During the pandemic, Space Invaders also had no choice but to record a new album in the studio. The psych-space rockers are primarily known for their live shows and live albums. So the new "Garden Of The Wizard" is already the fifth album of the band, but only the second pure studio album. And yet it exudes the trippy charm of a concert - as usual with sprawling long tracks.
They like to give their interviews by e-mail, so they can coordinate their answers among themselves and give them as a cohesive unit. They - that's currently Mike "Tipi Mike" Häfliger (guitar), Oliver "Brainy" Gebauer (guitar), Horst "Sunhair" Friedrich (synthesizer), Dorothee "Dora" Gockel and Dennis "DNS" Gockel (drums). They form the current line-up of the Space Invaders and have recorded the new "Garden Of The Wizard". An album that is completely in the tradition of the previous albums since the 2013 debut "Invasion On Planet Z", which was followed by "Playing The Sonic Noise Opera" (2014, together with ex-Hawkwind Nik Turner), "Dreadnought" (2015) and "Ayakashi" (2016)
eclipsed: Your new album "Garden Of The Wizard" consists of only five longtracks. In the garden of the wizard only very big plants seem to grow.
Space Invaders: Since music is no longer just played on the jukebox, you can and are allowed to make longer tracks. There are actually people who use music as a travel vehicle and longer tracks are simply better suited for that. It's a bit like good sex, you don't want to cum after just three minutes. We like tracks that are over 15 minutes long. Sometimes they go well over 30 minutes. For example, in the Indian ragas, it's quite normal that a raga can last over an hour. But also in African (drum) music, a trance only emerges after long, many hours of pure climbing.
eclipsed: After "Dreadnaught", "Garden Of The Wizard" is only your second studio album. The other albums were recorded live. I assume that you have not "worked out" and "constructed" the new album in the studio. Instead, it must have been created in jam sessions, right?
Space Invaders: Yeah sure, also in the studio we play live without overdubs and stuff. That has the advantage that you can better deal with the sound recording. The only difference is that the audience is missing. On stage, the audience plays along, so to speak, and creates the mood together with the band. The room or the place where we jam also plays a role. In the studio, it's usually a bit more chilled out.
eclipsed: In the interview for "Dreadnaught" you told me that composing is too exhausting and that you prefer to exploit the magic of the moment when jamming. Is that still true? How do you capture that magic?
Space Invaders: That composing is too exhausting was probably meant more as a joke. In any case, we still use it! That's what makes an instant composing jam band like the Invaders. You don't catch magic, but man/woman just does magic the way we learned it. So with top hat and white rabbit or something like that. When everything fits together, like a special place, open and adventurous people who don't want to hear an "I love you, you broke my heart" hit parade song, and of course a sensitive and grounded band willing to take the listener/audience on a sonic journey, magic happens.
eclipsed: Please describe a typical recording session or jam session of yours. What goes on there?
Space Invaders: We set up our instruments, the technician sets up the microphones and then there is a sound check. When everything is well wired, everyone has a good sound and we have good monitoring we start. Somewhere a sound is created and the frequency waves form a tempo and from that the harmonies and the rhythm are created. Egos have to stay outside, only the vehicle counts. Actually not much different from what we do live. In between we talk and socialize.
eclipsed: The five longtracks on the new album are quite different. There are hard and rough, but also soft floating. Fast and slow. Different sounds are alternately in the center. How does that come about? Do you try to be balanced? Do you have a favorite way of playing?
Space Invaders: No we are not trying to be balanced. We are simply balanced. Favorites, is what serves the piece!
eclipsed: From 2013 you released albums regularly until 2016. Now the long break of six years after the last album "Ayakashi" from 2016. Why did it take so long?
Space Invaders: The reasons are complex. Families, lineup changes, jobs and also faulty live recordings and of course the travel and gig killer "Corona". We didn't stress about it either, you don't always have to want to force everything. Good things need time! And then we had to wait almost a year for the LP pressing.
eclipsed: You guys have gone through some lineup changes. Sunhair has joined as keyboard player. Dora G. has replaced Paul Pott on bass. How did these line-up changes come about?
Space Invaders: When Paul Pott left the band, we needed a replacement. Dora, Dennis' wife, has been playing together with Dennis in Space for a very long time. So it was a well-rehearsed rhythm section. Dora had already helped out with us a few times before she joined. Sunhair too. So we already knew that this would work. It's clear that with the changes, our sound is already changing a bit. Each individual brings their own sounds and vibes.
eclipsed: Even if you don't like to hear it anymore: How did Corona limit you and how did you survive Corona as a band?
Space Invaders: It's hard to be consistent when a band can't do concerts. But Dennis had the idea to go into the studio together to record material. That was good for our cohesion
eclipsed: You all have other projects going on, for example with Space and Bang. How do you get back together with Space Invaders? When does anyone say "let's do something again?"
Space Invaders: Normally we get a booking request and collectively we decide if we do it or not. We don't have to play as many gigs as possible. We like to play cool gigs at special, magical places. Fixed band structures are unusual in our genre, we often just let ourselves drift. The music and the fun of the flow are in the foreground for us.
eclipsed: As with the last album "Ayakashi", Dennis also made the cover himself. Dennis must also be behind the graphic designers of www.graphik-gockel.de , right?
Space Invaders: Yes, Dennis is a graphic artist by trade and also a gifted painter and sprayer. The album title came from Dennis and was there before the painting. There is a little story about this: At a psychedelic festival there was a guy running around who had outed himself as a shaman. But he didn't realize that everyone at the festival was a wizard, a shaman and a healer. Each in his own métier. Everyone who can feel magic, can (be)enchant. The music and the nature are our magic meadows
eclipsed: How do you judge the local psych/space scene with the different bands and festivals? Do you feel a kind of "together"? Is it one big family?
Space Invaders: Psychedelica is an experience, not a genre of music. Psychonauts are a species of their own and in many ways related to each other. We know a lot of musicians and bands and to some extent we are connected. A big family with many different experiences.
*** Interview: Bernd Sievers