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In Words: Demon Drive

- Jochen Mayer - Nov. 2001 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Jochen Mayer live Nov. 2001
© Claudia Ehrardt

Jochen Mayer - Düsseldorf (Germany) - November 9th 2001 -

It's been quite awhile since Michael Voss and his band played live. That was in the days ofCasanova, now they are Demon Drive. Before today's show I had the chance to talk to bassist Jochen Mayer to get some answers about renaming the band and about the new album.

As Demon Drive they returned awhile ago and the first sign of life was the release of Heroes. Now you return to the stages....

Right, last Monday our new album Rock'n'Roll Star hit the stores and just 4 days later we play live for the first time as Demon Drive.

Actually Heroes was the return of Demon Drive, even if in Japan a same titled album was released as Casanova. I guess that this still is mysterious for some fans... Beside that the albums are not the same.... There are differences, not just another artwork...

That's pretty simple, we got an offer from Japan where they were still interested in Casanova. They re-released all 3 albums and they entered the charts there! So they wanted something new, a new album to be released in 2000. We already had new material written, coz we never split up. We were writing songs through all the years, coz we wanted to play. So we used the chance and released Heroes in Japan. It was pretty successful in Japan and later we found in Udo Dirkschneider a business partner who was interested to release this in Germany. He wanted to release a 1:1 copy of the Japanese version on his label Breaker Records. But 2/4 of the band didn't wanted it. They wanted to get back on the German market with new material and a new image which would be more expensive. The offer we had was just for the finished product, not for a new album. Udo just offered us to release a copy of the Japanese Heroes Europe-wide. That was something two of us didn't wanted and so we split up. And next day Demon Drive got reunited. Demon Drive was a side-project Michael, Angel and I founded back in 1995 when there was almost no hard rock scene. But we never played live. It was an album for the underground scene just because we wanted to do an album and nobody expected it to be that successful! It never been planned to be more than a side-project. Michael and Angel have been song writing together through all the years and so it was an easy decision to go on as Demon Drive. We still had the Udo's offer. We had to change the name, coz he had done a name protection signed by all four of us. It made sense at the time we did it, coz we wanted to avoid that one is leaving and could still use the name. At the same time it meant that we couldn't use it as well. Also we weren't allowed to use material which was recorded with the ones who left. So Udo told us that we have 4 weeks to re-record the best Casanova songs and also some new tracks and to release it under a different name. Officially Demon Drive was still existing, so it was easy to pick it up again. Angel liked the idea and Frank was ready to join us. We decided to name it Heroes so that fans look twice. We wanted to avoid that fans think it's a new album of Demon Drive and so probably recognize that there are 8 tracks which they probably have from Casanova. We already had new songs and so we put these on the Demon Drive Heroes. That was our metamorphosis and that's why both named Heroes. For both we got very positive reactions. At that point it was quite clear that the next album will have new songs and a new band line-up, coz Angel left. So Rock'n'Roll Star was a new start. To quote what I wrote in our newsletter: The former Casanova members are aware of their past, but not obliged to the past. That's history, even if we will always have Casanova songs in our setlist, coz Demon Drive is the only legitimate follow-up of Casanova!
So, why shouldn't we play old tunes? Also we might re-record one or the other song. A song like Renegade was only on the on the Japanese version and which we re-recorded for Rock'n'Roll Star. On the next album we might have Here Comes That Feeling Again which was just released on a single of One Night Stand and never made it on an album. We re-recorded the track yet.

That's a different thing, coz most won't have it and it won't be easy to find.

That's the reason. We'll continue this with the coming album. If we want to do 3 cover versions, then we will do it. It's better to do a cover version than to record a weak track. It's okay to cover, if you don't have better songs.

Beside that hard rock is getting more popular again and many news fans might not know the old tunes. Only in Japan probably....

Unfortunately it looks like a lot of crap will be released in the name of melodic rock.

It's the same with every trend, bands jumping on the bandwagon and label who want to make as much money as possible before the next trend is coming.

And that's bringing it down again. We won't let us categorize as melodic, hard rock, heavy or whatever! In 1992 we as Casanova were too soft to be hard rock. At that days bands like Pink Cream 69 and Axxis were hard rock. We simply play rock and that's what you can hear on the album. It's no longer heavy or hard rock, just simple rock music. Rock music like Bryan Adams did it way back in 1983.

Too many categories these days.

Right, there is AOR, melodic rock, Nu metal and all that crap. And finally everything is a kind of rock! Bryan Adams is playing in Münster at Halle Münsterland a sold-out show, most bands will never experience this. At the moment there are negotiations about opening for Bryan Adams and if we should get this chance, we will play right in front of the audience we are looking for. That would be the right way to start.

So this is the time! You can't wait another 10 years... ;-)

Right, but we never gave up. We existed all this years and wrote songs.

Just people didn't know about.

In 1993 grunge came up and we preferred not to record another album instead of doing a bad grunge album. The time wasn't right for us.

On long term it make no sense to pretend to be a grunge or whatever act. Be honest, be yourself!

Beside that we are too old to try something new! Our album has a special sound which you probably recognized...

Unfortunately not, coz I haven't had the chance to listen to yet.

You get a copy later! Okay, the album sounds different! It's rough and loud. Everything is handmade, no effects, nothing! The album sounds like the vinyl's you know from the 70's! Like Sweet or Suzie Quadro, simply rough and loud, once in awhile an organ part, that's it! Also the songs, they are simple rock tracks which you have to listen to several times. It takes time to get into. There ain't a track like Hollywood Angels, but we aren't in 1991! The CD is different and we got criticized for it lately. But this is Demon Drive! This is how we want to be, to sound! We could have get a more polished sound, but we don't wanted to. Therefor we got criticized yet. On the other hand we won't sell one more copy just through the polished sound.

On the other hand the media and the fans like the rough sound of bands like

Glucifer and Hellacopters.... But that's a different kind of music...

Rock'n'Roll Star is an album we can be proud of even in 2 or 3 years, coz it's how we wanted it!

You should be satisfied, coz it's your album, your work...

Sure, Rock'n'Roll Star is different, so what? The cover, the songs, the rough sound that's how we wanted it! The Demon Drive Heroes had sold 3,500 copies, perhaps we sell less, perhaps we sell more....

Time will tell!

I think, if you give it a try, you'll like it! Compared with the drum & bass sounds and the old-fashioned 80's songs... You'll recognize the difference!

When you play the songs live, the people will like it, I guess.


Therefor you have to play live. Anything planned yet?

That's another thing, it seems that people haven't learnt anything...

Mankind never learnt from the past!

There were two tour we could have played, but the money they requested was too much! I won't pay the nightliner for another band, just to get the chance to play! When I call Doro and ask her to do something together, it ain't a problem. But as soon as the management get involved, it costs a lot of money. Doro and also Micha Eurich will come tonight to watch the show. It could be so easy, if bands like Pink Cream 69 and Axxis would share the bus and if the tickets won't be too ex­pensive....

It ain't the bands, it's the management!

Right, especially if there is an agency involved which is located more in the South...

I know who are you talking about.

Micha told me to be careful talking about that subject....

No problem, I know the problem and the agency you are talking about.

Okay, so we had the offer to do the tour with Kamelot & Axxis, first Kamelot ain't the same kind of music, beside that we would have been the 3rd band on the billing. We also had the offer from MTM to tour with Joe Lynn Turner and Dare, which would have fit perfectly and it would have cost as just the half of what we should have paid for the other tour!

It would have been more fun and it would have be the better package!

Unfortunately it got delayed, coz Turner got the offer to tour with Glenn Hughes. Like I said, we will do it little by little. At the moment we are talking about supporting The Tubes at the show in Münster and perhaps the same Bryan Adams as well. Should we open up for Bryan Adams in Münster, we probably will have the chance to open for him as well in Düsseldorf. Which would mean that we would play in front of 10,000 fans! Hard to imagine, but possible!

Live is always differ to a CD.

But Rock'n'Roll Star really sounds live!

There are bands who are great on CD, but suck live. You always been a good live act, no matter which line-up!

Now it sounds a lot better, more mature...

That was 10 years ago! ;-)

We are more relaxed, more mature!

Any plans for festivals next summer?

We are quite a good band for festivals. We have just to amps and our guitars! We have to proof that we as a band arrive at the festivals site and play! We won't disturb the running order. These days we have just 1/8 of the equipment we had in the past. Today we share the equipment with the opener Clan Gun. So, it ain't our stuff we have on stage! We don't care, we have our intro which introduce us as a band. We don't need a backdrop or a drum kit. So, we are the perfect band for a festival, coz we play, take our guitars and amps and we are gone!
At the moment we build up our own Demon Drive "empire", we want to be as autonomous as we can. We have Barfly Music which is our company who are Mike and Michael. They are the ones who deliver the product, the music. In the same complex is our studio. We just need a promoter and a booking agent! Nothing else! So we offer this package to the label. We do have our website resp. The German version has about 900 clicks per month and the international one has about 600 clicks.
That's what the band delivers beside the cover, the promotion and a band which can play live anytime. This package a label can sign for XXX,- Euro. If we go ahead and put it to the next level, then Barfly Music will become Barfly Records, so we would just need a distributor. It's possible to work that way which bands like Toten Hosen and Brings (German rock act - editor) do for several years now.

If you are signed to a major it always depends on the one who signed you, a change of the A&R manager and you might got kicked....

We made our experiences with a major label already...

But the smaller ones are not necessarily better.

Sure, expect you are signed to... Okay, no name dropping. Unfortunately many of the small labels can just survive through the amount of releases.

On the other hand there are people working at the small labels / agencies who made music their own...

Even these people won't do it the way you would do it. It's just about manpower! If we would have one more person working for us, I would do the promotion my own and go out to play at night as well. But even at Flying Dolphin we are just one of the bands they promote.
We don't have to tour, if a tour would ruin us financially. Instead we do single shows like today and proof that we are a band easy to deal with and hope that we get another chance. Wait and see! Just happy to be here!

Jochen didn't promised me too much, I saw Casanova several times in the past and Demon Drive are as good as Casanova were, just different.... A rougher sound and more mature... Simply rock!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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