After the first two Frameshift albums with James LaBrie and Sebastian Bach, Henning Pauly is going to a different direction and getting lesser known but as good vocalists on board. Now, he’s working with Alex Fröese (Knockdown Industries) and already working on the 4th Frameshift album with Adrian O’Shaughnessy.
I joined them for some recording sessions and I’m back now with a lot of great memories and a feel of awe and respect.
I went there as a journalist. Yes! But hey, the ones who know me well enough know that I never put my fan-girl-ism aside. What can I say? I simply don’t… Such is the flavour of Lady Obscure magazine.
So I and my fan-girl-ism arrived there Friday evening. Adrian and Henning had already recorded 5 songs and they had me in front of the soundboard the moment I got there. Imagine, I have the lyrics in my hands and listening to the new songs. If I had left my fan-girl-ism behind, the never-heard-before awesomeness before me would have beamed it up right then and there! I was sitting there in the studio, very, very impressed.
But let’s not mix subjectivity with honesty. I have my own taste and Henning Pauly satisfies my musical needs, caters to my musical interests and you know what, yes seeing the magic happening added so much to the table, to the whole experience. In fact, watching a significant part of the creative process by such brilliant musicians has changed the way I listen to music and took my expectations to a whole new level. What these guys can do in minutes is rather amazing. That moment that they come up with ‘that melody,’ ‘that riff,’ ‘that line’ is just magical! And it’s lovely to see them embracing ‘that’ moment.
Here I sit right next to the soundboard watching them focus on one part of the song and then another, playing with it, adding layers, changing melodies… For me it’s hard to see the role of those particular changes in the big picture, then I listen to the song from the top and everything just falls into place. Yes, I am stunned.
It’s straight up talent moulding the music into a new and liquid shape – and it is not, if you ask Henning Pauly. He tells me that it’s hard work.
This is a very busy bloke, let me tell you. He keeps producing and producing music. He has a huge catalogue despite his young age, in a wide range of different music, ranging from prog, classic to modern rock, to heavy, dark and more pop-oriented music.
The only thing you might find intriguing is that he chooses not to release a whopping total of six complete albums and sits on them. Well hea got his reasons.
As an individual, Henning is very well organised and self-disciplined. I ask him how much of this is from being a German and from his education at Berklee. He tells me that it’s a bit of both.
At the moment he is one song away from completing the 3rd Frameshift album – titled ‘Loading Oakfield’ – with Alex Froese. If you ask me, Alex is the next Russel Allen. What he can do with his voice is unbelievably good. The moments he goes from gritty, growl-y vocals to clean tones is something to hear… The transition is so smooth, so beautiful. Now this is some talent folks! He tells me that his experience with Henning Pauly taught him a lot!
With the completion of the 3rd Frameshift at hand, Henning started putting the 4th together without wasting any time. It’s called ‘Low IQ’ – kind of makes you curious about the lyrics. Speaking of which, Henning cares great deal about the lyrics although he thinks very few people pay attention. Adrian is taking the stage on this album with his soulful lead vocals. Add in gut wrenching melodies by Henning Pauly and you’ve got yourself musical bliss.
Listening to them record ‘Life’ there and the song becomes a favourite right then and there. Starts off with robotic vocals and background building into something more, practically explodes into a frantic guitar phrase along with the double bass. The groove is incredible. The vocal lines are awesome with catchy hooks – so melodic and perfectly executed in front of my very own eyes. With all the lyrics, the overall feel and the uplifting energy of the song, you find yourself wanting to go out there and do that thing you’ve been wanting to do for a while but couldn’t for some reason. The vocals get thicker at times and Adrian gives me goosebumps. I feel elated knowing that more gems are waiting to be mastered and then we will get to see the album soon on the shelves. Looking forward to hearing the whole thing myself!
If you want a little taste, here is the vocal session for ‘Life’
Video by Christina Leschinsky and Henning Pauly
As I watch, I can’t help but notice that the team-work between the two is fascinating. Henning, better aware of what Adrian can do than himself, pushes Adrian out of his comfort zone while Adrian’s mastery of the sound, what they are aiming for, rises with each song. And damn man, they are having so much fun. I come to understand from what I witness that producers have truckloads in making or breaking your music. Their role is much more significant than I thought!
Hmmm… Where was I? Yes… Work in progress at Henning castle – 42studios. He is also doing Shawn Gordon’s album “Psychic for Radio” – “which is a big progfest, taking you through numerous styles in the genre” according to Henning. I hear a few of the songs there and am absolutely speechless. Adrian is doing 4 songs on this album. I love the texture of his voice which he utilises beautifully with the help of his producer and sometimes he does some unexpected screams and such when they both discuss that unplanned but welcome part. Watching them toying with different ideas, playing with the song structures adding layer on layer in building up the textures, and creating the brilliant atmosphere… Inexplicably beautiful … ‘Blacken What Is Grey’ – what a song! One of the best intros I’ve ever heard and it never ceases to amaze me. That main riff and the time signature is sick. There’s something so insanely catchy about it. Adrian’s performance on this song – his high notes delivered in style sends me into musical heaven
“The song is about Euthanasia and I came up with the line, even though Adrian wrote most of it” says Henning and adds… “It is when you find yourself in a life that is just grey, you are dying but not dead, nowhere to go… You just wish someone would have the guts to finally turn the lights off and help you go, so you want someone to Blacken What is Grey…”
The song is testimony to their awesome team dynamics. Henning kick starts it and Adrian builds an epic on top. ‘It’s hard to find vocalists who write’ or so the musicians tell me every now and then… A rare one in perfect harmony with a genius – hell yeah!
It’s a whole new experience, almost indescribable, however much I try here, seeing them coming up with interesting ideas.
They also record a ballad me sitting there – you know my relationship with ballads. Let’s be honest, we’re not amused as I know it’s going to be a ballad. I watch them for a while and zone out doing my stuff as expected. Sometime later I hear Adrian’s soulful vocals pulling me out and back to the studio. I am amazed what they have done with the song in a split second. It is goosebumps all over especially as Henning would tell me the story of the song, what it means to him later on… And I know then that it will keep giving me goosebumps whenever I listen to it – as it is not just a song anymore after that conversation with Henning…
Lady learned something: there’s always more to understand and feel in those ballads! If you find yourself hopelessly in love, this one will be a safe haven for you and it will resonate with you on a very deep level.
Then Henning lets me hear the raw versions of the songs, with him singing them. The bloke can sing! I’m so sad that not all of his fans will hear the lines he recorded at 4. am some night.
Some of his experience with one rockstar is not his finest time, he tells me. Ahh bloody hell, I’m gonna spell his name. It’s no other than Sebastian Bach. Actually this is where the ideas coming from on ‘Credit Where Credit is Due’ album. It’s the album where Henning integrated electronic elements to his music. If you like the style, get ready for some eargasm… Ripping metal is working so beautifully with electronic touch, beautiful melodies, the killer riffs and the intelligent lyrics making fun of a great drama. The songs are very whimsical, entertaining and kinda sad, all at once, delivered by Juan Roos through a jaw dropping performance.
Oh, and you do want to pay attention to the lyrics, so much fun is hidden on those lines.
Henning is also adding a new album to the Shadow’s Mignon haul, after recording a live classic rock album with Adrian… It will be a modern rock album with again Adrian on vocals and Klaus Tropp on drums. Henning couldn’t stop talking about the quality of Klaus’s work and his talent.
We will be seeing him putting out whole lots of different genres as he loves exploring. He says everything is about his own progression. He does some pure electronic work for some websites just to learn from that experience.
If you think that I’m on cloud nine now, you’re wrong, there is also a downside to being in that environment and witnessing the recording session… Seriously!
Imagine yourself hearing brilliant tunes and then having to wait for the album to come out… Add now to this falling in love with a bunch of people, making new friends and missing them!
Photos courtesy of Stephan Kernbach and Christina Leschinsky.