3SONGSBONN managed to grab a few words from rising German Blues star Henrik Freischlader before his concert recently at the Harmonie in Bonn.
A lots happened since I saw you play here last year. Most of it good but some of it bad. I’m referring of course to Gary Moore’s tragic death. What are your thoughts on that.
Yes of course. I’m deeply sad because he was my first guitar hero. He brought me into blues music and on the path of music generally. I picked up the guitar when I was fourteen after hearing Gary play the song ‘Cold Day In Hell’ from ‘After Hours’ and that was my initiation into Blues and into guitar music. It’s very sad because he was almost like a family member to me.
Did you meet him?
I met him in Germany in fact, in a small town called Mosbach (July 2009). We played support and after the show I had a chance to meet him backstage. We talked for about one and a half hours and it was like all my dreams had come true.
Gary Moore is a hero of yours. I’m a generation older and had Rory and Eric Clapton as contemporary heroes. Who will be the heroes for the next generation of Blues fan? Apart from yourself of course?
(laughs) Oh, I would never say this! I’m a big fan of Joe Bonamassa, and Derek Trucks I love very much, wonderful, the best slide guitar player in the world.
Your hero being Gary Moore and your also having supported BB King, how do you compare the two, as musicians and people?
Oh, that’s a tough one! We met BB King in Hamburg when we opened up for him and we had the chance to meet him backstage, and he was talking and we were just listening. He’s such a strong personality that tells stories and you can’t say anything, you are so busy listening. He’s the King of the Blues and he really just brings kind of the whole Blues History to you. As a young player, for me, Gary Moore was the bridge from Blues to Rock and made it more useful for a younger generation of musicians like me. He was a very quiet personality but also very strong. You can’t imagine!
Good news now though, and you have a new CD out called ‘StillFrame Replay’
Yes, the new record is also Blues based. I worked with Martin Meinschäfer again in the studio.
And you play everything again?
Almost. I played drums and bass for almost every track except for one where my live band played. Theofilos Fotiadis on Bass, and Björn Krüger on drums. I didn’t play organ this time. Through time pressure? No, it was just that I’m not good at playing organ. I can play chords and hear what I want to play but I’m not really good at playing organ. Drums and bass are another thing!
It’s not all Blues by any means your new CD. It’s more varied than the last. Would you agree?
Maybe it combines more musical genres but it’s also Blues based I think.
My favourite track is ‘Whats My Name’ (Henrik laughs) which is almost rap music. I read somewhere that you play Snoop Dogg a lot on the Tour bus. Maybe that’s started to rub off on your own music? Or maybe it was a conscious decision to aim for a younger market?
No, I’m a big Snoop Doggy Dog fan. I listened to Hip Hop when I was younger. And hip hop that combines soul and funk and The Meters band you know, their grooves. I think it’s a good way to put the Blues to a younger Generation.
So the blues has to develop to survive?
In some way of course, but it should be in a way that maybe youngsters can hear a song like ‘Whats my Name’ and they hear the groove at the same time as they smile to the “Whats my M****her F***ing Name” line.
And the youngsters will also pick up on the CD through Joe Bonamassa’s presence. He is heavily advertised as appearing on it. How did he come to be onboard?
Well, we met in I think 2005 at a Festival and I got the chance to talk to him after the show and he helped a lot for me in Germany. Supporting him brought me to a bigger audience and gave me the chance to develop my own musical career. So we stayed in contact.
I wanted to ask about your musical influences and someone I hear in your vocals is Elvis Costello. Is that an accident?
You don’t mean Sean Costello?
No, but I guess that answered my question!
Well I have listened to Elvis Costello but not so much – so it might be an accident! (laughs)
If not Elvis Costello, then who has influenced you vocally?
First of all Gary Moore once again. Also the older jazz and blues singers like Etta James.
Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer I like very much.
Aside from Gary of course your guitar influence is Jimi Hendrix, and you’re playing a new Hendrix cover on this tour I hear?
Yes, we will be doing ‘Crosstown Traffic’ this time. With a Fender of course? Of course!
I ask because Joe Bonamassa is famed for switching guitar for every song. Does it have to be a 59 Strat for one song and a 64 Strat for another?
Not to that extent! But some songs need a Fender Stratocaster and others need an old Gibson.
What’s happening in Britain? When does the Tour start?!
Oh! (laughs) we had a gig there in December but unfortunately it was cancelled because of weather conditions. It was to be a small club gig in the Half Moon (Herne Hill in London)
But now we are looking to go on tour there in September. Two festivals including Maryport that’s a big thing for us. Two shows in London and maybe move up to Scotland for some weeks.
Any expectancies about England as a place to tour? How will the audience react to a German Blues musician?
I really don’t know. I’m very curious about it.
Your accent is good when you sing in English. Have you thought about singing in German?
In England! (Laughs) I don’t think so.
– Interview with Henfrik Freischlader at The Harmonie in Bonn, Germany
March 20 2011
By John Hurd