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Pothead: To the moon and back

For more than 16 years Pothead have been the German institution for Stoner rock. From Berlin the potheads have played in the whole republic, and the journey continues, despite Bradīs recent injury (see our tourdates). Moreover, soon a new album will be out. Therefore it is time for a review of an unusual American-German rock band. STALKER spoke with the three boys from Berlin. Brad (song writing and guitar), Jeff Dope (bass) and Sebastian Meyer (drums).

How would you call yourselves your music style?
Brad: I think our music style is rocknroll with blues, you now?
Jeff: I think too.
Seb: I think too. (laugh)

How must I imagine the creation of a song? From whom come the impulses and what do the others bring in?
Brad: I write the songs and then I ask the guys to play on it their parts and this works pretty good. Sometimes I beat them up a little bit. (laugh) Itīs pretty easy.

Brad, in opposite to other bands your lyrics are not so love-over boarded. They deal with all kind of things, sometimes also strange stuff, as for example "The neighbour". From were do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?
Brad: This is a hard question. The inspiration comes on in all kind of different things. And so then I just put it in there. Politics, History, sometimes family situations. You know what I mean? Normal stuff.

Let us look for your records. USA! (1993) was your first work which still came along rather rough. Then in your final setting as a trio your musically work goes rather good with records like "Rumbly Oil Pull" (1994) and "Desiccated Soup" (1995). But for many fans the record "Learn to hypnotise" (1997) was a musical landmark. Have you felt this too?
Brad: We were surprised when people like that one. But we had done the USA! as a demo, just to travel around in Europe. Made a few shows. And we were a constellation of people that plays in different bands. We just jam a little but we didnīt have songs, went into the studio and made a small demo to try to get concerts. We play in Berlin a lot and than we find over a couple of other guys. We needed a set of songs so we put together our stuff quick and we will surprised about that how much fun it was. Not thinking to in that about what to play and we were lucky because at the time people were pretty understanding about music because the alternative scene had became popular and punk and so on and so we can just play that whatīs in the riders called stoner rock. Yes, we could play that and have fun and that was the first cd, you know? I read some bad reviews in the vision and that stuff like those magazines but we liked it. I guess that would matters.

USA! was kind of hard, so rough?
Brad: If you play for those kind of people you want not play soft. It was a question of survival. And the rest of our cdīs we put out we want to play more melodic and thatīs why we found Sebastian in a second hand newspaper. And he came in and made it a little bit more melodic. So about the last song of USA! That song is ended on an accident and people liked it a lot. Thatīs was kind of cool and so the last song on USA!

It was very good.
Brad: Thank you. That song caught on an accident and than we had got a lot of feedback and the people liked it and we made our songs a little more like that and we wrote the Indian song and they came on our next three albums.

Fairground (1999) was not your most successful album but one of your best produced CDs. You hear that from the sound and the manifold stylistic stuff. Do you wish back the production-methods of a major label sometimes?
Brad: No, I donīt like the way that make the most major label band sounds, because they use to much compression. Yes, its heard my ears. And thatīs why for me fairground its a problem to listen because the guy who mixed it put to much compression on it. And we recorded on the same way other songs else and he put it to the gigantic mixer board and he put the wires out and it goes to the moon and back. And so I didnīt like the sound of this process because it heads my hears. And I want to put the volume high to hear a cd loud.

Then in 1999 you had made it. You were WOM-Act of the month and you also were in the Christmas concert of rock palace in the Philipshalle of Düsseldorf. How did you feel about that and how the audience has been taken that up?
Brad: We were never a WOM Act of the month.

Yes, you were! Really!
Brad: We havenīt noticed that. But Rock Palace is great. Itīs a great program. The public by the Philipshalle want to see some other bands like Muse and so on. We had played for them and I noticed that they donīt recognize who we are. But they were still receipted, you know? They clapped their hands and they like it. It was kind of nerve-wrecking. Al kind of cameras and so on. They have 15 Cameras there. The schedule was normally not so precise. We go on stage in the next view minutes and than you have 30 Seconds to be on stage. You know? Because of that way everything was about they recorded.

That was not so good?
Brad: No, we liked it. I mean that was great. It was a lot of fun to play on Rock Palace.

Yes, and the first time on big TV?
Brad: Yes that was very exiting. A kind of big thing. Pretty fun I want to say.

With "Burning Bridges" (2000) you have finished finally with the music industry and have produced everything on your own. Was that easy?
Brad: We did it, cause the company wasnīt interested much anymore. Just it was also by chance at that point a new medium of distribution. I read about it the first time its about 6 Month until all the bands do this. But it didnīt happen that way and we were still very surprised about it. I think that up to that point when the chance came out all the bands always complain: If I just have my own Mac I will getting the stuff out myself. Certainly their it was. The internet. My band and we all celebrate it like crazy. Jeee. We put the music out on a webpage and we thought: Whoa, in a few month every other band would do the exact same thing because why wouldnīt they? But than it didnīt happen and then we realized that the other bands flooded back to the industry.

"Grassroots" (2001) was a rather typical Pothead-CD again, also "Tuv luf" (2003) which was rather short and crispy. With the longplayer "Chaudiere" (2006) many saw a derailment of your musical character. You surprised there with very easy, fluffy play manner with light Grooves and an almost cheerful character. What is happens there?
Brad: Up to that point we recorded always on a analogue tape recorder. And than we went to digital. But as we do that we got a computer, a Mac, and than in the studio the sun will shine on it and it will go hot and the computer blow up in the middle of a session and we lost all that songs. And we had to start at the beginning. And so we lost a lot of time. And it was difficult to build up a backup. Yes, if you create something and than its destroyed and when you got starting in. It was hard. And in the same time we had a schedule, you know?

With "Rocketboy" (2007) you return to juicy riffs and great basses and the new record should be a continuation. Can you already say what we must expect?
Jeff: We have changed this idea.

Oh, my information is to old. What can we expect from the new album?
Brad: The new album is in progress. I think itīs sounds not like the others. A bit more groovy. I donīt know exactly. [The new album called: Potheadville should be out soon]

Now you three have travelled more than 16 years through Germany and you have finished 11 studio albums. I know no other Indieband which plays and produced so continuously records and gigs. Was there one day the point where you have said: This is the end?
Jeff: No, it didnīt actually put the point ever again. I mean, not seriously. Nobody talks about that at least. The things are going on. We adapted. Every thing works pretty good for us.

You (Jeff and Brad) live both in Germany since 1992. Have you accepted the German citizenship?
Jeff: We are still American. Still for a while. We will see how it goes. (laugh)

Did you still visit kinsman and friends in Seattle or have you burnt down the bridges to the USA?
Jeff: We have contact to friends once in a while. With email mostly. An old friend, Scrab the drummer, the guy who played on the Album USA! was here for a while back. And also another old drummer was here for a while and we have contact to our families of course.

Sebastian, your drum set has become bigger with the years. Why didnīt you play a double kick pedal;-)?
Seb: That was at the beginning the first question from Jeff as he phoned me, if I play a double kick pedal drum. At this time I didnīt do that.

Thatīs all???
Seb: Thatīs finally all. So, I can play double kick and I think secretly to buy one but I canīt say that officially. Then I get in trouble.

That doesnīt fit to the music?
Seb: I wouldnīt buy it for a joke. Its easier to play some parts of our music. At that time I must work with one bass drum and that works fine. I didnīt really need a doublekick but there are a few things that I wanted to do. For these kind of things a doublekick were fine. (Some noises in the background) I play really no double kick and when I look at the others it never comes to this (laugh).

What had brought you (Brad) to exchange your Gibson Explorer for an Ibanez? Does it play better?
Brad: I love my new guitar, I canīt even explain. Itīs so awesome. Its wonderful. But the Gibson Explorer I love too. But the fact is that and I feel sorry for it to leave it out in the van after the show at night.

But we see them sometimes on stage?
Brad: Sometimes, really rarely.

Jeff, an important characteristic feature of Pothead is your is very extremely deep playing bass. To which brand do you give the advantage and which electronic effects are used?
Jeff: There is no effect or any typos in my sound. Itīs all done with the soft delicate touch of two pressing fingers. (Laughing in the background)

I cant believe that. You are kidding?
Jeff: I wouldnīt be kidding about that. I play a Gibson bass.

Your yearly Potstock-Festival has become a institution for many fans. Now this runs since 2000. What puts out the charm of this festival on which only you play? How many hours do you play there, actually?
Seb: This year we played the 10th Potstock. At first it is the area. Itīs near to Berlin but in the middle of nowhere. We have a vibe on Potstock, that you canīt describe. Almost Potheadfans are coming there. If you arrive there is almost a big smokecloud over the area. The most of the people arrived on day before for camping, playing loud potheadmusic with their car HiFi. Many Kids are there. Mostly they are playing Soccer. In the sum itīs a specific atmosphere. Potstock is getting bigger and bigger every year. Itīs a big concert for us. We are playing gladly there.

If you say long playing you mean 2-3 hours?
Brad: Weīre playing there a long time. Three hours. But I think, itīs not planned, itīs pretty spontaneous. But I think that I like about it. I donīt know people liked it but itīs kind of, thought of HOMEMADE! The whole festival is homemade. A lot of time people go to festivals with cash machines, they charge twenty bucks for a bottle of water. You know, for us thereīs not a big corporate sponsorship and so on and so the people get the feeling to get accepted, get natural. You know what I mean?

Among your T-shirt collection you also have children shirts. This is rather unusual. Who had the idea?
Brad: People had asked for the shirts. We got three generation families now. Granddad, Dad and Kids.

Some songs on the records are always very quiet and melancholic. They are never played on the concerts. Do you need the songs for your internal balance?
Brad: Sometimes we play the mellow songs. But you know, you canīt play those songs a whole concert. The people wanna rock.

Could one rent you also for a birthday party? And if so, what would it cost?
Brad: We are always flexible when it comes down to the right price (laughing). You need a lot of infrastructure for a private concert. At least itīs too expensive.

At last a view words to your fans?
Brad: ROCK ON !!!


Author: Gernot Hermenau, photos: Pothead
Date: 2010-03-09

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