Denmark’s Freddy and The Phantoms includes Frederik “Freddy” Schnoor on lead vocals and guitar, Mads Wilken on bass and vocals, Rune Rene Hansen on drums, percussion and background vocals, and Anders Haahr, on organ, keyboards, clavinet, mellotron and background vocals, who sites the late keyboardist Jon Lord of Deep Purple as a major influence. Freddy and the Phantom’s new album A Universe from Nothing has been released by Mighty Music/Target Records. Deep Purple’s upcoming album Whoosh will be released on August 7, recently postponed from the June date that we had previously reported in our Goldmine Deep Purple 'Whoosh' news article.
GOLDMINE: I am enjoying your new album A Universe from Nothing.
ANDERS HAAHR: Thank you so much. We are also so pleased with it. We recorded it at Soren Andersen’s Medley Studio where a number of international artists have recorded and mixed there over the years including Prince, Roxette, Radiohead, Kelly Clarkson, The Cardigans, Mary J. Blige, Keane and many more. It is the first time that we have recorded a full album as a band in the studio from start to finish. Usually we had to do songs in pieces between concerts on our tours, but this focused vibe worked out so well. We are so pleased that people are finding joy in it.
GM: You and I have also found joy in Deep Purple over the years as mutual Jon Lord fans so let’s start there. When I was twelve in 1970, I remember playing my cassette of their In Rock album on the bus, with “Into the Fire” and six longer songs. Their style was harder edged compared to their three prior studio albums, with a change of their lead singer and bassist. After hearing Deep Purple open for The Faces at Cleveland Public Hall on a Warner Bros. tour, a friend of mine, Jim, called me from a pay phone between sets and asked if I knew their song “Black Night,” and spoke highly of it. I didn’t know it either, as it was not on the album, but released as a single, which wasn’t receiving airplay on our local AM rock station and the FM stations we listened to only played album cuts. I later learned the catchy “Black Night” and already knew its flip side “Into the Fire.”
AH: That lineup, to me, is the classic Deep Purple. With the “Black Night”/”Into the Fire” single, I think that either one could have been the A side because both have these circular movements that turn around before they land into classic grooves. Deep Purple displayed musicianship, that at the time was quite unique. I especially enjoy Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar solo on “Into the Night” where he kind of opens up a Spanish scale, which was quite uncommon. They had a different approach that still sounds fresh and new. They have a bluesy feel that we enjoy and take that as an inspiration in Freddy and The Phantoms.
Flip side: Into the Fire
A side: Black Night
Top 100 debut: December 5, 1970
Peak position: No. 66
Warner Bros. 7405
GM: I have heard Deep Purple’s new song “Throw My Bones” from Whoosh and it certainly fits the style and power of their prior two albums in recent years that I enjoy, which includes three members from the classic lineup that you mentioned. Your new song “River of Hate” has a catchy Deep Purple-like element to it, with its driving beat and Soren Andersen joining you on guitar. Are you playing a Hammond B3 organ?
AH: Actually it is a B2. It is very similar. It was in the studio, played on recordings for all sorts of artists, and has probably been in there for the last forty years. Medley Studio is well equipped, so they have this old B2 in there along with all sorts of instruments and equipment. When you crank up the B2 with its Leslie speaker it sounds unbelievable. The tubes open up and you can also hear it on the new album’s opening track “First Blood Universe.” With the feel of the keyboard and even the Hammond oil smell, it was a total experience playing an old instrument like that.
GM: I love the orchestral sounds on “Andromeda” and the two part structure of the song, with the second part being a soft instrumental, reminding me of the approach taken on “Layla.”
AH: I play a mellotron on part two for those sounds. We wanted an ending to “Andromeda” and hadn’t composed it yet. There was a discussion about using an acoustic guitar and I thought about that, stepped away for about twenty minutes, and then said, “Hey guys I also have a Bach approach that could be interesting.” In the studio we recorded the ending, relatively unedited. We hooked up the mellotron, which was kind of old and dusty, and I had to press relatively hard to get any sound out of it. We managed to get through it and added the clavinet on top of it. I am happy you like this classical feel which is what we were trying to accomplish. We got into the moment and it became quite pretty.
GM: That is probably my favorite because it is like two songs in one. What is interesting is on “Loners on the Run,” the approach is in reverse, where it is slower at the beginning and then speeds up with power.
AH: When we compose a song we think about how it will sound live in concert and our fans like things that are sped up, so we reached a part where we wanted to speed it up a little and discussed how we would make that transition. I said that we needed to create a spicy tension. The chord changes and build are actually an inspiration from Stravinsky.
GM: The choruses on “Lilith’s Nightmare” and “The 11th Guest” are both strong and catchy.
AH: Thank you. We think so too. We are inspired by the Nordic tradition of tone and melody making. There is a huge tradition where the melody is the carrying element, like a rondo, with something going and always coming back, which is common in Scandinavian music. These two songs really go with the title of the album, A Universe from Nothing, an inspiration from Dante and Stephen Hawking and big questions on life.
GM: You mentioned Ritchie Blackmore before. He and Jon Lord certainly blended the guitar and keyboards parts in Deep Purple and I hear that type of blend in “Hunger.”
AH: With “Hunger” we said, “Let’s see where this takes us.” I feel blessed that Frederik also feels that his guitar and my keyboards should also have this blend. In many bands there are soloists who like to step out but in this band we like to blend things and share a musical dialogue live and in the studio. When I do a bit of a solo, it is more Little Richard-ish, which is a blend of boogie woogie and rock and roll. It is the right thing for the song, but it is a little funny that in the middle of the song there is this frantic outburst. The build-up before the solo is actually a salute to another of our musical heroes, Jimi Hendrix. Frederik, Mads, Rune and I have been playing for a long time now where you don’t have to ask each other, you just know what to do. That’s a blessing, really. We stay alert and are open to the musical ideas of our band mates.
GM: I like the album cover too. I enjoy old and ridiculous sci-fi movies.
AH: It is kind of scary. That is the doing of Frederik, who is also our art director and a painter as well, and he came up with this suggestion including the color and fonts. It captures everything so well and I think this album is the best we have done so far and is sort of a concept album. We draw from a lot of inspirations. In addition to classical music and Jon Lord, I also draw from Ray Manzarek.
GM: He is one of my musical heroes too and my first telephone interview in 1979. I grew up on the music of The Doors and his solo work.
AH: It is amazing to take these inspirations and create new music that we hope Goldmine readers will enjoy listening to. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. We really appreciate that you like A Universe from Nothing.