Let us die young or live forever.
Interview with Hartwig Schierbaum by Jons Michael Voss
(1983)



Hartwig. His direction: masonry, Berlin, drugs, rehabilitation. Now Hartwig lives in Münster and is a musician in the group "Forever Young"
 

"The music pulls us out from our normal ways, and that in itself is already great, because normal life has got so many unbelievable hateful sides which I don't like. That is probably also a reason why I make music and didn't stay as a bricklayer - also, I like to be different.
Maybe that is a youthful wish anyway. A bit more of a mature and grown up wish is probably something that I possibly don't yet understand, but I don't actually know many grown up people, I know a lot of old people."
 

In the meantime in a pub Hartwig rolls up the sleeves of his jumper. He gained very big muscles and big, rough hands: working as a bricklayer in shifts means for him that he has to get up at 4: 30am tomorrow.

A long time ago, I can remember it still very clearly, I always listened to music together with a friend of mine. He got an old brush from the corner and played and I used to dance to the music and we felt like absolute superstars.

I also used to sing the second voice to songs I knew and changed them so that they sounded really silly and I would make such an artistic compilation of my favourite songs. I was actually more a fan of music than musician and that's why the idea was one of a fan.

The guy with the brush and 1 are still together now in the group; we went from Berlin to Münster together.
 

Six years ago, when I came to Berlin, I started to make music. I had a lot of money because my parents supported me; I had just finished civil service. I was quite done in - drugs, pills and all that.

In Münster we formed the new band "Forever Young" and we wanted to write a piece that represented us. Writing the text was quite a challenge for me as I have a problem with that concept: being young or staying young, though it doesn't consist of association-chains completely but it has definitely to do with me. I don't want that everyone thinks his own shit about the song, I want to write lyrics so that it has one unmistakable explanation. Maybe am I the only one who knows this explanation. All the other people who say something different about the text are wrong.

I have this huge desire that people understand me. That is maybe something that puts me on the same level as the youth. Grown-ups won't have this urge anymore. That is the freedom of youth, you don't always have to understand, although this is illogical. In the second couplet of "Forever Young" is somewhere something where I don't have any rational connection. Otherwise it is also dead clear: If you have ever been to a popconcert you know who the leader is. Everyone screams "Heil Hitler" but in a different way. "Can you imagine how we won the war" means as much as "Can you imagine how we reached the top - on LP" I can't think about it in an ingenious way anymore to what for a negative affect it would have if I win that war. I don't want to fight this war but other people declare war on me constantly. When I want to reach something in the music business I have to fight and I have to win. It is not only like that in music but also when you are in love with a girl. "That girl is a fascist, isn't she?" because that is exactly so. Fascism has got so much in common with sexuality and that is an aspect that is processed in the song (in text). I write English lyrics because I can't write German lyrics. I know that my English lyrics are good. While I was in boarding-school they would teach in English sometimes so therefor English isn't a strange language for me anyway. If I could write German lyrics I would but unfortunately I am a prisoner of the sixties. German lyrics can sound really nice. So people like Nena or Ideal have lyrics that either make me ecstatic or make me dead nervous. I imagine that if it happens with the music, I always think. But I think incorrectly there, because for myself I always think that people who like that music want to know everything about that music. I have always been interested in music. In music with words I wanted to understand what the lyrics, which are simply a part of the music, meant. Alternatively I wanted to write novels, which I used to do -mainly about nonsense. Since I started writing music I have the feeling that I write less nonsense.

I used to have this need to change something. About "Hoechst", that Pharmaceutical company, that take blood from the people in the slums in Brazil and sell it in Germany. That's what I want to write about. That idea fascinates me -the rich countries that in the most literate meaning of the word, bleed the poorer countries like vampires.

Though something has changed then. We control so many things so much better now our creative side tends to get to the background. People are very creative when they don't have capabilities and people get less creative the more they are capable of. That is the case with normally gifted people -it's different with genie. I assume here that we are no genie. We all think we know what to expect with all this security, but I have my doubts.

It is magnificent the way that Hartwig rages through one way streets, over wet cobble stone roads, over footpaths and between cars in his IW beetle. He knows his way well through the night I have to step on the gas to stay close to him, I have no idea where he 's going. Now I know he always drives like the devil, even if he doesn't drink.

We follow an ageless goal with our music, that concerns ourselves and not any other people. What these goals are I can't say exactly. Following goals means trying to change something most of the time. We all know that there aren't actually that many things that can be changed nowadays, but there are an unbelievable amount of things that have to be changed.

I can't imagine that I can change something with a song - more often it's the opposite. I think "Summer in Berlin" is very commercial and I believe it has a great appeal. What could possibly solve that fact that some teenagers go to Berlin and hang around Zoo to shoot up. This is definitely not the message I meant from this song. I can t change these complex problems. If I could change something -with my music- I would. I have a certain amount of control over that. The lyrics from "Forever Young" are actually the only dogmatic lyrics from me. There in hides an imperative message. Grammatically of course, none whatsoever. My lyrics from today have come a long way for me; the lyrics from my time Berlin were more conscious. There isn't an awful lot said in them. At first they seem very superficial, they leave out the importance.

When I came to Berlin, I met a girl who was a heroin-addict and walked the streets. She used to live with me and I automatically came into that scene. Then this city started to interest me, through this disgusting fascination.

I wrote a song about this girl, who I was in love with, and her walking the streets. It is a really happy and joyful song -without any real feeling- which she understood but other people didn't. I used to be interested in war, weapons and airplanes. I watched war films on the telly with great enthusiasm. As an adventurer I began my military service with the idea "let's see how it goes". I have never really thought about stuff like that. I felt more an artist, though I didn't know what that was you can't get around the fact that as an artist you need to have a political opinion- so I wasn't an artist either. I came from boarding-school where I could exist in my own world, and all of a sudden this world was threatened with order and obedience. I worked out pretty quick how things worked in the Bundeswehr (Military service) and how things in the world functioned generally. I was completely mixed up, not only from an intellectual perspective but also because I had to look out for myself. I simply couldn't place this system, I had no idea why it was like that. I only knew that if I persisted, it would break my back, that I would not be able to resist against intruders in my life. The fact that my team had to deal with nuclear warheads didn't have that much impact on me, more the military service as a whole.

I was discharged ignominiously and went to Berlin with my small suitcase. First I needed quite a while to recover from the Bundeswehr. I planned to go into my father's company. This was my own idea, my parents didn't push me into it. I applied for the TU (Technical University), but when I saw this gigantic building it all came to me....the crowds of people....and I didn't know anybody. In the old TU-cafeteria there were some funny people hanging around. It was the only place I felt at home. At that time there was this big scene, broken people and ruined existence's, beautiful women, `junky-brides", mainly different women from those I had met at the university. I'd never seen women like that before. In that period I locked myself up in my house and became totally manic. I couldn't walk out of the house. I hallucinated, I heard people driving each other up the wall I heard everything around me: at the end I put cotton wool in my ears. After a while my sister thought I that I must be a drug addict and noticed that I was under the influence of one or the other tranquilizer or alcohol permanently. Three days of intensive rehabilitation made me give up my habit. I don’t know about other people, but it wasn’t one of the most pleasant things I have done.

After six or seven weeks I left the clinic- as cured- which of course was rubbish. After that I wanted to study art because after that fiasco which had resulted from my disinterest in process technique, I was sure I wanted something different. I decided to become an artist and I wouldn’t take any money from my dad anymore. Finally I realized I wanted to make music, and I stuck with that.

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