Mexico on an off-date from the band’s world tour promoting To the Metal!, the awesome foursome’s first full-length since 2007’s Land of the Free II.

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Okay, so, you guys, you’re in Mexico right now.  Where are you guys at?

Daniel Zimmermann: Oh yeah, we are in Mexico City today.  We have an off-day today, and yesterday we had a great show there — many, many people.  Good show, as always, in Mexico.  So far, our around-the-world trip is running really well.  We have some more shows—Venezuela is the next show, then Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Sao Paulo, and then we go back to Germany.

Well, that’s very cool.  I’m glad to hear that you guys had a good show last night.  It looks like you also recently played your first show in China, is that right?

Yeah, but the show in China was canceled before, because I think that two days before we arrived, the government held a mourning day because there was an earthquake, and 2000 people died, I think one or two weeks before we came.  And the mourning day was exactly the day we should have played in China, so the show was canceled.  We were there to at least make a press conference, and to sign some stuff for the fans.  But it was a pity; it was very sad, because we were really upset and looking forward to playing China, because for us it’s the first time, and no one had ever been there.  So, it was not only a little disappointing, it was very disappointing to us.

I was kind of looking over the tour schedule, and it looks like you guys are kind of going from place to place to place pretty quickly.  How are you guys coping with the tight tour schedule?

In the beginning, it was alright to…I mean, the tour schedule is not too tight.  But, for instance, I think it was four days ago, we had a very long trip. We went from Taiwan to Tokyo. From Tokyo to San Francisco, Houston, all the way to Guatemala City.  This was a really, very long ride, and it was really tiring.  We were all exhausted.  And then we played that show in Guatemala, then on the next morning at 4 AM, we had to get up and fly over to Mexico, and in the evening we played that show.  This was really strong for us, and everyone was like, feeling so tired.  Yeah, but you’ve got to go through it.  The organization of this tour was not doable in a different way, so we had to accept it, and as long as it’s not every day that you have to get up early in the morning and play a show in the night, as long as this doesn’t happen every day, it’s okay for us.  Like, now we have an off-day; everyone can sleep as much as he needs.  And yeah, for us, it’s good to do that — touring activities — to do it all in a row. Like Europe, and a break, then doing the rest of the world is good, because when the motor is running, and the engine is running, and the band playing well and everything, the show is running smooth, it’s not good to make a longer break, because then we have to start again somehow.  It’s better.  We started on the 6th of February in Hamburg, and had a couple of small breaks in between, and have been on tour until now, and that’s okay.  I mean, we know that when we go home on the 12th of May, then we have a big break over summer — I mean, we have some festivals, of course — but the next tour should be in August, and that’s okay for us.

Well, I’m glad that you guys had the opportunity to, like you said, get a little rest between some of the shows.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like traveling around touring for a couple of months in a row.  It seems insane.

Yeah, it’s quite strong.  If you’re away for a long time, and the thing is, you go from Taiwan to Guatemala City, and you are jet-lagged.  And yeah, if you have many of these long-distance travels, then it’s really hard for your body, so that means no party, not too much alcohol, sleep a little bit, rest, so that you don’t lose your energy and your power.

Are there any plans to hit North America this year?

Yeah, the plans are to do that right after summer, but so far there is no dates confirmed.  The plan is we all want to, like in, for instance, September or October, to do some touring there, but I cannot say how long it will be and where we are going to play.  But we want to do that.

It would be great to see you guys come here.  Okay, moving on a little bit… To the Metal! was released, here in the US, in March.  It looks like it’s done well in several European countries.  How has the reception been in North America so far, or do you know?

I mean, I don’t know how the album is running in North America.  I haven’t heard anything.  I don’t know.  We got no feedback from the record company.  We know that they are, in general, very satisfied with the sales and the way it’s running, but I don’t know anything special about North America.  I hope it’s running well.

I’ve been kind of reading online and it looks like people are kind of mixed about the new album, from what I’ve seen, anyway.  Some people really love it, and some people…it’s kind of a polarizing thing.

That’s the thing.  We had this some years ago with the Majestic album.  I mean, it was well-accepted in some countries, but like, in Germany, they didn’t like that album so much because the songs were too progressive for GAMMA RAY, too much parts in it and not so easy to listen to, and the lyrics were a little bit darker and not so optimistic.  It was like some loved it and some hated it, this album.  And with the new one so far — I don’t know about America, as I’ve already said — but in the rest of the world, it’s accepted quite well, at least I have the impression it’s running good.  The shows are crowded, and sales should be okay, and I mean, it’s always, you cannot satisfy everyone when you make an album.  Some people say, ‘Ah, that’s nice;’ for some people it’s maybe too straight, too easy, too commercial, whatever.  I mean, we know about this, and we hope that when we go to the States, that the people will attend our shows anyway.  Just in case they might not like that album so much, we also play different songs, old songs.

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Comments

  1. Commented by: Jodi

    Many thanks to Sara Robbins from the Gamma Ray Insurrection forum for info and ideas.


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