Peter Bursch has helped generations of guitarists get started in making music with his books, which have been printed in millions of copies (completely without sheet music). Back in 1968, he and friends in Duisburg founded BRÖSELMASCHINE, one of Germany's first progressive rock bands. In 2021, their highly acclaimed debut album celebrates its 50th birthday; this summer it was re-released in a sonically reworked form. Together with the band leader, eclipsed looks back at the early years of the now re-active group to shed light on the genesis of one of the most interesting musical productions of early German rock history.
eclipsed: In 1968, the year Bröselmaschine was founded, you were 19 years old. But it was not your first band?
Peter Bursch: I had already made music before. In the beginning I was in a group that made protest songs, as it was called back then. We called ourselves Les Autres or Die Anderen. Then we got an invitation from the Burg Waldeck Festival, which was a popular open-air festival in the Hunsrück. There we met a lot of musicians who were like us. The twin brothers Heinrich and Oskar Kröher were on stage there as Hein & Oss. We saw Reinhard Mey, Wader, Hüsch, Degenhardt, Süverkrüp, Schobert & Black, Insterburg & Co. and Phil Ochs came from the USA. We were there for several years, were announced as newcomers in the beginning. There at Burg Waldeck there was not only a lot to see, we also learned a lot. It was a whole new world for us.
eclipsed: How did you get from folk and protest songs to rock?
Bursch: That developed. There were several bands in Duisburg at the time. We gradually got to know each other, built up close relationships among ourselves. So we met a duo, that was the wonderful singer Jenny Schücker and the guitarist Willi Kissmer. We became friends, started making music together with some of my band, but in a different way than before: we started improvising, which we had never done before. We wanted to create something of our own. Through the close friendship that developed, the idea came up if we could all move in together. That led to the creation of a shared apartment. That's when the story really took off.
eclipsed: How did your first record deal with the later legendary Pilz label come about?
Bursch: That had to do with another festival, the Essen Song Days in 1968, where we were invited by Bernd Witthüser and met Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser. He was actually a journalist, but also a kind of scene networker. In Essen the first generation of independent German rock musicians appeared. Amon Düül came from Munich, Soul Caravan [the later Xhol Caravan, note] were from Wiesbaden and Tangerine Dream from West Berlin. Ralf Hütter, who later became Kraftwerk's keyboardist, was also there, and Guru Guru, who were still called Guru Guru Groove, from Heidelberg. After the festival we invited each other, because there were no agencies and no professional promoters who were interested in us. So we organized concerts ourselves. We were invited to Berlin by Tangerine Dream and performed in Heidelberg via Guru Guru. That's how it started back then. The first tours came about before the debut album had even been released. Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser approached us very early after he had met Dieter Dierks. Through him we were invited to record our first album at Dierks' studio. Unfortunately, this all took some time. But we didn't care. We played everywhere we could anyway, long before the record came out, no matter if it was a school auditorium or a demonstration. We were politically involved and played everywhere we felt we could support. Of course, they all wanted music all the time. So we also did a tour in squats for the youth center movement at that time. That's how it went at that time. Thousands came to the Easter march in Duisburg. There we played mostly at the opening and sometimes again at the end in Dortmund.