The Old Man & the Sea interview with Tommy Hansen

December 8, 2012

The Old Man & the Sea interview with Tommy Hansen

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
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
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
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2012
  1. Kurt

    great article. enjoyed reading it.

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