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l o g o t y p e b y F r e d e r i c k
last update: 03.03.2013
Article taken from: www.treasurechest.de.
Michael Weikath conceptualised the idea for Giants during a flight to New York in 1990. At that time, Helloween was embroiled in a series of lawsuits with their old label, Noise. As a result, the release of their forthcoming album Pink Bubbles Go Ape had been postponed indefinitely until their legal problems, with no end in sight, were resolved. Whether the album would be released at all was an uncertainty.
Weikath’s observations through the tiny window next to his seat while the plane prepared to land suggested the title to him: the New York skyline was, as always, dominated by gigantic skyscrapers dwarfing the buildings surrounding them with their seemingly invincible majesty. With this picture in mind, and under the lasting spell of the machinations of the brutal music business in which the artist has to struggle to his death to survive, he wrote the original song that would become Giants with ambiguous lyrics indicating much of how he thinks of the world and its society. Giants is about the sentiment that the external world is worsening by the day. The ”happy” eighties were definitely over, and it was becoming increasingly clear that the negative changes taking place in a great many aspects of life could not be annulled or reversed.
While staying in New York for a six-month duration, Weikath was so overwhelmed by the stature of the buildings, and more specifically the economic-power decision making that takes place within them, that he felt the powerlessness of being an average man with no leverage. This, accordingly, was coupled with a sentiment of "getting lost" in the mass of faceless people scurrying about trying to make a living, with little time for appreciation of the world around them. On a superficial level, one would therefore assume Giants is about the economic and political power which affects and indeed controls the individual in the greatest ways, yet while the latter for the most part remains oblivious to the ongoings that affect his life the most - not for lack of interest, but because the gates to the promised land of the few are permanently closed and such power is simply not accessible but to the "chosen few" who, by financial means, control the many.
In Hamburg, Weikath’s hometown and his residence in the early 90’s at the time of the recording of Pink Bubbles and Chameleon, it seemed as if all the good, smaller, more ”personal” stores were being shut down just to make room for the big malls specifically designed for mass consumption, the latter of which invariably lacked the variety the old stores offered. Now, everyone was obliged to buy the same goods at the same prices and under the same conditions. Moreover, it seemed to Weikath that people were growing increasingly narrow-minded and self-centred as a result, thus making them less open to different concepts in life than they had been even just a few years before. Everything was becoming increasingly remote-controlled by superficial and powerful people who ultimately decide what is to be accessible to people and what isn’t, and what their tastes should and shouldn’t be. Declaring official aims for people to strive for which can only be reached by submitting to the existing power structures was an ideological complement to this emerging form of hyper-capitalism which ensured that direct control was not necessary – the global extent of the power of this emerging ideology was sufficient to ”keep people in line”. These thoughts, then, were related in Weikath’s mind to the skyline of New York that he observed, where huge skyscrapers seemed to tower over all the other buildings and, especially, the people living within them. Not solely that, but also how the powerful decisions being made within those Giants affected the powerless, shopkeepers and artists alike, back in Hamburg, in New York, and indeed all over the world.
Of even greater significance is the relationship between the concept of Giants and Helloween’s own situation at the outset of the nineties. Weikath was having the distinct feeling that the band had not been able to decide on anything for some time and couldn’t agree upon anything anymore (”We can’t predict what’s more”). The magic which previously united and guided the band seemed gone. The chemistry between band members was deteriorating, but there were also influences from without which had a negative impact on cohesion and friendship within the band (”Can you remember how; Things used to be before?”). Weikath kept wondering why everything had changed. Was it the management? Were the band members confused by all the problems they had to contend with? In considering the accompanying drawing for the song, Weikath may well have come to the conclusion that certain insidious people were blocking the free exercise of the band’s collective will. Irrespective of whether the drawing can actually be interpreted, the obvious conclusion to draw is that the giant pumpkins represent record companies or other institutions of brutal business that have no scruples making their profits off the backs of a young and, at that time, somewhat naive band faced with the additional difficulty of trying to keep their line-up together. The band became prey for the record company because they were seemingly weak and did not stand together in order to prevent it (”They made us their slaves; We weren’t unified”).
On yet another level, the ”Giants” exert control over those dependent on them because of their iron grip on market mechanisms. The individual, who is barely even aware of them (”Seems inconceivable; Anything they do”), is suppressed and cannot help feeling helpless when confronted by society’s corporate institutions. In the long run, he ultimately has no choice but to give in to the restrictions that are imposed on him and he eventually loses all energy to resist, even if he knows such restrictions are absurd in many ways and lack all foundation, ethical or otherwise. Consequentially, the ”Giants” are the only ones left who understand what is taking place behind the velvet curtain since they are the ones who make up the rules (”They know every rule”), for which nobody has the power to hold them accountable. When considering the decisions that take place while the vast majority of society struggles to accommodate itself with the new existential laws promulgated and imposed by the Giants, legal or not, one has to face the fact that a rapidly changing world with a brutalizing music business, a narrowing consciousness and attention-span amongst people in global surroundings, and disappearing stores in Hamburg are not caused by a single person who makes such decisions, but rather by masses of people unable to make up their own minds – for precisely their ability to do so has been revoked. Thus, it becomes clear why a song like ”Windmill” or maybe even ”Number One” stands no chance of making it far in the charts, as Helloween do not have a massive advertising and commercial machine to back them and to promote them in a manner that would suggest them to mass consciousness. Ironically, the ”Chameleon” album itself was produced specifically to become a commercial mega-selling album for the EMI record label, the intention of which originated in the band’s fear of not being able to cope with the huge debts they had amassed because of losing the lawsuit with their former label Noise records: ”Ever since we paid; For selling our lives”.
However, the summation of the interpretation is probably to be located at a more profound level, in terms of dealing with the ensuing psychological conundrums imposed by the aforementioned society - the concepts themselves behind the awareness of what takes place on the social plateau come to weigh more on the subject's mind, albeit subconsciously, than what is actually taking place, to the extent of controlling and conditioning everything from daily perception to the subject’s general world-outlook (Weltanschauung). In this sense, the concepts themselves become Giants, in as far as they obscure the more beautiful and worthwhile things in life in the manner in which they overbearingly weigh on the mind, to the point that many individuals completely give up searching for them. The struggle, then, for the "little pumpkin" in the drawing, is against the mental dominance of such concepts, and a struggle to continue searching for the beautiful things in life, no matter how ugly things seem. To give up doing so is even more damaging in the long run than anything the socio-economic system could directly impose.
Copyright: Treasurechest.de 2004
Authors: Glenn Leaper è Jan Mathis
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