Band - Henjo Richter
"My name is Henjo Richter and I was born in Hamburg on November 24th 1963. What's interesting is that I have had very musical parents who also had a piano at home and that was basically also what I started with. I also used to take lessons for a while, that was about at the age of 6 and lasted for some three years. I only played classical music. Sometime passed and then I discovered that that wasn't really what I wanted to do. So there was need for a guitar and my parents went and bought an acoustic guitar. I never had any lessons, I'm a totally self-taught person and I kept trying hard and working on it, looking what sort of things you can do with it. The first band I had at the age of 13, that was also the time when I got my first electric guitar, one of these bloody strat copies für DM 198 and a hellish fuckin' small amp, but I still have got this one today. In that band I only played some rhythm guitars as I didn't even know that you also can play solo parts. Half our material were cover versions, half were original songs of our own and we also played here and there on a few occassions. After that I joined a band which did that Maiden/Priest-like sort of sound and we only had our own songs. Unfortunately we never got to do an album, but we had some really good gigs. Rampage was next then. That is kind of funny in a way, because there is a bit of a connection there as I replaced Roland Grapow, that was in 1982. It wasn't bad, that music, there were a couple of good basic elements and I think it might have been possible to make more out of it. There was just hardly any competition with other bands at that time. That next thing that happened then was Charon, maybe some people remember that name. They have also made two albums and in fact they had a really good sound, that was good music. There were also two guitarists in the band although I have always prefered to play alone, but somehow that never happened, also now. There were a couple of arguements then between myself and the second guitarist and so I left the band, which I should not have done as it turned out later because after changing the name into Mydra they recorded another album and went on tour with Nazareth, and of course I would have liked to do that as well. I took myself some time off from playing then, and I started to write songs. In terms of songwriting I had never participated a lot before, I used to be shy and so I was always kind of holding back. Yes, and then I just started to make my own stuff. It was also difficult to find the right people and the suitable band. Things always went that way that musicians were being replaced all the time. Years ago bands used to stay together, nowadays unfortunately that has changed quite a bit, it has been like this for a lot of years now, actually, there are line-up changes over and over again which I think is a pity, because I just like the idea of a constant band. To me music is life and so is kind of a family, and I want to have to do something with that. Therefore I have to like the people in the band, making music is not a job for me, my job is a different one, I'm an art designer, art designing is my thing.
I also formed a cover band who I played Uriah Heep songs with. And then I went back to the keys. That band I still play with. That was also good, getting back on stage again because when you don't play live it's just shit. Besides, I also have a second cover band called Catch The Rainbow and I feel even more related to that music. That's really good people, for example Uli from Helloween and Jens Becker (ex-Running wild) are part of that band among others. And then, and that has to be pointed out as well, I used to hang around a lot with Helloween. Right from the beginning, actually. The first ever gig was so terrible that I did not even stay until the end. I also applied to them when Kai left them, but unfortunately I came too late. Markus is the one I have known for the longest time, he is really a good mate. I did not have too much to do with Kai at that time, from time to time we just met here and there. When the split with Ingo came up I tried to do something with him. Unfortunately he had been a bit kind of 'though the wind', if you know what I mean. It really could have become something good, but he was just mourning so much for Helloween. And we all know what happened in the end then. It's a pity, I really would have liked to do something with him. He was a great drummer! Yes, and how have I come to Gamma Ray? Hm, good question. It went very quickly, actually. The singer of the Rainbow cover band made a few recordings with Kai here at the Hansen Studios and he also sang a few numbers in the rehearsal room. Seems like he wanted to join GammaRay as their singer. Well, that was how I heard that Gamma Ray were looking for a second guitarist for the spanish tour and so I just came down one time. We played together for a few hours, I took myself one more day to think about it and then it was alright. The tour went really fine, it was so nice and we had a really good bandfeeling - also with Thomas, although at that time he had already been more or less out of the band, really - from the beginning to the end. And that was very important to see that it would work well with GammaRay. The only hard thing about it was that I had hardly any time to learn and get familiar with all the songs, altogether I had about ten days. And as I had never played anything of it before it was not really easy.
Anyway, I generally don't like things when you have people who are not really into it, in that case I better leave my hands off it. When I do something, I do it proper. And I think that with GammaRay I will be able to do that. Concerning the style and the music that also fits well together. Maybe I'll write something which goes into some slightly differnt directions, which I think is healthy for the whole thing, without going completely astray of course, that will not happen. My style is exactly something like the 'Keeper I' album.
Music means feeling to me and anything that has to do with it, both ups and downs. The perfection obviously would be to achieve that the listener can feel for what you were thinking when you wrote it. Then the aim has been reached. This is my wish."
(written right after he joined Gamma Ray in 1997)
Photo © 2012: Arne Kowalewski