I want to make a movie. In this movie all of the trashcans of NYC grow arms and legs and start eating people. The city gets put on lock-down and the citizens of the city have to survive the night. The camera would follow different people and their reactions to the doomsday situation. Some fight back, while others try to enjoy what they think are their last moments. Overall the tone wouldn't be negative or scary, it's more an affirmation of the fact that you're alive. A reminder of the intensity that existence can hold.
Klaus Johann Grobe is the soundtrack to that movie. The Swiss-German duo play their own flavor of 60's inspired psychadelic rock stripped down to its essentials: sharp dancey drums, funky, percussive bass, vocals that sound cool enough in Swiss-German to make you drop your fondue, all dipped in a classic pysch-organ smoothie.
I got the extreme pleasure of emailing some questions to Klaus Johann Grobe, and this is what I got back:
There's been a bit of a confusion about who "Klaus Johann Grobe" is - some people might initially think the band is a solo artist. What's the story behind the name?
It’s just a name really. It fitted the feeling we had about the band and what it is or was or could be quite well. It says many things if you like it, and nothing at all if you don’t like it. It’s a good name!
What are the songwriting dynamics like between you two? Do you find inspiration in any other particular songwriting duos?
Normally we both sit at home on our own, fiddling around with basses, chords, synthleads or drumpatterns. Eventually there will be a song in the end. We know pretty quickly if something is going to work or not. After that we’ll bring it to the rehearsal room. When Dani ads the live drums to my songs, or I ad organs or stuff to Danis tunes and we start messing around with them they change a lot and new ideas come up. Lyrics always come after the instrumental parts, sometimes only 2 minutes before recording time. The good thing is we both know exactly what Klaus Johann Grobe is about, without really talking about it.
What attracts you to the vintage organ sound?
The sound of the organ was always there as long as we play music together. And probably as long as we listen to music. It took a while to get into the cheap and cheesy organ sound as well, but in the end its always the same, it adds a wonderful and known warmth to the music its used in. And its easy to create those eye-twinkling moments with an organ. It’s a really funny instrument.
You guys have been touring around Europe quite a lot recently - any interesting or crazy "on the road" stories?
Yea, we did drive the whole last tour with a broken backlight on our car. Exciting days! But to be honest, apart from constantly breaking our equipment we’re not really rock n roll. We do drink lots of beer and dance to our own acapella dj set sometimes.
A lot of labels have been put on your band's music, everywhere from Brazilian Tropicalia to Krautrock - were you surprised to hear such a wide range of genres applied to your music? How do you guys see yourselves?
We were kind of surprised yes. But more in the sense that people could actually hear specific influences that must have been somewhere in our music but we had never thought about. On the other hand however, we listen to so many different things all the time it’s only natural that there are influences from psych to jazz and from avantgarde electronics to pop music. It’s all good and we’re not afraid of anything. Maybe that’s why we can’t really describe our music. It’s probably more about a feeling than a genre.
What other Swiss German bands (besides Klaus Johann Grobe) should we be listening to?
We like «Blind Butcher» or «Fai Baba» a lot.
I love listening to your music and walking around NYC, it seems to lend itself really well to passing images and scenes- has anyone approached you guys about putting your music in movies yet? What do you think a Klaus Johann Grobe scored movie would look like?
Not yet. We would love to compose music for a movie though. When we are writing songs there are always certain images in your head. So it’s interesting if someone else gives you inputs and you have to find the right musical moods for it. We can’t really think of a specific Klaus Johann Grobe movie. It would be ace to have a proper car chase in it though. And some nightclub dancing as well as a heartbreaking love scene.
If you could bring one guest member into the band living or dead to collaborate on an album who would it be?
That’s a really difficult question. We’re both big Soft Machine fans. It would be amazing to have musicians like Wyatt, Hopper or Ratledge on a record. On the other hand we might need Manfred Krug to sing some lines on our next album. Yes, we really need to contact him…
When are you guys coming to NYC?
We’re certainly coming over to the states. But first we’ll need a break from all the touring and play european festivals during summer. Our record label Trouble In Mind is based in Chicago, so it’s only a matter of time til we’ll hit NYC. We’re looking froward to it!
Listen to Klaus Johann Grobe here: https://soundcloud.com/klaus-johann-grobe
Download here: http://troubleinmindrecs.com/bands/klausjohanngrobe.html