Amanda Somerville & Michael Kiske interview 2010

Amanda Somerville and Michael Kiske (Helloween/Place Vendome) have teamed up for a new album on Frontiers. Magnus Karlsson and Mat Sinner handled production and a team of top notch songwriters provided the songs.

1. What are you currently up to?

M/ Working on new UNISONIC-Songs and record the first album.
Later this year is a little tour with Avantasia, where I will be on stage even with Kai Hansen again for the first time after ages; that’ll be fun.

A/ I’m really excited to do the Avantasia tour again and especially have Michael part of it this time!!! So, that’s a huge thing coming up. Also in January, I’ll be on tour with Rock Meets Classic again. I’ll also have some solo shows and will be working on my next solo album. All the while there are guest appearances here and there and I’ll also be doing some studio work with other bands.

2. Could you take us through the songs on the new album… (e.g. story behind the songs etc)

M/ Since I didn’t write any, you should ask the songwriters about that.
One if my favorites is ‘A Thousand Suns’.

A/ I’ll have to ditto Michael that you’ll need to ask Mat about the stories behind his songs, however there’s just a lot of emotion in this album. The 3 songs I wrote with Sander were heavily influenced by a very difficult time I was going through last year leading up to my divorce. Basically, “A Thousand Suns,” “Set Afire” and “Arise” are all about the disappointment, anger and heartache that revolve around that. It’s not always easy being a songwriter and laying your private guts out on the table for all to see and hear, but I can’t do it any differently. Songwriting is the highest form of expression that I have and so I get out my craziness on paper, in chords and ultimately, digitally. 🙂

3. Given that the songs were written by Matt Sinner, Magnus Karlsson and others do you both get much input into changing the songs to suit your vocal styles?

M/ If I feel like it, I could always do that, of course. You need to be OK with the stuff too.
But usually that’s not necessary. Songs get picked carefully.

A/ They were very open to changing a line here or there, but they were really great, so not much was done differently from the original ideas.

Album cover


4. Amanda – you’re touring in January with some vocal greats like Ian Gillan and Nazareth’s Dan McCafferty. How did you get involved in this tour and will you be singing duets or performing only solo?

A/ Mat asked me to be a part of it after we did the recordings together for the Kiske-Somerville album. We got along really well and so it just clicked into place. I’ll be doing some things solo, but also duets and choirs. It’s a big, over here, over there, this-person-now-that-person shindig where everyone is featured in some way at some point, so it’s a lot of fun and a very interesting show!

5. Michael – this new album is a return to your more metal leanings. Do you prefer singing in the metal musical genre or the more melodic rock style of your solo work/Place Vendome?

M/ I never really return to anything, but I am OK with some metal stuff again these days, with the more idealistic and NON satanic stuff there.
I even enjoy my Priest and Maiden records from my teenage-years again!
But I prefer to call myself a rock musician, since I disagree with too much that’s going on in the metal-scene.
UNISONIC is a rock-band, because we want some room for our music.
I was never limited to just one style in music also as a listener.
Even as teenager, I never understood music-fascism, where people make an ”ideal” or ”law” and dogma out of their own limited musical understanding …
Free music forever!

6. Michael – would you ever consider perhaps a one-ff reunion show with Helloween if for example they were to perform a whole album on a tour e.g. ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’

M/ If it all would have happened with a bit more style and dignity back then, sure!
But since it all happened in a pretty bad way, I don’t see that happening.
I am sure my voice would stop working when being on stage with …

7. Amanda – do you have any other duets lined-up at all? Which ones that you have recorded to date have you enjoyed the most and why?

A/ This is the only duet-type thing that’s on my schedule at the moment, but I’m always open to new ventures. I haven’t done all that many duets before this, so I can’t really pick favorites. I love this album and am really proud of how everything turned out!

8. What have been the most memorable live shows for you both and why?

M/ There have been so many! But I always remember Donington 1988, because of the massive crowds.
And of course the two bigger festivals UNISONIC played this year are still very present after such a long time off touring.

A/ I agree – it’s hard to pick favorites. It was a massive show with Avantasia at Wacken in 2008, with this huge sea of people singing along with us! That was incredible!

9. What do you both like doing with your spare time outside of music?

M/ I am reading lots of good books and listen to other music.
And if I have no nerve for that, I play Computer-games sometimes, mostly racing-games.

A/ I love taking advantage of free time and just enjoying life. Whenever I can, I go home to Michigan to be with family and friends. Family is the most important aspect of life to me, especially being so far away from them so much of the time. I also love to read, swim, bike, ski, travel, cook… and surf the net!! I’m a bit of an eBay junkie, I must say. 🙂 But really, music is always involved in my life, whether I’m working or not. I can be in the middle of a road trip and I might have to pull over to write down some lyrics or sing an idea into my phone and record it. There’s not really any life “outside music” for me!

10. Message for your fans…

M/ Only authentic and free music is true music, regardless of styles, sounds or images.

A/ Be true to yourselves and do unto others as you’d have done unto you. The world would be a much better place if everyone did that. 🙂 Thanks so much for your interest and support!



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