Hartwig Biereichel was born in 1950, in the port city of Hamburg.
As far as I can remember, I had a very brave childhood in a quiet, normal family, as so called middle-class. The “Wirtschaftswunder” took place in Hamburg, most everybody had a job at that time. The first thing I really can remember was a scene in 1954 during the final-game at the football worldmastership at Bern – Germany became “Weltmeister” and that was so much meaningful for this totally destroyed and scared country. There only was one of the first tv standing inside of a shop – and outside there was a crowd of about 50 people watching the “Endspiel” between Hungary and Germany – without any sound. But even as a very young boy I realized that everybody wanted to create a better life- situation and they all were very busy. My father got a Job at “Siemens” and later on at “NDR” as an engineer. As a family, we were proud to have a TV at circa 1957 and a car too, a VW-Beetle.
The first thing I can remember is that I hated the lessons on “Musik” at school and later in High School, because we were only taught about classical and opera things like Mozart and Beethoven. I had to learn playing the wooden flute – what an awful instrument! At home my father preferred the typical after war swing things like the Glenn Miller Orchestra. I had to like this music too, because there simply was no other music played on the radio – and I hated “Schlager” at that times. But then, at the age of 14, something important happened. My friend was one of the first kids, who had a tape player. It was one with the green “Magic Eye” and the weight was about 30 kg! We went into the basement –it was the only place to hear something loud and without Interruption, and he played to me “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. I never heard such heavy and powerful sound before, and surely that moment was the kick that brought me to rock music. The only radio station I listened to was NDR2 – only a special daily thing called “Musik nach der Schule”, moderated by Klaus Wellershaus. That was the only “Sendung” playing actual prog-rock and more specified rock music apart from the “Charts”. By the end of the 60s, I can only remember listening to British/American music. I’m sure, there was no comparable music played on German radio stations. All the main German radio stations played mainstream like Manfred Mann’s pop hits and so on.
The second most important thing was one of the last the live-concerts of The Beatles in 1966 at Hamburg/Ernst-Merck-Halle. For the rest of my life I will never forget my feelings, when they started to play “Paperback Writer”. It really was overwhelming and I knew at that moment, this will be my “thing” in the future. At this age of 16, I founded my first group called The Guys. Later on I went to every concert of the famous groups like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Colosseum and so on. They all played at the “Musikhalle” and the ticketprices were about 20 German Marks – so even a “Lehrling” (apprentice) could effort that.
I had three years apprenticeship as a “Forwarding Agent/Speditionskaufmann”. Not the most exciting time, but I learned a wide range.... Yes, that was during the time as “The Guys”. They were a typical “School-Band”, and we played things like Peggy Sue and so on. The decision to be a professional musician came so much later, round 1978, when NOVALIS was really settled. I don’t have set lists of Greenlights, but I can remember playing stuff like SANTANA, HENDRIX, STEAMHAMMER and so on.
I met Lutz Rahn the first time late 1970, when we joined what would become Novalis. Lutz was formerly with CAPRICORN, they were more a Jazz thing. Lutz had (and has...) a B3 with Leslie cabinet, and me and my Ludwig set - this kind of quality equipment of course had a role at that times. In 1970 there were three musicians (singer, guitarist and a bass player) - and they were looking for a keyboardist and a drummer. So they placed an ad in the Hamburger Abendblatt and Lutz and I answered, but we both didn’t know each other before! We changed from the band name MOSAIK to NOVALIS after some time, because there was a tv-show for the “older generation” and that was not what we would like to be seen! I feel the reason to change into Music of our “own” was because it was boring to copy the Anglo-American bands. It’s not easy to explain, but we all felt that we had a soul of ourselves, based on the German music history. In our case, we had a very strong feeling for classic and very melodic things. Other bands “switched” to electronic or spacey things, also the direction of very “free jazzy” was very popular, twelve tone-music with 5/4 beat.
Neither Novalis nor I had ever political things in mind (for the lyrics...). I know, that there was a strong “Fraktion” of political engaged bands (Agitation Free, Ton Stein Scherben/Rio Reiser, Witthüser&Westrup) but that was just another scene. Regarding the “68er-Bewegung” - I was 18 years old at that time. This age at that time was not as it is to be 18 today, I just came from school and started as a “Lehrling”. But I remember that my Grandma always elected Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, because he was so “gutaussehend”! My political interest came so much later - when I had my family and when I was thinking about Future - Umweltverschmutzung, Atom-Kraftwerke and so on. As you may know, some of these problems were the reason to produce the “FLOSSENENGEL” album in 1979.
There was just a big split after Singer Jürgen Wenzel had to leave the band by end of 1974. The first album “Banished Bridge” had English lyrics, written by only Jürgen Wenzel. But, after guitarist Detlef Job joined us and Jürgen Wenzel left us, we had no really singer (both Dtelf Job and Heino Schünzel had vocal parts, but they were not really happy in doing this and they had no interest in creating lyrics. The second problem was, that we had to produce the second album. That was the point when we met Achim Reichel for the first time. And, this is always his honor, he had the idea of singing German lyrics. And too, it was his idea to use the lyrics of the famous German poet Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich
Freiherr von Hardenberg) – and that was a brilliant idea. The songs were ready at that time, but without lyrics. And “Es färbte sich die Wiese grün” and others, that really was the “I-Tüpfelchen (“icing on the cake”) to the music.
I loved especially these two bands, and they played Hamburg several times. Regarding Yes, they had a wonderful “technical” thing I was interested in : They used a very new kind of PA, consisting of just one speaker packed in a huge so called “Horn” on every edge of the stage. And the sound was overwhelming - as far as I can remember. Genesis I first saw in May ‘70 or ‘71 - as one group among three or four others. It was a Charisma label presentation. I remember these remarkable masks and
costumes worn by Peter Gabriel and “endless” songs with thousands of riffs and breaks - that was my music!
I really can understand, that so many fans are asking again and again for a “reunion”. But, and please try to understand, there are thousands of reasons, why we never thought about this thing. Just to put out a few: The band didn’t exist for nearly 30 years now - and the members didn’t play in other bands since 1985! It’s a horror-vision for me, to go on stage at the age of 62 and try not to lose my drum-sticks... It’s impossible to be in the same feeling and power like in 1975. Apart from this, singer Fred
Mühlböck lives in Austria and he said “never again” and “don’t give my number or address to nobody - I just want to be alone.” Sad, but true. We also were something special because we had a lot of interest in getting the best live-sound and light. Especially me, when I begin to think about a reunion, this would be my answer to anyone asking for this: Just give us 500.000 Euro as an advance for 6 months of creating a new Novalis - but without any guarantee! The better idea is this : Just buy the CD “Konzerte” - but the “Remaster 2008” with 3 additional tracks - get your headset on and you will have nearly 80 minutes of Novalis concert in the best quality!