Thursday, March 09, 2006

Chapter 1.1 - "Pride"

(Pic: "Pride" 1986 after a concert)

I found them and formed my first serious band: Pride !

Pride started out with me on vocals and drums and the brothers Schmitz: Mike, Matthias and
Markus on Bass, Percussion and Guitar.

Great blokes – great talent and we had a good few months together.

Markus and me were the main force behind the songs and our mutual love for the music of KISS gave the band its strengths and determination.

We were able to get a permanent rehearsal space (there were and still are more bands than space, as usual) in Offenbach, Frankfurter Str.80, we used to call it: “F 80”. It wasn’t the nicest place to be in, but because it was in a back alley we could be loud, real loud.

We recorded our first demos in there the old fashioned way: tape recorder in the middle of the room. External microphone? What for? = stupid, or perhaps only young and inexperienced.

There was a good music scene in the 80s but for a young rock band like us (or any other band for that matter) the infrastructure for gigs was rather slim. We somehow managed.

In fact, our very first gig was in front of school mates of mine at my teacher’s house. They liked us but not because we were any good, more because they knew us and my teacher thought it is a good idea to form a band and was proud to have us first.

We went on playing at garden parties and very early one I liked the idea of performing for different cultures. We performed for the Portuguese Mission @ the famous “Yellow House” and a workmate of mine managed to get us a 45 minute gig at a wedding.

That was just crazy – it was a Turkish wedding and there were approximately 1000 people in a huge hall. I still haven’t figured out how somebody can gather a crowd of 1000 people for a wedding. We were playing between two sets of the hired Turkish wedding band: “Erol Deribay´s Istanbul Express”.

We were watching Erol on stage and instantly noticed that the people didn’t really like it. They played traditional Turkish folk songs and I remember saying: “ 1000 Turks versus a 5 piece rock band – that’s 200 knifes each, that’s it folks, we’re dead” because I worried what they would do to us once we start bombarding them with rock music.

My workmate and mentor Okyay Tülek introduced us to the crowd and we kicked off with our version of Kiss´ “War Machine” – and I watched in sheer disbelief that people started dancing. We had our own songs and also covered songs by the Scorpions and the best song on that evening was a cover of Prince’s smash hit: “Kiss”. We received a bottle of whiskey for our hard work. Unlike many other bands we didn’t drink but accepted gratefully.

It didn’t take long for us to discover that musicians are not a big family but competitors. We couldn’t have been greener and walked freely into the midst of enemies during a hard rock festival in Nieder – Roden, where we were the opening act. The first 10 minutes rocked and the crowd really liked us. Ten minutes on we were ready to give it all but noticed that all of a sudden only the first two rows were clapping and singing along to the songs we delivered.

The others looked rather confused and after just 25 or 30 minutes at the most we just gave up and called it a day.

We were disappointed because we just couldn’t understand what caused that dramatic change after a real good start. On our way to back to the bus some people approached us and they told us that it is a pity that they couldn’t hear a thing all of a sudden. “But it’s alright now” they said. So that was it. They must have cut off the volume or something. We certainly didn’t see anyone doing anything on the desk to save us, therefore we figured it was deliberate.

May the best band win wasn’t perhaps in their interest as the mixing console belonged to one of the two remaining bands. On a positive note we realised that we were a real threat to others and that we were on the right track.

We decided to go big and I approached a friend of mine who was into Video filming. We soon found ourselves in the forest miming to the tape recorder on a lake, shooting two videos at the same time. Karl Heyland, the poor chap behind the camera, and me went on to film quite a lot of other bands for a while and Karl did a lot of filming for Digital Dreams as well.

If something is working as smooth as Pride did, there is usually trouble just around the corner. And there was: We had a few smaller gigs in 1986 and on December 20th 1986 we had a very good one at a local pub, called: Wachauer Landl.

Without any consultation Markus´ girlfriend Marion wanted to join the band and she did “playing” the tambourine and looking pretty stupid. But that wasn’t the worst part as I brought in my girlfriend for no reason as well, at least for a while.

While performing on new years eve 30.12.1986 I was under the impression that Marion’s father seemed to have taken over management although he was never asked.

That still wasn’t the worst. We had another gig coming up at a school in front of a few hundred people. Percussionist Matthias and bass player Mike were late and so I started the gig on my own doing a little stand up comedy. To my surprise that worked very well.

When they finally arrived they brought a complete second drum kit along, so all of a sudden we had two drummers now. Suggested by Marion’s father “this is only for the benefit of the group”.

The gig wasn’t smooth and we didn’t go down too well mainly due to tensions caused by someone else who wasn’t even in the band.

I am known for having a huge ego and it showed that day. I left the band from one minute to the other. The boys were trying to hold me back and suggested to have a drink after the concert. We had a very short drinking session of less than a drink and I was on my own again.

They didn’t have the guts to oppose the “new management” and there was no way for me to continue under that circumstances.

There I was in February 1987 with my meanwhile expanded equipment of three drum kits and multiple cymbals and no band in sight.

As if I ruled the world I bought some cheap keyboards to be able to make music and later in 1987 I performed again at the Wachauer Land´l, only this time as a solo artist. This gig was crap and is not even listed somewhere as I had to abort the gig halfway through because the people didn’t know what to make of an artist, trying to play keys and drums at the same time, not to mention the vocals. :-/


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