Frank Bornemann has been the driving force behind German prog rockers Eloy, as well as their guitar player and lead singer through all the years that they’ve been active, which is actually since the late 60s (!?!) with a very short hiatus in the mid-80s. While things had slowed down a little in the last few years, Frank and his collaborators were able to complete a two part rock opera about Jean D’Ark, that he has been dreaming of making for more than two decades, by delivering the second and final part of his “passion project”, “The Vision, the Sword and the Pyre” earlier this year. We had the distinct pleasure of conversing with him once more about this endeavor and courteous as ever, he answered our questions and let us in on his future plans.
Frank - Eloy pic
Hi Frank, I’m glad we’re given the chance to talk about Eloy’s new release. Well, part 2 of “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre” completes the work, you’ve wanted to release for quite a long time. How did the process of this album differ in relation to the first, if at all and how do you feel now that it’s done?
F: First of all, I’m happy that the two versions with the band are done after such a long time. It is not easy to produce a work of this size and complexity, when the musicians live so far away from each other on different places, and only travel individually for some days of recordings to Hannover. I’ve spent 2 1/2 years of work with the realization of part1, and 2 years with the realization of part 2, but it still carries on. Next year I will start my work on the Stage-version.
Was the entire “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre” conceived – composition wise – at once or did you work on the two parts separately, with just a broad idea of the latter? You actually managed to complete this one, it a relatively short time, compared to the previous undertaking.
F: “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre” is based on a true story, so I knew the whole story from the beginning. I wrote and composed text and music at the same time. I think, nearly 5 years of working for only one project is a very long time.
During all this time was “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre” the only material you worked on or did you come up with stuff that you considered could be part of another release, in other words, do you have a plan for a future release?
F: I worked indeed nearly 5 years only for this huge project. For the version on stage I have in mind to produce further music. I’ve got a lot to do.
Being able to put this idea you had, into music, how would you compare “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre, with the rest of the Eloy canon?
F: This project is not to compare with any other work in my life. It was the biggest challenge in my career.
Are there any additional performers on part 2?
F: Not so many… some angelic voices, an outstanding female voice of an actress for the last title “Eternity”, some moog-synthesizer parts by a friend of mine, and of course the big choirs.
What are your personal musical future plans?
F: I will next realize the stage version in French, so called in France “Spectacle Musical”, with a big ensemble.
Which are these things that inspire you to write music and lyrics after all these years?
F: My fascination regarding Jeanne d’Arc.
You had mentioned in our previous interview (read here) the desire to make a rock opera out of the combined “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre” albums – but needed to write the dialogues – and you also alluded to a surprise, is that surprise the “opera”?
F: “The Vision the Sword and the Pyre” is the music for the Rock Opera (Spectacle Musical is the same). Of course… I have to write all the words for the actors and actress on stage. I will start this work very soon. I want to make this project ready for the stage.
You also mentioned that you weren’t going on the road, not unless you had finished with this project and due to an accident you had; the last time Eloy performed was a while ago. Is the surprise, concerning a return to the stage maybe? And in that case could we hope for a Greek performance?
F: Please understand, that I’m not able to answer this question already now. Please let me first finished this huge project.
You were important in helping out a number of bands that performed/rehearsed at your studios and allegedly you did help a young Heaven’s Gate to be noticed, do you have any memories of them? We recently did an interview with Sascha (guitarist & composer), now in his own right a great producer/musician involved in some acts like Avantasia etc. So I was wondering if you’ve kept in touch with them and what they’ve been up to through the years.
F: I’m not in touch anymore with them or with Sascha for years, and I have no idea what they do at the moment.
Do you have any regrets all these years? Things that you should have done or things that you shouldn’t have done?
F: No.
Finally, looking back at this point, which part of the Eloy legacy, are you most proud of?
F: A very difficult question. A highlight in my memory was the concerts in 2012/13. Listen to the double-album “Reincarnation on Stage” and you will find the answer. It was magic.
It’s time for our “weird Questions”!!! What’s your preferred format? LP/CD/MC/ 8Track/ Digital?
F: I still like analogue. The digital revolution was a disaster for the music, not only in case of the music.
What’s the best soundtrack for the end of the world?
F: Oh my God!!! Don’t give me such a question, please.
Which music kind can’t you bear to listen to at all?
F: Deutsche Schlager.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words:
F: Rockstar: I don’t like this word. Rock musician is enough. Rockstar means only, that the person is successful in the music business.
Prog Rock: Also an awful word, I prefer Artrock.
Sci-fi: It has only to do with the content.
Music Realities: I don’t know what you mean.
Is there a particular book you can’t recommend enough?
F: Régine Pernoud “Jeanne d’Arc”.
Top 3 sci-fi movies of any era?
F: “Time Machine”, “Logan’s Run”, and “Timeline” (only my personal taste).
Best TV series you’ve watched lately?
F: I’m not watching TV-series.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
F: I’m in the best band, in which I can imagine to be.
It’s always great to have you on Grande Rock Frank. We are really thankful for it! Just say anything you feel like saying before we close… thx again for the music! Take care!
F: I was a pleasure. Thanks for your appreciation.