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In Words: Pretty Maids

- Michael Fast - June 1995 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Ronnie Atkins - October 2000 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Ken Hammer - November 2010 - C. Ehrhardt & G. Schmitz -

Ken Hammer - live in Bochum 2010
© Claudia Ehrhardt

Ken Hammer - November 15th 2010 - Bochum (D)

Exactly 2 years ago Pretty Maids played in Bochum at the Matrix, now they are back and this time they are at the Zeche. Actually an interview should take place before the concert, but it got delayed and so we talked to guitarist Ken Hammer while the support Ginger Red was playing.

You can listen to the interview here!

Claudia Ehrhardt & Gisela Schmitz


Pretty Maids: Ronnie Atkins - live 1999
© Claudia Ehrhardt

Ronnie Atkins - Dortmund (D), October, 17th 2000

A new album – Carpe Diem – something to talk about... I met Ronnie Atkins at a restaurant in Dortmund. It wasn't the first time we met and so soon we got into a conversation about the new album and other things...
When I looked at the cover at the first time, I was like "what the hell is this", but after a closer look it makes sense... "First I saw a draft in black and white. So I just saw our symbol, I haven't seen the band name. The finished version is great." The title Carpe Diem means cease the day. Is this a kind of band motto? "Yes, but it doesn't mean to over do it. Just live your life and use your chances..." Which is a good motto to live. And that's what Pretty Maids is doing now for almost 2 decades! A long time in which the Danish offered about a dozen albums... So you might wanna know how Carpe Diem sounds... It sounds like Pretty Maids! In my opinion the band developed their own sound in an early stage of their career. "A few weeks ago I was on a party and someone played stuff from our debut... After all this years and I long time where I haven't listen to our old material, I have recognized that even in that days there have been the Pretty Maids sound! Not as it is today, but..." On Carpe Diem the quartet offers a kind of classical mixture incl. rockers, fast melodic tracks and ballads, probably not the type of ballads you might expect... "There is no second Savage Heart on it, but with Wouldn't Miss You and Clay there are two slow melodic tracks. Lyrically both can be categorized as ballads, musically..." Actually both songs are really great, perhaps not as strong as other ballads of the Danish Dynamite... Somewhere in an interview for the current release I read that Until It Dies sounds like Savatage.... "Matthias Breusch said that, right?... Anyway, it's a songs which starts slowly and perhaps it has the typical elements which Savatage uses... Sirens was one of my favorite albums in that days... Until It Dies is maybe not a typical Pretty Maids track, even if it contains all the typical elements. Most of the songs could also be on one of our earlier releases." That's one of the reasons why the Danish are playing live successfully. There are just a few bands who can mix up old and new material during the set and stay on the same quality level. The songwriter duo Ronnie Atkins / Ken Hammer grown through the years. "Song writing became a natural process. We don't think about which direction we wanna go, it kinda happens." Perhaps that's part of the secret behind Pretty Maids... Another thing is that you believe Ronnie what he's singing / saying, it feels pretty real. He seems to live every track. "I'm not the best singer in the world, but I do what I love and if I would try to do something else people won't believe me." Ronnie is all heart and soul when he's singing, acting on stage. That makes the shows so powerful and intense. 'We will tour next year, starting in Denmark as usual and then touring Germany and other European countries.' Last year at the festivals the quartet offered a fantastic set even if it was raining cats and dogs in Wacken while they been on stage. Do they prefer playing clubs? Or is playing the big stages something special? "We love to play live! It's great to play on a big stage in front of thousands of fans, but playing the clubs is great, too." Talking about festivals... What does Ronnie thinks about what happened at the Roskilde open-air? "I always feared that something like that would happen some day. Whenever thousands of people are together there is a risk. Beside that I think that the organization of Roskilde open-air could have done a better job... Anyway, it's a tragedy!" In 1999 they released First Cuts... And Then Some. "Many fans were looking for the old stuff and we decided to re-release the stuff and add some tunes. Value for money..." The fans got what they requested and this is an advantage of the multimedia era, the fans from everywhere in the world can get in touch with the band... So these days a band website is really important... But the homepage of the Danish... "Oh.... There haven't been an up-date for ages, I know! In a week or two we'll be back with a new page! It'll be done by the guy who's doing our covers. Actually we wanted to be up-dated earlier, but it took a little longer as we expected." In these days the internet is the media to keep in touch and get latest news to the fans... "Right, we know that and we definitely will focus more on that." When you talk to fans and read the guest book you'll find again and again people looking for live footage on video... The band recorded a live album a couple of years ago, but there been no video. "This is something we are thinking about, but there is nothing decided yet!" Due to the release of the new album Pretty Maids has been on German TV! "In our days with Sony we been on TV in Germany frequently, but since that days it seems that nothing happened. In Denmark we are still on TV, there it ain't something special." Is there a change ahead of us? "The music scene is changing again. Rock music getting popular again and so there is media interest. We never cared about trends, always tried to stay the same – stick to your guns – is a common saying.... If the media is interested in us, fine... If not, we don't care." Pretty Maids are always been honest to their fans and to themselves. Otherwise they won't have survived all the changes in the scene since the early 80's! "A lot of things changed and a lot stayed the same. Cease the day and try to make the best out of everything...."

Claudia Ehrhardt


Michael Fast - Cologne (D), June 11th 1995

Pretty Maids toured successfully through Germany in April, now the Danish rockers played a few open-air concerts as headliner. Tonight the band play a single show just with their tour support Parmesan from Germany. In the early evening I met drummer Michael Fast. "Pretty Maids are in the business for more than a decade." Michael told me. "In the first years they had a few line-up changes almost on the position of the second guitarist." Remember after Pete Collins came Angel Schleifer (ex-Mad Max, now Bonfire). Later Ricky Marx came in. Then the band decided to work just with Ken Hammer, the rhythm section left and keyboarder Alan Owen had to quit through serious illness. For about 6 years the line-up hasn't change, drum­mer Michael Fast and bassist Kenn Jackson complete the duo Ronnie Atkins (voice) and Ken Hammer (g). Both are founding members. "Back in 1984 the band released their debut, a mini-album. After the release of the first full-length album Red, Hot And Heavy (1984) the band had very good reviews in the European magazines." In 1985 they played a few shows in Germany, i.e. the Christmas Metal Meeting with Warlock, Sinner and a lot more. "In these days I was a fan of the band, but haven't see them live until I play in the band." In 1987 the band released their most known album Future World (1987). This album got them the opening position at the famous Monsters of Rock (1987). The followers called Jump The Gun (1990) and Sin-Decade (1992). Scream is the current album that they present on their tour. They played a few open-airs "That's right, but just small ones. The reaction from the people were very good. Also on the tour, we played almost in the south of Germany, so we now playing a few festivals in the north to see our fans there." You signed with Massacre Records... "In Germany we signed with this small label and everywhere else we have a deal with Sony." Even the first album was released by CBS, now Sony Music." I wanted to know if it is different to work with a small company or a huge firm, "Massacre Records hadn't the abilities like Sony have, e.g. for promotion, but they care. For Sony Music we are No. 1.384 or something like that. Sony also care about us, but they have other priorities specially here in Germany. That's why we left them. In other countries Sony take a lot more care about us." Pretty Maids have so much good songs that they could play more than 2 hours without any filling song. Sure they present the new tracks, but don't forget the old numbers. "When we are on tour we never play the same set. We always keep it interesting for us. In Denmark we play more ballads, 'cause we are famous for the ballads. In Germany we can play the rocking tunes. We check out what the people want to hear," Michael explained. "We enjoy playing live, but we can't tour as much as we would like to do." The Danish are successful in Scandinavia, Germany and in Japan. Other countries are on their list to conquer musically. For Japan they recorded a special mini album called Off-Side. "Yes, we did, but we wanted to give this also to our fans in Europe, too. So we toped it with a few other songs and released it in the other countries, Stripped. It was an acoustic album with also an cover version of Thin Lizzy's Please Don't Leave Me." The cover version is a song from the 80's. In the mid-80's Pretty Maids were successful than a few years later they were nearly out of the spotlight. Now they are coming back. "I think the rock is on the way back. With a little luck we have a bright future. The scene changed the music of the late 70's is actual now. Everything comes back." That's it for the moment, the band will work on new songs soon and a new album will be out early next year.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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