In late January/early February Shadoks will be reissuing The Old Man & the Sea LP from 1972. The album is very rare these days, with only 500 copies made back in 1972 by Sonet Records. The band was from Denmark and we did an interview with their organ player, Tommy Hansen. He shared some interesting insights. The album released back in 1972 is a great mix of heavy guitar and organ.
Horsens, Denmark is a starting point for the band. You hang out in a club called "Hullet". What was the scene there back in the 60's?
The scene was very alternative – in that sense, that any possibility was used. Like the old Barn, were the horses were kept overnight a few decades earlier. It was very cold in the winter time, watching a band in this room. The only heater was all the candles lined up, directly on to the floor. An other local location for live performances, was a small cellar. It used to be a jazz club, but here in the early sixties, the beat music had taken over. It was steaming hot in that room. So you see, it was a matter of finding opportunities where they were to be found.
What were some of your influences? Did you play in any bands before forming The Old Man & the Sea? I heard you started playing organ really good at only 15...
Yes – I started really early playing the piano. I had some lessons, but never got the theoretical side of music correctly learned. However, my ears were good, so I just played stuff by ear. At the age of 12, I was rehearsing with a band, and soon we had our first gig. The Band: “Jack & the Rippers” were formed in 1964, and now everything took shape of being more serious. This band was performing a lot, also at the in-places of those days, like HITHOUSE in Copenhagen. Also a few competitions gave us good placements.
Tell us when and how did the lineup got its final members.
Back to “The Old Man & the Sea” – well, at first there was only Benny, Knud & Tommy forming the band. In that edition, the drums were played by Lars “Bekse” Thygesen. The singer was Robert Hauschild. This version of the band was closed down in 1969 – but two years later, we had to get together again, and now the lineup for the ancient recording was made. The members were still Benny, Knud & Tommy Tommy but John Lundvig had taken on the drums and Ole Wedel the role as the leadsinger.
Around 1968 you moved to another town called Brund. There you got your new singer. How did the early sessions looked like around that time?
If your math serves you well, you can figure out that the BRUND period happen with the first edition of the Band. In those days it had become trendy to live under the same roof. Hippie-culture I guess you can call it. Our Band had made an agreement with some of our friends (musicians) to move in the house with us, and split the renting fee of the farm we all had rented. In this way we could keep the cost’s down, cause none of us were loaded with money. Often the dinner was just fried potatoes and water. Ole Wedel, who became singer in the second edition of the band, was one of these musicians.
Shortly after you started touring (Where was your territory?) you played with some really big names. Share some memories…
We did a tour in Norway in those days. Actually it was the last gigs we did in edition one. Cause the band was split up when we returned. Again the economical situation was tight. We were close to starvation on that tour - But before getting to this point, we did have some great moments with the band. We used to play a lot in the famous “BRONDBY POPPEN”. The location was a big gym with two stages. One on each side of the room. The room was fairly big and quadratic. In the center of the room was Don Frederiksson with his gigantic lightcircus, throwing light images on all the walls in the building.
Often we played up with Ten Years after, who had become the status as “band of the house” in Brondby. At an other occasion, we had just finished our session, and Led Zeppelin started across on the other stage with their session. I personally was drawn to them like metal to a magnet, but unfortunately we had a double booking that night, so we were forced to leave after listening to just a couple of songs. We were heading at the Aaboulevarden to visit the club “REVOLUTION”. We often played this club together with bands like Gasolin and others.
One night we had Deep Purple visiting the club. They had just finished their gig at KB-hallen or Forum were they used to give concerts. After a while they were compelled to go on stage and play a couple of songs on a jamming basis. This was great fun – John Lord playing my organ J.
On an other occasion, we were doing the warm up for “Crazy World of Arthur Brown”. This was happening in a sports facility in the south of Jutland. We came to the gig – setup the gear – played our session, and by the end of it – still no Arthur Brown…
So the arranger asked us to please continue, and after playing our set list twice, we felt we had to stop.
Still no Arthur Brown in the location…
The audience were offered their money back, and as soon as that had happen, Arthur Brown entered the room. Of course it was to late, so We never got to hear him at all. Bad – cause he used to be one of our biggest influences.
You were also known for having really amazing visuals. The shows also included homemade 16 mm film. What can you tell us about this and what was the film about…
True – in the first edition we had a light crew of two persons. Klaus Krotell and Ulrik Bache. Ulrik was very much into photography, so he was in charge of the 16 mm movie that was shot on different locations around Horsens were we lived. This movie was running during the show along with the psychedelic colors from the dias projectors, run by Klaus. The actors on this movie were partly some of our friends & also some local citizens of Horsens. If You wanna watch the original movie, it is available on Youtube. Look for the title “Circulation” by The Old Man & the Sea.
You got back together in 1971. You began playing again and soon you were signed to Sonet Records. How did that happen?
We felt serious about the band, and the writing of our own songs had begun. Also we had become friends with the band “Midnight Sun”. They introduced us to Freddy Hansson who was working as a sound engineer for the Danish recording studio, Rosenberg Studios in Copenhagen. Also he had an agreement with Sonet, a Danish Record company, saying that he could sign artists and do recordings with them. After Freddy had visited us at a gig in Montmartre (a famous Jazz club in the middle of Copenhagen), he decided to do an album with The Old Man & the Sea, and all was arranged.
Later, it would show that nobody at Sonet had a clue about how to handle this product. This is also one of the reasons for the record to become a collectors item, since they only printed 500 copies. Furthermore, they were all faulty, with at least two or three skips when played on a normal turntable.
I guess you could say with good reason, that Sonet certainly DID NOT ROCK!
Where did you record the material, which appears on your album and what gear did you guys use?
The record was done within a week (8 days) at Rosenberg Studios, Copenhagen. The studio used an 8 track Lyrec 1“ tape-recorder. They had recently ordered a Studer 16 track, 2” tape-recorder, and I guess we were the first artist to use it. A fantastic piece of equipment still fabulous today. The mixing board was a Danish design, done by NTP. It had a nice open sound and some effect sends, basically for the EMT 140 steelplate reverb, which was placed on the first floor. If somebody came to near to it, stomping his feet it would cause a third world war. At least it would sound so when the plate started to vibrate.
Our gear was a combination of what was around in 1972 – nothing fancy at all. Benny was playing a Gibson into a marshall stack. He had some Schaller pedals too. Knud had a home build speaker box which was great for the bass, giving it the presence good for this type of music. I had my old L100 Hammond organ & the 147 Lesley box. But when we arrived at the studio, someone had left a A100 Hammond organ in the studio. I was really happy when I realized, that it was OK to borrow it for the recordings. This was the top model compared to my old cheap L100 organ.
What are perhaps some of the strongest memories from producing and recording this LP? Was the material, which appears on the LP, the same as the one you played live back in the early days of the band?
Yes – what we played live, was the same repertoire as on the record.
What can you tell us about the name of the band and about cover artwork?
The name is just a silly story. In the very beginning of the first edition, we decided to participate in a music competition. It was held in Aarhus at the school of art.
For this occasion we needed a name, and one of the friends around us at “Hullet” he just shouted “The Old Man & the Sea”. So that was that and we just stuck with the name ever since.
For the cover artwork, Benny knew the guy who made the Shark drawing as a personal friend.
How many copies were made originally and did you have any distribution?
500 copies were printed by Sonet. They also did distribution.
How about live shows to promote the album?
Nothing of that kind happened…
What happened next? I know your sound changed and so did the lineup...
Yes – we all felt very strong about the future for the band when returning from Copenhagen after finishing the recordings. So it was a bit of a stroke back, when Knud announced that he was ready to leave the band for good. The lineup was so integrated at that time, that it really felt impossible to find a replacement for him. However live went on and several persons were about to enter the band. Please check the layout for the cd release Old Man and the Sea 1972-75 for the persons in detail.
There was also another album and you were talking to CBS, but nothing happened.
Yep – sometime after the release of our first album, we started writing new stuff.
By now we were very much influenced by YES “Close to the edge”, and had a few songs taking off in a similar direction. However – the record companies didn’t seem interested in our “power metal” music style.
The scene had changed and everybody was more into the social side of the hippie culture, about making love not war and this kind of thinking. It’s not that we would disagree with this line of thinking, only we were more focused on the musical side of things. It is true that we tried to get in contact with CBS Denmark at that time. Poul Bruun from CBS, was about the only person in Denmark who had shown a format of lifting the promotional side of releasing albums. Unfortunately he decided to pass on us. We had come to the end, and decided to split up. The year was 1975.
What currently occupies your life? Are you excited, that your music is still alive these days? We are all very happy, that Shadoks will be reissuing your first LP.
Me personally was struck by the “studio virus” when I entered Rosenberg studios back in 1972.
It stayed with me ever since, so I am still fully working in the business of producing & recording.
These days I am most concentrated on doing the mixing of new albums. I have had big luck with my partnership with the German band “Helloween”, who had set new standards for the Power metal genre.
Also I have had meny nice relations when doing Progmetal albums, which seems to fall in to the line of what we use to do back in the days with The Old Man & the Sea.
Thank you for this great story. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers?
Yes – I can only wish your readers a wonderful new Prog-Year and many more nice experiences to be experienced. Music Rocks!
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
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