I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Hansi, the lead singer and bass player of the German Power-Metal act, Blind Guardian. Blind Guardian have just recently released "Nightfall in Middle-Earth", their first on Century Media Records.

Your new album, "Nightfall in Middle-Earth", is your first on Century Media Records. Can you tell us what fans can expect?

Well, I guess the best way to find out is to check the new album out. It’s hard for me to describe our band, but it would be classified as power metal or classic metal with classic rock and Queen influenced into it. Everyone will find something different out of "Nightfall…", but you should check it out for yourself.

Are you happy with Century Media Records so far?

Well, let’s wait and see what the sales figures are so far (we haven’t seen them yet), but they are busy setting up interviews for us in the U.S., so we are happy about that.

Why did you leave your former label?

We haven’t. We are signed to Virgin Records/EMI in Europe. They are a very huge label over here, but with EMI in the U.S., they are not interested with metal so Virgin found the perfect solution [for distributing us in the United States] with Century Media.

Having just completing a lengthy tour, do you have any plans to tour the United States anytime soon?

I doubt we do, because we just finalized our tour and started new songwriting. Plus, our new album has just now been released in the U.S. after we did the tour for the album. So we quit touring for right now-but we will definitely come to the United States for our next album for sure. We may come to the U.S. as a support act, for a few bands have asked us to come out on the road with them, but that is not for sure and we probably won’t do it.

I also understand that you are currently in the studio writing new material. Are you in fact planning to release a new album or EP soon?

Yeah. We are planning to release an EP within the year. It will contain songs from the "Nightfall…" sessions, plus some other stuff. We are going to work on the songs a lot because we don’t want to release any bullshit. So, the new EP should be out by the end of the year.

Century Media is reissuing your "Imaginations From the Other Side" and "Tales From The Twilight World" albums in May. Are you happy about that?

Yes, of course! We like all of our albums, especially these two. The "Imaginations…" album was released a long time ago and it is a good opportunity for the American market to hear the older material. These albums will prove that we have been playing music like this since the very beginning and have stayed true to our style.

Who were Blind Guardian’s main influences?

Well, as I said before Queen was a major influence. Metallica’s first three albums (Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning, and Master of Puppets) were also a major influence. Queensryche was a big one, even though I don’t like their latest album, Iron Maiden was of course a major influence. Also Helloween, another German band, they were a big influence for us in the very beginning. They helped us progress and develop our style. Let’s see, bands like Jethro Tull and Genesis were an influence as well.

On a personal note, what albums have you been listening to lately?

Iced Earth’s "Something Wicked This Way Comes". We are good friends with Iced Earth as well. I’ve also been listening to the new Gamma Ray album a lot. That should be out soon. I can’t really think of anything else that I have been listening to a lot lately…

Do you have any closing comments?

It’s a big pleasure for us to have our first U.S. release, and we hope people will like it.