Interview: Hartmann – Good Music For Hard Times!

Hartmann – Good Music For Hard Times!

Oliver Hartmann was always a force to rely on. Take his work as touring guitarist for AVANTASIA, as the leader of PINK FLOYD tribute band ECHOES and as a solo artist – the man delivers since 2005 and – to be precise – even before as the frontman for the neo-classical rockers AT VANCE. Reasons enough to share a word or two about his jubilee record “15 Pearls And Gems”.

I think it was yesterday when I reviewed your first solo effort “Out In The Cold” 15 years ago. Time has passed so quickly, but which have been your personal highlights?

God – there were so many, Standing on stage as a headliner of the greatest metal festival of the world in Wacken was something I never dared to dream about. But the work with ECHOES and HARTMANN and the great reactions from the fans over the years fulfill my aspirations as well.

Do you see yourself more as a solo musician or as a band member?

I absolutely see no difference because I enjoy both.

You could have easily done another “Best Of”-CD with a bunch of new tracks for this anniversary but you give your fans five new ones, five cover tunes and – guess it – five live versions – all recorded in SASCHA PAETH’s studio. High quality all over the place. How much time did it take to realize this project? 

Yes, I could have done this. But when thinking about this event me and my boys were absolutely sure to give something back to the fans and we came to the decision to choose this format. But I have to correct you – the live tracks were mixed by Dennis Ward.

“Can’t Stop This Train” is a great kick-off to start the record. Seems you are unstoppable musically?

You might say so – but I’m not quite sure. At the moment during the corona crisis, this train stands at the sidetrack. Hopefully not too long, but we had to postpone the CD release party scheduled for April 23rd to June 26th .

So that means the release of the CD will be delayed as well?

No, because the promotion campaign has started already with the release of two singles and the launch of the video “When The Rain Begins To Fall”. We decided to leave the release date as planned because the people outside are longing for some good music during these hard times!

Who had the idea of choosing “When The Rain Begins To Fall” for the cover section? A very famous track back in the 80s but not very often redone since then. The rockier approach impresses me very much! 

Thank you for the compliment. The initial plan was to take five pop songs of the 80s and play them in the HARTMANN style. But this failed because Toby “stole” “Maniac” from me for his latest album. So I started to rethink my schedule and took this one – an idea Toby had years ago. I am glad that Ina Morgan, who I know for 25 years now and who is in the AVANTASIA touring band like me, was more than enthusiastic to join me. I think the result speaks for itself! 

“Street Cafe´” by ICEHOUSE and “I Go To Extremes” from BILLY JOEL are great tunes as well and cannot be found very often on any cover’s list. Reasons for your choice?

I had so many suggestions for the cover tunes from my band mates and my personal list, so it was quite a task to put the five tracks together. My aim was to record a bunch of songs a lot of my fans may know, but which aren’t covered a hundred times before. So “Street Cafe” was a logical choice. And because I am a huge FREE and PAUL RODGERS fan as well, I had to have something from “Fire And Water” on my album. Everybody knows “All Right Now” from that record, but the title cut is far less known. And I am proud of our version.  

AVANTASIA, ECHOES and HARTMANN – seems you’re constantly working. How do you find the time for a break or just for sleeping? You did nearly everything musically – electric, acoustic even played with an orchestra. Is there any dream unfulfilled?

You are right – I really tried a lot during my career and nobody knows what will come next. I don’t know any boundaries musically.

Where do you see yourself in 15 years – still on tour with TOBIAS SAMMET’S AVANTASIA? And what can the fans expect from Mr. HARTMANN?

Maybe I’m sitting on my patio doing nothing apart from a few gigs with Toby. Joke aside, I’m turning 50 this year and admire all the artists like Mick Box and ALICE COOPER, who are already in their 70’s and still love to do their job. To keep the same flame sparkling in 15 years is my aim!

Andreas Höhn

Author: Andreas Höhn

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