“I would love to be a guitarist in Iron Maiden”, Herman Frank’s career aspirations

And I booked the studio for four days said" I'm like, it might be a little short" it was finished after one hour. So, good boys. Saved money (laughing)....

Interview and Pictures by Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

One thing you can always rely on with a Herman Frank release is consistency. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! A phrase that Herman is happy to apply to his music. His latest solo album, ‘The Devil Rides Out’, his second with Rick Altzi, the Swedish born At Vance and Masterplan frontman, is the follow up to 2012’s “Right In The Guts”.

Complete with drummer Andre Hilgers (ex – Rage), there’s depth on the new songs thanks to Michael Muller’s (Jaded Heart) bass work as he adds to the thunderous mix that surrounds Frank’s wailing solos. With the icing on the cake being Altzi’s powerful pipes it’s with excitement that we await their set at London’s Underworld along with headliners Serious Black. It’s great bill but, as I put to Herman and Rick, it’s taken almost a year for them to come to the UK in support of the album;

HF: It’s not that easy to start a touring. I mean, Rick was doing a couple of things with Masterplan and then I had to find a tour… I mean, I wish I would have gone out earlier.

We got an option for supporting [former Accept colleague] U.D.O. but circumstances meant we didn’t do it. And that’s quite a little bit too expensive, so…..

Then you have to hit the right right singer [laughing he looks to Rick who is sat next to him enjoying a cold beer] and then AFM came up with the idea to do a package like this and we go the chance to be the special guest for all of it and I said “Okay let’s do it, let’s go all over Europe” and it’s a good chance for me too because the boys, we didn’t play together live, just in a studio just a little bit you know. So these are the first gigs ever and so we take this as a chance to form a little bit more of band and get hired for other shows.

I would have played in December [2016] right after the album came out but these days, it’s not that easy. Triple A bands, they are doing a lot of shows then the next double A bands and all others……and then you

AH: Yeah you find your space

HF: Slot schedules get a little bit less

AH: Aside from Rick, this is a fresh band for you as well isn’t it?

HF: yeah

AH: To be able to get on tour for you guys especially now, I imagine that’s quite, that’s enjoyable?

HF: I mean as special guest we get to play fifty minutes. {laughing he adds} If people show up, oh it’s cause of the special guest !

We just want to show the promoters and stuff like that, that it’s a band we are available to play.

AH: And is this band one that you are hoping will continue?

HF: I hope for sure. I mean Rick was, we had been talking about the second album,  we’d already done one album together. And then I was in except he was in Masterplan and so we didn’t find any time to do anything. because we didn’t get any schedules that worked. We had been talking for a year “Oh let’s do another album, we’ll sound great” stuff like that and people like it. And then I showed up in the show with Masterplan and they said “Hey Rick you should do another album” and I said “Yes, we should do” And then we started.

It was a pretty fast recording I mean, it didn’t take us that long a time

RA: You came over to Sweden and then stayed at my place or a small house a few kilometres from my place and yeah wrote songs and it was fine

HF: We do it in this way, we do it in that I prepare the demo songs then I sing my audios a little bit over there, do you know?

AH: Yeah

HF: Give him a cue what I’m thinking of and then I showed up in Sweden for ten days and we worked on the melodies and the arrangements and a little bit of this. And then I drove back, finished my guitars on a computer drums and played a little bit bass on it and stuff like that. And the I sent him the files and Rick then has the chance, as he has his own studio to record so he can record whenever he’s into it and not when he’s in a studio for seven days. It means he doesn’t have to push it

HF: [If the time in studio is booked] It has to be done in seven days. And that’s why we came out so well. So he gets the chance. Oh, on Monday, “Ow, I cant’ sing today” So he sings it on Tuesday

Then he sends back the files and we discuss it on phone. And I hang on the phone we have to get in time more changes or takes like this you know. And then he said “Ah, you’re fucking crazy”

RA: But it’s alright you make more take or change, I can get straight into it so like one two three four, one two, three four. 

HF: It’s a German band, what do you expect? (laughing) we still got the marching feeling

And then when we knew these songs should be recorded then I met with Andre and Mully. [Michael Muller]

Then we practised the songs before we enter the studio. And then the next set was Andre’s when we recorded the drums. And I booked the studio for four days said” I’m like, it might be a little short” it was finished after one hour. So, good boys. Saved money (laughing). That’s what I like! 

AH: That ability, Rick, can you just say coming into it when you felt the time was right and you were in the right frame in mind. Do you think that’s helped deliver a different album too compared to if you had just been stuck in the studio for let’s say three weeks or so?

NA: Yeah, of course, I mean, when the first album was done. I recorded some easy demo’s at home and then I went to his studio in Hanover. And we ended up..

HF: Drinking (laughing)

RA: We couldn’t really, nah, it wasn’t the right feeling I couldn’t, well, I mean, quiet, not “go one two. No we go, we go” so it was easier to yeah we went through the songs and then I went back home and recorded a bit slower like in two weeks or something.

HF: Yeah, When I found Rick, he had called a friend up in Canada, a friend of mine, and said “I want to sing on this one” Because he knew that I was looking for a singer.

So this friend called me up and then I said “Okay fine” so I send him two playbacks and one of this was ‘Falling to Pieces’. And he sends it back and we agreed to do this recording for the album.

And so I really trust Rick with what he’s doing back home. I mean we always discuss the end results or stuff like that. But he’s so good in recording and it’s like the same chemistry. So I really trust, the way he records and then he sends it back and I’ll say “wow” so we hadn’t a lot of stress you know. And if you have the possibility that a singer could do his own recording. It’s nice. And then as a producer or as a guitar player, composing can say ” oh do this, maybe do this one more time”

RA: But I’m not left all alone because when you come over to my place for ten days we go through the melodies, with the songs….

HF: It’s just reproducing it in the best way you can do and therefore you need give some people the space and the time when they feel they want to record.

RA: And we listen together

HF: That’s the reason why we spend it ten days for twelve songs or write new songs

NA: It’s easier

AH: Does this now give the two of you sort of a idea as to what will come in the future as well? Do you see this [the current band] being the future?

HF: I think I mean right after the tour I’ll go for the next album. And we’re ready for hitting my little studio and playing a couple of new tracks and stuff like that. I think we can just start right away working on the next one. 

If there’s a chance or if we get lucky or if we can make it, we might release it in May so we can hit some festivals for next year

AH: Scheduling wise for the two of you, not a problem?

HF: That’s what we want to discuss (laughing) we had to discuss this very thing….

NA: No so far no problem

HF: Everybody is doing his best

NA: Yeah. So far no problem this year and Masterplan almost played nothing because it was three, four years ago, oh four years ago since we released the last album so this was the year with six seven festivals so for me it was quite easy. But we will see next year

HF: I’m not in Kiss and he’s not in Bon Jovi so we might find some time [laughs], maybe Rick should go for for the Scorpions or Whitesnake. I don’t know

AH: Sir David’s gonna retire at some point

HF: Yeah but, No no, you can’t replace David, sorry Rick (laughing) the voice is quite the same but you can’t replace him.

AH: On that point, just as an aside then, if you had to replace somebody in a band, if you were to play or sing in another band, who would you choose?

HF: If I could play….?

AH: Any band. Who would you wanna play with?

HF: (laughing) Deep Purple? You can’t argue about this but I haven’t thought about this thing. One guitar player. I would love to be one guitar player for Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden.

These are my faves you know.

AH: That’s fair enough

HF: I mean I grew up with their music. So I would if could… 

Herman then breaks into song and starts singing Two minutes to midnight

HF: Run to the hills, [getting into the spirit of it] oh goosebumps…. 

AH: That’s very true. What about you Rick?

RA: I must be happy

AH: you’re not allowed Whitesnake you know that.

RA: Happy that you choose Deep Purple but then I thought I would like to be in Deep Purple, so then we would be in the same band again. It was a good thing you chose first. 

HF: It might be good to you too?

RA: No no no it’s good that you choose Iron Maiden in the end because then I’m not going to be, I’m not a big Iron Maiden fan actually. But yeah a lot of good songs but it’s not my thing. 

AH: But if you’re the singer in Deep Purple, you’re replacing Ian Gillan they’ll be covered.

RA: I saw them last year and they’re still great, they were great shows. 

AH: They are playing their farewell tours this year as well

HF: You have to hurry up. I only saw them once

AH: Yeah they’re playing, they’re certainly coming over to London at the end of this year. 

HF: Call Ian up, “Hey Ian, if you listen to this please let me give me a chance to see the show” Come to Hanover or any place in Germany.

Actually I was supporting them with Accept once for a couple of shows Whitesnake with David Coverdale and Cozy Powell was doing his drums. It’s back to eighty something. And Jon Lord is a youngster you know and we were seated in the same backstage area as these guys that was really great.

AH: Back to today, it’s the fifth show of the tour. 

RA: Fifth show

HF: We’re still practising, no…. we are!!

RA: You’re practising [laughs] 

HF: Always…

RA: We are professionals (laughing)

HF: I’m always practising. I tried to experience myself as much as I can on stage. No bad news. No, I mean we’re doing I think ten songs, that’s it?

AH: On stage tonight?

HF: No time for the eleventh one and I think it’s gonna be kind of powerful. It’s better. But anyway we doing we are so happy to go on stage and I think you can see and feel it and hear it.

AH: Oh that’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to it. Many thanks for your time.

Our review of the show can be found here:

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Photo Credit: Ange Cobham

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