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Interview ROUGH SILK

A talk with FERDI


Well hi Ferdi, thanx for your time in the first place! How are you and the rest of the band these days?   Very good. I just came back from a three week tour with Jeff Kollman which was great. Herbert recently became a father of twins and we all are very happy that our new album has got very good reviews so far.

For the people not so familar with ROUGH SILK, a short history about the band please.   We have released 6 albums so far ("Roots Of Hate" 93," Walls Of Never" 94, "Circle Of pain" 96, "Mephisto" 97, "Beyond The Sundown" 98, "Symphony Of Life" 2001) and one Best Of album called "Wheels Of Time" released in 1999. We played many shows and tours headlining or supporting acts like SAVATAGE, HELLOWEEN, DEEP PURPLE, DIO, FATES WARNING, ACCEPT, WHITESNAKE, AXXIS, SAXON as well as BOB GELDOF, ROGER CHAPMAN and JEFF HEALY and could built a good reputation as a live-act. ROUGH SILK was founded in 1989 by me (FERDI DOERNBERG - keynoards, slide guitars), HERBERT HATMANN (drums) and RALF SCHWERTNER (bass). The original members JAN BARNETT and HILMER STAACKE left the band after the third and the fourth album and had been replaced by THOMAS LUDOLPHY (vocals) and NILS WUNDRLICH (guitars). The original drummer HERBERT HARTMANN has returned in 2001 after he had left the band after the third album. Our last album "Symphony Of Life" was co-produced by Jon Oliva, the mastermind of the American legends SAVATAGE. We bacame friends as ROUGH SILK were supporting SAVATAGE on two European tours. In March 2002, THOMAS LUDOLPHY left the band due to personal reasons but only a few minutes later it was clear, that we would not look for a new singer. we decide to split the lead vocals between Herbert, Nils and me which works very fine.

How would you like to call the music of Rough Silk?   The name says it all: ,,Rough" stands for the metal influences and ,Silk" for the unusual singer-songwriter-elements and piano-parts. (as well as some other strange accoustic elements)

You guys are in buisiness for several years. The biggest experience in you career so far, tell me about it and what makes it so special to you?   Of course we would like to be more succesful but we played many great concerts and also like the creativity of songwriting and recording very much. I can't tell you one "greatest" experience, but touring with idols like Deep Purple, Dio, Accept or Savatage was definitely a cool thing!

Let's talk about the Rough Silk releases so. How many albums see the light of day and what is yout personal fave? Why?   We recorded 8 albums so far and i can't tell you a favourite one. It would be like asking a father which of his children he likes more. I really like all our albums even though during the Mephisto-recordings we had many problems with our fisrt singer Jan Barnett so i don't like to think back to the recordings so much but still it's a good album, i think.

Your latest release "Symphony Of Life"! It took a lot of time to release it, right? We have to wait more than a year before the CD came out. What exactly was the main reason for the delay?   Actually, we have a new album out which is called "End Of Infinity". The reason why it took so long to release the "Symphony Of Life" album in 2001was that we had to wiat for Jon Oliva because his time was very limited and we had to wiat until the deal with Udo Dirkschneider was signed.

As far as i know, you did the producing stuff of two or three albums. For the S.O.L. release, uou took someone else. Not satisfied with your own work as producer or what?   I have produced the new album as well and also did much of the "Symphony" album as well. But if a legend like Jon Oliva offers you to work with you, you don't say "No" or not? The "Streets" album is still one of my desert-island albums and i always like to learn more!

Do you guys work together with Jon in the future?   We don't have any plans like that but "Never say never"!

You built your own recording studio a few years ago. What was the main reason to do that?   I had the money!!!!!! (just kidding) - I was interested in production work for a long time, so i also like to produce other bands. Also it's cool to be able to record whatever i like anytime i want.

Is it true that your drummer Herbert Hartmann has returned to the band. Actually, why did he left the band?   Well, he's back now since three years already. He left in 1996 because he became a teacher and didn't have the time anymore. We were always friends and as his situation got better timewise he returned. Sorry, no scandals!!!

Some other line-up changes to announce?   I already answer this, i think. But here's the full story how Nils, herbert and i became lead-singers. We looked each other in the eye after Thomas had left and asked ourselves: "Do we need a new singer?". The answer was a simple "NO". From that day on Herbert, Nils and i share the lead vocals equality. The background is, that we all are experienced lead singers. Nils did lead-vocals in a top 40 band, Herbert was the leadsinger in a band called Albatros and i also did lead-vocals before even though with Rough Silk. I sing a lot more aggressive than on my solo albums. So now we have three lead singers (Nils, Herbert and myself) instead of one and i can tell you: it works really well. Nils has a high voice and is able to sing the -ones performed by Jan Barnett-songs from the first albums without problems. Herbert's voice is lower and very warm. And me? Well, i simply scream around a bit!!!! Because we all sang a lot to perform the Harmony-Vocals, that were part of Rough Silk all time it was easier than we thought it would... We also played about 25 shows already and it works very well!!!

Several albums were Massacre releases. Symphony Of Life came out on Breaker Records, right?! I've heard some rumours that the new album isn't on the same label anymore. Is that correct or just a fucking rumour? An explanation please.   No, it's true. Udo's label "Breaker" is not releasing any new albums any more so our new album is released on COMMON GROUND MEDIA / POINT MUSIC. So far, we're happy with this!

Talking about the new album! Tell me every detail information the Metal To Infinity readers have to know about the new release.   Well what can i say? The first CD in the new line-up as a four piece! Title of the album is "End Of Infinity" and contains 12 songs in the typical-but improved-ROUGH SILK style that are heading to new borders without denying the roots of the band at any time. The changing lead-vocals (each of the three sings 4 songs) also bring many different colors into the picture. I think. Even more different colors come from the use of many exotic instruments like dobro, slide guitar, saz, accordion, mandoloin, hawaiian guitar, tc,...Because we are all multi-instrumentalists we've performed all these instruments ourselves and didn't just pay-like many other bands-some guests musicians-or even worse: program samplers-to do it. Even the brass-section was non other than Ralf (trombone) and myself on trumpet! Also the harmony-and choir-vocals were performed by the band members without any guest vocalists. Like always the lyrics are very weird and not in the typical metal-style!

Is it still the usual Rough Silk style or can we expect something new?    It is the typical Rough Silk style, not the typical RS style is, that you always get something new and strange. I would call it contrast-music.

It's not so unusual for RS inviting some guest musicians to participate. Who's next in line or no guests at all on the new album?   The only guest on END OF INFINITY is my father, the 83 year old violin palyer MARTIN DOERNBERG on the song "Fiddler On The Skeleton Horse". It is the first recording of my father and me playing together ever.

A different question now Ferdi! Many years ago, you guys were on tour and one of the countries you've played was Russia. Can you tell me about that Russian experience?   We played in Russia in the old system. It was very interesting, of course. Since then i've played there 2 times again and now it all became more professional but in those days we had to improve a lot. But the audience there is still great!

Did you ever played in my home country Belgium Ferdi? How was it ?   Yeah, i've played in Belgium with Rough Silk three times and with other bands like Crimson Glory or John Wesley Harding as well. It is always good food and nice people. I think i'll play in April with Axel Rudi Pell at the "BIEBOB" and in March with Rough Silk at the "SPIRIT OF 66" in Verviers again!

The greatest place on earth to play live is.....Why? This question is impossible to answer. In Europe i really like Barcelona and London. My favourite city in the USA is Austin/Texas but actually i like to travel and so i hope to discover new places very much.

What are your personal faves at the moment and what sort of music do you like most of all. What do you think of Black, Death, Thrash or 80's honest answer if it's possible!   My favourite albums at the moment are:MORBID ANGEL: Heretic / DESTRUCTION: Metal Discharge / TOBY KEITH: Shock'n' y'all / TIAMAT: Prey / ULRICH TUKUR: Morphium / DIDO: Life For Rent / DIE HAPPY: The Wight Of Circumstances / DIMMU BORGIR: Death Cult Armageddon / HEATHER NOVA: Storm / BRAD PAISLEY: Mud On The Tires / TOD SNIDER: Near Thruths And Hotel Rooms / METALLICA: St.Anger / JESSICA SIMPSON: In This Skin / IN FLAMES: Reroute To Remain / MUSE: Absolution / BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: The Rising / MONTGOMERY GENTRY: My Town / TED NUGENT: Craveman / ANDY GRIGGS: Freedom / L. WAINWRIGHT III: So damn happy / RAY WYLIE HUBBARD: Growl / DAVID KINCAID: The Irish American Song / DICKY BETTS: Let's go together.

I actually like many different kinds of music. My idols were musicians like: Billy Joel, John Lord, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Yes, Dr. John, Bryan Adams, Pink Floyd, Night Ranger, Waylon Jennings, Beatles, Kiss, Rose Tattoo, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Etc...My favourite new piano player is Harry Conninck Jr, my favourite slide guitar players are Roy Parnell and Jerry Douglas. I'm a big Death and Thrash Metal fan (Morbid Angel, Death, Obituary, Testament, Slayer, Destruction, Laaz Rockit, Kreator). I like some Black Metal (for example ABSU). The typical 80's hairspray Rock wasn't so much for me but there were some good bands too of course. My main influences are bands and musicians from the seventies and the classical Heavy Metal bands.

What is your vision of making cover songs, i mean you were featuring on some tribute albums like ABBA and ACCEPT.   I like cover versions if they are different from the original but i hate cover versions that are not creative.

Any plans for the near future?   We (ROUGH SILK) will start playing live in January. I will also touring with Axel Rudi Pell and Christopher Maloney. I'm working on my solo album at the moment and so i always stay busy.

Thank you for giving the answers and your precious time! I wish you all he best with the new album and maybe we met each other on European grounds someday, somewhere. Some final comments?   Thank you very much. Well, what can i say? If you're open-minded and interested in music that doesn't sound like all the bands with swords in their hands, check out our new album, It's definitely different!!!!!