"Westend", that's the name of the promising debut of Tausend Augen. With their mix of postpunk and krautrock, the trio from Saarland is currently attracting attention. Also with us: Their track "Mana Mana" celebrated its exclusive premiere on the eclipsed website in mid-January. Time to find out a bit more about the band.
eclipsed: First of all: Who is behind the Thousand Eyes?
Max Ludwig: We are Alexander Schimetzky (drums), Oliver Becker (vocals, guitar, synth) and Max Ludwig (bass). We know each other since our school days and have already been on stage together in various constellations. Therefore the band structure feels quite natural and familiar
eclipsed: The question is probably obligatory: How did you come up with the band name?
Oliver Becker: We wanted something that stands out from typical name aesthetics, doesn't directly refer to a certain music style and works without a direct genre reference. Additionally, there is a loose reference to "The Thousand Eyes of Doctor Mabuse" as well as the atmosphere of paranoia and dystopia transported by the name and this connection, which fits quite well with the music.
eclipsed: You play a mix of post-punk, krautrock and electro/NDW. How can you imagine that? One of you comes from each direction and then you throw everything together in the rehearsal room?
Becker: The music is not a conscious mix of genres, but of musical elements that also occur in some of these genres. Reduction, motoric and repetition, which can be found in Krautrock, Post-Punk, Psychedelic Rock, but also very strongly in Techno and electronic music, are important stylistic devices. Furthermore, it's about song structures that don't necessarily stick to the standardized patterns, as well as creating unusual, expressive sounds. Sounds that work as hooks. The NDW has no influence on me, I own and know almost no sound carriers that could be assigned to this direction - musical similarities are coincidental.
Ludwig: All three of us went through a similar musical socialization and that is also reflected in the music. With the question: "Beatles or Stones?" we would probably uniformly say "Kraftwerk". With "Kraftwerk or Stooges?" it gets difficult and with "Black Sabbath or Gang Of Four?" we would probably give different answers. We've often heard about the proximity to NDW and of course there are musical overlaps with DAF, early Abwärts or bands such as Malaria! Although, as I said, that's not a conscious influence. There are probably just as many NDW as Krautrock bands that we can't relate to at all.
eclipsed: You have uploaded a playlist on Spotify with the title "The songs that made Westend". There you can find a colourful potpourri from Tangerine Dream to Can and Kraftwerk to Sonic Youth. How eclectic do you see yourselves?
Becker: I don't think the bands mentioned are that far apart from each other, as they all explore extremes in sounds and structure and have freed themselves from common pop song structures. Likewise, there are quite a few current bands that take similar approaches and with whom there is a certain aesthetic intersection. Overall, current influences such as a lot of electronic music are at least as central as references to older bands. But not everything you hear has a place in the band's sound. It's unlikely that Power Metal, Bossa Nova or Acid Folk are directly reflected
Alexander Schimetzky: Exactly! Everyone brings a variety of musical preferences into the band. The decisive thing is what you call up in the interplay, and that happens intuitively, not in a pigeonhole grid. That's why the songs can't be categorized, but stand quite independently.
Ludwig: Classic punk, hardcore, blues or metal bands are probably more eclectic. In the meantime, we have pretty clear ideas of what we want to do and thus have developed our own band sound without imitating much. On the other hand, we never had the intention to reinvent the wheel. We are music fans first and foremost
eclipsed: In your video clips you wear silver full body suits. What's that all about? Your joking comment: "Better than any ffp2 mask".
Schimetzky: Our first video was created in collaboration with "KeineZeitMedien", who work heavily with analogue effects. A green screen setting lent itself to this, and the additional effect of the green being reflected in the suits made things doubly exciting. As an added side effect, the suit focuses on the band and relegates the individual to the background. That being said, this outfit is not a leading theme for us, and ffp2 masks will hopefully be a non-issue at some point
Ludwig: We gave Pascal Hector from "KeineZeitMedien" a free hand with the video shoot. Our only requirement was that we don't want a classic rock video where we are filmed playing our instruments to a playback. All he said to that was, "But that's what we're doing: Beat Club ʼ72 on acid". He then also found the suits. And yes, tight they really are. The ultimate outfit for the Pandemic.
eclipsed: How important are the lyrics to you in relation to the music?
Becker: Important in the sense that on the one hand a certain atmosphere can be strengthened and transported by lyrics. And on the other hand, with German lyrics you avoid the often occurring arbitrariness that can arise when you sing English lyrics as a German and assume that nobody understands it anyway and therefore it doesn't matter what you sing. Lyrics would then be a wasted opportunity for expression. With German lyrics you are understood, you can't hide behind the language and you reach your audience more directly - so you should also think about what you say. No-go's on a textual level are poetry about feelings and consternation. Nevertheless, it is important to make statements that relate to the world around you. The lyrics have concrete themes such as social conditions developing into dystopian scenarios; in "Westend", for example, these are the decadence and decay of Western societies, in "White Noise" questionable political tendencies and developments
eclipsed: On the eclipsed website you exclusively presented the song "Mana Mana". Can you tell us something about this song and the clip?
Becker: The video was recorded during the Melting Butter sessions at the Rama Studio in Mannheim - it was a challenge to play live in the silver suits. Lyrically, it's about themes like paranoia in a monitored world, being at the mercy of incompetent and irresponsible powerful people and the unsuccessful attempt of the individual to escape an anonymous control system.
Ludwig: The title has something onomatopoeic about it: repetitive and monotonous. For example, I play the same run and the same tone on the bass almost continuously: simple, blunt and primitive.
eclipsed: How did the recording of "Westend" go? The press info talks about an aesthetic that combines 50-year-old microphones and tape recorders with modern recording technology.
Ludwig: We have actually always recorded our music ourselves. Over the years, a lot of stuff accumulates, instruments as well as recording equipment. There are very old, but also modern things. Basically what brings us to the goal. And those were also very classic "old school" recording techniques. The simpler the better: set up a few microphones and record the basic songs live. Without click tracks or programmed beats, the tempos naturally fluctuate, but the songs remain organic and retain their natural dynamics.
eclipsed: On your homepage tour dates for 2022 are announced. Among others for the 31.02. and at the Blue Mosque Cafe... What's that all about?
Ludwig: It's just a placeholder, because we didn't want to write "tba" and since the situation in the cultural sector is so absurd at the moment, there are also absurd dates and venues - besides, we could put a Spinal Tap reference there. The day after the release date of our record, there was already a bit of a feeling of emptiness. It felt weird to have no release show at all and no gigs lined up. Playing live has always been a main drive of the band. We really hope that we can do that again soon and that there will be something left of the club scene.