The World Wide Web plays a huge role in the band life of our August Fresh Act, Tokks Voitto. Here, band members were found, here band rehearsals are broadcasted and here one can listen to and download songs of the guys from Berlin for free – tagged only with a CC licence, of course. Now, Maurice, Michael, Georg, Moritz and Jan reveal to you what´s on the collective mind of a young band at the beginning of their career.
First of all, would you please introduce yourselves to our readership, who´s who and why ;)? Maurice: Hi, certainly. We are a sextet consisting of Jan and Georg on vocals, Michael and Florian on guitars, Moritz on bass and my humble self on drums. ´Why´ is an interesting question but I guess that´s just how things have established themselves over the years. We, of course, also tried to swap roles but the current line-up simply works the best :) Michael: Ask our parents! Georg: Why? Because no one knows how to play an instrument other than his own.
Are you all originally from Berlin? Maurice: Just one half of us; Georg, Michael and Florian are Berlin-natives. Jan is from Cottbus, Moritz from Walsrode (near Hanover) and I´m from Neuss (near Düsseldorf). So, we´re not the ones raising the ratio of Swabians in Berlin. Michael: That´s not true, I was born in Poland. I insist on my East Prussian identity. Georg: But it´s still fifty-fifty when it comes to Berlin versus non-Berlin natives.
Next I was, of course, wondering about your band name. How did you come up with Tokks Voitto and does the second part, “voitto“, have something to do with the Finnish word for ´victory´? Maurice: That´s for sure something that many are wondering about. However, we can only give a detailed explanation under identical conditions, under which the name was conceived. In other words, you have to offer us lots of beer. Michael: Many names were under discussion; in the end, we went for a compromise. Georg: Did I just hear ´beer´?
How did you guys meet in the first place? Maurice: That´s not a very exciting story. Michael and Florian have written songs together for a long time and then, at some point, they put an ad on the internet. I read it and decided, after a three-year break, to pick up my sticks again. After having found the first shithole of a rehearsal room (there´s no other way to describe it), Moritz joined us on bass. After this, it got a little confusing. At first, Jan did the vocals, then he didn´t, then Georg sang and then we decided to try out both at the same time. With hindsight, this was one of the best and most important decisions in our short band history. We regard ourselves as a fully-fledged band since September 2010. Jan: Weren´t there some women involved, too? Maurice: Yes, but only for a short time.
As you already mentioned, you afford yourselves the luxury of two singers, who´s responsible for what? Maurice: Well, as I just told you, in the beginning there was some serious chaos surrounding the singer spot. Georg: I don´t think it was that bad but, then again, I joined quite a bit later. Jan and myself, we pretty quickly agreed on an arrangement, which is, however, still exciting for every new song but, in the end, he and I know exactly when and where we have to sing how. Maurice: What sets us apart from other bands is that we don´t have this conventional division between a shouter/growler and a crooner, who whines about the pain of the problems of youngsters. Instead, we have double grunting from the depth! Because of this, we don´t need to resort to some kind of stereo effects or similar tunings when recording and can convince with lots of power and force in a live setting. There are certainly passages with screams but they are well-adjusted and correspond to the character of the song. Michael: Well said.
You offer your songs as free downloads on your website. So, is it then more important for you that people can listen to your songs instead of making money? Or what´s behind this strategy? Moritz: Yes, that´s definitely right. Maurice: I assume you expect me to launch into a lengthy monologue about Creative Commons, and that there are lots of similarities to the Open Source scene, in the software, which has proven to be a multi-million industry, and that we, furthermore, believe it´s in our best interest to protect single works in a different way and that we would like to be in control over the usage ourselves? Ok, well, then let´s summarise all this with: Yes, that´s right. Michael: With music like this it´s also not very easy to make money. Hence, it makes perfect sense.
Fans can also watch you rehearse and chat with you live via webcam. During those sessions, do you get some direct feedback like “that riff sucked balls/sounded awesome” or so. If so, does it influence your songwriting? Maurice: Actually, that´s the feedback we would like to have. I cannot say, however, how we will respond when we get it. Up until now, it´s mostly our friends and acquaintances who watch and ask what´s cracking. Gig goers and fans do really dig the idea but then they seem to have other things to do. Those of you readers interested to watch us, we are broadcasting live from our rehearsal room Wednesdays from about 8pm and Saturdays usually from about 6 pm (just before the party starts but right now we are on summer break). Michael: With increasing popularity, this is surely changing.
How does the songwriting otherwise work? Moritz: Migu (Michael) comes in and plays something. We bash it and then we´ll see. Michael: Natural selection. Maurice: We don´t have a general concept. Sometimes we use some modern stuff like Tux Guitar to present our ideas, but we also do it the old-fashioned way: jamming with a beer in the rehearsal room and writing down ideas. Both options have their pros and cons. Michael: Yes, Maurice is right. For me, it´s easier to work on a song at home and then surrender it to the band for them to mutilate it. But we also had quite a few musical outpourings together in the rehearsal room, which turned out to be the best ever.
What are the songs about? Moritz: I´ve never read the lyrics. I trust our singers. Maurice: Again, we are not observing any strict rules. We have political songs (Starving and Drunken), typical grindcore killer crazes (White Sheet), death (Reason, Oblivious) and relation between hunter and the hunted (Hunter). Something to add? Jan: The free rolling of sick thoughts. Michael: For me, it´s the music that conveys the message. Jan: He talks with his guitar.
What´s your inspiration? Maurice: Ermm... Frustration with everyday life, transposed to fantasy scenarios for anger management? Moritz: An answer of high educational value, we concur. Michael: I´m inspired by musicians who are better than me. Moritz: Yes, man. Michael: I simply enjoy to comprehend how other bands create a certain atmosphere and then make use of this knowledge with our songs. Georg: When it comes to the lyrics, reality provides enough inspiration. One doesn´t need to add any more ruthlessness. Just turn on your TV and boom! Lots of food for thought.
Who are your musical heroes and what are the most unusual influences? Maurice: Finnish Humppa!!! Other than that, everything from Dream Theater over Kreator to Behemoth. Right now, I´m listening to the latest Nile but for some reason I´m not a big fan of it. Moritz: Pheewwww... Michael: Opeth for the feeling, Dream Theater for the complexity, Muse because they showed me how to always do the right thing. Jan: Chris Barnes (True Carnage). Otherwise, right now (insert latest grindcore record here). Moritz: I listen to a lot of solo bassists like John Entwistle. Techdeath is important and also Black Metal. Georg: Jazz, fast rap like Busta Rhymes and then also of course, Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth and Julien Truchan from Benighted.
Until now, what has been the best/most frustrating moment in your band history? Jan: The most frustrating was our last gig at the Butcherroom. And the best our first gig at the Fuck the Commerce (FTC) festival. Moritz: It was our second gig but I agree with the FTC. The worst moment was the ´fundamental debate´ at the time of founding the band. Maurice: For me personally, the best moment was when I held our debut EP Formation, fresh off the pressing plant, in my hands. After 17 years of thrashing finally a band with enough persistence for an album :) Frustration mostly is the result of unfulfilled expectations and, concerning this, I´m actually rather relaxed, most of the time. Michael: The most horrible gig was the one at K17, simply because of all the nervousness. The best gig was in Cottbus, for the first time I could really let myself go. Georg: The best thing for me is that I´m part of this band. No matter what happens, every live gig is simply awesome.
In the spring you played in my hometown Cottbus, how was it? Maurice: That´s more a question for Jan, who´s also from there. I loved it. Unfortunately, we were the first band on stage but the response was awesome and we look forward to playing there again. Cheers again to Muggefug (the local venue, the ed.)! Michael: For me, it was the best moment of our band. Moritz: It was a lot of fun, I gladly play there again. Michael: Kudos to the crowd. Jan: One wicked hour! We will be back!!!! Georg: Small, rustic, crowded - what more could a metal head want?
In 2011 you released your first EP titled Formation and I heard there are plans for a debut album to be published soon. What can you tell us about it? When will it be released, are all the songs ready yet, how about the financing? Maurice: So many questions at once. 2012 is set to be the year, in which we want to have everything recorded. The question on how to finance it, hasn´t been answered yet. Crowdsourcing would be an option but we hope we can add one or the other cent ourselves. The recording will probably take place at our place because it simply gives us more peace of mind and time to experiment. We have also improved our engineering skills considerably over the years. Exactly where the mixing and mastering is done, we don´t know yet. So much about the technical aspects. Migu, what about the contents? Michael: You can look forward to even more creative songwriting because also in this area we have steadily developed and refined our skills. Jan: It´s going to be a fat record because we moved our stage of orientation towards the end. Maurice: That´s an in-joke ;) Moritz: Look forward to some brute notes à la Tokks Voitto.
Last question; let´s go on a time travel to the year 2017. When everything works out as planned, what are you doing? And what about, when things haven´t gone well? Moritz: (laughs) Jan: On a tour through the US with Tokio Hotel Moritz: Honest answer? When things are not going well, we will still play once in half a year in the same club. When things go well, we will additionally play one or the other festival. Michael: My hope is that we will establish ourselves in the Berlin metal scene. Maurice: We wait and see. But surely, I dream about having played the Dong Open Air (it´s simply the best festival), recorded a few records and played lots of gigs with a stable line-up. In the worst case scenario, we will sit in the Wikingerbar and wallow in memories how great things were back then and what we could have achieved while rubbing our even larger beer bellies. Michael: Hey, I´m planning to lose some weight until then. Moritz: (laughs) Jan: But seriously, a tour through Germany and maybe a few gigs outside of Germany would be a dream come true.
Many thanks and good luck for your future! Maurice: Thanks a lot for this interview and all the best to Stalker.