Masterplan keeps the dream alive

The art of living thanks to your music and your passion remains, without question, a very delicate one. And if Masterplan is still active nowadays, it is sure because Roland Grapow, guitarist and founding member, is a passionate man. A passionate man living for music would be more accurate definition here as the band has suffered from many line-up changes, like Jorn Lande’s second departure in 2012, just after the release of Time To Be King (2010).

Masterplan seems thus suitable to a sad instability due to, according to Grapow himself, a fame that was promised to the band after Masterplan and Aeronautics, but which is still missing today.

But the band has a whole new line-up, a sort of a new fresh breeze, on the new record Novum Initium, released in last June. This new start is not a way to dismount Masterplan’s structure but tends to keep the same music style, attitude and of course the band’s typical elements alive. A confident Roland Grapow tells us that he sees in this new band a stable line-up capable of writing many albums together.

The guitarist goes back over all this and gives us his opinion on Jorn Lande, saying that other horizons could have been reached with him, but that in the end, he did more harm than good to the band.

« If we had been more successful and made more money, a lot of past members would be there! (laughs) »

Radio Metal: Could you tell us more about Rick Altzi joining the band?

Roland Grapow (guitar): Rick is an old friend of mine. He’s not really close friend, but I’ve known him for seven years. He saw Masterplan live a few times and I’ve always been in contact with him by email, MySpace or Facebook, so when we looked for a new singer, as Jorn Lande didn’t want to sing with us anymore, I sent him a quick email, and he was very interested. Rick is a big Masterplan fan: this was important for us to see that there was someone supporting the band like that.

Your drummer, Martin Marthus Sharoupka, plays for Cradle Of Filth too: did his extreme metal background have an influence on the new record?

Yes, definitely. Martin is a big fan of melodic metal as well, so he loves bands like Helloween, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray and Masterplan. People know him for being in Cradle Of Filth of course, and they expect a dark metal guy, but he’s not. His background definitively has had a little impact like his drumming. This “Cradle Of Filth style” and the fact he can do different things like blast beats, which we don’t need and aren’t using, gives him more power than an average drummer. It brings something fresh.

Thirteen songs figure on the record but it seems that twenty were written for this album. What can you tell us about the unreleased ones? Will they be released one day?

They weren’t finished really. We had 20 ideas, but only 14 songs were actually finished. We didn’t even focus on some of them, we left one out, and another wasn’t even finished.

Will you finish them one day?

Yes. I think they won’t be on the next album, but maybe we’ll use them as bonus tracks for the next time. One song is really nice: it’s a kind of, well not really a ballad, but a power ballad with an orchestra. It reminded me of Metallica. It’s not 100% Masterplan style, but I like it so much that I really believe that it’ll be a bonus track.

The album’s title is Novum Initium. It means “A New Beginning”. Is it a metaphor? Do you see this album as a fresh new start?

Yes, it is. We had a little new beginning with Mike DiMeo on MKII, but now it’s wholly fresh: we want to keep our style, the attitude and of course the typical elements of Masterplan. We don’t want to be totally different. The line-up has changed so much, so we take it as a fresh new start. The idea for the title came basically from Rick, Jari and Martin to be honest. I asked them to choose the album’s name. I think we have a line-up that should be stable for a lot of years and make many more albums.

« I think Axel [Mackenrott] is definitively the main guy. […] He stays in the background, and thus people think he’s only a keyboard player, but he’s my biggest partner in the band so far. »

Masterplan has had many line-up changes: how can you explain this?

There are two or three reasons: one big reason is that if we had been more successful and made more money, a lot of past members would be there! (laughs) That’s the easiest one. Jorn Lande was always more interested in his solo work, so when Masterplan wasn’t getting much bigger, why staying with us? Basically, money was one thing: Uli Kusch left the band because he didn’t have a stable income and couldn’t take care of his family. He has a regular job now in Norway and he’s not making music anymore. Jan S. Eckert left for the same reasons. He’s got a great job now and makes more money than everybody else in the band: he works for LED, a company that makes screens for big events. He drives a big truck all over Europe and flies over the world for his work. He asked me if we could find a different bass player, because he couldn’t be 100% with us. Money was the main reason.

Many bands would have quit: how did you manage to be continue and always be confident in your project?

You need musicians who are really passionate and live for music. For instance, Jari is a bass player and has nothing else: he lives for music. He’s like: “Let’s go and play live, I need to make money”. On the other hand, Rick has a very good job and he makes music in his free time so he’s very relaxed about money. Making big money is not a problem for him, because he has a normal, stable income. I think it’s the best situation: you know, I have my studio, and therefore I can live from it. It gives me little freedom. With all this, we can really concentrate ourselves on Masterplan and on making really good albums.

The first single from the album is “Keep The Dream Alive”. Is it also a metaphor concerning all these line-up changes?

No, it’s not a metaphor about these line-up changes. We like to express political messages to our fans in our songs. In the end, they can build their own vision of it. This song is about your job, your family, your relationship: it can be everything. Everybody has dreams. Some will never come true, but you have to believe in them. My dream is to make music: it’s not related to all these line-up changes. I’m just happy of what I’m doing.

Who are, for you, the key members of Masterplan?

I think Axel [Mackenrott, keyboards] is definitively the main guy. He’s in the band since Aeronautics and he got better ever since. When Uli left, he took his place regarding the song writing. He writes 50% of the songs and we are both responsible for all arrangements. I need a good team with me, but definitively Axel is the closest person to me and one of my best friends, maybe my best friend. He’s unbelievable. He stays in the background, and thus people think he’s only a keyboard player, but he’s my biggest partner in the band so far.

About Jorn Lande : « He never really was a band member. […] If he had given Masterplan what he gives in his solo work, I think Masterplan would have been one of the most successful bands worldwide. »

Last week, we did an interview with Jorn Lande. He said he left Masterplan because the band deserved some better promotion from your record company. He was a bit bitter of what has happened with Time To Be King. What do you think of that?

That’s interesting because he never told me anything and I never spoke to him in three years. He was very aggressive after the album release, and when the first video came out, it was a bit late, one month after I think, so the timing wasn’t perfect. He expected some huge success with him back in the band and when it didn’t happen, he lost all interest immediately. I think it’s totally the wrong attitude, you know: it’s the most unprofessional way of behaving when you’re in a band. He never really was a band member, he thought maybe that Masterplan was a chance for him to be more famous, I don’t know. I’m really frustrated about all this. Masterplan could have gone somewhere else with Jorn. If he had given Masterplan what he gives in his solo work, I think Masterplan would have been one of the most successful bands worldwide. We had a really good start with the first two records. Don’t get me wrong, though: we didn’t speak to each other in three years, but Jorn and I are still good friends. I met him two or three weeks ago in a festival in Belgium and we had some beers and we talked together. There’s no problem between us.

Jorn Lande also said: “We’ll meet up again in the future”. The question is: will you?

I don’t know, because I think it would be a lack of respect, when you have a new line-up. To me, Rick is the new singer. Of course, Jorn is the main guy since the beginning: he’s a nice person, and everybody knows he is an unbelievable singer, but as a band member, he’s chaotic! (laughs) I think he harmed more Masterplan than bringing anything positive to us. Now we have a new line-up, and it’s too late.

Interview conducted by phone on May, 29th 2013 by Metal’O Phil.
Trancription: Jean Martinez – Traduction(s) Net
Introduction: Alastor

Masterplan’s official website: www.masterplan-theband.com

Album Novum Initium, out since June, 14th 2013 via AFM Records.

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