Select Page

Czakan: Unreal and Ready To Rock!

Czakan: Unreal and Ready To Rock!

Czakan: Unreal and Ready To Rock!

German Hard Rock band Czakan returns with a new album entitled Unreal – the first new release since more than 30 years!  Now signed with Pride & Joy Music, Czakan at first re-released their debut album State of Confusion through the esteemed record label.  It’s been a good number of years, but Czakan is now ready to rock once more, and their Unreal endeavor is a thrilling comeback album well worth seeking out.  Highwire Daze recently caught up with bassist Frank Schrafft to discuss the reformation of Czakan, what is was like to record a new album after such an epic hiatus, his interim project Backbone Slide, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on…

How did you wind up signing with Pride and Joy Music?
Yeah, that was all by accident. It was like we didn’t have contact with the band members for years. And one day, at the beginning of last year, OG, our guitar player, called me and said, “Hey, do you want to play a few tunes with me?” So I said, “Yes, no problem.” I’m living in Heidelberg, so I went down to the Black Forest where he lives. It’s about an hour’s drive. And we started to play some ideas and drank some beer. And then OG made a small video for his Instagram account. We put this on his Instagram account. Ten minutes later, a friend of his called and he has connections to Birgitt (owner of Pride & Joy Music), and sent this small video to Birgitt and she said, ”Yes, I want to have this.” We didn’t even think that this is going this way.

The new album is called Unreal, which actually you’re getting signed to Pride and Joy. That’s like an unreal story. So, is there any overall story behind that title? What does that title mean to you?
The story behind it is we were together 33 years ago. We did the State of Confusion album and then we split up by some… We don’t even know the real reasons, but it happened. And so none of us did even think about making music together anymore. And about this call from Birgitt and she said, “Yes, I want to do a new album with you.” So we called all the other band members and everybody said, ”Yes, let’s do it.” So this is really Unreal!  And last year, it was I think August or September, we met for the first time after 33 years. That was very funny. But I tell you, it’s the same magic. So, you mean that every person can change? But no, it’s definitely the same like 33 years ago. That’s very cool. But Unreal!

What was it like going back into the studio after 33 years?
That was very funny. The last time with OG, I did the Backbone Slide thing. When Czakan split up.  I don’t know if you’ve heard Backbone Slide.

I actually listened to it for the first time last night on YouTube…
I think it was 1992, that was the last time I was in the studio. So I went over to OG’s little studio last year and there was no big machine in there anymore. So that’s completely new. It changed so much in 30 years, but it was so much fun. Again, very much fun.

What was it like to revisit and re-release that first album, State of Confusion?
That was the thing we re-released when Birgitt from Pride & Joy came. We didn’t think about that. And to tell you, I didn’t even have the record anymore. I didn’t have it. So for 30 years, I didn’t listen to it because I didn’t have the record. So Birgitt said, ”Okay. Before we make the new, let’s re-release State of Confusion.” I thought I don’t know if this is a good idea because we were not really lucky 30 years ago with this album. It was not really what we wanted. The fact is the producer imt he studio, it changed so much. And so, nobody was really lucky with it. Then last year when she came up with the idea, I listened to it after 30 years and I said, “Wow, holy shit, that’s good. That’s really good. So let’s do it!

And now you probably have a copy of it again since it was re-released.
Yes, now I have one. That was the first thing I did.

Will the band be doing any live shows or touring? Is that something you’d like to do?
Yes, definitely. What we now do is make a few live shows here in Germany and hope to get on tour maybe at the beginning of next year because we are already too late for this year, all the shows are booked so far. But we have a few ones now to do and I think that will bring us on the road again. I hope because I would like to go on tour. That’s what we always wanted. It never changed. It was always in my mind, being a rock star. I didn’t think that can happen anymore. I’m almost 60 now.

You mentioned this band before you did an album with Backbone Slide that was released on Mausoleum Records. What do you think of that album now in retrospect and why did that band only have one album?
That’s a difficult story. It’s a long story. When Michael broke up with Czakan, we still had the Intercord record deal at that time.  We were searching for a new singer for Czakan. We found Shaun Williamson. He was living here in Germany at that time. We made some demo tapes, brought tapes to Intercord and they said, “No we don’t want to do it with an American singer. No way. Forget it.” So, they broke up the deal. So, we said, ‘‘Okay, let’s do it. Let’s do a new band.” And we started the band constructing (Backbone Slide), and the first thing Shaun really wanted was to have a new record deal, and he didn’t want to spend a lot of time to find it. So, we took the first one we could get, and that maybe was not a real good thing.

The making was perfect because we were near Hannover and then we had Ed Miller from Atlanta producing it, and it was so much fun. It was absolutely great. Then Danny Chauncey came over from 38 Special and did the You ‘n I song with us. That was really cool. We were three months in the studio and it was the best time ever we had. And then we had the record and we had the tour with the Riverdogs through Europe. We had moved from Germany to Sweden and we came to Sweden to play Hard Rock Cafe in Stockholm and it was just two listeners.

Shaun came from a good show in Germany to this show with two listeners/ two guests. And he was like, ”Hey, I moved, I came all the way from Germany, two days traveled, and there’s nobody.” That really killed him. We went from Sweden to England, which was very okay. And we went home, it was February or March 94. So, then we said, ”Okay, two weeks holiday then we go back making new songs.” And in these two weeks, he flew back to America without saying a word. He was totally pissed about this tour.  That was shit – “shizer” as we say in Germany. It was this tour that killed him.

You have a writing credit on a Red Heat album, which was released on Long Island Records.  I believe one of the Chakan members was in that band. Tell me a little about that project.
Yes. Randy was in this band. I didn’t play in Red Heat. It was Randy playing their drums. They took an old song from us this time, and that’s why I have the credit there, but I didn’t even know I had the credit. That’s cool!

Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of Czakan?
Definitely not. I’m only doing this. There’s so not enough time to do another project. I don’t want to do it. I want to do this one.  It’s now or never. No other things around it… for me.

What’s up next for the band?
We meet tonight in the Black Forest again and we have the rehearsal studio there. So, we’ll meet there tonight during the weekend to rehearse all the songs and then the first show is on June 17th here in Heidelberg. There will be maybe 2000 people there, which will be very cool. And a week later we have a show over in the Black Forest in our hometown. It’s open air, there. All the old friends will be there. So, I think this will be very cool. And then we have the indoor summer festival in Hamburg that would be around 5,000 people there. It’s a three-day festival. And we play with Mike Tramp from White Lion. He’s headlining this day. And that will be very cool.  And then it’s about to write new songs!

Czakan is:
Frank Schrafft – bass
Randy Arcachon – drums
Oliver “OG” Güttinger – guitars
Tom Fein – keyboards
Michael Schennach – vocals

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Czakan on Faceboook

Skip to content