Newcomer acts come and go, but this German-based duo can look back on several self-released CDR’s and strong fan base thanks to uncountable live performances. Recently signed to Scanner, part of the German Dark Dimensions label group, they now like to present with “Neophyte” their official debut. Amnistia plays a sort of old-school EBM/Electro music which takes its influences out of the classic Canadian acts like FLA, Numb or Skinny Puppy. This interview introduces this duo…
Chain D.L.K.: Greetings, first some words to you. Could you please introduce you and your band and fill in any biographically details of Amnistia?
Amnistia: Someday in fall of 2003 we were bored by many releases of the ‘scene’ in the past, especially from the last couples of years. And we knew how the music would not sound like if we had our own band. So we decided to walk the talk and followed the wish to make our own music – and founded Amnistia. The first months were marked by “try and error” with cheap equipment. In spring 2004 our first real songs (“Red Coloured Emotions”and “Fear” to name them) aroused and we started to consider that our hobby could yield fruit. Our name means amnesty in many languages, so for us it has a special meaning because the project Amnistia is our amnesty from a crippling inactivity. We are two guys behind Amnistia: Stefan, 29 years old (programming, machines, arrangements, producing and lyrics) and Tino (lyrics, vox and arrangements), 32 years old. Our “first contact” was at a party of a friend – the rest is history…
Chain D.L.K.: Your music output rather represents the veteran style of EBM and Dark Electro, here and there influenced by the works of FLA and bands out of the early 90ies. Tell us a bit about your special dedication to the classic themes and your aversion against the current styles of Harsh EBM/Hellektro. Is it important for you to point out such differences? Do you see a promising evolution that old-school EBM is regaining ground and acceptance?
Amnistia: (Tino): Well, I like FLA and other “old” heroes from overseas very much, but I am more a child of the European electronic underground music. In the late 80ies and the early 90ies it was called Techno. But I think the Europeans called every kind of music without guitars Techno like the Americans do with many styles Industrial. My first 2 CD’s were “Science For The Satanic Citizen” from Leaether Strip and “States” from The Klinik. And my taste in music hasn’t changed that much since those days. In this case I am the European factor in Amnistia, it means I like straight structures and catchy melodies – but all in a very dark mood. The last point is the most important thing for me, because this is what makes the difference between the so-called “Hellektro” and our music. We don’t use dance sounds, Techno-drums or the legendary “Suicide-Commando-snare” like manyHellektro-acts do. And yes, it’s very important for me to point this out, because I want to make music which has its own style. The listener should know that a track is an Amnistia-track. Personally I don’t think that old-school EBM is regaining ground, but I think it was a good time to release “Neophyte” because at the moment there are not many bands that produce a sound contrary to the Hellektro-rush.
(Stefan): So I am the guy who loves more the Canadian/North-American old-school bands like FLA, Puppy, Mentallo and others. But for me, I enjoy the old Leæther Strip and The Klinik tracks, too. And of course, in our music you can find those styles and all the other music we like (if you’re searching for it) but the music flows like it flows. This means, that I don’t start a song and think “let’s copy a FLA-track”. Mostly I start withdrums and bass-lines, add strings, choirs or leads, some samples and noises and the track grows from my inner side. There is no pressure behind the songs, the sounds and the ideas. We know how we don’t want to sound and we hear when a sound doesn’t work within the arrangement, but we’re not going to look for “the perfect old-school song”, we just create songs with an old-school background and try to combine it with new sounds that fitour taste. And be sure, personally we are not trapped in the old-school-style; we hear a lot of music that wouldn’t fit your expectation.
Chain D.L.K.: With “Neophyte” you’ve recently released your official debut CD. Please tell us a bit about your hunt for the right label, since I’ve seen on your website several own released CDR’s. What are the advantages to deal with Scanner out of the Dark Dimension label group?
Amnistia: It’s quiet funny to answer a question about a “label-hunt” because there was no hunt. We started making music for our own and we didn’t think that our music could reach so much people. So we made the first CDR with an edition of 34 copies. It was sold out within 90 minutes after a gig in our hometown Leipzig. After that, we made a 2nd CDR, strictly limited again, because we thought this won’t happen again. When we saw that this CDR was sold out within a very short time too, we decided to contact labels, but we wanted to do this when we already had perfect demos which we hadn’t at that time. So the first labels contacted us. MySpace and the friendship to other musicians and DJs that played songs of us and recommended us were maybe the reasons to get signed. We decided to sign at Scanner because we had the best feeling with this label. We know it isn’t a huge label, but we like Frank as a person and we are pleased with his work. For the moment it was the right decision.
Chain D.L.K.: Words and music – music and words. On your website you’re pointing out the importance of the combination between both terms. Since so many acts fall especially with the lyrical content into scene-related clichés, I like to ask you about your manifesto. What makes the lyrical work of Amnistia that special and where do you get your inspiration from?
Amnistia: (Tino): Naturally, as the singer of Amnistia, I’m in charge of most of the lyrics. Are Amnistia-lyrics special? I don’t know because I don’t deal with subjects I can’t handle. Lyrics are important for our work because we don’t want to deal with clichés. That means I write lyrics with a story – maybe I create a protagonist who is embodied within the plot. I think most of the listeners don’t really want to hear that somebody rapes or fucks something or somebody especially not on 12 tracks in a row. It wouldn’t be a pleasure for me to hear such a CD and it wouldn’t be my style anyway because that’s not me. My lyrics are about humans and all their ordinary wishes, hopes, fears and of course their dark sides – normal things almost everyone felt in his life. Maybe this makes the lyrics special today. And the lyrics should always work with the music, so let’s take “Tempted”, which you could expect to be a nice pop-song with piano, strings and choirs. But, if I would start to sing about love, butterflies, blossoms and something else in a song like that, this would not be an Amnistia-song, so I wrote a little story about physical love and we garnished it with some nasty samples that make that song more special.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve decided to print your lyrics into your CD booklet. Your art as well as some of your lyrics (“G.S.W./Rage”, “Red Coloured Emotions”) express the use of guns as being the solution for hatred feelings. I guess you aren’t weapon addicts, but could you please point out your “dedication” on this?
Amnistia: (Tino): We both hate violence, no matter if it’s physical or mental, we don’t like violence! But for me, it’s important to use words in a drastically way because we want to show that we are not living in Disneyland. Wherever you go, you can see violence (physical or mental), rat races and competitions in our daily life and I think most of the people have to deal with that every day and stopped to fight. “G.S.W./Rage” is inspired by the film “Payback”. My intention was to point out that I can understand that a man/woman can do awful things when she/he is not getting justice in a traditional way. I don’t like this idea but I know that people can do this – and that’s all it is about. “Red Coloured Emotions” is also a song about an extreme character. When we wrote thelyrics we thought about what a war correspondent might feel and think when he/she is doing his/her job. Of course it is a necessary job, but we don’t think that it is necessary in the way the media shows it to us. That means war should never be a part of entertainment because for most of the people world-wide TV spreads opinions and many people believe what they see in the news without thinking about it. “Red ColouredEmotions” is an appeal to think and an anti-war-song.
(Stefan): And it was quite the thing that the sleeve-designer of “Neophyte” (well known as UserDX) suggested the cover with the gun instead of the head of the shown “person”. I suggest after reading the lyrics he decided to do so. And we just liked the artwork and took it.
Chain D.L.K.: Daniel Myer of haujobb. did some production and mixing on two of your tracks. How did this co-operation come along? What advantages can a young and rather unknown band win out of such collaboration?
Amnistia: (Stefan): Daniel is a friend and a supporter of Amnistia. At the beginning of our “music-career” we had a deadline for a track on a compilation and we tried to mix the song in the studio of another musician-friend. We had just one day and that studio worked with Logic, but we arrange with Cubase. At the end of the day we had a terrible sounding mix of the song and we called Daniel (he lives in the same town with us and we had anodding acquaintance with him) and asked him to help us. So Daniel mixed 2 songs with us and I learned a lot about sounds, monitoring (after our first day we purchased our active monitors), panning, EQ-ing, mixing and vocals. For all of this we have to thank Daniel, cause “Neophyte” wouldn’t sound like it sounds, if Daniel hadn’t taught me so much. This was in summer 2005. All the other songs on “Neophyte” were ready arranged this time, but it lasted over 1,5 years to complete the mixing, because we wanted to learn the mixing-process on our own and finished “Neophyte” in our home studio. So “Neophyte” is a child of the year 2007 and not 2006.
Chain D.L.K.: Lets talk about the technical side of producing music generally. Which kind of synthesizers do you prefer, hardware or software-based? Where do you see the pro’s and con’s on both kinds?
Amnistia: (Stefan): We have both hard- and software, but we are members of the software-generation. We started making music in 2003, when the software-revolution was successful and we don’t like this midi-connection-lottery with (older) hardware. Plug-Ins are integrated in the host (for us Cubase 4), you can record all midi signals comfortable in the host, you have no latency and you can save your settings to the song-folder and so on. Sure, we like to work on hardware but in the studio software works better for us.
Chain D.L.K.: No more pro- or con-MP3-debate and digital downloads, but it is a fact, that the situation for all bands as well as labels seems to be quite unclear. Nobody is currently able to say, in which kind, art and format this scene will continue. What do you expect from the future regarding coming formats, labels and communities to release and present your music?
Amnistia: (Tino): I love physical copies so I personally will never pay for audio-files. Unfortunately the labels in the underground have to think about a release on CD or vinyl because they can’t be sure that the sales will be cost-covering, because of the huge piracy in the www. I would be very, very disappointed if the future would bring download-only-releases.
(Stefan): I have no idea where the journey goes to, but I am pretty sure, that the quality of the music, that finds its way to the market, will decrease. We do music for fun, it is our hobby and we don’t need to earn much money, because we both have a good paid job and the money we earn “just” finances our studio. But there are so much professional musicians, who’ve decided to live from their music and the ones who aren’t able to manage this have become more and more. Some had to start working on a “normal” job and I’m sure we will miss their releases. And there’s our label, that invests money to release our recordings and this can cause a loss. I can’t say how long we will produce music. For the moment it fills our quitting time and we have fun, but there’s a lot ofwork behind it and people who are stealing music should know that.
Chain D.L.K.: How is it with live gigs? Your tracks should work well to animate the masses, so what can we expect? Any touring plans, or dates at Electric Tremor events you can already confirm?
Amnistia: An Amnistia-show is rougher than on CD. The vocals aren’t distorted so much like on CD and with Jan we have a third guy on stage who produces noises and effects on the vocals. Our shows are very energetic. There are no touring plans because we are nobodies, beginners and we have to grow for a tour. But we play live as often as we can. At the moment we have 2 confirmed dates in September 2007 (one at an Electric Tremorfest). For 2008 we have a couple of offers for gigs. So we are looking forward to that.
Chain D.L.K.: What about your daily life besides being a musician? Please fill in details about your relations, hobbies, and further things of interest.
Amnistia: (Tino): I have a bureau job, so the band is good for my balance. I have a girlfriend which I love very, very much. Music is my hobby, I love going to concerts – since 1990 I saw about 900 artists on stage, so you can meet me at festivals or concerts all over Germany.
(Stefan): Same for me, I have a filling job in a bank; I love making music and hanging up with friends and I love my girlfriend, of course. I go to selected concerts and like to play wherever we’re called to and I love to travel around the world. And of course, I really love to discuss about music, so say “hi” if you meet me.
Chain D.L.K.: Please let us know about your upcoming plans, some remix works or a new release you like to confirm here?
Amnistia: For the moment we are working on our second full-length album. Most of the songs are ready arranged, we plan just one or two additional songs for the next release. So we’re going to start the vocal recordings and the mixing soon. I think in the first half of 2008 you can bargain for a new Amnistia record. It will be a bit more noisy and melodic, but still Amnistia. We did recently a remix for the title-song of Painbastard’s new album “Borderline”, which will appear on it. We’ve installed our sound to that songand Alex enjoyed it very much. So we are looking forward to get reactions of listeners and the press…
Chain D.L.K.: Some final words to our readers to conclude this interview?
Amnistia: Thanks for asking, reading and listening. To all of you out there: If you like our work, please buy a CD and tell your friends, DJs and local bookers about us.
Visit Amnistia on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]