"Pumpkins United" touring lineup:
Michael Kiske - Vocals
Kai Hansen - Guitar
Michael Weikath – Guitar
Markus Grosskopf - Bass
Andi Deris - Vocals
Sascha Gerstner - Guitar
Daniel Löble - Drums
The first official photo of the "Pumpkins United" lineup can be seen below.
For thirty years, HELLOWEEN has been delighting its fans with fantastic riffs, great songs, and haunting melodies — three decades of a global career they officially celebrated with the "Hellbook" in 2015. This is when the idea for "Pumpkins United" was born: The "Anniversary Bible" as well as touring with Kai made them realize that this band’s story is demanding its next chapter. Or, as Michael Kiske describes it: "Playing an original HELLOWEEN tracks with UNISONIC was quite a flashback already, but rocking with the original lineup and Andi will be something really special. The time has come!"
"We already had an awesome time on the 'Hellish Rock' part 1 & 2, but this time we'll definitely double down on it," says Hansen, and Markus Grosskopf adds: "There'll for sure be songs that we haven't played in a very long time or even ever before."
Kiske, who acrimoniously left HELLOWEEN in 1993, has been resistant to any kind of a reunion with his former bandmates, telling Dead Rhetoric in a 2013 interview: "I wouldn't do that. I'm up for peace, up for talking everything out and getting everything out of our systems. I met up with [HELLOWEEN guitarist Michael] Weikath a in Sweden. He was extremely nice and friendly. It was clear they have changed their mood. They've changed their attitude toward me. They really did me a lot of wrong over the years. I don't want to pass the blame here, but they've accused me of doing things that they know very well are not right. They needed some stuff to convince the old fans that it's good I'm not there anymore, and they went way too far. One of the things that I was really pissed about was this 'musical direction' talk, as if I would be the person to tell anyone what kind of music he should do. Everyone who knows me — anyone who really knows me — knows my attitude is totally different. I would always say, 'Do what you believe in. Whatever song is your song, write it, go play it.' I would never be the person to tell anyone in HELLOWEEN the direction we were supposed to go. That was so ridiculous, to blame me for the things that came up. Yes, I was responsible for my own songs, but it was always something the band made work… or not."
He added: "I don't know how they have suddenly changed their tone and why I should be there for a reunion tour and all. Like I said, I'm fine with making peace, but you can't undo the past. I'm a typical person. I can easily forgive, but I never forget. If someone betrays me, I tell them, 'Okay, I forgive you. Go in peace. I don't trust you anymore. You showed me who you are. I'm not saying you can't change, but you have to do a lot to convince me you have changed.'"
Pressed on whether he would consider doing a special guest appearance with HELLOWEEN at a festival, Kiske — who has been touring and recording with Hansen for the last few years as part of UNISONIC — said: "I can do that with UNISONIC. For the fans who are in love with the records of those times, like the 'Keeper' records, I understand they have hopes and think it would be a cool thing. I don't think they could give me the amount of money, just for business reasons to say yes. My heart is just not there. If they give me 2 million euros, I'd be stupid not to do it, but I know they'd never do it. [Laughs] This will never be an option. For the fans, you can do a lot, but for me, it would be very difficult to be on a stage and to sing among people who are not my friends, people who I have such a negative past with and feel so betrayed by. My voice would probably be gone."
Also in 2013, Weikath told Dead Rhetoric that he was open to the idea of reuniting with his former bandmates: "We've given thought to that and we've heard his [Kiske's] words that he doesn't like when people dream about those things in public in interviews. I've only merely been answering the questions of those wondering about [it], so I haven't been dreaming. I don't need that reunion as much as he wants it, or doesn't want it. If he ever gives in to any of that, then you can swear we'd probably try something like that. Maybe make some good money and have some fun on occasions where people are enjoying what we're doing then, as that particular strange outfit for the actual existing HELLOWEEN, with a few ex-members intertwined and you wouldn't know."