Forum Senior Member
Joined: March 04 2008
Location: Retirement Home
Posted: December 30 2011 at 13:40
Flaming Bess is not your typical band. The oringinal band was formed in 1969, in Düsseldorf. There was the usual club gigs, and personnel changes, before finally recording an album. It just took them ten years. This was 1979's "Tanz Der Götter." A highly regarded album, and very much influenced by other symphonic music of it's time.
I got in touch with Achim Wierschem for the rest of their story and what they are up to now.
Why did you choose that name and which bands were you influenced by ?
Well when the band was founded in 1969 it was the big time of progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Genesis, ELP, Yes or King Crimson -
.....so I would say that we where somewhat influenced by those bands but we always intended to create our own style. We did influence us as well was fantasy stories like "Tolkiens - Lord of the Rings" and other fantasy books which we did consume a lot at this point in time.
Flaming Bess as a name ? Flaming Bess is the name of a fantasy character invented by the band. Flaming Bess is "the godess of Light" and the music is an illustration of her adventures, with wizards, demons, dragons, magicians, evil creatures, etc.etc. so very typical for the genre of fantasy as it is know today. By the way - the name Flaming Bess was also stolen by the producer of the first record in the early 80s to create a serious of sience fiction books which are out on the market since than. It is important to know that the band existed already 13 years before these books have been released so it is clear that our name was abused.
Your band was established in 1969, but it took you ten years to release your first album. Why did it take you that long and how was those ten years ?
Well, we have been the typical schoolband, and bloody beginners in 1969 when the band started. So we needed some years to develope our skills through countless practesing sessions, live gigs etc.etc.
We started mainly with cover music in 1969 and it took quite a while before we came up with our first own songs, or I should say we did reach a level of quality with our own songs which was good enough to satisfy ourselves and which was nicely received by our early fans. Than in 1979 we did produce some demo tapes with the local radio station WDR2 for a program called "rock studio" - and this demo's did lead to the biggest reaction of the listeners the WDR did receive. Everybody asked where a record of us could be bought, but acutally we had nothing in our hands at that point in time so... we took these demo tapes and all the money we could afford and created
Tanz Der Götter from 1979
recorded at the Rudas studios in Duesseldorf. The record contained instrumental progressive rock music and a spoken fantasy story about the first adventure of "The Godess Of Light" and her fellowship and climbed up to postion number 8 in the yearly radio charts at the WDR - number 7 was Pink Floyd's - Another Brick In The Wall". We did everything by ourself, and we sold more than 40.000 records of Tanz der Götter within 1979 by bringing our record into all local record stores and making them available to the public.
Verlorene Welt from 1980
Verlorene Welt was the follow up album, with a huge production budget and a big record company called Polydor in our back. It was produced in the Dierks studios in Cologne ( Dieter Dierks was at that time the producer of the one of the most successful bands of Germany - The Scorpions). It extended the concept of "Tanz der Götter" but also contained two traditional songs with vocals. A young arranger did actually work on one of the tracks for this record together with us, and some of our ideas we developed together with him to create a certain choir sound on "Verlorene Welt" inspired him to create his own project. The name of this young musician was Michael Cretu, and his well known project which was actually influenced by our work is know to the world as "Enigma" and sold over 50 million records. The story of "Verlorene Welt" describes "Flaming Bess's" adventure to find a long lost planet, a planet called Earth. Despite the fact that the record was a similar success to the debut in terms of sales, the record company asked the band to produce something more comercial. lt was the high time of music know as "Neue Deutsche Welle" -a very easy listening and charts oriented music format , with funny but mostly meaningless lyrics" - as such very far away from what Flaming Bess musical trademarks acutally represented.
The band was forced to change the name into "Key" and we produced a record which was named "Verschluesselt", apart from one song - all with vocals and designed for a bigger mass of listeners". Nobody know exactly why - if it was the fact that our lyrics have still been to serious", or whatever - finally it turned out that the record company did not keep any single promise and as result the band was frustrated and without a record deal since 1984. We lost trust in the complete industry but that's certainly not what we should discuss at lenght in this interview. There have been quite some activities within the 80s and early 90s but most of these tapes have never been released - so far.
Fata Morgana from 1996
After all the frustration with the record industry, and based on the requests of many of our fans, the band decided to use some of the unreleased material of the late 80s and early 90s to end up on a record which we called "Fata Morgana" - well maybe this title still reflects our thoughts about the giant record industry - Now being in 2011 it is funny to see all the current fuzz this industry is creating about illegal downloads on the internet - most of this "former giants" are meanwhile gone.Fata Mrogana is the only Flaming Bess record without a fantasy story and looking back to it now it was a turning point for the band and a new sign of life for the fans We decided to simly take the complete production process of any records back into our own hands,to be the masters of our own destiny, maybe we would sell less copies than with a big record company in our back, but with a much better relation to our fans, not forced to go into any commercial format music anymore. We took the decision to only produce the music we and our listeners love, without any compromise and at the end at a much better margin than before.
Finstere Sonne / Black Sun from 2005
Again 2005 seems to be a long period of time, but the band used this time to integrate two new young band member and to actually create a completely new progressive rock sound adding much more electronics and up to date modern beats as an additional foundation to complete the Flaming Bess universe of sound. As such this is the most electronic sounding album of Flaming Bess. The Godess and her companions are on their next adventure, fighting against the evil creatures of the Black Sun. This album is a real sound journey and should best be listened to using good headphones, some time to sink into the fantasy story and the related sound universe and is best suited by a good glas of wine.
Wächter Des Lichts from 2008
Wächter des Lichts was the second album with this new band line up, but in addition we had many moreand worldwide guest musicians than ever before. It is so far the most sophisticated Flaming Bess record and another true progressive rock highlight in the actual sense of the word. The fantasy story was co-written and narrated by a young author. His name is Markus Wierschem. In addition to the narrated parts we used different speakers for all characters and wwe did produce the spoken parts like a real filmscoretrack - a thing the band did not do before.
What is the availabilities of your releases ?
All records are available at the Flaming Bess homepage or in any major download portal such as itunes, amazon or napster
How would you describe your music and which bands would you compare yourself with ?
I would say this is modern progressive rock music, with a strong fantasy and filmmusic influence, epic, emotional and cinematic.
As such I would name bands like Pink Floyd, Camel or Alan Parsons Project if someone needs a lable for this kind of music.
However I personally think these kind of lables are misleading as Flaming Bess is unique.
How is the creative processes from coming up with an idea to it's being recorded ?
Nower days we returned to a very natural process, we are jamming at our practesing session playing together as a band.
If we create something which all of us think should be further developed, we start the production process and create the final layouts.
Wächter Des Lichts is your so far last album. What have you been up to since the release of Wächter Des Lichts ?
What is your current status and what is your plans for this year and beyond ?
In 2009 and 2010 we have been concentrating on live gigs (40st band anniversary) and we did welcome back a long missed family member.
Hans Schweiss our drummer of the "Verlorene Welt" release - joined the band again. We will release a new record in 2012 and have used 2011
to compose about 12 tracks which will be the foundation of this new record.
To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add to this interview ?
As Flaming Bess is working independently from any record industry, it is very important for us that we acutally can reach potential
listeners, fans and music maniacs, this means we need airplay and pages like yours to spread the message about "Flaming Bess". So first of all
many thanks for giving us the chance for this interview. In case someone get's curious reading this and wants to
listen to some of the Flaming Bess records - he can do this on the internet using the following link
Thank you to Achim for this interview
Joined: March 16 2008
I read this interview because I thought the name was Flaming Bees, and that sounded like something guaranteed to be awesome. Regardless of me being dyslexic, great interview!
Joined: December 06 2006
thank you torodd, I just got into them courtesy of spotify, reviewed their first just days before this interview was published, more to come. This is most helpful
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