I wish I could give you a fantastic tale of tours, recordings, videos and a rising star, unfortunately, that would be a lie. There are two constants in my music bio: my determination to bring my musical baby to life and my doing it alone.
It was so from the very beginning. Noone introduced me to KISS, I discovered them on my own, looking at album covers in a store. I was twelve then. Two years later, I saw their movie for the sixth time and at night, I found myself unable to sleep, until I understood the source for my nervous energy: the truth that while I was a die-hard KISS fan, being a fan wasn’t enough. I understood once and for all that I’m a doer, not just a watcher, and I had been writing little songs and lyrics early in childhood.
From this point on, every decision I made was made with this new goal in my mind. Tracey was born. I started learning to play the guitar, played on the streets to save up for my first electric guitar, started writing songs. I participated in a young composer’s competition and was allowed to perform one of my first Hard Rock songs live on public radio. I focused on improving my technical abilities both as guitar player and vocalist, wrote more and better songs.
In 1988, I made my first demo recording, using my father’s old hifi – tape machine. I had actually given that miserable little cassette tape to KISS, and the late Eric Carr, probably the nicest musician any fan could ever hope to meet, even wrote me about it, saying there seemed to be some good ideas on it.
Two years later, I met someone who had a 8-track home recording studio and managed to make the first professional recording of two of my songs. They were played on a public radio program and got good reviews in several nation-wide music magazines. I founded my first band then, CRAZE, which didn’t come ahead due to continuous line-up changes and fell apart eventually.
In 1991, I helped out a local all-female band, the SHE-DEVILS, for a while and played a couple of bigger gigs with them. I also founded PASSION, which, too, suffered a long list of line-up changes, but at least there were a couple of local and nation-wide gigs and a new recording, 24-track (“Passion”) this time. This, too was played on the radio and received favorable reviews, but it didn’t get to the next level, due to people’s unwillingness to really work towards achieving that.
I knew I couldn’t get ahead in Berlin, so I left in 1994 to attend a half-year program at Musicians’ Institute (VIT). There, I got to know Lenny J. who became a steady member of PASSION. All seemed well for a while, MI offered a dependable source for good musicians who really meant it. We got ready for the stage, wrote songs together, but, alas, school programs do have a definite end. When everybody had graduated, they decided to return to their home states, Lenny founded his own band, Elegantly Wasted (originally called “Rock and Roll Soul”) and that was it. At least, we did record a 16-track demo (“Everything is in this box”) with two drum students and another student’s friend, Björn Englen, who already was a professional bass player back then. This was done at the end of 1995 and spring 1996. I had come to the end of my financial rope and tried really hard to stay in the US legally while making a living. That took most of my time and energy for quite a while. Not finding capable musicians who wanted to play Heavy Rock (“We got dropped by our label, I’m done with that.”) and finding a mate instead didn’t help matters. Overall, I had spent five years in L.A., I had grown both as a human being and as a musician and songwriter, but I was also unwilling to stay in the US. I returned to Berlin and the next years had to be devoted to building up a home and a financial basis for everything else to come.
I returned to the US in 2004 to record six songs for my first album “Just try and ignore me -but you can’t”, again with Lenny J. on lead guitar, Björn Englen on bass and an outstanding professional drummer, Glen Sobel.
The reason for the album title, apart from my determination to bring my baby to the public light, was a two-year period in which the studio owner and sound engineer had tried to pretend I didn’t exist and he didn’t have to hand over the recording (that had been paid in full two years before!).
I then re-recorded vocals for “Dancing in a Circle” and recorded a ballad “Last Conversation” in 2007 in Berlin working with three studio musicians, Andy Schumacher (Dr), Sven Mühlbradt (B) and Guido Pyka (Acoustic and Lead Guitar). The final product (the ten-song-album with a 16-page booklet printed on FSC-certified paper) was released in December of 2007. I haven’t got any distribution for it yet. CD Baby used to distribute it online, but as they changed their terms of service, I had to terminate that.
Since then I have been looking for musicians to play all this live, unsuccessfully so far. Apart from the generally difficult Hard Rock scene in Berlin, this is probably due to the fact that people good enough to play this stuff look for bands with management and booking agents to back them up. That’s the reason I haven’t been able to attract a suitable drummer so far. I need to present myself visually, so I’m planning on making a film on the ballad which is based on a story by Charles Dickens “A Tale of two Cities”.
I’m also currently in a trial phase for the post as lead guitar player in one of Reverbnation’s excellent Hard Rock bands. Of course, I won’t give up on PASSION. Things have started to move, I can feel it. This brings me to something I did learn while living in the US: I’m not really alone. God has been with me all this time. I don’t mean the God portrayed in organized religion, I mean the source, the creator, S/He, the loving energy and organizing force that is there for all of us. God’s on my side, eventually, I’ll get what’s mine.
All Photos Credit: Alexandra Knuth