Sunday, March 09, 2008

Next Case! ConFused5

As the night court judge said, slamming the bench with his gavel, "Next case!" I've been in Salzburg for six days recuperating from the whirlwind SolidTube project and am now in the Midst of ConFused5 country. During the week I had the pleasure of meeting with Markus, his lovely wife Joanna as well as Herbert and Regina. We have met over bier, wine, leberkäse, cheese and pizza, always discussing what all of us have closest to our hearts at the moment, the album which we are about to record for Sellaband. Last night was our first official rehearsal with the full band. There is plenty to write about, but behind every band is a story and the history behind ConFused5 is worth telling.

ConFused5's band roster is as diverse as it least here in Salzburg. The band consists of bandleader and lead guitarist Markus Melms, currently a successful business professional, Herbert Hopfgartner, a graduate of the legendary Mozarteum and career music professor on lead vocals, keyboards and wind instruments, Alex Kranebetter also a business professional on guitar and vocals, Kust Breider, banker and veteran performer on bass and lead vocals and veteran professional drummer Peter "Beda" Bachmeyer. Herbert's lovely wife, Regina, a professor of vocal pedagogy at the Mozarteum can be considered as a quasi band member as she will contribute vocals to the album and has written the texts for the songs that we will be recording.

In communicating with markus by Skype and email over the course of the months we have been planning this project, I have heard bits and pieces of how this diverse group of musicians and lovers of music came together to create ConFused5. But it was over a glass of red at Herbert and Regina's that I finally was able to piece together their story. Elements of The Blues Brothers and Sgt. Pepper run through the tale but it is pure ConFused5 from cover to cover.

Twenty years ago, Markus, Herbert and Alex formed a rock band while in school. They played school parties and local gatherings and, with long hair and wearing the fashions of those times, they dreamed of one day recording a proper album and playing the kind of concerts where someone else carried their equipment from the car to the stage. As happens with most teenage bands, the years and economics conspired to eventually bring an end to their efforts but in the case of at least one of the band members, the dream to one day record an album burned brightly deep inside his psyche.

Cut to about twenty years later. Markus, Herbert and Alex had "shed the things of childhood" as the saying goes, and gone their separate ways. For his fortieth birthday party, Markus, as always scheming to squeeze the last drop of fun from any situation, decided that the best way to celebrate would be to get up on a stage again and have a go at playing in a rock band. Can you say, "Hey man, Let's put the band back together!" Phone calls were made, emails were sent, the Rock House was reserved and there stood Markus Melms leading his old bandmates for an evening of their favorite cover songs as well as a few of the original compositions which will be recorded on this album for the very first time.

Music being the addictive drug that it is, the occasion, rather than satisfy a need, only caused the trio to want more. And so there developed a new band out of the old. Markus, Herbert and Regina started to get together over wine and cheese(sorry, this is no longer a lava lamp crowd) to play music. Eventually, new songs came to be composed by the boys and Regina was asked to supply lyrics. All that was missing was an audience and a reason to perform. And then along came Sellaband.

As Markus tells the story, I had apparently responded to another Sellaband artist in an Austrian dialect that sounded familiar to him. He sent a message to my Sellaband profile asking just exactly where I was from. I went to the ConFused5 profile, listened and liked the music, and found that we share the same roots. Eventually I learned that Markus and I were actually born in the same hospital! Naturally we began to exchange messages and communicated almost daily from that point. And now, by the grace of the almighty internet and because of our shared interest in making dreams come true, no matter how old and dusty they become, I find myself here in Salzburg making music with people I didn't know until a short time ago but who have become and I'm sure will remain fast friends.

So, it's off to rehearsal after which I'm sure I'll hear words that have become music to my ears, "Oiso, trink'n ma no' an?"

1 comment:

Gary said...

cool! great story. That's how music should be created... with love and passion.