They are well-known for their dark songs that come straight from the heart: Doom Rockers End of Green outdo themselves every time with every new album. The deep voice of Michelle Darkness is distinctive and expresses so much emotion so that you don´t need to understand the lyrics to capture their content. Their last album „High Hopes in Low Places“ even became nro 17 of German album charts. STALKER met the End Of Green guitarist Sad Sir before their show in Pratteln.
It´s been quite a while since your last visit at Z7, what happened to you in the meantime?
Yes, we were on the road a lot and we even made a record (laughs). Well I think last time we were here it was with Subway to Sally and Crematory. That was a great evening, and I think I had a bit too much the day before and had a horrible hangover, but punctually when the show started I was fit, this is what I remember (laughs)
We like that place, we were here for the first time in 2003 I think, and I think it was called „Metal Dayz“ where we played, it was great. Very nice people here who run that place, therefore we always enjoy coming back here.
People say it´s very familial at Z7
Yes, you come here and you still know all the people, “hey, you again!” (laughs), this is really nice. No reason to complain.
Is it the same at other clubs or is this here a special situation?
There are always places you enjoy to return to or where you started playing your first gigs, and therefore you know the promoters “hey didn´t you organize the show in the youth center back then”, and this is nice. We were in Karlsruhe yesterday, and at Substage it´s very nice, too. We know the people for a very long time, and it is always a warm fuzzy feeling to arrive somewhere and realize, you know that person, you know this person, too, and there are always venues you enjoy to return to on a tour, “great we played here before”, “those people were nice here” and “hopefully that guy still works here” and “hopefully they still have the same cook, the food was so great here” (laughs). That has always been a part of travelling around.
So it is like a second family?
Yes, you´re actually looking forward to meeting some people again, somehow. Because as a band you just have the opportunity for making contacts when you are on the road. And then it is much better when you are far away from home, when you get the same familial feeling.
You released your new album in August, “High Hopes In Low Places”, how were the reactions?
Well, very good, so we were really excited because this is perhaps the most sophisticated album so far. This is not a CD to listen to and to get it immediately what it is about or what happens. There are many songs that need some time to capture your ear. And we were pretty anxious, reactions were great. Sure, there are always people who want us to “go back to the roots”. And I wonder, which roots, as we have so many of them, we cannot go back to all of them, and those roots have always part of our music. It doesn´t make sense to do something over and over again what we have done before. And therefore we were anxious just about this record and what will happen.
There were a lot of people who said that now they liked the music. Others found the record pretty sinister. Others found that there is too much Pop music. (laughs) So the best way to go crazy is trying to do something that pleases all people. We just remained pigheaded and made it the way WE wanted it. Looking back you have to admit that you appreciate the positive reactions of many. Because if only we like it, we have a problem (laughs)
Do you put your personal experiences into lyrics, or...
Yes, life! This is perhaps our top priority – everything you hear is indeed us, 100% our presence. We cannot sing about things we have not been part of, we cannot pretend musically that we are somebody else. Our music is close to our hearts, therefore every CD is a bit different – you capture with it the actual life together with the knowledge of the past. It´s therefore exciting for us and hopefully also for the listeners, and you realize easily what was going on with us when a particular record was released (laughs). For me „Sicks Sense“ was extremely aggressive, straight-in-your-face that showed you the middle-finger. The new CD is rather introverted and calm and also a bit darker, just like we felt in the recent months. And I think it´s good to hear from the record how the band is doing.
The album became nro 17 in German album charts, how do you feel about that? Is this your best chart position so far?
Crazy! (laughs) Our first contact with German charts was becoming nro 99 with „Dead End Dreaming“, and we thought it´s great, “we barely sneaked into the charts”. And „The Sicks Sense“ was nro 21 and we thought, wow what´s happening? This time Achim, our label boss called and said “are you seated?” I replied yes, and he “17” and rang off (laughs). It was totally crazy, I was speechless and I enjoy to repeat that. The charts are not a real indicator of musical quality, but it is a nice indicator or an award from fans who bought the record. And I think it´s nice that so many people remain loyal to us, and even more people so it seems, this is the cool thing about the charts. Certainly it is like an award that you are right behind Hansi Hinterseer and before a Best of U2, (laughs), but that does not mean you are really more successful than U2. Bono hasn´t called us yet, neither has Beyoncé or Lady Gaga. That´s why it´s a bit crazy but nice, this is how we see it.
A nice gesture from your fans, so to say
Yes, it is great that our fans are like that, but it´s OK to feel quite normal, so when I cut into my arm I will bleed as much as being in a band that never made it to the charts (laughs). Therefore there´s not much of a difference, and I still drive a crappy car (both laugh).
But there´s this nice feeling.
Yes exactly (laughs)
You just finished your EP Gravedancer that contains coverversions only, which ones and why have you picked those?
I think that was a tiresome discussion, what should go on that record, songs that everybody of us can identify with, songs that everybody has carried along in recent years, or songs that remind us of something beautiful, and it takes a while to reach a conclusion. Some songs had to be left out, because we don´t play like that – we probably will never cover an Iron Maiden song. But we covered W.A.S.P.
Yes I heard that, which song did you put on the EP?
Wild Child. And one of a band we really like, „The God Machine“ who split up 12 years ago because the guitarist died. We covered a song because it reminded us of the time recording „Dying World“, when we listened to this band a lot. Then we covered „Green Machine“ by „Kyuss“ which we played when we still toured in youth centers. And one by „The Sound“ who are quite unknown, and I think 2 or 3 band members died. One committed suicide, the others had HIV, very tragic, but they wrote beautiful yet extreme songs. Then we have „Warrior Soul“ and „Hero“, a nice song we often listened to in the tour bus. And „Bay Laurel“ is another fave of us, a Swedish Gothic-Rock Band but totally unknown, crazy because that band is great. And my fave on this record is „Bonnie „Prince“ Billy“, „I see a darkness“ - a great song that was also covered by Johnny Cash, we just did it a bit heavier than Cash or the original, which is just guitar and high vocals. We did it in our style and a bit deeper. I think we treated all originals with care, there´s always the danger to destroy a song in its cover version. But there are songs so brilliant that they cannot be destroyed (laughs), e.g. Alphaville´s „Big in Japan“ even survived the Guano Apes, therefore it must be a good song (laughs).
And the CD is available on your tour?
Yes always at our merchandise stand, and we thought it might be nice to have a CD which is exclusively available on tour, not in a store or online shop – so who would like to have it, should drop by or tell a buddy who checks out our show to get one. I think it´s a nice souvenir and it fits into the Black Box we made, we left a little space for it there for another CD – this one.
You had to cancel Rock Harz Festival because Michelle was confined to bed. How is he now, and what had happened?
Well, let´s put it that way, life or your body sometimes tell you “that´s enough” (laughs) Then you receive a wake-up-call and have to take it seriously. And he received one, just like everyone of us had once received one, but it happened in an awkward moment. If I´m down before X-mas, so there are no gigs anyway and it´s OK, I can relax and reconsider my consumer behaviour – in this case the timing was bad. Now it´s much better than before, I think we slowly turn into a real healthy band (laughs) Well, it seems that with the next record release we will be a real healthy band who is still alive (laughs).
Yeah that would be great
Yes, it would be fun, and basically we all enjoy life, I think, and I want to postpone being put into a hole for as long as possible (laughs), as everybody of us.
I saw your beautiful new video „Tie me a Rope.. while your calling my name“ - why did you choose that song for a video?
We were not sure, and it´s like that every time when it comes to choose a single, a video. We would take every song, because we think that every song is impressive, therefore it´s on the record, and therefore you can make a video to each of those. Silverdust liked that song, therefore we filmed that video in Eibsee and at Zugspitze, it took three days, and we really jumped into this terrible ice-cold water!
Yes exactly, I just was about to ask how cold it was (laughs)
Ah, terrible. Honestly, I checked it out and thought, OK let´s just jump into the water quickly, then I put my finger in and “fuck it´s really cold”! And after jumping in you have to stay in the water for a while so that the camera man can take under water shots. Well I think it was about 1,5 h in the water for me. Ice-cold and first I didn´t wear more than I wear right now, but then I put on a diver suit before I went into the water again. Still it took about 2 hours that I could feel my fingers again, after the shoot. (laughs) That was extreme but it was worth it. I enjoy watching the clip, although it´s always strange to see myself, “oh no”, but the video as such is great. I also like it better than „Goodnight Insomnia“, because it´s simple, more sophisticated and has beautiful images.
Yes indeed, congratulations, a great video.
I´ll pass it on to the director who did his best here, he is a great guy. Huckleberry King is his name.
That´s his name? (laughs)
Yes that´s his company, his name is Gregor Wiebe, and he is somehow crazy, treats you like a piece of meat at the video shoot, like a tool “now here, now over there, freeze” and so on, and you´re so humbled (laughs) Very authoritarian but great director! (laughs)
You have been in the biz for a while, what would you say has changed in all these years, in a positive and in a negative way??
Positive changes are that you are no longer depending on mass media or trends, it is no longer important if Visions magazine or MTV likes you or not, because there are other ways for promotion. This is cool. At the same time it can be a problem that everybody promotes their music and bands, sometimes way too soon. And you are confronted with a lot of half-baked music that should not be published yet. Or not ready to be sent anywhere, like Myspace, Facebook, or YouTube. So the good aspects are those channels you can use to raise attention, but you also receive a lot of crap through these channels, that´s the worst. But if you want one thing, you have to adjust to the other thing, too. In general the trend is that people buy less cds, that means the music industry has fucked it up in recent decades and now they have to pay the bill (laughs) And I also say that as somebody who himself is in a band: how could bands put a copy protection on their cds. Why that? When somebody buys my records, I cannot punish that person like “you´re a criminal therefore there´s a copy protection”. With things like that the music industry tripped itself a bit. And with all the other things you have to live, you can live with it and basically it´s like 30 years ago, when you listen to music and have to decide whether you like it or not, is all the hype real or not, and then you take what you like. Only now there is a huge mass of it and unmanageable, and probably I miss 20 bands which I could potentially like every day, but I don´t have the time to listen to all of them (laughs). And this is probably the whole disadvantage, the huge amount of stuff!
Which question would you have like to be asked in an interview?
Oh…(long silence) Buh (starts laughing) Oh, that´s nasty. (another pause) Would you like some coffee?
(laughs) So this is the question you would like to be asked, about having coffee?
No, basically em..(another pause) I think I skip this question (laughs)
You don´t need to do this (laughs)
Yeah yeah! (laughs) How was it last Thursday in Stuttgart when the police beat up protestors and shot at them with water cannons?
Ok, so this is what you would ask yourself?
Yes I was there, in the middle of it.
Ok many thanks for the interview and have a successful tour.
I thank you!
Author: Sandy Mahrer, transl. K. Weber, photos: End of Green Date: 2010-12-07