|Dan & Jochen, let's start with the very beginning of the Bloodstone venture. According to a few online sources, Bloodstone was actually forged from the band Ayers Rock. Tell me a little bit about Ayers Rock, and how did the band split into Bloodstone and Lost Gain? |
Jochen: Ayers Rock was formed by Holger Baumann as a school band. Over the years the band became local heroes, especially when Jochen joined the band and they were able to fill even bigger, local venues. When Ayers Rock went into a professional studio for the first time to record some of their tracks, they accidentally ran into Tommy Newton (guitarist for Victory and infamous producer of Helloween's "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" album), who was to produce the songs. The demo tape stirred up a lot of interest even amongst major labels. "Fight For Jerusalem" was one of the songs we recorded, however, even in those days drummers were few and far between and so Fritz Randow, (at this time with Victory, now with Saxon) did the studio stint, but afterwards the band was still not able to play live. So began a seemingly never-ending search for a man to drive the rhythm machine of the band.
|"At the end of the day, the guys with the money made the decision." |
On the subject of Ayers Rock, we split up not due to musical differences, but due to the plain stupidity of some of the people who were involved in the band at the time. The old bass player and the second guitarist then wanted to go on with another singer to play different material (they called their band Lost Gain), but vowed to sue Holger (The founding member) and Jochen if they ever dared to use the name 'Ayers Rock' again. So, both of these names are in fact now history. Holger & Jochen kept looking for a new bass & guitar player as well as a new drummer, but were never completely happy with the line-up. Then one day Jochen discovered a small advert in a music magazine and Dan was asked to audition for the band. Dan fitted in well, but still there was the problem of the rhythm section. They were about to give up trying when Jochen was given the opportunity of getting one of the band's songs placed on a sampler. It was a song that had been written years earlier and the band had almost forgotten about it. Together with the old demo tape, the sampler brought the deal together when they were heard by the late Erwin "Sondi" Sonderbauer, a really great guy who believed in the band from the word go. He was both a metal fan and an owner of the newly founded label Long Island Records. In fact Bloodstone was the first band to have a release on this label. (LIR 0000002 - 'Bloodstone - 2000 Down The Line' was actually released before LIR0000001).
The Bloodstone EP itself was produced in a hurry, with Michael Kostak on drums. It was done quick, cheap 'n' dirty. Soon after shipping the product to Japan, Bloodstone entered the Heavy Import Charts at position 30 of the famous Burrrn Magazine! Zero Records was quick to purchase the master. They had bigger plans for the band and immediately demanded a full-length album. So, there was quite some pressure as at the time, the band were still missing members and had no new songs recorded. Long Island knew that, but regardless, promised the Japanese that an album would follow 'soon'. BIG mistake! Michael Kostak decided to drum for another band he was in at the time, so Dan called up an old friend from South Africa, who was living in London at the time, Andy Green. He auditioned and completed the line up with Jochen's friend Vito "Bobo" Popovic on bass. The band then started to write and record songs over the 6 months that followed. As everybody in the band had a daytime job, it was a hell of an effort to complete 'Valley of the Machines'. This resulted in a delay in the production of the full-length album promised to Zero by Long Island. So, whether Zero records was just tired of hearing excuses from Long Island as to why the record was postponed, or if they simply didn't like the new material, we don't know. But we guess that they wanted something in the same style as the EP and therefore they chose to release what they thought would be good for the Japanese market! NOBODY asked the band's opinion, they simply went ahead and released a combination of "2000 Down the Line" and "Valley of the Machines" and called it "Fight for Jerusalem". And that is why we have an album on Japanese import by that title. At the end of the day, the guys with the money made the decision. Not that we ever saw any of the money either mind you.
How did you stumble upon Bloodstone vocalist Jochen Sakowsky?
Jochen: We were all stumbling together after a few crates of beer!
Dan: Ha! Well Jochen and Holger WERE Ayers Rock, as you know. I joined the band and together we settled on the name of Bloodstone. So Jochen had already in fact been 'discovered' by the time I showed up.
You guys recorded your first effort, an EP called "2,000 Down The Line ". What was going on with the band at that time? Were you playing live, or getting any support from labels or fans?
Dan: Well we were doing very few gigs at the time. Instead, we were concentrating on writing material. I'm not sure we did any gigs as Bloodstone at that time.
Jochen: Well in fact, we had a fan club that we didn't even know about at the time. I found out about it accidentally years after the band split. I received a letter from a girl who told me that she was a member of the fan club. She was moaning about the fact that she would never again have the chance to hear me sing, or the band play live. So as a special favor to her, I sung her favorite Bloodstone songs and several others to her at my home in Germany. Great fun! But hey, it was JUST singing, OK?!
How did Bloodstone get involved with Long Island Records? Were you looked at by any other labels at the time?
Dan: Jochen was approached by Sondi of Long Island Records when he heard him sing on the "Rock Against Racism" demo recording sessions.
With "Valley Of The Machines ", the band seemed to mature and progress, this time effectively telling stories within the songs. With tracks like "Prisoner Of Hell" and "Fight For Jerusalem", you guys were offering positive messages on many modern day problems (drugs, war, etc.) I have even considered Bloodstone to be a Christian style band like White Cross and Barren Cross. Do you consider "Valley Of The Machines " a spiritually uplifting album or just a positive record in general?
Jochen: Well...we have never been a Christian band at all I have to admit...though I personally like quite a few Stryper songs, like "Soldiers Under Command", but more for the sound than for the lyrical content. We didn't purposely go for that kind of lyric, it's just what came out of us at the time. Let's face it, drugs, war, etc. are not exactly new problems and I guess everyone has their own take on them. But as a more or less "German" band, we have always been proud that our lyrics were different from most of our (German) contemporaries. But to answer your question, after having listened to the final mixes of the album we recorded, I was hoping that the future listener would enjoy both music and lyrics in a positive way. Actually at this time the idea was to create an album which would span several musical decades: from the 70's to the 90's, an album that would showcase the talents of the band and of the individuals in the band. And the result was achieved easily in one way and difficult in another. Easy because everybody in the band was so enthusiastic about the deal and tough because it was so difficult to put it all together so that it would not lose its flow. Many thanks to the producer of "Valley Of The Machines", Mario, for the incredible way in which he worked with all of us to produce an album we are all still very proud of to this day.
Were you guys touring at all to support the release?
Jochen: We wanted to tour however, as you know, 1995 was just the WORST year for the kind of music Bloodstone was making. The label decided against booking a tour for the band as they did not want to bear the financial risk. We had a few radio interviews. So there was virtually no way of supporting the release of the album properly. Although the song "Fight for Jerusalem" went straight to the top of a German Rock Radio Station and several other songs received a little bit of airplay in Germany, Italy and Japan, our hands were tied. We all would have liked nothing better than to go on tour, but without the support of the label we just couldn't.
After the second album, Bloodstone faded out of sight, and have not released anything since. What happened to the band after the second release?
Jochen: Well, Bobo left first, then Andrew needed to return to London, and then Dan decided to emigrate to the UK. Andy was replaced by Michael Kostak our drummer on "2000" and Bobo was replaced by Chris Becker. The band tried to replace Dan with a few guys, but never found anyone they were happy with and so they continued to work together as a four piece. However I must mention, Bloodstone played 3 live gigs after this time and one of them was videotaped by an enthusiastic amateur. This is the only existing live footage of the band.
Dan: Well there's also the footage of Bloodstone as Ayers Rock when I had just joined the band. And then there's a fair bit of footage of us recording both "2000" and "Valley". Perhaps this stuff will end on a DVD one day or perhaps some excerpts may even end up on the website. I watched it the other day and it brought back lots of memories.
What is the current status of the band members? Do they all have other bands now?
Dan: I have a new hardcore metal project called "Mouthful Of Flies". Details of which will be available on the Bloodstone website which is still under construction, but will be ready soon.
Andy has a new band called "Days of Worth". Their debut album is soon to be released and it looks like they may have some major support, as they are label mates of the "Lost Prophets". Bobo gave up bass and these days plays guitar in a local band. Holger concentrates more on his family, making a success of his business as an architect, but he still plays guitar and recently Holger and Jochen started to look for a drummer again! Some things never change. Jochen was contacted by several bands after the Bloodstone split, but he turned them all down. It seems that he is waiting ...waiting for something. He still has the voice!
Is there any way to see a new Bloodstone record in the near future?
Jochen: Well, nothing is impossible, but this will only happen if the core band members get together (Dan, Holger & Jochen), and this would of course be fueled by the support and interest of the fans. Once our website goes public we will see if there's any interest. We always enjoyed making our music.