MOUTHY ISSUE TWO
interview by Ian C Stewart
Prog-inflected German band Versus X was formed in 1992. The band came together when Arne Schäfer "played a solo gig, singing with acoustic guitar or keyboards. By chance Ekkehard was in the audience. He asked me after the show if I was influenced by Peter Hammill and I said 'isn't it obvious?' It turned out that he also was into Hammill and we agreed to meet to exchange musical ideas. This was the most important coincidence in our musical life and the birth of Versus X."
Guitarist Arne Schäfer and keyboardist Ekkehard Nahm maintain high songwriting standards. "Ekkehard and I are very much into composing, often following classical principles. We are very selective, and we scrutinize our compositions many times until the final version is accepted by all members of the band. We believe that this is what you have to do, even if it's sometimes a painful process, to achieve the timeless quality we are after," explains Schäfer.
Their influences include mid-period Genesis, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa. "Genesis had very refined compositions, great emotional depth, they were excellent musicians, and Peter Gabriel is THE prog singer. Other big influences were Van der Graaf, Rush, The Beatles, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, UK, Deep Purple, Univers Zero, Bach, Mussorgsky, Schostakovitsch, Stravinsky, Allan Pettersson, etc."
"We do not really belong to any scene," he continues. "We even have some trouble getting proper gigs in our hometown, where hardly any prog scene exists. However, we are more popular in other countries, mainly France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where we have also played live in the last years. This has to do with the fact that our record company Musea is located in France. Our biggest show was a festival in 2002 in Orthez, France. John Wetton was supposed to be the headliner, but he didn't show up for whatever reason. So we were asked to headline, which we were a little afraid of, but the audience was fantastic. It was a memorable concert and we played three encores."
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