RE.FLEXION Interview from issue 4/98
 
RE.FLEXION  : Since 14 years you're in the music business and you experienced the ups and downs. How did it start anyway?
Marian : Berlin was still surrounded by the wall. It was an ark for people like us for three endless and quite hot summers. Kreuzberg was a kind of free state for minorities: students, foreigners, conscientious objectors, gays, artists, junkies, pensioners, unemployed. At night "Suicide" or "Dead Kennedys" played in the SO36; "Blondie" or "Simple Minds" at the Kant- Cinema. At "Morgenrot" was a same named band and my girlfriend felt in love with its Drummer. So it was easy for Bernhard to convince me, it's the best to make music instead of painting. We dreamt to have an open-air-concert in the Kreuzbergpark, but we didn't that later as we had the possibilities. Music was never a business for me. As said, actual I wanted to become a painter.
RE.FLEXION  : What a feeling was it to get famous just with the first single?
Marian : I wasn't surprised. More it was a surprise that we got a deal with a record company, that the people there noticed, we were hot. "Big in Japan" wasn't on the Demotape which helped us to get this contract. The song was already three or four years old. It started to bore me, that everyone, who listened to this song, was enthusiastic. Bernhard had problems to persuade me to suggest this song to WEA. They reacted usually. They were enthusiastic.
RE.FLEXION  : "Big in Japan" became a cultsong. What's the meaning?
Marian : I must admit the only ones, who understood the meaning of the song correctly were Bernhard and our then publisher Andy Budde. Bernhard recognized the quality of the song and Andy the ability of its marketing. "Big in Japan" tells about a couple lovers trying to get off Heroin. The both imagine how great it would be to love without the drug: no steal, no clients, no ice age in the pupil, real emotions, true worlds. Till nowadays Berlin station Zoo is an important meeting place for junkies. That's why this place became a venue of the song. In 1977 I was quite regular in a club in Kreuzberg, the SO36. I hoped to meet David Bowie. There was the rumour he would be in Berlin for withdrawal treatment.in that period. There was a fellow, who sold stuff of independent bands from US and UK. I bought the album of a British band named "Big in Japan". "Big in Japan" meant so much as if you are nothing in your environs, you can be big somewhere else. You can be a king in another world. And if you aren't that, you can tell it at home. Japan is so far away. Anyway that statement fit perfectly to the story of the couple of lovers. So I used it for the refrain of the song. It was strange: as we released the song later, Frankie goes to Hollywood was the number one in the charts with "Relax" and we needed some weeks to edge them out . And Holly Johnson, the singer of the band, was the singer of this band "Big in Japan", who I stole the line some years ago, before he came to Frankie goes to Hollywood. 
RE.FLEXION  : One of the most beautiful songs of Alphaville is "Forever Young". Back then you did something unusual. You released a very different "Special Dance Mixes". How did you get the inspiration to do so?
Marian : So much inspiration wasn't necessary. The origin Demo was double- time. The "Special Dance Mix" is nothing else than a remix of the original version of the song. The ballad was created only in a later period of the production.
RE.FLEXION  : As you produced the same named album, did you were pressed for time?
Marian : Yes. Normally you have 15.20 years for the production of the first album, that means nearly your half life. For the next/ second album you've got only one year. But fortunately we didn't know that at that time.
RE.FLEXION  : You could continue the success with the second album "Afternoons in Utopia". Was it intentional a commercial production in order not to take a risk?
Marian : Already before I started to make music I hated commercial considerations. Naturally it's also stupid to ignore it completely. But it kills the greatest of ease inside yourself. "Forever Young" is just the proof that it's possible to make music and to be successful without suck up to all the stereotyped thinkers. Naturally you also need much luck. There are only 10 positions in the Charts for thousands of musicians. I remember very well to an Interview with "Spex" we had short after the Release of "Big in Japan". The journalist wanted to know everything about our brilliant plan of our career, how clever we used the pop- media, how ingenious we play with the media and started exactly to the right time to sing in English. He was shocked as we answered that we have not the faintest idea of such tricks and using the English language was at first a matter of taste.
RE.FLEXION : What was the challenge of the second album?
Marian : "Forever Young" was a single compilation. "Afternoons in Utopia" became a concept album. "Forever Young" took the ideas from the reality: stories, experiences from the "Berlin years". "Afternoons in Utopia" tells a fictitious magically story. We were incessant on the move for one and a half year, airports, hotels, TV- stations, studios, parties, restaurants. We lived more or less in another world, had no "real" experiences. So we must invent some. The result are songs like "Carol Masters", "Twentieth Century", "Fantastic Dream" and especially "Lassie come home". Real Persons and actions pass through strange metamorphosis. On the first Album every song had and own completed theme. On the second album all songs are part of a higher key- note. Each single song presents a station of a fantastic journey. The challenge of "Afternoons in Utopia" was to invent everything, nearly a complete universe with all its persons, actions and places. Start and end of this "journey" are identical. For example if you switch the CD- player of endless mode the last song will be also the first.
RE.FLEXION : After that album the Alphaville hysteria seemed to be over. "The Breathtaking Blue" wasnít so successful anymore. Did you something wrong with it?
Marian : After "Afternoons in Utopia" we had the impression we reached the limit of our possibilities and ability of the production. We thought it would be more interesting to produce every track directly from the very first idea till to the end without demotape and supporting production. We hoped to be faster with that method. But that was a fatal mistake. We worked for "The Breathtaking Blue" three years. And for sure itís the strangest and the least commercial album weíve ever done.
RE.FLEXION : How was the reaction of the record company?
Marian : Actually they had no reason to complain. You can sell many records also without a worth mentioning place in the charts if thereís a continuous global interest for the band. After the event we noticed abroad itís an immense advantage to write songs in English.
RE.FLEXION : Mid of the Eighties you made a good profit with selling your records. In the beginning of the Nineties weíve often heard "Alphaville are broke". Why is it happened? Did you deal too blue- eyed with your finances?
Marian : A wrong alarm. It was once more very quiet around Alphaville and that was the typical reaction of the media if they have nothing to write. Motto: Who had so much luck, have to be in the shit now. Naturally we had also the usual problems with strange friends, batty managers, and nasty gag- contracts. But such problems are not the expression of less money.
RE.FLEXION : In 1992 the very first real AV remix was released; "Big in Japan". Was it intentional or should it be a provocation? (this remix has not much to do with the original version)
Marian : For me our repertoire is stuff to play with. The "Freedom Mix" of "Big in Japan" is an expression of our play instinct. Also the live- versions of our songs are extreme different to the originals arrangements. Itís simply boring only to play again and again the same old songs.
RE.FLEXION : Have you ever thought about giving up everything in the period you werenít so successful?
Marian : Never
RE.FLEXION : Did you change the way to work your experiences and impressions into the lyrics during the time?
Marian : If I write lyrics I follow no concrete system. That's everytime different. It's hard to describe. If I start there's only chaos, pure chance, play instinct, joy. I'm no disciplined writer. Sometimes I steal own ideas from unreleased stuff. For example "Flame"; the lyrics (except the refrain) is basically nearly 10 years old and told actually something completely different. It's very easy to change the meaning of a lyrics completely only by changing some keywords. Sometimes I write down many pages, then I take just some lines which I special like and then something new comes into being. Or I change the sequence of the lines of the origin lyrics, what changes the meaning sometimes on a strange way. New images come into being I never expected before. There's a song by Alica Cooper. He sings "We're all clones, all in one and one in all..." As I've heard the song in those days at the radio I understood something like "we're all lonesome streetside Romeos". I liked that line very much and at the same time I was angry that it wasn't my own idea. Later it turned out that I only understood the words wrong and suddenly the line I understood was my own invention. It was like a present. Later the lyrics of "Romeos" came into being from that line. It's not important for me, how a lyrics is created finally. The lyrics must persuade me. Without conviction I can't sing. And without that way of singing I think I couldn't persuade my audience.
RE.FLEXION : As you released the "Best of..." CD in 1992 certainly many of your fans thought, that's the end of the band. Did you choose that's why the title "First Harvest"?
Marian : The release of "First Harvest" was more the idea of our record company because of commercial reasons. They thought that's the way to remember the people to us and our music. And I must admit they were quite successful with that idea. "First Harvest" has the meaning of "best harvest" - a nice description of the usual "best of". The idea of the name and some remixes Bernhard did are the only things we contributed to that CD. At the moment we work for a more essential exciting project. It's an anthology - a kind of coming to terms with the past- which describes the complete musically history of Alphaville from 1978 till 1998, after all 20 years. The selection of the songs is characterized by musically criterions and it's no usual boring hit compilation. We found breathtaking material in our archives, live recordings from the earliest performances of the band, unreleased songs, Demo stuff, what's absolutely different from the later released versions, with partially total different lyrics and partially also in Germa. There will be also a Love- CD we recorded some weeks ago in the Gorky Park in Moscow. All in all it's a box of 8 CDs. I enjoy it very much to work on this old material, to be confront with ideas which seem to be new again during the time. That's a great inspiration, certainly also for our next album.
RE.FLEXION : Is it right to say after "First Harvest" a break in style took place because the album "Prostitute" adopted a total different way?
Marian : Many people insist that and I have to accept that. But for me "The Breathtaking Blue" is the most untypical Alphaville album. In my opinion "Prostitute" continues what we indicated with "Afternoons in Utopia" in musically the most modern shape, just as "Salvation" corresponds with "Forever Young" anyway.
RE.FLEXION : Your last album "Salvation" was at the same time the last one with WEA. Why did you come apart after 13 years?
Marian : I think 13 years are enough.
RE.FLEXION : Why is only one single "Wishful thinking" released from that album?
Marian : After so many years there were simply no common starting points between us and WEA. To say the truth we had grave differences. That's way we reached an agreement to do without any further co-operation regarding to "Salvation", also no further Singles.
RE.FLEXION : Are you sad sometimes that the success of the Eighties is history and that probably you can't repeat that once more ?
Marian : Of course. In the Eighties Alphaville was an authority of the pop- music. And that was good. But the most important for me was always to be able to follow our own way, without loosing our right of self- determination, to be independent from what's called music- business. Maybe that's my Westphalian pigheadedness. For me music is a great opportunity to escape the everyday life and not to transfer the everyday life to the music. That's exactly what people try to do if they only think about money. Of course you need money to be independent. Much money is better, much more money is the best. You need the success, but I want to be successful with music I believe in. For me music is the opposite of boredom. Music is playing around, fun, insanity, to be fan of different music. The only thing what would made me sad is if Alphaville stopped making music without wanting that.
RE.FLEXION : What do you think of the Cover- version of Interactive of "Forever Young"?
Marian : I didn't like that very much. But I allow them the success. For us that's also not bad.
RE.FLEXION : Would it be a possibility for you make once more a remix of a former Hit?
Marian : If we'll come up with something funny like the "Freedom Mix", why not-
RE.FLEXION : Alphaville always made great ballads like "Flame", "Forever Young" or "Lassie come home". Is it a special challenge to write calm songs?
Marian : Many of our songs come into being while playing piano. That's why it has automatic overtones of a ballad. Probably it has also something to do with my voice. As far as that goes probably it's easier for us to write ballads.
RE.FLEXION : After the release of the "Anthology" will you sign again at a Major?
Marian : We already negotiate.
RE.FLEXION : When will Alphaville be on tour in the western part of the country finally?
Marian : In Autumn
RE.FLEXION : If you could start now once more, what would you do in a different way compared to then?
Marian : We would release some songs earlier, which are now on the "Anthology". To take some of the drugs from then in another sequence.
RE.FLEXION : Which plans do you have for the future- when will you release a completely new album?
Marian : We'll start working on it in September.
RE.FLEXION : Much luck for you and thank you.
Marian : Bon voyage!

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