When we could do an interview with JUTTA WEINHOLD, formerly frontlady of ZED YAGO and VELVET VIPER, we were very excited. This lady has released a few very powerful concept albums with the aforementioned bands. All the background information about these albums would make quite an interesting article. But when we focussed ourselves on JUTTA’s impressive career, we found out that she did a lot more than ZED YAGO and VELVET VIPER. We came up with so many questions (and received so much information from her), that we had to split this interview in two parts. Read about JUTTA’s first steps on the ladder of success and her first movements with ZED YAGO in this premier part of the comprehensive JUTTA WEINHOLD Story. In part 2, we will continue this special about the time between ZED YAGO, her next band VELVET VIPER and the present. Our thanks especially go out to JUTTA and her good friend Bärbel, who speaks English fluently and helped with the interview. Thanks so much for all your precious time and for telling us the real story…… If you want to visit JUTTA’s official website, and keep up with all the news on WEINHOLD, go to: http://www.jutta-weinhold.de.
Would you please be so kind to introduce yourself to our readers?br> Jutta: “My name is Jutta Weinhold and I am fifty-three years old. I was born near Frankfurt and have lived in Hamburg for about twenty-five years. Eight years ago, I moved to the south of Hamburg with my husband. We live in a house with six cats. One of them is a very old wild born tomcat, that has serious problems to meet the cats toilet almost every day – but that’s another story.”
When did you start your musical career and how?
Jutta: “When I was fourteen, I started singing in a school band. “The House of the Rising Sun” by THE ANIMALS was the first song I learned to sing. In 1969, when the only culture revolution in Germany took place, I went for an audition to Düsseldorf and this is how it started. I joined Hair and became a very convinced hippie.”
Which role did you play in Hair?
Jutta: “After three weeks playing in the tribe, I got the role of Sheila.”
After that, you played in one of the most well known productions of all time, Jesus Christ Superstar. Which role did you play in this musical?
Jutta: “One of the tribe.”
Did you learn a lot of the original screenplay version of Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair or were you supposed to come with your own interpretation and input in this well-known play?
Jutta:“There was hardly any room for individual interpretation. Anyway, the screenplay came out eight years later than the stage version.”
In 1974, you toured with AMON DÜÜL. Was this with your own band or were you part of AMON DÜÜL? And how was that experience?
Jutta: “First of all, I met my husband Ralf Basten during the rehearsals of the tour. I was actually singing with AMON DÜÜL, but at that time I was drinking more white wine than was good for me. There were always two parties in the band fighting each other on stage and behind the scene. So when Renate took some time off, one fraction of the band engaged me for a tour in France and a couple of festivals in Germany. Later I read in a magazine that FRANK ZAPPA, who was headlining one of the shows, commented on the band: ”overpowered, but under-rehearsed”.”
In the late seventies you released a few solo records. We have a copy of your album "Coming". How would you describe the music, that you played there? Would heavy rock be the right description? For those years, most of your music was quite heavy, I think.
Jutta: “The records I recorded in the seventies were only the beginning, to find out what I really wanted. For me today, it doesn’t sound heavy at all, only live you could have called it ‘kick ass Rock`n’ Roll’. The production methods in Germany weren’t developed enough for heavy rock. Besides, I wasn’t ready enough to produce myself with the same intensity as I did live. I had extreme difficulties in the studio, singing with headphones and without an audience.”
At the end of this record, we hear a big bang and then we get to hear a very short reprise of the song "Rock And Roll", in which you turn up the speed dramatically. Why did you end the album like this?
Jutta: “I think you will have to ask the producer Karl Allaut… Too many drinks and too much action in those days.”
Who were your biggest influences in those years?
Jutta: “Paul Rodgers and BAD COMPANY, Ian Gillan of DEEP PURPLE and FRANKIE MILLER. All in one: I got the blues.”
Are you still in touch with some of the musicians that played in these very first line-ups of the JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND?
Jutta: “Yes, the keyboard-player Klaus Henatsch was in the JWB in the late seventies. He talked me into the reunion of the JWB in 1999. From time to time I meet Rainer Baumann, my first guitar player.”
You played as a guest musician on UDO LINDENBERG's "Livehaftig" album and toured with him as well. How did that come about?
Jutta: “The tour producer saw me at the Logo club in Hamburg and told UDO to take me on the tour and it happened that I then stayed on with them for the following three years. My only job was to shout one blues in the middle of his set. This gave me promotion nationwide.”
In 1980 you made an album, called "Mach 'nen Bogen Um Die Drogen" ("Keep Clear Of Drugs"), an anti drug album in the early eighties. Do you still have the same thoughts about the use of drugs, twenty years later?
Jutta: “This campaign aimed at school children. I will always proclaim and convince them to keep hands off drugs, because I believe if we give kids self-confidence and stability, they don’t need drugs.”
We continue our little trip through time with the live album "Live In Chicago", which was a Hamburg rock and roll session. Who played during this session and what was the reason that you got together to record an album? ,BR> Jutta: “It’s from the time we used to play the Chicago Bar in one of the side streets of the Reeperbahn. The gig started at two o’clock at night, when the whores came back from work and took some time to relax. The whole band enjoyed those gigs very much. That scene was certainly a new and totally unique experience. A lot of English Liverpudlians of the old Star club scene were playing there, too. Among the old rock’n’ rollers, I was the young chick and when they decided to make a live album they ask me to join the session. For this recording I wrote a kind of punk rock number, called “Do it”. The band who played on the album were members of THE RATTLES, a former well-known German beat band.”
Another pre ZED YAGO thing we found in your bio, was a duo you formed with Gerd Lange. What kind of music did you play?
Jutta: “Soul music in a duet, called DOUBLE DYNAMITE. Gerd Lange, Mister ‘Hamburg Blues Band’, who recently digged out Mike Harrisson of SPOOKY TOOTH and made him sing again after twenty-eight years. If you ask Gerd today why we stopped DD, he would answer that Jutta always wanted to rehearse and I would agree.”
Why did you actually quit the JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND, or did this band continue to play in those years?
Jutta: “At that time I was touring the record companies to play them my demos I recorded with Jochen ZENO Roth. That was actually my beginning with hard rock. Totally out of the blue I got the offer of EMI, Germany for a studio production they strongly believed in and already had invested a fair amount of money.”
Which other bands did you share the stage with as the JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND, or were you just playing in the club scene?
Jutta: “Most gigs we played as headlining band. But I remember once we played in Groningen supporting HERMAN BROOD.”
We also read somewhere that you were the singer of BRESLAU, but we couldn't find this back in your biography. When did you play in this band and what kind of music did you play? I understand, you're not too proud about this time. Is that true, and why is that? [Note: I believe it’s 1981, we're talking about, but I'm not quite sure].
Jutta: “I was considering singing with them, as Jochen Roth rather preferred a male singer. So I grabbed the chance EMI gave me. It was serious heavy punk with German lyrics. During that time I wasn’t really, what you can call, political involved and didn’t quite reflect well enough about the eventual danger in their song lyrics. They were extremely provocative and the name of the band for some people implied nationalistic thoughts. This interpretation hit me strongly, as I wasn’t conscious enough of that problem arising. I never was and will be sympathetic with any kind of Nazism. I am disgusted by the fact that there’s still people proclaiming this kind of bullshit. I am against Nazism and believe that stupidity and indifference has always be the fertile grounds for these ready for violence thickheads. I was attacked by the press, received threatning letters at home and had to justify myself in talk shows. That was one of the hardest times in my whole career, because I got forced upon something that was far off my attitude. I left the band a month later. I felt ashamed for my blueeyedness. By the way, EMI was also surprised by this press reaction and the project stopped after its first release. From then on, no word had passed my lips that I hadn’t thought over a hundred times. It was clear for me that in the future I was only going to sing or write songs with serious responsibility. At that time I started to read Heinrich Heine, Goethe, Schiller and I wanted to bring those themes and contents into rock music.”
I don't think you'll be surprised that we want to focus this interview on the years that you were the energetic front woman of ZED YAGO and VELVET VIPER. We could tell our readers the concept behind the name of ZED YAGO. If there's someone, who can tell the story right, then it's you. Could you please tell our readers about the daughter of the Flying Dutchman, who chases her long lost fantasies?
Jutta: “When I read the “Flying Dutchman” by Heinrich Heine, I had the idea to create him a daughter, as I was looking for a dramatic figure that lead through the whole musical concept. It should have been a female hero (there are plenty of male ones in our world!), who wanted, did, and was allowed and capable to do everything. The story: As a spiritual creature she sails the Twilight Zone and is obsessed to gain a human body. One day she meets God and Satan who share a major problem: The people on earth have lost the fantasy and without fantasy the soul will die and without the soul mankind is condemned to die. They conclude a pact with her: She will have a human body if she brings back the lost fantasy to the people. The anchor hits the earthly dimension and the quest begins. Wherever there are legends and mythologies, you will find ZED YAGO.”
Did you already have the idea in your head of forming ZED YAGO, when you were a duo with Gerd Lange? After all, it was only a year or so after this, that you formed ZED YAGO.
Jutta: “In 1985 I got invited to a schools out metal session in Hannover with THE SCORPIONS, VICTORY and many others. I liked the metal audience so much, that I decided to make hard and heavy music in the future. Consequently strong beats needed strong words.”
The lady, painted on the first three albums you made of this ZED YAGO concept, looks a lot like you. Did you model for these paintings?
Jutta: “No, it was a total creation of fantasy.”
How did you come up with the idea of this whole concept and how did you get in contact with the band members of your first line up of ZED YAGO? Tatch, your bass player for example, was a (flying) Dutch man, if I remember right.
Jutta: “The first demos I worked out with musicians from Hannover. A leading role to get started was Fargo Pedder of VICTORY in those days. Then I looked for a line up in Hamburg. The bass player wasn’t a Dutchman, but lived in Holland for a couple of years.”
Who were your musical influences, when you started with ZED YAGO?
Jutta: “Richard Wagner, Ronnie James DIO, DEEP PURPLE, Robert Plant, LED ZEPPELIN and IRON MAIDEN.”
Did I see it right, that Bubi had curly hair back in these early days? I didn't see anything of a bald headed drum beast on your first album "From Over Yonder"?
Jutta: “Bubi actually had curly hair in those days. For the “Pilgrimage” album we made him a baldy. I think I remember he lost a bet at that time.”
In June 1988 you were supposed to play at the Dynamo Club in Eindhoven. I wanted to see ZED YAGO there, but eventually the gig was cancelled. Why was that?
Jutta: “Sorry, I never knew that we were going to play there.”
How would you describe the music of ZED YAGO? I would say that BLACK SABBATH, mixed with ZENO, with a rawer version of KATE BUSH on vocals would come close to how you sounded in those days.
Jutta: “I wanted to leave the Rock`n’ Roll fast food and rather got my inspiration from the singing Valkyries than from the L.A. posers. As I said before, I wanted the influence of literature in Rock`n’ Roll. My music had to go along with my north European roots and my mentality.”
You supported DEEP PURPLE, in the days of "From Over Yonder". How was that experience and did you meet the band members, too?
Jutta: “That was an overwhelming adventure and experience for me. Of course I met all the band members personally and they where all very friendly and natural to me. In my opinion, good musicians are rarely arrogant or big-headed. After the show in Hamburg, they invited us to play soccer, but sadly enough Ritchie Blackmore didn’t let me play, too.”
Your second CD "Pilgrimage" opens with a song called "Pilgrim's Choir". The music for this intro was written by the famous classical composer Richard Wagner. Do you know what the original name of this piece of music is (if it isn't the original title) and why did you choose this piece of music as the intro of your second album?
Jutta: “It is the original title “Pilgerchor” from Tannhäuser. As I wanted to call the album “Pilgrimage”, I was dying to hear Wagner being played through Marshall’s.”
From this album we can add RAINBOW to the list of influences or am I wrong here?
Jutta: “Yes, as I said before I like Ronnie and Ritchie.”
What do you think is the biggest difference between the songs on "From Over Yonder" and "Pilgrimage"?
Jutta: “ “Pilgrimage” is even heavier with its slow and stomping beats. The lyrics referred closely to dramatic aspects.”
You toured through Germany with LEATHERWOLF as support act. How was that experience? After all, LEATHERWOLF already had a lot of fans in the underground scene. Maybe you can share one or two funny stories of this tour with us? We read for instance that drummer Dean Roberts drank too much tequila after one gig and he actually smashed a glass window somewhere.
Jutta: “Nearly… It wasn’t a window, but a hotel entrance door and he was bleeding like a pig.”
In England you supported WASP. I think you will certainly have some nice stories about this tour. How are these guys, when they’re off-stage? Are they as mad as people say or is this all one big gimmick?
Jutta: “The guys in the band were all very nice, only Blacky was a little reserved.”
One of your gigs has been broadcasted on the BBC. Can you recall which gig that was and how did this actually happen? It must be a great experience I guess to be broadcasted through the BBC radio!
Jutta: “It was on the WASP tour in the Hammersmith Odeon and I can recall it very vividly. When we entered the stage the crowd were actually sitting down with fold arms, an expression in their faces “come on and try to entertain us”. But after a short while, hands flew up and we got an encore. I’ve been told that means a lot with the Hammersmith audience.”
Have you ever thought of releasing those live recordings, or any other live recordings, for a ZED YAGO live CD or have these thoughts never crossed your mind?
Jutta: “It’s funny that you`ve asked just now, but I am thinking about it at the moment.”
On your album "Pilgrimage" there’s the "Black Bone Song". Can we see this as one of the most important ZED YAGO songs ever? It's mentioned in almost every review as a guideline for the sound of ZED YAGO.
Jutta: “No, not really, because it was only a new aspect of the whole ZED YAGO context. People picked this song as their favourite and so it became popular.”
You also recorded a video clip for the "Black Bone Song". Could you briefly describe what happened in this video clip?
Jutta: “The dammed companions of the “Flying Dutchman” had to sing this song continually for seven years to hopefully get rid of the damnation to sail the seven sees forever.”
In your 'thanks list' we found back ex McAULEY SCHENKER singer Robin McAuley. Any particular reason for that? Same goes for ex-ZENO singer Michael Flexig?
Jutta: “When we produced in the studio M, they happened to be in Hannover at the time and both were in the mood to sing in the choir.”
What did your fans think of the fact, that you continued the concept that you started on "From Over Yonder"?
Jutta: “In all interviews I made quite clear to all fans what it was all about. People, who got a little more into it, appreciated the continuity of the concept. By the way, I believe that the whole tenor of the quest for fantasy isn’t unreal at all. I see it every day that fantasy for love, friendship, trust and solidarity is disappearing in our materialistic world.”
The first time (and the last time actually) that I saw ZED YAGO myself was on a festival that Metal Hammer had organised for their fifth birthday. You played there for 19,000 metal fans together with HOUSE OF LORDS, CRIMSON GLORY, KREATOR, UDO, QUEENSRYCHE, DORO and OZZY OSBOURNE. What are your memories of this fabulous festival and how come that you ended on the bill so high? (you played after HOUSE OF LORDS, CRIMSON GLORY and KREATOR!).
Jutta: “At that time Willi Wrede, our personal manager, was a close friend of the festival organizers. I will never forget a huge metal crowd like that singing “Rocking For The Nation” and “Black Bone Song”.”
A few days before this festival, almost the same line up played in Holland (Arnhem) on a festival, that's called the Aardschokdag. Why didn't you play there as well? It would have been the ultimate chance to salute all the Dutch fans over here. Now they had to come over to Dortmund to see the show…
Jutta: “I honestly can’t recall why we didn’t play in Arnhem. Of course I would have liked to be there as we had loads of Dutch fans. Sorry!”
Did you also visualise the concept during the show or didn't you have any money for this?
Jutta: “As I’m not exactly a visual person, I never really wanted a theatrical show. I wanted to make music first of all.”
Then things started to change for ZED YAGO. If I'm informed right, the rest of the band wanted Bubi to leave the band, because they thought that the press focussed to much on him and on you. A big bald drummer and a frontlady singing simply asked more attention than just any other band member.
Jutta: “That was certainly one reason when things started to go wrong, but not the main one as it was all about one of the guys wanted to gain more power.”
The rest of the band, and Jimmy in particular, wanted to cooperate with a new drummer, called Punky. But he wasn't such a great drummer, was he?
Jutta: “That again is right.”
Later on, you were even forced to change your name. Wasn't ZED YAGO your name, or was it the name of the five band members?
Jutta: “It was my creation but I never thought that I would need a private copyright. We had the form of a GbR where each member puts in his creativity and work. After the troubles and the split the name belonged to the majority. To summarize my personal believe to the whole problem: Emancipation certainly has not happened in the music scene. When the front-woman goes for more than being a Go-Go girl, problems are bound to arise. Something that really bothers me in the scene is the extreme conservatism of most men in this business.”
You changed the name of the band into VELVET VIPER. Why did you pick this name and did it somehow fit in the concept, that you were following?
Jutta: “On her pilgrimage, ZED YAGO passes the Egyptian mythology where she meets VELVET VIPER, an enchanted princess. So therefore it fits perfectly into the concept.”