How far back does your knowledge of Blind Guardian go?
I'm the biggest Blind Guardian fan there is in the world. Back in 1995, a friend of mine called me and said, "Dude, I just found a band similar to Helloween and Rage and the singer really kicks ass. It's like a perfect mix between power metal and thrash… you have to hear it!!!" After that I went to a CD shop over here in Bogotá (Colombia) and asked the owner to get me some CDs Blind Guardian. Then, every time my parents had some work trip, they already knew that the best thing to bring back home was any new Blind Guardian CD missing from my collection. I immediately got a wave of inspiration from Andreas Marschall's cover artwork and decided, "Hey, that's what I want to do with my life."
What sort of collaboration was there between you and the band members for this artwork?
There's always a bunch of ideas coming from them and I reply with my version of their art directions. I think Hansi and the band have a pretty clear concept guideline for the visuals of the band, so it's always a concept negotiation. They are the coolest band to work with because when the time came to create the single cover for "A Voice In The Dark", after some tests Hansi mentioned, "Just think of something that could go with the band's vibe and surprise me." So they know how to trust and encourage what I could create. The CD cover concept was mostly the band's idea. For each song's interior art, there were always ideas from everyone. And yes, this will be the first Blind Guardian booklet that is completely illustrated.
Did you have the opportunity to hear any of the new music before you came up with ideas for the new album artwork?
No. I wish I had. Because of the amount of work a Blind Guardian production takes, the art direction and creation was simultaneous to the recording and the mix, but the band's directions were really clear and narrative.
Dragons and hooded figures are prominent on previous Blind Guardian album covers. Was it mandatory that you include both for the cover art?
A dragon is always welcome on any Blind Guardian cover art. For that creature, it was pretty clear that it would have a strong presence on the cover for the new CD since on their last live CD, the hooded dude, a.k.a. the Blind Guardian, did not appear prominently, but in the background. Man, do I love the mystery that character has! So I secretly included the Blind Guardian at the base of the stairs of the pyramid and the band thought he should stay there this time. I have always felt he's the one secretly telling the tale of their cover artwork, traveling to each new world. I think he's pretty cool because any fan can be represented in him. For some parts of this new CD and the single's artwork, when he appears you can see the years have passed on his long white hairs and beard coming out of the hood.
Was there a theme you wanted to tie together?
The art direction the band gave me always had the intention to promote mystery and some sort of secret narrative. I see it as a palace where different time lines intertwine and where something really important is about to happen, either at the beginning of the story or at the end. That's how I see the link with the album title.
The "pyramid" looks as though it's rising out of the ocean. Was this intentional?
An ocean of sand I hope, right? I suppose we could think that time has passed over the pyramid…? All I know is that I love all the crazy interpretations kids are creating from the cover, and I think that's what heavy metal and Blind Guardian cover art should do.
Who do the guardians represent to you and what are they protecting?
I think they're protecting a secret meeting inside the pyramid between the Dwarf holding the bag with gold coins from Follow The Blind and his friends the Goblins having pints of beer at the fire from Tales From The Twilight World who also invited the Bagpiper and his crow from Somewhere Far Beyond. If I'm correct, they're all hearing tales from the Sandman while the blue Elf girl from Nightfall In Middle-Earth dances.
At The Edge Of Time will be released the 30th july for Europe and the 24th august for North America.