The German band Schandmaul has been releasing excellent albums for 14 years. Although their work is not really noticed in the mainstream public, they were nominated for the ``Echo`` (German Music Award) in 2009. Still no reason for the band to put less effort into their new release ``Traumtänzer`` (literally: “dream-dancer”, meaning “head in the clouds”), which actually reached position no 4 in the German charts. So it was really high time to stalk them, in this case drummer Stefan Brunner!
Stefan, it is really difficult to assign your music to one particular genre due to all those different influences in it. Actually there are parts of Rock, Folk, Heavy Metal and medieval music. But in which genre do you feel at home?
That is difficult to say. Meanwhile the style range of many festivals has become enormous. At Wacken Open Air medieval bands are playing, while there are also bands at the M`era Luna festival which are absolutely not gothic. I think that actually the gothic scene is my preferred one, because it allows a lot of different things. It even accepts a band like Depeche Mode which is actually 100% pop music. This is why I feel comfortable in this scene.
Please describe who of your band mates is responsible for which part of your music!
Birgit, our flutist, takes care of the medieval parts while Anna, our fiddler, takes part for the folk elements and sometimes also classic elements. The other ones are building the Rock basis – according to their Rock instruments, and sometimes the Pop basis.
The line up of your band has not changed for almost 15 years now (except for one change on the bass, 10 years ago). This seems to be very unlikely for a band that plays as many concerts as yours. Where do you see the reasons for this continuity?
We are just very good friends. Sometimes I meet my band mates more often than my wife, that makes us just like brothers and sisters. Also everyone has their own minds and sometimes we have to argue, but at the end of it, we still like each other. If there are any problems, none of us holds their tongues, instead we always discuss it and find solutions. Some one of us even share their vacations and Thomas (vocals), Matthias (guitars) and Anna even shared a flat with each other in the past. Something like that only works when you really like each other.
If we take the chart positions of your albums as an indicator, we might say that you became more successful with every album. How do you explain this success and where do you see the limitations?
I think that it is a result of our continuity. We just had a continuous growth. Our first two albums were self-produced and self-distributed, but also in those times there were people coming to our shows. Our label just grew in the same dimension we did and our fan basis did. Today, for example, a fan visited us who we have known since 2002. He often visits us and plays chess together with Thomas before the show. Meanwhile he has become something like a friend. And there are more fans like him.
I don`t know when we will reach our limit, yet I am sure that there definitely will be a limit one day. Our music does not fit into German radio shows – at least the radio chief executives think that. If you get a radio single, everything is possible – as you can see with our colleagues Unheilig. The radio just has that kind of power. But it is actually not our aim to place a song into radio rotation. Therefore our success will be limited, but I don`t know to what.
You were nominated for the ``Echo`` recently, and you also won different Rock and Folk awards in the past. What do you think about those awards?
It is a nice acknowledgement of our constant work, especially because we were nominated with well-known bands like Die Ärzte und Die Toten Hosen. Die Toten Hosen have been in this business for 30 years, we have not been around even half of that time. But I don`t need such awards. It is nice if you have one at home, or maybe a golden record, a visitor can see it. But it actually does not improve your life at all.
``Kunststück`` was a quite extensive acoustic event you did some time ago, together with an orchestra. Do you have any plans of a similar tour in the future?
Actually yes, but the question is when. We really want to do something like it and we also have millions of ideas for it. It is for sure that there will be something like that, but we don`t know yet what exactly and when. I don`t think that it will involve an orchestra again, because we did it already. Maybe it will only be acoustic. But we will see…
So far you only played concerts in German speaking countries.How about our international readers? Is there any hope for them to see you in their native country?
We are also playing some concerts in Russia. But, to be quite honest, concerts abroad are always like vacations with the band. There are not enough audience to have the whole trip financed, so it is more like a trip to an unknown area. We are 6 people and we also need a small crew. So we have to pay flights and accommodation for at least 10 people. If there is a promoter who presents us with a real good offer, we will be interested, no doubt. So it is up to them.
Now it is time for the last part of the interview: Please answer the following questions short and sweet! Which song do you like most to play live?
Which song would you recommend to somebody who has not heard anything of Schandmaul yet?
Which music do you like most to listen to in your tourbus?
Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung.
Which band would you like to play with?
And which band would you like see live at next?
Thank you for your time!
Author: Timo Pässler, photos: Timo Pässler Date: 2012-05-18