Interv1


the biggest thank you to Joachim from Scandinavian Fanclub for placing this stuff at our disposal
CO:
What's the difference between your using of synthesizers today and 10-15 years ago?
MG:
It's more boring using them today, it's not very adventurous any more. With this all analog stuff you basically had to create the sounds on your own. You can still create new sounds with modern devices but it's a complete different way. But since, I think, two or three years ago they're returning to the old way of manual working on the synthesizers, like in the old days with the analogs. You can work with filters and oscillators like you used to do and with just one view on the synth you can see what's going on there. On the older digital stuff you had to work through all kinds of different frames to understand the machine.
CO:
So there's a more manual way of working coming?
MG:
Yes, I think so. We're going back to an older, more manual, direct and a more emotional way to work with the synths. It's less programming.
CO:
From being more or less a traditional synth-pop-band you have come to play with more influences from "rock", there's more guitars, new sounds and so on. This progress is maybe similar to Depeche Mode for example. Why?
MG:
Because it's so boring being reduced just to sequences and drummachines. I mean, when we started it was like there was no other chance for us. We weren't musicians. We just had musical ideas but they wouldn't have been possible to create without technological means. At that time, sequences, rhythm- and drummachines came on the market and we could use them. Without being real musicians we could create music. But once in a while you're developing a little bit, getting better capabilities, more control about what you're doing. Then you're looking for new sounds and you're searching for new instruments. You experience that a real drumkit probably is also a quite interesting device. Or a electric guitar, probably the most fantastic noise-generator ever been invented by mankind. But we also had to become more developed as musicians, otherwise it would be like a visual circle which you never get out of. If you're developing it's more like a spiral.
CO:
So Kraftwerk´s been running around in circles for years, or?
MG:
Well, they transcend their circles. It's a fantastic band and very strange too. They are developing in a very strange way but it's still very adventurous, they are still developing. Kraftwerk is more like a transcendental thing, more like a mantra. This mantric music is something different that you can't compare to others. It's a complete different level, different universe. As Kraftwerk I must say that Alphaville also is much of an universe on it's own that you can't compare to any other band. There are, in the very beginning, slight similarities with OMD or with Depeche Mode, that you mentioned. I can't find very much similarities with any other band. So it's very much an universe on it's own.
CO:
Is Alphaville still a TV-video-band?
MG:
No, as you see we're playing live!(skratt)
CO:
So there's a sign of change?
MG:
Yes, I was pretty much bored with that so in the end of the 80´s I started play in several projects and bands. Bernard wasn't very keen on playing live because he's more of a studioworker, he likes to work in studio for years and he has no problem with it. But finally I convinced him and since the beginning of last year we started touring.
CO:
It took a while to convince him?
MG:
Yes (skratt). We aren't very much of a democratic band but we are a very neurotic band, There are no boss in the band and no democracy. It's a very strange thing and I've never found out how this thing, Alphaville, works. It works since 15 years now but I don't know how it functions! (skratt)
CO:
What happened with the tour in ´86? Wasn't there supposed to be a tour after Afternoons In Utopia?
MG:
Afternoons In Utopia is a musical concept that you can only understand completely when it's performed on stage. And we didn't do that, for many reasons at the time. One of the reasons is probably one of the basic laws of Alphaville; this band never does what everybody expects us to do. It's always something else. I personally was a bit disappointed that we didn't do that, that we didn't put that concept on stage. Because it was a kind of conceptional album, like a mini-pop-opera or something like that. And it was written like that. You can only understand it if you see it on stage. You see all the costumes, all the characters from the songs and then you get the whole picture. But we never did that. Bernard and Ricky had the opinion that it wasn't necessary for the band to tour. They wanted to create something that was very intriguing in a way: a complete virtual band project, a complete virtual event. This was in a time when nobody spoke about virtual reality, internet or whatever. So I found this idea, that I think Bernard had, very interesting and very fascinating in a way. But I'm a little bit simpler, more primitive than him in my kind of fantasies and I want to go on stage. It's the best way to introduce music to people, but then I thought that, well maybe he was right, and I was pretty much in love with this virtual thing and I found it pretty cool. And that was maybe the other reason that we never did it.
CO:
How do you look upon the "Forever Young-ages" today?
MG:
What can I say, it was a nice time. It was a period of time that was pretty much overwhelming. It's very hard to describe it and stay credible at the same time, since Forever Young is the most successful thing we've done so far. For me it was a perfect holiday, a game. I didn't take the music very serious and I was quite surprised that I was able to write songs. It wasn't my intention to become a musician, I wanted to be a painter. I studied art in Berlin for 11/2 years and then 1977/78 when this punk-thing came everybody started making music. I had a friend who was convincing me that it was probably much easier to get cool girlfriends when you're on a stage. And I found that argument quite convincing. That was probably the main reason why I got in to music. Later when we got this recorddeal I thought it was fantastic. Then we got this single and the initial success and I said: it's pretty easy to be a professional musician and get a lot of money, be a millionaire or whatever. It was still always a game and I kept on playing. When I write music I take it serious but everything around it I don't take serious at all, it's a big circus.
CO:
And about the lyrics...
MG:
The lyrics are very serious, very tutonic (?), very dramanic(?). I must confess: I take my lyrics very serious and I'm sometimes a little bit disappointed about the absence of humour in it. It should be some more humour in it sometimes!(skratt)
CO:
And the contents...
MG:
I write about anything that occurs and I find interesting. This afternoon I came to this hotelroom, I'm on my way to the bathroom and the TV is going on. The CNN-news tells me that the Israelis attacked the Libanon this afternoon. We played in Beirut last summer on a big festival with Marc Almond and some others, and it's a very strange situation that we can make a song of. So writing lyrics is a very daily affair, not a big adventure. John Lennon wrote "God Morning" because he heard an advert running on the radio, for cornflakes going like that, "god morning, god morning..."
CO:
What about religion?
MG:
Religion is fantastic, so far as I know it's the knowledge about God, isn't it? So it proves in a way that God exists, you know. I never understood why people kill each other because of religious reasons, bur it's something else. It probably has nothing to do with religion. They just claim that there's religious reasons behind. It's very strange that people who are proclaiming so much religious things, they almost turn out to be the biggest killers. But it has nothing to do with God, God is great.
CO:
About God, what do you think about interpreting Universal Daddy into being a song about God?
MG:
I wouldn't deny that. It's a very cheap lyric, isn't it? It was meant like that, like if God would be commercialised on TV. I had been in America and there were these guys doing prayers on TV and it's a little bit about that (likheter med DM´s Personal Jesus?..egen anm.). It's not directly about God. If I'm talking about God I use the word ´God´, but if I say ´Universal Daddy` it's a more ridiculous term and I mean it like that. I hate the song by the way, you would never ever see me playing this song live because I hate it. It was a complete mistake, it was the worst song I have ever written in my life! (skratt)
CO:
Why did you chose the name `Prostitute`(album ´94)?
MG:
As an artist, when you create and when you sell it's two different situations. When you create music, or whatever, it's one thing. But when you promote it, commercialise it, sell it, it's very much like prostitution. You have to prostitute yourself to make it a little bit more interesting. Prostitutes and musicians are very much the same.
CO:
Do you have any own favourite song from Prostitute?
MG:
Yes I have, it's Ivory Tower, for the moment.
CO:
As I see it the lyrics in Ivory Tower are very nostalgic and about some end, like Alphaville leaving the market?
MG:
Not at all. It's more like a confrontation between fantasy and reality. We've lived in a kind of Ivory Tower over the years and Prostitute marks the point when we went out of the tower. We went back to reality and left all our mysteries and fairytales and stuff behind and went into the real world. We went into Germany and we found a unified Germany with Nazis running officially on the streets and foreigners getting burned and killed, you know. That's what Ivory Tower is about.


CO:
Would you say there's a difference in how you use the synthesizers today and in the mid 80´s?
BL:
No. (skratt) We're using them more or less in the same way today as in the mid 80´s. Maybe in the meantime a bit more than in the beginning of the 80´s. Everybody is going a little bit back to analog synthesizers and as you can see on stage I'm working with a Swedish synth, with a virtual analog and I really like it. And it's like in the beginning of the 80´s.. On the other hand what we are also working with is what haven't been there in the beginning of the 80´s, like samplers and stuff like that. The difference is that we are using more samplers today.
CO:
Why?
BL:
Sampling is really very easy and you can get stuff from wherever you want. That's one way to work.
CO:
About Forever Young, did you ever expect such a huge hit?
BL:
No we never did. But on the other hand, the moment we wrote the song I knew that something special happened. But we never expected this huge success, never. Do you know what I mean? When you write you have a certain feeling about it and this moment was really special.
CO:
From where do you get inspiration and motivation?
BL:
It's hard to say. You get inspiration from nearly anything, it's just something which comes up to your ear or mind. It could be an idea, in the beginning we were influenced by all these early-80´s-british-syntheseizerbands you can think of, like Human League, OMD. And for sure, by Kraftwerk. On the other hand everybody was listening to David Bowie. But in the meantime the ideas are more in a way coming from ourselves, we're getting ideas from everywhere because we are doing music more or less all the time. You always get ideas just by playing something.
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