David Hasselhoff is officially a heavy metal singer, thanks to his new single, “Through the Night”, a collaboration with Austrian duo CueStack.
Consequence of Sound recently had the pleasure of premiering the song and its accompanying music video, and we caught up with The Hoff soon thereafter.
The veteran Knight Rider and Baywatch actor, who has also been a longtime pop star in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, was approached to collaborate with CueStack by its two members, Martin Kames and Bernth Brodträger. Having already had a friendly relationship with Kames, a VFX designer who worked on a few of Hasselhoff’s concert sets, The Hoff jumped aboard, and thus began his foray into metal.
As Hasselhoff tells us, he already had a passion for metal, singling out Metallica and Iron Maiden among the bands he admires. And he delved into hard rock on last year’s Open Your Eyes, an album that saw him delivering covers of ’80s rock songs.
During our conversation with Hasselhoff, he discussed the genesis of “Through the Night”, his appeal to heavy metal fans, a mutual respect between him and Iron Maiden, his work on last year’s Open Your Eyes album, and his popularity as a singer in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He also offered sound advice on how we can get through the pandemic, with hopes for a better future.
On his collaborative metal song with CueStack, “Through the Night”, which premiered on Consequence of Sound
I was sent the link to your website and I watched the entire video again last night in bed, on my telephone. Hayley, my wife, said something that was really prophetic. She said, “You know, just tell everybody you did it for fun.” And that’s the truth. The truth is I did it because it was in front of me and because it was fun. And because [CueStack member and VFX designer] Martin [Kames] had done such an amazing job on my last two concerts — he did all the backdrops, and it just blew me away. And [CueStack’s] Bernth [Brodträger], the guitar player, also blew me away. And so they sent me this track.
I had found out through a record label that have a heavy metal following, and I started to laugh. And I looked out in the audience [at one of my shows] and I saw some heavy metal guys and I went, “Wow.” And I did a song called “True Survivor” for Kung Fury. I did [a cover of David Bowie’s] “Heroes” with Tyler Bates and it was really cool and it was really hard rock.
I’m a major fan of Metallica. I’m a fan of Iron Maiden, and I followed Iron Maiden at a concert called Nova Rock [in 2014]. You can look it up. And I said, “I’m following Iron Maiden? My stuff is, like, cheesy pop!” It was about 130,000 people. And I thought 100,000 would leave and we’d have still have 30,000. Nobody left. Everybody came to watch me. It was amazing. And even Iron Maiden hung out to watch my set.
Everyone’s got a childhood and everyone grows up and they still sing the songs that they remember as a child. My songs may not be the greatest songs in the world, but they were great when you were eight to 18, and they remember the songs.
And so I did this as a tip of my hat to heavy metal, ’cause I do listen to heavy metal. I do like hard rock. I did an album [last year] called Open Your Eyes, which was an album of cover songs from the ’80s — from the Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & the Bunnymen, “Lips Like Sugar”. And I went, “Wow, these are great songs.” And [the song] “Open Your Eyes” by The Lords of New Church has really incredible lyrics that are so pertinent for today: “Open your eyes to the lies right in front of you.” And I did that because it was pertinent to today.
And the same thing happened with “Through the Night”. I ended up working with Bernth on the lyrics, and saying, “These lyrics mean nothing to me.” I needed to say something, like “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, one of the greatest songs: “Walk on through the wind/ Walk on through the rain/ Though your dreams be tossed and blown/ Walk on, walk on.” And that’s kind of what I’ve lived by a long time. The first book that I read was — and he became a fan and a friend — Yes I Can by Sammy Davis Jr. And that really affected me. So I kind of took that motto and that mantra into my life. And I’ve been made fun of, and pretty much, David Hasselhoff going into heavy metal, it’s easy to write something negative.
But all I did was a song for a friend that I loved, and I think it turned out great. I’m happy with the song and we’ll see what happens. If we sell 10 copies, we sell 10 copies. If we sell 10,000 or 100,000, we sell them. But I know that I’ll probably end up doing “Though the Night” in concert, and people will respond probably in a positive way. I’ve yet to do an American tour, but I’ve toured all over Europe, and people know my music. It’s really strange. And in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, obviously they know my music. I’ve got 35 gold and platinum records on the wall, right in back of me. I just never stopped, and I’m still going.
On his 2019 covers album Open Your Eyes
The last album that I did, Open Your Eyes, the songs were so different, but I didn’t really know them. I realized the lyrics and the songs were great. And I had to make them personal, like Echo & the Bunnymen, “Lips Like Sugar”. I had to figure out how do I make this work? And I thought about. “She floats like a swan/ Grace on the water.” I thought about my wife, and I thought about the love that I have for her, and the beauty of this woman. And I transcended that into my music. And the other stuff, “Open your eyes to the lies right in front of you”, was really attributed to what’s happening in the world today. Little did I know then it would be more of a political statement than anything, because right now we have to open our eyes to the lies right in front of us in America, which is unfortunate and mind boggling. But we’ll get through this together.
So that’s what the new song’s about. “Through the Night” is getting through this and getting through it together and walking into the light. Hopefully, CueStack we’ll have recognition and they’ll do other songs. Whether I do another song with them, I have no idea. If the song is in front of me and the song is good, I’ll probably say yes.
On why he thinks he became such a big music star in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
Well, it just came down to luck of the draw. I was No. 1 for eight weeks in 1989, and I came to America and they just laughed at me. They laughed at the music. They laughed at being No. 1 in Germany. And I said, “Oh, wow.” So, instead of just taking it personally and trying to break the American market — which I did try at times, with country music and a song called “Flying on the Wings of Tenderness,” which was No. 4 in Germany — it was a lot easier to do what was in front of me, which was Baywatch, and go to Germany than it was to try to break in the American market and say, “Hey, look at me.”
The reason I’m successful in those countries is because I had major hits, a lot of hits, in the formative years when people there were growing up, when I did Knight Rider, and then I did Baywatch, which were television hits, and had a great message: One man can make a difference. And then I sang songs that were similar, about freedom and about hope and about “everybody sunshine, everybody fun time.” I mean, the lyrics are to me at some times, infantile, but it really resonated with people and those people who were kids grow up into adults and then never ever forget their childhood. And so that’s why I’m still probably going to go on tour next year when this pandemic calms down.
On his advice to the world for getting through the pandemic
The words that mean something to me are the words that I’m not seeing on a daily basis. And that is respect. You’ve got to have respect for each other, whether you disagree, you’ve got to listen, you got to talk to your neighbor, you’ve got to accept them as who they are. And empathy, you’ve got to have empathy. There’s more than 280,000 people that have died [in the U.S. alone] and you’ve got to have empathy. I’ve known some people who’ve passed away, and it affects me on a personal level, and a lot of people are not affected on a personal level. They don’t understand the empathy of what’s going on. And you’ve gotta have passion for doing what’s right. And I think that everybody knows in their heart what’s right.
There’s a saying, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” You wanna just be married. You wanna live life. You don’t have to be right. Okay, that person is really off, but you accept that person for what they are. And I think that’s what we’ve lost in America, and I see it every day. The, the violence and the behavior is not what I’m about. I’m about “one man can make a difference.” I’m about Knight Rider. When you saw Knight Rider, you saw David Hasselhoff, and you saw his father.
My father was an amazing man. And he pointed out to me certain things and people that I embraced. But “one man can make a difference” is, I think, respect, empathy, and passion. You can make a difference. And I think that we’re on the right path. It’s just that we’ve got to get through this. It’s easy for me to talk, but it’s harder to walk the walk, and you’ve got to walk the walk. I think that if you walk the walk and you demand respect, as I do, and you demand passion, as I do, and you live a life of “one man can make a difference”, then I think that we’ll be okay. I know we’ll be okay.
It’s like everything happened at once. The weather and COVID, it’s all happened at once. And the good thing is it happened at once and we realize it, and then we can go on from this. It may take a while. I don’t think we’re going to return to normalcy. It’s not going to be in months, it’s going to be probably in a year or two, if we are lucky. And if we’re lucky, and we live by what’s really in our heart, then I think we’ll be okay.