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Touch The Spider!

Touch The Spider! Twee Duitsers met een batterij vintage apparatuur en enorm veel creativiteit. In een half jaar tijd leveren ze twee cd's af, of eigenlijk drie als je bedenkt dat hun debuut meteen een dubbel-cd was. Blijkbaar zit er iets in de lucht of in het water daar in het Zwarte Woud. We hebben het niet nagevraagd in het gesprek dat we hadden met de beide leden van Touch The Spider. Ondanks de sombere thema's in de muziek was het een vrolijke boel en een bijzonder interview, of was het nu eerder een dialoog tussen de heren Unholy Ghost (UG) en Cosmic Energy (CE)?

Door: Jan-Simon | Archiveer onder alternative / pop

Have you played in other bands, how and when did you start playing together – in other words: what is the history of "Touch The Spider"?
UG: Of course. We spent a lot of time in several bands.
CE: But who knows Saint Cocaine or Unbound...
UG: I placed an ad and when we met it was like a big bang.
CE: We simply are on the same wavelength.
UG: Yes, at long last no more boredom. We reinvented ourselves, haha.

The two of you have chosen to use stagenames. Unholy Ghost and Cosmic Energy are unusual names, if I may say so. How did these names arise?
UG: The names crossed our minds without thinking, they turned up intuitively...
CE: ... and that's the way you have to take them: intuitively.
UG: I don't consider them unusual. At least they fit very well with us.
CE: What do you think of when you read these names? Absolute nonsense? Provocation? Yin and Yang? Go for it!

What are the pros of playing in a band of just two persons?
CE: Originally we were looking for other musicians. But at the same time we started recording our first songs...
UG: ... and that went stormingly well so that we decided not to let somebody hem us in.
CE: It's easier to mix up two opinions than having endless discussions with three or four members of a band.

Do you play live shows or would that mean enlisting a few more band members?
UG: If there is demand for a live act...
CE: ... we will play with other musicians. We need at least two guitars and a bass.
UG: Yes, other musicians would help us.
CE: But up to now we haven't thought about it since we are very busy with other tasks (promotion, video).

In your press releases the fact that you come from the German Black Forest is always mentioned. How important is this background for you?
UG: In some respects we are inspired by the forest: light and shadow, like bright and dark moments, narrow valleys, like narrow perspectives, ...
CE: ... traditional stories full of tragedy and disaster...
UG: We took a lot of our snapshots here in the forest. It's quite difficult to elude its appeal.

Should we think of you as living in a cabin deep in the woods, surrounded by cuckooclocks and eating Spätzle all the time, or should we leave those clichés attached to the Black Forest behind?
CE: Rather: There are two sinister guys sneaking through the undergrowth performing weird ritual acts around a fire.
UG: Umm, well, maybe something like that, but we don't look great with war paint.
CE: Meanwhile we have here, even in the deepest forest, access to the internet and tvs. By the way, what does a cuckoo clock look like? Do you have one?
UG: Yeah! Hangs just beneath the elk horns :-)

Do you think Touch The Spider would have sounded the same had you not come from the Black Forest but from Hamburg, Berlin, Munich or even not from Germany at all?
UG: That's funny, CE is from Hamburg and I'm from a smaller northern city, Salzgitter, as well.
CE: Yes, we are both Northerners. Leaving a big city and living in such a mystic forest implicates an impact in music.
UG: Who knows how many changes we made in our subconscious minds?

Do you see yourself as part of a German tradition of rockmusic, in other words is there something particularly German in "Touch The Spider!"?
UG: A very interesting question. What tradition? What music? Scorpions? Rammstein?
CE: More experimental bands like Kraftwerk, Einstürzende Neubauten and Deichkind cross my mind.
UG: But what's new in the area of rock music?
CE: Nothing at all.

In the Netherlands we traditionally look west, towards the UK and USA, so most of the things happening in Germany elude us. What are we missing most of all because of this habit?
UG: At the moment here's a mere vacuum. Nothing's going on.
CE: Music seems to get more and more foreseeable. Everyone is looking for a quick success with old, bitten off songs.
UG: Also in Germany everybody looks towards the US or the UK.
CE: Maybe it's the calm before the storm.

On your website you have a list of 32 things, persons and concepts that influenced you. Let's take a few of these and have a closer look. Could you tell us how the following exactly influenced you?
· B-Horror movies
· Winter
· Hohner Orgaphon
· God, Satan, Jesus (I joined these three to one item)
· The Unconscious
· Last Chances


CE: OK, you start!
UG: Well, let's begin with B horror movies. I grew up with them. I'm still very grateful to the Dutch to make it possible to watch films like "The Beyond" or "Hellraiser". In Germany we had censorship.
CE: Winter: In autumn or winter the songs get darker by themselves. A very inspiring time...
UG: Hohner Orgaphon: I like the old Vintage stuff. That doesn't imply we produce retro music. I simply like the look and the sound of old amps.
CE: God, Satan, Jesus (I joined these three to one item): Very fascinating personalities. I would like to meet them all and to have a lighthearted discussion. "God, why do you approve all this?", "Satan, what do you want to say to that?", "Jesus, did you really die for MY sins?" I pity you.
UG: The Unconscious: Every day I try to get to know myself better. Falling in meditation I write down my feelings. Often it's quite surprising what my subconscious mind put down on paper.
CE: Last Chances: The last chance to say goodbye, the last chance to reconcile, the last chance to healing. There are more last chances than we often realize. You only have to recognize them.

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Not only these keywords betray a very melancholic, almost depressive mood, the lyrics aren't exactly comedy-material either. Is it just the atmosphere you want to create or is there an autobiographical source for writing in such a somber way? Could it even be called therapy?
UG: Most of the songs are autobiographical. Or they are about events that stir my emotions. I'm quite emphatic. Things tend to upset me. Think of the gun rampage in Winnenden, almost in my neighbourhood. The songs are therapy and cure at the same time. "Circle of Lies" is about bullying, "Long Way to Hell" reflects the long way to work...

If you have a recurring theme in your songs it must be death, parting, trying to cope with loss… or variations of that. Is it because of the general mood as mentioned before?
UG: Our spirits are rather gloomy, that's true. By means of our songs we handle the dark sides of life.
CE: That means, funny songs are a therapy for people in high spirits?
UG: ... which do not fit in this world...

You seem to have a very strong do-it-yourself mentality. Is this on purpose, or did it just happen?
Make music, produce records, design albumcovers, run a recordlabel… are these god-given talents or have you been trained in some way to be able to do these vary diverse jobs?

UG: Well I wouldn't say no to a big record label. They could do all that work for us...
CE: ... but nowadays all the major label are very cautious...
UG: ...and our music seems to be a little bit off the mainstream.
CE: There were two possibilities: either we stay in the dark cellar to play our songs only to us or we leave the cellar and manage everything by ourselves.
UG: This way there's nobody who controls our work.
CE: And it's real fun to do beside the music such different things like designing covers and creating videos.

Not many bands release a double album as their debut. In fact, I can only come up with Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention who did something similar. Why start out with two cds at once?
CE: We had such a huge amount of great songs...
UG: ... there was no other way: we had to release them outright.
CE: That matches the previous question. Each label would have slashed our work to 11 or 12 songs.

With these 28 songs in one and a half hour, are you not asking a lot of your listeners?
CE: We are no Fast Food Band, haha.
UG: My tip: Take your time to listen to the CDs, don't do it at once. Enjoy the music...
CE: ... and be thrilled that it's not over after only 40 minutes.

Just five months after the debut we get your second album Souls For Sale. You must be workaholics!
UG: It just happened. We had a lot of songs when we started to release our first album.
CE: ... we thought about a triple CD ...
UG: Then we played new songs. After a while we decided that they should see the light of day, too.
CE: Why should we stop going on. Everything works out.

It seems as if it is important for you to point out that you follow the footsteps of bands like Pentagram and Saint Vitus. Personally I hear more early eighties gothic and new wave in your music: Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy. No matter what connection is made, it seems that you are not that interested in the current trends in music. Is there no interesting new music?
UG: I think the actual metal scene is stuck in a dead end.
CE: Influenced by the music of the early 80s we play a grim Gothic or New Wave.
UG: Well put.

Can you name three records that changed your live and tell us in what way?
Wire: 154 - sinister visions of sounds
Venom: Welcome to hell - the beginning of metal
Sepultura: Roots - a new sound, intoxicating, new rhythms

Thank you for your time. If there is anything you'd like to say to your fans, please do so.
Touch The Spider! - Welcome to the dark side of life

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