Every fan of Teutonic power metal knows that Lucifer’s Heritage was a pre-Blind Guardian band which released a couple of demos, changed its name, got a record deal and the rest is history. So what is the reason why i contacted not Hansi Kursch or someone else from the current line-up of the «Guardians» but hans-Peter Frey, the drummer of Lucifer’s Heritage? The answer is easy. I just wanted to do it. I’ve always been into writing about what is interesting to me and not what is popular. And then, there is almost no information about breastfeeding age of Blind Guardian and it would be unforgetable to miss such an opportunity until there is someone to share memories.
Let’s start this interview with the metal scene in Krefeld back in the day. Were there other bands outside Lucifer’s Heritage. Mephisto and Heavenward? Was it a good city for heavy metal with a lot of venues to play, record stores and local fanzines?
Not really. At that time Krefeld was relatively famous for Jazz and not really Rock n Roll or even Heavy Metal. It changed a bit in the mid 80ties. There were other bands like Unicorn (HM), Salt Lake City (Classic Rock), Pleasure (Hard Rock, which I joined after (BG). The “scene” was more or less reduced on some rehearsal “Bunker”, which were left over from WR II. Really dark and awful, stinky places but places of Rock n Roll. We had the relatively famous “Kulturfabrik” where 1984 the first Heavy Metal Night was founded and LH was 1 of 3 Bands which played there for the first time. The location was sold out (~ 800 people) and so it happens that the local press became interested in this “NEW” growing music genre. We played another 3 times with different Bands like maybe also known in Russia Grinder, Drifter and Darkness. The last concert I played with the guys already named as BG and NRR Label contracted was in December 1987 I guess.
Tell me please how you got in touch with Hansi and Andre and became a member of Lucifer’s Heritage. What was your opinion about their first demo tape?
This is quite simple. I went to the same school with Hansi. After ending the high school we all changed into vocational trainings or other schools. The school I switched to, there was a guy in my class named Marcus Dörk. He was a friend from Andre Olbrich. He knew that I play drums so he asked me to join his band which he had together with Andre. We were called “Zero Fault” and we recorded 1 Demo in Andre´s house cellar, really funny (smiles). Marcus was singing. Andre came one day and said that he knows a guy from his school who would like to play some bass and he would also sing and scream like Halford … his name was Hansi. So the story began. We started writing own stuff, changed Name into Lucifer´s Heritage. So different to what has been written, from my reminding we 4 founded LH and not Thomen and the others. But anyway who really cares about, For today unknown reasons I left the band for the first time. Thomen, which was again a friend of Andre (I guess Thomen was a guitar trainee from Andre, but he was obvisiously better in playing drums) took over. They recorded the first demo Tape in 1984 and Marcus Dörk presented the demo one day at school to me. I was very surprised how different that sounded to what we played at that time in Andre´s Cellar. I liked it very much.
As far as I understand Thomas Stauch was in Lucifer’s Heritage before the first demo but then left the band. Do you know what happened?
See above. Thomen left the band again in early 85 after finishing the first demo. Do not know why. Hansi gave me a call and I returned and stayed till beginning of 1988.
Christoph Theisen (R.I.P.) was the band’s rhythm guitarist during “Battalions of Fear” (the demo) era. How substantial was his contribution? Did he write anything?
Yes that ´s true but Christoph died (R.I.P.)?? I don´t know? Really? Last time I saw him a couple of years ago healthy and sill doing music with is band Pillow Killz (I guess so). His contribution to LH music was playing the rhythm guitar and have fun. I guess this answer your question.
Tell me please everything you can recall from the recording process. Did it take a long time to lay down everything? Were you well rehearsed? Were there any technical difficulties during recording and mixing? Etc.
We joined the Studio in Duisburg in 86 I guess for 2 weekends. We all were very good prepared. We rehearsed up to 4—5 times per week. I played the 5 songs drum recording within a couple of hours so that we had plenty of time to do the other Instruments and the voices which was good, because Andre really played great solos and he took over the most of the rhythm guitars as well. Hansi was in a really fantastic mood so he did not need that long for the bass and also his voice recording including all the screams went well. So after the 2nd weekend we got a rough mix tape, drove back to Krefeld and celebrated the release of the rough tape with some very good friends in a heavy Metal Pub which was our living room or second home at that time. So far as I remember correctly during this time there was also the “Metal Piranhas Krefeld” founded. A Club of regional Metal Heads, really friends, which are still together till today, celebrating events on a regular base including concerts of the “Metal Piranhas All Star Cover Band”, where Musician from Heavenward, Bad Lands, Blind Guardian, and others are playing along and having fun.. Check out their YouTube channel.
Were you able to tour with the band? Did you get a chance to open for bigger bands?
I played in total 4 shows with the Band, as you can see above. 3 under LH and one under BG.
Was there a big interest in Lucifer’s Heritage? Was this demo popular in tape trading circuit? Were there any other offers from labels or was No remorse the only one who showed an interest?
LH was already a bit famous in the region but the issue was the Name. We sold the demos at that time during concerts of other bands in the region but most of the people expected Death Metal when looking at the cover and Name. The death metal scene was even bigger in the “Ruhrgebiet” Area around Duisburg, Essen (Kreator, Darkness etc), Düsseldorf etc). So we already thought about changing that name. No Remorse Records with Kalle Trapp were very interested at that time. I cannot really remind others. And Hansi and Andre really wanted to release on a label and become Rock stars as soon as possible. They really got the willingness to become professional musicians, right from the beginning. There was no Plan B.
What do you think about later versions of the songs from the second demo? The band changed some arrangements like the middle section of “Run for the Night”. Did you like those changes?
Well, Yes! I mean it´s a growing and dynamic process. The recording of the Battalions of Fear Album was already a major step from the Studio where we have recorded before. Already this gives inspiration. And the process still goes on. This is what Andre told me again last year when they invited me to a concert in Düsseldorf during the Beyond the red mirror tour “As more opportunities you have the more inspired you are, the more can you do and you will do.” So it’s still development. And listen to Majesty nowadays. it’s a different song.
What are your funniest moments of being in Lucifer’s Heritage or hanging out with Blind Guardian later?
I guess the friendship and the spirit of the mid 80ties. Everything was possible. We were just good in what we were doing at that time. It was simple and easy to care on each other and to promote and push for what we all really loved and still love. And you see we still stick together although I am out for almost 30Y now. I mean we do not see each other every day or month (smiles) but we still have contact. I mean this says a lot.
Later Blind Guardian became known for their passion to Tolkien. Did you share that passion being in Lucifer’s Heritage or were drums everything you wanted to concentrate on?
To be honest with you, I have nothing in mind with Fantasy. Hansi was and is the man behind the Lyrics. He loves Tolkien and Literature as everybody knows. I was involved into the song writing and the arrangement as you can see on the “BOF” Demo credits. I never saw myself just as a drummer. I play piano since I am a kid and I love composing till today. I guess a lot of modern drummers are today more than just giving the beat… And this is good so!
Why did you and Christoph quit the band after this demo? Did you give up on idea of being a rock star and living off the music? What happened to you and Christof after Lucifer’s Heritage?
Well this is a really good question and I could write a book about that (smiles). Regarding Christoph please look above. So here the shortcut of a long Story: I left BG because 4 to 5 times rehearsal per week was really too much for me. My girl friend did not want to support that any longer. I was also thinking about starting studying Chemistry. I know a completely different thing but from my point of view much more serious and safer than having a contract with NRR. May I would had made another decision if we had a major deal or so, but this is just a guess. So I studied Chemsetry and started a serious job career. I quit with my girl friend and felt in love with a beautiful female student which I married 20Y ago and have some 2 great kids with. Something what I would not have if I had stayed with BG. For this reason I am 100% happy with my decision but from a musician perspective I was really struggling for years that I have left the Band. The main reason for being really unhappy was the development of the Band. From Album to Album they were better and better. The way of composing and playing was exactly what I always wanted to do. Just an inside Info for you and your readers: When Thomen left in 2005 I applied on the Job again but I was too late or more probably not close enough to the band. And Frederic is a great drummer, that is for sure. I love his professional drum composing!
Once Hansi said that Thomas Stauch was the most professional musician in Blind Guardian (this quote is from “Imagination from the Other Side” era). Would you agree with him?
I can say nothing about Hans´s comment, I am sorry.
And how did they got Markus Siepen in the band?
Marcus Siepen played in a rehearsal room close to ours and we knew him already for a longer time. He played also along with Thomen in the time when I was in the Band … you see everything very close by (smiles), almost family business.
By the way, did you see already at that time that Hansi and Andre can be successful with the band? What factors helped them to make Blind Guardian one of the biggest bands in power metal?
As I have already written earlier. They were absolutely convinced about their career. There was not Plan B. All their energy was focused on having success and it is still the case.
What do you feel now when you think that you helped one of the biggest power metal bands to make its first steps?
I am proud. Really proud. I mean I missed the opportunity to tour the world and to play along with some really fantastic nice guys BUT some of my dreams are somehow fulfilled. See, you can buy records all over the planet where I am playing the Drums. Not many people know that I am playing the drums on Gundalf´s rebirth ((the bonus Song on the “BOF” CD). I am also attending on the Follow the Blind remastered Series and the best of Album “A Mystery of a Time to Come” and also on the 4 color Vinyl Box. So not that bad (smiles). Last year I was at Wacken with my Lucifer´s Heritage Shirt and so many people came and took photos and talked to me etc. For me it is a big honor being part of the BG History.
What is your personal favorite from Blind Guardian’s discography and why? Do you still keep listen to this type of music?
I have the entire discography. My favorite is clearly “Somewhere Far Beyond”. A great Album, A master piece, followed by many other killer Albums. And even the current releases are so great and there will be come more fantastic stuff in future. You can be sure!
What are you doing today as a Musician?
Well, over the last 30 years I played in many different Bands. 2 times very close to get a major deal but it is always a BUT (smiles). I wrote also more than 120 Songs, either for bands or for my own project which is called HpF. I play all the Instruments and do also the singing. From time to time I record with friend from the www in my own studio at home. It s not really Metal anymore. I would say somehow a Mixture or Prog and Pop. I love Genesis, Neal Morse Band, Transatlantic, Threshold and all the other great Prog Bands so you can imagine what I try to achieve or how it should sound (smiles). I am still learning (smiles) Music is my love and my life and I will continue till I die!. Hope this will last forever (smiles). If you want to listen my songs or watch some videos please visit my YouTube channel. If you are into Metal you should listen to my Song “Mystic Woman” or download for free my best of Album HpF “Zeitgeist” (the best of HpF I — IV). Or type me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the links.
Feel free to share anything you want with Stay Heavy readers to round up this interview!
Cheers to Russia and to your Readers and thanks a lot for inviting me to do this Interview. It was a great reminding. It´s good having those fanzines with such creative and enthusiastic people like you are Konstantin!
Rock n Roll
Pictures in this interview are courtesy of Thomas Kelleners and Hans-Peter Frey.