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Former Cacumen/Bonfire bassist Joerg Deisinger has published his entertaining autobiography Fire And Fame, written with the Canadian scribe Carl Begai. It's a well written and amusing book that will certainly appeal to lovers of eighties melodic rock. What follows is a Q&A with Joerg about the book and his current projects.

Why did you decide to write your autobiography?

Well, I had moved to Koh Samui, Thailand in January 2004 shortly after my decision to quit music and the life as a professional rock musician due to bad experiences with my ex-band Soul Doctor, and because the business had changed so much in a negative way that it didn't made sense for me to continue.

I had one hell of a time during these sometimes intense years in the rock 'n roll circus. I released seven albums with a major label, toured around the world with ZZ Top and Judas Priest, recorded with Dokken and Skid Row producer Michael Wagener in Los Angeles, worked several times with star photographer Ross Halfin, and received a gold album for Fireworks for more than 250,000 units sold in Germany alone.

I had it all and there was nothing to complain about because nobody can take those years away from me. It was time to move to the next chapter of my live. Thailand was great fun and I'd enjoyed life. I opened an English language school with my then Thai girlfriend An in Sichon in the south part of Thailand.

The school was very successful and we both worked hard six days a week. In December 2004, we decided to take a few days off and spend Christmas on Phi Phi Island in the Phuket area of Thailand to relax.

Well, unfortunately, in the last moment we changed our plan because my girlfriend, a Christian, wanted to throw a surprise Christmas party for our kids in the school because Thais are mostly Buddhists who don't celebrate Christmas.

So we decided to stay home and go to Phi Phi Island in January instead. That decision saved our lives because, as everyone knows on 26th December a terrible tsunami killed thousands of people and destroyed huge parts of the Phuket area, including Phi Phi Island and the exact spot we were supposed to stay.

When I heard the news I was shocked and speechless. I just thought, fuck, I'm a lucky bastard. I swore to myself that I will never ever complain about anything again and enjoy the simple things. Shortly after that I'd decided to write my story from beginning to end. The story of a young kid with big dreams to become a rock star and made it.

How did you hook up with writer Carl Begai?

We both met back in 1998. At the time I was doing promotion for a Nuremberg based label called USG Records International for such acts as Joe Lynn Turner and Brazen Abbot, Autograph, Stevie Salas, TM Stevens and Jennifer Batten from the Michael Jackson Band.

Carl came by the office once or twice a week to pick up promo CDs and to coordinate interviews for BW/BK in Canada. We became friends because we both love mob movies like The Godfather and Casino. I had a huge sound system at home, just around the corner from Carl's place, so he showed up all the time to check out new bad ass movies. Full blast of course. Believe me, my neighbours loved us!

When I returned back from Thailand in March 2005 I called him to ask if he'd be interested to co/write my story. I wasn't looking for a ghost writer but for someone who could translate my, in most parts, German manuscript and help me to write a great book from beginning to end as a creative team.

Even if I'd written the rough manuscript and done three months of research it's important to note that Fire And Fame is definitely a 50/50 teamwork without any ego bullshit thanks to Carl's knowledge of the business and his additional input as a writer. I think we both learned from each other during our more than two year writing adventure. To keep it short: I was backing my cake of live and Carl was putting some extra cream on top of it.

Can you take me through the writing progress of the book?

Carl and I usually met twice a month in a coffee place in Nuremberg where he taped my dictated manuscript surrounded by talking customers and the non-stop sound of a dishwasher and breaking glass in the background.

Back home he worked on it; translated everything in English and called me if necessary to talk about little parts he thought we have to change or take out. But mostly about a week or two later another 'Carlsinger' chapter was done.

This went on for over two years and I have no idea how much coffee money we'd spent to get this far. I re-wrote the last 100 pages of my manuscript during a one month stay in Egypt in January 2007 at a very quiet four star hotel near the Red Sea.

No phone calls, no emails - just me at the pool with pen and paper in hand (yes, I did the whole thing Tarantino style) and a bunch of drunk, sunburned Scottish tourists. After my return it took another 18 months until Fire And Fame was able to see the light of day but I'm very proud of the final result.

What challenges did you face when writing the book?

The biggest challenge for me was the fact that I had the power and nerves to sit down and start this monster instead of just talking about it. There were some bumps along the road and it took a long time to finish it but we made it and that makes me very happy.

Somebody once said: "A good book is like wine - to make it good it takes some time." He's right. Right now I'm working on the German version together with my friend Stephan Treu which is another challenge I have to face and succeed.

How long did it take to complete the book?

As I've mentioned before, more than two years because there is a live besides writing books. Carl is a full time writer for BW/BK and I have a new live as a professional wedding photojournalist which keeps me busy nearly every weekend during spring and summer and the wintertime in Thailand.

But it was never important to me to finish the book in a short amount of time so the sucker is ready for the world to see. As a goal, and much more important, was to write and finish a great entertaining book that we both can be happy with even in a few years from now.

Also, it's one thing to write or perfect an existing manuscript into a readable and entertaining story. But a lot of people forget that there's a lot of pre-work before the actual writing progress such as research, checking dates and names, what happened when and how and most important of it all -- to create an interesting chronological story you can work on.

I was very excited to do this but there's nothing worse for me than sitting in front of an empty piece of paper with millions of ideas in your head but no clue of how to get started with that very important first line of every chapter. It can be a real pain in the ass to bring your memories on paper but it's a lifetime experience you won't forget.

When you look back at the peak years of Bonfire, what thoughts spring to mind?

I really enjoyed the sold out Fireworks headline tour in 1988 and touring with Judas Priest in Europe. I was young, sometimes naive, but also very hungry to go all the way because this was what I've always wanted to do.

I'm also very proud that I had the chance to meet a lot of famous personalities such as Jon Bon Jovi, Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas, or KISS frontman Paul Stanley while recording the Shocker soundtrack in Hollywood. Well, and for sure it's a very cool thing to own, a Gold award for more than 250,000 sold albums of Fireworks in Germany.

Are you still in touch with Claus Lausmann?

Sadly, not very often but I will probably see all the guys in concert on 18th June supporting Foreigner near my hometown, Nuremberg.

Do you know if any of your former Bonfire colleagues have read your book?

Edgar Patrik and Dominik Hülshorst loved it both. I sent a copy to Hans Ziller too but I am not sure if he had the time to read it yet...

What projects do you have lined up for your future?

Photography keeps me busy all the time and I love it. I'm planning to do destination wedding photography in Thailand during the quiet German winter time, which I am very excited about. Life offers many ways for new goals and opportunities and I am a happy camper as long as I can travel and meet new people in the world.


Interview © July 2009 Neil Daniels

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