Einstuerzende Neubauten: We’re punk in a Frank Sinatra way


Asta a fost una din concluziile la care a ajuns Alexander Hacke, unul din membrii fondatori ai EN, intr-un interviu telefonic pe care i l-am luat in 2004. Pe-atunci ma ocupam de PR-ul in .ro al label-ului Mute Records (EMI), casa de discuri, pe atunci, a celor de la Neubauten.

Am lasat totul in engleza, asa cum a fost transcris, cu dragoste perpetuum nobila pentru Angie Reed, de Andra Matzal. Old school, de pe caseta audio.

Dialogul cu Hacke arata cam asa:

Are you Alexander?


This interview is like a dream for me, it’s impossible to tell you how glad I am, so I’ll just start with the questions. Do you consider youselves some kind of tribe? Meaning that you interact virtually with your fans and allow them to interact with your work, to modify your musical vision?

It’s not modifying our musical vision, but a couple of years ago the supporters could listen to the tapes that we made, and, from time to time, they would interact from a creative point of view. For instance, we would show them the tapes and they would decide what they would like to keep. So it happened that we would work all day on a piece and at the end of the day we decided to throw different parts away, but then there were hundreds of people shouting ”No, no, keep it!”(laughing) and that was fantastic.

For me, it seems a sort of an on the road-like style of writing music.

It’s at least the illusion of democracy (laughs).

How has the band’s writing process evolved over the years? How did you pass from singing for 20 people to large audiences, such as those in Greece or Sweden?

Well, there are like three different approaches to this. It’s either a word or a piece of lyric that triggers a composition and the other way is when somebody comes up with a piece of junk and we do the first song, we add another instrument and so on. The third approach is that we have some pieces that we play live, between the songs, improvised pieces, that turn into actual songs, like the case of “Ein seltener Vogel” on our last album (“Perpetuum Mobile”, or “Silence Is Sexy”.

So, do you improvise a lot in your studio?

Yeah, certainly. It depends on what we’re doing, but the best improvisations are live, with an audience. And we repeat these mistakes that turn into songs.

After the industrial period, do you think it’s time to “chill out” in terms of rhythm and sound? I’m particularly speaking about “Perpetuum Mobile”, which is basically a “chilled out “album, even the song titles.

You know, all the world around us is changing all the time, so when we started out our work there was a different world out there and we were using samples before there were sample machines and loops and plain noise and that was a revolutionary thing to do. But times have developed and now it’s hard to find any popular music without any noise, if you think of hip music and stuff like that, which all use loops and samples and so on.

Do you consider Stockhausen like some kind of major influence for you?

Not really. One thing this man doesn’t have is the sense of humour.

Ok, let’s talk about Kraftwerk: and they have been doing the same thing for the last 30 years but they still rule.

I haven’t seen them play recently, but they’ve got a good sense of style and they are not very likely to be corrupted by any trends or something. They are doing just what they do.

Do you think they have a pattern of success, making music for 30 years, basically using the same sounds and approach?

Yes, but they know how to use technology. And they use it for the exact goal they want to reach.

What are your musical influences from this one hundred years of recorded music, starting from gramophones to iPhones?

When I was a teenager, in the very early days, we had some independent records, but I’ve never been a vinyl person. In the ’80s, for instance, I was the cassette type, I would just record everything on cassettes and in the early ’90s I had a little money and that is when the CD came in. Nowadays, even if I still buy records, I’m very into mp3. Yesterday I was invited in a German city to receive an award and there was another guy, who received the new technology award, a guy from the Fraunhofer Institute, that invented the mp3, which is the method of today.

What are your favourite bands? I know it’s a silly question.

I listen to all kinds of different music, but right now my favourite bands are from England, The Tiger Lillies, a Mexican band, Brujeria, and, you know, I like a Bluegrass artist, she’s called Gillian Welch, she’s a sound producer for a Coen brother’s movie soundtracks and stuff, produced by T Bone Burnett, who I really like.

How do you think the communication overdose in Europe is affecting our privacy and intimacy in terms of me vs. myself?

But you can switch all these machines off, there’s no problem. I’m very bad when it comes to correspondence and I’ve always been. Sometimes there’s no exchange for years (laughs). But our lives have definitely changed, I find myself in front of the computer almost every day, and talking to people from all over the world about so many subjects, for me, that’s great. There’s been two years since we’ve had our webiste like this and it basically changed my life.

Don’t you think that our privacy is going more and more public?

No, I don’t think so. Because you can be anybody online. You can even disappear. The frightening thing about it is trying to control it. Individuals are still at a safe distance distance from each other, I think.

How do you relate to the music industry nowadays? Speaking of labels and sublabels, what is your place in this industry?

The is no such thing as the music industry. Yes, there are about five big corporations that sell everything, but then there are thousands of different people, of different labels, and they’re all trying to do something. At the place I was there yesterday there was also held a kind of congress about music labels and their problems and I think it has to be a change of attitude, otherwise we’re not getting anywhere.

Do you consider Einstürzende Neubauten an underground or a cult band? You know, like The Pixies?

Wel, we’re not rich yet (laughs). We’re still not successful enough to consider ourselves a cult band and we’re definitely not mainstream, but I think we have gathered quite an important community. We’ve just got back from tour after three months and we’ve met lots of fans. We have very diverse and interesting supporters, from biology professors to various intellectuals, and the people I talked to after the shows were so interesting, I am happy with that.

Do you believe in silence as the sound with no sound? Do you think silence is the rebellion against the pornography of the pop culture? How do you define porn in terms of aesthetics?

Oh, man! (laughs)

I’ve wanted to ask you these questions for about two years now.

Well (laughs), basically I dont think porn is a bad thing. It’s a tool. But I think silence is very underestimated these days. I think you have to have a musical thinking in order to appreciate silence and I think silence is a controversial attitude of the times. As I said earlier, when we started, in the early ’80s, it was a different time. Nowadays, media have developed just to switch off the constant stream of information and also to cherish the gap between the tone and music, I mean that’s the best thing to do these days.

Do you think that ‘Was Ist Ist’ is a song about cultural revolution?

Well, it’s a philosophical statement, it’s the starting point of discussion. Anyway, I think that perfection is very overestimated and the word ‘perfect’ means that something is finished, that it’s over. The song goes on like ‘Was Ist Ist / Was Nicht Ist Ist Möglich / Nur Was Nicht Ist Ist Möglich‘, which means that everything that has not come into existence yet is possible, you know, I think this song is antiperfectionist.

On the extended version.

Yeah (laughs), definitely on the extended version.

How do you see the future of music, now when there are so many gadgets for producing sound?

When I go to these meetings and congresses like the one I went to yesterday, there’s a lot of talk about gadgets and technologies, and it’s a fact that nowadays lots of music are being sold as ringtones for mobile phones, but I think in the very near future people will have to wake up and reconsider the value of content.

So do you think that music is disappearing these days, except for Einstürzende Neubauten and, let’s say, 3 or 4 pioneers like you?

Yes. I certainly do think so. But there has to be a reconsideration in the industry.

How many years do you think it will take?

Not that long, I think. 5 to 6 years, I think, until the so-called industry will reconsider how important is to support artists and to support the endangered species. Right now, thery are trying to milk the extremities, but not supporting the entire species, but I think they’ll wake up pretty soon to the idea that there’s a kind of agony in any aproach to saving these endangered species.

How would you describe yourselves in the showbiz, as entertainers?

You fight on different subjects, you know, we do our research but at the same time, of course, we are entertainers and I can definitely say that after a 3-month tour. But what we do is try to demonstrate the good things in life, the value of being alive, which entertainment is all about in the end.

How about Einstürzende’s involvment in the aspects of social life today? How do you relate to political parties or social statements, for instance?

It’s important to be awake, to be aware of the so-called reality around you and it takes people like Einstürzende Neubauten to remind the consumer public of how important is to be aware, but we’re definitely not supporting anyone, we’re still anarchists.

So do you still define yourselves as punks or dadaists, I don’t know?

Well, we’re punk in a Frank Sinatra way (laughs). Old school.

Oldest school. Whom do you consider working with in your future plans?

Well, there are quite a few people. Me, personally, not just the people I’ve just told you about, but we would definitely work with more artists in the future, I’m not sure about the names though.

What is your favourite Neubauten album and why?

Mine is ‘Drawings of Patient O.T.’, from ’83, because it’s the craziest one I can remember, besides the supporters’ album.

What is your opinion on drugs? Do you believe in enhancers, when it comes to creating music?

Well, I don’t do quite as much drugs as I used to, but it’s also important to remind yourself of using substances, not abusing them. That’s a pretty tricky question, but what you can be sure of is that you shouldn’t lose your spirituality and I think you could handle that with drugs alright.

Well, it was a great pleasure speaking to you. Forever Neubauten in our hearts!

Thank you! Bye bye!


3 Responses to “Einstuerzende Neubauten: We’re punk in a Frank Sinatra way”

  1. felicitari pentru singurul interviu luat din romănia și pentru promptitudine 😉

    was ist ist

  2. am si niste interviuri cu lennon, de pe la inceputul anilor 80, ha, ha

  3. […] +++++++++un interviu mai vechi++++++++++ […]

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