1996 - Instant Clarity
Information Michael Kiske Instant Clarity
- Produced by Michael Kiske.
- Engineered by C. Bauerfeind.
- Mixed by Michael Kiske & Charlie Bauerfeind.
- Instant Clarity Re-issued edition: Tracks 13, 14, 15 Mastered by S. Giampietro in Auetal Studios.
- Production and mix by Michael Kiske.
Esteemed sales: 150,000 plus 60,000 in Japan.
Different editions Instant Clarity
01 - European CD 1996: 11 tracks.
02 - Japanese CD edition: 11 tracks plus the bonus track 'A Song Is Just A Moment'.
03 - Taiwanese CD edition: 11 tracks plus bonus track, also includes a giant Obi.
04 - CD Reissue 2006: Re-release of Frontiers Records which includes the Japanese bonus track and 3 new songs: 'I Don't Deserve Your Love', 'Sacred Grounds' and 'Can't Tell'.
05 - Cassette Indonesia 1996: Same 11 standard tracks.
06 - Press CD promo: 11 tracks.
Musicians in Instant Clarity album
- Ciriaco Taraxes: Guitars, Piano on track 12.
- Kai Hansen: Guitars on tracks 1, 5, 8.
- Adrian Smith: Guitars on tracks 2, 4, 5.
- Kay Rudi Wolke: Drums, Guitars on track 9.
- Norbert Krietemeyer: Flute on track 11.
- Karsten Nagel: Drums on 13, 14, 15.
- Fontaine Burnett: Bass on 13, 14, 15.
Kiske about Adrian Smith collaboration: "From the day he got out of Iron Maiden he was just doing nothing. He was just hanging around and having a good time and he did his projects and stuff. I was also in the same situation. I always thought he was a big loss for Iron Maiden because he always had this melodic playing and great guitar lick ideas. So since we were on the same management I actually asked Rod Smallwood about Adrian and he told me that Adrian was also asking about me as well! So we just met and he was an extremely nice guy and was absolutely a good hearted person and I really think he was a great guy and what came out of this collaboration was the song 'The Calling'. I mean 'New Horizons' was mainly written by him and I just did the vocals, bridges and the lyrics."
Artwork Instant Clarity
The artwork was made by the English designer Hugh Gilmour (Gimour Design) for Castle Entertaiment.
Hugh Gilmour tell us on a exclusive interview: "I think eyes close up like that look cool. It might have been inspired by a make-up advert I saw. The albums covers I grew up loving were things like Rainbow Rising, which are powerful and bombastic, but also romantic, in the 19th century sense of the word. The eye was no doubt inspired by the album's title."
Hugh Gilmour: "My job at Castle (and to date) was to produce the whole package, from the front, back, spines, even adding the actual barcode to the back inlay, I did design everything on there. If you check out the design I did for Geezer Butler's g//z/r album Plastic Planet, you can see a similarity with what I did on Michael's album, though I think Instant Clarity is a "prettier" looking cover. I think I was very influenced by people like Chris Bigg and Vaughn Oliver at 4Ad Records at the time."
The front cover of Frontiers Records reissue (2006) adds a yellow label integrated on the cover who puts: "2006 Version! Includes - 4 - bonus tracks!". The printed quality inside of the booklet is a bit low comparing with the first release. I guess it was scanned from the first edition because they had not the original booklet.
Also on the last page it was deleted the greetings to Castle (Sanctuary Group) and they added instead greetings to Frontiers Records.
The Chinese and Taiwanese edition is different than other edition because it includes a giant Obi, so big as the back cover, as you can see in the picture on the left side.
The Obi includes a review with information, integrated in the back cover. And as background, they used the same pic than the front cover but in black and white.
Photoshoots for Instant Clarity
The Michael Kiske promo pics contained in the booklet were taken by the British professional photographer Simon Fowler (official website).
Another pics of Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen and Adrian Smith together were shot for magazines by the German photographer Rainer Drechsler (www.star-picture.eu).
You can see that pics in reviews of magazines like Japanese Burrn.
The exclusive photo with Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske was shot in Hannover, Germany by the photographer Ursula Brem Freud when Kiske visited in 1995 to Kai who was working in a studio the recording of Gamma Ray's Land Of The Free album.
This picture was used a few years later on the booklet of a rare CD compilation released only in Japan titled Hansen Worx which contains the Instant Clarity song 'New Horizons' (also 'I Want Out' of Helloween). It also was used as promo picture for Burrn Magazine.
The History Behind Instant Clarity
In 1992 Kiske declared on a interview, answering a question about his hypothetical entry in Iron Maiden: "I think if Helloween split one day, I'll begin a solo career, it's the best way to make what do you want to do". One year later, said and done.
Already out of Helloween, Kiske wasn't really sure if he wanted to continue being musican. "After I left Helloween I was insecure about myself. The situation with Helloween created such an inner conflict inside me, that I needed to make solo albums to rediscover myself. I have moved away of the scene looking for answers on the meaning of life. I have read in a compulsive way. I have spent 25,000 marks (around 12,900 euro in books). I read hundreds of treaties of philosophy, religion, culture... and happened to be around eight to ten hours a day concentrated in them. I needed those answers although I knew that I wanted to follow ahead. I was not really sure whether or not I still wanted to be a musician. I never admitted this to myself, but subconsciously I was not too sure I still wanted to be a musician. But I love singing. I had a big hunger for some more depth in my life. And I have found what I was searching for."
After to write the first songs, Kiske began to search a few musicians to help him on the composition process, one of the chosen was the multi-instrumentalist Ciriaco Taraxes another was the girlfriend's brother Kay Rudi Wolke on the drums.
To find the right musicians and compositions took for a while, more than expected. Kiske said: "I had to think about continuing at all, if it would make any sense and if I could stay true at all. That was a moral question. Then I tried out several things with different persons and did some jamming sessions. I wrote several very good songs and a lot of shitty songs. All these things just take a lot of time."
In the middle of this composition process, on March 8th his old partner, the drummer of Helloween Ingo Schwichtenberg died and Kiske changed the lyrics of the song 'Always' to dedicate the song to him, he also commented: "I always tried to help Ingo and it was important to me to take his fears serious. Serveral times he assured me that the conversations with me did good to him. Finally I was too weak and Ingo was already too ill that I could have saved him."
The next step was to search musicians to write a few more songs and to record the album. Michael tried to get Brian May (Queen's guitarist) on his project. "I tried to contact Brian May from some work together. Unfortunately, he was too busy with the production of old Queen things and his own-solo project." So the label suggested Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden) to take his place. Michael said about it: "I admired him very much both as Iron Maiden guitarist and songwriter. He always had this melodic playing and great guitar lick ideas. I went to his house in England and I slept in the maids room! We jammed together and it worked out from the start".
Accompanied of his old partner Kai Hansen to play on a few songs they started to work in a rent house where they stayed around two months finishing the album.
Michael Kiske was a bit lost for the desappointments of the last two-three years in the band Helloween and he was not secure about what he wanted to do after his split, he commented: "I was not really sure whether or not I still wanted to be a musician. I never admitted this to myself, but subconsciously I was not too sure I still wanted to be a musician. So I kept on being a musician and it took me about 6 years to find out that I still in fact want to be a musician, and that I really truely love to be a musician!" He was searchin' his own style far Helloween's, thinking if he wanted to keep working as musician and he was not fully focus in music, he was trying to finding himself.
During that years 1994-1996, Michael also wrote a book of 120 pages titled Kunst und Materialismus (Art and Materialism), which is only available in German language. In the book he writes about his experiences about music and his point of view of art and his ideals.
Instant Clarity Song by Song
Be True To Yourself
"It's kind of a hymn human about being true to yourself. The most important aspect an artist has to pay attention to is the honesty towards himself. Mendacity always starts at the point at which my acting and so myself lose its honest artistic expression while the number of record sales, chart positions and some other anti-artistic interests like certain expectations from record companies, managers and fans determine my creativity and while I try to do justice to these people and their wishes to get all the money they give for doing so and so on. That is what this song is about. However, its written from a very personal point of view. It is about how things should be like, but unfortunately hardly are because of the poor idea of art in these days. To basically fight for your freedom and for that you need to be true to yourself."
"A song I wrote together with Adrian Smith. It is in the typical Maiden/Kiske style. 'The Calling' represents this kind of song that I still like if you talk about Rock or Heavy Metal. It has this energy and positive kind of sound, flying choruses and stuff like that. The lyrics are about a young pharaoh who hears the calling of the gods and is overwhelmed by the spiritual fullness."
"One of my favourite songs on the album because it gives me the oppurtunity of dealing with a different sort of performance. It is naughty and a bit grungy, actually it was written by my friend Ciriaco Taraxes. I only pressed my personal stamp onto it then, wrote the lyrics and that was it. The song is the emotional and spiritual expression of how I respond to the becoming colder and colder of our society."
"A quiet, summer-like song written by Ciriaco which apparently is about love. I put some of my own songs on hold in order to have more room for new suggestions and influences."
"An idea of Adrian Smith's to which I wrote the vocal lines and the lyrics, and to which also Kai Hansen contributed a few bits and pieces. In fact a Smith/Kiske/Hansen teamwork effort. It expresses the yearning for new horizons although musically it is situated near my metal past which of course Im still standing to as much as ever."
"Probably the most aggressive song on the album. Very rough drums, the guitars create a stamping heavy groove which is stressed by a distorted guitar sound. The song is the aggressive expression of my indignation and disappointment of the moral poverty and characteristic weakness of my former bandmates towards their Ex-men."
"A survival song. A quiet piano track I dedicated to Ingo Schwichtenberg. Its a pretty strong side of me. I kind of hate this thing that many, especially metal people have nowadays, that they think that this hard sound is quality and I think thats crap. A good song is a good song. when I was writing the lyrics to the song I thought it was about me but to cry about yourself is not very brave. I dont like it when people cry about themselves, I like it when people care about someone else. It's like you should'nt cry about another person but if you feel for another person thats nice. If you just feel for yourself its just wimpy. So I just thought I would write it about Ingo and I already had most of the lyrics there and I thought it fit Ingo better than it would fit me. When I wrote it I thought this is how he might have felt. It expresses ache, desperation and the fight to survive."
Thanx A Lot!
"I suppose this is how it would sound like if Robert Plant wrote a song together with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Queer verses, funky chorus parts. It is about somebody who is mentally ill and acts as the big observer in his big apartment house. The song is an ironic reflection of the mental degeneration of our society. We have become so ill that the mere passion for blood has taken hold of us, something that also the idiotic Death-Satans-Metal is evidence for."
"This one is about the same subject as Be true to yourself, but its much more ironic. I conciously chose a very provocative form of song for So sick which will be understood only by those who got the message about what true art is really about and has to be about.
I had a different version of that song around Pink Bubbles album but it was a completely different song. It was a song about my displeasure about the whole music industry and money thing. I mean the lyrics are obvious! In the funky part in the middle I took a mic and plugged it into an amp and talked a bunch of this musician bullshit. Like when those bands say - Oh we had the best record, we had the greatest producer, he was absolutely marvelous!!!-And when the next record comes out they say the same thing again and they are not honest! Its just to sell the record and make money!! I was always honest, we had a lot of trouble for being honest because when Pink Bubbles came out we did a lot of interviews where we said we hated this record. EMI got to us telling us we were silly and that we should want to sell the record and asking us how we could say such things, but it was true!! The record was a flat metal record with nothing interesting about Helloween and thats what we all said in the interviews. The producer was Chris Tsangarides and he was like breeding wars between the guys in the band it was a nightmare! He was telling me that my songs were great and that Weiki had shit songs and telling Weiki his songs were great and that I had shit songs and stuff like that. That was the thing and we just said in the interviews what we thought and in So Sick I am just giving this bullshit talk a typical musician will give."
Times Passing By
"A very beautiful song of our drummer Kai Rudi Wolke. It starts with an acoustic guitar and sounds pretty weird in the chorus part. A grungy song I didnt really understand in the beginning but grabbed me by throat after a while. It has a lot of dynamics. The song is about the feelings questions for life."
Do I Remember A Life?
"A mystical, spiritual song which is more than ten minutes long. "Do I Remember a Life?" is about a guy who thinks he is completely lost in this world. Its a little like me but I dont remember any past life. Its like sometimes I feel misplaced sometimes. About the sound myself and Charlie Bauerfeind managed to create a little miracle; when you play it really loud it blows off your speakers. Towards the end of the song Ciriaco plays an outro on the piano that is close to the melody of the chorus."
A Song Is Just A Moment
"This song was recorded 1995. I am much more on the point emotionally now. But I still like everything of the past."
When You are Down on Your Knees Thats When You Are Closest To Heaven
"Well, that song means what it says! The thing is the line is pretty obvious I think, its a religious statement and I am also criticizing to an one person."
I Don't Deserve Your Love
"This song was written in the time period than the rest of the Kiske-album was written. And also recorded."
"This song was written 4 years ago. And it was recorded now, apart from the Drums which are 4 years old."
"This song was was the first song written a little while before the Kiske-writings (2006). And also recorded then."
To promote the release of "Instant Clarity" album, the label Castle Entertainment decided to make a videoclip. The chosen song was the ballad 'Always' dedicated to Ingo Schwichtenberg. The video clip was filmed in New York, USA with additional scenes taken in London, England. Though Michi was only in New York.
Michael Kiske comments about IC
"I think the Instant Clarity record was rather easy because there was good money support, especially from Japan. Then I had Kai and Adrian Smith there for support. And I was renting a house and we had everything set up there. That was quite fun to do. Looking back now, maybe the Instant Clarity album still had a bit of the…drive of the past, it was still in there. Then I completely lost interest. I was interested in other things. I was studying things, reading books every day. There was this request for another record and I made one, but it wasn’t until 2006 when I got interested again."
Kai Hansen & Adrian Smith comments
Here are some quotes of Kai Hansen and Adrian Smith taken of Burrn! japanese magazine, (number #8 August) 1996.
Kai Hansen: "I like a lot the solo of 'Thanx A Lot!', it was different from my solos which I have played before and I was glad to have the chance of trying something new. When I went to the studio, Michael missed something in this song, it doesn't fit so I tried to play a guitar solo and it worked! But I also said him I didn't like the distorsion effect in vocals, not because it didn't fit, is just I don't like the distorsion effect no matter who will do.
About 'The Calling', the first and basic idea by Adrian Smith was a typical, dramatical and classic song in heavy metal style. Adrian and me used a drum-computer for the demo tape and it was very powerful, when we heard it played with live bass and real drums was a big difference. I think that change and others was a complicated operation but it was needed because otherways it wouldn't fit on this album.
Michael is a great singer, especially in fast tracks. As songwriter he is pursuing his own ideals and creating music based on it and he would never give his ideals away."
Adrian Smith: "I met Michael for the first time when I was still in Iron Maiden, we had a concert with Helloween in Spain and Portugal, we didn't talk so much in that moment but we share the same management office, we saw sometimes each other for example at the wedding party of our manager. I thought he was very energetic and earnest. As vocalist he can sing on key, steady technically.
I suggested him to compose together. I have a few days-off for several months at that time. I may be able to contribute in the album. We talked on the phone and then he came to my house. I have my studio at home. We started to write and it worked nice from the beginning. It was delightful because if we were not compatible everything will be difficult. I was surprised when he played for me first, he played Wagner for me! When we were talked which direction we would go through, he said: "listen to this", and he played something at full volume, it was a Wagner Opera, he said: "I want to sing anything like this", so I thought that it will be certainly unique. He thought in using some stuff of Wagner and Elvis Presley... we didn't have a close idea for what kind of songs we would make, but I had one. It became 'The Calling'. I played many ideas for him with some tracks he said: "too normal", he expresses his opinion frankly in every moment. It's his good point, this songs will be releases on his solo album so he must do it how he likes. I think that kind of hard rock fits with his voice. I feel happy the song ended in the album and I'm proud of this work.
For 'New Horizons' I flew to Hamburg. We tried to write songs but we got only two riffs which Michael said "too normal" so we did like a musical rally. I think this album has a huge variety of songs. Each song is different and it's nice. I think that 'New Horizons' is one of the ideas which we wrote then. I was sure that this would be good, I like it. I like a lot another song 'Hunted', it was not composed by me, but I played the guitar on it, also the solo with "wah-wah", we recorded not in a studio it was in a spooky farm house. It was in the middle of countryside in Germany, it was very cold, I think it was in February, we had to collect woods for fuel in the forest, and we had to warm ourselves at fire. There was a terrible messy but I enjoyed. Both are very powerful songs.
I think this album is the best in whole Michael's career, he controlled everything and he said: "I don't care if it's a success or not, all I'll do is what I want to do" He is very artistic, he never take a look at the business side. But he leaves good music behind at last, so I collaborate with him. He has also a home studio and some good equipments. He understands how to work at studio and he is a great engineer. He can make good guitar sound and he reconizes what sound he wants to do. This is another of his good point, too."
Curiosities 'bout Instant Clarity
At the end of the booklet there is a message thanking Helloween for showing you how art and friendship should never be like. Kiske commented about it: "I think if it was today I would have shorten this message. I would put just how friendship should never be like. I say this because I dont listen and I dont care for what they do anymore, but at the time it was important for me to write that, because they're making intrigues about me. They even wrote a song in their album about me."
There is also a message taken from Goethe's Faust Part I from the first dialog between Faust and the Spirit. These are the last words before the spirits leaves the scene. In old english; as it was used back in the times when Goethe lived it means: "Thou art like the spirit thou canst comprehend, not me!", what it means nowadays in modern english: "You're like the spirit you comprehend, not like me!"
He answered something that was rounding into the gossips, about doing a new tour. He said: "The main reason why I won’t go on stage is, that when I would go on stage with stuff that do quite like, but while my soul is in a completely different mood, this would be destructive for me. I want to make a new and better disc. I want to lock myself again and make more musical things. Only when I've done this I'll have enough material to present myself."
Kiske commented a funny anecdote about his relationship with Adrian Smith during this recording: "When I was 15, I went to a Maiden gig in Hamburg (Piece of Mind tour, November 8th at Ernst-Merck-Halle), and Adrian threw his bracelet to the audience, and I caught it. I still have it today! It’s on my wall (laughs). When I told this to Adrian, he asked for it back, because it was his! (more laughs). I went to his house in England and I slept in the maid’s room! (laughs). But what the hell, he was my idol! Adrian is a great guy and I was very happy with the result of his collaboration."
Video Interviews Instant Clarity-era
Michael Kiske gave a few interviews to TV channels. One of them was to Channel 28 from Spanish television. (You can also read the transcripted interview) The other interview was taken from a Japanese Television show.
Rumours Instant Clarity-years
- Instant Clarity album is full of songs taken off previous Helloween releases as Pink Bubbles Go Ape album, songs that finally weren't released by the band.
Not really. Mainly all songs were written for this album. Only there was an early version of 'So Sick' from 1991 (Pink Bubbles era) which it's completely different that the track of this album. And 'Always' was composed on the two last months of 1993, but it wasn't recorded in Helloween-era.
- There was a track titled 'No Stranger' written and recorded for Instant Clarity album but it was discarted.
False. It doesn't exist that song written or singed by Kiske perhaps someone tagged wrong 'No Stranger (Another Day In Life)' of Gamma Ray's Somewhere Out In Space. But it hasn't to do with Michael.
- Before release this album, Kai Hansen wanted Kiske joined in Gamma Ray as main vocalist.
True. Kiske said he had a conversation with Kai Hansen like that: "One day Kai said to me: 'If I asked you to join the band you would probably laugh in my face, right?' I said: 'YES!' so Kai didn't ask me".
- After his departure with Helloween in '93 and before release this album, Kiske made an audition to join in Iron Maiden to take up the place of Bruce Dickinson.
False. It was only rumour because Iron Maiden never look for a non-British vocalist. It wasn't any audition, either any contact and the song used sometimes to confirm this rumour 'Alexander The Great' is not singed by Kiske is the band Eleventh Hour with HIS singer. The song was taken from the Iron Maiden's tribute album "Slave To The Power".
Kiske commented about that: "The rumor was complete false! Nobody asked me to join them! I only heard that on the TV and I didn't know anything about it. I was watching Hard N Heavy Tv show done by Annette Hopfenmüller... There was a picture with me from the Keeper 2 record and she said, I would be the new Maiden singer. And I said to myself, 'ok, I need to give them a call and ask them when the rehearsals going to start.' That’s quite funny, if you don’t know about something like that.
I think this rumor came up from an interview where Steve Harris (Iron Maiden's bassist) mentioned in a French interview that he could imagine only three singers in Iron Maiden and I was one of them. They also had the same management. That's all. The boys only wanted a band with English members. A German kid will be unacceptable for British fans. Strange nationalism sometimes. They got back Bruce Dickinson and he is the best for Iron Maiden".