Exclusive interview for Russian Gothic Page and RockCity Magazine (by Stanislav Ivanoff).
Goethe's Heirs. This name precisely reflects the essence of this magnificent band, that became classics of German gothic scene.
GOETHES ERBEN can't be called an ordinary band. To understand the uniqueness of the given formation you should definitely attend their live performances. Actually, it's no good calling them ordinary concerts either. This is a spectacle, theatrical performance, going through different emotions, constant interchange of light and shade, expression and melancholy. Last year GOETHES ERBEN celebrated 10th anniversary, and this fact served as a ground to contact the band and conduct an exclusive interview with them, which appeared to be the first one, given to a Russian magazine. The answers to my questions are given by the permanent leader of the band, the man combining in his personality the characters of singer, composer, poet, actor and director - Oswald Henke.
- Please introduce the story of band's formation and reveal us the main landmarks in your history.
"GOETHES ERBEN was formed in January 1989 by Peter Seipt and myself. With this line-up GOETHES ERBEN recorded the songs of the first two MC releases. These songs were later re-released on the CD '1.Kapitel'. After Peter left the band, Mindy Kumbalek joined GOETHES ERBEN in 1991. The debut album 'Das Sterben ist asthetisch bunt' was released in February 1992 on the German label Dark Star. Following various other releases and several tours, we presented 'Schach ist nicht das Leben' live on stage, which was our first complete music theater piece. The album to this tour, which wasn't released until 1997, was produced by FM Einheit (former member of the band EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN). Easter of 1998 was the first performance of our most elaborate music theater performance to this day, called 'Kondition: Macht!'. The two-act piece was performed on 4 days for 3200 people in the Urania Theater in Berlin along with the dance ensemble OMBRA BALLARE. There have been many important landmarks in GOETHES ERBEN's 11-year history. For example the once-in-a-lifetime performance in the planetarium in Jena or many other wonderful concert memories."
- Describe the process of music and lyrics creation. How do the songs appear?
"Our songs are created in various different ways. It starts with a lyrical or musical idea. With the songs for 'Kondition:Macht!' for example, we started with the lyrics and a collection of melodies and musical fragments. Then we put the pieces together. But sometimes I write the lyrics to a piece of music that's already finished. But generally the lyrics are the main focus, not always alone, but they do usually shape the song structure."
- What are the literary and musical influences of GOETHES ERBEN members?
"If any band influenced us in any way, then it can only be the THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS. Mindy and I have always admired their uncompromising attitude when it comes to asserting their musical ideas."
- Your shows bear strong emotional charge and theatrical touch. They remind the play of one actor namely Oswald Henke. Have you any relations with classical theatre? I wonder if you are a trained actor or director?
"I haven't had any training as an actor or director. I'm autodidactic. I love slipping into different roles to give my soul the chance to romp about."
- In 1993 you collaborated with Tilo Wolff during the recording of Christian Dorge's 'Lucia' album. How it was to work with them? Did you have other collaborations?
"Tilo Wolff and I recorded our songs in different studios at different times. The 'Lucia' album should be seen as a compilation of two different groups of musicians which both set Christian Dorge's lyrics to music. The 'Lucia' album was a one-time thing as far as the artists who were involved are concerned."
- You worked with the producer Vladimir Ivanoff of SARBAND and VOX. Is he Russian? And what do you think about Russia? Did you ever receive any feedback from Russian fans?
"Vladimir Ivanoff comes from Bulgaria but has been living in Germany for many years. (By the way, Vladimir once produced an album for the Russian group MEGAPOLIS). As far as my knowledge of Russia is concerned, I only know what's reported in the news and I don't think that's always an objective view. I think Russia has received a great opportunity to find a new identity through the downfall of the Communist regime. Even if this process of change is painful for a few decades, the final goal is more than promising. In Germany too, reunification brought about many problems - unemployment, more and more poverty, but that's no comparison to the conditions in Russia. However I hope that in both countries in the long run, intelligence will prevail and that fascists and nationalists won't have a chance to gain a foothold. Up to now we haven't had any feedback from Russian fans. I don't really think anyone in Russia has ever heard of GOETHES ERBEN."
- What can you tell about your side projects ERBLAST and STILL SILENT?
"Since not all of our artistic ideas fit into the concept behind GOETHES ERBEN, we also have other projects. And that's not limited to just the two solo projects STILL SILENT and ERBLAST. It's simply plain fun to work with other people. After all, these experiences also benifit GOETHES ERBEN."
- Last year you celebrated your 10th anniversary. I believe that GOETHES ERBEN won't stop on this and continue their musical activities. What are you doing right now and what are your plans for the nearest future?
"From September 29 to October 1, 2000 we'll once again be performing the two-act music theater piece 'Kondition:Macht!'. In the fall we'll be releasing two vinyl LPs with live material covering the entire history of GOETHES ERBEN and for 2001 we're planning the premiere of a new musical theater piece called 'Zwischen Eins und Drei ist Nichts' in an opera house in Bayreuth. We won't be touring again until sometime in 2001."
- Thank you very much for the interview. Finish it in the way you want.
"Bis vielleicht irgendwann, irgendwo in Russland." (Hope to see you sometime, somewhere in Russia.)
(c) 1999 Russian Gothic Project
Design by Chthon (c) 1999