1952 - 2011
Henrik is a self-taught musician, a multi-instrumentalist, and a composer. He loves the Blues. Motivated by Gary Moore, he made the guitar his main instrument... - as you can read on his website. Of course he is much more than that. A very talented and open-minded musician, who started his career by playing the blues, adding other influences from jazz, funk and soul, and now he is on his way to a rockier direction - as you can already hear it on the most recent Henrik Freischlader Band album, "House In The Woods". The band has been touring with new songs since last autumn and has already played more than 50 concerts in a tight schedule, so we took the opportunity to ask Henrik some questions, during a short break before the second leg of the tour, with another 20 gigs in the UK and continental Europe. Did I forget to mention that he is a great guy with lots of love and humour, and also a member of our fan community from the early days? LOTS of reasons why you should really check out his music.
Most musicians consider their most recent album the most "mature". Do you feel like this about "House In The Woods" (2012) or is it a step into a fluent, already settled musical direction? What have been the biggest changes about the songs over the years since "The Blues" (2006)?
Yes, there’s really some truth in that. The most recent CD always gets the most attention at first. In the long run, every album is part of the process of one’s musical development, which probably never ends. So you have to expect changes to happen. The clearest cut after my debut album was definitely "Recorded by Martin Meinschäfer" in my opinion – according to the fans, it was "Still Frame Replay".
For years, you have been releasing your records on your own label. Are the reasons for this business-related or does a certain album feel much more like yours this way? Or didn't you find a label with appropriate conditions?
A larger label can hardly take into account the specific peculiarities of its artists, especially not those of its less familiar artists. It wants/has to make a profit. So I often felt a bit lost. Of course, there are also communication difficulties between the commercial side and the art itself. A family business is simply freer and can afford to always focus on the art – given that labor costs stay within reason. And, of course – and you’re absolutely right with that – I have a much more intense relationship with those records that are released on my own label.
You played all the instruments yourself, for example, on the album "Recorded by Martin Meinschäfer" (2007). Was it more comfortable this way, or did it have any other reasons?
That was an old dream – and I'm happy that it immediately worked out with the first CD on my own label. I had already done that when I was 16 years old – back then, under very adverse circumstances and with very limited equipment. Since then, I hadn't been able to get this thought out of my head; I really wanted to do this! If the guys in my band weren’t that great, and if we didn't have such an honest relationship with each other, there’s a chance that I would have never abandoned that procedure.
How did you get to know your band members? I could read, see and hear that you are like a family, but how did you get together? Was it a criterion that you only wanted to play your blues only with self-taught musicians? Only say one word or expression about each of them.
Björn: straight, Theo: groove, Mo: smooth. That really happened naturally. Theo played as a backup once, Mo I met during the recordings for 5Live, and Björn – even though we’re from the same small city – I got to know after Theo had recommended him to me. This is how we’ve become very close over the years. It would then be a coincidence that all of us are self-taught musicians – if there is anything like a coincidence. :-)
Withou any doubt, you are a pretty amazing talent in the new generation of blues. But have you ever played in any other style? Or has the blues been beating in your heart from being born? :-)
I would guess so. I just didn’t know it until Gary Moore opened that door for me through “Cold Day in Hell”. After that, everything was clear to me. Still, I’m open-minded towards all styles of music :-) – which is, of course, easy if you have found your place. Soul, funk, jazz, old-school blues – they’re all in my nature, or I’m drawn to them, and every once in a while, it’s always tempting to blend a few of them.
Do you have any method or habit about writing songs? How does it work for you? Do you have the lyrics first, or the music? Or do the two come together? What are the things that move you to write a song about? I mean, for example the slower songs are mainly songs about relationships. Have you noticed, or have you got any "kind of favourite", central topic?
The focus is always on the music. Such a song is created through the ideas of some exceptional riffs on the guitar. After that, the bass and the drums are arranged in the studio, and when the song keeps what the first ideas have promised, then, the lyrics are the very last part to be added, usually with a lot of time pressure. :-) So basically, I don’t choose a topic about which I want to write a song, but I let the music decide which topic it would like to have. :-)
Gary Moore – Dark Days In Paradise
Gary Moore – Back To The Blues
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall
Lucky Peterson – Double Dealin'
Keb' Mo' – The Door
What are your musical goals for the near future and in the long run?
If it was for me, it could go on like this. We love being on tour together, and I love recording new songs and albums in between. It would be great if we could afford touring a bit more in other countries.
Since your first album in 2006, you have released something yearly. Though "House In The Woods" is quite fresh (released in September 2012), can we, the audience, expect something to be released in 2013, too - in between the tour dates?
First, a new live album will be released, and for the end of the year, a new studio album is planned for release. In between, there may be a follow-up album with Layla Zoe...but these are only rough plans – maybe I’ll drift from these if necessary.
A bit of a selfish question but you were here with your band in Hungary for the first time in October 2012. How did you feel? What kind of concert experience was the show from your point of view?
The show on October 17 was the highlight of the entire tour. We were very surprised that so many people had come to the show, and the atmosphere during the show knocked us off our feet. You hardly ever get such an enthusiastic, honest feedback. We're usually very exhausted after a show and we don't stay at the merchandise stand for a very long time, but there were so many friendly people in Budapest, we had so many beautiful conversations, that we would have been happy to stay there till the next morning. We very much enjoyed that night and our subsequent off-day in your wonderful city and felt some wrench when we had to leave.
Thank you very much, and I'm really very, very much and excitedly waiting for the next concert in Budapest in February!! :-)
My pleasure! So do we!!! :-)
Julcsi Herédi (January 2013)
"Breakout" - A38 Ship, Budapest - 17th October 2012
Concert photos: Márta Császár - www.kifra.hu
Don't forget to support Henrik Freischlader Band on the Crossroads Festival contest!