Journalists are often accused of exaggerating the advantages of a certain band or album because of knowing the musicians in person. That may indeed be the case quite often, but not because we want to flatter somebody, it’s just because your perception of music is involuntarily changed by getting to know the person who created this music. It was just like that with Tilo Wolff, the singer, songwriter and mastermind of Swiss gothic icon Lacrimosa – even though we were only offered a 10-minute conversation with the Maestro shortly before the band hit the stage of Moscow’s DK Gorbunova for the second time, the effect of meeting him in person and talking to him was immensely strong. You just cannot talk to Tilo and not be impressed by what he is saying and even more so by how it is being said. But let’s stop the praises here – read the interview and judge by yourselves…
My first question is, of course, about Moscow. You played your first concert here a year ago. How did you like the city and the show? I remember you said before leaving the stage that it was a very crazy concert…
TILO WOLFF: (laughs) First of all, I have to say it was really a great pleasure, because the audience was very warm-hearted, and they were welcoming us in a very intense way. During the whole concert I felt a very good atmosphere. And when I said “crazy”, it was because… I mean, now the doors have been open for about 10 minutes, and they are already screaming and shouting. I think it’s great, and not every country is like this.
Your latest album “Lichtgestalt” was devoted to love and its place in your life. But love is a topic that is often misused by artists and misunderstood by the audience. It’s been a year since the album was released – do you think the fans got the message of the album?
TILO WOLFF: It’s always hard to say. First of all, I don’t have the possibility to talk to each and everyone. Secondly, everybody has his own interpretation of something. I think it’s also good, and it’s important, because music is not like mathematics, where there is only one conclusion. Everybody actually should interpret the music and the lyrics in the way he wants to, get out of the music the feelings he wants to, he should get this structure through the heart of his own. I think an artist only can show a direction, but everybody who’s listening to the music or reading the book or whatever has to go this way by himself.
You used the lyrics from the Holy Bible in the last track on the album – “Hohelied Der Liebe”. What was the purpose of doing it? Do you believe that nobody can talk better about love than the Bible does?
TILO WOLFF: There are many reasons. First of all, I believe in God, and the Bible means a lot to me. And I thought: I’ve been writing many lyrics about love, and God is love, so why not take the words about love from his spirit, which are written in the Bible? Why not take what God himself says about love? And that was the reason why I thought: if I really wanna get to the point, I have to stand back and let God talk.
Is it possible to describe love in a few words or in a few sentences? Of course, you have a whole album about it, but if somebody asks you, “What is love?”, what will you say?
TILO WOLFF: Love is the most powerful force we have on this planet. Without love I think human beings won’t be able to survive.
Last year you released the “Lichtgestalten” EP, which you describe as an epilogue to the full-length album. Why did you decide to divide the material in two parts? Why not put these three extra tracks on the full-length CD?
TILO WOLFF: The album is actually one story, and you don’t necessarily need to hear the songs from the EP. But if you want to dig deeper, than you can get the EP, but you don’t need it to understand the theme. It’s like if you tell a story, at a certain point the curtain falls, and you have the possibility to open the curtain once again and look behind the scenes, so to say. I like the albums that are closed, so to say, I don’t like the albums with 15 songs and bonus tracks on top of them. In the end it’s just a collection of songs, not one piece of art.
The most surprising song on the EP is “Road To Pain”, which is the most aggressive Lacrimosa song ever. Is there any story behind this track? I mean, you very seldom write songs like this…
TILO WOLFF: Of course, there is a story behind every song, but I don’t talk about it. If I, for example, now explained why I wrote this song, then somebody would say, “Well, OK, I’ve been listening to this song and I had a different idea of what it’s about from my history and all the things I connect with it, and now the person who wrote this song says totally different things.” So I would destroy the imagination of his soul and his feelings. On the other hand, I don’t talk about it because my music and my lyrics are very personal. They always reflect my private life, and I don’t wanna talk about my private life, only in the lyrics.
In this song you ask the question, “Why does beauty lead to pain?” Do you personally have any answer for it?
TILO WOLFF: Well, if I had had an answer, I wouldn’t have asked the question. And it’s really like that – all the beauty leads to pain… Well, not all the beauty leads to pain, but pain only arises from beauty. I mean not only from the way the person looks, but also the beauty from the inside, the beauty of love, the beauty of pure feelings. All that actually might and very often does lead to pain.
The cover artwork for this EP was done by Joachim Luetke. How did you get to know him, and how does working with Joachim differ from working with your regular painter, Stelio Diamantopoulos?
TILO WOLFF: Stelio still paints our covers, nothing changed for the latest album. Joachim just made the booklet. And with the EP it’s the same as with singles – we always have different covers. Our albums always have painted covers, and it will always be like this, while singles or EPs may have photos or collages on the covers. I met Joachim through Mille from Kreator, who’s a good friend of mine. I think it was Mille who suggested Joachim, and Joachim did quite a lot of work for the EP and for the “Muzikkurzfilme” DVD.
How do you pick up members of your live band? As far as I understand, their job is very difficult, because in the studio you can choose a jazz drummer for a jazz song and a metal drummer for a metal song, but live it has to be the same person…
TILO WOLFF: If you go on stage with Lacrimosa, you have to be a very good musician, otherwise it doesn’t work. I choose the musicians depending on how flexible they are. If they can understand the music, and if they are good musicians, they can grow into what they should play. On the other hand, we of course sometimes change parts. We play “Copycat” a little differently now than we did with the drummer we had before. It’s a combination of changing the arrangements a little bit, and having the musicians which are very good in their technique and their understanding, so that they can do everything. (laughs)
What are the human qualities that you value the most in the people around you?
TILO WOLFF: Loyalty and honesty. It’s very important for me that a person must be honest. I can’t have any respect and I can’t even consider a person as beautiful or as someone with whom I would like to spend time if I know this person is lying, if he’s not honest to himself and to his opposite, in this case me. So honesty and loyalty are the most important things.
You say you are always satisfied with the albums you release. But is there anything that you still want to improve on the next CD?
TILO WOLFF: Not really. My aim is always to get the straightest contact between my feelings and the music, to transport the feelings of my heart and my soul into the music. I don’t have an aim to do the best album of all times or whatever, I just wanna have the album in my hands, listen to it and be able to fall into this music and enjoy it. In that sense I’m a bit egoistic, I do music firstly for myself.
June, 09, 2006, Darkside.ru, Natalie “Lynx” Khorina
This page is also available in: Russian