That's a normal situation in Germany when a band splits up and its members disappear into nowhere. The same thing happened to one of the best melodic hard rock bands Bonfire. After "Knockout" release of 1991 they practically disappeared causing many rumors and controversies. But their bass player Jorg Deisinger never gave up to the grunge scene and other problems of the 1990s. His main goal in life was always to play live concerts and record albums. Teaming up with another outsider from ill-fated Fair Warning, singer Tommy Heart, they wave the banner of rock'n'roll with their new band Soul Doctor. So here Jorg reveals everything related with early years of Bonfire, weird Sabu project and surely his new effort Soul Doctor. Read on!
MetalKings.com: Hello, J.D.!
MetalKings.com: Jorg, can we discuss your whole career not only the Soul Doctor stuff?
MetalKings.com: As far as I know you were born in Nurnberg.
Jorg: Ich bin, oh yeah (laughs), I'm from Nurnberg, right.
MetalKings.com: On your personal homepage you said you started as a guitar player.
Jorg: Yeah, I started as a guitar player when I was very young about 9 years old. I was practicing over the years, played in some little local bands in school and everything. And we were looking for a bass player but we never found one so I will play bass until we find one. But we never found one.
MetalKings.com: So who were your favorite bass players back then?
Jorg: Oh, definitely Bob Daisley and Rudy Sarzo. Because they're always straight-forward, they are from Ozzy Osbourne and Whitesnake and Rudy Sarzo was in both of those bands. And it was not only the way he plays but the way he performs on stage. I really liked that.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, it's really impressing.
Jorg: Well, he's not the best guitar player. Billy Sheehan he's a lot better technical-wise but a straight-forward bass player is not a technical thing, they're more song-oriented.
MetalKings.com: So among your first bands were Rascal and Dynasty.
Jorg: Well, they were not local bands, they were in the Munich area. At that time I was about 16-17 years old. We never did an album but we had demos, were playing little festivals in Germany and we also did some support shows for the German band Accept. It was my first serious experience because Accept were like heroes of mine. It was really funny because years later when I did the first Bonfire album we recorded in Cologne in Dierks Studios and we met Accept again during their "Russian Roulette" recording. And that was really good because they asked us to do some backing vocals so we did it for their "Russian Roulette" album. So it was a great experience because like I said they were heroes of mine, I grew up with Accept and Judas Priest and it was really cool. I had a good time.
MetalKings.com: You said Rascal and Dynasty did demos. So did you play original material or only covers?
Jorg: No, no covers! We did original material only but back then never had an opportunity to record an album. We were very close with Dynasty to get a deal and then I got an opportunity to play with Cacumen that later became Bonfire. I decided to do it in a professional way so I cancelled everything, I cancelled my job because I was working in a record store and I said to guys in Dynasty that I'm leaving, they wished me good luck and went to Ingolschtadt...
MetalKings.com: Yeah, the hometown of Bonfire!
Jorg: Right, I ran an apartment there and it was great because everybody in Cacumen was working hard over the years, they had feedback from fans and from the media. Finally we made it because we signed with "RCA Records" and recorded the first album "Don't Touch The Light" in Dierks Studios in Cologne. And then we got the new management, we had an opportunity to play the "Rock 'Em Ring" festival. It was big festival, I think Night Ranger was playing there along with Simple Minds, Bangles, it was a cross of hard rock and pop music, there were about 60,000 people. It was actually the first concert we played under the name of Bonfire. And it was very successful, we sold many albums and several months later ZZ Top invited us to do the supporting job on their "Afterburner" tour. It was really amazing because ZZ Top at that time was a huge band, they had a bit hit "Rough Boy" and they came over to Europe, I think it was November 1986. So we played big arenas, in England, France, Germany and everywhere, we had 10,000 people every night. I remember we played three days in a row in Bercy, Paris, at a big stadium, it was 22,000 people every night. It was a total of 60,000 people only in Paris! So just imagine, I was only 19 years old! It was my biggest tour so far! So no wonder that after the tour everybody was happy, we had a chart entry and everything. And then Michael Wagener who did Dokken, Accept, White Lion, etc. came over to us in Germany and said, "I wanna produce your new album!" So we invited us to come to Los Angeles in 1987 and we recorded "Fireworks", the second album which was a very big success here in Germany and in other countries in Europe. It was another perfect time because we did a headline tour and every venue was sold out. Then a couple of months later, I think it was May or June of 1988, Judas Priest invited us to do the support for their "Ram It Down" tour. So we kept going and going, busy all the time. With the Priest tour we came to England and played in the famous "Marquee" club, did the Reading festival with Meat Loaf and Starship...
MetalKings.com: I guess the beginning of the "Sweet Obsession" clip was shot in "Marquee"...
Jorg: Yeah, it was done in the "Marquee" and in a big werehouse outside of London.
MetalKings.com: Well, Jorg, if we go a little back to the days of Cacumen was it really such a small label that released Cacumen albums that Bonfire still can't get the copyrights back to re-release them?
Jorg: Well, the thing is that I've never played on a Cacumen album. I was a member of Cacumen over one year but when I joined the band the second album "Bad Widow" and EP "Longing For You" were already recorded. But after the recording the drummer and bass player left. So I joined in but never had a chance to play on a Cacumen record. And like you said somebody still holds the copyrights for those songs. I talked to Claus (Lessmann, Bonfire singer) a couple of weeks ago and they're trying hard to put that stuff out on CD.
MetalKings.com: Well, after "Don't Touch The Light" album Bonfire drummer Dominick Hulshorst left. So can you tell me who played on "Fireworks" and on the tour before Edgar Patrick joined the band?
Jorg: The first album was done by Dominick, yest. The thing is that he's a very nice guy but back then he didn't really fit into the band. So he left the band to do his own thing so for the recordings of "Fireworks" we had Ken Mary from House Of Lords and Alice Cooper. He's an excellent drummer!
MetalKings.com: But why he didn't stay in Bonfire?
Jorg: He did many studio jobs and he was with Alice Cooper but two or three weeks after we did the "Fireworks" album he got an offer from Greg Giuffria. And Gene Simmons from Kiss made Greg a good offer because he had "Simmons Records" company so Ken decided to join that House Of Lords thing. So then we did an audition back in Germany, we invited at least 20 drummers and Edgar Partick made it, you know.
MetalKings.com: And did you know about Edgar before or he just came out of the blue?
Jorg: Well, I heard about him because he was in Sinner and Tyran' Pace from Stuttgart before. Yeah, I've heard about him but never met before Bonfire.
MetalKings.com: I saw also another version of the "Fireworks" album cover with faces on it...
Jorg: I can tell you why. After the album came out in Europe and became successful "RCA Records" in America released the album with an additional track "You Make Me Feel" from "Don't Touch The Light". Well, they released it and wanted to have a different cover. So they used the pictures we had on the inner sleeve of the record.
MetalKings.com: The next album after "Fireworks" was called "Point Blank". Why such a title?
Jorg: Long time ago, I don't remember! (laughs) I think it was the decision from the record company back then. It's not easy to find a good album title. We had a designer from Hollywood, Hugh Syme, he had an idea for the cover with doors, maybe he came up with the idea for the title "Point Blank".
MetalKings.com: So "Point Blank" was once again recorded with Michael Wagener.
Jorg: Yeah, you never change a winning team, you know. He went over and did pre-production in Hollywood again. I think we had 13 first takes on the album, we spent another month recording, we had a great time but also we had a problem with Hans Ziller, the band fired him. There were some attitude problems but when I look at it now years later I think it wasn't necessary to do it. Everything was so mixed up and we had pressure from the management but if I had an opportunity to do it again I would never do it and never change a member.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, but as far as I know the management fired Hans in fact.
Jorg: Yeah, actually the band had to fire him but at that time our management was very powerful and maybe we were too young, naive not strong enough say no. don't really need any advice, you know. I wouldn do it again because there are always ways clear everything out. became older wiser.
MetalKings.com: As far as I understand you tried to make Bonfire big in America.
Jorg: Oh, everybody tried in the 1980s. Actually we had some success but never made it big there. We had a deal with "RCA Records" here in Germany and if you're signed in Germany they care about you in Europe but we had a worldwide deal back then but America didn't really care us. We did a tour in the United States in clubs, some festivals. Well, the tour was OK but never got us the breakthrough.
MetalKings.com: During "Point Blank" times you recorded some music for "Shocker" soundtrack, right?
Jorg: Yeah, after we finished the recordings for "Point Blank" and Michael Wagener was mixing the album and since we were writing some material with Desmond Child he called us and said, "Hey, I got this movie called "Shocker". I am the musical director here and in charge of all the bands." He invited Alice Cooper, Dangerous Toys, Megadeth. He had that track "Sword And Stone" which was already recorded by Paul Dean from Canadian band Loverboy.
MetalKings.com: The original version was written by Paul Stanley from Kiss and Desmond Child and recorded by Kiss themselves.
Axel: Jorg: Yeah, they wrote it together. But Child was never happy with Paul Dean's version. The song turned out great by Bonfire and we shot a video for it. The song is played in the end of the movie when the credits appear.
MetalKings.com: Where was the video shot?
Jorg: We did it actually in Germany. It was an old castle of at least 800 years old. So we shot it there and outside, I still remember it very well. All the American crew came over to Germany, they were looking for a location, I think the city was called Wurtzburg not far away from Nurnberg.
MetalKings.com: The next album "Knockout" was recorded with Mack in Munich and not with Michael Wagener. Why?
Jorg: Now I think it was a mistake, we had to work with Michael again but he was busy working with White Lion, he was a very famous producer at that time. If I remember correctly he was busy for at least a year so we said we can't wait and have to look for somebody else. So we found Mack who did Queen and the first Extreme album. But now I think it was not a perfect step for Bonfire because when I listen to demos right now it sounds more like Bonfire than the album. And many people said, "Oh, that's OK but it doesn't sound the same anymore, it's not the typical Bonfire sound".
MetalKings.com: So did you tour with "Knockout"?
Jorg: We did a tour in 1992. We started with Doro and did 30 or 40 shows until September or October 1992 and then Claus left the band...
MetalKings.com: ...and you found a new singer in Michael Bormann.
Jorg: You know, after Claus left we were really sad because we did this together from the very beginning but I think he never got over the situation with Hans. They grew up together and were good friends. So Claus left and they started a new band, did some German stuff together... So I talked to Angel and Edgar and thought, "What can we do? Let's find another singer and go on!" So a manager of Accept recommended us Michael Bormann.
MetalKings.com: So did you play any gigs with Bormann?
Jorg: Yes, we did some 15 shows with him, it was a three-band package with Bonfire, Fair Warning and Victory. It was like a teaser, a warm-up to find out how it can work out. He's a good singer but after the tour we decided to drop Bonfire completely because it wasn't the same anymore.
MetalKings.com: But why you didn't record anything with Bormann?
Jorg: Well, the tour was like I said a teaser. And Michael is a good singer but very strange on stage because the singer is very important in the band. And six months before the tour I was with Angel and Edgar in New York and Los Angeles to write some songs and we had a lot of material. He sang it and did it good but it really wasn't the same anymore. I said, "We can release it but people would definitely think it's no Bonfire anymore!" That's when we decided to stop everything and do the Sabu project with Angel because a lot of songs released with Sabu were originally written for Bonfire.
MetalKings.com: And some of them were released on the self-titled album of the band Charade.
Jorg: Yes, but they were more like outtakes, something like pre-demos. Angel asked me to play there for release in Japan and I co-wrote hell of material but I'm not really proud of that stuff. So I said I don't want to have my picture on it. Actually it was Angel's thing, I didn't take care about this. I know it did OK in Japan.
MetalKings.com: So you decided to start the Sabu project.
Jorg: Yeah, we started Sabu, did two albums "Sabu" and "Between The Light" and it was more like a project. It was not easy back then because grunge and alternative music came and destroyed melodic rock scene. And even big bands like Winger and Poison had to battle for success.
MetalKings.com: And how did you meet Paul Sabu?
Jorg: Oh, like I said before we did some songwriting in America when Claus left the band. We met Paul in Los Angeles, we were having sushi in a restaurant with Don Dokken.
MetalKings.com: You know Don?
Jorg: Yeah, we wrote a song or two together in Manhattan Beach.
MetalKings.com: So where are those songs?
Jorg: They are ballads. Half of it was written by Don and we wrote another half. One was called something like "Another Rainy Day" and those songs are now only in my collection. We also wrote with Steve Plunkett and a couple of days later we were in the apartment of Mark Ferrari (ex-Keel) in L.A. So we were looking for a songwriter and Mark said, "Check out Paul Sabu, a jungle boy". People call him a jungle boy because his father was a famous actor in Hollywood, you know, movies like "Thief Of Baghdad". So Mark gave to us Paul's phone number, we called him and got together, wrote some songs and then returned to Germany to record some stuff with Bormann. So after that tour we called Paul and said, "What about making a project and you sing those songs?" He said, "I love it, let's do it!" So we sent him a plane ticket to Munich and we wrote 2/3 of the first Sabu album in only five days.
Jorg: The thing is that he came off the plane and we said, "Hey! How are you doing? What's goin on? Are you tired? Wanna sleep?" He said, "No! Let's start now!" So we went to a rehearsal room, started jamming. We already had some songs written, some ideas and we were working like 15 hours straight. And even when we had dinner Paul was writing lyrics at the back of the plate! (laughs) He turned it over and said, "Oh, I have some idea like this" and started writing and we were still eating! (laughs) That's how we did it all.
MetalKings.com: But why you never toured?
Jorg: The thing is that we were too far from each other. Angel moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1994 and I was in Germany, Paul was in Beverly Hills. So we were too far away to get something together in a way. (laughs)
MetalKings.com: And why you didn't have a permanent drummer and used session musicians?
Jorg: The original demos were recorded with Ken Mary.
Jorg: Yeah, he lives in Phoenix too so I called him and he agreed to do some recordings and demos together but he was more interested in session recordings and used to be an engineer at that time. And he also played in Impellitteri and had his own band (Soul Shock Remedy) so we thought, "If we can't do it as a four-piece band let's have a session drummer."
MetalKings.com: So why you broke up after two albums?
Jorg: It was a project but after we recorded "Between The Light" I was a little frustrated because I wanna play live and I wanna be in a band with guys that I see at least once a week but it was impossible because everybody was busy in a way. Paul was too busy with movies and he produced many bands and misicians. It was just impossible to get together for a tour.
MetalKings.com: So you decided to do a band with Tommy Heart (ex-Fair Warning).
Jorg: Yeah, Tommy called me because we knew each other from that tour with Bormann. We became friends because we're big fans of movies, we live movies so much, we collect DVDs, laser discs. We were in touch all the time, sometimes he called and said, "WOW! I have a big success in Japan with Fair Warning. I received another gold album there" But he wasn't really happy with his band anymore and wanted to have something real.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, Fair Warning mostly played in Japan and didn't tour a lot.
Jorg: It was something like the Sabu situation. So we decided to start a brand new band and that's how we came up with Soul Doctor.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, you took that name from Foreigner.
Jorg: Sure, when we did jamming and were looking for members like guitar players, drummers and we thought, "OK, what can we do together?" And we took some Giant stuff, some AC/DC and we took "Soul Doctor" from Foreigner. So after the band came together we remembered that song and we liked it so much that we decided to take it as a band name.
MetalKings.com: And how did you sign with "Massacre Records"?
Jorg: After we completed demos for the debut album our manager was shopping around for a deal. The first deal was in Japan because Tommy is very popular over there. We signed with "Marquee Inc." in Japan and "Massacre Records" did the best offer here in Germany and also with "NTS Records" in France. And even before the first album came out we had an opportunity to play with Kingdom Come about 15 or 13 shows. Then we went straight to Tokyo, Japan in April. And it was fun because even with Bonfire I've never been to Japan. Tommy told me a lot of things about Japan and in airport there were fans bringing little gifts and everything, the hotel lobby was all full of fans. So we played the showcase and after that Tommy and I did a promotion tour for about a week.
MetalKings.com: But as far as I know Bonfire were in Japan on promotion.
Jorg: Yeah, on promotion but we never played any shows there. And at that time there were only Angel and Claus because they always took only two people.
MetalKings.com: It was actually a big surprise for me that you never toured Japan!
Jorg: For me too! (laughs) After we came from Japan we played with Alice Cooper on his Brutal Planet tour. Then we played Wacken Open Air festival in August.
MetalKings.com: So how did you like it?
Jorg: Oh, that was great, there were a lot of press people over there from all over Europe and I think we kicked some ass! You know, people like it. After that we started recording new material up until this year. And then we had a little break, we did a tour supporting Axel Rudi Pell who is a good friend of mine.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, you played on his first solo album "Wild Obsession" (1989).
Jorg: Yes I did.
MetalKings.com: So do you like his other albums?
Jorg: You know, I love various types of music, soundtracks, pop albums. To me it's very important if the song is good I like it no matter what kind of style it is.
MetalKings.com: Can you tell me why the new Soul Doctor album "Systems Go Wild" wasn't released on "Massacre Records"?
Jorg: Because a band like Soul Doctor needs a lot of support financially in order to go on tour. When I remember the big 1980s we did video clips and record companies spent a lot of money, we had promotion on MTV. Now they play only hip-hop and other kinds of shit. So it's important for the band like Soul Doctor to be on the road and play for fans to get the attention. It's the only way to sell records and it takes a lot of time to get from point A to point B. And "Massacre" did a really good job but they couldn't put more money into it so we decided not to work together anymore. But they paid our tour with Dio for his new album "Killing The Dragon". And Dio, wow, what a hell of a tour! It was a lot of fun especially for Tommy because Ronnie James Dio is his mentor, you know.
MetalKings.com: Well, your new company is called "Common Ground". What is it? I've never heard about it before?
Jorg: It's a new company. It's somebody from Nurnberg working with other guys. I think they do a great job, it's a very nice label. And they do everything: negotiating do tours, press, release albums, put strategies together for promotion for bands. So we're very happy with that company. A couple of weeks ago we played in France with Vanden Plas.
MetalKings.com: And the new Soul Doctor album is a double CD in limited edition.
Jorg: Yeah, on the second CD we decided to release three live songs from a show in Paris and the Japanese bonus track "Wild And On The Run" from the first album. We thought it was a good idea to make it a bonus for our fans. Later the German company said, "Oh, we want to have it too!" But funny thing is that the double-CD version is already sold out which is good and bad too.
MetalKings.com: Do you usually record only songs for the album or you have more tracks?
Jorg: Sometimes we have more ideas and more songs but then we have to make the final decision and that's how we record 13 songs and have a couple of leftovers.
MetalKings.com: OK, the first track on the album is called "Living The Life" and it's featured on the "Rock Star" movie soundtrack.
Jorg: It came together because Steve Plunkett who wrote the song is a good friend of ours. So he sent us some of his stuff including that "Rock Star" soundtrack. And this song is very metal and he said, "If you want you can use it. Just re-arrange it and do it! Try to make it fit in your style!" So we made it a little more bluesy, it's more rock'n'roll and Steve liked our version a lot.
MetalKings.com: So what did you do in between Sabu and Soul Doctor? It's almost a year.
Jorg: Well, I travel a lot. I love Thailand. In 1999 I was in Thailand for three months. I traveled in this country from north to south. I was in Thailand last month and will be there next month.
MetalKings.com: Did you ever had a day job apart from music?
Jorg: I had one in 1985, it was twice a week and it was some additional money. But now I live just from music and it's enough for me to pay bills.
MetalKings.com: Are you still in contact with Michael Voss?
Jorg: Yes, several months ago we met because on the new Demon Drive album "Rock And Roll Star" with Voss there's a song I co-wrote called "You're My Home". The song was written when we were in New York writing materiel for a new Bonfire band. We wrote that song with Angel and Marc Ribler.
MetalKings.com: So are you in contact with Angel?
Jorg: We talk twice a month.
MetalKings.com: So what does he do now?
Jorg: He became a daddy. (laughs) He's recording stuff and spends a lot of time in the sun. He's doing something but nothing big. In 1994 he left for America and now we mostly talk about weather and not music.
MetalKings.com: OK, Jorg, thank you very much for the interview!
Jorg: Thank you! My pleasure!
thanks to Mr. Stefan Treu from Common Ground Media
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