Here's the first in the series of interviews that our reporter Dead Ripper did during his Christmas trip to Germany in late 2001. The first to come into the MetalKings.com spotlight is Michael Bormann, lead singer with melodic hard rock band Jaded Heart and former member of such underground legends as Letter X, The Sygnet and Jurgen Blackmore Group. Dead Ripper and Michael met after a show of the Gotthard/Jaded Heart tour in Geiselwind and the eloquent singer was happy to answer all the questions concerning his long and winding musical career.
MetalKings.com: Hello, Michael! This is great to meet you here in Geiselwind. The show was great, one of the best I've ever seen!
MB: Hello! Thank you very much!
MetalKings.com: Alright, first I'd like to know how you started your music career…
MB: Do you mean my personal career or Jaded Heart?
MetalKings.com: No no no, your personal career.
MB: OK, it all started at the age of 12 or 13. You know, my father used to be a musician a long time ago in the 1960s and when I was like 12 I started playing guitar and I said to my dad, "I wanna form a band" and he was like "Do it!" And then I went to school, talked to my school colleagues, which is quite a usual thing, and said "Why don't we just make a band and play music?" That's how everything started. So from that day on it was clear to me that I would do music because I was always sitting near the record player and telling everybody how to use the instruments, play music, so that's how I started. To get to this question back again, I guess I had this in my blood because my dad is a musician like me...
MetalKings.com: And as far as I know one of your first bands was Letter X, right?
MB: Actually that was not one of my first bands, it was a band that I became famous with, let's say it this way. But it was not my first band, it was the first band that I released a record with. And before that I had recordings with my band Tax. Actually, Tax was the band before Jaded Heart which had some members that are now in Jaded Heart. Before Letter X I had the Blackmore project...
MetalKings.com: Please tell more about him cause there's absolutely no information about that Jurgen Blackmore. Who is he?
MB: There's really not so much to talk about. I mean, he's a very talented guy, a talented guitar player. But everybody tried to build up on his name, nobody was interested in his music in the first degree. They just said, "Oh, it's Blackmore!" And everybody made a rip-off on him. That was the first time that I got involved with the professional musician. But before I had my band Tax and then in 1989 I met Jurgen Blackmore, he was looking for a new singer, so we went to the studio and recorded something. Actually he wanted me to be a permanent member but I refused cause I wanted to stick to my band. Anyway I stayed with Tax and it was going on. Then I got in contact with Frank Bornemann (singer of Yello and producer and engineer of many German bands like Bonfire, Steeler with Axel Rudi Pell, etc. - ed.) who produced Letter X and he knew that I was a singer. So he just invited me and he said, "If you are interested you can sing in this band". So I went over to listen to Letter X and said, "Oh... no, I don't wanna sing in this band because it's too progressive." Because I am more into this hard rock, let's say party rock and at that time I was not thinking of any real things, I was totally into life, chicks and rock'n'roll, you know. So that's why I rejected the offer and finally they just asked me to do the choirs for the album. So I said, "Sure, I would do this!" And after we finished the choirs I said, "OK, just for myself, I will do one song." And after that one song that I did in the studio they were really going after me like, "Michael, please, sing the album, whatever it is, please sing the album!" Finally I gave up and said, "OK, here is the deal. I will sing the album but I won't be a Letter X band member." So just for the press, magazines, mass media, they enlisted me as a band member but everybody in the band knew that I am not. And we made a few shows and that was it. Right after that I went to Bonfire.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, that's a kind of 'hidden' fact about this band. Everyone says that you are an ex-Bonfire member but how long did you stay there? There's not so much information anywhere about it...
MB: OK, I stayed with Bonfire for two years.
MetalKings.com: For TWO YEARS??? And why, why you didn't release anything???
MB: To be honest, I don't know. I guess, you know the band Charade?
(Note: Charade was a project of Michael Bormann and Angel Schleifer (ex-Mad Max, Pretty Maids, Sinner, Bonfire, Demon Drive). The only thing that came out of it is the self-titled album released only in Japan in 1996 by Avex Records which is currently out of rock business and releases only Japanese bands.)
MetalKings.com: Of course!
MB: The song ideas for that band were recorded with Bonfire. And we wrote and recorded those songs as Charade. And those used to be the Bonfire songs at that time. The problem was that we could not get any deal for Bonfire with me as a singer. When I joined Bonfire they were down, really down and, you know, it is always very hard to replace a singer. And they'd been quite famous in Germany with singer Claus Lessmann but... they went down with Claus Lessmann too. So I came to Bonfire when they were down and I joined them when nobody was interested in Bonfire with a new singer. They already sold no records with Claus and I guess that was the point.
MetalKings.com: So did you know about that Charade album or just saw it in a record store one day?
MB: No no no no no! I knew about it. I was Angel and me doing all the stuff together. And we decided to do an album under a different name because the songs were good and we said, "Let's just fucking do it!" So we went for an album under a different name and that were more or less same recordings that we did years ago. So we did not remix them, we changed nothing.
MetalKings.com: But as far as I know Angel is now living in Arisona, USA. Did he abandon the whole music career or what?
MB: Well, to be honest, I can't really tell what he is doing. And he was doing some things with Sabu and the last thing that I've heard about him is that he is getting separated from his wife. So we planned on a second Charade album but I did not speak to him in the last five months because I was just moving around and busy so I don't know. So it's the problem of time and schedules.
(Note: Sabu is the project of legendary singer, guitarist and producer Paul Sabu, the son of well-known Hollywood actor Sabu who starred in "The Baghdad Thief" and many others. Paul had a successful career with bands Kidd Glove (hard rock/disco style) and Only Child (pure hard rock). He has three solo albums "Sabu" (1980, mini), "Kidd Glove" (1981) and "Heartbreak" (1982) as well as two albums with Only Child - self-titled (1989) and "2" (1996). Michael is talking about the project named Sabu which also featured guitarist Angel Schleifer, bassist Jorg Deisinger (ex-Bonfire, now with Soul Doctor) and drummer Derek Smith. Two releases came out - "Sabu" (1996) and "Between The Light" (1999). I sent an e-mail to Angel who responded that the project might record more albums in future.)
MetalKings.com: And is it possible that the second Charade album will be released outside of Japan as well?
MB: I don't know, I have no fucking clue. I guess at that time... well, especially my name has been improving for last three years so it can be possible but I don't wanna say that it will happen, I can't cause I am not a big sun in the world, I am still a small light up in heaven. But it could be that it happens because so many people are interested in my work at the time. So it could be that the album comes out in Europe, in Germany or whatever...
MetalKings.com: You have such a long career with Jaded Heart but as far as I understand that your real break was with the album "IV" (1999). It seems like before that you did not have a permanent record company...
MB: Yeah, and the thing is that... to be honest, the first record company was Long Island Records but it went bankrupt because the owner of that company died, I guess you've heard about this. He was really familiar with the whole business and he was a musician by himself and he took care about everything, but then he died of cancer. And that decease took him off the business the whole company went down and that was the biggest thing happening to them. And that was why we went down because actually they did a lot, they brought out the very first album and they did a lot for it. Many copies of the very first album were sold and the company really believed in the band, especially him. But then he died and no one in the company was able to do his job. And that was, I guess, the main reason. And then with the third album we thought... well, me and my dad, we used to have a record label too, and it was a publishing company too. We started like doing demos for local bands 20 years ago and we thought, "Why don't we just do it ourselves and pay everything ourselves and do promotion and have a little more money?" And that was what we did. The distribution company went bankrupt, so we had tough luck for a couple of years. And then came MTM and that was the first really good company that sent us to a really good city because earlier it all happened just in my little demo city. And we still had some success going whatever you call success. But MTM was the first company that sent us to a professional studio with a producer and that was so far the best record we've ever made. And that's a fact, you know.
MetalKings.com: And your compilation album, does it mean that you've ended the first part of your career?
MB: No no no no no no. We just thought that there are so many bands bringing 'best-ofs' after just two records and we thought of that album because of the bankruptcy of some distribution and record companies there are so many people who didn't know the stuff we had and many good songs that we have. So we thought that we are doing a lot of records and there are still so many people who don't know us. And we thought "Let's bring out the best-of album and just let the people know' like 'Hey, this is Jaded Heart!" And after that many people said, "I wanna have this or that album where the songs are and I didn't know that the band existed before the Gotthard tour." And, for instance, everybody thought that we were a newcomer band which is not. But that's because before we didn't have the promotion and that's why nobody knew us. And by selling about 15,000 copies worldwide you can't tell about a big name.
MetalKings.com: Well, almost all of your albums have bonus tracks in Japan. And for the "IV" album you chose "Under The Sky Of Africa"...
MB: I'll tell you why we didn't choose it for the album. Well, you go into your studio, you do the demos and some of the songs are great and some not so, and when we recorded the song "Under The Sky Of Africa" on the demo it was excellent. It was really a good song...
MetalKings.com: Yeah, a great one, actually!
MB: OK, OK! But you didn't hear the demos, you only know the record and the bonus track. And then you are in the studio and you think about those things like 'what's gonna be the bonus track' and at one moment it has to happen. And by the moment when we had to decide which song will be a bonus track "Under The Sky Of Africa" was the weakest song...
MetalKings.com: (big surprise on the face)
MB: OK OK, look at me now. And when we recorded demos and we thought that these songs are great and these songs are bad. And when we did the real recordings it was the opposite. Some songs went better than the demos and some songs worse than the demos. And "Under The Sky Of Africa" was a weak one and we thought, "OK, let's make it a bonus track." And it was not just me, it was the opinion everybody had so we listened to the record and said, "So far, "Under The Sky Of Africa" is the weakest one." And, you see, as a fan you hear it for the first time and me, no, we as musicians hear it not the first time. We know how it could sound and we know how it ended up. And the final result was weaker than we supposed to hear on the demo.
MetalKings.com: Also in meantime you did a project called The Sygnet and only one album called "Children Of The Future" (1998) with guitarist Alex Beyrodt of Sinner. And why only one album?
MB: Well, Alex and me, we are coming from different kinds of music and styles. Alex is a great guitar player who is able to play everything. And the thing is that he is really into that hard direction and I am coming from the softer one. We wrote a lot of songs before we did that The Sygnet album and then we decided, "OK, let's do an album with The Sygnet" which was a compromise of what we did. But for me the album was a bit too hard and we ended up saying that we can't go on together because he was going even worse in the other direction and I didn't want that, you know. So we decided to split up.
MetalKings.com: You see, I heard that you played a song on a TV show in Germany and the song was "Wanted Dead Or Alive" by Bon Jovi. Why didn't you record it on any album?
MB: I don't want to record anything from Bon Jovi cause this was actually by co-incident. I was asked about it years ago because my voice is very similar to Jon Bon Jovi, everybody says it. So one day someone said, "Wouldn't you like to be on TV?" I agreed but I had to imitate someone and they suggested a song of Bon Jovi so I just went to the casting and it was just for that show. But I would not like to record it again because it's a totally different thing. I've been asked this question many times but I don't see myself as a... I had been reproached so many times for being just a Bon Jovi copy so I would never do this on a record.
MetalKings.com: So do you have any more unreleased tracks from Jaded Heart?
MB: A lot, a lot of.
MetalKings.com: So why didn't you release them on the compilation album?
MB: Well, there are so many years to go, so you never know. But I don't see myself releasing everything that we've been doing.
MetalKings.com: And did you ever think about making a video compilation of the Jaded Heart history?
MB: We thought about it but just like you already mentioned there is no record company being so much interested in the band to support us. OK, don't ask me as a musician because I would do everything just to make music but if I don't have anybody behind me I can do nothing about it.
MetalKings.com: OK, in the past few years the Internet thing has become bigger and why not releasing it through a website or a fan club or something?
MB: OK, who's gonna pay for the making of video then?
MetalKings.com: Well, just to make a home video...
MB: No, no. That's bullshit. I mean, when you do your job you don't wanna do it bad, right? It's the same here. I never want to release something just to have it, I wanna do it as professional as possible. And I don't wanna do anything just to make something and give people a point to say, "Hey, that's ridiculous!" So as far as I cannot release something professional I would never do this. It's not about releasing something, it's just the point of being good at what you do, being good at what you release and stand for what you do. You know, you need like a decent standard. If you are not able to, then... fuck it. That's my opinion.
MetalKings.com: OK, let's go back to Jurgen Blackmore. Do you know what he is doing now?
MB: I have no clue, I guess he lives in Hamburg because he was living there and he might be still there. But don't ask me if he is playing or recording anything right now because I have no contact with him and I don't know what he is doing right now.
MetalKings.com: I know that you toured Czechoslovakia with Jurgen, right?
MB: Yeah, but that was like, hey, 11 years ago.
MetalKings.com: And as far as I know the album that was released under the name of Jurgen Blackmore Group ("Still Holding On") was not recorded in 1993 when it actually came out, it consisted of demos mostly, right?
MB: Yes, the album was recorded I guess in 1992.
MetalKings.com: Well, the album now is a collector's item and it costs about 50 dollars. So why not re-release it?
MB: I won't do anything for it. It's not the point that I don't like it, but why re-issue things that were about 12 years ago?
MetalKings.com: Many musicians re-release all the stuff they've ever done when they get more popular...
MB: I am not that kind of guy. I will not bother about it, that's just something that I did in my life and that's it.
MetalKings.com: Is it OK if I name a band and you give your opinion about it?
MB: No, I won't do it, cause everybody does what he likes to so I don't want to give my personal opinion about what is good and what is bad, if I like this or that.
MetalKings.com: But are there any bands that are the best in your opinion?
MB: I guess, The Beatles, Eagles and that's it.
MetalKings.com: And who influenced you as a singer?
MB: Nobody. I have favorites but nobody influenced me.
MetalKings.com: So it means that you sing the way you think is right, true?
MB: Absolutely. I sing the way I am.
MetalKings.com: As far as I know most of German musicians they have day jobs not related to music. What about you?
MB: No, I don't have any.
MetalKings.com: But do you earn enough to survive from what you do with Jaded Heart?
MB: No no no no no. I make music for a living and I write songs for many artists who request them, I do some cover shows and everything that is related to music to make a living.
MetalKings.com: That might be a personal question but anyway: do you have a wife or kids?
MB: I used to have a wife but I got divorced, and I have a kid, yeah.
MetalKings.com: And does your tour-life affect your family or not?
MB: Sometimes it does, sometimes not. Your wife, kids, girlfriend or whatever gets used to it and from time to time you have a party, you are with guys and you have beers and stuff, but you have days when life really sucks and you really miss what you don't have.
MetalKings.com: Basically that's probably everything I wanted to ask from you. Hope to see you in Russia with Jaded Heart some time in future.
MB: I would love to. I think everybody would love to play in your country.
MetalKings.com: OK, let's keep in contact and we might meet again in Germany, Russia or wherever...
MB: Sure, that would be great!
MetalKings.com: So thank you, Michael, it was a kind of crazy dream meeting you. Keep holding on!
MB: Thank you very much, Michael. Have fun in Germany.
MetalKings.com: Thanks a lot. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Bye!
MB: Same to you! Bye!
-- Dead Ripper , MetalKings.com
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