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Terrorverlag Interview

Name: OOMPH! (Dero)

Medium: Telephone

Date: February 21, 2006

Hi! How’s it going? Slowly into the promo-stress for the new record?

Yeah, it’s already starting. But of course it’s positive stress.

So it’s starting up for you guys again. But before we get to the new record, I wanted still to ask how it faired for you after the “WoP” hype? Did you go on vacation first, or have you fallen into a kind of hole?

Actually we decided pretty quickly that after the hype each one of us wouldn’t just go on vacation, but that we would use the whole euphoria and the positive responses after the tour to take into the studio and start writing songs again. We also didn’t want to run into the time constraints that you get when you go on vacation first, but instead to begin writing new and good songs in peace. We just didn’t want to let too much time elapse before we came out with the following album, because if you take too much time and put your feet up, then the time component comes into play. Luckily it was then the record company that gave us any other kind of pressure and said: “man, boys, take it easy! No one expects another No. 1 hit that stays in the Top 10 for 13 weeks and is number 1 for six weeks. No one expects that! Stay flexible and simply write good songs.” So we’re also laid-back about the things going on. First each one worked on the songs himself. We’ve seen each other enough throughout the year, hehe. So each of us moved back into his own small studio in order to gather ideas. After a good three weeks we met and played the ideas for each other and were all equally enthused that we already had such a good start. Then we each went back a second time for a good two months. Afterwards we went to GUN with the results, and they also found everything really cool. Then together we recorded and mixed. And again the time was already up.

So did you not get the feeling of being burned out after the big success as much? You’d also already been successful for years.

But not among the masses, really.

Do the years of experience help? I think that…stupid comparison…Tokio Hotel probably won’t be so ready for the hype…

Well yeah, anyway they don’t have the stress of having to write songs themselves, hahaha!

Supposedly they write them themselves…with their producers…

Yeah, but who believes that? They have all their songwriters in the background, and who at that age can already write profound text and grandiose music? Not many. And even with such newcomer acts that are more or less stamped out from the ground, the respective hits are already in the bag right away. Whether the band is called SILBERMOND, TOKIO HOTEL, or JULI, it changes nothing…everything is quite interchangeable, and the songs fit each band. They don’t really have it so hard. With them I see other likely problems. They really think that now they’re the heroes and the gods. At that age it will become hard to cope with later. I’m really glad that with us it worked out relatively later with the breakthrough. That way we could enjoy it with a lot more perspective and also knew how to integrate it. We knew, and still know now, that everything moves very fast. And we know also that such success, like with the single “Augen auf” and the album, is hard to top. To that effect we also don’t believe that we would be able to make it now. We simply wanted to still write good music and also make a living from it. That’s the main thing. The record company sees it the same way and doesn’t expect us to top it. Yeah, so it’s just better if everything happens later. You don’t lift yourself up and overestimate yourself and the situation. There are always more back-slappers and bootlickers. But after 15 or 16 years of showbiz we see all that in a different category. You only smile tiredly at the people who wrote you off when the record contract with Virgin expired. “OOMPH! have already been here so long and have made good music and after 3 albums with Virgin now the contract has run out…I don’t believe that anything else will come out of them.” And then we got a hold of a deal with GUN and it went off with “Augen auf,” and then it was funny, that suddenly these people were suddenly patting us on the back and saying “wow boys, I’ve always known it and we always believed in you,” haha…of course a lot of them mean it seriously and didn’t begrudge us, but the most are simply only interested in pure success, no matter who brings it. If you don’t have success, you’re nothing to them anymore. And we’ve been successful for so long, we’re living our own dream. So it’s especially important for us that what the record we release is our “baby.” Who has the chance these days to write, record, and mix songs in their own studio? Not many! And then to have so much success with it? You can enjoy it all the more and all the better. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it so much if I had gotten success with a product that I didn’t work on at all. There’s still the producers and the stylists…good, but everyone should know that. But I find it important that you go on your own path and achieve your own dream and not the dream of another.

But that kind of career can also serve as a springboard. Look at Robbie…

That could be, but even Robbie Williams still has his producers and writers write the songs with him. With all of his albums he’s written maybe 3 or 4 songs himself, and of course none of them ever become singles. But obviously without TAKE THAT he would never have had his solo success. But behind him there’s also the pure pop machinery.

The keyword is breakthough. For the charts perhaps, but otherwise you’d already been very much in demand since your EBM days, and also at the latest after “Das Weisse Licht” was out all over the clubs.

Yeah, but for the so-called mainstream or the general public it didn’t come until “Augen auf.” For many the concept of “OOMPH!” was up until then rather an unexplored virus, or something like that, haha. Then: “oh, it’s a band that also makes good music”

And then the all-too familiar idea of a “Rammstein knock-off”

Uh-huh, just because they were well known earlier, but even the journalists were smart enough to know that we had already been there long before. And even Rammstein themselves have always said, including in the media, that they were influenced by us. That wasn’t a problem.

The keyword is business and mainstream respectively, because I recently read your “short” post on your board and have already nibbled at the sound somewhat…

Yes good, nibbled at…it was just time to finally do some straight talking for all those living in the past. Many truly seem to think that everything was planned out. Man, GUN is a smaller label than Virgin, and so then we would’ve needed to have the breakthrough then. If we’d already had such success from our first album with them, “Unrien,” those people would surely have already demonized everything going on there. There are always those people that, when a band sells more than X amount of records, immediately scream “sell out” and “business,” and say “so, now I can’t listen to this band anymore.” But for these people it’s not about the music, but about hiding their neuroses about their own image and lack of identity with any sort of “pseudo-unknown” music. For them it’s only about this “independent” or “underground” thing and they really try to identify themselves with it. Then they can then just look for another band that that only sells 5 albums. But they should figure that some time they will become successful, and then they’ll have to replace them too.

Whereas on the other hand I can understand that the “old fans” aren’t absolutely concerned only with the business thing, but simply that they’d also like to hear the EBM songs live again.

Good, but this is now our ninth album. If you’d gone along the path from the beginning, just like how these aforesaid “old fans” always want to have it, then you’d notice that the step from our first album to “Sperm” had already become different. The first was still dominated by Electro and “Sperm” was already more guitar, and so it just kept going further! So I can’t really take such people seriously anymore!

The people just think that you don’t like the old songs anymore because they’re not played live.

No, they’re still very good songs, but then I have to think of the musicians. The bassist, the guitarist and the drummer would be bored. We’d drag an old Sequencer and a Synthesizer on stage and then the drummer, the guy on the Sequencer and Synthesizer and I just play songs. That would be boring. And I can understand if they’d rather go on stage with their guitars. That’s more fun! And we still like the Electro-things ourselves. That’s why now we also have an old school EBM mix on the “Gott ist ein Popstar” EP! We stay with our roots and on the new record you will also be able to hear some electronic playing again. But we also keep evolving with each new disc we establish. There are enough bands out there that, after one song, you already know all of them, because it all sounds the same. It is commercially understandable, but artistically boring. Of course I understand the old fans, but for a band that has 9 albums at its disposal it is difficult to create a profile. You can’t quite do it all, and we ourselves also want to play what rocks the most live on stage.

There are indeed bands like APB that have guitars live that aren’t at all audible. It was, until a little while ago…

Yeah, I know a few Electronic Bands that play around with guitars where nothing comes out, so that there is at least a little action on stage. Ok, everyone knows that, but to me that’s just messing around. We could also say, we put a keyboarder doing jumping jacks that would fidget and let himself get carried in a boat over the crowd, but the bottom line is it doesn’t do much. That’s also messing around, because certain sequences just can’t be played live. And even if it comes from DAT or Sequencers, I don’t need to do it as if…

But now to the new stuff. With the sinlge “Gott ist ein Popstar” I cringed at first, because for me the title sounds somewhat too blatantly provocative and polarizing.

I think that the song shows a characteristic of the band, which has persisted already throughout the entire 16 years. We’ve always managed to provoke. And we’ve always managed to provoke all the Old Schoolers. This reaction is almost inquisitor-like and not realistic anymore. We all know that such a title is meant ironically and there’s enough sarcasm in it. Anyone whose heard the song and seen the video knows that there’s several levels of the song. Looked at simply, of course god is a pop star. In all cultures of all peoples there’s some kind of god. Therefore he’s popular and also a pop star. Maybe even just a pop star.

Then there’s the next level, that we were all so shocked, when the pictures at that time showed “we are pope!” That was also a marketing strategy that the Vatican launched when the old geezer Ratzinger became pope. And it created this machinery to market these types to the current youth craze like a pop star. That was just silly. At St. Peter’s nuns fell over in rows and young people lay bawling in each others arms. It was all wonderful! Like with Michael Jackson in his best times. So I really have to salute what they created at the Vatican…marketing a seemingly dead geezer as a pop star!

But of course the title is turned around. Because for a lot of people it’s already swapped. Because for many even now gods are the real pop stars. The title is also interpretable that way. The casting shows, everything before this DSDS, are already for many a kind of alternative religion. People sit down in front of the TV and freak out over the bawling, pimply, toothy girls, that can’t sing or dance and also look like shit. I also don’t understand why they’re not spontaneous enough and say “then we have something in common, Dieter!” haha! But all of this voyeurism has become naturally for many an alternative religion. Then people can take a pseudo-share of the pains of others. And also it suggests, “I can become famous without doing anything…I don’t have to get off my ass and just write a few songs and jot down a few thoughts about my feelings. I don’t have to look which emotions I put in the chords when I compose. No, that will all be chewed out for me” and these people are willing marionettes, that only say “Come on, make me famous! I sing about Curry-Wurst!” And that persists through the whole society, and the young people think that you get famous so quickly. And all the young ambitious bands that write their own songs sit in their practice rooms and think about what shit it is. A lot of money gets put in interchangeable, hollow and soulless marionette-music…fast food music. And that’s really frustrating! But we’re among the best examples that it’s worth it to take good and authentic bands under a contract, to sign them and to support them! I think that you just have to work long enough on yourself, gain experiences, build yourself and mature. Learn from your mistakes and become better from record to record. People should really want to see that. They want to get to know the band and make progress with them. So that’s what I regard as authentic music! And I believe that there will be a counter movement in the future, and that the labels will again sign real bands. I hope so at least!

Again to the actual text. At least the older ones might be able to think, that the theme of church, God, Jesus, hype, deception and the all the machinery have already been dealt with quite a few times…

Of course, if you limit it only to that, you’re certainly right. But we see more behind it. Namely the whole society and the whole commercialization and promotional campaigns these days. No matter if it’s about a pop star, a pope, a hair shampoo or something else. It always grasps the same mechanisms. And pointing out this hypocrisy is as relevant as ever. Of course not for the people who have devoted themselves to these mechanisms. They say “I can’t do anything and don’t want to know any more about it…why do I have to be held up in front of the mirror?” If you look around in the radio and TV Industries, 99.9% have nothing to say. They sing something from “November” and “Why…it’s just the same” (he hums the melody)… it’s just hollow music. Indeed a nice melody, but no real message.

But it was fast with Juli, eh? Haha…

Yeah, no idea. It just occurred to me…it could also be “scream as often as you can” or to chant. All the same crap. Generally can you already note that everything slacked in such a way. And maybe for many people it’s not so nice when they get jolted by something. They don’t want to be jolted. I think on the radio just now the music isn’t good for anything except to combine with the commercial breaks. Nothing that jolts the people. They only want to have chewing gum between the breaks. It should only dabble and have no edges. That is music that doesn’t hurt. Our music hurts a bit. And we’ve surely not been ignored for years by the radio all over the country in vain. And consequentially it’ll also get boycotted again.

But the track is catchy enough…

It’s legitimate to attract attention to yourself through provocation, and then when you write a song that makes fun of all the marketing strategies in pop, then it’s all the more ironic to add a danceable rhythm to it. So the cat bites itself in the tail and grins ironically! I find it really funny that you can make people think about it with such simple stylistic devices. There are already hot discussions on the board at our website. It ranges from death threats to reflective discussions. It’s about Christianity, freedom of opinion, and just with that we’ve achieved more than 99.9% of all the bands!

And looking at another different band. After 5 albums they only sing about fucking and snorting cocaine…and that’s also legitimate, but eventually boring and interchangeable…That’s just how it is in the teenage years. The people who yak the most about fucking haven’t ever done it yet…and same with the bands. Bands that only babble about bending over, fucking, and snorting cocaine have never had sex and are probably even impotent or something, haha!

That’s why there are also soft and melancholic songs on our album!

The subject is albums. How will the new one sound? So far I only know the single, and it could stem from its predecessor…

The single isn’t necessarily representative of the album. The record is very complex and the single certainly isn’t representative. There are also electronic sounds to be found, but also heavier numbers. It’s also gotten very complex textually. Everything very round, but also with corners and edges. Which isn’t a contradiction, because the AIDS virus is also round and has spikes.

Are there tour dates yet?

Yes, already fixed and finished on the homepage. Supports will be booked soon. They’re already as good as decided. There will probably be about 2.

My colleague wants to ask if you guys would fancy entering Stefan Raab’s Bundesvision Contest, like the members of In Extremo had done…

I have to say, that that forum would be like a stage that I wouldn’t feel so comfortable on. Of course we also present our tracks on Top of the Pops or The Dome. Everyone must realize it, and it would also be legitimate, but I wouldn’t feel very good there. Above all because Stefan Raab always has this slapstick character. Indeed I don’t go laughing into the cellar [probably some idiom that means he doesn’t try to hide his sense of humor], but our music exudes a certain seriousness and sincerity. I have nothing against music that reflects the sunny side of life, but we ourselves just never had the need to put it into music when things are going good for us. We simply enjoy it and would rather turn ourselves to the dark side with our music, haha. So it’s not ruled out. Never say never! But right now it’s certainly not the frame in which I want to see our music presented.

To finish up, a whole different theme. Naturally it’s interesting to hear the opinions of people who also bring up this theme with their music. If you to would like to say something about it, presently regarding Islam, caricatures and general religious conflict…

Generally I’m happy that most magazines, newspapers and TV programs still highly regard freedom of speech and keep presenting us now with this song in some way. Because this sensitization in the last few weeks could have also lead to more boycotting of the song.

Could it be intentional that you released the song exactly at this time…

That wouldn’t be at all a possibility, it’s as if people assume that we ourselves instigated the caricatures, haha! That would be very far-fetched. These drawings are already over 6 months old and are just now getting hyped up. That just shows that the real problem lies much deeper. And on one side it’s the Palestine-Israel conflict and of course also the wars that are always set off by the USA. Whether or not they’re right and justified, each person must decide for themselves. Personally I don’t find it justified when you start wars based on lies. I can understand that people there are very, very hateful of the west. I don’t tolerate terrorism in any form, but I can understand that that people are on edge in many regions. If you imagine how many lies are spread by the USA, only to start wars that are only dealing with getting hold of raw materials and the money to be made from them. Just in terms of oil.

But you’re not at all afraid that in the nearest supermarket, for example, it will all blow up in your face…

I must honestly say: no! First of all it’s in the main cities for the most part, and I don’t live in Berlin. But of course that doesn’t make it better. Each country in Europe is at risk. Personally I don’t let myself get frightened, because then these terrorists will have already won. I can’t be bothered. And I’m happy to live in a land in which freedom of speech is a highly democratic commodity. I wish that that whole region over there, the Arabic world again be at the prime that they were at in the middle ages. Both with democracy and freedom of speech. They were also pioneers in mathematics, biology, and all the natural sciences in the middle ages, and everyone traveled there at the time to learn from them. It would be nice if this culture went back to their heyday!

A word of good wishes to close with. I still have to say: good luck with the album and the tour!

Thanks a lot!

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