To the outsider, it seemed Fair Warning were on a roll in recent years, with both Japanese and European deals in place, plus some successful recordings behind you. At what point did it seem there was some unhappiness within the band?
We started out in 1990 as a five piece band. In 1995 Andy became seriously ill and it took him more than two years to recover. During that time Andy didn't have much input in FW.
Even after Andy got better, his interest in FW seemed to have ceased. After the recordings for "Go", the original drummer CC left. In 1997 we toured to promote the "Go" album. Due to his physical condition Andy could not play all of the set and we had a guest guitarist (Henny Wolter).
Most of the set was played by Henny and Andy joined for the last three songs of the concerts. On top of this we had a new drummer (Phillippe Candas) who, even though being a great drummer, proved to be not the perfect match for FW because of personal animosities after a second tour in 1998. With this line up we recorded the live part of "Live And More".
While recording the "More" part of "Live And More", in fact already during the recordings of "Go" and for the recordings of "Four", FW had minimised to a three piece band (Tommy, Ule and me). The tour for "Four" saw yet another line-up.
By then Andy had left for good and we played with another guest guitarist (Kai Reuter) and yet again with another drummer (Zacky).
Having lost the original "Family" feeling over the years was something which Tommy didn't like at all.
My personal view was different from Tommy's because we kept on making good records, even with a reduced line-up.
For Tommy it is a definite necessity to have a strong band feeling on the personal level as well. This fact we could understand but obviously underestimated it.
Another weak point of FW was touring in Europe. With the exception of the very first tour our management had big difficulties to get the right tours for us.
The discrepancy of success in Japan and in Europe increased over the years.
There was major success in Japan with two gold selling disks and in Europe we were stuck being on tour as opener for Giant, Jimmy Barns, Saga, Blue Oyster Cult and CCR.
Further, musical taste seemed to drift apart. While Tommy got more interested in what I would call "basic rock 'n' roll", Ule got more interested in pop oriented music. When you listen to Tommy's "Soul Doctor" debut and to "Dreamtide's" debut, the differences in taste become quite obvious.
Ok, considering that, was departure then of singer Tommy surprise you all? For all these reasons I was not very surprised when Tommy told us about his intention to leave FW.
Was there any possibility of continuing the Fair Warning band name with a new singer? Why did you decide not to?
After Tommy left in summer of 2000, all that was left of FW was Ule and me. Ule said he wanted to have a break from music. In this situation it was clear to me immediately that the time had come to start something new. For me it didn't feel appropriate to continue with the name of FW because Tommy was gone and Ule who wrote most of the songs didn't want to go on.
Dreamtide is of course, the new band. Where did the name come from? Well, imagine you have five persons in a room trying to find a band name. You have a suggestion, 30 seconds of silence and after these 30 seconds, 30 million reasons why to not take the suggestion.
Finding a name was quite a task. We were really brilliant in finding silly names like "Eat Willy" (think about it), "Hamsters From Outer Space", "German Herman", "Last Exit To Stardom" and so on. I skipped the nasty German ones here!!
After a lot of discussion it became clear that dreams sometimes do the same things as music does. Dreams, as well as music, inspire people. So the more dreams the better. A flood or high tide of dreams. Dreamtide made sense to us. I knew that it is an non-existing word and because I am not a native English speaker I checked with several English natives:).
All of them seemed to like the name and it seemed to make sense to them as well. That was how the name Dreamtide was born.
And new singer Olaf is a sensation!! Where did you find him and how did he
get to know you?
My first goal was to find a singer. When writing songs and recording demos, songs are sung by me. Well, I was not only looking for a singer who could simply sing my songs. I was looking for a singer who could add something to the songs and could color the songs with his style of singing. I contacted several singers and listened to a lot of demos.
Someday an acquaintance of mine told me of a singer called Olaf Senkbeil. I had never heard of him before, but called him.
Now something funny happened. Even though we never met or talked before, we had a quite long telephone conversation. Of course we were talking about music. At a certain point we were talking about a singer or band (I don't remember exactly) and Olaf said: "I like this because they have good melodies and still have the power of rock". I thought: "oops, this sentence you could have said yourself." So I sent Olaf a demo of my songs and the day after he called me to tell me that he really likes it. Again two days later he came to my place and we recorded a song. This song was "Dreamers" and most of what you can hear on the record was recorded that day. Later when we were working on the record we often had funny situations where we found out that we share the same taste in many respects.
At one of this occasions we were talking about "old bands". By the point we came to "Deep Purple" the following conversation took place:
Helge: "Do you know what my favourite Deep Purple song is?"
Olaf : "Hmm, let me guess"
Helge: "No, you never will guess. It's a quite unknown song from a quite
At that point Olaf started singing: "Sometimes I fight here with my fists....." Nobody could ever be more surprised than I was at this moment. I didn't hum the melody, I didn't say the title of the song, I didn't name the record and still Olaf sang the song I meant. The song is "Wild Dogs" from "Last Concert In Japan" sung by Tommy Bolin.
The more songs we recorded, the bigger was my surprise that I found the singer I had been looking for: Someone who adds a lot to the songs.
What is his background? Olaf used to sing in a band called "Jack's Hammer" and did a lot of studio work.
I found his voice very smooth and certainly a great fit for your musical style....was that your intention?
When you are looking for a singer, intentions are not worth much. All I can say is that finding Olaf was far beyond my expectations. He was simply the perfect match. His singing fits to my songs as "arse on bucket" as we say in German.
Were there any others that you considered for the vocalist position? I listened to some demos. I talked to some singers on the phone. But Olaf was head and shoulders above the other ones.
How long did it take to write and record the debut Dreamtide record? I started writing and working on the songs in September of 2000.
In March of 2001 I started to look for musicians for the band and we started recordings in the end of April. The mixing and mastering was finished by the 12th of August.
Do you think that with the departure of Tommy, you have better musical control over this project, or did the rest of the band still have input?
At a certain point, while writing songs, I realised that this new situation could add something to my creativity. I was free from chains and never had to think of things like "how would the other band-members think of this or that". This lead to some influences which I hadn't have before. I was enjoying this.
Later when we actually recorded the songs there was a lot of input from all the others. From helping in recording and mixing to forcing me changing arrangements. For example I was using a sampled vocal choir in the middle-part
of "Moment Of Truth", which I quite liked. When Torsten heard this part he said:
"well, nice part but forget about this sound, this has to be sung".
The advantage of knowing each other for a long time is, you don't hesitate to
criticise. After all we replaced this part by our vocals and the help of a
female singer. The part got much better. Torsten was right.
Another example, in the middle of the song "Dreamers" I had a drumfill which I sampled from a Jimi Hendrix CD. CC heard this and said: "Oh, come on this is really odd. Let me do it." I was quite proud of the idea of having something
strange for this drum fill and I was not easy to convince. But CC's idea was to record this part with just one microphone for all of the drumset to create a special atmosphere and after he played it I had to admit that his idea was the better one.
These are just two minor examples, but the band really added a lot.
It certainly rocks like Fair Warning, but I have to say that I enjoyed it
more than some of those Fair Warning albums!!
Thank you. Give me more! In FW we sometimes had songs which were somewhat too
light for my personal taste. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed playing these songs
but still...I think in Dreamtide we skipped the too light vein.
Could you use your own words to describe the band's sound and style? The idea is to combine European based melody with the energy of hard rock and
interesting influences and sounds..........Well, that was the plan. But while
recording and working on the songs it was more like the songs taking over
command and talking to us. Almost like permanently saying: "Give me something
Despite a common theme, there is also a lot of diversity in the songs isn't there? Is that a reflection of your personal tastes?
Maybe. I like it colourful. I like to have various influences combined with rock, like the surf guitar in "Your life", the ethnic influences in "Sundance" or the sound of an orchestra in "Heaven knows"
I can hear some Queen, some Scorpions, Fair Warning obviously, some new instrumental influences, some blues and some ballads....
Oops, where did you find the blues? I consider myself the probably worst blues player on this planet. Even though I love listening to B.B. King or Stevie Ray Vaughn. The blues must come from the other guys.
Queen I liked a lot and growing up in Hanover/Germany there is no way of not being influenced by the Scorpions.
What would you say your favourite tracks are and why? For me it is too early to say. I might have an answer in five years from now.
Now it still changes one day I think a certain track is the strongest one and then the next day it's another one.
And what is next for Dreamtide? What is the band's masterplan? Right now we are having daily meetings to pray for 6 or 7 hours for the success of the album. No, but seriously, we are trying to set up some touring for spring of 2001. There are no fixed dates yet but as it looks now, we will tour in Europe and Japan.
On a side note - what are your favourite bands/artists over the years? The very first big impression I had concerning rock was Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love", later Yes, Rainbow, 70's and 80's Scorpions, Eagles, Journey, AC/DC, some classical pieces.
And what are you listening to these days? The latest records I bought were Train, Melissa Etheridge, Rammstein.
Anything you would like to add to anyone reading and your fans? If you have the chance to check out the album: listen and give it a chance.