Alphaville’s last sign of life followed
with the release of “Salvation” in 1997, but since the record company didn’t
support this album that much, the commercial success failed to come and
Alphaville seemed to disappear from the scenes once more. Anyway, there
weren’t any reasons to worry – on the contrary. Marian Gold and Bernhard
Lloyd were permanently creating something for those, who supported Alphaville
to become that, what they are today – for their fans.
They had a kind of anthology in their minds, containing Alphaville’s entire work from the time between the years 1981 and 1998. Probably it’s the easiest way to let Marian talk about “Dreamscapes” to show you what it’s about and what Alphaville had to deal with.
“Dreamscapes” is going to consist of 8 records including 120 songs. We already chose the music and we only have to clarify legal matters till the end of this week. There are only 2 things missing: the artwork and the very first song. I considered an introducing song for every record, but I still have to mix them. Bernd mastered all other things in Sweden last week. I thought it would be much easier to handle all the different software programmes, but it’s necessary to restart the computer up to 20 times a day to finish everything in time, because the computer doesn’t work properly. We are losing a lot of time, but I think “Dreamscapes” will be finished till the end of October.”
It doesn’t make me wonder, that there are a lot of problems, if somebody tries to summarize his own music history and it didn’t take a long time till there were legal problems, as well. After 16 years it isn’t that easy to clarify, which song belongs to which publisher or record company and who got the rights. This process and the work on the booklet need a lot of time, since the booklet is going to consist of 64 DIN A4-seized pages.
“It contains texts, that are partly unreleased. The whole material is unreleased in any case. There are versions of well-known songs, of course, but we paid attention to that fact, not to produce boring remixes of our songs. They differ from their original versions including the singing. Sometimes they are created on quite different harmonies. There is a complete new version of “monkey in the moon”, that has nothing to do with the album version. These are the differences I’m talking about. I don’t mean anything, that gives you the feeling to hear 20 times the same song. Sometimes “Dreamscapes” includes several versions of one and the same song – but spread over all 8 records, of course.
The songs aren’t in chronological order, but we also didn’t simply put the songs on the records. The only exception are the first 2 records, because they feature the material that everybody knows from our first 2 albums in a complete different variant. “
Maybe you ask yourself if it’s worth buying “Dreamscapes”, especially those, who already started collecting Alphaville’s material from an early age. But according to Marian it is. Especially for the fans, because it’s made for them, as a sort of thank-you for the faith during all the years – and this thank-you is really a big one:
“Producing “Dreamscapes” is really hard work. We have been working for about 9 months and it isn’t that easy to sort out the material or to record some songs in a new version. Some material was already completely destroyed and it was necessary to check the 4-track-tapes to repair the songs, because the Bass-Drum was missing sometimes. We often had to sample the Bass-Drum or to reproduce the groove. But if there are 8 beats missing it partly was impossible to find out how the original groove did sound like. It really was quite adventurous sometimes, because it also was necessary to listen to all other tapes to find an opportunity to reconstruct certain songs. And – with the exception of all live songs – we mixed all songs again and nevertheless we tried to stay authentically, but it still was necessary to manipulate some songs. Not to embellish them, but to reach the heart of every single song. Sometimes it was too hidden and we felt like Indiana Jones in the temple of death. But despite of all the hard work, it was fun! I was confronted with things that made me think: Oh dear, what have we done? I don’t know this song anymore. What a strange text! And who the heck is the singer? And so on. There is a live tape from 1982, taped somewhere in Westphalia, and I didn’t listen to “Montego Bay” since than. I start singing and it sounds like a lonely and pitiable reptile, that is pouring out its trouble somewhere in a bay. It was quite difficult to identify myself – but it was me! Maybe this sounds amazing. You can find this song on “Dreamscapes”, as well, but I don’t think that somebody is able to recognize me!”
It’s understandable that the result will be opened to those first, who appreciate Alphaville’s work best. That’s why “Dreamscapes” is going to be offered only via the internet or in selected music stores. Another reason for the limited distribution was the lack of interest on the part of the record company. But things have changed now. Suddenly there were offers by several people, but Alphaville prefer to keep their project under control by themselves.
“That’s why we decided to produce the artwork on our own. I’m sure it isn’t that professional – a well-trained graphic artist is able to create more extreme things – but on the other hand, we produced the music on our own, as well. That’s the reason, why we decided to make everything on our own! We thought, the internet is the best opportunity to control our project.
But some people offered extreme high amounts for “Dreamscapes” and we don’t know, what made them think that.”
An edition of approximately 2.000 copies is expected – according the demand – and there also will be a limited edition, but nobody knows all about the exact number of copies, yet .
“We are going to sign all records belonging to the limited edition, which will consists of 500 to 800 copies. But it depends on our physical condition, since signing is quite exhausting.”
After the journey into the past, it’s time to look ahead. The release of “Salvation” took place more than 2 years ago and it’s about time to produce something new, but “Dreamscapes” took up a lot of time. There already was new material for the next regular album, but Alphaville put it on “Dreamscapes, as well, because it was connected with one of the 8 records. It’s possible, of course, that the one or other song will appear on the next album.
The new structure within the band will also be important for the future work. Ricky Echolette left the band in 1996, but still had a share in the production of “Salvation”. But the heart of the band doesn’t feel bad about it.
“It wasn’t a spontaneous decision and it has nothing to do with the music – we simply go separated ways now. But we were quite sad as Ricky said, that he is going to leave the band. We felt like an era is ending, but we will continue in tows. To be a trio had disadvantages, of course. The production always took much longer. Ricky undoubtedly achieved a lot for our last 2 albums. But I think a production it’s more efficient and faster in twos. I can imagine to continue working with Ricky together during future productions. It’s boring to work alone – I need the input of another person. Sometimes these things seem to be unimportant, but in the end they can be very essential, but it’s quite difficult to judge which idea is important and which one not. When I was listing to old songs, I noticed, that we chose the right way in the right moment. We simply listened to the song. If you have reached a certain stage, the song is able to tell you how to continue. But if you follow your intuition, it can destroy the whole song. You need freedom and you have to let the matters take its course. Sometimes it’s important to change your work and sometimes you produce an album, that is less open to the public – like “the breathtaking blue and I can understand why, because we changed our working method at that time and we created a quite incoherent album. The commercial aspect disappeared completely, because we weren’t interested in that fact anymore and this experience lead to another change regarding our working method for “Prostitute”.
For “Salvation” we started working more disciplined and people said: “Yes, it sounds like you. It’s easier to understand and it’s more direct.” On the one hand you never mustn’t loose your play instinct, but on the other hand it’s important to mark off the size of your sandpit. Otherwise the production is going to become too expensive.”
Another side effect is the fact, that Alphaville always need a lot of time between the releases of their albums and (almost) nobody was interested in the band anymore. The music business is fast-moving today and you have to work persistently to keep at it – that’s why I don’t wonder why people lost their interest in Alphaville. And Alphaville have to show, that they are able to offer more than “forever young”. But the band doesn’t worry about it:
“We aren’t afraid of disappearing from the scene. One reason could be our biography as musician. We accidentally started making music – it just was a crazy idea. I studied art in Berlin to become a painter. Then the punk era started and a friend of mine suggested to make music. I was afraid in the beginning, but we simply started and I recognized that is isn’t that difficult. Without any knowledge of making music, but with help of cheap rhythm machines and monophonic synthesisers we could produce music that we liked. Later on we met Bernd and at the beginning of the 80’s we started making music together. Then I hitchhiked from Münster to Berlin and everybody wanted to listen to our music. And everything started. Unexpected...”
But Alphaville shied at concerts. Maybe that’s an explanation for the fact, that Alphaville’s popularity wasn’t able to continue and the band was forced to stay in the background. But maybe there is an opportunity to catch up on the missed.
“We never performed love, because we had different opinions. I myself was in the mood, but Bernd wasn't’ interested in concerts, because he’s a studio freak. He prefers to keep everything under control and in his opinion it is impossible on the stage – especially the audience. I came to terms with that fact, because everybody should agree, otherwise it causes dominance and questions of might.
At the end of the 80’s I had a live-project called Albert and the heart of Gold and I could find out, how it does feel on a stage. Together with friends from England I started playing Alphaville’s songs at the beginning of the 90’s. Bernd liked it and joined us. It was a mistake avoiding live concerts – much bigger than the release of an album only every 3 or 4 years. It’s really important for the image. We found a fantastic band now. I expect a lot of our new programme and I can’t wait to see the reaction of the audience. This is really a big advantage – the direct response of the audience. You can notice at once, what idea is working, because your music is carrying your ideas to the people. It’s a medium that you need to come up to the people. A lot of musicians are saying: “We do what we want and we aren’t interested in the opinion of the people in front of the stage. Either the like it or not.”
But I don’t agree with this attitude. You have to listen to the reactions in front of a stage. If there isn’t a reaction, the song isn’t suitable for concerts and you have to present it in a different way. You have to think much simpler. You can use 20.000 different hihats at the same time, but it doesn’t make sense. And the hihat or the bass-loop (or whatever) must sound perfect. During the production you have the possibility to improve the song with the help of special effects, but it’s impossible during a concert. Then the quality of simpler structures is more important. This is really fascinating, because you have to change your way of thinking.”
But what about the life after “Dreamscapes”?
There will be another tour, of course, that is going to cover Europe as well as South Africa. And when the tour is finished, Alphaville will work on a new album.
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