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Alternative Allstars

Het Duitse Alternative Allstars is geen onbekende in rockend Europa. Met optredens in het voorprogramma van bands als Bad Religion, Oasis, Bon Jovi (niet de kleinste jongens) en shows op festivals als Rock am Ring, Rock im Park en Bizarre hebben de mannen flink wat exposure gehad. En nu is hun nieuwe album, '110% Rock' uit, die ze tot in de puntjes zelf hebben verzorgd. Tijd om 110% info uit deze mannen te slepen.

Door: Jill | Archiveer onder punk / hardcore

In your bio it says that you're “the radical antithesis to that tiresome Pop Idol soap Opera”...Explain yourselves! ;-)

First off, I don't think that casting a band, like they do in pop idol, is necessarily a bad thing. It is in fact quite entertaining to watch! The problem starts, when all people are interested in seeing, hearing or buying is this type of format, when really music is not at all about these clean cut Frankenstein monsters! Music is about putting feelings and lifetime-experience into notes to shake people up! Its about so called "losers in life" who feel a need to express themselves artistically and just let go off their emotions! In our song "I Get Around" we sing: "I like music...but not what you turned it into! I can't use it...if I don't feel it through and through!". And I just don't feel it when these people sing to me! Know what I mean?? But I feel Lemmy and I feel Deep Purple and I feel David Bowie and I feel all of these real bands! So hopefully someone out there can feel us too!!!

Recently your new album '110% Rock' has been put out, and if I am not very mistaken you have done almost everything relating to the album yourselves. Writing, recording, mixing, producing, the lot. What's it like doing all the work on the album yourselves?

It's a lot of work, but very rewarding, as you know who to blame for all the mistakes and, more importantly, for all the good stuff happening on this album! After having co-produced and produced most of my albums (including eight days and thumb albums) I realised I can go all the way and so we built our very own studio here in our hometown and we never regretted it! We put up every microphone ourselves, took time to experiment and had the chance to go home if we didn't feel like it! There was no heavy bill for every day studio work and no outside influences from other producers. Of course you need to know how all of this stuff works etc, but I am experienced in that field, as I have worked on other albums before, but never before in my own studio! So really, it's a great thing if you can develop into doing more and more on your own, as you can show more and more of yourself (which is part of the reason why we're doing this, really, wanting to be loved know how musicians are!!). But you need to know what you're doing. This is not necessarily the right method for everyone out there!

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Why did you not choose for an outsider to, for example, produce the album?

I had some bad experiences with outside producers in not really achieving the sound level I had hoped for. Like our first album, 'Rock On', sounds way too soft, because I didn't really have a say in the mix! Also, I am kind of difficult to work with, always have been and always will be, it's a childhood thing! One of my first sentences was "I'll do it on my own!" On another note, I also thought it might be an interesting way to work and it definitely added spice to the way we recorded!

Why did the production of the album took so long (two years)?

Really the production of this album, the songs that ended up on '110% Rock', took not even three months! We had recorded a bunch of stuff before and experimented a lot and that took a lot of time, but once we had the song '110% Rock' we knew what we wanted and things moved very fast from then on!"

Are there any lessons you've learned while producing this album, that you'd do differently next album?

Probably leave away a few of the keyboard-experiments. It was too much fun to resist, but probably next time they won't happen that much! Everything else was great fun and obviously now we don't have to experiment with microphone placements anymore and we know everything inside out! We're basically already recording new material!"

In this time you have switched drummers three times. Whatever happened to drummers Gary Lincoln and Steffen Wilmking?

Gary Lincoln was our first drummer. He recorded five songs on this album. He fell in love with his very first girlfriend again. They met through the Internet at some point and he moved back to England to be with her! That's fine with us! We wish him all the best! Steffen Wilmking is of course the drummer in "Thumb", he lives next door and he never really joined the band. He just helped finishing the album. He recorded six songs with us and is now the drummer for the H-Bloxx. Sven is our current drummer! We found him while recording a band he helped out with and we recorded the song "Falling From Grace" with him. He is now the full on band-drummer.

Do you think it's an advantage or a disadvantage that three different drummers worked on the album?

It's kind of like "Spinal Tap" in a way....ha ha...don't know... I guess it keeps it interesting and that's a good thing! I'm not saying it was easy when Gary left, but at the same time it adds a new perspective on things that I find interesting!

Did it affect the influences on the album? I can imagine that three different people have three different kinds of influences/views on the production/music on the album.

I can certainly hear the different drummers on this album, others find it hard to spot. My songwriting doesn't really allow too many different possibilities of drumming. There wasn't like a wide-open field for the drummers and I certainly didn't say: "go crazy" or something like that. Sven now is a great combination of Gary and Steffen. He has the feeling and musical understanding of Gary and the technical skills of Steffen! Of course as people the three are very different and each has influenced the album in their own ways, but me personally, I feed of emotions and attitudes, so it helped! Like Sven gave it all he had on "Falling From Grace", and you can really feel that.

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On the album track 'I Get Around' singer Claus Grebe does a duet with Donor vocalist Ingo Knoll Mann. Why was he the right guy for this duet?

Ingo is a great guy. We love the way he just dives into projects like this. He had joined us on stage a couple of times on various numbers and we love his attitude! He felt perfect for this job. We sang the song together in one vocal booth and I have nothing but great memories on that day!

Why didn't you try to get someone world famous to do the duet (which I'm sure you could have, seeing the bands you've played with) to get your band's name on the world-map indefinitely?

We had thought about Dennis Lyxcen from The International Noise Conspiracy, but contact was kind of hard and we eventually did it with Ingo. The "world map" idea is good.... hmmm, maybe next album!

The lyrics on 'Take Me Higher' sound an awful lot like LA-Hollywood rock star life...Have you had any experiences with this? Please share them with us. Or any other rock star related story you witnessed….

Really, "Take Me Higher" is just a fantasy. We are anti-rock stars. We don't drink, don't do drugs, don't eat meat, we get up early, show up on time for the shows etc, very boring! Of course we have seen "real" rock and roll happening with other bands, but that is to be kept secret!" (Rules of the know!)

Pretty much every punk rock band has an anthem these days, like 'Bro Hymn' for Pennywise, Good Charlotte's 'Loser' anthem... Which of your songs would be your anthem for the people?

"110% ROCK"

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