Interview with Helge Engelke (Fair Warning, Dreamtide)

MER: First of all, Congratulations with the new release Dream And Deliver which really impressed the reviewer from Metal Express Radio! How has the new album been welcomed among other critics and fans?

Helge: Thank you. The new album has been welcomed very well among critics and fans. We get a lot of positive response.

MER: How did the material for the new album evolve?

Helge: Our Singer Olaf wrote Help Me on Dream And Deliver. The rest of the songs are written by me. We started working on Dream and Deliver by the end of 2006 and got finished by March 2008. Francis and I didn’t do anything else during that time and for the other members as well it was quite time-consuming. We tried to arrange, play and produce all of the songs in a way most suitable for the song. There were no intentions to press songs into a pre-planned scheme like “Hard-Rock”, “Melodic-Rock” or “Whatever-Rock”. There was a lot of work arranging, recording, listening, rearranging, rerecording, we spent quite a long time recording and mixing. Still I would not say it was difficult. We always had the feeling we could improve and when changing something was necessary we went for it. The lyrics deal with a wide variety of issues. From personal songs like “Tell Me How It Feels”, “Help Me” or “The Vow”, to more political songs like “King Of Scum” and “A Fool’s Crusade” and situations everyone sometimes experiences like “ I Don’t Wanna Wait” and “Keep From Falling”. “Download A Dream” is about blessings and shortcomings of the Internet.

MER: It’s been a while since the release of your latest effort Dreams For The Daring way back in 2003. Why did it take so long to get another album out?

Helge: Indeed, a gap of five years in between albums is quite long. The reason for the long time it took was a Fair Warning album recorded in 2005/ 2006, Brother’s Keeper, and which we toured with. CC and me took part in this. The actual work on Dream And Deliver was from November 2006 to March 2008. Some songs were written in 2005/2006 though.

MER: Will you tour any with Dreamtide in the coming time?

Helge: We’re planning to tour by spring of next year.

MER: Let’s look upon the coming album of Fair Warning as well. Recently you signed a deal with AOR Heaven. Earlier in the career of Fair Warning we’ve seen that the record company was the hold up. After facing the ceasing support from WEA in Europe you decided to leave them after the release of your second studio album. The record companies are indeed important for the success of the release of a record. What made you sign the deal with AOR Heaven?

Helge: The new album will be our first one on AOR Heaven. We used to be signed to a different label for some of the last albums and felt it was time for a change. Further, Tommy is signed to AOR Heaven with his band “Soul Doctor” and obviously had quite a good experiences.

MER: Can you tell us how the new album will sound?

Helge: We’re working hard on it at the moment. We’re aiming at a contemporary sound, yet in the typical Fair Warning tradition. Recently we sat down together talking about the direction the new album should take. We were discussing our previous albums and tried to pin down what we liked best. As always with Fair Warning we could not agree on what our best album up to now is. Some preferred the first one, some Rainmaker someGo, you name it. For me personally this is very welcome because it means all of the experiences we made with our previous album will influence the new one.

MER: You’ve always recorded at special places, this time you’re recording in a 400 year old mansion. Why do you choose to do your recordings in such places?

Helge: We followed this path since our second album Rainmaker and were always happy with this way of working. The main criteria for choosing the place is the quality of sound you could achieve in the building. Big rooms are beneficial for a good drum-sound for example. This you find more easily in old buildings. The second reason is to have a place with a nice atmosphere to work in, avoiding sterile studio atmosphere. Next point is that Ule, CC and me live in Hanover and Tommy comes from Berlin, so we’re always looking for a place close to Hanover where Tommy can stay as well.

MER: What can we expect from you and your guitar on the new album?

Helge: I’m giving my best effort.

MER: In the end, let’s look upon yourself and your music. Why did you become a musician? What is it about music that you like?

Helge: Tough question. I think in my beginning I just thought it was cool to play the guitar. That was before I realized that practice and a lot of work is involved:-) Funny, the more possessed I became by the guitar the more interested I got in music in general. What it is about music I like, is hard to say. I just love music. I think it is mainly the enchanting quality of music which is taking all your attraction and is somehow “absolute”. I often make my own compilations to listen to and these are strictly songs, hardly entire albums. I like good songs regardless of the genre. You could find a 50 cent song next to a Rainbow song or a classical piece of music on my compilations.

MER: The sound of your guitar playing is outstanding. When you hear a song that Helge Engelke contributes on you’ll know right away who is playing. How have you evolved your style through the years? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Helge: Thank you. When you start you want to sound like you’re heroes. If you have just one hero you copy his style. Luckily I had a lot of heroes and never could decide if I would be BB King or Jimmy Page when I grow up. Could easily be the next day I wanted to be Ritchie Blackmore. Well, I didn’t become any of the mentioned, much to my disappointment I stayed humble me, which was hard to accept in the beginning. Whenever I tried to copy somebody it somehow didn’t sound right. Over the years I learned to appreciate to sound like me. I think a unique style is based on your taste, a mixture of all your influences, capabilities and, yes, limitations. The inspirations come from the music itself. When I play to a song I really like, the guitar somehow plays itself and I can hear while playing what should come next. In case I don’t really like the song it gets complicated.

MER: Helge, thank you for taking the time to talk to Metal Express Radio and your fans. We wish you good luck with the coming release from Fair Warning and the further success of Dream And Deliver!

Helge: Thank you Andreas.


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