Interview with BONFIRE
By: Nadia Shehadeh - 2012-08-01
Having the possibility to do an interview with a band like BONFIRE was definitely a triple-win-situation for all of us: on one hand, Claus and I were very pleased to have the choice of talking in English or German with each other and, on the other, I hoped to have a deeper look into the Rock and Metal scene of Germany in general. From Wacken to Casting Shows, from PETA to soccer, from the uprising of electronic music in industrial-states and the McDonaldiziation of music-industry – Claus had good words for everything and it was a pleasure to talk with him.
JZ: The BONFIRE-EP, "Cry for Help" will be released these days and is a cooperation project with PETA for raising awareness of cruelty to animals. Suitable with the start of the European Football Championship, there were many reports of dog-killings in the Ukraine, and BONFIRE was always interested in Soccer. So, what was the intention of this project?
Claus: Well, I think the first point for our engagement in this case was that we all love animals. So it's not the thing to say, the championship was a reason or the specific situation in the Ukraine – we just wanted to help to rise awareness and we had the possibility in this case. And we had the track already, which fitted in our opinion very well with the topic. You know, "Cry for Help" was already released years ago and now got remastered for the EP. So, that was the thing about it, and we hope that we can support the important work of PETA with this project. I mean, a lot of people out there are just consuming and not thinking about the consequences: Just walking with fur or a crocodile-leather-bag, and I think you have to remind people of what they are doing or buying.
JZ: Consuming is an interesting keyword: when you look at the way people are consuming music these days - what do you think about this?
Claus: Oh, this is a big topic. Well, first I have to say that I think that the World Wide Web changed everything. I mean, I can say it because I have seen different generations of recipients. In previous years, a CD was a complete bunch of artwork: Cover, Booklet, Design – everything was important. Now you have files, sometimes just a sound in the Web, and the consumption is fast moving: Maybe you listen to a band today, maybe you share their stuff in social networks, and maybe you forget about them next week. The relation to music is often minimized. A lot of people said, the Web will cause a democratization of the music industry. Well, maybe yes, but I see as well that small acts have problems to establish. We live in the century of Casting-Shows, and Mega-Seller like Lady Gaga rule. It´s a little bit like the McDonaldization of the music business.
JZ: Do you think that this is also a problem for the Rock and Alternative scene?
Claus: Well, yes, of course somehow, but I have to underline that I think that the scene is different from that what we call regular pop-culture. I think that people who feel attracted to metal, to Indie, to Rock- or alternative music – I think they want something special, and I don't want to discredit any fans of other genres, when I say something like this. But there is one thing about the kind of music we are talking about: It´s handmade, it's grounded, it´s real, and so are even the messages. Metal- and rock-music don't need superficiality, and I would go further and would say that the real music-craft in these scene is the antithesis to the stereotypes of superficiality. Nobody needs them. Go to a festival and watch the people hanging around: Wearing band-shirts, having fun, being nice, feeling the dirt. And, not to forget: A lot of "fans" are playing music, too. So, I think the relation to instruments is another big point. Maybe some feel close to the music, because they know they can play the tracks too, for example on guitar. It´s nothing like electronic music, which needs a big technical equipment and is therefore somehow an alienated experience for the listener.
JZ: This is interesting, as you are talking about technical developments and the change of mentality in consuming music. Do you see any relations?
Claus: Yes, of course. When I think about the uprising of electronic music in Germany and other countries, I have the feeling that it is deeply connected to the development of society. The jobs are more technical, the work is all in all alienating, you sometimes do not see the results of what you are doing each day, and maybe this is an interesting explanation for the success of this genre: The people listen to strokes and sounds that are familiar to their everyday life – even though so many things are intangible these days. So, yes, I would go further and would say, electronic music is a heritage of western-style industrialized countries.
JZ: So, would you see a different consumer attitude in other regions?
Claus: Yes, somehow. For example, I´m watching the Middle Eastern scene for a while, and I think the relation to metal- and rock-music is closer because people in times of breaks and changes and stuff feel the messages of rock music very clear. I mean, I know that this sounds somehow pathetic, but… when I remember the end of the big era of rock music in Germany, I would say it is deeply connected with the time of the end of the Berlin Wall. The Scorpions had their last big hit with "Wind of Change" these days. I mean, today, inside Germany the Scorpions are not that big of a deal, as they are in foreign countries.
And later, in the beginning of the 90s, we had this short and very successful snap-breathing of grunge. I don't want to say that our genre is dead, no. Our music will never die, and we still have some of the famous festivals. But, to be honest, we are in different times now.
JZ: So, whats different?
Claus: For example the festival-situation. Yes, we have the big festivals, we have Wacken, we have "Rock am Ring" and more stuff. But all in all, you see mostly the same bands every year, and it's hard to get a gig when you are not on the "hot" list or something else. We played in Wacken, we loved our gig in Wacken, we would like to play in Wacken again, but there was maybe one mistake I made, when I complained about bad organization on stage in front of the audience. I mean, I´m like that, I will say words like "unorganized assholes" when I feel like that, and maybe that was a mistake, but I will do it again because I´m a friend of clear words, and I would find it very sad, if something like this closes our door to Wacken for more time.
JZ: So, when you have a look on the scene now: Which acts do you like, and what inspires you?
Claus: Well, a lost of musicians inspire me. Currently I would say that I like the work of In Extremo very much. This is stuff I find touching, and I think their success will rise. But it´s not the kind the music we would play, because my main-mantra is: Do what you can, and stay in your house. Or, as we Germans say: "Cobbler, stick to your last".
JZ: Anything you'd like to add to JorZine's readers?
Claus: Yes, we would love to play some Middle East Shows as soon as possible, because it would be fine to get more contact to our fan base in this region!
Know more about BONFIRE:
facebook or Official website