Q&A with Lucifer’s Friend guitarist Peter Hesslein, a new studio album of rock instrumentals called Night Drive 2

"I would like to see the world in a way where people would again feel like taking the time and interest in all sorts of different music and directions. To also learn to distinguish between well and poorly made music."

Peter Hesslein: Night Drive Soundtrack

In the 50th Anniversary year of Lucifer’s Friend, the band’s guitarist Peter Hesslein has released his second solo album, Night Drive II (2021), following the success of his first Night Drive solo album. The first album surprised and enchanted rock fans and guitarists alike with both its musicianship and concept – music to drive home to, after a concert… When lockdown started to lift, a number of musicians, road crew and fans contacted Peter Hesslein via Facebook to say they’d remembered the concept and just driven home to the music. Given the concept had been taken to heart, by so many, Peter Hesslein returned to the studio for a follow-up. Lucifer’s Friend reformed in 2015 and since then has recorded new studio albums and played concerts and high-profile festivals. This new studio album is Peter Hesslein’s first solo album and will be popular with fans and guitarists alike. The album has been released on Lucifer’s Records via Cherry Red. Speaking about the album, Peter Hesslein said: “I dedicate this album to all artists who work at night, as their normal working hours, but then have to drive home.”

(Peter Hesslein / Photo by Eike Hesslein)

Lucifer’s Friend was a 1970s hard rock and progressive rock band who often incorporated elements of jazz music. Despite the band’s German origin and progressive rock stylings, they are not usually classified as krautrock which had a more electronically oriented sound. Lucifer's Friend is a German hard rock band, formed in Hamburg by guitarist Peter Hesslein, singer John Lawton, bassist Dieter Horns, keyboardist Peter Hecht, and drummer Joachim Reitenbach. The group was an early practitioner of heavy metal and progressive rock; they also incorporated elements of jazz and fusion into their music, especially in their fourth album Banquet of 1974… and the other is part of music history.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Special Thanks: Peter Hesslein & Billy James (Glass Onyon PR)

How has the Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Music with all its facets has never influenced my view of what is happening in the world. My path in music was characterized by the goals of perfection in virtuosity and composition.

How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started making music?

I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old. Inspired by Beatles and Shadows and the American Rock'n'Roll stars in general. At the age of 18 I became a studio guitarist and worked with many arrangers, where I get to know many different facets of music. When I was 23, I founded Lucifer's Friend. When I was 25 years old, I joined the James Last orchestra and was a member from then on. It was a great time to work with other music professionals and to travel the world several times. On the side, he continued to work with Lucifer's Friend and recorded records. Working with Topp musicians from all over the world. After the death of James Last I worked intensively with Lucifer ́s Friend and also played at festivals

What has remained the same about your music-making process?

In my music production, the guitar has remained the composing with the guitar. I used to develop the songs with my colleagues. Today I play all the instruments myself.

"Since the beginning of my career, I have always composed and mainly wanted to make my own songs. The key to living a successful musician is to always put the music before parties or celebrations." (Peter Hesslein & John Lawton / Photo by Nikolas Fenrich)

How do you describe 'Night Drive' albums sound and music philosophy? What characterizes the new album "Night Drive 2" in comparison to previous "Night Drive"?

"Night Drive" arose from the idea of creating music with my possibilities at my own studio, that invites you to relax and listen to in today's wild times. I remembered live gigs (which haven't taken place for a year) at which I had a long way home after completion, and I was grateful for good music on the radio. Music to drive to. "Night Drive 2" is a bit rockier than its predecessor to not disappoint the Lucifer's friend fans who are rock fans.

Where does your music and lyrics creative drive come from? What do you think is key to a music life well lived?

Since the beginning of my career, I have always composed and mainly wanted to make my own songs. The key to living a successful musician is to always put the music before parties or celebrations.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What music moment changed your life the most?

All the music moments in which I could play with top musicians (Jazz/Rock/Classical) gave me a new kick in any direction of the music every time.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I’ve had thousands of studio sessions and various gigs. I remember one experience in particular. We were on a Lucifer's Friend European tour with Van Halen. Eddy and I often jammed in the dressing rooms. I was amazed at his way of playing, which I hadn’t known yet. On the other hand, I was also proud when he asked me how I played with so many chromatics through harmonies.

Why do you think that Lucifer’s Friend music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Lucifer ́s Friend always had its own style, characterized by the composition and the singing.

"My most important experiences are always to learn; to experiment a lot and develop a passion for music, no matter how old you are. Music is something that contains infinite variations. There are only 12 notes, but through different sounds and rhythms, we have the opportunity to create results in countless ways." (Photo: Lucifer's Friend, hard rock and progressive rock band who often incorporated elements of jazz music / L-R: John Lawton, Peter Hecht, Herbert Bornhold, Peter Hesslein, Dieter Horns c.1970s)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

What I miss mostly nowadays are the grandiose concerts, about which you could talk to your fellow music colleagues for weeks and have discussions. My concerns for the future of music are primarily aimed at the young musicians and their prospect of a reasonable existence in order to be able to start a family as well. What about operas, the ballet, and classical concerts? Most of the kids only listen to electronic music and know nothing else. Where is the cultural education?

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would like to see the world in a way where people would again feel like taking the time and interest in all sorts of different music and directions. To also learn to distinguish between well and poorly made music.

What were the reasons that made Germany in the 70s to be the center of Prog Rock researches and experiments?

I think that Prog Rock had most of its origins in England but for us it may come from the influence of classical music in the German culture. The interest in composition. Peter Hecht for example has a real classical background as his father was a conductor. We were also into fusion, whether it was jazz or classical. We like to keep it musically interesting.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

At the moment I'm working on songs that are influenced by South American music.

"Music with all its facets has never influenced my view of what is happening in the world. My path in music was characterized by the goals of perfection in virtuosity and composition." (Peter Hesslain / Photo by Gerianne Brenters)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

My most important experiences are always to learn; to experiment a lot and develop a passion for music, no matter how old you are. Music is something that contains infinite variations. There are only 12 notes, but through different sounds and rhythms, we have the opportunity to create results in countless ways.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Music shouldn't really influence people. It should help people deal better with their emotions in order to be able to make life better and more interesting.

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