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The Lost Rivers Interview English
The Lost Rivers – The new, uprising star on Northern Star Records’ horizon. I guess this is how you could describe the Baden-Württemberg band’s recent status best, if you interpret the degree of pride the label is promoting the trio’s release of their first longplayer Sin and Lostness (out on 26th March) with correctly. And rightly so, as Phil Wolkendorf (vocals, guitar), Hell Pilot (bass) and Izzy (drums) manage to use their distorted but nevertheless melodious noise in order to let those bands who are being dug out from the great depths of lame-reference land go green with envy and sweep their listeners off their feet. SuperSonicSounds presents what the three winsome noiselovers have to tell about their EP My Beatific Vision, their upcoming album and their entity as a band with rough edges.Okay, I reckon I know the first question by heart now: How did you come up with your name The Lost Rivers? Is it supposed to represent anything special or were you inspired by anything special?(Whispering among the band, ‘Did you come up with it?’, ‘No, didn’t you come up with it?’)Phil: Hm, I just came up with it some day. Stupid answer, isn’t it?Hm, nope.(Laughter.)Phil: No idea. We used to play in different bands before and some day we decided to make the music we make now. Then we were looking for a band name and somehow we liked the sound of it. I mean, anything else I would say now would be a lie. (Laughter.)Phil: Just the sound. And it’s not too long and not too short.Now you’ve already mentioned that you used to play in different bands before… How did you end up in your recent constellation?Phil: We’ve been making music together ever since 2000. We used to have a small punk-rock band, punk rock the likes of Sexpistols, Dead Boys, and then we proceeded to slightly groovier stuff, slightly bluesy… I also had an additional band with different mates, that band split up, though, and then we thought “Let’s just make the kind of music we’ve always liked!” So that’s when we said “Good, let’s found The Lost Rivers!” and we still had the stuff from the punk-rock band. Well, you can definitely hear the punk-rock influence, that we derived from punk rock. But on the other hand we’re totally into Britpop. I love Oasis, for example.I’m a huuuuge Oasis fan myself. One of my two favourite bands.(Laughter.)HP: A great band, yes.Phil: I would also say that Oasis is one of my favourite bands.Yes!Phil: Then of course we’ve always liked the noise stuff. We also had this in our punk-rock band that it could be loud and extreme. And we just took the extreme aspect into The Lost Rivers, but we’re also influenced by British music, which you might not hear that much, especially Oasis, or more pop stuff, and we like to mix this... you can hear the extremely noisy and fucked-up influences of punk rock, but there are also melodies underneath all that. If you played the guitar part along on acoustic guitar, you’d have a pop song.The step away from the punk-rock band and to the kind of music we make now was that we said “We want to have a bit of more pop in it!”, because we’ve always liked that, we simply wanted to get all things we liked listening to and all things we liked doing on our stage, too.Talking about the aspect of loudness right now: How do a mere three people manage to produce such a wall of sound? I always sit there and think “Wooaah, these are only three people playing, it sounds as if there were ten people hammering on their guitars!” How do you manage that?Phil: Well, thanks, first of all. Aim achieved! (laughs)HP: I think so, too. But there’s a lot of thinking behind doing it, we think a lot about our sound. Yes, it’s great to see that people realize that. (laughs)Phil: Yes, we sit down with our guitars and we have a bunch of effects and try and see what we can make of them so that it comes across the way we want it to. That doesn’t mean that we just switch on some distortions or delays or reverbs, this is actually well thought out. If you do too much, it might also very quickly sound...HP: … sloppy, exactly.Phil: So we think about it a lot. We also try to make the drums sound good, which is often neglected by a lot of bands. We’ve got effects on the drums, we’ve got effects on the bass, we’ve got effects on the vocals, we’ve got effects on the guitar.So you’ve got a list lying there, ticking one thing after the other?Phil: (laughs) Nope, this is a lot of practice... And that’s how we try to manage it, yes.You have your EP My Beatific Vision out on Northern Star Records now. So, the first song is called Death of Eve. Both of these titles seem to be a bit religiously tinted.Phil: Yep.Consciously? Unconsciously? Coincidence? Or do you follow an approach that wants to deal with topics like that?Phil: It’s just like that: When I write songs I deal with very different things and I get influenced by various aspects. It’s no religious album, it’s no religious song, but those are simply things that you might think about. I don’t know...We also have songs about typical things, like love, heartache, all this stuff. But it isn’t like I sit down and think that I’m going to write a song because I feel down. Everything just comes together and then it gets put together. Death of Eve... I definitely can understand your question, because it very much sounds like... and the song itself sounds very apocalyptic, when it comes to the end. But this is not consciously pointing into a religious direction, no, it’s just the world influencing you.Part of life...Phil: Well, we also don’t go to church every Sunday... It might be about that you just deal with those things that are uppermost in other people’s minds.Izzy: Such things are on everybody’s mind now or then. Whether you are looking for a meaning in something or whatever.Without you being a Christian rockband, right? Nobody meant to imply that... That wasn’t my intention...(Laughter.)Phil: No, no, but that wouldn’t be that bad, because we’d be making money then!(Laughter.)And don’t forget the fist!Phil: With aaarms wiiide ooopeeeeen!Oh yeah! So, do you feel like going through the EP track by track and tell something about each one?Phil: Yes, we can do that.So we’ve mentioned Death of Eve already. What is it about anyway? How could you sum that up?Phil: Well, Death of Eve, one thing that occupied my mind was... I refer to the story that Eve ate the fruit and therefore people were banned from paradise. It is about: If Eve hadn’t eaten the fruit, would we all have a nice life now? Would we be running around the woods naked?Now, that would be boring...Phil: Yes, but then boredom wouldn’t come up then, as those are worldly thoughts. Something like boredom, hunger, frustration, or “I need to go to the toilet!”, those are all wordly thoughts. What would have happened, if Eve hadn’t eaten that fruit? For example, if they had died before that. Or something like that. No idea, what would have happened? That’s what I’m dealing with in that song. Would we feel better now or what would have happened?And there’s other things slipping in. Everyday problems. We possibly wouldn’t have them then. But “Death of Eve”, that would mean “Death of Life”... I mean, real life also takes place outside of paradise. If we had an Edenic state, would we live anyway? No idea. (laughs) Think about it.Very philosophical... Okay. See Me Alive?Phil: See Me Alive... (thinks) Lostness. Yes. Lostness. Feeling lost.Yes, and such lines as “I’d die just to see me alive again“…Phil: Yes, well, it’s about… it’s about me again. (laughs) What would you do to feel like yourself again? Would I even die to be myself again?Too Soon?Phil: (thinks) Ah, yes, it’s about a relationship! I just have to go through this, because some of those songs we’ve been playing for a long time, but especially See Me Alive and Too Soon, those we haven’t played for about a year now. I just have to go through the text, but it’s about a relationship, yes.When is the right time to meet someone and to say “I’ll stay together with you”?Wrong and Right?Phil: It is also about… I mean “Don’t care what’s wrong and right as long as you’re here”... The world could be standing still, I wouldn’t give a shit. So, a “I don’t give a shit”-attitude, the main point is that everything’s all right between us. Everything could collapse, I wouldn’t give a shit. You know, it’s difficult to say “It’s about this or that”. Maybe we’re Bonnie & Clyde to some degree or something like that. (laughs)With Stay I was under the impression that it is about a kind of cost-benefit analysis... True to the motto “Does this pay off to any degree?”Phil: Yep, you’re right. It is about that, yes. “What are we staying together for?” Yes, it’s a bit like “What’s in it for me?” (laughs)Yes, like “On balance, what’s in it for me?” Serenade?Phil: Serenade actually is a serenade, but truely it is the exact opposite of what the song sounds like. (long pause, then laughingly) It is actually about watching somebody suffer. Like “I play this song for you and watch you suffer”.Nice.Phil: And that of course is the exact opposite of what a serenade is about. At least that is not what you would imagine a serenade to be about and same goes for the text, maybe. It is a bit of a sadistic song, actually. It slightly tends into the sadistic direction. “Watch you shiver, I play a serenade for you“. So watching somebody go down and ...... I’ll finish you oooooofffff! (Laughter.)Phil: Yes and this “No matter what happens to you, I’m doing my thing, I’m doing fine.”Does she deserve it then?Phil: Who doesn’t deserve it? (laughs) I mean, show me someone who’s good all the time.Yeeeees, fine, okay... I’ll withdraw that question. (Laughter.) Next one: Endless Reminder? “All your money is useless when it all comes down in the end“.Phil: Endless Reminder is something like a one in the eye, I think. It’s also a bit of a jealousy thing. “What would I do, if this happened to us?” “I told you not to meet him tonight” and so on. And “All your money is useless“ means that “As soon as I’m done with you, you won’t need your money anymore”. (laughs)You won’t be able to do anything with it then....Phil: “When it all comes down in the end…“, yes, you won’t need your money anymore, you won’t need anything, as soon as I’m done with you. It is quite a jealous thing. Towards the end it becomes harder, definitely. Well, with Death of Eve it starts out quite hard by starting with “What would have happened, if the world, as we know it, hadn’t come into existence in the first place?”, that’s how it starts. And then it continues with this involvement with interpersonal relationships, not only love relationships, but how people live together. And towards the end there is quite the reckoning with Serenade and Endless Reminder.The winner at the end?Phil: Yes, definitely. Well, Endless Reminder already isn’t a nice song, I believe, nor is what I say about some people in it. I’m not saying about whom, but in any case it’s about “You won’t need the money anymore as soon as I’m done with you”, which isn’t nice at all. And then it tends to the point that everything gets destroyed. Maybe this is our beatific vision. (Laughter.) Think about that one!Woohoo, concept-EP?! (Laughter.)Phil: (laughs) Is there something like that?!Sure, you’ve just invented it! It sounds great, anyway, I’ll write that! (Laughter.)Phil: No, maybe it’s also important to say that I don’t sit down in the beginning and say “I’m going to write this and that”.Yes, that would have been my next question more or less. I’ve already talked about it with The Blue Angel Lounge, it’s not like you sit down in the morning, wearing a suit, getting ready for work like Nick Cave, do you? It’s more spontaneous, right?Phil: Yes, with my songwriting it always happens that I’m walking around outside or I just grab my guitar. Sometimes there’s nothing coming out of it, sometimes there is. And the lyrics... they just come to me like that. It’s not like I sit down and try to write, I also try not to take more than ten minutes for a song. I don’t want it to be too thought-out.I don’t want to start thinking about like “Ah, no, there still needs to go an idea in here and this other aspect in there”. And the guitar parts, what is played by the guitar, that takes longer, of course. We deal with the songs differently when it comes to recording. But when the songs are written, it’s like, I have an idea, play it on the guitar, write the lyrics. But I don’t really try to think about any special things during writing, which means it just comes out like that. Of course I don’t sit down and think “Ah, well, I’ve just had this awful relationship...”“And now I still need to fit in a metaphor here and an alliteration there!”Phil: Exactly, “The song is called Serenade, how can I refer back to that?” So, I sit down, write down the song, have a look, improve some things so that it fits together better and if it fits, it fits, if it doesn’t, I’ll just skip the song.HP: I actually think that this is the strength of the songs. I believe they are complex without being able to say that the one song is about this or that. You have to find out for yourself and additionally it is so complex, because it isn’t that specific. Another strength, as I see it, is that everything is so spontaneous. It gives you space and this makes you think. And therefore you get your own attachment to the song. It’s the same with me. I might be thinking something totally different about the songs than Phil. But that’s just the way I feel and that is one strength of the songs Phil writes.Phil: Yes, what I just did by explaining the songs, not everybody needs to see it this way. I mean, that’s how I see it, but it took me some time to come up with the content right now, because I just interpreted it for myself. But he can come along right now and tell a completely different story and I would be saying “Okay, my God, all right”, because I don’t think “No, it’s about these political powers being working on this or that and I want to reveal this or that...” That’s not our thing. With us, a lot of things are spontaneous and you can realize that by looking at the lyrics. I don’t sit down writing the lyrics for three days so that this or that message comes across. You don’t always have to shove people to the message, they have to find out themselves.Still, sometimes it’s nice to get a little help.Phil: They’ve got it now. My interpretation, enjoy it! (laughs)Okay, and what about that additional song you’re releasing? I don’t know that one yet...Phil: It has been on our recording device for a longer time. Scott [Causer, Northern Star Records] thought it would be cool, if we had another song as a bonustrack for the CD. We were thinking about recording another one, but then we realized that we had had this song on the recorder for ages. We always liked it a lot, but somehow it never fit enough so we would have said “Let’s use it as the fourth song on the upcoming album” It always stood a bit on its own. Therefore it was a more or less logical conclusion to either throw it away or use it as a bonus track. So when Scott asked we thought “Yes!” Then we worked on it a bit and now it fits.Great.Phil: It wasn’t like it didn’t fit because it was bad or anything, but before it didn’t fit regarding the sequence, the flow. It somehow has a certain independent existence, which made it difficult for us to fit it in somewhere.What else would interest me is: Where did you record your EP? And how?Phil: On our own in our rehearsal room.Really? Oh. (Laughter.)Phil: No, we used to work with producers, spent a lot of money on it, because we wanted it to be good. What came out in the end, we never showed to anyone, put it on a shelf and there it gets dusty, because we are simply not content with it. We spent so much money on it and weren’t happy with it. Then we thought “We can just as well buy our own recording device for that amount of money!” So that’s what we did, put it into the studio, bought some microphones along with it and taught ourselves all about it. Then we just got started, just like we wanted to have it. It’s a very virginal approach of a recording with My Beatific Vision. We just sat down, turned everything up as loud as we could and made exactly the sound we wanted to have at that time.HP: And that’s what we needed exactly back then.Phil: It was a bit extreme, to forget about all those things that were forced on you when a producer was around.HP: Yes, for example in such cases when he said he wouldn’t write his name under the song.Phil: Yes, we heard that several times, for example. (mean voice) “I won’t write my name under the song if we keep this part!”Okaaay… Whose music are we’re talking about, eh?Phil: Yes, he thought it wouldn’t be good publicity for his studio, if he writes his name under the song. We just wanted to do it exactly the way the EP sounds. We wanted it to sound like that, we wanted it to sound extreme. We didn’t want to release a “pretty record” you can nicely listen to and sway to. We wanted something extreme. We wanted to release something extreme and they weren’t with us in this.All that stuff we did, all those noise things, we found really great, they didn’t want to take this.“This is far too loud!”Phil: Yes,”This is far too loud!”, “This doesn’t come across!”, “This lets my level deflect!” and so on. Then we sat down and did exactly THIS. (Laughter.)Well done! Good Lord, I don’t believe it...Phil: Yes, and if there’s a crackle or scrunch on the EP, then this is simply a symbol for our emancipation. (Laughter.)Yes, and I mean, this doesn’t suit you at all, this high gloss polished thing...Phil: Nope. Well, it seems he wanted to focus on this pop thing more. We wanted to keep this pop thing more in the background, put noise on it, so that it doesn’t jump at you instantly, that you can listen to the songs for some times and always find something new. We didn’t want to point out to our listeners what they should hear. He did and he left many noise parts out, he left many guitar parts out and he reckoned that we couldn’t do it this way. That’s why we did it ourselves.And rightly so, I like this. Which song was finally the easiest one to record and which one turned out to be a pain?Phil: Well, Death of Eve went extremely fast.Izzy: Apart from being ten minutes long…Phil: Yes, well, considering that it’s ten minutes long, that it has relatively many guitars on it, that it has relatively many guitar sounds on it, it went damn fast.What turned out to be a bit of a tough thing was Stay. We didn’t know at which speed we should play it. When we recorded it, we just weren’t sure what we wanted with the song. Live, we play it faster now, to be honest. On the record it’s groovier than live. And that really needed time, we tried different speeds and so on and that took some time.HP: And Can’t Make You Smile.Phil: Oh yes. That’s the bonustrack. This one took so long as well, because we recorded everything too loudly. Which means that the song blew up in our face while mixing.That was a bit too much then…Phil: Yes, a bit. (laughs) But now it is completely right, as loud as it sounds.So your album is also in the planning, have you got anything to tell about it? I guess you’re recording this one on your own as well then, aren’t you?Phil: Yes, we’re recording it on our own. Again, in our studio, or rehearsal room/studio, everything is being recorded by ourselves. Ten songs, eleven songs, we’re not too sure about that yet. All songs have been recorded so far, on two songs the vocals are still missing. Now it will be mixed, we do that ourselves as well, and for mastering we’ll send it somewhere.It definitely sounds different compared to the EP. Scott [Causer, Northern Star Records] said it sounds ten times more mature.HP: Well, “mature” would have been the word I would have come up with as well. It sounds mature, so more grown-up.Phil: Yes, like I said, the My Beatific Vision EP was very juvenile, a very juvenile approach. We didn’t think about anything, just went “Bam!”So more your “Sturm und Drang”-phase and now you’re off into the direction of...?HP: Soft rock!Izzy: Romantic! (laughs)Romantic?! No, classicism!Phil: Neoclassicism! No, it’s still very extreme... It is not like you would have to say that we have become restrained. We just have found many more possibilites of doing what we want to do. On My Beatific Vision we didn’t work out some things the way we wanted them to be, because we were still in our learning process. We just turned up the volume and...HP:… in your face!Phil: And now it may be a bit more complex, but still exactly as extreme. We’ve kept the extreme and added some more complexity. And I reckon that’s what he means with “mature”.We might have talked about this a bit already, but: You’re very loud, is that the same with the stuff you listen to in private?Phil: I have quite a widespread music taste, I don’t only listen to things that are extremely loud.(In the following the three name various different bands they like listening to, starting with The Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division, continuing with more recent bands like Ceremony, Screen Vinyl Image, Bloody Knives and finally coming to Oasis, Richard Ashcroft, Tame Impala, PJ Harvey or also Coco Rosie, so this is really widespread.)Could you imagine to go for a total contrast and play an acoustic set? Or would that be too boring for you?Phil: Nope, definitely not boring.Izzy: What am I going to do then?! (laughs)Hmm, percussion?Phil: I could imagine doing it, but not in the near future. I once recorded one of our songs completely without fuzz, without distortion, so only with reverb, delay and so on, and I think it sounded good.HP: I liked it a lot.Phil: But we’re not planning on doing something in that direction. I would also not exclude it, but not in the near future.Which one was the most interesting show you’ve ever played? Has there been anything completely exceptional yet?Phil: Each show is somewhat different. Each show has somehow had its good aspect, even if we said “Hm, that was a bit strange” afterwards. But then, it’s always worth its while. Even if we only play for ten people or something like that, it can happen that this is our favourite show. Our stage sound is quite loud, so it reacts with the kind of stage we’re on, what the club looks like... You can hardly compare it, really. Difficult.HP: I feel the same. What is quite surprising, really, is that even if you’re only playing for fifteen people or so, you still outgrow yourself. Sometimes, when you think “Wow, this was great!”, maybe it wouldn’t have been that great, if fivehundred people had been there. (laughs) It is really difficult, I can’t come up with a concrete show I would say about “This was the show!”...Phil: Italy was intense, though, they treated us like rock stars.Izzy: Yes, there were barriers!Phil: Yes, barriers, a two-course meal backstage... They treated us like rock stars, definitely. That was somehow... strange.HP: Strange, but nice! (laughs)I still have one question for you as a female drummer, Izzy. I always find it very cool, especially after seeing you, being quite petite and all, what power comes out of female drummers. Are you also under the impression that there seems to be a development of more girls becoming drummers? And how did you personally get into drumming? I would be interested in that as well.Izzy: I can’t really remember how I got into it. Some day I just felt like it and said “I don’t want to play the recorder anymore!” (laughs) I don’t know... I realize that, sure, with bigger bands it may be that more women are becoming drummers. But when we play, we have never played with another band, also not when I still played punkrock, that had a girl as a drummer. I was always the only one. If there was a woman, then she was the singer or she maybe played the guitar or the bass. For me, it’s not such a noticeable development. In the bigger picture maybe, but apart from that I wouldn’t say so...So, more women to the drums then?Izzy: Yep, if they can play. (laughs)Last question: How are your ears?Phil: Fine, thanks.Yes?HP: Yes, of course, sure.Phil: I believe you can stand extreme volume for some time.HP: Sometimes you even need that, that’s what I’ve heard.Phil: Well, with me it’s like, this might sound a bit stupid now, but, when I have got a headache, then I sometimes listen to The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy, turn it up really loud, so that it really gets into my brain...Blow through the whole thing…Phil: … and then it’s fine again, really. At our rehearsals we also play really loud as well, we have people coming over for rehearsals and everything. So we don’t really have problems with our hearing, I think.Izzy: Thanks for asking! (laughs)BandpageFacebookYou can get The Lost Rivers' debut album Sin And Lostness at Northern Star Records:http://www.northernstarrecords.com
The Lost Rivers Interview