The Futile Project, with a Wink

by Hendrik Heuser

Hendrik Heuser of The Futile Project

When I read the advertisement for the contest, I had to chuckle. The Nassau cultural prize for contemporary composition 2003 sounded great to me. Yet I hardly believed in myself enough to think the effort to apply would be more than futile. So that’s what I called my non-existent band project: The Futile Project.

I had left all my former bands when I returned from six months abroad in Glasgow. There, for the first time, I had an opportunity to present my music to an audience of musicians I hardly knew. Therefore, the feedback I got was honest and not tainted by friendship or sympathy. I performed almost every Monday at Gerry Lyon’s open stage night in the Nice’n’Sleazy, a club on Sauchiehall Street.

Listen to the album while reading the text.

When I hit the stage, at first, no guitarist wanted to join me. I gathered all my courage and went on stage alone, asking if anyone could accompany me and play anything by Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, or Soundgarden. Nobody stirred, so I just started singing Pearl Jam’s “Porch,” going wild as Eddie Vedder did in the 1992-Unplugged that had influenced me so much.

After the gig, two guitarists came to ask me to rehearse with them, so I had two wonderful people to work with for the rest of my stay. The whole community there supported me in a way I had never dreamed of and praised my lyrics, my style of singing, and my songwriting as a whole.

Starting the Project

So back in Germany, after years of stagnation in various bands that kept me from playing my own songs the way I wanted, I started recruiting musicians for my project. At the University of Mainz, where I studied musicology, and at various parties, I met many talented musicians. Wherever we were, someone would pick up a guitar or play the piano, and soon we would all sing and listen to each other. With just enough alcohol, I had the courage to play my own songs to them.

Soon I had Rainer Schrecklinger on guitars and Thiemo Klaas on drums and percussion, along with Patty Biehlmaier on the violins. I scratched together enough money to record two songs. They were both about unfulfilled love, but completely different in instrumentation and style.

“Tranquility” was outstanding with its jazzy harmonies, no chorus but long instrumental parts, where the violin took the part of the singing, and an African udu drum replaced the bass drum.

“Lazy Sunday Afternoon” was much more of a pop song with a normal verse-chorus structure and minor major harmonics.

To put it in a nutshell, our EP “One” won the prize of €1000 which I saved for a full album I shouldn’t be able to make until much later. After only two gigs the band dissolved with our bassist getting lost on the way to the second gig and never coming back and our lovely violin player going to study abroad.


I had met my wife by then and soon had children and rented a small house. There was not much time for music in my life until the catastrophe struck. In 2010 my wife suddenly died, and I was left behind with two small children of two and four years. I think I would have cracked if it hadn’t been for my music.

I spent many hours alone with my old piano and wrote lots of new songs, turning the mourning, the rage, and the sadness into something beautiful and screaming out my anger and frustration.

The first people I called to ask if they would go to the studio with me again were Thiemo and Rainer. They both immediately agreed to come together again. We met in Thiemo’s old rehearsal room in Mainz, and it was as though no time had passed. How I had missed making music with these guys!

Their ideas always helped transform my rather basic ideas into something thrilling and versatile. Rainer’s influences reached from jazz and classical music to Latin. He could virtually play any style. Thiemo had played in the Doors’ tribute band “The Changeling” for years and loved experimenting with percussion and complex rhythms.

Thiemo brought a new, resourceful bass player from one of his projects: Ina Burger. Not only did her double bass playing shape our characteristic sound, but her mother, Christel, also did the artwork for our next album.

We worked on nine songs, two of which were moody instrumentals. Together with two transitions, they ended up on our first album, “More.” It is a concept album where all the songs blend into one another. One song ends in the harmonies in which the next one begins, except for the song “Lonely Man” which obviously had to stand alone.

The Project must go on

Now, another ten years later, I gathered some money to finally record songs I wrote 20 years ago and never recorded because I lacked self-confidence. I didn’t believe in myself and in my songs enough. They mean the world to me, and now I think they could also mean a lot to the world.

Many people out there suffer the same setbacks in life I did. Life isn’t always rainbows, but it’s worth conserving such feelings as being newly in love or being afraid of dying and being forgotten and, of course, also of being left. All this will be on our next album, “Time”: snapshots of precious or terrible moments in my life.

Sometimes life may make no sense, but in the long run, you realize that everything that happened did so for a reason. You had to develop to reach a particular state of mind to comprehend that. And once you’re there, it’s important to let others have their share of your insights.


Artist’s Note
Mainz, Germany
Alternative, Alternative Pop, Alternative Rock
dreamy, dreamy music, jazzy, melancholic, songwriter, versatile

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