© Marius Merle 15.10.2016 – free translation from German language
Langwedel-Etelsen. From zero to one hundred, so the start of the band Shamall could be described 30 years ago. In 1986 the first single went directly into the top ten of the German charts. Bandleader at that time: Norbert Krüler. And the musician, who has been living in Langwedel, Lower Saxony since 1994, continues the project for a long time as a lone fighter. Norbert published more than a dozen recordings by changing his musical style several times. After a bumpy start, Shamall is now celebrating its 30th anniversary – which nobody would expect retrospectively.
Norbert Krüler, who already played guitar on major stages in the North Rhine-Westphalian homeland back in the day, started his DJ career in the Aladin-Music-Hall in Bremen in the mid-1970s. “At that time the biggest rock club in Germany with later one of the largest laser systems in Europe”, he underlines the particular importance of this music hall. At the beginning, over a number of years he set up the pieces of other musicians before he began to make his own music again. So his first compositions were “special, effective, dynamic and pulsating music”. Norbert’s compositions went down well with his audience with the result that “shortly afterwards I got attendance from a record company in the music hall”. And then everything went quickly.
From out of nowhere into the top 10
Under the band name Shamall, Krüler produced with two other musicians the first single “My Dream” in 1986. But first of all there was still a problem to solve. “The record company wanted songs with vocals, but nobody from us wanted to sing. So we pulled matches and the choice fell to me ultimately” remembers Krüler. Just like the first single the second release “Feeling like a stranger” succeeded a good chart placement. “My dream” went through the ceiling and hundred thousands copies were sold worldwide. But financially the group had bad luck with contracts – so “nothing remained”. Also the music sequence of the first single “my dream” was used for the console game “Katakis”, which was sold more than a million times – as Norbert would have known many years later. “There simply someone else has turned out to be the composer,” says Krüler. So he didn’t receive any money from his first hit single.
Besides the setback that the success did not bring the expected money, Krüler had also other concerns. “After the second hit single, we were hard on the border to get a stamp as a disco project” he explains. So he wanted to meet new challenges and left the way of “music for the masses”. Norbert decided to go new ways – again without singing and alone, because meanwhile his two initial collaborators had left Shamall. “I started to make music, which I liked and which I could test in the Aladin Music Hall – a perfect way to find out the quality of the music” explains Krüler the advantages of his DJ-job. For his first album CD, entitled “Journey to a Nightmare”, he didn’t find a record company at first, but later, in 1989, he was able to publish it on an independent label. Musically, this album was classified as electronic music with classical, psychedelic and krautrock elements.
Even one year later the following album “Moments of Illusion” appeared, that was Shamall’s most successful album of the electronic era. The song “Physical Visions” was used for some international TV commercials, such as from Telekom. Five other albums were following in the style of electronic music – meanwhile with his own record company. Krüler felt again, that it’s time for another musical change. Now more guitars and vocals should build the musical base. The first CD in this style “The Book: Genesis” was released in 2001. In the meantime Matthias Mehrtens joined the band, and Shamall made a definite change to the Neo-Progressive Rock genre. Krüler had always taken up critical themes with his lyrics, starting with the double album “Who do they think they are” (2003) – a conceptional album about the Gulf War.
Until now Shamall continues this musical path and CDs are published regularly. The band become established in this musical genre of neo progressive rock with many fans around the world. “Russia, Japan, France, United States, Canada”, Norbert cites only a few countries in which the albums always find good sales – as well as the five-CD box with songs of three decades that came to the market on Shamall’s 30th anniversary. Meanwhile, Anke Ullrich also has become a singer of Shamall.
But what does the bandname actually mean? It is derived from the desert wind shamal. “The name sounds good and is timeless,” explains Krüler, who loves to look back on the previous 30 years. “I would do it all again,” he emphasizes. “It is also necessary to make mistakes and learn from them”, says Krüler – alluding to the commercially successful start-up period, from which one could hardly make any financial profit. “But I think if everything had gone smoothly, Shamall would not exist any more,” says the 58-year-old, who is simply happy to be able to work at his age in this job. “Of course, I also know that I am making music for a dying generation,” adds Krüler. But still, the musical path of Shamall is not yet at an end even after three decades.