A Few Words With...Frank Bossert

Interview by John A. Wilcox

For all intents and purposes, multi-instrumentalist Frank Bossert is Eureka. His latest project is Shackleton's Voyage and features guest turns by Troy Donockley and Billy Sherwood among others. Progsheet grabbed Frank off the quarter-deck and sat him down. Here's what he had to say...

PS: What is the first piece of music you recall hearing as a child?

FB: Daddy Cool from Boney M.

PS: What was the first album you ever bought & why did you buy it?

FB: It was The Beatles 1967-1970 (Blue album) - it was the music that was around me at the time. I loved almost every song on it!

PS: What was the first guitar you ever owned and do you still have it?

FB: It was a very cheap Fender Stratocaster clone named Fairmont and I earned the money for it by picking strawberries in school holidays! I had to sell it to get my first bass guitar.

PS: How do you feel your family and upbringing effected your decision to pursue music as a living?

FB: In almost no way - it was something that came from deep inside of me - very sudden with a big bang. It still doesn't feel like I have any choice.

PS: What was your first paying gig as a musician?

FB: It was a club gig at the Logo in Hamburg - still a very famous one!

PS: When you get that first inspiration for a song, what instrument do you use most often to get a demo of your ideas down?

FB: That depends from what kind of music I'm working. When I'm writing rock-stuff it's often the bass guitar. For many tracks on Shackleton's Voyage I started from the keyboards.

PS: Tempus Novum is one of your signature pieces. Why do you feel it has become such a popular song?

FB: I think it's quite unique in terms of language, structure and instrumentation, but on the other hand it sounds very natural, simple and to the point. It's one of those recordings that turn out working and sounding exactly the way you had in mind and that happens not too often. That's what makes writing music such an adventure. There is no formula for success.

PS: Tell me the story behind the song The Calling off the Compass Rose album.

FB: I tried to write a song that sounds like a lost folk song brought to the light from a past century. It's a spooky story of a love that could not be caused to class distinction - a very classical folk topic. I'm very pleased with this one.

PS: When you contacted the London Royal Geographical Society about using photos for the Shackleton's Voyage album, what was their reaction to a rock musician recording a work based on Shackleton's journey?

FB: They told us that it sounds like an exciting project. They licensed it after they checked the finished artwork and that was it. I suppose the amount of art rock fans at the RGS is not excessive...

PS: Troy Donockley is such an evocative player. How were you able to get him onboard for Departure?

FB: I've been in loose contact with Dave Bainbridge since I contributed a track to his Songs for Luca 2 project, so he made the contact to Troy. At that time Troy was still a member of Iona. I sent him an mp3 of Departure and he liked it a lot. I had the pipes in mind when I wrote the tune so it was in the right key for Troy. He is a very kind guy!

PS: As you immersed yourself in the project, why do you feel Shackleton put his life in such peril?

FB: I think we have to go back in time to understand this. In the world of 1914 people were used to demand something from themselves. The danger was surely not a goal but it was clear to everybody that all this could happen. To make something out of a man's life in these times was mostly linked to the fact that you had to leave the comfort zone. It's a clich´┐Ż, but these men were not made by gym-memberships - they had to face real life!

PS: Tell me a bit about the music behind The Challenge and how Billy Sherwood came to be involved with the piece.

FB: In an early stage this track was planned to be an instrumental. Later I thought that the structure and the harmonies called for vocals, so I wrote the lyrics and sang some guide vocals with the idea in mind to ask Billy if he likes to sing that song. It was at the time when we got in touch on MySpace. Billy liked the song and the lyrics so he agreed despite the fact that he was very busy. I sent him a mix and he returned it with all the great vocal tracks he is known for - I really think the tracks on Shackleton's Voyage are some of the best vocals he did (I dare to say it because I read it in reviews). At this time the track had an arrangement near to an unplugged sound with no drums. Billy's vocals led me to change it the way it is on the record now. I'm a big fan of catchy, strong choruses - I think this is one of my best songs. I was so happy with it that I wrote another song for Billy.

PS: What about the song Will You Ever Return? made you decide that Kalema was the right fit for it?

FB: Kalema is a vocal group of three girls. I saw them performing a cappella songs on a private occasion and the girls blew me away - there were about 50 people and just about everyone had tears in his eyes. Since then I tried hard to find an idea to get them on the record - because it's definitely a boys story! Then I had the idea of giving the girls a role as the wives at home singing a lament kind of ballad. We had a great session when we recorded that song - everybody felt so easy - despite it's such a sad song!

PS: What is the next project you have in the works?

FB: I have a newborn lust in working on more physical rock songs. We (that's my drummer Steve Hanson and me) are working on a power trio thing these days. It will be named "Taurus" and we have a teaser of the first song on a brand new MySpace site. The link is www.myspace.com/eurekataurus. It's our new baby and we're very excited about it at the time!

PS: Please tell me 6 CDs you always enjoy listening to.

Rush - Moving Pictures
Yes - Going For The One
Mike Oldfield - Incantations
Pink Floyd - Animals
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation
Moving Hearts - The Storm


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