Early summer 1966, infected with Beatlemania, brothers Rainer and Werner v. Gosen decided to form their own Beat band. Born in Flensburg and raised in Hamburg they attended the Alexander-von-Humboldt grammar school in the suburb of Harburg. Both had previously taken piano lessons. Rainer took up the bass, Werner guitar and schoolmate Arno Bredehöft drums. The trio called themselves THRICE MICE and had ambitions of making it to the top which started well by successfully taking part in many of the "Battle Of The Beat Band" competitions.
In August they beat 6 other bands to win first prize in the Hamburg grammar school Beat-Band-Battle at Hamburg-Alsterdorf School. The newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt used the following headlines to report the event: "Beat Battle Too Loud For Music Teacher" and "Judge Sat Outside". The article from August 24th reported "ear numbing Beat Music, ear numbing applause, 7 Hamburg Beat Bands fought it out in the heat of the moment for the first prize. The Hall was boiling and only one person was left outside - the judge! It was just too loud for the music teacher who should have been a competent jury member, which he in fact was albeit from a distance. He sat on a bench in the gangway in front of the hall and listened from there. After 2 hours of noise the loudness ebbed and he announced the winners - THRICE MICE".
That THRICE MICE didn't even attend the host school and still won was a sign of their talent and ambition. The victory brought them recognition in the already growing Hamburg scene and was followed by the band winning a Beat competition organised by one of Hamburg's largest papers the "Harburger Anzeigen und Nachrichten" (HAN). The event with 24 bands battling it out took place in February 1967 at the Friedrich-Ebert-Halle in Harburg in front of an audience of 1,200. THRICE MICE won with nearly half all audience votes cast and one of the jury members from the famous Hamburg Star Club profoundly commented: "I thought that THRICE MICE were best". The event was well received and the music critic Willi Hofmann tried a sociological cultural historical explaination: "… I have to say that the press' approach towards Beat Music is to be applauded. As with all people's movements the power comes from the roots, from the undifferentiated and basic state of awareness. The natural phenomenon of Beat is a huge protest against the fraying of modern Jazz Music, against everything old and rotten and against constraint. It works like the trumpets of Jericho and it is a wonder that the venue was not damaged by the noise.
It is a victory for electricity that can easily be enhanced und undermined by voices, it is ancient magic and new technology, similtaneous ecstasy and monotony. Within the stylistic barriers of few chords and rhythms the bands are set apart by personal effort. The relentless hammering and the brightness can be likened to Pop-Art in painting, a protest against all petty-minded mealy-mouthed behaviour. Without mentioning closeness it is the expression of directness and digression, a real sign of the times but in fact ancient. The youths in the hall consumed the noise with deadly earnest faces".
Whether the fans present saw it this way is questionable. In any case Rainer and Werner found flowers outside their house after the concert, left by young girls as a sign of their adoration. This wasn't the only recognition for their hard work. The prize for winning the HAN competition was that the four top placed bands were to appear with a track each on an EP. THRICE MICE decided on a self-penned piece called "An Invitation". The song, whose style could be compared with THE WHO, gave the band the possibility to work their way to the top professionally. The EP, which is now very rare, was lent to us by Rainer v. Gosen and "An Invitation" is included on this CD. The band's local successes continued and the third v. Gosen brother, Jürgen, was brought in as road manager.
The band took a break in 1968 when Rainer had to join the German Army on national service. Arno Bredehöft joined the Beathovens and left the band for the best part of a year. Gerd Adlung took over the drums and Hans-Hermann Jäger came in on organ. When he had completed his duty Rainer returned to the band together with Arno and the original line-up was together again. It was apparent then that the band had reached its musical limits as a trio and was thus complimented by three experienced musicians with fine pedigrees: Karl-Heinz Blumenberg (vocals, alto saxaphone, percussion, flute, guitar) had played Jazz, Skiffle and Folklore, Wolfgang Buhre (tenor, alto and soprano saxophone, clarinette und percussion) played jazz with Chris Barber, Monty Sunshine and Albert Nicholas, the last new member Wolfram Minnemann (organ, piano, guitar), also from a Jazz back-ground, had played Folklore with members of the legendary City Preachers.
This was the line-up that made their eponymous debut released by Philips in 1971. The members varied musical experience exemplified the importance of bringing all these different musical directions and stylistic perceptions together under one roof.
All the groups songs were developed collectively and after they started with the usual beat and pop music they tried some soul and reached the end of the road. By playing cover versions of international hits the band saw that they were impairing their own compositions. A promotion text from their record companies "Rolling News" summed the situation up nicely: "THRICE MICE's music is based on a medium-heavy rock basis that has many variations whereby the jazz influences are prominent. A classical mood is found in parts of their best song "Vivaldi's Revival", part progressive, part blues. "We don't want to rubber stamp ourselves" say THRICE MICE. "There are groups that you recognise by their rhythm which may have its advantages but it would put us into a corner. Each one of us plays at least two instruments and we are open to everything and feel that we can offer more".
The fruits of that can be heard on the THRICE MICE LP comprising four tracks. First "Vivaldi", the band's hit followed by "Jo Joe" the volatile idiosyncratic philosophy of a contemporary man living his life in the present (translator's note: we didn't understand that in German and it is only fair that you don't either!). The third opus is taken from Joachim Ringelnatz Pate's "Fancy Desire", the story of a deer in the park that turns out to be a sculpture. Last is "Torekov" a track with a peculiar story. Some of the band were camping in Sweden and got to know a pretty Finnish girl who, when she was passionate, would say very strange things in english. Her mutterings were worked into the song as the main text and Torekov was where the camp site was.
The album was recorded in November/December 1970 at the famous Windrose Dumont studios in Hamburg. Before this the band had become well known outside Hamburg and were one of the few German bands to appear at the Easter 1970 Pop and Blues Festival in Hamburg's Ernst Merck Hall in front of 10,000 fans. A live recording of Vivaldi's Revival from this gig can be heard on the CD. Even bigger was their presence at the Fehmarn Festival from the 4th to 9th of September 1970 in front of a crowd of 25,000 which also saw Jimi Hendrix's last live perfomance before his death on the 18th September. Alexis Korner introduced them on stage and according to the record company jargon joined them a few minutes later. Two tracks from this gig are also included as bonus track on the CD.
THRICE MICE hoped that their status as semi-professional band would get better after the first album but in 1972 the band called it a day when Rainer v. Gosen moved to Frankfurt am Main due to work committments. The remaining members tried to keep THRICE MICE alive but eventually decided to break up the band. Werner v. Gosen and Karl-Heinz Blumenberg recorded two albums with ALTONA before Werner quit the music business. Blumenberg had later success with Leinemann, Wolfgang Buhre is still an active musician, Wolfgang Minnemann emigrated to Portugal and Arno Bredehöft died far too young.
Translation: Trevor Wilson
Special thanks to Rainer v. Gosen for his great support.
"in the beginning we played our music just for fun. we never thought that anybody could be interested. but playing it on stage, we realized that people liked it. so we thought it would be nice if everybody could have the chance to listen to what we call "our music" - and we decided to make this lp.
we hope you all will enjoy it, as we enjoyed recording these tracks. we shall not forget any of our friends, who helped us to succeed at least."
thank you all:
friedrich for recording and mixture
jürgen and dieter for driving and coffee etc.
and all the others for just hanging around.
Bonustrack DRIVE ME
Bonustrack PIG II
Bonustrack VIVALDI'S REVIVAL
Bonustrack NEW LIFE
Bonustrack AN INVITATION