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Interview for


John O‘Regan


In the late 60s and early 70s a new sound emerged in European rock styles. The German rock scene exploded into life,on one hand you had the bands whose roots were in the folk/rock boom of 1965/6 frorn that came Frumpy whose Anglo/American sound,neatly complimented the newer more "experimental" sounds made by bands such as Can,Tangerine Dream, Amon Duul II and Guru Guru. With the later spreading out of "Kraut Rock" to incorporate the inclusion of new inventions such as the meliotron and moog synth a newer more spacy sound emerged.

The market for the spacy synth dominated sound was developed by artists such as Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream,and arch anarchist Ciuster.Late in 1976 these were joined by a new "power trio" a band whose Vision crossed the borders of rock folk jazz and progressive Music. They were SCHICKE FÜHRS AND FRÖHLING or SFF for short.Their unique sound featured two mellotrons,guitar, bass synths,drums and percussion, Their first album "SYMPHONIC PICTURE showed some Tad/Dream styled explorations je "Pictures" mixed wit shorter melodie compositions "Solution" and "Sundrops‘! The 1977 follow up "SUNBURST" had some even more sumptious moments with a Mahavisnu Orchestra like fire igniting the cut and thrust,Their final trio album "TICKET TO EVERYWHERE" had even more disperate strands with folk/World influences joining, The proper son of Jan Michel Jarre‘s "Oxygene"."TICKET TO EVERYWHERE" had the potential and appeal to be massive but somehow it wasn't to be.

With the departure of EDE SCHICKE the remaining duo of FHURS/ FRÜHLING recorded three more albums "AMMERLAND" "DIARY" and "STRINGS" before splitting in 1982. They each persued different careers HEINZ FRÖHLING opening his own music studio in Oldenburg.
GERD FUHRS becoming a demonstrator for Yamaha keyboards before his tragic death in 1992. Though extremly popuiar in Germany as a live attraction as weil as recording band SFF never caught on in a big way outside. However they did have their ardent fans and recently the compleat reeorded works of SFF have been made available on a 2 cd set. "THE COLLECTED WORKS OF SCHICKE, FÜHRS & FRÖHLING" couples their three albums with some live cuts from the 1978 BRAIN festival in Essen showing the live SFF capable of cutting with surgical precision, 1 had the pleasure of reviewing "THE COLLECTED WORKS" for the Terrascope vol 4 no 4 and as a result decided to make someenquiries as regards SFF. Through the courtesy of Heinz Georg Drenzler and Ulla Hoppe of Metronome Musik GMBH‘s International Exploitation Department in Hamburg 1 got an address for HEINZ FRÖHLING. Our subsequent corrispondance yielded the following interview which sheds some light on a band whose success should have been Worldwide and whose music still has the power and ingenuity of the best 70s prog rock.

EDUARD SCHICKE GERD FÜHRS and HEINZ FRÖHLING met for the first time in 1974. GERD at the time was keyboard player with jazz—rock band Samspel was at a concert by Spektakel who had HEINZ as the guitarist and EDE on drums. Next day Gerd went to the SpektakeJ xnusic stores and knocked out both Heinz and Ede wiith his technical virtuosity. The trio of SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING from then on became a reality. 1 asked Heinz about his and SFF' s collective musical influences.

"My influences were the Beatles, Stones,Cream, Hendrix, Classics like Stravinski, Bruckner.The band's influences were Emerson Lake And Palmer,Yes,Kirr.g, Crimson, and Gentle Giant".

J.O'R:"Frank Zappa was due to produce "SYMPHONIC PICTURES",how did that come about?"

H.F:"A concert manager from Munich who organised the German—Rock— Meeting 1975, as well as the Frank Zappa tour told Zappa about SFF, and sent hirn a tape".

JO'R:"You put a lot of effort into the music SFF recorded ‚as to build your own studio.Where was this studio?" HF:"We didn't build our own studio.

We just lived together on an old farm in the Country, where we had a lot of space to work and to develop our music together".

JO'R:"Your hine up was very different to the average band (Keys, guitar/bass and Drums). Was that intentional?"

HF:"At first we worked with a fourth musician— a bass player.But at the end he couldn't follow our musical ideas and developement. But we were so busy with our music that we had no time looking for another bass player. That's because 1 built this guitar/bass combination(Gibson Les Paul/Rickenbracker Bass). Now 1 could do both jobs. When 1 had to play guitar or mellotron it was Gerd who did the Bass part on Mmi Moog or Honer Basset. We had two mellotrons to realise the Orchestral sound".

JO'R:"The music on "SYMPHONIC PICTURES" is very experimental. How were the pieces written, and how hong did lt take to record?"

HF:"Most of the pieces were written by Ede,Gerd and me, We did part after part together like a puzzle. The recording took one week. We didn't need any overdubs, we did it in one take','

JO'R:"Was "SYMPHONIC PICTURES" very successful sales wise?"

HF:"About 12,000 copies"

JO'R:"Did Hartwig Bierechel (NOVALIS drummer and Metronome Record A&R Manager) sign you to Brain Records".

HF: "Yes"

JO'R:"SUNBURST" was a very different album musically. lt was very distinctive and full of life. lt was also more jazzy, was that a reflection of where the group was going musically?"

HF:"I was very influenced by the Mahavishnu Orchestra who came up at that time. We did a lot of improvisations. For this record we took a Bass player. So we coul& concentrate on our improvisationparts. The Bass player (Eduard Brumond—Ruther) was known as and still is a very good jazz—musician."

JO'R:"EXPLORER" is rnay favourite track on "SUNBURST". How did that oiece come to be written?"

HF:"I fiirst had the Bass—line then 1 found the theme. Later 1 realised that lt reminds of Emma Peel and John Steed's TV music ("The Avengers"). Gerd found the nice echo—effects and Ede played the distinctive drum parts."

JO'R:"Did SFF prefer playing live or working in the studio?"

HF:"The atmosphere of our live gigs was so distinctive and intensive. Each of our concerts was a kind of adventure for us."

JO'R:"Did you enjoy playing at the BRAIN FESTIVAL in Essen in 1978?, Was SFF's set recorded and is there a chance lt will be released as an album?"

HF:"It was great but we enjoyed it not as much as any other of our gigs. All of our set was recorded but only "EPLORER"/"WIZZARD was released on the Brain Sampler. ("BRAIN FESTIVAL" double album ). Nowadays 1 don't even know if the tapes still exist(Metronome should have them!"

JO'R:"SFF had an orchestral sound. Were your musical influences from Gerrnan music(Synthesiser music) or British Progressive Rock?"

HF:"British Progressive Rock."

JO'R:"The full colour sleeve for "SUNBURST" was designed by who?"

HF:"It's an original Nasa—photo?"

JO'R:"You and Gerd recorded "AMMERLAND". Was SFF still together as a group then?"

HF: "Yes"

JO'R:"TICKET TO EVERYWHERE" was SFF's last album. lt was the most instantly commercial sounding album you made. Was the material written with a view to extending your audience?"

HF:"It's influenced by Alan Parsons Project who came up at that Tine, We did it more as a studio project than as a live band'.'

JO'R: "OPEN DOORS" and "SONG FROM INDIA" and "HERE AND NOW" are my favourite tracks from "TICKET TO EVERYWHERE". How did these pieces get to be written? What was the inspiration?"

HF:"The idea was to creat tracks with an orchestral sound with rnore rock grooves than before. 1 took typical elements of music from Spain,India and folk in general and put it together as poprock tracks."

JO'R:"Did FUHRS & FROHLING ever play live or were they a studio and recording band only?"

I-IF:"We did many live gigs, like German tours with Kläus Schulze and Novalis and many club gigs all alone'

JO'R:"Will "AMMERLAND", "STRINGS" and "DIARY" be released again?"

HF:"ANMERLAND" is already released"

JO'R:"How did Gerd Fuhrs die? Was lt an accident?"

HF:"It was an accident by car. Nobody knows exactly how it happened

JO'R:"Are you still in contact with Ede Schicke?"

HF:"We play tennis every week."

JO'R:"Were you happy to see THE COLLECTED WORKS OF SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING" being released?"

HF:"More than happy'!

JO'R:"How did the "COLLECTED WORKS" come to be released?"

HF:"It was Ken Golden from the Laser's Edge, some people from Metronome and me and my wife Claudia who prepared this release for about one year.

JO'R:"Do you think SFF were ahead of their time?"

HF: "Yes."

JO'R:"Are there any more SFF live recordings made?"

HF: "No."

JO'R:"Finally did you think SFF were known outside Germany or did you only play live in Germany?"

HF:"We only played in Germany,but 1 always knew about our fans outside of Germany— like Japan,USA,Ireland,England,Belgium ... lt makes me very happy and proud."

The music of SFF has all the hallmarks of Classic German rock music,the style the thought and the command of their craft. They played with great sincerity and feeling and whether its the experitnental strains of "SYMPHONIC PICTURES", the jazzy fusions on "SUNBURST" or the Euro/Worldbeat elements of "TICKET TO EVERYWHERE" the mark of quality is ever present. "AMMERLAND" the only FUHRS & FROHLING album presently available has an ambience that captures the quieter moments of their electic genious.It puts the new agers to shame as cut in 1978 is still retains its melodic power and beauty.

Since 1978 1 have been haunted and fascinated by the music of SFF. With "EXPLORER" from "SUNBURST" as my initial exposition to their collective prowess "THE COLLECTED WORKS OF SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING" has been a source of delight. Their power and grasp of dynamics put them up there with the major 70's progressive giants. They were probably Germany`s bestkept secret but now the secret``s out and the fruits are there for a new audience to enjoy.


Special thanks to HEINZ FRÖHLING for answering the questions and HEINZ GEORG DRENZLER and ULLA HOPPE of Metronome Musik GMBH International Exploitation Department. Hamburg Germany for their help.

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