SECRET OYSTER became somewhat of a super group when members of BURNIN'RED IVANHOE, CORONARIAS DANS and HURDY GURDY formed this unit. By the end of BURNIN' RED IVANHOE's career (that spawned seven years), Karsten Vogel started forming a new band taking along with him BRI's drummer Thrige and often jazz-partner bassist Vinding with him. Knowing from the Danish circuit guitarist Claus Bohling, he enticed him into the band that took its name from a track from BRI's second album Secret Oysters Service.
I got in touch with Karsten Vogel and here is the story of this band.
If I am not mistaken, Secret Oyster
was/is almost a super group with ex members of Burnin Red Ivanhoe
(yourself), Hurdy Gurdy and Coronarias Dans. When, why and how did
all of you gather your talents together as Secret Oyster? Why did you
choose that band name?
After the split up of Burnin Red
Ivanhoe in February 1972 I intended to go on with an instrumental
group based on what I’ve experienced with Burnin. Five musician,
all with ability to improvise, all should be very skilled musicians
and the three front figures should be capable of playing long,
The drummer from Burnin, Bo Thrige
Andersen was my first obvious choice. Then I hoped for Mads Vinding
on the bass and Claus Bøhling on guitar. Kenneth Knudsen I only knew
a little about, but I was sure, he would be the right man on keyboard
- but he until that had been playing only grand piano! Well, I called
them on the phone, and they all said yes to my plans. Kenneth then
had to get hold of a fender Rhodes which he did.
The band name I already had in mind. It
came from the title of one track from the second Burnin album, Secret
Oyster Service. But why+ Well - you can call it poetry!
How much of these three previous
bands did you carry over to Secret Oyster?
All musical material was composed
especially for Secret Oyster. I had some songs ready right from the
beginning, Kenneth soon wrote some good stuff, and after a year or so
also Claus began to contribute with some funky riff based songs.
You have so far released four albums
if I am not mistaken. Please tell us more about......
Furtive Pearl from 1973
After a year doing gigs around places
in Denmark CBS invited us to do an album. Mostly as a guinea pig, so
they gave us two days in a two track (Revox) studio in Nibe, North in
Jutland. It was recorded in a very creative atmosphere.
Sea Son from 1974
Furtive pearl (the Danish release was
only called Secret Oyster) had good reviews and CBS wanted us to go
further on with recordings. Sea Son also was created in a good
atmosphere, many ideas came up, some good songs already had been on
trial on some gigs. And we even got the possibility to have very fine
musicians to do additional work. We had three days for recording, and
three days for mixing and things.
If you are going to buy only one Secret
Oyster album I’m still suggesting this.
Astarte / Vidunderlige Kælling from
Astarte and Straight to the Krankenhaus
were recorded over the same period of time.
Astarte is music composed and recorded
to a ballet choreographed by famed Flemming Flindt.
The music was played back as an
important part of the show, which became a great success, making a
good profit also to the band. Part of the music is strictly programme
music, but also the album has some genuine Oyster stuff.
Straight To The Krankenhaus from
After four years with hard work the
atmosphere in the band became a little tensed. This was a very
ambitious bunch of musicians, and it was a very ambitious band. So we
were not always polite to each other. But we still worked together on
the project hoping that the world could be ours. CBS took us on tour
with Captain Beefheart to find out whether we could stand the
distance or not - and we could. But in the studio it was not always a
perfect idyll. Finally we had to send the tapes to USA to be mixed
without any intervention from any band member.
Also it was confusing working with two
very different projects in the studio at the same time.
The cover is splendid! We found the
cover art in an art gallery in Stockholm.
But after all, some of the best Secret
Oyster tracks are to be found on this album.
and the live album Live in the USA
2007 from 2008
That live album was the result of
the re-release of your studio albums in USA (all your albums are now
widely available) which meant you got back together after some
decades apart and gigged in USA.
How was it to get back together
again and will this reunion result in new studio albums?
Kenneth decided some ten years ago not
to perform on stage any more. Jess Stæhr, the bass player to follow
Mads Vinding, decided not to be part of the re-union, so we had two
new members on these places. But that was sheer pleasure playing with
this band after all these years! After a few concerts in Denmark we
did the NEARfest close to New York City, and that was one of the
greatest moments in my musical life!
After that we played quite a lot of
gigs (including one more festival in US) and began working on new
songs to be part of a new album.
But around Christmas Claus Bøhling got
into serious private problems, resulting in a not scheduled break -
that until today unfortunately still goes on.
Following on from that, what is your
current status and what are your plans?
As said - we have not being playing
together for 9 month. But I’m sure, that all band members hope for
the possibilities to work together again. Including doing that album!
To wrap up this interview, is there
anything you want to add to this interview?
The best Secret Oyster concerts were
the best concerts I ever did. Such energy! And also I learned a lot
from playing with this band, especially from Kenneth Knudsen. But it
was from time to time no fun to be part of this band travelling
around in Europe.
Still I’m proud having created this
unique unit and being part of the international scene for electric
jazz and fusion.
Thank you to Karsten Vogel for this interview
Their PA profile is http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=1381" rel="nofollow - and the homepage's http://www.karstenvogel.dk/index.html" rel="nofollow -