By Rhys Stevenson
Two years ago, the German Industrial Goth / EBM / NDH trio Oomph! unveiled their twelfth album "Des Wahnsinns fette Beute" (Eng: "Fat Booty Of Madness") and this year mark their 25th anniversary as a band who have never split, nor have had any line-up changes (apart from the live setup where long-standing drummer Leo handed over drumming duties to Silvestri and bassist / backing vocalist Tobi handed over his duties to Hagen Godicke, whilst the band introduced Okusa and El Friede on percussion and keyboards respectively).
GMA spoke to Dero (middle of the photo) about what makes Oomph! tick along nicely.
Hi Dero hope all is well. Now as Oomph! have been going a staggering 25 years, what in your opinion has been the highlight(s) and the least favorite part(s) of the band's career so far?
Well our first ever record deal which was with Machinery Records, this lead to the releasing of our first album "Oomph!". Our first ever club show and the first festival we played at (GMA: we presume this is Ozzfest 2002), our first ever duet, our first show in a foreign country, our first video-clip... there are so many highlights to mention and we're very thankful about that fact.
Four years ago you released your first English compilation album "Truth Or Dare" (Wahrheit Oder Pflict), what was the reception like from the non-German speaking fans?
"Truth Or Dare" is to be seen as a gift for our non-German speaking fans... the album was mainly released in foreign countries, so it was clear that it has not been done for the German, Austrian or Swiss markets... our foreign fans were very thankful for our English adaptations, because they are able to understand our German lyrics far better now with this album...
"Truth Or Dare" can be purchased via: eBay / Amazon.de / Amazon.com / iTunes
Now you're considered pioneers of the Neue Deutsche Harte (NDH) movement, could you explain to our readers would that exactly entails, what makes the music genre what it is?
As this "trademark" had been mentioned by some German music journalists, in the middle of the 1990's, OOMPH! was already there for about 6 years..."NDH" deals with the associations of the 1980's "Neue Deutsche Welle" but implies some kind of hardness, strength and German cliches... OOMPH! never used to be a band who was only hard, so this explaination did not fit very well on our music... even if bands like Rammstein, Eisbrecher or Unheilig claim that OOMPH! were the main influence on them, in my eyes OOMPH! is far too versatile to put a very one-dimensional stamp like "NDH" on it... we don´t like to deal or play with some cliches about Germans that´s been spread especially in foreign countries... that would be too ambigious for us...
Now have you performed in the UK? If so when? If not, would you consider this in the future? Speaking of the future, what plans does Oomph! have for the coming year?
Unfortunately we didn´t have the opportunity to play in the UK so far... if we were left to our own devices, we´d play everywhere in the whole world, but it does not depend on us, you know... it needs a proper local promoter and distributor, who believes in the band and wants us to play there... we´re busy with working on our forthcoming album which hopefully will come out early next year... we´re looking forward to it very much... it would be great to have the chance to play some festivals or club-shows in the UK next year... if you see any chance, please contact our live booking agency... ;-)
Check out "God Is A Popstar" below, this is taken from their release "Truth or Dare" - it is the English version of "Gott Ist Ein Popstar".
"God Is A Popstar" taken from the album "Truth or Dare"
The song "Gott Ist Ein Popstar" caused some controversy in Germany, what enticed the band to write this song and could it be said that the song highlights modern religious traits that have 'glamorized' more traditional religious traits?
Actually the song was a pretty ironical approach on all those casting events..."Britain´s Got Talent", "Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar" and so on... it seems that the now gods are those casting heroes... fortunately they´re not very long-lasting gods... you can recognize a transcendental decay in our "Western world" and I´m not sure yet, if it´s good or bad for us... ;-)... let´s see...
If you could choose any five Industrial / Goth bands past or present that you could tour the world with, who would it be and why?
NIN - one of the most innovative and influencing bands of the last 25 years..."The Downward Spiral" is just killer!
TYPE O NEGATIVE - such a versatile and dark romantic band..."Bloody Kisses" is a true piece of art...rest in peace, Pete!
D.A.F. - to me, one of the most innovative bands from Germany, which had a huge impact on other bands... try "Der Mussolini"!
KRAFTWERK - real heroes, as we all know..."Das Model" is just cult!
NITZER EBB - great British band... unfortunately very underrated... "SHOWTIME" was their best album in my eyes...
You were 19 or so when you started Oomph! How did you meet Crap (Andreas) and Flux (Robert Flux) and what inspired you to play NDH / Industrial Gothic Metal?
Crap and I used to live in the same skyscraper when we were kids... we grew up in Wolfsburg, which is a very industrial city, which is focused on the manufacturing of the "Volkswagen"... if you want so, the perfect base for founding an industrial band... ;-)... so we were hanging around in the late 80's with our first synthesizers and made some pretty infantile noise... but it was much fun to try and compose our first material back then... Flux joined us in 1989 and thus we founded OOMPH!...
Most people would have recognized you from the "Wahrheit Oder Pflicht" - era with spiked hair and trademark-style beard, did you get inspiration for this or was it along the lines of 'lets do something unique'?
As a kid of the 1980's, I tried out almost every haircut and color that´s been available... ;-)... maybe it was just the right style at this point of time... it was kind of a mixture of everything that i tried out before... ;-)
Check out "Augen Auf!" below, taken from the album "Wahrheit Oder Pflict"
"Augen Auf!" taken from "Wahrheit Oder Pflicht" and featured on the FIFA 2005 soundtrack.
Now "Augen Auf!" is without a doubt Oomph!'s best charted single to date and has featured on FIFA 2005, now two things:- 1. what is the story behind the song and is there a difference in meaning between "Augen Auf" and "Augen Auf Ich Komme"?
The lyrics contain parts of an ancient German child´s game which is pretty much like "Hide and Seek"... we wanted to create a creepy version of this game... "Augen Auf!" means "Open Your Eyes", and "Augen Auf Ich Komme!" means "Open Your Eyes I´m Coming!"... but you cannot translate it one to one into English, that´s why we chose "Ready Or Not I´m Coming!" in the English version... you can decide yourself, if there´s a double meaning in those lyrics...;-)
Oomph!'s songs all tend to vary across lyric topics e.g. more romantic "Brennende Liebe" to cosmetic surgery-style "Wer Schön Sein Will Muss Leiden", how do you choose what lyric topics you want to do and does each album have a theme?
Not every OOMPH! album is a concept album with a certain topic, like "Wunschkind" or "Defekt"... sometimes life in itself offers just too many stories to tell just to be fixed on one single topic...if you walk with open eyes through our world, you´ll be inspired permanently...
How does "Des Wahnsinns Fette Beute" compare to the rest of the albums Oomph! has released?
I would consider it our most courageous album so far... I guess, it was about time to show our self-ironical side with this release... if you wanna avoid becoming ridiculous over the years, you have to have the guts to laugh about yourself and make fun of yourself... that´s true badass behavior in my eyes... ;-)
Check out "Das Letzte Streichholz" from the album "GlaubeLiebeTod" below.
"Das Letzte Streichholz" taken from the album "GlaubeLiebeTod"
Finally are there any thank you's and hello's you wish to express to fans, friends, etc? (feel free to add any other information)
Thanx a lot to everybody who believes in OOMPH! and who helps to spread the OOMPH! virus all over the world... keep your eyes open, ´cause we´re coming... ;-)
It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with Tuesday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Iceland, whose entry Pollapönk made it to the finals (live Saturday night on BBC1 - check your own national broadcaster), they mix punk rock with children's music, this however is overshadowed by the interesting fact that their back-up vocals are split amongst Óttarr Proppé (from Ham) and Snæbjörn Ragnarsson (from the Viking Metal band Skálmöld). You might as well admit that Iceland and Finland have both gone down the rock route this year (we would like to see more of this), what with Ukraine's Gothic pop entry also gone through, there is a little theme going on this year.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Pollapönk and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'No Prejudice' and the Icelandic Rock Music scene. Many thanks to Haraldur
Gíslason for talking to us.
"Eurovision is a happy place".
Hey guys, first off how does it feel to represent Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest?
It is a dream come true to get on to a big stage like this and to get our message out to as many people. We don’t feel any pressure, but we are determined to have fun and do our very best to make Iceland proud.
The song "Enga fordóma (No Prejudice)" is about a young person who has the habit of stuttering around others and fears to be mocked or bullied because of this. With this song it is Pollapönk’s aim to help eliminate all bullying and prejudice as everyone has the right to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the world. We think that the world needs to hear the "no prejudice" message. Especially from middle age, heterosexual, white men like us. Being middle age, heterosexual, white men makes us a group that is most unlikely to be discriminated against and we believe that we should use this opportunity to point out the injustice in this world. Of course we know that it will not instantly make the world a better place. It is our small contribution.
What inspired you to get the suits? Especially in vibrant colors :)?
With different colors we are calibrating diversity. We may look different on the outside but on the inside we are the same. Also we just look very good in these colored suits.
What does Pollapönk mean and why that name?
Pollapönk means two things. Punk for kids and puddle punk.
Could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Icelandic Rock scene?
The Icelandic rock scene is very good. All the members from Pollapönk come from the Icelandic underground rock scene. There is a lot of good bands coming up and the scene is growing.
Now you have been going eight years, where have you played outside Iceland?
Not so much as Pollapönk. But Heiðar and Haraldur are in a band called Botnleðja that has toured a lot outside Iceland. Once they supported Blur in the UK. Gudni and Arnar are in a band called Mugison that has toured a lot as well. Bibbi or mister Orange as we like to call him is in a heavy metal band called Skálmöld. Our member of parliament Óttarr is also in a band called Ham.
Could you give a brief history of the band and how you met?
Pollapönk was founded in 2006 by guitarists Haraldur Freyr Gíslason and Heiðar Örn Kristjánsson of the Icelandic post-punk trio Botnleðja. They created Pollapönk when graduating as Bachelors of education from the University of Iceland. The purpose was to write and perform music that children and adults alike would enjoy and be able to sing-a-long to. The first album "Pollapönk" was a major hit in Iceland. In 2007 drummer Arnar Þór Gíslason who is Haraldur‘s brother and bass-player Guðni Finnsson joined Pollapönk which then became a quartet. Pollapönk have made two more albums, and played numerous gigs for children and grown-ups all over Iceland. In everyday life Haraldur Freyr is the chairman of the Association of Pre-school Teachers, Heiðar Örn is a Pre-school teacher and Arnar Þór and Guðni are professional musicians.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
No prejudice! Spread the word.
The Eurovision Semi Final No.2 is on tonight on BBC3 (again check your national broadcaster) at 8pm and UK viewers CAN VOTE tonight - we'd like Malta, Israel, Lithuania, Finland and Slovenia to go through amongst others - Romania, Ireland, Norway, Poland and Belarus.
The Eurovision Final is on Saturday - BBC1 (again check your national broadcaster) at 8pm we believe.
It is that time of year again and Eurovision is already in full swing, with yesterday's semi-final seeing Montenegro and San Marino go through to the final for the first time in Eurovision history. Furthermore they snatched those two places from countries that you would have expected to go through without any doubt, they are Portugal and Belgium.
But our attention towards Malta, whose entry Firelight employs a unique mix of folk, country and pop music that ultimately is overshadowed by the interesting fact that four of the members are all family members. Moreover front-man Richard Edwards has had his own stint performing across the UK by performing alongside the likes of Leona Lewis, Ray Quinn and more as he had entered the X Factor competition, getting applauds from Simon Cowell and making it into the last 80 before joining the rock band Cast Away, before heading back to Malta in 2009.
Rhys Stevenson managed to catch up with Firelight and talk to them about their Eurovision endeavors, their entry 'Coming Home' and the Maltese Folk Music scene. Answers by Richard Edwards, front-man of Firelight.
Eurovision is "lots of fun and millions of viewers".
Hey guys, so first off how does it feel to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014?
It's a very good feeling. As individuals we have entered the Malta finals several times, but as a band it was fantastic to finally win. We are proud to be proud to be representing Malta in Copenhagen.
And so how did you all meet, and did you all have the same aspirations?
Well four of us are family members -- three brothers and a sister. Two good friends of ours make up the rest of Firelight. We all have a tremendous passion for music.
So how did you all get into music and who inspires you?
Our Dad is a famous singer in Malta. We were brought up in a house full of music. I have many musical heroes from Johnny Cash to Sir Paul McCartney.
And could you tell us in the UK a bit more about the Maltese Folk music scene?
We've tried to create a sound that mixes folk music with rock and pop. It's fusion music. It's proving popular in Malta. We just hope the rest of Europe likes it too.
Now what do you think of the UK entry this year?
It's good. It's a great song and we like hanging out with Molly too. I had my own UK experience when I took part in X Factor. Simon Cowell gave me the thumbs up and I had the pleasure of performing at boot camp with the likes of Leona Lewis.
Please tell us a bit about your song 'Coming Home'?
There was a personal story behind me writing it. It's very much about overcoming difficulties. But I think it will mean different things to different people. All the Poles, Czechs, Latvians etc in the UK know what it's like to be away from family for months at a time. Hopefully, 'Coming Home' will mean something to them.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out? Any thank you's?
We love the UK. Our Mum is from Yorkshire. So vote for us and we promise to come to the UK to give you all a big kiss.
Catch Firelight tomorrow night performing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 semi-final number two at 8:00PM (GMT) on BBC3 (or your broadcaster linked here). VOTE FOR MALTA!!!!!
The Alternative music interview page features interviews from Eurovision entries to other non-metal music entities.
Eurovision Song Contest