Chain D.L.K.: Hi Stephan, how are you?
Apoptygma Berzerk: I’m very good, thanks.
Chain D.L.K.: First thing I have to say is that “You And Me Against the World” is not the classic Apoptygma Berzerk album. I personally like it much more than your previous releases–it may cause you to lose some old fans, yet conquer new ones. Can you explain us the reasons of so drastic a change of musical direction and how it came to be?
Apoptygma Berzerk: I think “You And Me Against the World” is classic APOP in many ways. It has typical APOP melodies, it is like other APOP albums, very original and is now causing a lot of commotion in the scene, heh-heh (not the first time, you know). It has the Apoptygma vibe, and is sounding like what we have sounded like “live” for many years. (You know, guitars, drums, and a more “rock” vibe to it.) The big difference is that it’s not a dance-floor oriented album, like the last 3 albums, and it has no futuristic vibe to it. The “modern” and digital sound is now gone, a more analog classic sound has taken over, both because of the choice to use vintage instruments, and also this time many more outboard devices have been used instead of plug-ins.
Chain D.L.K.: You’re among the fathers of this overcrowded EBM scene, how do you see it nowadays and what in your opinion has changed since the beginning?
Apoptygma Berzerk: Well, like in all other scenes and fashions, it’s a cycle…a circle, that goes around and around. First there are the basic bands creating the style (242, NEB etc.), then things develop for years and years. Then there is the new school (And One, Covenant, APOP, VNV etc.) taking the style in new directions…then people get bored with it and it goes back to the roots, Hocico, Spetsnaz etc. and the circle is closed. So it goes on and on like everything else in life.
This is also a reason why we decided to do something different sounding this time…. It’s NOT our job to continue doing EBM or future pop, that’s a job for the young people of the next new school. You have bands like AC/DC and Rolling Stones that never change, but APOP is not that kind of band. We are more like a Depeche Mode kind of band…changing all the time, doing new stuff every time we release an album.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us something about your composing process. Where do you start from, and where does your inspiration come from?
Apoptygma Berzerk: Lyrics-wise, inspiration comes mostly from chaos in my head, but also from personal experiences and even from movies…. The music comes from within, but of course I get inspiration from listening to other bands. It always starts with a melody, then the rest of the song is arranged, the vocals last.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you succeed in living off your music, or do you have a job too? And apart from music, which are your interests?
Apoptygma Berzerk: Yes, I’m very lucky…. I quit my day job in a record store back in 1994, since then I’ve been living from music. I managed to live from my hobby, so I’m very privileged. Other interests…I collect vintage synths and vintage guitars, I run a studio, I’m interested in religion and I collect movies.
Chain D.L.K.: Technology and music: for an electronic musician it’s a fundamental binomial; in any case do you prefer working with hardware synths or using software and plugins (or both)?
Apoptygma Berzerk: Before, I was always into new technology, I always used the newest and hippest stuff, both in soft and hardware. That has changed, though…. On the new album I have almost only used old vintage stuff. Many producers of today would probably have a good laugh if they saw my setup…. I haven’t changed anything on the computer since I did Welcome to Earth…. I haven’t even changed to OS X on my Mac. But I have invested a lot in hardware lately, I found out that having the “real” thing is 1,000 times better than the plug-in. But then again, that’s just my taste at the moment….
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s come to a very current theme: peer-to-peer, and all the file-sharing stuff. Do you think it’s really damaging music or maybe it’s a positive thing (people have the chance to discover more and more bands, maybe will also buy the CD or go to a live show…)?
Apoptygma Berzerk: Absolutely…CD sales all over the world have gone down. It’s very hard to make it these days. I’m very happy that APOP is not a new band today. Piracy has destroyed the possibility for smaller acts to survive on CD sales. But of course now it’s much easier to promote your band. Mp3s are great for promotion and to get other people across the globe interested in your music, but then again, you cant live from being “known”. You actually need some money to survive, you know.
I totally agree that a CD is WAY too expensive, but I hope that in the future people will start to pay for their downloads, and understand that without money the artists can’t do what they are supposed to do. I don’t give a shit about the record industry and all the labels. I’m thinking about the bands, and the people behind the music.
Chain D.L.K.: Your favorite bands of all time (apart from Kim Wilde)?
Apoptygma Berzerk: Too many to mention…. Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins, Kraftwerk, Pixies, Kent, New Order, Ramones, The Cure, Front 242,Velvet Underground, Duran Duran, O.M.D., AIR… all these bands have played a part in changing me into who I am.
Chain D.L.K.: Your meaning for the word ART…
Apoptygma Berzerk: Art is something divine and mystical, it’s very hard to explain. A creative force that is everlasting…that is why a good song written 50 years ago is still a good song today. That also goes for paintings or movies. It’s a universal way of connecting people, like a universal language, a communication tool, a way to communicate directly with people’s souls or subconciousness.
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks for your time, Stephan, is there any chance to see APB in action again here in Italy? (I still remember your last show in Rome five years ago!)
Apoptygma Berzerk: Thanks to you too! I hope so, Italy is a fantastic country that I like very much. I hope we will go there again soon.
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[interviewed by Mental Siege] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]