2004 when Philiae were a STALKER Fresh Act those freaks from Hamburg could be categorized "Shock Rock" à la Manson. 2005 was a year of changes for the band because frontman Jane Doe (aka. Chris Harms) quit. Now they are back and found another singer, Guido Maria Kober, and Industrial Metal as their own new style. We used the occasion of their RockElite gig to squeeze Guido (vocals) und Alex Frank (bass) for band updates.
For people who read the STALKER Interview with you, you are already known – with the exception of the singer. How come Jane Doe left and joined the Pleasures? Alex: The usual stuff. Christ and the rest of the band at some point split apart, musically and personally. If you look at Chris and what he does now and what we do, you will understand quickly why it didn´t fit any longer. I said very often that form and content in this band should go togehter, one should not be above the other. I think that Chris is much more happy with the stuff he is doing now, it fits better to his personality. I wish him luck.
Did you think about quitting then? What made you continue with the band? Alex: We haven´t thought of quitting. It was quite clear that we would continue because we share a vision. Therefore it was not a question if but how. Mr. Kober answered the question by walking in and sweeping away all false nostalgia when he took the microphone. Chances should be used, this is what history told us.
How did you meet Guido, your new man at the mike? Alex: This guy´s name is Guido Maria Kober and we found him via a small ad in a newspaper. And we can say we were lucky, and maybe he better tells the rest himself ;) Guido: Well back then I checked out many bands, as a couple of years ago I roamed around as „Detektive in Hamburg“. I am very critical and picky as music is concerned. Naturally, because there´s so much on the market. But exactly this attitude led me to this band. It´s crazy but even the first instrumental samples in the studio were remarkable and inspired me at once! Very deep and direct, I wanted to sing at once!
What kind of person is he? Alex: Guido is a power station, a 25 hours a day-person who is professional actor besides PHILIAE, also doing Show und Stuntfights. Moreover, he has a very interesting musical project called PROTAGONIST in which he is the only musician doing all the instruments. Hence his very experimental Industrial Debut „Slipstream“ convinced us of his qualities. Via www.playdead.de you can get an impression of this CD which we will release, too. It´s already available at our shows, and I can recommend it to everybody who is interested in our singer. Also to you.
Alex Frank (bass)
How did the cooperation get started? Did you need much time to adjust? Guido: I said already, I am quite picky as music is concerned. And obviously we match at this point: working with songmaterial touches the emotions of all people involved. This could be quite harmful, too. Our work in studio and going into the very detail showed
soon that it´s worth it, that we have a common goal. This is how you find the way ...
Alex: From our viewpoint it was naturally a process of change. G.M. is totally different to Chris. I was quite thrilled with his professional attitude that doesn´t focus too much on the own ideas but on the optimal performance for a song. We had and still have to learn that with G.M. we don´t have to fight for ideas but can develop them together. This new freedom was really quite new.
Philiae exist since 2001, how far have you been developing? Do you still like your old stuff or is it rather like „Oh god how could we …“? Guido: If you look at the old press reactions to Scapegod you can get a quite good impression. Scapegod is Ok, still today. This is what I say, and I had no clue of PHILIAE until we met in the studio. I had to deal with it a lot of it because I wanted to capture the feeling of a production I have not been involved in. Interesting is the live version, because we have been working on those songs as hard as on the new material not to blur feeling and message because of the new guy at the mike. We made it fit and you can check it out live: Scapegod is a good record and works well with the new material. Alex: We also developed further. We focus much more on musical and content details and not just on the form outside. I can comment on the older stuff that I like them much more as we play them live than back then. I have never been satisfied with the live version of our songs. I am picky in this point and sometimes I annoy the others with that. When I watch recordings of our last show I know why it is worth it. The old songs are now as they should always have been. But you need time and patience. Every musician has to learn by experience why sometimes it is better to leave out an effect or a so-very-complicated style being practised a lot, just to leave room for the song. This is what we do today. And the fact that Patrick plays keyboard beside doing videoinstallations helps a lot with the overall sound. The only one who did a lot for the songwriting on high musical level is Julen. And just by the way, this guy is the best Rock drummer in our music scene...
Guido Maria Kober (vocals)
Please describe your music for all those who don´t know you. Alex: I would describe it as a mixture of Pink Floyds variety and the emotional terror of Nine Inch Nails. Therefore it´s Rockmusic, but after the Industrial era, therefore with electronic influences. We call it Post Industrial Rock. Everyone who likes Ministry´s „Psalm 69“ as well as „The Wall“ by Pink Floyd will also like us.
If you compare „This Is The Dawn Of A New Error“ with „Scapegod“ what is different except the voices? Which musical influences?
A.F. „Scapegod“ was influenced by Marilyn Manson and bad drugs. That is what I have to say. This comparison popped up back then with a reason. Nowadays Manson is basically a weird copy of rock history himself and no longer useful as idol for musicians. Therefore a part of the band was quickly dissatisfied. „This Is The Dawn Of a New Error“ however has many more influences and more varieties. This will also be found on the album „Propaganda“ that will be finally out this year. I find the new style much more satisfying. You don´t need to hide behind such a lot of make up.
By the way, I desperately tried to buy your CD but didn´t find anything (or I checked our the wrong place). Where can I get it? Alex: Good point. You can purchase the CDs at the moment just via our website, or from some stores in Hamburg. This is because we do everything ourselves. And also the work with our label Playdead Music that also features the Danish band SALIDA and PROTAGONIST – we just negotiate a distribution deal. There are two alternatives, and one we hope to wrap up this autum. And then the record should be available in stores.
Julien Schmidt (drums)
What can people expect at Philiae Live Shows? Alex: At least a show that extends the average Rock Circus. We have videoinstallations also in the smallest clubs, and in the future interactive visual elements that will include the audience into the show. Besides all those detailed message-carriers we present an energetic performance. We try to let our emotions flow freely, and so somebody of us might get kicked off stage. We always give 180% and take care of our shows so that the audience has something to remember. There is hardly a more powercharged atmosphere PHILIAE´s.
Layout, graphics und video are your trademark besides your extravagant Show-Makeup. I like the look of your new website. Before it was looking nice but difficult to navigate when you were in a hurry. Why did you change it all? Alex: You said it already. Websites carry information and also serve to create the image. Patrick, who is responsible for all visual aspects, therefore also web design, finally managed to create a site mammoth that looks cool and is easy to handle and update. You cannot really see it, but this site is a technical masterpiece. We can change it any time, layout or menu or content. That guy is a genius, just check out www.dead-f.de.
Your video- und choreografics display a lot of love for detail. Isn´t there a danger to distract from the important stuff? Alex: The question is, what is important? Basically a rockshow is a spectatle, and we try to give the audience something to remember. Videos are the optical explanation of the musical contents, not placative but successive. Therefore they subconsciously point to the important stuff! Which is to doubt your own doubt and to give thinking a chance. If we have problem it´s because of ourselves, and it´s up to us handling that. These things I find more important than the conservative idea that entertainment is supposed to let the consumer forget stuff. We don´t want audience to forget, but to remember and enjoy. Guido: Especially in these times we are permanently surrounded by media but still not overfed! We develped further. Since the invention of TV, the phone, cinema and radio up to the logistic breakdown of traffic, our conception got more sensitive and specialized to this information overflow, and our organism got used to process, interpret and react to more and more data in any form! It´s no longer a miracle writing e-mail, listening to mp3 and following the TV news at the same time. After that you still can say „I liked song 3 best“ and send off this e-mail. You can also drive a car, listen to radio and follow the navigator´s instructions while you are eating. We all are products of his „new“ mediaexpansion, live and grow with it!
What I try to say is, I am convinced that we don´t overcharge our fans, yet I think our shows are very demanding. This is our goal and we work on it all the time. Finally we do not distract from what´s happening but use all possible means to achieve the maximum. These means function in a „supportive“, not a „distracitve“ way.
How do you develop the songs and those extras? Is it one of you in the rehearsal room coming up with the idea, then all of you work on it, or how do you do it? Alex: It varies. Our range of tools to create songs is very extensive. It could be a Jamsession or only one of us digging into his emotional world that leads to a song. Despite our common ideas we are still very different people and have different working styles. E.g. John and I are connected by trying to overcome certain painful experiences by putting them into music. This gift is the reason why I am doing music. In John´s case it´s also his ideology that focuses on the vegan movement. This very interesting theory states that the majority of human problems is based on eating meat. The suffering of others, especially innocent creatures, animals, is unbearable for him. I can only recommend just to deal with that topic and to look at the variety of arguments that confronts meat consumption, check e.g.
When I told a friend that I´m having an interview with you she told me a funny story. She met you in Hamburg where you distributed flyers. You are still doing that? Alex: Of course. We are still busy with everything concerning our band. That could be distributing flyers or producing an album. But we also have a small street team that supports us in these matters. You can join us at www.philiae.com/sis and get some bonus.
Recently you played with those extraordinary Psycho-Rockabilly-Glam-Punks „The Skreppers“ in Hamburg. How did that happen? Alex: Samira, the editor of STALKER suggested to get the band to Hamburg because she knows the guys. As I also work for the Label Phoenix Records who owns a small club in Hamburg, we organized the thing there. I really liked the band and we offered a quite surreal opening program including also Toxic Shock Syndrom.
Now that´s a bit far fetched... I work also with people from Valhalla (Celticpub Gummersbach) because our offices are on the same floor. One of my bosses said that you play there in October/November, and of course I´d enjoy that a lot. Is a small tour coming up, or is it an „out of line“ Gig? Alex: It seems we will just play some days in a row, so I am not sure if you could call that a tour. But it´s an idea to do it like in 2004 with a 10 days tour. This would suit the album as well... nice idea, thanks! Let´s see what happens (laughs)
Some of you played also in the 80s Trashmetal Band with Sabina Classen, Holy Moses. How does that go with Philiae and touring plans? Alex: Yes that´s true, Julien and I played with Holy Moses, he for five years, and I did it for about two years. It worked out quite well, and now I also help out with Dark-Age from Hamburg, and Julien plays also with Reizer. But at some point we were exhausted and quit. Other rumours about it are not true.
John Keffer (guitars)
Do you believe in fate? Or planned fate? Alex: Well, planned fate is a paradox. Maybe you mean fate being planned by a higher being, thus religion. Noone in the band believes in a religion. I cannot say if I should believe in fate as predisposition or not. There is no proof for or against it. Is there something like coincidence? If yes, just a mathematical viewpoint denies the possibility that a world like ours could possibly exist. It´s so highly improbable that the elements could form by chance, you could not believe it. Yet if you believe in fate, the question would be which higher influence could create such a perverse scenario that we have today. You had to become religious and understand evil as independent force, in order to believe that. I do believe that on a more trivial level every human being has an personal and incidental circle, which might be caused by individual milieu and natural or educational determination. Inside this circle there are always incidents of „fate“ happening which seem to be improbable in comparison with the rest of mankind, so they seem like work of fate. But therefore also the issue of coincidence is more probable for the individual. As you see, for me it´s difficult to believe in religion, although it might make life easier. Guido: I´m not sure if you still want to hear my monologue. The question of religion cannot be answered with a few words. And „fate“ has a lot to do with that, too. As Alex mentioned already, nobody in the band believes in religion, at least not in a defined one. For me life as such is an answer already. I don´t need a religion, where offenders and cowards can hide behind, or a kind of „controlling power“ in form of a god who sees that he has done well or something. A sane, wake and watchful relationship with reality seems to me a very important issue in this world. Often life is hard, or certain changes, events, experiences – not only the painful ones – give you a sign that you have to make a decision. But only if you also see it as a sign and accept it. If you stand at a crossing and have to choose a path you certainly actively influence „fate“. The change therefore starts with me, and the path is the one I choose. I rather doubt that my decision is alredy predisposed. Your own life, to see and interpret events, power and signs is definitely one of the most important issues, and it could easily be misunderstood in terms of religion or fate. Or is it possible that man can just do what he or she wants, but not want what he or she wants...?
Finally a little wordplay. What do you associate with: WC: Alex: Very difficult to get shows during the WC. Guido I am always scared by mass hysteria.
Internet trade: Alex:I don´t by a car without testing it. That issue is often used by the musicbusiness to excuse greed and waste.
Love: Alex: Is only possible with faith. Guido: We are all slaves of love...
Alcohol: Alex: Stand drug of society including the warning index finger next day. Nowadays connected with TV. Guido: Is like any drug: much fun, much suffering.
Hamburg: Alex: Maybe the most beautiful German city. Guido: Yez man!
Press: Alex: Mainstream Media claim to tell the people what they have to think. This so called fourth power in the state feels more and more like a moral institution.But the main moral institution is your own conscience, and people like Kai Diekmann don´t have much of that. This perverse way this former „chancellor´s bard“ points at perversion and voyeurism is in my opinion a criminal act. There should be a law to stop this kind of press that makes people liable for deceiving the public. Every person should be allowed to sue them, and matters should be dealt with directly at the High Court. Then I´d like to know how long the penis of Kai Diekmann really is. I guess we all know the answer. Guido: I have nothing to add to this ...
Family: Alex: A fragile matter that could support or destroy you. Guido: Everyone who has one should be happy ...
Mobile phones: Alex:Are a course. In a certain way I depend on it, too. They destroy our reliability and therefore our character and push us to be available all the time. And there is still the issue of GSM rays that has not been investigated properly yet. Guido: Ten years ago I had not believed that I could not live without it. Especially in my business such a thing is a must now. But it also connects people all over the globe in real time, and this is an aspect I appreciate a lot.
Fans: Alex: Sort of family, if you have it, same comment as on the biological one (see above)
Vacation: Alex: Really need it! Five years without real vacation is too much. Guido: The term „vacation“ is an invention our work and achivement orientated society where so many senselessly just work and work and fear the aging process. Perhaps it has always been like that but one thing is clear: Most people in the Western world just use it to become or stay able to work or to recover from work. Now only a few use the term „travelling“, „get to know and understand other cultures“, „see a lot of this wonderful globe“ just to understand that it´s not anywhere like here and all that before you drop and get swallowed up by this globe again. Yet maybe this is the only really important thing to do before kicking the bucket.
Many thanks for the interview! Author: Nicole Caspers, Photos: Peter P., translation: Klaudia Weber Date: 2006-08-02