Two flute solos simultaneously, one from the right, one from the left stereo channel - this is how the 48-minute track "Huchen 55", spread over LP sides 3 and 4, begins on Out Of Focus' third album "Four Letters Monday Afternoon" (1972, released on the Kuckuck label). As I said, 48 minutes and 1972. That's a minute longer and a year earlier than Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells"!
To avoid misunderstandings: Apart from the stringing together of various musical themes, "Huchen 55" has stylistically nothing in common with Oldfield's masterpiece. Out Of Focus were Anglo-American influenced. The band allowed for slight psychedelic influences, but also relied primarily on jazzy, progressive elements and a jam character that was evident in the sprawling solos on guitar, organ, flute and saxophone.
It all started in Munich, at the end of the 60s, when Remigius Drechsler (guitar), Hennes Hering (keyboards), Hans-Georg "Moran" Neumüller (flute, vocals), Klaus Spöri (drums) and Stefan Wiheu (bass) got together and named the band after the song on the B-side of Blue Cheer's most successful single "Summertime Blues" (1968). After the third album, the ambitious and clearly jazz-rock oriented double LP "Four Letters Monday Afternoon", the band fell apart. Much later followed releases of demo recordings, session outtakes and a live album recorded in 1972.
eclipsed: With what motivation and inspiration did you form Out Of Focus?
Hennes Hering: From the middle of the 60s a lot of bands were formed under the influence of the Beatles, Stones and many others. People just wanted to make music and tried it with friends. Buying a guitar and a fingering chart, putting on records and trying around until you could play along. Out Of Focus was founded under the name "Movers" by four guys from Munich's Lehel [district near the old town]. When they came last in a beat competition at the Löwenbräu-Keller, they were the only ones who didn't play beat music, but pieces by the Doors and others. I think I was the only one who liked that! Afterwards they kicked the rhythm guitarist out. Instead I was allowed to play along with the organ and we changed the band name before the next gig.
eclipsed: Where did the jazz influences come from?
Hering: They came late, actually only after the second record. That's when Ingo [Schmidt-Neuhaus] on saxophone and Jimmy [Polivka] on trumpet played more and more often, who were actually the "jazzers".
eclipsed: Did you guys jam and improvise more? Or was it planned and composed?
Hering: Every rehearsal actually started with improvising. Then there were often ideas, from which we then made pieces. Sometimes Moran or Remi would come up with an idea and we would tinker with it together until it was a piece ...