Thijs van Leer talking to Chris Welch about the FOCUS album "Hamburger Concerto"
"One afternoon in London, Jan and I went to a lute music shop and Jan found some work by an old Belgian composer from Antwerp. The next day Jan played it in the studio on his lute and I played the recorder along the same notes and lines. It came out beautifully."
"Then, there's a boogie called 'Harem Scarem', a thing I wrote in Belgium, where I have just moved to live. It's the first piece I have written there - just a piece of fast rock. And then there is 'La Cathedrale De Strabourg', which is a piece of nostalgia for past holidays in caravans and tents, near Strasbourg Cathedral which had a special sound to its bells. The piece is a kind of impressionistic thing with French lyrics. That's all my material. And from Jan comes a number called 'Birth' and that starts in a primitive fashion. The whole thing is designed to shock - with a very heavy beat."
"There are a lot of influences in the 'Hamburger Concerto'. Spanish, and a little Chinese and Gregorian. We try to produce a completely international music. We like Chinese music, we listen to it and buy the records. We are not Chinese of course, but why not involve it? As a matter of fact, we listen to rock music the least. In fact 'Harem Scarem' is a kind of parody on boogie, y'know? It's like 'Hocus Pocus' was meant to be fun."
"Hamburger Concerto has Dutch lyrics and the quintessence of what the story is - how could Herod do what he did whilst in the light of Jesus. In other words, how could evil exist! It is based upon a very old Christmas song, but the main theme is Jan's."
We really consider this album is our first proper work. We're all glad and pleased with it. It has strength and purpose. On past albums there wasn't enough time, and of course that was our fault. We'd say, 'hey that sounds nice' and we just didn't think of making more sound layers.
|This is an extract from a longer interview with Thijs van Leer that was printed in the program for the FOCUS Hamburger Concerto tour of the UK during 1974.|
Interview kindly sent by Timothy Baugh