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An Integrative Rock Band: „Music as a Key to Worlds That Aren’t So Different At All“
Music connects – young and old, tall and small, disabled or not disabled. How well the latter functions is demonstrated by the integrative rock band “Lampenfieber“ (“Stage-Fright”) from Lüdenscheid. For ten years now, the seven members have rocked together on stage, letting their fans forget, that five of the band members have mental disabilities.
Ralf Franke © private
Ralf Franke, a co-founder of the band, works as a curative educating nurse and attends to people with disabilities in the Johannes-Busch-Haus in Lüdenscheid. REHACARE.de talked to him about his own stage-fright, provocative lyrics and music as a means of integration.
REHACARE.de: Mr. Franke, “Lampenfieber“ had its tenth anniversary in 2009. Congratulations! In 1999, you founded the band together with your colleague Marc Friese. What lead to the formation of a band?
Ralf Franke: Both of us work in the Johannes-Busch-Haus in Lüdenscheid, a facility for people with disabilities. During the course of our work, we have found that the residents are very musical. We couldn’t help but make something of that, so we offered the residents to form a rock band, and as result of that, we were completely overrun by the response.
REHACARE.de: So the idea was a raving success?
Franke: Yes, you can definitely say that. First, we got together with the home management to discuss and structure our plans. We first discussed the undertaking with the administration of our facility and structured it. By now, we have a rehearsal room in the integrative cultural workshop Alte Schule, where we meet every Thursday to rehearse.
REHACARE.de: Do you and your co-members of the band struggle with stage-fright on every gig, or why did you name your band “Lampenfieber”?
Franke: For the completion of my vocational training to become a curative educating nurse, I wrote a thesis on the topic of stage-fright. When we were looking for a name for our band, we soon realized that we were all very much inspired by this phenomenon.
REHACARE.de: And it certainly is a part of show business.
Franke: Exactly. Stage-fright is a positive impulse, a kind of energy that one can use on stage. A little bit of excitement and nervousness is necessary, otherwise the performance lacks emotion. That’s why we settled on this particular name.
REHACARE.de: How are the duties and responsibilities distributed amongst the band members?
Franke: We sit down and decide together on the content of our lyrics. Then, I put everything in order and usually write the lyrics. However, we also compose the tunes for our songs together. For example, the keyboard player may start playing a melody, and the drummer joins in. We all have our own personal wealth of experience that we can contribute.
REHACARE.de: Most of the members of the band have a mental disability. What role does the issue of disability play in the song lyrics of “Lampenfieber”?
Franke: People with disabilities are actually moved by the same topics and issues as people without disabilities. That’s why the disabilities themselves aren’t our main topic. However, we also wrote songs like „Sie sieht anders aus“ („She looks different“). The song is about a young woman with Down Syndrome. The text in the song reveals how her life enriches the lives of others and that she is happy. With songs like that we want to break down fears and barriers.
"Lampenfieber" with its original lineup: Three members already had to leave the band because of health reasons.© private
REHACARE.de: Other songs are titled “Ich bin ein Mensch“ (“I Am a Human Being“), “Unterwegs“ (“On the Way“) or “Penner“ (“Tramp”). Where do you get the inspiration for such lyrics?
Franke: With our music we try and look for ways to express our emotions and observations. And as a rock band, we are to a certain extent provocative. Strictly speaking, the song “Penner” is an appeal for solidarity with other fringe groups of society. That is important to us. Through our music, we want to enhance understanding and open worlds that are not as different as many people may think.
REHACARE.de: Is it difficult for an integrative band to fill the audience with enthusiasm?
Franke: We have not yet encountered difficulties to inspire the audience. In their faces, I can detect respect as well as enthusiasm. We use our music as a means of integration. And it works. Music is a language understood by everyone.
REHACARE.de: How do the media of the music scene react towards your music and you as a band?
Franke: We are actually not that much in the public eye, yet. We don’t constantly receive requests for interviews or anything like that. It was a nice feeling, though, when the WDR congratulated us on our tenth anniversary.
REHACARE.de: “Lampenfieber“ has already brought out two CDs and even produced their own DVD. Furthermore, the concerts are well attended. As an integrative band, are you pioneers in the music scene?
Franke: No, absolutely not. Integrative bands have been around for a long time in all forms and styles. This is evident at all the integrative song festivals, too. We see ourselves simply as a part of the scene: as an integrative band, that is well established.
REHACARE.de: What goals does “Lampenfieber“ have for the future?
Franke: To be honest, we don’t actually want to become rich and famous (laughs). Each and every one of us cherishes this part of our lives. Our goal is to preserve what we have, and that every one of us stays healthy in order to continue. In the future, we want to keep on playing an active role in the music scene. Of course, we wouldn’t mind further performances, gladly in front of large audiences and preferably for a fee (laughs). But besides that, we like ourselves the way we are and want to stay this way.