We talked about history, lyric themes, departure of the fellow musician Achim or about the future plans. The band is playing gig in Bratislava 10th March.
Sanctuary.cz: Before we start to speak about present times and the comeback album of Placebo Effect, I would like to know how you set up Placebo Effect in 1989? How did you meet each other?
I met Christoph in a club in 1989. Christoph was a DJ and just like me a fan of the emerging EBM scene. It was still common that you brought the DJ your own vinyl discs. So I brought him The Klinik, Skinny Puppy, Neon Judgment, Chrome and the brand new hit "Suicide Command".
And we quickly found out that each of us had a synthesizer. Christoph had his von Achim bought an Ensoniq ESQ1. And we met to make music. There are even the recordings. Then Achim came to it. And we met ideas played on 4 track recorders. A nice time. Everything was so exciting.
Sanctuary.cz: Your debut album “Galleries Of Pain” is already a classic part of EBM history. How difficult was it to write music for this collection?
I would like to write now, yes we have come up with a concept and then worked on it for years :-) But it is much simpler. For “Galleries of Pain”, we recorded the pieces we had, with little equipment at home. Bruno Kramm at the former Danse Macabre Studio then produced the songs incredibly well and with a lot of energy. At that time he also had much more equipment for which we did not have the possibilities. All the analogue synthesizers ... an EMU Emax sampler that was unaffordable to us. I can call Bruno the fourth secret band member in the studio. A really talented person. A big advantage was certainly our "inability" to consciously write a track. So we playfully got down to business. The track "Move" was created in about 30 minutes. You did not even think about that. Today, the Galleries of Pain is referred to as a classic. At that time we did not think that our debut reached such a status.
Sanctuary.cz: Placebo Effect is dealing with such topics as depression, psychological edge situations, and deprivations. Why just those themes?
For me personally this topic moves me because of my family background which has influenced me very much, about which I do not want to speak further. Also, after the production of the "Manipulated Mind Control", Christoph and I became very sick themselves. It took a long time until we were recovered by medical assistance. We suffered from severe depression and anxiety, so we were completely burned out. Mentally ill nobody comes to the world. This disease is a result of society and your environment in which you grow up and live. That's a topic that moves us.
Sanctuary.cz: Your live concerts are semi-theatrical performances. Who came with idea to present band live this way? Is there any inspiration from Skinny Puppy as well?
When we gave our first concerts back then "Skinny Puppy" was clearly our role model. That was so cool, so we wanted to do that too. But also artists like "Fad Gadget" had great influence. Any band we saw. Then we saw a performance of "Borghesia" and then we wanted to be just as convincing. Or we were at "Frontline Assembly" ... then we wanted to look so cool too. Yes, all these bands had a big influence. But of course you also mature as an artist and as a human being and at the time of "Breathe" I wanted to express my passion for silent movies. And this has remained so today. I love these characters, white make up and great theatricality. As a child, I stayed up late to watch the old monster movies "Frankenstein," "Dracula," or "The Mummy," and I even collected books about all the movies. I like the atmosphere that these films radiate. And the gestures and mimic are very clearly drawn to describe the expression of a film scene.
Sanctuary.cz: Who was your closest collegues on scene that time?
I had a close friendship with Guido Fricke from Second Voice, otherwise there was no exchange with other bands. Of course you knew many. But there was never any cooperation.
Sanctuary.cz: You closed first part of Placebo Effect existing and split in 1995. Why?
We never parted. There was no meeting, so "placebo effect" was never resolved. We just did not have contact anymore. I think it started in Halle where we played with "Kirlian Camera", where we practically only met for the gig and then we did not communicate with each other anymore. After the "Manipulted Mind Control" we were completely frustrated. We wanted to produce a danceable atmospheric gloomy album. But the studio we had to record in, just wanted to make quick money with lots of releases. And then I just started making music on my own.
One difficulty has always been with us, no one wanted to pick up the phone and call the other, hey what's up we want to carry on? That's placebo effect.. we could not communicate that well.
Sanctuary.cz: In that year you released album with band Accessoires. How different was music of this project from the music of Placebo Effect?
From today's perspective, accessories were an ambience album. I wanted to create a musically wide landscape and accompany it with spherical singing. Unfortunately, in many places it has not become as my idea was. Then also the album into the maniulted phase. Due to the contract I had to publish all albums on the label. Nothing worked. Nothing was right. I had an idea, but I was not allowed to implement it. A bad depressing time from which we have learned a lot for today.
Sanctuary.cz: After Accessoires, you set up another band called Breathe. This band is closer to original Placebo Effect sound, even in live presentation. Was it intend to lead the band this way?
Breathe was for me the step to become stronger compositionally. I think the album "The Laughing Dolls" is heard through the classical approaches. Piano and strings were more in the foreground. Also guitar can be heard. , However, I got sick at the time. The album did not seem to end for me, I think that sounds like the track like "Fallen Angel". It has good moments but it still lacks something. It moves to a destination which is not reached. But "Breathe" was exactly what I wanted to do. And this project has practically created the future of Placebo Effect. When we played at the 2004 WGT, my new concept was implemented so impressively with "Placebo Effect" thanks to the opportunity to perform there.
Sanctuary.cz: What happened when you had to release “Metal Cage” EP on your own?
No, I did not have to. It was exactly the phase where record sales of record companies massively collapsed. And the opportunities to release the tracks on the net was just there. I like the idea of being independent. And it was just right. Metal cage has been downloaded 10,000x.
Sanctuary.cz: Breathe is on hiatus right now, but Placebo Effect are back again. What was the turning point when you started to think about reunion seriously?
We met for the preparations for the WGT 2014. Achim had set up a small studio. And there are three of us in the room, and as before we turned on the device and played as if nothing had ever happened between us. I had 6 tracks as a demo at the time. And since I became much more electronic again, I played the tracks and Christoph and Achim said why not a new album. So we played "Nothing to cry" as a new track in the WGT. Unfortunately, everyday life has caught up with us after the WGT. And the contact has been lost again. And it was only after Achim's death that Christoph and I contacted each other again. Christoph was wondering if we did not want to release the 6 tracks on Facebook. After we talked about it, we decided to really work it out and write an album. And now Placebo Effect are back and we're working together on the album.
Sanctuary.cz: Four years ago you came out with information that band is back. You also played comeback concert on Wave Gotik Treffen. Are you satisfied with the gig?
Playing in the AGRA hall in front of 8000 people is an incredibly exciting thing. I cannot really answer that question. For us, the concerts are in smaller clubs rather. On such a big stage you have a concert trench of almost 2 meters. But there is no direct way for us to involve the audience. Nevertheless, I would play again and again to the WGT. We owe so much to Sven Borges. In 2004, he and his team supported us. And if there was an appearance that I can see as a turning point, then it was the WGT 2004. For the first time, all the people saw us. And when we left the stage, I think this gig sealed our Cult status.
Sanctuary.cz: Are you planning to release video document from this concert, because I saw many cameras there….
A German TV station has a music program "Rockpalast". They had a TV interview with us and they were allowed to record three songs. There is a complete recording. We will not publish it.
Sanctuary.cz: How difficult is it to continue on new material after Achim departure?
It is omnipresent that he is no longer there. Especially the performance on March 10th moves us a lot. The first concert after all these years and now we are two. On that day, we will surely see each one intensely confronted with this feeling. But we continue to work in his spirit. Yes I think he will always be next to us as a good spirit.
Sanctuary.cz: Was it shocking or did you know about his problems before?
It came unexpectedly for everyone...
Sanctuary.cz: Why we are waiting for new album 4 years already?
We noticed for January that it is good to take a break. At the same time, the preparation for the upcoming shows is in progress. And we want the "Shattered Souls" just as we imagine. 100% Placebo Effect.
Placebo Effect - Christal White Snow
Sanctuary.cz: Will it be possible to hear some older music ideas on new album?
We have recently reshuffled "hard work". We always liked the piece very much. And then came the idea to reinterpret them in 2018 without denying their roots. From Christoph's earlier project "No Encebo Effect" from this phase and the tracks that were planned for "Breathe" like "Nothing to Cry" or currently "Christal White Snow", songs come on the new album.
Sanctuary.cz: For example from your another project The Laughing Dolls (song “Nothing To Cry”)…
Our way of working has changed a lot in the past. In some cases, up to 10 designs of a piece are created. You are working on a part of you are dissatisfied, confused, write new. We have a very high demand on ourselves. Currently, I cannot determine a phase.
Sanctuary.cz: In which stage is now the new album? Did you finish writing all tracks already?
Christal White Snow is said to be 95% ready and we released it on Facebook last week. We shot a video clip for that. We are very happy with the result and the reactions.
Sanctuary.cz: How different is working on material for new Placebo Effect album from the time when you wrote songs on first two albums?
There was more punk attitude. We did not think much. Just added ideas.
But the rarest one has come out a real piece. So it was taken what we also liked as a song. And it was also dependent on good producers, who made gold out of silver. Now we work much more consciously. We can create sounds that are really created in our minds before. Or we think about a song idea if it really fits. Maybe it loses something in random processes. On the other hand, we have become much more independent and know today, if it continues after "Shattered Souls" we should be able to record an equivalent album on our own.
But our fascination for electronic sounds has remained unbroken until today. They still exude a childish fascination. And we can lose ourselves in the sounds for hours.
Placebo Effect - Hard Work
Sanctuary.cz: I heard all pieces of music, which you put on YouTube, and surprisingly I heard some guitar parts there. Are you planning to implant guitar sound on new Placebo Effect album?
Despite a few months of guitar lessons, I'm a very miserable player. That was probably an exception for "Nothing to cry". It just fit and supports the song.
But placebo effect will stay completely electronic. Maybe someday we will start trying experimental things with acoustic instruments. Piano is still an integral part, but it has always been.
Sanctuary.cz: Date of release is still hidden, but what about label? Or are you planning to release album on your own?
We are currently torn. Whether we produce and offer the album ourselves or are looking for a label. Both have advantages and disadvantages. We do not know yet.
Sanctuary.cz: Concert in Bratislava is in front of us. How different will it be from your WGT comeback gig? For us, this show is like a big festival. There is no difference. But on the contrary. We have often heard that the stage was very small. We find that more intense ... we are happy.
And we can hardly sleep, we are so excited.
Sanctuary.cz: How many new songs will fans hear there?
We will play 3 new songs, where we are sure that these songs will be included on the new album.
And "Hard Work" is played as a new "old" piece :-)
We see it as a music fan, when we go to a concert we look forward to the classics we grew up with. So we hope the fans feel the same way.
Sanctuary.cz: What are your future plans after the gig on Dark EBM Souls?
We are still playing in Frankfurt am Main in May with Pyrroline and Fix8sed8. But we have cancelled all other gigs. We want to focus on the album. That is the most important to us. And right now we are in a decision making process if live activities are anything for us. I cannot rule out that maybe it will be the last two concerts. We fell in love with the medium of video and notice more and more that we can implement our visual ideas quite differently. But every day is different ... and who knows how we decide when we look at the show at the British Rock Club on 10.3.