Î’RAINSTORM - Andy B. Frank

The German power metal band Brainstorm is about to release their fifth full length album, entitled Downburst and the vocalist of the band, Andy B. Frank gave us all the details about their latest effort, including what changes were made in order to achieve the best possible result, what themes inspired some lyrics of the album but also Andy talks freely about some more personal issues like the time he was suffering from a sickness and how he managed to convert his illness into an upright creativity, how he played his first show outside Germany in Greece and how his first band didn’t think he was a good enough singer! Read and enjoy!
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\r\nMetalzone: At the other end of our line we’ve got Andy of Brainstorm, the vocal lines, the beautiful vocal lines of Brainstorm but also in Symphorce but we are here to talk about the new album of Brainstorm that’s going to be out in January 25th and 28th depending on what country you’re in. Hello, Andy, this is Metalzone. \r\n

\r\nAndy: Hello, this is Andy, absolutely. Thank you. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: So, you are coming back with a downburst. Tell us a few things about the new album. We’ve heard it, it’s beautiful, it’s all we love in Brainstorm. I mean amazing melodies, power, outbursts. I mean I’ve heard the best thing in your press release. Downburst, a beautiful beast, a ball of steel but also an emotional masterpiece with no fillers … just killers. I think it says it all. \r\n

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\r\nAndy:It was me you know but… anyway I think they definitely fit perfectly to what we think about the new album. You know we just tried to discover ourselves in a new way as we thought that we were a bit close to the last album with Liquid Monster, we were a bit not too far away from copying ourselves, you know, cause as we thought some of the songs on Liquid Monster could have been on Soul Temptation or Metus Mortis as well but this time I think actually Downburst is by far the best album we’ve ever recorded and yeah. But it worth all the working to change a lot of things, you know, we haven’t recorded near our hometown like we did on the last album so we recorded everything a hundreds of kilometers far away so we were able to concentrate ourselves on the music 24 hours a day and nobody ever left the studio before we was a 100% satisfied with the music, with the result, with the recording, with the production, with everything else. And that was really important this time, you know. This is why we love Downburst and we absolutely think that yeah it shows on to the people that we are not standing still, you know, we just move on and we became older and wiser maybe. Some people say we became wiser and yeah, I think we have more melodies. On the one side it’s a bit darker, on the other it’s a bit more melodic but at the end it’s Brainstorm in 2008 and that’s the most important thing. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Tell me how do you see the band in nowadays? I mean you’ve certainly evolved as artists, what do you want to achieve in the new album? Do you want to feel that you’ve reached your peak, do you feel that there’s more to do? What were your inspirations on the new album? What made you create this music? \r\n

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\r\nAndy:You know, last time when we recorded Liquid Monster we just wrote most of the songs while we’ve been on tour. This time we just told ourselves just stay at home, to stay in our practicing room and to write the songs there just to be focused only on the music. This is what we did and so we said we only can reach a new level with our music if we are a 100% concentrate on the music not on the next show and so on, you know. But it was for us very, very important to find out what’s the essence of Brainstorm, what’s the most important thing, you know, what is it we love on Brainstorm and what makes the band so important to many people. And this is why we decided on and also our producers, Sascha and Miro how they can help us and we mixed it all together and at the end, you know, what came out it’s just Brainstorm on the next level and I don’t want to say that we are on the peak of our career but I think we are pretty close maybe. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Tell me do you get influenced by what’s trendy in the metal business today, in the recording metal industry? \r\n

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\r\nAndy: No, not really. If so, I should have stopped singing and started growling and so on, you know as a lot of melodic death metal bands are selling like hell these days so… \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Or maybe add a female singer. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Or so, yeah. No, to be very honest when we’re starting writing music or when we’re starting writing new songs basically… especially me I do stop listening to other kinds of music. I do watch a lot of movies and so on and read a lot of books and everything else and play a lot of computer games and so on but I really stop listening to other kinds of music and to other bands as well, you know, so after the first songs we recorded in our practicing room I’m listening to those tracks over and over again. That’s the reason why today I can’t listen to the Downburst album again. It takes a while and then I can listen to it once again, you know, but right after we produced everything and everything got mastered I had to stop listening to it because I’ve listened to the album probably a thousand times, you know, and I’ve heard every single thing, every single mistake we’ve made and every single thing we’ve made good on the album, I heard it a thousand times. And this is why I do stop listening to it right after we gave everything to the record label and then it takes me about two or three months and then I do listen to the album again and then it’s fine. Then it’s ok and if I still do think it’s amazing, then it’s an amazing album. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What were the themes? Describes us a little bit about the themes you got in this album. The topics you wanted to touch with your lyrics. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: I just read a lot of books, I just had a lot of things I heard about and things I’ve seen so I started writing a lot of lyrics about personal things but there are also lyrics on the album, you know, about suicide killers for example which I can’t understand but also I wrote lyrics for example for a song which is a very, very personal one, you know. Three years ago I had some very psychological and physical problems and they were really extreme and that was the first time in my life when I had to cancel shows because of my psychological and physical fitness and that was really, really bad for me cause I hate to cancel shows and I always promised myself I never do that but I was totally down, I was sick, I’ve been sick for at least half a year and it was also surprising to many, many fans, you know, as they know me as running wild on stage, always smiling and always hey having a good time. It’s everyone really “What the hell is going on, Andy had to cancel shows, he’s not good, he’s not in a good shape, what’s going on and they were really “Ah, what’s up”? But ok since one and a half years now and I feel much, much better and probably better than ever before but it also helped me I think to make an end to it, you know, to say ok, it’s over and out and it helped me just when I wrote the lyrics to all alone and this is how I just, how can I say this, this is how I just end a problem or end something. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: You actually made the bad creativity and sort of let it outburst. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Yeah, you turn something negative to something positive if you do write about it, you know. And sometimes you read in magazines about child abuse and we have so many bad child abuses over here in Germany and I was so pissed off about the politicians, you know, they are just talking and not acting and I was so pissed off about that so I started writing lyrics about that and then I’ve been told by a friend that his girlfriend, she just lives in this computer world and he cannot touch her anymore and I just found out that a lot of friends of us have met the same problem and they still live on their own, they have no girlfriend for example, they have no communication outside the computer anymore. And then I talked to them and they said, yes I just want to go out, I just want to meet people, of course I can but if I do, I do miss ten minutes in front of my computer so no I can’t, I’m sorry. But on the other hand they do live in some kind of isolation and this is why for example I wrote a song like Frozen. And yeah so it goes step by step but what’s the most important thing is really that I’m not a preacher or something like that, so people can say ok if I want to listen to the lyrics and I want to find out myself what is Andy writing about, what is he talking about, they can sit down, read the lyrics and make up their mind to the music and to the lyrics and it’s not. They just can open a bottle of beer, drink it and have a great time with the music and bang your head, you know, and that’s all with the thing. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: You know, you’ve got a song in the new album End In Sorrow, when I listen to that song it feels like little pieces of glass crawl under my skin and the feeling is just so intense. It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Thank you very much. Wow! \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: It’s so emotional. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: That goes under my skin now! Thank you very much. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Well, you know, I’m sucker for melodies I have to admit that but that song it’s so sentimental that speaks straight to my heart. What inspired you that song? \r\n

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\r\nAndy: I just told Todde that I just would love to write something about the Middle East, about Lebanon, Beirut and so on, about the problems that people have there and the children over there, you know, and about the suicide killers and about the honor they have to kill themselves because of their religion and so on. And I just told them that I write a book about that. They just go out and say tonight I will kill myself for the religion, for the phobe, you know, for everything and what’s left at the end are the children, are the families and what’s left it’s just pain, you know, nothing else. And I just told Todde about this idea I had in my head for the lyrics and then I told him that I would love to have a video clip, you know, recorded in Beirut and as we are standing on the ruins and everything else and I just explained him that being kind that strong, that he was able to see it and then he started writing the song and so it went on and on and on and together with Miro and Sascha and Todde and me, we just arranged everything for days and then we recorded everything and we were satisfied. But not really satisfied, you know, we had one problem, we just had recorded everything, everything sounded really good but not amazing. And I do remember one night when I just had everything there in my apartment and I just listened to the songs more and more and more and I think it was someday in the morning around four or five in the morning then I found out “I know what’s the problem on this album. Everything’s perfect, we made everything right but we have chosen strings from the computer and in the morning around eight or nine o clock I just called Sascha and Miro and I said “Hey, we’ve done one big mistake on the album, we recorded just strings from the computer and we’ve chosen computer strings for this song and especially also for another track called Surrounding Walls and so I said why can’t we use real strings, some kind of a little orchestra, what about that and they were really like “Do you think that would change that much” and I was really like “Yes, it will. Definitely, it will”. It’s always different if you have people playing it, really playing it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: You are grasping a feeling if you have real people playing. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Absolutely, you know. Then we invited some of amazing musicians and not many, not many we just arranged everything, we wrote everything down and then we said, ok you have to play this now three or four times in all those different tunes, you know and this is why the studio is big but not that big. And this is how we did it and then I introduced them to the song and I told them about the lyrics and about the idea behind everything and then I said ok, now you have to play that with a lot, a lot of feeling, with a lot of emotions and so on. And then we tried it about three or four times and then they had it, they just really made us like wow! \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: It’s all there, all this feeling, all this sorrow, all this melancholy I can’t describe it, it’s amazing, it’s all there. You did it. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: They just played the same things we just had out of the computer a few days before. The same harmonies, the same melody, everything else was the same thing, you know but this time we recorded it with real musicians and you won’t believe how different it sounded. It was so different, it was like holy shit, I was really like “Wow, this is a whole different song”. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Well, I’m always a fan of real recordings. I think that the more the computers make things perfect the less feeling you can get out of music. It’s something personal, I don’t know if I’m right because I’m not a musician but I think that the purest the music, I mean even if it’s wrong, even if a note is off I think that the feeling makes up for it. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Absolutely. No computer in the world can make you that good as a human being, you know. Probably it’s the little mistakes that made it that cool and made it so perfect for us in our ears. And it doesn’t have to be a 100% perfect like the computer makes it perfect. And that was probably the problem I had with the first result and it was the same thing with Surrounding Walls which I think is also a very good track of the album and I like very much the strings there and when I heard on the computer, I always called it the computer version, when I heard it on the computer version I was really like “Yeah, it’s ok. It’s another Brainstorm track, that’s it. But it’s not THE Brainstorm track and they were like “Andy what is it you are listening to, come on, what is it, what kind of drugs do you use”. And I was really like “We have to find it out, you know” and then we made it especially for those two songs. And I think it was absolutely worth it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Tell me a few things about how do you define the genre of Brainstorm. You are not exactly power metal. How would you describe your music? \r\n

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\r\nAndy: I personally hate to be part of a genre or something like that, I personally think, let me say it that way. I was about thirteen, fourteen years old when I discovered heavy metal and I just grew up with bands like early days of Kiss and then it was Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Especially Judas Priest for me was just heavy metal. The heavy guitars, pumping bass, beating drums, you know, and melodies, that’s it. And then one day some magazines came up with that, we have thrash metal, we have death metal and we have black metal, we have metalcore, we have melodic metalcore, we have whatever, so. But I personally give a shit on that to be very honest as I say just give me the album, I’ll take a listen and if it’s good I will like it. I do listen to so many different kinds of bands, I do not care about if it is a thrash, death, black or whatever metal band, you know. It can happen that I do like this kind of melodic death metal bands but I hate the other kind of melodic metal band and I cannot describe why. It’s just because of my personal opinion, what I hear and if I do like this one thrash metal band it doesn’t mean that I would like all the other thrash metal bands as well. So I do see ourselves just as a metal band to be very honest. This is how I discovered metal but at the end if some people they have never ever heard about Brainstorm and they say what is Brainstorm all about, tell me what’s the deal, you know, what is the goal of Brainstorm and so on and I always say “just ain’t, this is the cd, check it out”. And you won’t believe how many people are coming back and say “Wow, I’m not familiar with heavy metal in general but you guys are amazing and we played so many festivals, we’ve played in front of so many different kinds of people and we have so many fans coming up to us after the show and they say “Wow, I’m a huge black metal fan and I always read that you are a power metal band and that was the reason why I never gave you guys a chance but you guys are amazing, I will buy all your fucking albums. You are good, you fucking rule!” And you know this was just why somebody wrote in a magazine “The German power metal band Brainstorm” and so all the black metal fans say “Ok, you can forget about this”, you know. And then when they see us in a festival they say “They are not bad”. If you like Hammerfall that doesn’t mean that you will like Brainstorm all the same way around. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Well, actually that brings me to my next question. I wanted to ask you do you feel that fans nowadays have a personal opinion or that they are being guided by the media? Do you feel that with all this internet going on and the Myspace Profiles they have the chance to listen to more music and create their own opinion or that they are still kind of guided? \r\n

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\r\nAndy: I think sometimes the magazines say this is the next super band and nothing happens and then the next thing that they say, this is the next super band and they start from zero to hero, you know. I don’t know what’s it all about, I don’t know exactly what the rules are so more or less they are guided because the magazines do tell them what to listen to, what’s cool and what’s not so in the first place it’s up to the magazines who decide what band will be featured with an interview or not. In the internet you do not have this huge problem but in the printed magazines they have about 16 or 17 pages and after about 15 or 20 interviews they say that’s it, we will only feature the bands we like or we think they are good or the record companies are paying you a lot of moneys for, you know. It’s all up to the money, it’s all up to some strange rules on the outside, you know. But yes they are guided more or less but I also think what’s really important of the last two or three years is that sales are going down, thank god not for Brainstorm because all of our sales have been increased extremely the last years so hopefully that will continue but in the music business in general all the sales are going down but the ticket sales for festivals are going up extremely. Which all that means that there are a lot of shows that a lot of people do wanna see the bands playing live. Because a live feeling is something you cannot download, you know what I mean? \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Of course. But, you know, when it comes to sales what you say that Brainstorm sales are growing up is because even if you downloaded an album, if you like the stuff, you’ll go on and buy the original because you want to support the band you like. I feel that most fans, mostly in metal, do that. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Mostly metal, thank god, yes. It’s not a thing for the pop business. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Well, pop business it’s like chewing gum. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Of course. And why is it that way? It is because today they have Riana and tomorrow they have Maxima or whatever. It’s a thing in the pop business, also the 15 years old girls know it exactly like the 25 or 35 years old ladies, you know. And these are the simple rules of the pop business, you have searching for the superstar or whatever, you know, these casting shows and this is just for one year, they are on top of the list and then they are gone. This is of course some things the people do realize out there and they say “why should I support someone who’s …” \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Who’s gonna be gone in a month. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Yeah. And in the metal scene it’s much better cause you can say ok, if I do like this band and if I do support this band, this band will probably stay for years and will surprise me with some wonderful albums. And you can see that exactly on bands like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest or whatever, you know. They are still there since 20, 25-30 years now. In the first place I wanted to say Metallica but since the Black album, I do have a problem with that. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: I don’t know one metalhead that doesn’t have the same opinion with you. No one. Absolutely no one. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Thank god that my favorite band, old Megadeth, you know… \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Aha, I should have guessed that. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: I don’t think that their latest album is their best one but of course it’s a big step backwards and also a big step forward, you know. Risk was a disaster years ago and for me as a huge Megadeth fan from their first day on I was so pissed off when I received the Risk album, I was so… I cannot describe my feelings. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Come on, everybody makes mistakes every now and then. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Yes, of course. I hope ours will take a lot so I hope the next album, all the next albums will be heavy as hell and then we can probably make a mistake. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: You know, I wanted to ask you one thing and I’m not quite sure if I should. Do you feel you have the recognition you deserve? I mean, there aren’t many bands around like Brainstorm and I don’t feel that they are getting the attention they should. I think that Brainstorm is one of the few bands, few upcoming bands still growing and still evolving that can be the new Iron Maiden, the new Megadeth, the new Metallica because all these guys are getting old. What happens when they do grow old and they stop making music, I mean who do you feel can be after them? I feel Brainstorm is one of them, do you feel that you’ve… \r\n

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\r\nAndy: We could do it, we could do it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Yeah, but do they help you do it? \r\n

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\r\nAndy: It wouldn’t be a problem. We’ll be there, no problem at all. I think to be very honest it’s not easy these days so as you have another prance going on since a few years which is metalcore, melodic death metal scene or whatever as a normal, you know, I just say it would be marching on in my head. I just say if we do it like a normal metal band these days you have to go full tough times. The funny thing is that we have a very loyal fanbase and this fanbase is still becoming bigger and bigger but it’s not becoming that fast, that big like you have it in other genres like melodic death metal or metalcore or whatever. I hope that Downburst will bring us not just only musically but also successfully to a next level but what is recognition, what is success? At the end when I started making music nobody ever believed in me and everybody said “Andy you are not, you are crazy, you will never ever play out of your hometown and nobody will ever listen to you” and so on. So for me it was amazing, you know, I think when I joined Brainstorm the first show I’ve ever done outside Germany and I’ve flew with a plane to was in Thessaloniki and the second was in Athens. So the two shows in Greece were the first two shows for me where I had to fly to, you know. So I can’t describe the feeling when I just stepped into the plane for the very first time together with a band, not with the family, with a band, you know! That was big dream for me, entering a plane with a band and so playing there in front of people you‘ve never ever seen before, they are not your friends, they are not the guys from school since years, they are people they know you just because of your music and this is way more than I ever expected to be running on this. And then we came over to the rest of Europe, then we came over to America, this year we will play for the first time in Russia, we will tour in the U.S., we will play in South America and maybe in Japan as well. This is much more than I ever expected and a lot of people do ask me, I wanna reach for the new album so and after having a No1 hit in Hungary they say what is the next big thing for Brainstorm now and I just said ‘We’re in the next big thing, you know. For me it would be amazing to play in Japan of course so and today it looks like we will be playing there really soon. But it’s not just to go over there and kind a lot of people to think I’m going over there just to make money or something like that. No, I’m not taking care about the money to be very honest and probably we will earn no single fund over there, it’s just because of the only year and to live your dream at the moment and this is way more really than I ever expected. But yes it’s true, the first show I ever flew to was in Greece, in Thessaloniki. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Which you know bring us to the vital question. When are you coming back to Greece? \r\n

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\r\nAndy: I’ve been told two days ago that our booking agency they are working really hard on two shows, one in Thessaloniki, one in Athens and they should bring us down to Greece before the summer. I don’t know if this is on late spring or early summer or something like that but I hope it’s gonna be May or June or something like that. Must happen cause we haven’t been there with Liquid Monster and I promised lot, a lot of people that we will come down and due there were the same people were really disappointed and I received tons of e-mails saying you disappointed your fans, you know and I was really like, oops! Andy you promised something and you weren’t able to keep it. So I think we have to come down before all the Greek people are coming up to us. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Well, we will be there either if its late spring or early summer or whenever or if its tomorrow we will be there because, you know, we love you guys. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: So that’s all for me. I’ve got one last thing to add. It’s not a question, it’s just statement that you are one of my favorite vocalists. Your voice I feel is one of the few voices that have significant color, that can be distinguished and it’s really got much emotion in it. Sentiment, I don’t know how exactly to describe it but one of the few vocalists that really can speak straight to my heart. So doing an interview with you was a real honor and I know I’m supposed to be a hard core journalist and not say stuff like that because I might seem mellow but I don’t care. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: That doesn’t matter and it really honors me. Thank you very, very much, that’s amazing to me and as I said, you know, you are dozen kilometers far away. We never, ever spent time at school together or something like that, so it’s to me… you know, I always wanted to become a guitarist to be very honest but I was probably too stupid to play a guitar… \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: That would be a shame. That would be a true shame. Don’t ever regret that you are a vocalist, please. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: It’s all fine, but really it’s not bullshit. I really wanted to become a guitarist. I came into a practicing room of a band and I had a brand new guitar with me and they just said ok, here’s the amplifier, here’s the part, start playing and I wasn’t able to play a single chord, you know, so I wanted to become a guitarist and then they just said ”Andy, before you’re in, you’re out!” And I just packed everything together, you know, and they said “Yeah, you better leave” and the drummer just said “Probably he came to play guitar but maybe he can sing and you guys know that we are searching for a singer”. And they said “Yeah, he’s got a big mouth so maybe he can do that”. And I started to sing and they said “Ok, that wasn’t that bad.” And this is the reason why I’m singing to be very honest. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: That you weren’t that bad!!!! \r\n

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\r\nAndy: They said I’m not that bad so they allowed me to stay. But they fired me after the first demo tape and said you are not good enough for us anymore. Yes, that happens sometimes, you know, and the funny thing is that the guitarist of this band is a huge fan of these days of Brainstorm and Symphorce as well and he says “I should have been in it 15 years ago”. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: So you see sometimes you do things you want to break your head afterward. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Oh, yes. So I’m really thankful for everything to be very honest, you know, and a lot of people do ask me and from the record company all these ask me, can you still do interviews and is this idea fine and so on. And I say, yes it is, this is what I really wanted and yeah to be very honest 90% of all the interviews are the same structure, talking about the new album, bla bla bla. You just do it and I just like the music and I do like everything else. I still love to do it and this is why I do it. But yeah not kidding it’s like we are not talking, that’s different. We’re talking about the music but we’re talking about many other things as well. I think I never told anybody, you know, that the first show I ever done when I had to fly to was in Greece. This is something that comes back to my mind now, you know. I never ever thought about that when we made the DVD which is really surprising to me now as well. Cause the show we have in the DVD was the second live I ever played with Brainstorm in Thessaloniki. I just joined the band and we played one festival near our hometown and then the second show was the one in Thessaloniki. That was the one we had to fly to. So that’s cool, that’s brought some good memories back to my mind now this interview. That’s a good one. I will remember it for the rest of my life. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Well, you know, when you’re in Greece we will be there to do a video interview or something. We will be there. So we definitely will hook up when you are here in Greece. So send a message out to our listeners. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: This goes out to all our listeners out there in Greece. This is Andy B. Frank of Brainstorm. I like to thank you so much for all your support for all those years. I know I promised a lot of things but be true and this is a really honest one, with Downburst we’re coming down to you and we’ll play for you. Not just for one show, we’ll be there for many more shows and we’ll bust our ashes out. We’ll be there and Brainstorm comes to Greece that’s a promise for 2008. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Great, thank you very much. \r\n

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\r\nAndy: Thank you very much for this time. Very cool one, really cool interview. \r\n

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\r\nListen to the interview in streaming audio \r\n

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\r\nHelena Mihailidou & Vaso Prassa \r\n

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