Case Radio (Greece) and ProgArchives joined forces to interrogate CUEROCK,
whose ‘Tales of Future Passed’ has placed itself among the most interesting
releases of the year. Demetris Katsikis (Founder and Progducer of JustIn Case
Radio) and myself fired questions relentlessly to the German quintet, and, in fairness, they stood up to the task!!! Let’s see what
they have to say about tales of past, present and future…
Lee Lehmann / Vocals
Achim Harhoff / Guitar
Klaus Hogrebe / Bass
Andreas Blechmann / Keyboards
M.B. Forrester / Drums
Hello Gentlemen! Where, and at what part of your
busy schedule, does this interview find you exactly? Composing, touring or just
meeting up to discuss future plans?
Indeed we are composing new
material for a second CD-release hopefully coming in summer 2013!
Section 1 – tales of past
biography is already in Progarchives.com but we would like to know a bit more
about the history of the band. What did CUE stand for in the 70’s and were there
ever any releases from this early version of the band?
Achim: We cannot tell you much about the early
years, for none of us was part of the band at that time. I saw the band three
times on stage: first time when I was twelve, next time when I was fifteen,
last time when I was seventeen years old. They were the flagship of our local
music scene, playing Genesis- and Yes-styled music and touring the whole German
Republic. I always dreamt of being part of such a great band, though my musical
roots were much heavier. Aged nineteen I came in contact with the bass player
and we had a side-project. When the band needed a new drummer, I suggested to take
M.B. who played with us. M.B. then introduced Axel to CUE, and the former bass
player became the vocalist (Freddy Mercury – style!!!). And only a few months
later they asked me to join them as the guitar-player. This was in February
It seems that both Achim and M. B. became members of CUE
soon before you change your name to CUEROCK. Were there significant differences
between CUE as it was and the newly-formed band, both in personnel and the
sound that you wanted to achieve?
Achim: Don't forget our dear Axel! After CUE
had tried to be successful playing New German Wave mixed with SAGA (they had an
acclaimed TV – performance in an early German casting show), the band lost
direction because success was missing. With this new line-up CUE became a
mixture of TOTO, DEEP PURPLE and 80’s Pop. It was not what I personally really
wanted to do, but we had such a deep friendship...
we accept 1986 as the ‘official’ starting point of what CUEROCK represents now,
this makes it 26 years of history, impressive! Why only three releases in this
period? Were there periods of inactivity?
Achim: First I must say that CUEROCK started
with Andreas Blechmann 1998! His arrival marks a real turning-point!
CUE went through many difficulties. In
1988 our singer went to Turkey for occupational reasons. It is very hard to
replace a singer whose vocal range spans almost 4 octaves. In 1992 we got
contact to a singer who was pretty good, and he propelled us to produce a CD (‘I’).
But the chemistry wasn't right, so we broke up with him. And in 1994 our
keyboardist had to leave for health reasons. He was almost a concert pianist,
and the three of us remaining were looking for new members for years. But we
didn't find the quality we needed. Until Andreas Blechmann came!
is little information about your ‘I’ (1991) and ‘Physically’ (2004) albums.
Could you give us a bit of insight as to who was involved in these albums and
if/how the sound is different to 2012’s CUEROCK?
Andreas: ‘I’ is CUE,
sounding more Pop-oriented. ‘Physically’ is pure CUEROCK.
Achim: Looking back on
‘I’ I would say that it is a kind of swan song for CUE. But we did an EP
1998/99 (‘The Inner Eye of CUE’) - we called it a ‘tryout’ - with 4
instrumentals including early versions of ‘For Sabine’, ‘Journey to the Centre’
and ‘A Farewell to the Falcon’.
Andreas: The Falcon...
Achim: Yes, your Atari
Falcon. We did the recording with an 8-track Atari Falcon. But a new PC and
sound card were already ordered, and so we named one of the instrumentals ‘A
Farewell to the Falcon’.
Andreas: We achieved
unexpected success with this EP. We sent it to German magazines like ‘Gitarre&Bass’
and ‘RockHard’ and received great reviews. We even got nominated for the German
rock award 1999. But we had no chance to get it with our non-commercial
Achim: And this was
the birth of CUEROCK. It was an important impulse. We began to develop our
style. Andreas wanted us to become heavier with fat guitars left and right. On
the other hand we wanted to put in classical structures such as variation,
polyphony... but unfortunately ‘Physically’ remained unfinished due to Axel's
death in 2004 – this was a shock...
Andreas: With the re-launch
of CUEROCK 2009 we felt that we need vocals as a carrier for our music.
Achim: And Larry-Lee
was the first singer after decades who was able to sing what we had in mind...
Now we are able to add a touch of ‘sing-along’ to our music, so that listeners
can join in... You called it ‘catchy’ in your review – a big thank you for
that! But we still place on variation and polyphony as important musical
someone wants to explore your past, are these albums still available?
Achim: They were just demos, never
released officially. We still have about 100 items of
‘I’ at home, but the sound quality is bad. Thousands of German Marks for a poor
Section 2 – tales of present
Let’s get closer to what CUEROCK represents now. The
addition of Larry Lee in 2010 seems to have added that extra bit of power,
enthusiasm and motivation to get things going again. Is this the case?
say on my entering the Band CUEROCK, that
the personal CUEROCK band members views, if they were to voice their opinions,
then they would probably answer: yes, Larry-Lee´s joining the band brought huge
motivation amongst its founder members. His vocal versatility/musical vocal
ability/power/emotion and expressions, for all his ray of sunshine when
singing, and bringing Achim’s music ideas in composing into reality, then yes.
It has brought life into its music by putting the hard composed work into
reality. CUEROCK where not seeking the 1980´s styling from rock music from
vocalists, in back then meant high pitch, high octave screams. It's also not
really fitting for CUEROCK material. Our bands intentions are more for the
melodic rock groove with a large element of theatrical feeling within its music
compositions. In this way the guys probably recognised me as a huge asset to
their music, being able to bring into realisation their - also future coming -
Achim: Yes, he is a
real sunshine... ;-)
Andreas: But don't offer
him expensive wines...
How did you find Larry (or how did he find you!)?
Larry-Lee: It was
simply by chance. I simply landed on their doorstep, having heard they needed a
vocalist, but was somewhat held back. However, I'd worked all my life in the
music branch and have been a pure full blooded musician, almost as long turning
pro in 1977, I had sung virtually every styling of the modern day music scenes,
be it rock/swing/Tamla-Motown, or many of the dozen other styles, due to having
been in many also cover bands, as well as bringing over years of original
material... I'd mastered almost all, but I thought the metric structure of CUEROCK's
music would be well above my capabilities. However, on visiting the band I was
in as a full time member without even having taken an AUDITION! I personally
gave my entry into the band via the words ‘I’m coming to you as an apprentice’,
as they had not found any other vocalist with the ability to put their
compositions into reality. But felt with patience that I could make them proud
of me. I've never looked back since that day, and feel from that day on as if
I've been with them from foundation day.--------------- They are simply great
guys to work with.
Achim: I guess Larry
read an online ad or I read his one – I don't know. The first time only Larry
and I had a meeting in our little studio. I had already heard some of his
former songs online and was sure that his voice had the needed range! And when
he told me he'd come as an apprentice I had the feeling that he is the right
member for us! We had tried out some very young singers before, talented and
well-sounding, but with weakly-skilled singing-technique. Whenever they
couldn't hit a high note they wanted us to pitch down the song instead of
training their voice... Larry – despite of his long lasting career – said: I am
willing to learn. No egomania, but professional attitude!
And what about the writing process: who is/are the main
composer(s) or are all members contributing equally?
Larry-Lee: Within my past in the music branch, bands have mostly always been mine,
but for the very first time in years this was not to be. And also for the very first
time in my life I've decided to take a complete backseat in my music life, and
I don’t regret a thing! I've also never, ever been in any type of band or music
project where I have not had disagreements/arguments. However, in this band
I've not witnessed one day of such! Approximately 28 months since my entry,
argument free, just good warm hearted togetherness.
The song-writing process musically is done mostly between Achim+Andreas
(Andy); Lyrically it's our Achim at work, with his - in my mind - genius works.
I’m a U.K. Subject, and English is my native tongue, and he writes it as a
German better than I'll ever be able to do (I take my hat off to You, Achim). Better said: musically+lyrically one could say 89%
of the works come from his geniality+wondering adventures mind,----- it's what
makes CUEROCK what it is.
Achim: (Blush...) I have to point out that one of the biggest inspirations for me
is the aggregation of musical skills in this band! I have such a huge respect
for all my band mates. One of the biggest impulses is to let all of them glare
– I love vocals, bass, drums and keys, and – of course – electric guitars.
Pathetically spoken: Every note is filled with love for these musicians – alive
or passed away!
Andy and I have
meetings with intense working on structures, arranging and/or voicing, and he
gives very important inputs that help me develop the ‘songs’. But it is the
agreement of ALL members that make the song finished!
Are lyrics a big part of your writing process now? Who
writes the lyrics and what are the themes you deal with?
Larry-Lee: I occasionally
contribute just a little to Achim´s ideas, but tend to keep my nose out of this
region of work. I used my full musical know-hows in the first period of my
successful ventures in the music branch and made my own success during the
periods 1977 to 1983, so I do know my real capabilities. But it was a different
music scene for me back then. If I was asked directly now how to valuate
Achim's / CUEROCK's music and lyrics, well, it's an easy answer for me:
composition and content extremely meaningful and full of inner feelings. It's
music content one could class as a typical bombastic Hollywood Motion Picture
music, which can be seen by us as a huge compliment.
Achim: The lyrics... They are mostly the attempt to
describe the visions I have in mind. I am a very visual thinking person; the
music I have in mind yields pictures and film-sequences that I try to explain.
And I always look for strong words and precise terms. Larry is an important
help, for he's a native speaker. Let me try to illustrate it with an example:
Kaleidoscope pt.I: ‘...but in the night
her memories pull her retrograde through time’; Larry: ‘No common British
person will understand this’, but we discussed what I had in mind: A term that
gives a precise description of the wrong direction of thinking and living.
After a while he said: Yes – let's do it this way...
I am a teacher for music and biology; as
a scientist, I always take in the observer's view; as a music teacher, I always
try to expose the beauty of what I see.
Could you tell us a few words about the music
composition process? How do you write music? Does music come first, do lyrics
come first, or, is it a simultaneous flowing process?
Achim: The first ideas are often simultaneous; there is a
riff or a chorus in my mind – words and music. When I begin to work it out I
focus on music – and later I try to fill my visions with words. But the
phonetic structure of the lyrics (the ‘sounding’ part) is quite clear right
from the beginning.
would you characterise the CUEROCK sound? You are listed under progressive
metal in ProgArchives, but there is more to it…
Larry-Lee: Well, as CUEROCK's front
man I'd have to give the substantial answer, if asked in private the answer
would be: an intellectual/technical/melodic/poetical and meaningful form of
Power Rock/Metal with strong grooves, simply modern, tight and refreshing.
Achim: Having dealt
with TOTO in the 80’s has formed us in the way we groove, I guess. Especially
M.B. is more a gentleman-drummer than a rock-animal, playing more restrained,
but always exactly figuring out the musical structures of our songs. It is
great to see how clearly everything sounds when he's playing! And Andreas often
adds a touch of Jazz/Fusion-feeling. Some Vai and Lukather aspects may
appear... But I also try to add – maybe not quite obvious – I touch of ‘Bon
Jovi’ to our music (oh – my – god...).
from the above, does the term progressive rock mean something special to you or
is it just another means of categorising the music? What are your predictions
about the future of prog rock?
Andreas: Indeed we
called our music ‘progressive rock’ to give people a rough idea of what they
could expect. We hate thinking in categories, but people need this kind of aid
to orientation. All WE want to put in our music is polyphonic structures,
Achim: You will never
hear a verse simply repeated with new words. I hate simple encores apart from
choruses. Life is not a flat-line – you've got ups and downs, changes, you
should develop. If you try to create music that's vivid you have to transfer
these aspects to it! It's like one of my favorite TNG-episodes ‘Déja Vu’: each
encore is a little bit changed – and these variations carry the story up to the
But categorizing is a very
dangerous thing. Some people think we're not proggy enough, others are deterred
by suggesting we are playing boringly endless songs...
Future of prog rock? No
idea. I don't count on categories; I just look for individual artworks. There
are so many impressive songs in this genre today...
What’s your personal philosophy or/and mottos of your
Larry-Lee: Mine has always been from day one of music
path as follows: Sex, no drugs but Rock´n´Roll...
Achim: Never stop
Klaus: Always try to
give your best!
M.B.: Let's play,
until the geriatric nurses get us from the stage!
would you advice someone who is currently aspiring to sink her/his band in the
opinion: There are too many bands outside that rely on solemn and dramatic
exaggeration. A sip of ‘big ease’ and musical flow is needed more than another
deeply grieving world-ache-epos...
Achim: On the other
hand WE love this kind of neo-romanticism, don't we? I guess the most important
tip is that they should try to tell their own musical stories. But I guess that
young musicians who decide to dip in progressive have the right skills and
talents to do it well! Imagine all those young talents of jazz you showed me, Andy!
ALBUM! – 2012 marks the world-wide release of ‘Tales of Future Passed’. Please
tell us about the recording process and how you ended up collaborating with
Achim: Well, after getting a
complete line-up we started to put together new vocal material for
live-eventers and so on. Larry confirmed us to put in some of our physically –
instrumentals, for they were – to his opinion – too precious to be buried in
the past. So we finished with a small edition mostly for promotional use. After
having tuned our web presence (by the way: many, many thanks to our supporters
Marco Witte, Ingo Holzhauer for designing & supervising it, Ingo also for
his live-mixing, Julia Jork for dealing the lighting and Jens Herken for
sound-supporting our rehearsals) Larry came in contact to Hans Derer (Owner of
7Hard). Hans wanted to re-release our CD under his label. But we decided to
take in a new song (‘Days Of Future Passed), for it was always in my mind that ‘Kaleidoscope’
had to get this second part (the musical storyline was not completed; there was
still more to this main theme!). But we had a strict deadline for the CD. I put
together the song at record speed (The best way to turn your hair totally
One word that could describe your latest album is ‘dynamic’?
What are your influences as musicians (e.g. other musicians, bands, styles) and
how do these blend together to the final result?
Achim: At present it
is firstly my job to compose or at least work out the ideas. I do this by
midi-programming bass, drums and keys (whenever Andy is not available). I love
the elegant and musical drumming of M.B. and I love the virtuosity of Klaus and
Andy. So I always imagine how they would like to play it. Maybe this is the
reason why it appears dynamic: I always try to work the songs out in a way that
brings out every facet of their musical sense.
tracks from ‘Physically’ appear to be in the new album as well. Are the new
versions significantly different and/or have they been re-recorded? Is this the
link between the old and the new material?
Andreas: We only did
some re-recordings with Klaus. But we didn't delete all of Axel's parts! Klaus
really admires Axel's work, and so it was to honor him by putting his work on
this CD. The strangest thing is about ‘For Sabine’: you can hear Axel playing
the whole first movement. The bass-heartbeats in the break leading to the
second movement weren't played by him any more – he died shortly before this
Achim: It wasn't easy
to integrate the sounding of the new takes in the original ones, but I guess
you will hardly hear it now... So you can say ‘Tales of Future Passed’ is the
link between CUEROCK 2004 and our future. It is a turning-point, a thank you to
our dear friend Axel. I personally found peace with his death by doing this CD.
presume that the story of ‘Dream
on in Neverland’ is a special one. Are you happy to give the details of this
Achim: It was early in
2005 when I told Andy that I had an idea for a three-parted-musical suite for
our Axel. Dream On... was planned to be part two. I had this idea of a
bass-riff, the 6/8 – groove was one of Axel's favorites, and I wanted to hold
on to what this really great little man was for us. So I outlined the first
movement and a first verse. We did a draft recording to fix the idea. We always
dreamt of completing this song for him. We played it to Klaus and Larry and
they were eager to have this song completed, too. So I finished it. It may be
unbelievable, but Klaus and Larry, the two who never knew Axel, became his
friend by carrying out this song! Friendship beyond death...
But there a still two parts
missing... we plan to do 3 CDs for 7Hard...
Do you have any side
projects/musical collaborations beyond CUEROCK?
Achim: M.B. and Klaus
play with other local bands. M.B. supports friends of him who need a skilled
drummer; Klaus is really quite successful with a top class cover-band. Larry
tries to put together a show band. But CUEROCK is their top priority, of
Andy organizes and conducts
Concertos such as Requiem by Mozart, St. James-Passion by Bach... it is part of
his profession, but these concerts go far beyond what he has to do for his job!
It is pure passion for church music.
Oh, I am the poor guy who
has no time for side-projects. Composing and producing CUEROCK takes most of my
time beside my job and my family (without their patience and understanding it
wouldn't be possible)!
are the live experiences of CUEROCK? What are the reactions of the people who
come to your live shows?
Larry-Lee: We only had a
few smaller venues till now because we focused on recording. But one reviewer
on Amazon.de pointed out the friendly manner of the band. We are who we are, in
real life the same as on stage. We like to talk with the audience after the
Achim: …and even
in-between, when there a longer instrumental passages, right, Larry?
What is most important for
me is that we seem to reach younger people as well as people in our age. Even
Metal-headbangers enjoyed our music. But they shouldn't get too drunken – then
our music might cause a brain-overkill...
Section 3 – tales of future
are the immediate future plans/goals for CUEROCK?
Achim: I am working
out new songs for expanding our live-performance; Songs that will fill our
second CD hopefully coming in 2013! And Larry will manage live-contacts; we
want to play as much as possible. But our kind of music is not German
mainstream at the moment, so it's not easy to get attractive live-jobs. Imagine
we are newcomers (smile...)
there any possibility to see CUEROCK playing live in Greece (home of JustIn Case
Prog Radio) or UK? Friends of Larry must be waiting for his return! What are
the challenges in playing lives shows abroad?
Larry-Lee: Yes and no... better said
if you have better contact than us, with Greek festival/concert organizers
liking our style of music then maybe. However our Greek contact possibilities
are sadly low. But naturally it would be great to appear somewhere within your
country, as also others. However good our music, it’s still an up-hill climb
even for us to be heard live. This music style is limited for new on the scene
progressive bands. Now, being Dream Theater/Porcupine Tree/Spock's Beard/Steve
Vai/Toto/Haggard/Tankard and a small number of others, for such established
names... we've been in the business just as long, but without such a name much
patience is needed! But we will get there, maybe to Greece also, with help from
your side of the water.
Concerning my friends in
the UK: Yes there still are a few out there (most probably dead by now – ha
ha...). And yes, I've had many personal compliments from many of my past band/s
following, who have discovered our CUEROCK CD, recognized my voice and made
contact. It is firstly a great inner feeling, and it would be a moral boost for
any musician. Yes, GLASTONBURY 2013: here we come...
Achim: Our chances playing abroad
are limited by the fact, that we all have our main professions. So it is a
question of money, but to get enough money depends on popularity, which we try
message from your part for the listeners of JustIn Case Prog Radio, Greece is…
Achim: ...the cradle of our European culture; many thanks for that! And for
Gyros, Samos and Metaxa... I am almost addicted...
Andreas: Nothing more to say...
message from your part for the collaborators and members of ProgArchives is…
I must point put that we are very, very proud of having become part of your
collection and receiving this fine review of our album! It really is an honor!
Larry-Lee: I say the same to all YOU
prog-collaborators out there! But it would simply be good for us as a band if
more of you, who have listened to our CD, would send in some of your up-front
open personal true opinions as to CUEROCK’s music pro or con on our guest-book
on http://www.cuerock.com" rel="nofollow - www.CUEROCK.com . It is critique that
helps a band most!
that you might want to add?
Larry-Lee: For those
evermore visitors browsing into CUEROCK information and news: please, just
remember that I, Larry-Lee, as a member of the Band state as follows:
do not await from me any overall form of seriousness. Most bands are maybe
serious, and the original CUEROCK guys also, but I myself am a mad character
who loves and does his job in the band. However it's not possible for me to
stay serious long! As a person I'm just full of fun and cannot survive without
doing something silly and stupid. It's my Lancashire UK humor, ok?
Achim: So you think that
all of us other guys completely lack any sense of humor? I guess I will do
remixes of our songs chosing the … the ‘best’ takes of Larry-Lee... grin...
There are some interesting
live-takes from our rehearsals... grin...
"Prog-gnostics" show - every Monday 7-9pm UK time on http://www.justincaseradio.com" rel="nofollow - http://www.justincaseradio.com , the first progressive radio in Greece