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Die Schwarzen Ladas: Only the music is important

A German band name, the musicians have German names and the lyrics are partly in German language, but nevertheless the guys are not from Germany. Another mystery from the dark Finnish forests emerges here to present their first self-produced record named „Wahrheit“ (review here ). STALKER tried to find out why those Finns are so fascinated about German stuff:

Hey guys, please first of all introduce the band. Who are you and what kind of music do you play? 
We´re three guys from Helsinki, Finland. Karsten plays drums, Volker vocals and Udo makes
all the other noises, starting for bass. We play 70´s style progressive rock, something like Pink Floyd meets Black Sabbath.Heavier than PF but more epic than BS.

How did it all begin, where and when did you establish the band? And how did you got to know each other? 
Karsten knew both Volker and Udo but they had not met each other. Karsten joined us together to form a band to play desert rock. Only problem was Udo did not know how to play desert rock because his only experience of that genre was lending cymbals for Garcia plays Kyuss. Udo was instructed to play simple riff over and over to let Karsten improvise vocals. During the first jam session it became clear Udo but also Karsten can´t keep the same riff as also they wanted to improvise. We did not arrange anything beforehand but we just let music flow free.

You are hailing from Finland but you have this German-thing going on in your Band. So what is the reason or meaning behind it? And why German and not Russian or something else?
Karsten´s mother is German and for him mixing German in feels just natural.

So, Volker, Udo & Karsten? Why those three names and not Wolfgang, Ulrich and Johannes or something like that? 
We wanted to have simple,  pithy names. Wolfgang sounds too fine to sit in Lada´s backseat. Volker resembles Volkswagen. Suitable to stand in front of Lada. Karsten sounds so German with hard consonants. Perfect for hard hitting drummer. Udo is a dummy but he was taken in the band because he has a van and PA equipment.

Why did you choose the name Die Schwarzen Ladas? And how did you come up with the band name – is there a story behind it?
It´s a carefully chosen name to describe the innermost heart of the band without telling anything about it but still sounding good. Rumor tells of an Eastern German band formed in early 80´s in Köln. It was especially popular in DDR and even Mr. Honecker loved us. In 90´s and 00´s leftover members did nothing but in 10´s band moved to Finland to prepare a comeback.

Is there a certain  philosophy behind the band?
 Live today, die later? I mean... You´re stuck in the present all the time but you can cheat time by capturing the moment in a song. Songs are timeless until you use 80´s snare reverb.

I read that you are against over-arranged and over-produced music, so when it comes to your music, how does the songwriting & recording process look like?
Our first sessions were recorded, composed and performed at the same time. It was pure improvisation. In a normal band free improvisation is not possible until you play free jazz or players can predict what others are thinking. Our music ain´t free jazz but we listen each others. We have learned to play by ear, not by reading sheet music or tabulatures.

You also say in your biography that you think people should only care about the music and not about the people behind it. So are the wrong names there also because of the reason that you don’t want to be known by people right away? As you are all well known especially in Finland. 
You´re right. We wanted to hide our real identities not to disturb our other projects. The only purpose of Die Schwarzen Ladas is to play the best music we can do. All the other normal band activity is secondary because in the first case we did not consider us being a band but three guys together making some noise...

You just released your first record “Wahrheit” which presents your first 5 Songs, can you tell me a bit more about the tropic of the Songs? What was your inspiration for the lyrics and so on?
After the first sessions Udo thought we need more songs for the album. He started improvising bass over a click track. Album´s first song, 16 minutes long ´Fehler´ was initially composed in two hours. Udo recorded bass at the same time as he composed it. It´s a weird trip with many moods but they´re somehow glued together. After bass track Udo played guitars and keyboards to make song sound more interesting. Karsten learns songs fast and he had no difficulties to play over the pre-production. Volker sang his parts in an hour, too, and as Karsten, also he had to make it before hearing the tune beforehand! This way we kept everything as fresh as possible even if we could not improvise song structure together. ´Gott hat gegeben´ has two major parts; the first 4 minutes are played over a click track. It´s the ballad section of the tune. Rest is free jam with drums & bass.

Your Songs all have German titles but you mainly sing in English, how about singing in German as well? Is that a option?
At least it would be possible as our singer can speak German. It won´t be a beautiful, epic ballad. Rather something like Kraftwerk with overdriven bass and furious vocals.

What are your goals, dreams, what do you want to achieve with your music?
Did anybody say you´re asking too difficult questions from us? To inspire our listeners to use their imagination, to free their minds and escape from the reality for a while.

Do you have any gigs planned yet?
28th Jan is the first gig in Helsinki. We have not yet decided whether we should practice some songs or try to improvise the whole gig.

So what are your plans for the near future?
 Now we try to find our listeners worldwide. We hope people find our music and enjoy our album. We’ve got two new songs waiting for the daylight! Next time it´s something else - be prepared to get over your disappointment!

Thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best for the future.


Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: Band
Date: 2012-01-21

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