Unveiling Defroster’s Legacy | An Interview with Marc Lautenbacher

Uncategorized June 12, 2024

Unveiling Defroster’s Legacy | An Interview with Marc Lautenbacher

Defroster was a fascinating German Jazz Fusion band formed in Fellbach/Stuttgart in 1980 that experimented with various styles. The band released their only album in 1982.

Initially, the band comprised Eberhard Pflüger (soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone), Marc Lautenbacher (drums, percussion), Klaus Brosowski (keyboards, vocals), and Andy Kemmer (bass, backing vocals). They expanded in 1981 with Ursula “Uschi” Schneider (lead vocals). Throughout their journey, they participated in notable events like the Umsonst & Draussen Festival, where they shared the stage with renowned artists. The band’s stature within the regional music milieu was underscored by their engagements at esteemed venues like the legendary Club Sinkkasten in Frankfurt/Main. A seminal moment in their journey was their involvement in the ZELT ’83 Festival in Reutlingen, where they served as the opening act for the internationally acclaimed Michael Sagmeister Trio. For further insights into Defroster’s legacy, an interview with Marc Lautenbacher offers invaluable perspectives on the band’s history and impact.

The first official band portrait of Defroster, taken in 1981.

“We frequently changed rhythm and character within tracks”

Where and when did you grow up? Was music a big part of your family life?

Marc Lautenbacher: I was born in Stuttgart in 1956 and grew up in a family in which everything creative and artistic always played a particularly important role in our daily life. Whether it was painting—my grandfather was a porcelain painter in the last century—or photography—my father was a fashion photographer and became very famous in Germany—or literature—my mother was a librarian in the public library—or finally, music! My two brothers played the guitar, the clarinet, and the flute. Once, my father mentioned that he also played the cello when he was a pupil.

When did you begin playing music? What was your first instrument? Who were your major influences?

My very first instrument was the recorder in primary school, which brought me in touch with music. At the age of 13, my mother decided that I should have clarinet lessons. Therefore, she enrolled me in the local town orchestra under the bandmaster Horst Tietzel in Fellbach, my hometown near Stuttgart. She had heard from my class teacher at the high school (Gymnasium) that the music teacher was surprised by my astonishing result on the so-called “Musicality Test.”

Marc Lautenbacher with his brothers as young pupil in 1969 when he played clarinet. On right his brother Heinz who financed his first drum-set.

But I was not happy with that very sophisticated and difficult-to-play instrument, and after a while, I went on strike against this first serious study of music. My preference was more for the marching drummers who practiced before the clarinet courses and to whom I listened with much more pleasure. Just two years later, in 1972, I asked my brother to finance my first drum set, and I began self-taught learning of the instrument I had discovered at my mother’s godchild’s house.

Marc Lautenbacher began to learn the drums in 1972.

Another two years later, in early 1974, I joined my first little amateur band as a drummer, which practiced in the YMCA house in Fellbach. During that time, I also learned to play the bass guitar during several music sessions. When I went to the boarding school for economics in Calw in the Black Forest in 1976, I became the drummer in the school band, and we had some of our first public concerts in the festival hall of that school. We played mostly improvised music that we heard on the radio at the time; there was no specific influence. It was simply the pure joy of making music that made us happy.

Marc playing the bass guitar in boarding school, 1976.

You began your musical journey with the clarinet and then transitioned to drums and other instruments. What influenced this shift in your musical focus, and how did it shape your career?

In fact, I have already described my first steps in music. However, I distinctly recall the period when I was at the mentioned boarding school in 1976, during which we were consistently exposed to British progressive rock bands such as Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes, and Gentle Giant, along with German bands like Kraan and Novalis. Even attending concerts by bands like Pink Floyd on November 15th, 1972 in Stuttgart and Yes in 1976 significantly influenced my musical taste and subsequently, my career. I often dreamed heavily of composing and playing music akin to those bands one day.

What bands were you a member of prior to the formation of Defroster?

When I began studying graphic design in 1977 at the “Freie Akademie für Erkenntnis und Gestaltung Albrecht Leo Merz,” today known as the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, I was already an avid drummer, practicing intensively. This provided me with the opportunity to join my first band in 1978, which I co-founded with saxophone player Eberhard Pflüger from my hometown of Fellbach. We named this band “Kanaan” as a homage to a song title by Amon Düül. As a graphic design student, I designed the lettering and band logo, and also assumed the role of bandleader.

Self-portrait of Marc and his girlfriend, 1978.

The lineup at that time consisted of Fritz Mahler † 2013 (keyboards, vocals), Achilleas Evangelinos (guitar, vocals), Jürgen Schmohle (bass), Eberhard Pflüger (soprano and tenor saxophone), and Marc Lautenbacher (drums). With our predominantly instrumental style of “Rock-Jazz” music, which was highly relevant in the 1980s, we gained extensive live performance experience, playing over 20 concerts on a smaller scale, mainly in various youth and cultural centers in the greater Stuttgart area. I also briefly played drums in a band called “Karma,” for which I designed the band logo and posters.

Advertising a concert with a wall of Kanaan posters in 1979, which Marc designed.

Could you provide more detail about the formation of Defroster?

The aforementioned initial group, “Kanaan,” held immense significance in defining the musical style and history of Defroster. However, it disbanded in the summer of 1980 for reasons unknown. Despite this, my friend Eberhard Pflüger and I were determined to preserve the stimulating, inspiring, and challenging musical essence that “Kanaan” represented. We embarked on an active search for new band members within the greater Stuttgart area who shared our passion for “Rock-Jazz,” particularly those interested in composing original music and contributing to a comprehensive repertoire. It was a lofty goal, as none of the young musicians in the town of Fellbach, with its approximately 40,000 inhabitants, were willing to interpret compositions from other music groups or performers; instead, they sought to showcase their own creativity and musicality.

Friends of the commune, Marc lived with: (f.l.to r.) Karin, Yvonne, Marc, Wolfi, Lupo, Uli (1979).

Given the pre-Internet era in which we operated, our sole method of finding other musicians was by posting notices on the notice-board at Stuttgart’s largest music store. Through this simple approach, we quickly connected with Klaus Brosowski, an experienced pianist from Eislingen who possessed the vocal abilities necessary for the music we envisioned creating, and Andreas Kemmer from Grunbach, an exceptionally talented 18-year-old bass player. Both reached out to me in September 1980, and following the initial auditions held at the brand-new, contemporary youth center in my hometown, it became abundantly clear: this was the new formation we had been seeking!

Marc on drums with Defroster in 1980.
Marc as a student for graphic design at Merz-Akademie (1980).
Marc’s car for transporting his drum set (1980).
Defroster logo, design for labelling the band equipment and promo-sticker for new album (1981)
Marc with Defroster live in 1981.
Bandphoto, taken for a second visual concept for the album (1980)

After our debut performance on December 7, 1980, at a festival in Dürnau/Bad Boll, Brosowski proposed to the other band members that Defroster should include a dedicated vocalist. The band’s musical style had evolved more towards soul, R&B, and almost Funk Rock than initially anticipated. However, the young band wasn’t yet ready for a professional singer, especially not one who introduced herself as a US-African woman, as their musical styles didn’t align. Eventually, in early 1981, Brosowski invited singer Ursula Schneider from Stuttgart to audition in our rehearsal room. Instantly, both the band and I agreed that “Uschi” complemented the group’s musical repertoire perfectly with her powerful, almost “black” voice.

Band portrait of Defroster with singer Uschi Schneider in 1982.
Live-concert of Defroster on Open-Air-Festival 1982 in Fellbach.

At the end of 1982, saxophonist Eberhard “Obe“ Pflüger had to depart from Defroster. Following his apprenticeship as an instrument-maker at the renowned Kohlert company, he aimed to establish his own business specializing in wind instruments, particularly saxophones. Consequently, the band lost its most crucial soloist, who not only enriched the group’s sound with his melodies and musical themes but also represented a personal loss as a cherished friend to the other band members.

Last band portrait of Defroster with saxophonist Obe (second from right) in 1982.

However, with no available saxophonist, Manfred Genal on electric guitar proved to be an excellent replacement. Brosowski recruited him from the music scene in Göppingen, near Stuttgart. At the time, the band’s base was an old metal goods factory in Esslingen, not far from Göppingen. By the middle of 1982, our rhythm section had expanded to include Alex Papavergos on congas and Peter Galm on timbales, initially as guest musicians. We aimed to give our live performances at larger festivals a distinctive and extraordinary touch. Over time, both musicians became permanent members of our “Rock-Jazz” formation.

Defroster at the Zelt Open-Air Festival in Wiesensteig on June 11, 1983.
Defroster at the Zelt Open-Air Festival in Wiesensteig on June 11, 1983.

After the concert at Pforzheim, the “Umsonst & Draussen Wiesenfest” in July 1983, which drew a crowd of about 4,000 people, the dissolution of Defroster marked the end of this initial formation. Uschi Schneider found the travel demands of touring to be too strenuous, which negatively impacted her professional situation. Andy Kemmer and Klaus Brosowski desired to pursue other musical directions, while Manfred Genal sought to dedicate more time to his family and teaching job.

Defroster at the Umsonst-und-Draussen Wiesenfest in Pforzheim on July 24th, 1983.
Defroster at the Umsonst-und-Draussen Wiesenfest in Pforzheim on July 24th, 1983.
Marc’s view from his drum set to the audience at the Umsonst-und-Draussen Wiesenfest in Pforzheim on July 24th, 1983.

Only the three “drummers” of the band remained, forming a new group under my leadership, established at the beginning of September 1983. With singer Carlos Gonzales from Lindau, a Spanish native, the band adopted a musical style influenced by South American and Afro-Cuban music, incorporating Spanish lyrics into Carlos’s vocals. This shift was particularly evident with the expanded Latin rhythm section featuring congas, timbales, and myself on drums. Nevertheless, the group remained faithful to its “Rock-Jazz” roots, continuing to include it in their repertoire. A new bass player, a guitarist who also played the violin, and an exceptional keyboard player and singer were quickly recruited. By this time, Defroster had gained recognition not only among the local and regional audiences but also among musicians in Stuttgart.

Defroster in the recording studio, 1984, with Frank, Richie, and Marc singing the refrain.
Conga player Alex Papavergos in our practicing room in 1984.
Timbales and percussion player Peter Galm in the recording studio, 1984.
Carlos Gonzales, lead vocals at a live concert in 1983.

The new lineup, established in September 1983, featured Carlos Gonzales on lead vocals, Frank Eichler on keyboards and vocals, Jürgen “Richie“ Reichert on bass and vocals, Marcel Noll on electric guitar and violin, Marc Lautenbacher on drums, Alex Papavergos on congas and bongos, and Peter Galm on timbales and hand percussion. Ultimately, Defroster disbanded in August 1984, now marking 40 years since its dissolution.

When and where did you play your first gigs? How was the band accepted by the audience?

Our group held its first, even little-noticed concert as a pure “Rock-Jazz” quartet, called Defroster, at a festival in Dürnau/Bad Boll on December 7th, 1980 – at the time, we still didn’t have our own poster. After that, we played 18 live gigs in 1981 and 24 live gigs in 1982, all of them with our new singer Uschi, as previously described.

Regarding your question about the reception of the band, I can confirm that we always received huge applause after each self-composed piece. Additionally, we always had to play at least two encores after every concert, loudly demanded by our audience.

The outstanding specialty of Defroster’s live sound was that our small ensemble performed completely without a guitar, the sound of which was obligatory for almost all contemporary music groups in the 80s. Furthermore, our pianist Brosowski owned the newly invented grand piano from Yamaha, which was an incredibly expensive instrument at the time. This made us one of the very few bands in Southern Germany that could present the sound of a grand piano “live” on stage during our concerts.

What did your repertoire consist of?

Our repertoire comprised 12 to 15 pieces of “Rock-Jazz” music with Latin and funky elements, all developed, written, and arranged by our band members themselves. This enabled us to easily perform concerts lasting about two hours. Additionally, with this repertoire, I organized numerous live concerts and guest shows in clubs, festivals, and cultural centers throughout southern Germany.

The lyrics of the songs, all penned by Uschi Schneider with the support of Klaus “Brösel” Brosowski, vividly reflected the spirit of the young generation in the eighties: an open counter-position against the establishment, mass tourism, social injustice, homelessness, as well as fantastical tales about alien landings on Earth and, of course, some peculiar drug experiences. It’s worth noting that, like many German music groups of the 80s, Defroster’s lyrics were all in English, the language of the victorious World War II allies!

How did you decide to use the name Defroster?

If my memory serves me well, our keyboard player, Klaus Brosowski, proposed the name Defroster shortly after our formation in late 1980. We unanimously agreed to adopt this captivating name, among others that I can’t recall clearly. Under this band name, we performed our first concert as a pure “Rock-Jazz” quartet in December 1980.

Many years later, I stumbled upon the LP of a German Jazz-Rock and Fusion Band called “Snowball,” which released a studio album under the name Defroster in 1977. It’s unclear whether Klaus, our keyboardist, was inspired by this album, perhaps coming across it by chance.

First Defroster poster at the studio entrance, 1981.

What influenced the band’s sound?

In the early stages of the band’s history, the primary influence on our sound was the “Rock-Jazz” music we encountered during our free time at home, on the radio, in the car, or at concerts by bands like Kraan, Nektar, Yes, Genesis, and our local favorite, Stan’s Clan. Later, we also drew inspiration from American bands such as Spyro Gyra, John McLaughlin, Steely Dan, and Herbie Hancock.

From my current perspective, the most significant influence was the music of Weather Report, whom we saw live in concert in Stuttgart. You can hear this influence prominently on tracks like ‘Bonebreaker’ and ‘N’Goro Goro’ on our album. Additionally, songs like ‘Criminal,’ ‘Mickey Mouse Overdrive,’ and ‘Barbed Wires’ were more inspired by the musical styles of Herbie Hancock and Steely Dan.

How did you get signed to RSM? Tell us more about the label.

In fact, we signed with VERTEX Musikverlag from Ludwigsburg in 1981, which served as the copyright company for the small German label RSM. However, it was the owner of the “Millenium Tonstudio” who arranged this connection with the band.

VERTEX was active in the music business from 1982 to 1986. You can find their releases on Discogs.

As the bandleader, I took on the entire financial responsibility for the production of our first album. The challenge was that I was the only one with sufficient funds, inherited from my mother who passed away in 1977.

What’s the story behind your album? Where did you record it? What kind of equipment did you use, and who was the producer? How many hours did you spend in the studio?

With our described lineup, Defroster recorded its first full-length album in September 1981. Kurt-Jürgen Monninger, the son of an industrialist from Donzdorf in South Germany, fulfilled a childhood dream by establishing his own recording studio in the small town of Geislingen/Steige, which he named “Millenium Tonstudio” (Latin: millennium = thousand years). He generously provided our young, still inexperienced “Rock-Jazz” formation with the opportunity to explore the studio’s acoustics and experiment with the latest sound and recording technology of the 80s.

Between September 7th and October 31st, 1981—spanning approximately eight weeks—our band recorded and mixed six of our best compositions, along with one arrangement developed in the studio, without any financial obligation. Additionally, studio musician trumpeter Detlef Engelhardt was invited to add his expertise to two of our compositions (‘Barbed Wires’ and ‘Mickey Mouse Overdrive’).

Marc’s drum set with Roto-Toms in the studio recording room.

Each individual instrument was recorded as a solo recording on each individual track of the famous Lyrec tape machine with 24 tracks, unlike today’s practice of recording all musicians together live. This method allowed us to detect and rectify any small mistakes made by individual musicians during the recording process.

Studio with producers Helmut Rieger and Kurt-Jürgen Monninger at the mixing console.
Studio 24-track recording tape machine.

The graphic design of Defroster, including the album cover, was my own creation, as I studied graphic design at the Werkkunstschule Merz in Stuttgart from 1977 to 1981. Contrary to the colorful and convoluted fantasy typefaces commonly used for band logos and posters in the 1980s, I opted for a clear and straightforward design featuring professional black-and-white portrait photos of the four musicians. Over the years, I also took on the role of managing the band.

Overall, this opportunity was a rare privilege granted to only a few bands at that time, who were just starting their careers without major label contracts. The album, simply titled ‘Defroster,’ was released by Vertex Musikverlag in Freiberg/Neckar under the catalogue number RSM 82001 in the spring of 1982.

Album cover of Defroster, completely designed by Marc.

What were the influences and inspirations for the songs recorded?

It’s worth mentioning that as inspiration for the song ‘N’Goro Goro,’ it alludes to a crater landscape in Tanzania. Therefore, a purely instrumental piece was developed and composed during the recording sessions in the studio. We never performed it live in concert.

So I like to explain the influences and inspirations for the other songs recorded. In the following, there is my detailed description of each song:

‘Short After Midnight’

Defroster’s arrangements are refined and varied, and this quality runs like a golden thread through the entire album. Again and again, they change rhythm and character within a track, set accents with catchy instrumental themes – their so-called “trademark” – and skillfully vary their music with flowing transitions. This is evident on ‘Short After Midnight,’ the first track on the A-side of the album, which was unanimously chosen by the band to open the record. It tells the fantastic story of a UFO landing of aliens in Brighton, England.


Uschi Schneider’s vocals play a prominent role in the second track, ‘Criminal,’ on the A-side of the LP. The musical introduction to the piece is intentionally designed to confuse the audience: it begins with a kind of Latin percussion rhythm introduction, finally leading into a banging funk song. Let’s say, a danceable feel-good number in contrast to the message in the lyrics, which were designed and composed to get listeners out of their seats! The lyrics by Uschi Schneider clearly oppose the establishment, social injustice, and homelessness. Keyboardist Klaus Brosowsky proved his great ability as the band’s soloist, swapping parts with saxophonist Obe Pflüger.


In ‘Bonebreaker,’ the third track on the A-side of the album, Defroster brings together all their skills and influences from funk, progressive rock, jazz, and R&B for the first time. The introduction sounds remarkably like the 80s supergroup Weather Report, which might surprise you at what these four guys are capable of. Because I was the eldest, I was just 26 at the time! Saxophonist Obe Pflüger is responsible for the song as a co-composer. The lyrics are about drug experiences, as the first verse conveys: “What a crazy day – I’m flying high in the sky!” Particularly noteworthy is the vocal dialogue in the middle section between two protagonists, staged as a public discussion between a man and a woman, and repeated in the form of an aggressive synthesizer solo. It’s a veritable homage to the musical theatre of the 80s in Germany.

‘N’Goro Goro oder “Mords was los im Urwald’

The last track on the A-side of the record is ‘N’Goro Goro,’ developed and composed by Defroster bandleader and drummer Marc Lautenbacher during the recording sessions in the Millenium recording studio in Geislingen. Humorously dubbed “Lots of action in the jungle” (German: mords was los im Urwald), Lautenbacher played all the percussion instruments himself: congas, bongos, hi-hat, kalimba, slit drums, bass tom, gong, temple blocks, flute, and various bells and wind chimes. Bassist Andy Kemmer added a polyphonic bass figure recorded on three tracks, while Obe Pflüger delivered a stellar performance on the soprano saxophone over the African-style rhythm mesh. The title of the purely instrumental piece alludes to the name of a crater landscape in Tanzania. Keyboardist Klaus Brosowsky contributed fine soundscapes with great sensitivity.

‘Barbed Wires’

‘Barbed Wires,’ the longest track on the B-side of the Defroster record, kicks off with the sound of the sea and a soundtrack of a public beach, complete with people’s voices and children’s cries, offering an acoustic preview of the lyrics. It delves into the consequences of mass tourism – a critical, almost literary creation, written and expressively sung by the amazing Uschi Schneider. The song begins with a Yamaha grand piano riff and ultra-cool bass-line, leading into a danceable fusion of Funk, R&B, and Jazz-Rock. A second voice, sung by Klaus Brosowsky, is transposed down several octaves, using cutting-edge studio technology from the 80s, serving as an acoustic symbolization of an unpleasant environmental monster with an ultra-fat bass voice. The piece provides ample space for solo performances on the grand piano and tenor saxophone, featuring Klaus Brosowski and Obe Pflüger, the band’s two incredible soloists. Additionally, studio musician and trumpeter Detlef Engelhardt was invited to add the finishing touches to the saxophone and synthesizer brass sections.

‘Life’s Like a Ball’

‘Life’s Like a Ball,’ the second track on the B-side of the disc, is a real treat! It’s clearly divided into two parts: a purely instrumental introduction featuring a banging slap bass on a Latin American samba rhythm, followed by a vocal section interspersed with colorful improvisations on saxophone and piano. This vocal section also includes polyphonic choir vocals in the chorus, which were layered across four tracks in the studio to create a larger sound. In other words, we recorded four sets of three singers, totaling 12 choralists! Additionally, ear-catching instrumental themes are introduced again, played in parallel with saxophone and Minimoog synthesizer – the trademark of Defroster, so to speak!

”Mickey Mouse Overdrive’

‘Mickey Mouse Overdrive,’ the last track on the B-side of the Defroster album, is aptly named. It’s a whimsical musical performance, played at a brisk pace with an introduction on the legendary Hohner Clavinet D6! One could describe it as a funk music satire, which elicited hearty laughter from bassist Andy Kemmer in the studio! This inspired the idea to include his laughter directly in the recording. Trumpeter Detlef Engelhardt was also invited to add the finishing touches to the brass themes. However, the track then transitions to a more serious tone, offering melodic rock jazz at its finest! It features wonderfully driving instrumental themes played in parallel, along with sophisticated bass and drum breaks. And in the end, the band once again showcases their fantastic skills with some truly brilliant compositional work!

Was there a certain concept behind the album?

The musical mastermind behind the band was Brosowski, who served as the primary composer of the group’s music. He was the only member with formal musical training on the piano and accordion, unlike the other three members, who were all self-taught enthusiasts on their respective instruments. Often, pieces were developed through collective improvisation sessions, where all members would jam together for hours, recording their sessions on a cheap tape deck. From these jam sessions, the best passages were selected and refined into compositions suitable for live performances, and eventually recorded in the studio.

All of our arrangements were meticulously refined and varied, a quality that permeates the entire album like a delicate, golden thread. We frequently changed rhythm and character within tracks, accentuating them with catchy instrumental themes – our trademark, so to speak. Additionally, we skillfully varied our compositions with seamless transitions. This concept behind the album aimed to showcase the vast range of our musical compositions.

Klaus Brosowski on keyboards in 1982.

How pleased was the band with the sound of the album? What, if anything, would you have liked to have been different from the finished product?

Dear Mr. Klemen Breznikar, I must say that’s a very insightful question, reflecting a deep understanding of the music industry! To begin with, all Defroster compositions were recorded in full length in the studio over the course of almost 8 weeks — the same length as we performed them live on stage in concert, without exception. This decision was the subject of repeated and sometimes heated discussions with the producer and studio owner, Kurt-Jürgen Monninger, and his partner, Helmut Rieger, who generously sponsored our band. However, we were adamant about preserving every carefully composed note and refused to condense our arrangements into shorter studio versions. We took immense pride in our compositions.

Regarding the sound of the album, we were absolutely satisfied with the result. It’s worth noting that prior to our studio experience, we had recorded our pieces on a cheap tape deck in the practice room, resulting in very poor quality recordings. Therefore, the exceptional studio quality felt like a dream come true!

Reflecting on it today, I would say that all the pieces were played a bit too fast. Our excitement to be in a real studio for the first time led us to rush through the recordings. This year, I addressed this issue using digital tools to remix the tracks, and I’ve uploaded the remixed result to YouTube.

How many copies were originally pressed?

When I signed the contract with VERTEX Musikverlag (VERTEX publishing house) in 1981 on behalf of the band, it was stated that they were willing to press 1000 copies of our first album, and more if they sold out. However, later on, the publishing house and the label company, unfortunately, did not secure a German-wide distributor. Consequently, they pressed much fewer copies, around half of the initial amount, which the band had to cover the costs for. I don’t recall the exact number.

Did the band tour the country promoting your album? Did you get any press or airplay?

I still have absolutely no idea if we received any airtime, wherever it might have been. To promote our album, we only toured in southern Germany on weekends, unlike bigger groups who tour daily for several weeks. This was because we all had jobs, school, or studies during the week. It’s worth noting that we managed our gigs ourselves, especially me and Klaus organized some of them. Our career was just beginning, and we earned little money from our concerts. However, at the beginning of 1982, we became part of a small company called “Tourneeplanung Dagmar Willhausen & Bernd Happel” in Fellbach, who also managed the contract for the famous Kolbe-Illenberger guitar duo.

We did receive some press coverage, as you can see in the enclosed newspaper clippings. One of the most significant pieces was published on 5th February 1982 in the Stuttgarter Zeitung. 

After one and a half year, the five musicians are known for the fact that their exclusively self-written compositions and arrangements not only run straight to the ears, but also to the feet and to the belly. The members of Defroster incorporate elements of funk, pop and rock music into their sound, with Klaus on his five keyboard instruments, together with Obe on saxophone weaving the sound structures over Andy’s and Marc’s banging funky rhythms in a very special way. This forms the solid musical carpet (without the guitar, by the way!) for the expressive voice of Uschi, the singer of Defroster. With Klaus Brosowski (keyboard instruments, vocals), Obe Pflüger (saxophone, percussion), Andy Kemmer (electric basses, vocals), Marc Lautenbacher (drums, percussion) and Uschi Schneider (vocals), the band want to “defrost” the atmosphere in the youth centre in Hemmingen.

Cut-out of an article from the Stuttgarter Zeitung, 1982.
Article in the City Magazine Stuttgart from 1981 announcing the recording of their debut album.

When did you stop playing together? What happened after the band stopped?

The last concert with Defroster’s original lineup was on July 24th, 1983, at the “Umsonst & Draussen Wiesenfest” near the city of Pforzheim, with around 4,000 festival visitors. It was quite a memorable concert, as shown in the photos. The reason for the split-up was that Uschi Schneider found the travel to concerts too strenuous, affecting her professional situation. Andy Kemmer and Klaus Brosowski wanted to pursue other musical directions, while Manfred Genal wished to spend more time with his family and teaching job.

Only Alex, Peter, and I remained, the three “drummers” of the band, forming a new group under my leadership, established in September 1983. I recruited a new bassist, an excellent keyboardist, and an amazing guitarist, who also played the violin. Additionally, the new singer was a Spanish guy who could “Rapp-sing” in Spanish!

This last formation ceased activity in the following summer. Precisely on July 14th, 1984, Defroster performed their last live concert in front of around 2,000 people at the “Rebstock” open-air festival, well-known throughout the Stuttgart region.

The reasons for the final dissolution were as follows: keyboardist Frank Eichler had to return to his hometown Kassel to take over his father’s music business, guitarist Marcel Noll moved to Mannheim to study music and violin, I started a fabulously well-paid job as an art director at an advertising agency in Munich in October, and singer Carlos Gonzalez returned to his wife in Lindau, his hometown.

As the initiator and founder of this last Defroster lineup, my departure led to no further attempts by the remaining musicians to replace the departing members.

Yes, I am still in touch with all the other members, thanks to the internet technology of our days, communication is quite easy. Unfortunately, two of them have passed away: Carlos Gonzales after an accident in 2010 and Peter Galm due to colorectal cancer in 2011.

I can confirm that all the other members, from the beginning to the end of Defroster, are still involved with music. Some pursue it professionally, as musicians earning their livelihood, while others remain active as members of bands or simply continue making music in their leisure time.

Is there any unreleased material by Defroster or anything related to its members?

At the start of 1984, the new formation began recording the initial compositions for a planned album, “Defroster II,” at the renowned Jankowski recording studio in Stuttgart, which I had arranged as the band manager. The agreement with Bernd Hückstätt, the managing director of Jankowski Tonstudio GmbH, was for our group to record freely improvised sessions of various musical styles in the studio. These recordings could then be utilized for commercial commercials and jingles produced by the studio, without any further compensation for the musicians. This arrangement allowed Defroster to record their own musical ideas completely free of charge in top studio quality, with an experienced professional and university-qualified sound engineer—a venture that would typically incur significant costs in the 1980s. Recording sessions cost 300 Deutschmarks per hour, equivalent to a monthly student salary.

This is why there is still a considerable amount of unreleased material. In recent years, I have delved into my private archive, which contains numerous music cassettes with both studio and live recordings. These recordings encompass pieces from all the aforementioned Defroster band formations.

In preparation for the 40th anniversary in 2024 of the end of Defroster, I have begun digitizing the album and all the other magnetic tape recordings into MP3 files. I have enhanced the quality and remixed them in my small studio here in Canada. Already, four unreleased pieces are available on my YouTube channel.

Cover for the second Defroster album, unreleased.

As a founding member of “Kanaan” and “Karma,” how did you go about bringing together musicians who shared your musical interests and creative vision?

In the 80s, assembling musicians with shared musical interests and a creative vision was relatively straightforward. The music scene in the Stuttgart area formed a close-knit community, making it easy for us to connect with like-minded individuals. We often encountered each other at various gathering spots such as the youth center, schools, coffee shops, universities, music clubs, and live concerts. Additionally, I played a role in organizing our annual open-air festival in Fellbach, where musicians with similar musical inclinations could showcase their work.

Music was a central focus for my friends and me during that time, permeating all aspects of our lives. Whether at home, school, or in our leisure activities, music was omnipresent and served as a key criterion for building friendships.

Three Kanaan musicians from 1980, as they sat down on the boardwalk discussing music: Thomas Lump, Eberhard Pflüger, and Jürgen Schmohle.

“I will publish another 10 to 15 unreleased compositions”

The musical style of Defroster evolved over time, transitioning from Jazz-Rock to Jazz-Funk. What inspired these stylistic transitions?

Yes, you can discover this evolution in the pieces available on my YouTube channel. But your question was, what inspired these stylistic transitions from Jazz-Rock to Jazz-Funk. The answer is quite simple: our musical taste evolved as we grew older and became more mature.

During the year 2024, I will publish another 10 to 15 unreleased compositions, showcasing the creative capacity of Defroster with its various formations. Even some studio jam sessions in 1983 and 1984 are quite interesting, showing an approach more aligned with progressive rock and Latin music styles.

How did you develop your unique drumming style, and who were some of your major influences or mentors in this regard?

When I began studying graphic design at Merz Akademie in Stuttgart in 1977, I was already deeply involved in drumming and dedicated a significant amount of time to self-study. This allowed me to perform in over 20 concerts across the greater Stuttgart area with my band. It’s worth mentioning that during this time, I also played drums for a band called “Karma,” which shared a similar style to “Kanaan,” and I was responsible for designing the lettering, band logo, and posters.

To further refine my drumming skills, I invested in private drum lessons from 1978 to 1979, taught by Peter Garattoni, the exceptional drummer from the German progressive rock band “Eulenspygel.” Additionally, in 1979, my participation in the International Percussion Seminar at the Music Academy in Weikersheim, South Germany, contributed significantly to my drum set education.

It’s important to note that toward the end of my graphic design studies in spring 1981, I harbored a serious desire to pursue music studies at the State University of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart. However, a key requirement for admission was proficiency in piano, which unfortunately, I lacked. Consequently, I had no chance of succeeding in the entrance competition for this prestigious institution.

Something interesting about drumming technique: In the summer of 1981, I resided in the apartment of the municipal kindergarten. Since the kindergarten was closed during the summer, I had the good fortune of bringing my entire drum set with me. I spent the entire summer practicing, primarily focusing on self-study using the textbook “Schlagzeugschule Dante Agostini” – Studies for Drums.

My goal was to master the fast “samba drum beat,” a pattern consisting of two beats with the bass drum (right leg) and one beat with the hi-hat (left leg). It sounds like bum-bum/tzz, bum-bum/tzz, bum-bum/tzz, bum-bum/tzz…and so on. This pattern requires an average speed of 250 beats (!) per minute. The challenge lies in playing this pattern with the two legs completely independent of the movements you make with your right and left hands. Ultimately, it should run automatically without any conscious effort. It took me the whole summer to achieve this goal.

During my early years as a beginner, some of my biggest influences were, first and foremost, my idol in the 80s, the great Bill Bruford. As I delved more into “Rock-Jazz” music, drummers like Billy Cobham, Alex Acuna, and Steve Gadd became the focus of my studies, and I listened to their albums extensively.

Marc as the drummer at a Defroster live concert in 1981.

Given that Defroster disbanded in 1984, looking back, what were some of the most memorable moments or highlights from your time with the band? Is there a particular concert or experience that stands out to you as defining your journey with Defroster?

Yes, of course, there are three major events during my journey with my band Defroster. One of the major highlights was undoubtedly our group’s participation in the so-called “Sumpf-Festival” in Lindau at Lake Constance on 3rd July 1981. It was one of the first music festivals of an anti-consumerist movement in the 1980s, as no admission was charged. Officially called the “Umsonst & Draussen – Spiel und Musik Prachtfest,” it was organized by Club Vaudeville near Lindau. I played with Defroster alongside German Krautrock stars such as Embryo, Checkpoint Charlie, Rotglut, Panzerknacker, and many other groups in front of almost 30,000 festival-goers.

Defroster concert at Umsonst-und-Draussen Festival, Lindau 1981, showcasing the audience.
Defroster concert at Umsonst-und-Draussen Festival, Lindau 1981, featuring the band performing.

Another notable experience was our engagement at the legendary “Club Sinkkasten” in Frankfurt/Main on April 11, 1982. The venue was renowned in the international music scene, and all my band members felt honored to be invited there. Artists such as Klaus Doldinger’s Passport, Dieter Seelow, Jan Garbarek, Alexis Corner, Peter Hammill, Mombasa, and Herbie Hancock had already performed there in the 1970s and 1980s. Interestingly, the last event before the final closure of Sinkkasten took place on December 31, 2012.

Defroster is announced on the leaflet of the program at Club Sinkkaster in Frankfurt in April 1982.

The undisputed highlight of the twenty performances in 1983, in addition to a concert at the renowned Schorndorfer Club Manufaktur e.V., was Defroster’s participation at the ZELT ’83 Festival in Reutlingen. There, my group performed alongside German superstars such as Kraan, Die kleine Tierschau, and Schröder Roadshow. Our Rock-Jazz group had been booked at the last minute as the opening act for the internationally well-known Michael Sagmeister Trio.

But ultimately, the most memorable moments during the entire journey with Defroster have been all those fantastic and countless girlfriend acquaintances – lots of nice girls who have chosen me!

Interview taken by Klemen Breznikar © 2024
Editor-In-Chief of It’s Psychedelic Baby! Magazine

Headline photo: Band portrait of Defroster in the line-up of the album with singer Uschi Schneider. Photo-shooting in 1982 by Heinz W. Lautenbacher, London.

Defroster YouTube

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