Concept albums continue to come in all shapes and sizes and one of the more inspired this year is Shackleton's Voyage by Eureka, inspired by the early 20th Century nautical voyage of British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and featuring Billy Sherwood amongst others. The album has received a great response so far and SoT's Dean Pedley caught up with the man behind Eureka – Frank Bossert – to get the lowdown.
SoT: Hi Frank and welcome to Sea of Tranquillity. Firstly, congratulations on making such a highly original and distinctive album with Shackleton's Voyage.
Frank: Thanks Dean!
SoT: Could you tell our readers about the history of Eureka and your own musical background?
Frank: I started playing guitar at the age of 14, in a school band like most of us. I quickly changed to the bass guitar because someone was needed to play bass. In the beginning I was not too happy with it, because it seemed to be a second choice instrument in the younger days when everybody wanted to be a guitar hero – but then I saw Geddy Lee in 1982 during the Rush "Signals" Tour - and from that point I knew I could have a future in the deep end...
Being a fan of softer music like Mike Oldfield, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits etc., Rush introduced me to the more physical side of rock music, followed by Yes, ELP and bands like Thin Lizzy, Triumph and all the classic rock stuff. Later I bumped into celtic music, world music, jazz rock and new age sounds - from that time I felt I could love almost every kind of music, as long as it was good and amazed me! I've been a lead singing bass player in some young rock bands and after some thrilling years on the club stages of Hamburg I became interested in recording. I learned to play keyboards and drums, built up my first small studio and tried to create some really special music. I felt tired of commercial standard rock music and developed a style that featured all of my influences at once. It took some years to find out what could be my place and in 1994 I decided to make my first CD album, entitled "Eureka". I was so happy with that kind of working on music that I decided to carry on. After finishing my second album "The Full Circle" a couple of musicians joined me to help bringing Eureka on the stage and that was the beginning of what I call the "band phase". We really had a lot of fun putting the music together for live concerts and so it happened that the third album "The Compass Rose" featured my band on the record. In 2005 we all went different ways after a private crash with my girlfriend, who sang in the band. I decided to complete my idea for the "Shackleton's Voyage" album on my own at first and bring in guest musicians later.
Sot: When you first began writing and playing music who did you draw inspiration from?
Frank: In the days of my first school bands it was a crazy mix of influences. We heard so different music such as Deep Purple and Dire Straits - in those days we did not feel the need to make a decision about musical directions - we've been very open minded. Later in my first "real" band I was very much under the influence of the prog bands of that time. Rush, Saga, Yes, Pink Floyd, Marillion - we tried to sound in that direction.
SoT: When and how did you first come up with the concept of an album about Sir Ernest Shackleton? Are you particularly interested in nautical history and expedition?
Frank: It happened in 2000 that I saw a documentary about the journey of the "Endurance" and decided that this would be my topic if I ever would make a concept album in my life. Due to the fact that I was in the middle of the production of my "Full Circle" album and it wasn't too easy to find out if anybody else had done something like that already, I stopped thinking about it.
In 2006 my relationship to my long time girlfriend and mother of my son broke and in my case it meant that I lost almost everything including my son. I felt the need to find a way forward immediately to survive this bad experience. It felt like a second life and I decided to go for it. I found a great girl that became my wife last year. She's maybe one reason that I'm still here. She really gave me the trust in myself back.
At this point the idea of the concept album appeared again and my research in the internet showed surprisingly no hit - still nobody fulfilled that idea I had. It seemed the right thing to do now. It also had a random parallel to my life at this point - it's all about finding a new goal after failing!
When the "Endurance" was crushed by the pack ice, Shackleton immediately changed his goal - the new goal was to bring all of his men home alive! It was also my goal to survive my experience and keep my lust for life. But besides of the psychological aspects it is all in all a giant adventure story. And that's the main thing I'm after in music. I feel in the tradition of bands like Yes in that aspect - they'd tried to be as adventurous as possible for their whole career!
I have a close relationship to the sea. I'm living at the northern coast of Germany in a small harbour town and I really can't imagine to live far away from the water. So I feel addicted to the nautical world quite naturally but I have no special interest in this topic as a hobby or something like that.
SoT: There are some notable guest contributions to the project; can you tell us about each in turn and how they came to be involved:- Billy Sherwood?
Frank: I wrote "The Challenge" with the idea in mind to ask Billy if he would like to sing that song. It was at the time when we got in touch on MySpace. Billy liked the song and the lyrics so he agreed despite the fact that he was very busy. I sent him a mix and he returned it with all the great vocal tracks he is known for - I really think the tracks on "Shackleton's Voyage" are some of the best vocals he did (I dare to say it because I read it in reviews). I've been a big fan of Billy Sherwood's music since the first "World Trade" album. It was a dream coming true to have him on this record!
SoT: Ian Dickinson?
Frank: My wife, Raina did a lot of research for this album and since I first told her about my idea to bring in a speaker she started to find out who would fit - she's great in that. After a quite long run she found Ian through the internet - and he was perfect!
SoT: Troy Donockley?
Frank: I've been in loose contact with Dave Bainbridge since I contributed a track to his "Songs for Luca 2" project, so he made the contact to Troy. At that time Troy was still a member of IONA. I sent him an mp3 of "Departure" and he liked it a lot. I had the pipes in mind when I wrote the tune so it was in the right key for Troy. He is a very kind guy!
SoT: Was it difficult to convince the record company InsideOut to release an album with such a concept?
Frank: Dirk Jacob of InsideOut was my partner in crime! He published my earlier Eureka albums and he really liked the idea.
SoT: The reviews have been good so far – have you had any feedback from any of Sir Ernest's descendants or has the album been sent to any British Historians?
Frank: We just recently started to make that part of a second promotion campaign. It will take some time to get feedback from this I think.
SoT: Have you any plans to perform the album live?
Frank: It would surely be a great project for a bigger selling act, but for me it's out of reach at the moment.
SoT: What are your future plans – are you considering another historical concept / are you involved with any other bands?
Frank: I have no plans for another historical topic right now. It was great fun to do this one and I would never say "never"...
The new stuff I'm working on is really different. I have a newborn lust in working on more physical rock songs. We (that's my drummer Steve Hanson and me) are working on a power trio thing these days. It will be named "Taurus" and we have a teaser of the first song on a brand new MySpace site. It's our new baby and we're very excited about it at the time!
SoT: Can you tell us your Top 5 albums of all time?
Rush - Moving Pictures
Yes - Going For The One
Mike Oldfield - Incantations
Pink Floyd - Animals
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation
SoT: Anything else you would like to add?
Frank: Have a look at our new TAURUS MySpace site and add us as a friend if you like! We will update this site quite often and make the process of the growing band and the album more public than usual, maybe with things like a video blog and stuff like that.
The link is http://www.myspace.com/eurekataurus
For more on Frank, Eureka and the excellent Shackleton's Voyage head over to
(Click here to read our review of Shackelton's Voyage