Sunday, 26 April 2015

An Interview With ... Bruder Cle

An Interview with ... BRUDER CLE 
Who's this then, Nazgul?  Bruder Cle is one of Hugin's friends from the early days of Hrossharsgrani and Uruk Hai, and is thus uniquely placed to comment upon the man and his music.

Who is Bruder Cle?

 A quick search on Google will reveal all manner of interesting photographs, magazine interviews and eulogies, many highly entertaining!  One thread - which you can find if you delve into the Internet, describes Bruder Cle as "the coolest man in the world" and amidst the inevitable debate and abuse that this statement causes we learn that Bruder Cle 'drinks Radeberger, Aventinus, Dab, Julius Echter, Warsteiner Dunkel, and Dinkel-Acker; he eats rueladen, sacher-torte, rindfleisch mit apfel, robber-steak, and Schwabisches stewed-fruit' and that 'He haunts the terrifying forests of Thuringia and the Harz Mountains.'  Sounds like quite a guy!

For most of us Huginophiles, though, the name will resonate because of numerous appearances on the credit list of early Hrossharsgrani and Uruk Hai releases in the 1999-2003 period.  As a collector of Hugin's material for many, many years it's a name I recall seeing time and time again, always being remembered and honoured in the "Hails to" list on Hugin's latest demo.  Yet until recently - and it's rather odd this, given Nazgul's natural curiosity - the thought of having a chat with the man never really crossed my mind.

To illustrate the point, here are a few of Hugin's early releases - respectively; "Ancient Tales" (tape), "Sagen & Gedichte" (CDr), "Gone With The Wind" (CDr) and "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten (CDr)" - for you to play 'spot the Bruder Cle' with... 

And then the catalyst - Hugin had mentioned that Bruder Cle had written a book ("Höllenkreis" - Circle of Hell) for which he had asked Hugin to compose a musical score.  The book - and the accompanying CD - are now imminent arrivals at Castle Nazgul and we'll examine both in the fullness of time.  The point here was that the discussion about Höllenkreis put Nazgul in contact with Bruder Cle, and an opportunity for the collection of anecdotes, stories and funny photographs about Hugin was far too good to miss!

But let's begin, if we may, with Hugin's own recollection of how the friendship came to exist:

"I met him first time in the late 90's as a result of a shared friend of ours, Karl from Napalm Records. Karl gave me his address because Bruder Cle wrote for German Ablaze Magazine in those days and I had sent him "Der Pfad Zum Tor Der Toten" for review.  He liked it and from that day on we were friends!  He always supported my music and in late 2013 (or was it early 2014?) he asked me to do a 'soundtrack' to his book Höllenkreis. I was deeply honoured that he asked me to do this because he knows so many musicians in the metal scene: he has been part of the Austrian scene since the very early days and he played/plays in bands like Angry Angels and Siegfried."

And so, honoured readers, with the scene now set and the ale flowing freely, let us meet Bruder Cle himself, starting with his recollection of the early days of meeting Hugin...

"Well, Alex and I we met where metal heads are meant to meet each other: in the front row of a Destruction show in 1999. We head-banged, talked, found out about our similar views about metal and music in general and we stayed in contact. This contact evolved from there and we wrote to each other regularly, phoned even more often and visited each other. I can remember, when Alex visited me in Innsbruck and we had an extremely cool weekend with metal, beer and great self-cooked meals (the beer drinking was definitely on my side!). We both enjoy good food and cooking, so we cooked a typical Austrian dish: Schweinsbraten mit Knödel - a pork roast with dumplings. I remember that Alex made the dumplings (which can be a bit tricky) and he made them perfectly. It is definitely slow food because it takes hours to prepare everything."

At this juncture Hugin intervened, recalling that the Schweinsbraten mit Knöde day became known as "Doom Food Day", and culminated with a double-screening of Kill Bill 1 and 2!

Bruder Cle continues: "At that time we also started both of our active music careers and became fans of each others work. I loved his work with Hrossharsgrani, Elisabetha, Uruk-Hai and all his other projects and he liked what I did with Siegfried and Angry Angels at that time.

What can I say - we both shared the same humour, liked the same music and food. So we were friends instantly. I always admired his creativity and always wondered how fast he came up with new ideas and projects. He is the living antithesis of Def Leppard, ha ha ;) !  His fast way to work on his projects has certain effects that reflect in his music: his compositions always sound inspired by the creative moment in which he creates them. He does not stay too long with one idea or theme. You can feel that spontaneity and inspiration in all his works. Maybe the best example is the soundtrack to my book - he wrote it within days (!) only. But if you listen to it, the compositions are round and well composed. All the arrangements are in place and to me it is almost incredible how someone can come up with such high-quality compositions in such a short time. He is simply amazing.

The biggest difference between now and then is simply down to age - we all grow as personalities and the view towards life changes quite a lot. I've known Alex as a music fanatic all my life but now it is less the aspect of hunting for collectibles and music and more about the creative side and also publishing music of other artists.

The contact via Ablaze was also around that time. I was writing for that mag for a couple of years and joined Peter Schramm for issue 2. After the end of Ablaze I was writing for Rock Hard for another 10 years and now I write for Deaf Forever. I also write for Darkscene (online) mag and 'That's Metal' Mag. Before all this I issued my own mag called Paternoster and wrote for a local metal mag called Alpenfreak. So basically my writing career started in the late 80's and continues up to now. I am a metal fan though since 1979 and was a tape trader for many years, starting from around 1985 up to the mid-90's.

My other activities included being the singer and founder of the bands Siegfried and Angry Angels. With Siegfried we signed a deal with Napalm Records and issued three albums (Drachenherz, Eisenwinter, Nibelung). The lyrical content was dealing mainly with local legends and - as the name indicates - the song of the Nibelungs [Nazgul's note: 'Nibelungs' was the name given to northern dwarfs whose king had once possessed a great treasure of gold and precious stones but had lost it. Whoever got possession of this treasure was followed by a curse. The 'Nibelungenlied' tells the adventures of those who possessed the treasure].

We had three singers (clear male, dark male = me, female vox) and played a kind of epic metal. Angry Angels released two demos and were more of  a traditional metal outfit - true metal with thrash metal influences. We toured a lot in the day with bands like Jaguar, Goddess of Desire, Majesty, Wizard through Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and Italy and played quite a few festivals. A record deal was signed with Undercover records but due to financial reasons the album never materialized.  Both bands are inactive right now due to a lack of time of some members. I also was owner of a heavy metal bar in Innsbruck for several years (aside to my regular job as a bank clerk) and for a couple of years I have been the president of an organisation called Alpine Steel, which does mainly metal shows in our area."

It seemed a timely moment to understand a little more about Bruder Cle's own musical tastes and habits:

"Mainly I am not a collector but a lover of hard rock and heavy metal music. Of course after all those decades of tape-trading, buying records etc. I own quite a considerable collection of CDs, vinyl, tapes, books, shirts....everything metal fans normally hold dear. I listen to everything from AOR to black and death metal. Regarding any embarrassing audio-skeletons in my closet ... I don't really have any!  Items that you might thing unusual include a few (really, only a few!) CDs out of the ordinary like diverse soundtracks (Dracula, Conan, Last of the Mohicans....) and a few pieces of electronic music like Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and also a few industrial/ambient-pieces like MZ 412, Archon Satani, In Slaughter Natives, etc.

I have a few 'normal' rock bands of the 70's and 80's in my collection like Alan Parsons Project, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner and those sorts of thing, but all in all maybe only 50 CD's that don't fall under Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. I know Alex has quite a few "unusual" pieces for a metal fan and musician, but hey, in the end it is just music and if somebody enjoys a wider variety of music: fine with me.

When it comes to rarities - of course there are numerous CDs and LPs that are quite rare. I own quite a few rare records of Mercyful Fate, Burzum, Mayhem, Slayer etc etc. and a lot of stuff from smaller bands, that are extremely rare or even unique. But I own them because they were given to me by the band itself or because I bought it when it was released. Many records came out in limited editions of 100 copies or less and I own many of these editions. But I would never collect a piece of vinyl or a CD just because it is rare. In many cases I even prefer later editions which contain bonus tracks, liner notes, rare photos etc. than original editions with only a small booklet or just a sheet like those Pricekillers CD's e.g. from the late 80's I am an metal archaeologist at best, ha ha!" 

Bruder Cle on stage with the Angry Angels at the Wögel Club, Koma, back in the early 2000's

Nazgul asked Bruder Cle about the relative lack of online coverage of Hugin's work:

"I think that Alex's music was never really meant for the mainstream underground (if such a thing exists). There are a number of reasons why you would not find many reviews of his music, especially his earlier works: His distribution net evolved throughout the years and was not so vast in the beginning. He traded many releases and the sheer number of projects and releases who were issued in very limited editions add to that scarcity as well. He also was never a man who looked back or rested at all. Sometimes I have the impression that his thoughts are always with his next project and his head is always full of fresh ideas and inspirations, so he did not spend too much time promoting his releases."

And what of the modern day music scene, of MP3-this and download-that?
"Back in the day when you were younger, everything was more challenging and more exciting, but that has to do with the nature of youth - your teenage years and your first musical love will always stick with you in one way or another. I remember a time even before a hard rock or the metal press even existed. You had to go to the record store to find out if, for example, a new Manowar album was out. You could not read about that anywhere.

Later in my tape-trading days it was so exciting to read fanzines or flyers, put a few dollars in an envelope along with 1-2 International Reply Coupons and wait for the package to arrive. The excitement when the parcels arrived was great!  It was so much fun and with trembling hands you opened it and put the music on. Just great! You can't get that feeling now anymore. People trade whole MP3 collections, just gigabytes of music. Only a few people buy CDs or vinyl anymore. This is pretty sad, especially since musicians don't get paid anymore for their art.

It became much cheaper to produce and publish music over the years but since most music is available as a free (mostly illegal) download no one wants to pay for music (or films) any more. As a musician you only have the chance to see your art as a hobby. I expect that more and more professional musicians will give the MP3 version of their albums away for free as a kind of advertising for their live concerts, merchandise or limited 'fan editions' that generates a bit of money. But making a living is very difficult these days. I know bands that manage to do it, but there are only few.

On the other hand, MP3 and downloads are sometimes the ONLY was for some fans to get hold of music they can't simply buy in a shop or can never afford to own. I am talking about countries in the Middle-East or Africa where it is impossible for fans out of political or economical reasons to buy stuff."

Sobering but fair thoughts.  It's surprising really how many visitors to Honour and Darkness come from Africa and the Middle-East, actually, but let's get back to Hugin's work:

"My favourite releases from Alex are maybe Uruk Hai "Black Blood, White Hand", all the early Hrossharsgrani-stuff and of course the soundtrack to Höllenkreis, which he wrote for my book.  My all time favourite releases would probably be:

  • Mercyful Fate - everything from the early days 
  • Sortilege "Sortilege"  
  • Venom "Black Metal" 
  • Possessed "Seven Churches"  
  • Manowar "Hail To England" 
  • Manilla Road "Mystification" 
but many more of course....!"
And of course we couldn't carry on without reference back to this new book that's in the offing...
"When I chose the stories for Höllenkreis out of my story collection, I picked the most horrible and gory and bloody ones!  I wanted to publish a real brutal book of blood. They are all inspired by Clive Barker, Marquis De Sade and HP Lovecraft.  It is definitely not stuff for the faint-hearted - it is dirty, gory and very disturbing stuff...."

Well, we'll enjoy a read of that in due course, and Nazgul will put some thoughts up about the book and Hugin's soundtrack to it in a future post.

Let Bruder Cle have the final words then, both to you - the honoured readership of Nazgul's Blog, and to Hugin himself:

"To all fans of Alex - keep supporting this great artistic soul!  And to Alex: keep up the good work, my friend!  Valhalla!"

Hails and thanks to Bruder Cle - definitely one of the good guys!

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