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Walls of Fire Interview with Crap

Oomph! has already bid farewell to their anonymity some time ago. With their last album, “Wahrheit oder Pflicht” they triggered a real hype and the current album has already caused quite a splash as well. Certainly enough material for an interview. After a small place was finally found for guitarist Crap and me in the hectic backstage area of the Berlin Columbiahalle, I could be at once convinced of the band’s down-to-earthness and absolute friendliness.

Hello, How’s it going?

Yeah, super. First of all today is the third concert, so we’re all still all fresh. But today we have a big DVD-production here – so everything is a little bit more exciting than usual. And we’re very excited about how it’ll go. Other than that everything been very nice so far. We had our first concert in Braunschweig. A home game, so to speak. We had already rented the hall one day before that, where we had a so-called Try Out – so we tried out everything that we wanted to do. The lighting, above all.

About Braunschweig. Are you from Braunschweig or from Wolfsburg? People always argue about that a little.

Two of us are native-born Wolfsburgers, so to speak – me and the singer. We lived for years in the same house in Wolfsburg. We’ve known each other for 35 years by now. Flux moved to Wolfsburg, he’s a native of Salzgitteran. But Flux and I live in Braunschweig now, Dero lives in the direction of Gifhorn. The people in Wolfsburg say that we’re a Wolfsburg band, and people from Braunschweig say that we’re a Braunschweig band.

Now we’ll get to the main topic. How have you personally viewed the commotion over “Gott ist ein Popstar?”

Yeah, for me it’s ridiculous. I think, the bottom line is that we wanted to be a little bit provocative – logically that’s one of the things we do often. But we didn’t want to provoke so heavily, just for provocations sake, but more with a purpose. And what is clear is that we were setting something off and the point that we wanted to reach is that people would talk about it. Like in our forum, and then elsewhere as well. On the other hand we found it to be extremely annoying and cheap that RTL announced this ban, because in the end they’re screwing themselves over, in my opinion. I always wonder, where is the freedom of speech in this state that’s supposed to be free in principle. Suddenly a band comes along that just simply says, God is a pop star,” which isn’t really that bad, because God was also a DJ, like we know of from “Faithless.” And if you knows all the while that we have nothing against Christians - I personally know some extreme Christians in my circle of friends, who have absolutely no problem with this subject matter, and to some degree see it that way themselves. And TRL suddenly comes along as a responsible program for Germany – on the one hand they’ve got the constant sex and crime, but when someone says “God is a pop star” a little but louder, then it’s enough, because it’s about religion, and also came at the same time as the Mohammed-caricatures. In my opinion that’s the main reason. In the end it was already a scandal for us, but a scandal is never bad for a band and we also knew how to use it. We were disinvited from the “Echo” Awards – you should also know that they had already been familiar with the song for six weeks. They were completely familiar with the song, we had already discussed the stage themes, etc. and suddenly these Mohammed caricatures came about, and at first that was everything that had to do with religion and God, pretty bad, and then they gave out the cancellation. We still had the invitation to the actual event and to the After Show party and for us it was a point of honor not to use the tickets, and so we gave them away to the fans. We just took advantage of the red carpet. And the people that were there were really keen on talking to us – especially the ones from competing networks. Of course for them it was a found opportunity, that RTL had gotten themselves in hot water – yeah, and of course we took advantage of that.

So was it more like positive promotion?

Yeah, you never know. You can’t tell if the “Echo” appearance would have done more for us or not. But I think, the bottom line is if I had known how annoying this channel was in the first place, about their cutting off free expression of opinion, there would have been the question as to whether I would have even played at this event. In principle we have no problems with such events, because we often get criticized that such a rock band would appear at such an event. I see it more as missionary actions. How else should young watchers know that bands like that exist? (Laughs) If you constantly avoid such events, then there would be young listeners concentrating on music, who wouldn’t have the opportunity to get to know other artists besides the superstars, nothing to show them that there are bands like this, who have been in business for 15 years, who make their own music and still rock somehow. So I don’t let the criticism get to me, when someone says to me, how could you play there? I find it completely legitimate, because I have the opportunity to put young and confused people on the right path (laughs.)
And I personally want to actualize myself with my music and an artist would always like to have a little bit of output that he can share with others. And it makes me glad when other people can share it with me. And if I can still earn money, then it’s super. Everyone wants to earn money somehow and to have his work honored and of course it’s not any different for me.

I’ve noticed that you guys are very fan-friendly. It starts out on your homepage…

…yeah, for us the forum on our website is THE contact to our fans. We always try to arrange a Meet & Greet and when we go on the tour bus we give autographs and chat with people. There are a lot of bands that don’t do that. When someone asks me, I give them an autograph. I have to be honest, I’m not in the online forum very often, because for me it’s a little impersonal, I’d rather speak with people directly. I don’t believe that I can be online constantly. Dero is in there a whole lot, but I have a lot of other things to do for the band. But for the fans it’s a platform for communication. Now and then the band is there and that’s also super-important for us. I mean, there are also days when I meet fans and I’m quieter than I really am. I’m actually pretty reserved. But I don’t have any fear of contact. Without your fans you’re nothing. And we have really good fans, who go along with us. If you look at where we came from – from which musical direction – and what kind of extreme detours we’ve made, I think it’s fascinating that people have been with us for 10 to 15 years.
Luckily they’ve gone through the same evolution as we have over the years and I find that really pleasing. We started out very electronic and went more into the realm of guitars, which a lot of EMBer’s have switched to, who probably never would have gone towards this music if this bridge hadn’t gone over with us. And I think that’s great. You see that also at our concerts. We have an extremely mixed audience. There’s a punk next to a goth guy next to a metal head next to a normalo – and I think that’s very nice. I would find it a shame if there were only goth people there.

But a lot of people are also against it, talking of too much guitar and that you don’t play your old stuff anymore…

…Yeah, but the bottom line is that that’s not true. Yeah, we don’t play anything from the first album, but we just put out our ninth album and you have an endless number of pieces. In a live show you can only play 22 songs at the most, and you’ve already got an assortment. You try to spread it out accordingly. You let the old songs go. There’s not much guitar in them and for me as a guitarist that’s totally boring live. I would just be standing around the whole time.

What’s your favorite song?

From the new ones I think “Träumst du” is really nice, I really like “Die Schlinge”…in any case, the new ones have a lot of effects that I get to play, and it’s fun for me.

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