The German retrorock trio KALAMAHARA only knows challenges, no borders

21. November 2017

Kalamahara Underground

The German retrorock trio KALAMAHARA only knows challenges, no borders

eclipsed: Alex, on the photos on your website you still look quite young. How old are you? How long have you been together?

Alex Beyer: Hans and I are 28 and have known each other almost as long. We grew up together and have been making music together since I can remember. In the province of Mecklenburg there was also a lot of time for this. I started playing guitar at the age of five. We did the first sessions at ten or eleven and the real first constant band came at 14. We kept them up with breaks until 2012. That was more in the direction of grunge/alternative. After the dissolution I changed to the drums and got to know Clemens, who had his 30th birthday last week, in Leipzig. I joined his former band as a drummer, but I have played in sessions and jams for quite some time and a short time later after a change of line-up - Hans replaced the old bass player - Kalamahara developed.

eclipsed: The Heavy-70ies guitar psych isn't exactly what young people generally hear nowadays. And the girls don't really like it either. How did you come up with this style? Do you even agree with this style description?

Beyer: We make this kind of music, I like your name well, not to please anyone or, as you say, the girls. For me personally, our sound is a mirror of the individual characters and has developed through a common musical socialization, which of course is close to the 70s. Bands like Led Zeppellin, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Clemens Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, etc. play a role there. It's not like we said, "We're doing this right now in that style." This has all gone through several stages of development and has now arrived exactly where we are. Overall I have the feeling that - generally speaking - harder guitar music with the references mentioned is currently more popular again. This can be seen on the one hand in the success stories like in Kadavar, but also in the diversity of the scene and the festival landscape. Of course, this is all still a part of the band and close to the underground. But it also feels better for me than a scene club and a glossy magazine.

eclipsed: Your debut album "Chtonic Beast" from 2013 was not from bad parents. But with "Greener Fields" you've developed a good piece. What do you think of that?

Beyer: Today I can't really do anything with "Chtonic Beast" except maybe two or three titles. That's also because Hans and I didn't write many of these songs at all, but they still come from the old band of Clemens. That's not meant to be negative at all - there were really strong boards in it - but you have a different relationship to it than to songs you accompanied from the beginning to the recording. "Greener Fields", on the other hand, is the best I've ever recorded with a band, and in my opinion it's pretty well thought out and mature. We took a lot of time, which was also important and which we needed after the departure of our second guitarist to rearrange ourselves and the existing songs. Also during the production of the album we worked much more consciously, for example our debut was recorded "step by step", but since the last EP "The Unmeant Wedding" (2015) we do everything possible live and without clicks. This gives you more freedom, is less artificial and allows you much more feeling, seems more alive and not so restricted. Development is always there, but without it you couldn't exist as a band.

eclipsed: The new album is much more than "just" dirty guitar rock. There are doomed growls in it, but also calm elegant passages, catchy melodies and progressive elements. How did you come up with that?

Beyer: In order to better understand the making of the record, one must perhaps mention that we worked on a large part of the songwriting in a kind of band rehearsal camp on the Müritz in Mecklenburg. Where Hans and I grew up. There's a rehearsal room right by the lake, where we locked ourselves in for a week several times and held extensive sessions. This was incredibly productive and forms the basis for many song scaffolds. When we jam, we have a very wide range, which likes funk with doom, pop with stoner, blues with punk or knows the vulture what connects. There are also texts, most of them written by Hans, and existing, already quite structured ideas by Clemens. Put simply, it all comes into the mixer, I contribute my grooves, which depend very much on what I listen to for music at the moment, and in the end this colourful potpourri of healthy madness comes out.

eclipsed: The vocals on the album therefore vary a lot. Is it really the case that all three share the lead vocals?

Beyer: Clemens is already the main singer, but Hans has come more and more out of cover in the last two years and I could imagine that he will continue to expand this in the future. Voice and musician have come together in the first place. Earlier in my old band he had hardly sung or sung much less. I find that very strong and mega-exciting. On the album basically everyone has his own superficial part, for example "Reflections" with Hans, maybe "Radiator" with Clemens and "Phoneiric" with me. The rest of the time we often sing at eye level. In principle, this just happened. But this is definitely a construction site that will keep many possibilities open in the future. It is nice to be able to say that we are far from being exhausted creatively.

eclipsed: On your website you can find some funny and self-confident "sayings" in the infos. Like you prefer a hellfire barbecue with Jimi Hendrix to harp lessons with Mother Theresa. That's a motto. Are you that confident? And what does Jimi have that Theresa doesn't?

Beyer: The text is a bit older, but I would still sign this passage. Jimi's greatest advantage over Mother Theresa is clearly his freedom: he has excess, blues, groove, soul in his voice, madness in his fingers and together with everything an unbridled energy. In this way he at least appeals to me more than a white vest and a religious context, even if the lady was certainly a fine person. I'd call us a self-confident band, but I always think it's a bit affectionate when you can't laugh at yourself in the same breath. Robert Plant once said that today he hates himself for his arrogance in the 70s. Stubbornness or taking off always leads to fun and positive energy being left behind. That is, for example, a compliment that we often get: The people are always happy about the band dynamics at our concerts, that we also laugh sometimes, so we show honest emotions when someone tears something apart or just are happy when it's just "hardest". Interacting and exchanging looks are very important to me and people feel that we don't just play for each other, but together. Especially with a trio everything else is unthinkable.

eclipsed: "There are no limits, just challenges" is also on your website. What challenges have you already passed? What have you set out to do?

Beyer: There are many of them. One of our greatest challenges, of course, is the long-distance relationship. I have been living with a full-time job in Hamburg for over three years, the other two in Leipzig. Each of them has many obligations, which unfortunately leave little time for the band. But we are very concentrated and effective when we meet and we are a well-rehearsed team. With the album now it was not easy to find a label. Most people respect or don't understand this kind of music. In the end, we have made a virtue out of necessity and made it ourselves. "Sportklub Rotter Damm" is my own label, which I run together with two friends from Hamburg. That all adds up to a mountain of tasks that you have to take care of. But perhaps it is precisely this circumstance that is responsible for the fact that we sound and are as we are. Anyone can do it. Our plan is definitely to play more shows next year and maybe work directly on a new album. I would also find a split EP exciting. There are many ideas, but one by one.

eclipsed: From 2013 to 2016 you played some concerts every year. In 2017 it looks like mau so far.

Beyer: Until the end of the year we still have a few shows on the way, play a big record release party in Hamburg on 30.11., are on the road with The Flying Eyes in December and are already busy planning for 2018. We've always done the booking on our own all these years and that's a shitty job. Fortunately, we now have someone to support us. So next year it'll come back to life.

eclipsed: Currently the German Heavy-Stoner-Psych-Guitar-Scene is flourishing. How do you see the scene?

Beyer: I would describe the scene of this music in Germany as exciting, versatile and very creative. There are a lot of good people and meanwhile many friends and acquaintances. We have certainly become a small part of this scene over the years, but there are more active representatives than us who tour a lot more. For example, I have incredible respect for bands like Daily Thompson, Odd Couple or Mother Engine and their ass full of shows. And Coogan's bluff are of course also very important as old Fischkopp allies. They have also hired us the tour manager Hendrik Herder and we have to share him with them now. We'd be happy to. The fact that Charlie Paschen from Coogans Bluff did our album with him was not discussed at all. Best people with just the right focus for our way of shooting. Hendrik, for example, also produced our first album and is one of our closest buddies.

*Interview: Bernd Sievers