The morning after… After the release of Lacrimosa ’s “Fassade” album we felt it was time to have a chat with the band. Singer Tilo Wolff, had quite a story to tell as you can read below. About the album, our current day society and finally even about Amsterdam… We’ve got a review on “Fassade” too of course. Check out the review section for that one!
2001 must be quite a busy year for you?
TILO WOLFF: Mmmm, you can say so, yeah!
A lot of recording?
TILO WOLFF: Yeah, a lot of recording, a lot of interviews. Then after the interviews we’re going to rehearse for the tour and then we are going to play until Christmas. Well, then the year is over so everything this year is focused on the album.
Speaking of the album, I couldn’t find any lyrics in the promo CD. Could you tell us something about the songs that are on it? I speak German a little bit, but I’m not a walking dictionary.
TILO WOLFF: Sure, of course! First of all, there are the three parts of ‘Fassade’ in which I give my personal view on modern society and how I feel that society is getting more and more superficial and shallow. How the packaging and the facade that people show is getting more important than who they really are inside.
When you watch the media and how we are influenced, how information strikes us. It’s a very narrow focus and opinion forming, and yet it’s so much that you can’t dig deeper if there is something interesting. For example, because it’s better to sell news from Hollywood stars, than to sell what the government has done today. That’s actually upside down, because it’s far more important to know what the government did than that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman split up.
And indeed I think the packaging is getting more and more important. Of course it’s nice to have sensational news and to be entertained but that shouldn’t be all. There should be more behind it. That makes me very sad and on the other hand very angry and aggressive to see how the people only consume. They don’t get up from their big fat asses, so to say.
It’s like putting a tube in their mouth and the food that goes through it is already chewed and small. They don’t have to do anything anymore. They don’t have to think. They don’t even have to think on what to say. Everything is done for them. They read all the magazines so they know what to wear. They turn on the radio as to know what to listen to and so on. It really makes me sad. Even nowadays every form of art has got something commercial like it needs to be consumed.
Take a look at all the boy groups and all those kind of things. It’s really amazing how easily it’s done. And the people are actually happy with it. They don’t want to listen to music where they might have to grow into and that makes me really angry.
And then there are the other songs like ‘Senses’ and ‘Stumme Worte’ where I or Anne sing about a romantic point of view, romantic ideas. Some personal and pure aspects of our inner life. The songs where we try to put a light in those dark corners.
You just mentioned ‘Senses’. It’s the only song Anne wrote and also the only one in English. A coincidence?
TILO WOLFF: It’s because Anne is originally from Finland. She is used to writing her lyrics in English. It’s the same as I always write mine in German. I often asked her to write in Finnish, but although it’s her native tongue, she feels more comfortable explaining her emotions in English since she is used to it. I seldom write in English, like ‘Copycat’ in 1995. There were feelings that I couldn’t express in the German language because it would sound really stupid.
But didn’t she write a song in Finnish, ‘Vankina’, on the single “Der morgen danach”?
TILO WOLFF: After many years of me beating her and kicking her, she finally did it. But normally she writes her own songs in English. In this case, the guitar player and I already wrote the song. I didn’t want to sing the song, so I asked her if she would sing it. And since it wasn’t a song she wrote, she should seize the chance and write a song in Finnish. And that was the only way to get her to sing in Finnish.
And “Vankina” isn’t the only song on the single that doesn’t appear on this album. Any particular reason for that?
TILO WOLFF: You see, the song ‘Nichts bewegt sich’ is a real personal one. It describes the general feelings I had when I wrote the album “Fassade”. The single is mostly bought by our hardcore fans and I only wanted to share this very personal song with them. On the other hand, I wanted to show these people the emotions I’ve felt when writing the album, so that they were already one step closer to the actual album.
They had to wait a long time for this album to be released. Can the single be seen as something for the fans to ‘keep them quiet’?
TILO WOLFF: Well, not to keep them quiet, but to show them part of the next album “Fassade”. When you hear it for the first time, it may be kind of hard to enjoy at first. And I wanted to show them in what kind of emotion I was stuck in so that they can understand the album better.
About ‘Der Morgen danach’. Does it deal with the subject of a stalking fan perhaps?
TILO WOLFF: It’s actually the continuation of the last song on “Elodia” the previous album. It was entitled ‘Am ende stehen wir zwei’, which means ‘At the end there’s the both of us’. In it, I describe the hope to finally meet again and to come together in a better world. And ‘Der Morgen danach’ represents the feeling of trying to get contact again, to make the hope I sang about before possible. The song means a lot to me even though a lot of people tell me they like the album and like the song, but never would have chosen it to be released as a single. For me it means a lot and especially the second version which is not on the album, but just on the single. This song is like the bridge between the previous album and “Fassade” and that’s music wise interesting for me. It’s the first song I wrote that rimes. It’s so pure of emotions and feelings that remind of older songs like ‘Deine Nähe’ from the “Stille” album.
Something completely different here. One of the first things that I noticed when listening the promo CD is the strange way some of the songs are faded out on what seem to be pretty important parts. Any reason for that?
TILO WOLFF: It happens so often that our promotional CD’s were downloadable on the Internet shortly after we send them. I didn’t want that so I wanted to fade out the songs at particular moments. Those moments are really important so people realize that the version on the Internet isn’t the entire album; the songs aren’t complete.
After doing a huge project with amongst other the London Symphony Orchestra; isn’t recording with the regular band kind of an anticlimax?
TILO WOLFF: Not really, because we’re always working with orchestras and choirs. It’s always interesting to work with different people and especially orchestras. This time we chose to work with the Deutsches Zimmerorkeste Babelsberg, which is one of the oldest still existing movie orchestras in the world. It’s always very interesting to work with those people and to get them in the mood to do something different than what they’re used to.
Motivating them and trying to get reaction. Some people claim this album is the hardest we did, whereas other people say it’s the most classical album we did so far. But to me, “Fassade” is a perfect combination between those two. On one hand the band was very important on the album, even more than on our last album. On the other hand, if you would remove the orchestra, the album wouldn’t work anymore. At least the way we recorded it.
On tour, I think it’s very important to look at the songs differently, remove the orchestral sounds and play them in a more rock-oriented way with the ability to improvise on stage. To get the feelings out we feel suitable when standing in front of a particular audience.
Quite interesting that you choose that approach to play orchestral music live on stage. A band like Therion is playing on stage accompanied by a small orchestra and choir. You never considered to do this in a live show?
TILO WOLFF: Well, if I write something more like a musical someday in which everything has to be exactly like on the album. Then I would do it perhaps. As long as it’s still a rock-album for me with pure and intense emotions, I want to cooperate with the audience to build up the concert together. And that would be impossible if there’s a symphony orchestra consisting of seventy people trying to improvise. That would turn into a total chaos.
You’ve been with the band for quite some time now. Do you still get nervous before a live concert after all this time?
TILO WOLFF: Yes. I’m always nervous before I go on stage and I think it’s good. I never know what to expect since every evening is different for me. I always join in on the feelings of the audience so I never know in advance how a concert will turn out. Aside from that I need to be close to my emotions on stage so I’m very vulnerable and open. This in turn means I can be hurt very easily, so therefore I’m always pretty nervous before a show. But when I hear the intro, sing the first couple of lines and take a look at the audience, mostly I get this beautiful feeling as if I’m carried by the audience.
Some bands have this ritual before going on stage. How about you?
TILO WOLFF: I also have a ritual. I always pray before I go on stage since I’m a very religious person. So when the intro is playing I always take some time backstage to pray.
Like I said earlier, you’ve been in the scene for quite some time. What’s your opinion on the way Gothic and Gothic Metal has evolved since the early nineties?
TILO WOLFF: I’m very happy to see both the Gothic and the Metal scene come more closely together and that they were able to get new influences. I can remember asking the DJ’s in Gothic discos to play for instance Guns ‘n’ Roses or music from some death-metalband. They reacted like: “What the f*ck do you want here”. Nowadays this is much more possible. That’s really what I like; both scenes are more open to each other. I never really saw a gap between the two.
Of course a band like Joy Division is a bit different from Metallica, but there are close connections to for instance a death metal band. To point out that fans from both the scenes can be mixed in a concert hall we toured with bands like Sentenced and the Gathering in 1996 and it was nice to see the metalfans headbanging and the Gothic fans standing and listening. It worked out!
There was actually one girl that for me became the image of the tour. She obviously came for Lacrimosa, because she looked like a Goth with her make-up and hairdo. But she was wearing a Sentenced T-shirt. I really thought it was a perfect merging of the two scenes.
What do you think of the Goth/Gothic-metal from abroad? Are there any countries in particular that you feel are leading the scene?
TILO WOLFF: I don’t know. I mean, a lot of bands originate from Scandinavia nowadays. There are some bands that I like, but then again there are bands that play nearly the same music as those bands. That I can’t stand. The difference between those bands? Well, in the first case I feel that they are playing with their pure and honest emotions. The other bands are just jumping on the train to hitch a ride. There are just a few Gothic metal bands nowadays that I really like.
TILO WOLFF: Well, there’s this one band which is still quite unknown. I don’t think they’ve got a record deal right at the moment, but they’re called “Near Dark”. They’re really playing great music that sounds like a mix between Paradise Lost and the Fields of the Nephillim. More examples are Lacuna Coil, To Die For and Entwine.
Well, we’ve talked about touring already. I assume you’re touring next. What surprised me is that you were not on the list of any of the great Gothic festivals this summer like Eurorock or M’era Luna.
TILO WOLFF: There’s a particular reason for that. First of all, I wanted to present this new album to the fans who come to the club-gigs. I first want to go on club-tour and then next year we will play on the festivals. We’ve got a great fan base and I want to share this new album with them first before I go out and play it before an audience filled with people who were not truthfully supporting us throughout the years. I mean what it all comes down to, a band is made by their fans.
Without our audience we wouldn’t be able to record with an orchestra, a choir or even record an album at all. You always need a huge fan base. We really have got a fantastic fan base because we did so many different things throughout our career. Sometimes our fans were shocked, for instance with the release of an album like “Inferno”, which generated a lot of “you can’t do that! That’s Metal! It’s impossible!” reactions from our Gothic fans.
Still, they stayed true to us because they know that whatever we do, it’s pure and honest. They grew into it, and realized that even though they may not like this album, we remained pure and honest and some day there would again be a record that they would like.
And that’s great! Lacrimosa can be very, very thankful because there aren’t many bands out there with a great fan base comparable to ours. Therefore I see it as a gift and I’m really thankful for it. I hope that the fans, who already spend the first 10 years with us, will join us for the next ten years.
This great fan base you’re talking about. Is it solely concentrated in Germany or has your popularity also risen in the rest of Europe?
TILO WOLFF: It’s very funny because for example in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal it’s very big. On the other hand in England and France there’s nearly nothing. And our second biggest fan base (aside from Germany) is located in South and Middle America in countries like Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. It’s really weird because we mostly sing in German. But it’s great to have a large fan base over there.
Perhaps an indication that the strength of your music isn’t just in the lyrics?
TILO WOLFF: Yeah sometimes people come up to me and tell me that they don’t need to understand the lyrics because there’s so much emotion in the music that they understand what I’m singing about without understanding the lyrics.
I assume you’ve got quite a busy schedule these days with all these interviews?
TILO WOLFF: For today you’re the last, but it’s been quite busy, yes, these past two weeks. But it’s always fun, I think. Okay, there are always interviews where you think “O my God, these questions are boring”. Like the other day somebody asked me what I’m reading on the toilet, you know. It’s unbelievable…
Since I’m the last for tonight, do you have any last remarks for our readers?
TILO WOLFF: Yes. I’m very sad that up ‘til now we never ever played in the Netherlands. I would really like to play there one day. We tried to make it possible this tour, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. I want to say greetings to a very close friend of mine, who played the guitar on the “Inferno” album, Jan Yrlund. He’s from Finland, but he lives in Amsterdam. He also plays in Dance Macabre and in Ancient Rites. So if you read this interview, many greetings to you, “Yrkki”!
I’m getting back to you on one thing; you said that you’re not doing a gig in Holland this tour? On your website (www.lacrimosa.com), I read that you were playing a gig in Utrecht. Am I wrong here?
TILO WOLFF: Well, there’s something planned, but it seems as though it’s not turning out to be a gig. It’s not 100% cancelled yet so we’re still trying hard to make it happen. But the way things are looking now; it won’t happen. And that would be really sad, because it was already during the last tour I wanted to play in the Netherlands. We never had the chance back then. We did go there for two days to meet our friend, Jan. We’ve been seeing Amsterdam and I was very impressed by the city. It has an atmosphere as cities like Venice and Paris. I felt that the underground scene, comparing it to German cities, in Amsterdam was much larger. There were a lot of record stores, art stores and clothing stores. It really was interesting to see such a huge city with a heart of people that are absolutely not mainstream. Something similar is not found in German or Swiss cities.
TILO WOLFF: No, when you take a big German city like Hamburg for instance. It’s a beautiful city and I like it a lot. It’s my favourite German city. But you don’t have such an inspiring atmosphere there. It’s a big city and there’s a lot going on but it seems there are not so many alternative people and not so many alternative shops. The entire atmosphere is different. It’s not like you go to a pub in the afternoon to meet some friends. There’s just work and work and in the evening you visit some parties after which you go to sleep to wake up in the morning to work once again. It’s that different atmosphere that I liked in the one city I visited in the Netherlands. I liked it a lot…
Rockezine , 02/2001, Antoine Mahler
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