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WEBSITE: Ramses Official
Ramses represents a so important dowel of the german symphonic rock scene from the late seventies. This band from Hannover is currently well-known especially for their first two albums "La Leyla" and "Eternity Rise". I recently got in touch with the first Ramses singer Herbert Natho in an unexpected and totally fortuitous way: I met him as seller in a famous site specialized in on-line auctions. I couldn't miss the opportunity to arrange a small interview:

Hello Herbert, can you tell me when and how Ramses was born ?
In December 1972 I happened to meet the bassplayer Hans Klinkhammer again, who planned to form a new band with myself as the singer. Together with a drummer, keyboarder and guitar player we tried some own compositions and cover songs. The results were amazing, and so a new band was born, which was named like the famous king of an ancient Egyptian dynasty "RAMSES". So that's how it all began. After some personnel changes the band had its first constant line-up in autumn 74 which was supposed to last for about 5 years and to record the first two albums "La Leyla" and "Eternity Rise".

You were the singer only on the first two albums, "La Leyla" and "Eternity Rise". Why you came out from the band ?
I worked very much for the band at the time - besides composing and writing lyrics I also did the management - and there were some strains developing within the band. Moreover I got health problems so that I finally decided to leave - although with a heavy heart.

Have you had other experiences in music business after Ramses ?
After "RAMSES" I turned my back on the music business for several years and it took until 1986 that it came to a further cooperation with the band. The resulting song "This Planet" is a bonus track on their latest "Control Me" album.

What's your opinion of "La Leyla" and "Eternity Rise" after almost 30 years?
I think this was our most intensive and creative phase. These two albums certainly belong to the most remarkable works of the so-called "Krautrock era" in progressive rock in Germany. After almost 30 years it is still enjoyable to listen to these albums - a fact which is also confirmed again and again by our fans all over the world.

Ramses is a band from Hannover as well as Eloy, Scorpions, and Jane and I think each of these bands influenced your writing. Do you agree? … I mean, especially the comparison to Scorpions (not just a prog band, you know..) ...
I think that the influence of other groups from Hannover on our music was not very important, although "Klaus Hess" of Jane, together with Conny Plank, acted as producers on our first album. The influence of art rock groups such as Genesis or Yes was much greater.

"La Leyla" is one of my favorite german prog album from the seventies and people seemed to share my opinion. Is it true the vinyl sold about 20,000 copies ?
I estimate the sales to approx. 50,000 copies. There are no exact sales figures as illegal pressings of the album were sold inside and outside the USA by the American record company, and we received not a single penny in return for that. And in German record shops, these illegal pressings were sold, too.

My convinction is that "La Leyla" contains some elements of british neoprogressive rock of early eighties (especially Marillion's "Grendel) in advance. Do you think Marillion knew Ramses before writing its famous suite song ?
The music of Marillion certainly has many Prog-Rock influences of the seventies and I am sure that also German groups had an impact.

How your fans judged "Eternity Rise" when it was released ?
The vast majority of the fans and press received the album in a very positive way. We had produced it ourselves and thus had been able to realize our own imaginations and musical ideas, at least to a very large extend.

Which german bands you mostly liked (or you were closer to) in the late seventies ? Can you tell me the name of some bands you played live with ?
My taste of music has always been very versatile and can't be reduced to a certain number of bands. My favorites include, but are not limited to, Pink Floyd, Enigma, the Scorpions, Yes, Genesis and last but not least Bach.
As far as bands are concerned, that played together with us on festivals, I just can tell some groups that come to my mind spontaneously, such as Jane, Scorpions, Novalis, Guru Guru, Kraan, Streetmark, Atlantis. But these are only the German groups that I recall immediately. Of course there were also many foreign bands who performed on events where we played.

Have you ever played outside german borders ? Where ?
During my period in the band there were gigs in Switzerland and several times in Denmark.

Besides, I read Ramses used to play very spectacular live gigs. Can you describe them ?
After the release of "Eternity Rise" we made high investments in stage technology and show effects. E.g. at the beginning of a concert, the singer came out of a sarkophagus and during the title track "Eternity Rise" a golden pyramid emerged out of the dry ice mist. The song "War" culminated in a pyrotechnical inferno of flashing stroboscope lights and bombs, and this is still true for today's shows of the band.

Are you still in touch with Ramses guys and what do you think of their latest albums ?
We keep in touch regularly and I still have a friendly relationship to the musicians of RAMSES, moreover I am the webmaster of their German Homepage. Whenever there is another studio album I will be pleased to contribute at least one more song. Unfortunately I am not able to involve myself in more activities for reasons of health. I think their latest "Control Me" album is well done and can be regarded as a further development of the band's music and is absolutely worth listening to.

What do you think about progressive rock music now ?
Unfortunately I do not hear much of today's progressive rock music and almost lost sight of contemporary bands of this genre, so I can't give a statement on that.

Which are your current favorite artists/band ?
As I already said, my taste of music is very versatile. I try to be open to all kinds of music. I like everything that touches the heart and soul.

Herbert, it has been a great pleasure for me to get in touch with you in this so unexpected way and I thank you for your kindness !!
Luca, I thank you very much for your interest in RAMSES and our music and I wish you all the best for the future!

Luca Alberici