LE MUR (interview)
I first learned about Le Mur (Janine Ficklscherer bass, Matthias Graef guitar-vocals, Georgios Dosis drums) when they themselves posted one of their songs on my facebook. I got interested in knowing them and they sent me immediately their album. I was surprised to see that among the three people making up the band, one of them was Greek. The sound being somewhat progressive, somewhat psychedelic, and hard, and dark, and the drummer being from Preveza – that’s how this interview got to happen. Don’t miss the chance to listen to them!. Don’t miss the chance to listen to them!
How did you find yourself in Germany?
I came in 1998 with my mother and sister due to financial reasons. I was 16 years old, after some pretty crazy times, military duty in Kastoria, schools, German lessons, and then I met Janine and Matthias. Ever since I was a kid in Preveza I dreamed about playing in a crazy Hawkwind-Sabbath-Metro Decay-Maiden-Floyd band and after some concerts and many hours in the studio we recorded in 2010-2011 In Tenebris. An English company wanted to release the album, but this proved to be a lie. They left us waiting for a year, while we already had new material entitled Silentia Nova, which was released from Tribal Stomp, thankfully.
What will happen with In Tenebris? Will it be released from someone else?
We hope that in the beginning of the summer it will be released from Tribal Stomp, AT LAST!
How did you come up with this sound? I mean it’s as if every single song comes from a different musical style. Which are your influences and how are those shown in your music?
Our influences are many… Each of us has their own. Janine grew up with lots of punk, mostly from America… She used to listen lots to The Distillers or Blink 182 when she was a kid. Then she discovered Anathema and started to change. She’s also a fan of Dead Can Dance and of Hawkwind. Matthias started with Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Deep Purple, then listened to Black Sabbath and, as he’s told me, his life was never again the same! For me, my first album was from Trypes – Ennia Pliromena Tragoudia. After a while I ordered Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast from Rock City. Lots of metal and rock, Pink Floyd etc. Our sound became tight after lots of rehearsal, nothing strange, we’re just a band which turns on the amplifiers and plays without external aids, like triggers etc.
Nice stuff… What kind of elements did you add to the group? Does “Technical progress and other suicidal stuff” has something of Greek new wave in its sound, like from Villa 21 of the first two albums, or is it just my impression?
To be honest, I had Metro Decay and Stereo Nova in my mind when we were writing this song. Indeed in this album I included many elements of Greek music. Tolios from Trypes was one of the reasons why I started playing drums… chaotic but also very straight. But in general I like this atmosphere lots… of course the darker the better… that’s why I listen to lots of metal, for example Celtic Frost, and I become the uneasy spirit of the group… and that’s how various contrasts are created in our music and in our sound. Things in Germany are insanely difficult for a group like us… particularly in the region we come from… but you can 1-2 good festivals per year and all generations come join them. Stoner Psychedelic space rockers… stuff like that. Nowadays the term neo-krautrock is being heard lots, and we’ve been included in it. This is good, since it might create a new scene. https://www.facebook.com/groups/456428187802430/?fref=ts
Now that we’re talking and I’m listening to your album wearing headphones, I noticed that the third track has Greek lyrics. When I listened to it from the speakers, I didn’t get that. I can’t understand everything now, but tell me the title of the song and what it says.
In the first two albums there will be a ghost track, this has to do with the story of the trilogy and we’ll reveal it in the third one, which we’re working on as we speak. In Silentia Nova we’re talking about a life period that’s full of loneliness and despair. That’s what I’m talking about on the third track. “I’ve made a huge web which protects my life, but the days drift by aimlessly, enlarging my wound, unexpected visitors are trapped following my breath, but me, I hide again from my fear inside my cage” etc.
How do you write your songs, your lyrics? What is it that in general affects/inspires you in writing music?
We all agree that the greatest influence on our music and lyrics comes from life itself, everyday life. This sounds a bit cliché, and maybe it’s a bit romantic, but all three of us work in heavy industry every day, go from work to home etc., and some of us in various shifts… The only place where we are free and make no compromises is the rehearsals. Every one puts together what we think is the best for the song at that moment. If it works, that’s great, if not, we move on… Playing around with the guys is done through team work and that’s why we always feel like it – even if the timetables are… German!
A question on your personal life… How’s life for a Greek in Germany? I mean, in a country where things, I imagine, are more “square”, the sun doesn’t shine that much etc.
I like it here lots. Yes, in the beginning it was hard, but Germany embraced me and offered me lots of opportunities and CHOICES. The past years I’ve built my own little world, with my girlfriend, my friends, the job, and of course the band, and I’m very happy for that. The German system is indeed a square one, but at the same time this provides with an unbelievable sense of security, for example with the health system etc. No country is perfect and I know that, because in the past due to my work I got to know half of the world. But for me Oberhausen in Germany is the most appropriate place… Regarding the sun, I don’t mind it at all… It’s better for me if it doesn’t come out at all, in any case I’ll be in rehearsal… If I want the sun, I come down to Preveza, in its beautiful beaches, and I recharge.
How come your album cover is made by Helmut Wenske?
Wenske is god. The entire album would never come out without the help of Underground Äxpärten. It’s an organization with a Psychedelic-stoner rock radio, festival etc. One of them, Dieter, arranged everything for Silentia Nova to be released. Wenske was an old friend of his. We sent him a demo and after a while he replied that he liked our music a lot and that he would gladly give us one of his works. This touched all of us a lot, but especially for me, it was a landmark, because when I was a kid I loved his work, and a friend of mine had this huge poster in his room back in Preveza… And then, after a few years, I’m on the phone with him and he graces our album. UNBELIEVABLE.
It’s the beauty that comes our way and sends our minds journeying (do we ever return?). What about the concerts? Is there an audience for this music? Is it easy to play often?
It’s hard with the live concerts. There’s no scene, so very few possibilities. Especially here where we live, in the Ruhr valley, which is an industrial area and people don’t feel like listening to this kind of music… They listen to what’s on the radio. In general the music culture has declined in relation to the previous decades. We have 4-5 live shows a year, but they are good shows, I mean shows in which people come to listen to that kind of music. In my opinion, I have the impression that something is changing gradually and maybe we’ll have more shows. At the time being, we’re happy with what we’ve got.
How are things with the album’s distribution? Did you work on it as well or only the company? Are there copies left or is sold out? Do you know if any shop from here has ordered it?
Both us and the company worked on the album’s distribution. The company worked mostly abroad. The album went very well. The first copies are almost sold out. In Greece I think that Anazitisi Records had our album. I remember that in our last contact with the company, they told us that the copies in Greece were sold very quickly, and this was especially pleasing for me.
That’s great! I unfortunately got to know you only when you posted a song on my page! So, basically, the album has sold without you holding any concerts. How come this happened? Do you think it was in part due to the Internet?
The Internet is an unbelievable medium. It’s responsible for the fact that the music culture is in decline, that the small concerts and scene don’t exist anymore (at least here), but it’s also responsible for what’s happening to bands like us. There are pages (like yours, for example) where one can learn about DIY/underground bands like us and this creates another kind of culture – I won’t analyze its advantages and disadvantages. It remains a fact that through the Internet we attracted the attention of a group of people which are obsessed with music, as we are. Underground contacts such as Underground Äxpärten, who are old rock folks and who are on a quest for music and come to our few concerts to support us.
Which Greek groups do you know of? What are your next plans? Is there anything else you want to add?
From Greece, I like Planet of Zeus. I like to listen to Greek jazz, like Takis Barberis. In Tenebris will FINALLY be out in a while! It’s normally our debut album, but it got stuck in England in 2011. In a while we’ll start recording our third album, which will conclude the trilogy. We also have some concerts scheduled for the summer. If more people in Greece get to know us, perhaps someday we’ll come play there as well. This would be insane for me. Thank you a lot for your time and support!