Hansi Kursch

Demons And Wizards

Demons & Wizards is the project of vocalist Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and guitarist John Scaffer (Iced Earth). After several years of silence this project returns with their second album, Touched By The Crimson King. With no hesitation I accepted the offer to interview Hansi here in Athens under the burning sun (oh yeah, Hansi felt it, really!)...
By Michael Dalakos
May 15, 2005
Hansi Kursch (Demons And Wizards) interview
Hansi let's start by breaking down how long the whole process for this second album took...

Well we have to separate things. The songwriting didn't take long. I worked for four weeks on the vocals while the basic arrangements took roughly four weeks. It took so long to release this second album because we never had the time to sit down and work for it. John and I, we have a very busy schedule with our bands. After the release of the first album it took us two years before we started considering the possibility of doing a second one!

John provided me with the basic arrangements at the of beginning of 2003 but I wasn't able to respond until the end of the same year. Of course all this time I've had the ability to listen to the material and start creating some ideas in my mind for the vocals. I think this way the new album is far more mature than the first one. When I started working on the album John didn't have any time at all. When John was forced to cancel their tour because of his health problem we used that gap to get together, finalize the songwriting and do the production. I can say that the finalization of the songs took about two weeks. We had a break for four weeks and then we entered the studio.

We used Jim Morris' studio in Tampa Florida, the recordings took about two weeks and we also spent like twelve days on mixing the new stuff.

Your first album was highly praised by the press and if I am not mistaken it also sold really well. Did you expect such a success and did this cause you any stress for this second album?

First of all, indeed the album sold really well. When we did the album we knew we held something really good at hand. The songs felt really strong and we had a great chemistry as composers. We also knew that our bands were driving forces in Heavy Metal, at least back then. Therefore it was kind of obvious that we would have some success.

However as you nicely mentioned it was a debut album. And since this was a debut album by members of Iced Earth and Blind Guardian we knew that the expectations would be too high and at some point this wasn't so fair. People didn't understand that it takes time to find the chemistry between the songwriters and this is not a process you can force at all. It takes time. This was the beginning of this project... in the end however I think we made it really well [Laughs]

Do you believe that the two albums have several differences or is Touched By The Crimson King the natural evolution of your sound?

I think whoever listens to songs like Crimson King or Gunslinger will realize they are a natural development to our sound. I believe that whoever listens to the new album will have no doubt... this is what you get if you put Hansi and John to work together. The first album was a fusion of music from two different bands and the same thing goes for the second one, only this time it is more mature and more elaborate.

How difficult was it for two strong personalities like you and John to sit down and work together avoiding killing each other?

I can assure you it was really nice, we are quite peaceful people [Laughs]. It has to do with understanding. John is very straightforward, he offers the best and demands the best. We respect each other and we understand that we have our differences. As long as we respect each other's differences, there is no problem. We shared opinions about many things. Of course when there was a decision to be made about the arrangements, John had the final word and I had the final word on the vocal details.

He left Tampa when I started recording my vocals and he returned when I was finished. So, it takes a lot of faith and trust for each other. We give each other enough freedom...

Do you see Demons & Wizards as a project or is there a possibility to become a more full time band? Will you start releasing albums more often?

Well, personally, I am used to releasing albums every five or ten years [Laughs]. After all, what good is it to release an album every year if it is not good enough? Blind Guardian take that time to release albums so it's quite normal for me. If you focus on your music it doesn't matter how long it will take to release it. Yes, we want to release a new album soon but that depends on the time schedule of the two main bands and how quick we can be.

We consider Demons & Wizards as a band and not a project. The problem is that we are the only real members of the band. Jim Morris can be considered to be a third member but he cannot follows us on tour.

Some technical stuff. Will there be any limited editions for the new album and will you do a videoclip?

We will do a video for Terror Train and this is going to happen next month. There will be a digipack version with a second CD. The second CD will contain two songs not included in the album, the one is called Lunar Lament and the other Special Architect [Ed. Note: OK, I am not sure about the second track title, sorry]. Both are very cool compositions but we were not satisfied by the production on them. There is also a slow version of Wicked Witch that happened by accident... don't ask me about it [Laughs]. There is also an edited version of Beneath These Waves. That was supposed to be the video for the album but we changed our mind at the last moment.

Apart from collaborating with John you have appeared on some other albums. Do other musicians in mind that you would like to work with?

To be honest with you, no. I am very happy with the people I am working now. If someone comes to me with music that I really like I will consider the possibility. It is always nice to work with new people but unfortunately I don't have the luxury of time to do so.

Your favorite song on the new album is...?

I would say The Gunslinger because it's the perfect combination of Iced Earth and Blind Guardian.

Is there any chance of seeing Demons & Wizards tour?

At the moment, no. Apart from not having a complete lineup, we really don't have the time to do a tour. Both bands are very time consuming and even if we had a small break from our schedule we would have to sacrifice our vacations from our bands for touring. I am too old for this! [Laughs]

You've succeeded in many things with Blind Guardian and Demons& Wizards. Still are there any unfulfilled dreams?

Of course. As long as we keep on going there will always be new goals to achieve. I would like to see both bands become bigger and stronger.

Thanks for your time. Close this interview with a message to all our readers...

To the readers of Metal Temple I would say check out the new album of Demons & Wizards, expect the new ass-kicking album of Blind Guardian and keep rocking!

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