Blind Guardian: Imaginations From The Schüren Side

Perhaps all Blind Guardian fans have been talking the last few weeks about Imaginations From The Other Side, 25th Anniversary Edition, which is celebrating the iconic band speed metal album. The entire album Imaginations From The Other Side had been performed track by track during their 2016 tour, at the end of which the band decided to record and film the gig at the Ruhrpott Metal Meeting (Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany) on 3 December 2016. What is more, it went so well that the band decided to share this recording with all of us for the 25th anniversary, and the album has been available since December 2020.

Some fans, either right there at Oberhausen or later seeing photos of the show, or holding the album in their hands, were surprised by the guy on the left side of the stage (far right on the photo below). Questions came to the mind: where is the usual guest keyboardist Michael Schüren who had been part of the band since 1997 and who’s that new guy? Many fans looking at the booklet might have been a bit confused to see the name Schüren, yet not Michael but Peter. For all those, I am honored to present here this other member of the Schüren’s musical family. 

Peter, can you bring some light into the relationship between you and the Blind Guardian guest keyboard player Michael Schüren?
Michael Schüren is my cousin. A kind of double cousin, because our mothers are sisters and our fathers are brothers.

So you’ve been close since childhood, which visibly includes music too.
We both started making music together when we were 10  and 11. My cousin played organ, I played the drums. At the same time I took drums and piano lessons, but the drums have been my favorite instrument.

What kind of music did you make when you were young?
We played some small gigs together, mostly small parties for older people, e.g. friends of our parents or grandparents. We played English/American song standards like „Raindrops keep falling on my Head“ or some German Schlager. However, I think we have been very cute for the old guys, and they liked it very much. After 5 years the band was grown up more and more, and Michael started his business with cover music, Top 40 music, but this was not my game. I founded a new band called „Torso“ to make my own music (later Michael was part of this band as well). However, we had a lot of fun, but no success. Because of some physical issues I had to quit playing drums. Michael and me restarted the band with new musicians, but it never made it on stage again.

I suppose, since Michael has been a guest with Blind Guardian since 1997, you have known the band for a long time too?
My first contact with BG was in Krefeld in my rehearsal room. BG was one floor below. It must have been in 1992. At this time I was asked by former Lucifer’s Heritage member Christoph, whether I could produce a demo for his new Band Pillow Killz. They produced their first demo with André Olbrich. However, I remember some parties in my room when the BG guys came and put a new demo recording of themselves in the cassette player. So, this was the first contact. After producing this demo for Pillow Killz, I focused for several years on writing music. I’ve never had ambitions to become a “star”. (Lucifer’s Heritage was pre-Blind Guardian name 1984 – 1987; Christoph Theissen /1969 – 2013/ was LH guitar player during Battalions of Fear demo era 1986/1987; BG Czech fanclub note)

How did your relationship with music generally or with Blind Guardian evolve?
So much later in April 2009 my cousin asked, if I could eventually play a gig for Blind Guardian in Portugal at the end of August. The booking came very late and my cousin had a different contract for this weekend. What I have learned in my life is: Always say “yes”. So I got one of Michael’s Synthesizers and started to work on the setlist. I was used to play the piano, never keyboards or organ, and even if the keys are black and white, there is a big difference in those instruments! However, after a month of preparation, I met the BG-Guys at Düsseldorf Airport and the adventure began. I never tried the songs with them before, so the first time we played together was the next evening on stage. It was a very small festival, probably not more than 4.000 Metalheads in front of the stage. But for me it was a great experience, and all BG-Guys have been very nice to me. I felt like being part of it! Everything was very impressive, but the most powerful impression was the professionality of the crew. This was awesome! (It was show on 30 August 2009, Festival Ilha do Ermal, Vieira do Minho, Portugal; BG Czech fanclub note)

Since the event in 2009, have you ever seen each other again?
After that I played several times as sub for Michael. I have been in Belgium, in South America and Spain (with Judas Priest) in April and May 2012, (if I remember correctly) and then a few gigs at the end of 2016, when the live video was recorded. I remember, this gig was followed by three other gigs the following weekend. This gig in Oberhausen was definitely not the best one I played. It was the first one after a long time, it was the first time in Germany, very close to my homestead, and I knew a lot of guys down there in the audience. And I was sure, they have had a special eye on me! And, to be honest, I didn’t know by then that this concert will be recorded. If I see the videos, I think I was very “static”, if you know what I mean.

Peter, at least you have an unforgettable experience.
So, Milan, that’s the story kept short. But as you know: What happens on tour stays on tour. Finally: I was in the States for business very often, and sometimes during BG-tours in North America. And of course: I took some of my American friends to the BG concerts! What I finally want to say: Wherever in the world I meet this band, they always let me feel that I am part of the band, even when I am just part of the audience and not on stage!

Peter, thanx a lot for your time and the interview.

photos: taken from Jeck United website, Markus Felix (live Oberhausen 2016),
taken from Michael Schüren facebook

Editor: Milan Skoda (08. 01. 2021)
Source: Blind Gurdian Czech fanclub

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski