Munich, 11/08/12- „Good music is like water: it goes everywhere.“ – Killerpilze in interview -
Killerpilze is grown up. You’ll notice that not just in the way they are on stage but also in how they make music. When Johannes “Jo” Halbig, Fabian “Fabi” Halbig, and Maximilian “Mäx” Schlichter began 10 years ago, no one knew about the band. But in the meantime the three musicians from Dillingen an der Donau have earned a big fanbase. Not least because they have steadily refined and improved themselves.
They are no longer the little rockers who, topless, showed their middle fingers on stage; rather, they are rockers whose music and lyrics are close to their hearts. This is exactly what they show their fans without appearing aloof or conceited.
Last Friday, they played a brilliant show that bore its own mark. Because, although they’ve grown up, they have remained true to themselves.(A.E.)
Fotos from the Killerpilz birthday party backstage in Munich
Before the concert, we spoke with the three guys.
LifeOnStage.net: It’s been 10 years for you, that is longer than so many other musicians generally become a talking point. So give us a short summary in which the words “nice”, “ugly”, “exciting”, and “boring” appear.
Jo: It is still extraordinarily nice to play in this band, although there have sometimes been “ugly” times, since we had to bite through some decisions and gain experience.
It is now and actually the whole time, above everything, exciting when you’re in the band. The last 10 years were for us only an exciting time. At the moment we feel that we’re coming towards something very exciting in 2013, because currently we are finishing the new album. For the CD, which we are currently recording, we have taken a very long time; it is for us something very special. It is for us a phase, but it keeps going. 10 years Killerpilze is for many so “Wow, cool, they’re still around?” But it’s still going and, in addition the exciting times, you’re happy to come home and it’s boring for a while.
Fabi: It was ugly – pretty and exciting – boring.
LifeOnStage.net: How long have you been working on the CD?
Mäx: For a year-and-a-half we’ve been working on writing, lyrics, and producing. We‘re producing the album by ourselves again. Clearly, with our own label we have to put far more creative energy into the “Killerpilze” project above all else that has to do with artwork and videos. Since we have a completely tight team around us [who] gives us quite a lot of input and [who] have a good feeling about the album, because the songs are mega-strong.
Jo: Of course, it‘s a long time, working on an album for a year-and-a-half; but you have to see that “Lautonom” and “Ein Bisschen Zeitgeist” came in 2010 and 2011, that was a really high tempo. There were a few incidents, also familial, where we noticed, that some space is important. It just wasn’t going to happen that you then keep working.
Thereafter we dedicated ourselves with full power to the new album and like Mäx already said, we have a team of six, seven young people around us who lift the whole creative section. We, of course, write the songs ourselves but when it has to do with videos or artwork – that we think over ourselves, because we also cast the actors, we do the filming. It's all very well crafted, and therefore time consuming. Especially now, when it’s coming on 10 years - the show and the completion of the new album.
Fabi: Whereas for the people outside, of course, it’s not visible and for them little has happened. They see: “Oh yes, they’re only playing one show this year, that’s no stress for them,” and we’re sitting at home and working our asses off.
Jo: Especially the very tight, private environment it gets to feel, when your girlfriend, your parents, or your best friends say, “You never have time, you’re always stressed!”
Mäx: Since late sommer we haven’t pre-produced more, rather [we] really went into the studio and produced the way people will eventually hear. That really gives us courage and we can say, “Cool, we’re making this completely by ourselves and we’re also doing it, the sound, that we wanted to bring to the album.” That especially gave us a lot of energy in the last few weeks – we have practiced so much like the last few years together. That did us good and as a result we have further developed this band – feeling. You can feel that with the new songs.
LifeOnStage.net: You left a major label and founded your own. In the last few years, that was naturally often discussed, especially by the fans. How has this decision affected your career and is there something bigger in the plans?
Jo: At the time, the decision was for us entirely systematic, we have learned a lot. Almost everything was decreased in our time with Universal, now we had to learn how everything worked. But we were happy to do it all because we just enjoyed the artistic freedom. Because we do the producing ourselves doesn’t mean that we don’t take opinions from outside – we take feedback and, of course, work together with other people who are experienced in production and have already produced other artists.
Mäx: Recently we had a good metaphor: “Good music is like water: it goes everywhere.” And I think it’ll be like that if people like the music and the lyrics – if it speaks to them. Then it doesn’t matter if it was produced under Sony, Universal, or under Killerpilzerecords.
Jo: Structurally there are differences. We don’t have a marketing – budget. Since we build on our fans as promoter. We are dependant on the people who support us. We also enjoy creating this “Power” with our fans. In fact, there are three major labels that have approached us and asked if we wanted to start again. We discussed it a lot, but we’re going with what we have done so far, a good course.
LifeOnStage.net: Short swivel: You were at Donauinselfest in Vienna this year. How did it feel to be in the line-up with artists like, for example, Sunrise Avenue, Jennifer Rostock, and James Morrison?
Jo: That‘s difficult to describe. The people outside still see that two-part and many say, “Hey, you are so well-known and completely rich.” If you are represented in the media as so extreme, people think that you’re famous or whatever you define it, and the stage we had of course already; especially when we became known [back] in 2006. Since then much for us has been revamped, because we said we would approach it differently by starting a record label so that we could “earn” people through concerts and albums. That is why we feel it is not such a "great honor" to be with those bands on stage. Sure, playing with bands like Jennifer Lopez or Kraftklub is nice because you are in a way a fan of the bands themselves. But we do not see ourselves as the band that says "Cool, now we can play with the big names." We are well on our way to reaching it again without wanting to sound arrogant now. We've never held much of this star - fuss. Many come to these festivals and don’t know how to classify us. Afterward, they like it a lot. For us this is always an incentive. Thus, that you encounter each other at different festivals more often, develops good acquaintanceships or also friendships and overall that is a very nice skirting around with one another.
LifeOnStage.net: We also saw you guys at “Long Night of Music”[(a concert)], there you played unplugged [(playing using acoustic instruments)]. What do you prefer: Unplugged or electronic?
Mäx: Both have their good points. With the unplugged- things you can immerse yourself even deeper into the songs, many others understand because there you arrange more, it is much more real. With that, we’ve only played as a trio, arranging ourselves around. Full throttle on stage with amplification is, of course, awesome. It is difficult to gauge because you can’t really compare them with each other.
Jo: We mix them both live. We don’t want to limit ourselves by sound. Of course, every band has its own tone color but that doesn’t come out if you only play straight rock songs.
Fabi: What was very important and a good experience was when we were sitting in the run-up for “Long Night of Music” and really played together again. You play your tour a year long, play every weekend, and then a casualness comes in. You are definitely already at a good level and the people outside maybe don’t notice it but before that show we consciously heard the songs again. You hear the mistakes more with acoustic. That was an important experience for us. Especially because we realized that we could do it with just the three of us.
LifeOnStage.net: It is always good that bands also play unplugged because you can cover up technical shortcomings with distortion. Since you see and notice whether the band can do anything or whether it just “clangs”[(like pots and pans hitting each other)]. With you, people have seen and heard: “Those aren’t the little Killerpilze from 10 years ago anymore, they can really do something!”
Jo: It was important for us not just to play with two acoustic guitars but to arrange the songs differently. If you do something unplugged, that can become shitty quickly, too. In any case, we’re ready for “MTV unplugged”.
LifeOnStage.net: What is, apart from the fact that you’re celebrating your 10-year, new for the upcoming tour? Is it a kind of new beginning? Are you also changing musically?What can you reveal beforehand?
Jo: Today we’re playing the first two new songs and, online, people will also notice that something new is coming. For example, Mäx cut his hair. It’s always difficult to say. The songs are definitely different. If we say that they’re better, which they de facto are, and that then ends up in the Interview, everyone will think, “Yeah, every band says that”.
Mäx: It’s much more personal than any album that we’ve put out previously. It is all autobiographical lyrcis and big
Jo: Our last album “Ein bisschen Zeitgeist” was for us a completely reactionary album because we said that wanted to make that ourselves and a tough album. It was good and it was extremely fun, even live. There were a lot of lyrics that were a means to an end to convey the music. Now it is the other way around. The lyrics originated out of real stories from our friends, they’re from us personal experienced things. For the first time we have managed to conceive everything in words. With the album we’re trusting ourselves again to sing and have improved ourselves vocally. We’re very excited when people can sing our melodies and lyrics in public. That is incomparable and actually the greatest compliment.
LifeOnStage.net: At the moment you would put yourselves a little in the pop –and punk-category. These categories are never easy, you always struggle with them.
Jo: In the course of the new album, we have, of course, refined ourselves and considered a lot but no label for our musical genre.
Fabi: In any case, it is different from the last album It’s going to be pop-ier.
Jo: We’ve also become more acquainted with the concept. For us, it was a spurned expression for a long time because we were afraid that our music was not hard enough. By now, we’re so honest and say that we don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore. We’ve now got 10 years under our belts and we are constantly building back up a big fan base. Why can we not trust ourselves, then, to do exactly what we have in mind? With the album it was so, because we, as we mentioned, had to enjoy singing. To name three bands that cover our spectrum: Coldplay, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Foo Fighters.
Fabi: And Banaroo.
LifeOnStage.net: Really quickly about lyrics. Who writes them among you guys?
Jo: We actually write them together but mainly Mäx and I.
Fabi: I approve them. I sit there with a red pen [(He actually says pencil: the idea is that of an editor or teacher editing something in red)].
Jo: Mäx has the greatest influence there because he also produces.
Fabi: By now, Mäx has the most musical and technical know – how. That is uncannily useful as a band, because you have someone who can immediately implement and produce an idea. That expedites a lot, so you’re much more independent.
Jo: Currently with our own label, everyone has his own job. Mäx principally music, Fabi concerns himself with the live – appearances and the finances, and I [deal with] the general communication between managementa and band, the people amongst themselves, and the Internet.
LifeOnStage.net: How did you come up with the name of the new album “GRELL”?
Jo: The album is called “GRELL” because for us it’s a metaphor for farewell and a fresh start. That will be covered in the lyrics; for example, to move from your original hometown to a new city, living alone for the first time, establishing a real relationship with someone that doesn’t fall under teen-relationship. It’s also for the band a stage- 10 years are up, now something new is beginning, a new period that looks lurid and bright. We have remade ourselves a lot in the course, that affects the appearance from the outside, [I’m talking about] logos, etc. For us farewell means taking from the old to the new. Grell is also a strong word.
LifeOnStage: And in conclusion, one more question: If we can bathe in the sun, why can‘t we also swim in the rain?
Mäx: Wait for the next album, the answer is there.
LifeOnStage: Thanks so much you three for the interview!