Recently signed to the rising Canadian label Artoffact and Endless-Recordsfor Europe, the well-known German act Steril has made a comeback earlierthis year with the release of a “best of…” album called “400 Years OfElectronic Music”. They also have released a completely new studio albumcalled “Realism”, which surprises the listnener of being moreretro-oriented than expected. Steril picked up the musical line betweentheir first both CD’s “Transmission Pervous” and “Egoism”, bothoriginally released on the long out of business label Off Beat, and theysurprise with a hard pounding EBM/Electro/Crossover album – simply thatstyle which they are best at. Check out this new interview with frontman and vocalist Mähne Meenen and take part on the views of one of themost experienced and purest veteran acts, the German scene has to offer…
Chain D.L.K.: Greetings, back to the scene with your new album”Realism”, but our readers surely would like to know at first, why sucha long time out of musically activities? What has happened after yourlast studio work “Purification”?
Steril: For fans of Steril it seems like a long time without any output.But we’ve been always working on the tracks of the latest album. It tooka while before we decided to write a more electronic styled albumbecause we observed the electro scene for years and the changes of whatwe know as EBM are very unsatisfying. Besides we have written a fewremixes for Ayria, Regenerator, Diskonnekted and other bands in additionto tracks that I wrote for the side project Cycletribe.
Chain D.L.K.: The signing with the Canadian label Artoffact seems to beanother strange fact. How did this happen and what expectations do youhave on this contract especially for the North American market? How doesit go with the German Endless Records, which has licensed “Realism” forthe European market?
Steril: It’s really not that strange. Axel and I have gone to a concertof Psyche and after the show we’ve met Darren Huss for a drink. Darrentold us about Artoffact and that he’s very satisfied with this label.After a few drinks more we could convince him of doing us the favour toget in contact with AOF. It seemed they knew our name and they liked usfor years. So we started going on together. Their connections to EndlessRecords and their relations to the European market existed before wesigned at AOF.
Chain D.L.K.: A question to some past things back to that time after therelease of “Venus Fly Trap” on Off Beat. Your cooperation with thislabel has ended after this release. Why did it end and why did you nevergot picked up by Stefan Herwig again for Dependent?
Steril: It was the most confusing time ever since the firm was founded.That wasn’t only Stefan Herwigs fault. Off Beat was part of a huge mediacompany and Stefan had always major qualities but he unfortunately wasnot the supervisor. We also had different ideas of the cooperation andso we got cross, they got cross… Today we can talk to each other likefriends and we are thankful for what he has done for us but a newcooperation would have an unpleasant taste because we have gone throughthat.
Chain D.L.K.: Some words to your “Best of…” compilation “400 Years OfElectronic Music”. I think you can be proud to get the chance to releasea kind of compilation like this. But why doesn’t it feature with the oneexception “No Remission” more tracks out of your first phase of”Transmission Pervous”?
Steril: Jacek K., the head of AOF suggested us to release a type of”best of” album. The main reason for that was giving all listeners thechance to fill the gap between the “Egoism” album and “Realism”. So wecould understand what he intended to do. We also let him decide whichtracks are on “400 Years…”, because we were a little reserved relatingto the preferences of the Canadian and American listeners.
Chain D.L.K.: In the past you’ve confused the listeners and the presswith some unexpected changes of your music style. Now with “Realism”you return to that Electro/EBM/Crossover style which made you famous.And we all get older, wiser and more experienced. Can we say that Sterilfinally have found their one and unique style?
Steril: After several recordings and the running ‘observation’ of theelectronic scene we decide to write an “EBM” record which should breakopen the strange development of this heroic music style. We have beeninvolved in the EBM scene for years and so we start to built up aconnection to “Egoism”, our personally great time album. “Realism” makesit plain to put the music style on its original way, that has beenoverproduced for years to a smaller and smaller becoming focus. Is itrealistic to release an EBM CD in the current century? Yes, if we couldpresent a big wealth of ideas with the modern power of productions tothe listeners. Thus we also laid out the cover. The model Anna Leena isa pretty young woman. Why should we transform her body into a photo shophybrid woman without pores like they show us in every MTV clip? We showher as natural as she looks. What we wanted to do is real ElectronicBody Music. As we decided how “Realism” had to sound conceptual, wetried to complete the album systematically. We worked fanatical to raisethe sound of the tracks to its limit. To reach the listeners with themessage “this is EBM 2006” we simply had to walk along with an excellentsound because they demands has risen about the years, too. We want topay tribute to the today’s genre and we try to couple it withinnovations to breathe life into EBM again. This is the order – and wegive everything to realize it.
Chain D.L.K.: After being more than 15 years active asmusicians and with the amount of experience, would you please like toadd some comments on the current Electro/Industrial scene? Althoughgetting older you are still involved and a part of it, so what haschanged positively, what has changed negative in your eyes?
Steril: The topical representatives of the scene were a reason more forus to reform EBM. Many Bands do a running reproduction of a highly‘raised’ electronic music breed without edges that finally bubbles alongwithout charisma. I believe some musicians just believe, they are doingEBM – without a suspicion that they running after the end product ofthis music style which deals only a little with EBM. It is not enough tocouple fatter and louder beats with still more banging synthlines, thisis only one of thousand facets of this music. Proceeding from the lowprize compilation “This is EBM” they should sometimes think about bandslike Click Click, Cassandra Complex, Borghesia, etc. There is nodistortion and no dull beat. On the other hand there is of course SkinnyPuppy etc. However, that’s it – the mixture and this special wealth ofvariations of the 80’s and 90’s that let felt the listeners like beingAlice in Wonderland – until everything leads to the current definitionof EBM. Changing this back is what we attempt to do. You can listen to90% of ancient tracks at every standard “black” party. Because the newstuff maybe doesn’t rock!
Chain D.L.K.: How is it with live gigs? I think especially the newtracks should work well to animate the masses, so what do you expect?Any touring plans you can already confirm?
Steril: We have just some dates to announce. 4th November in Essen atZeche Carl and 5th January in Leipzig at Planet Myer Day Moritzbastei.
Chain D.L.K.: Can we say, that both tracks “Realism” and “Statik” are abit dedicated to the stagnancy of the Electro/Industrial since years?Why the decision to sing German besides English lyrics on this both tracks?
Steril: Yes. It is the verbal challenge to the stagnancy in electronicmusic. We decided to split into both languages because we tried out newways of getting more power to the vocals. I recognized over all theyears of singing that English is the best way to get the bad grooves andto use the voice as an instrument like drums because it’s a highenergetic language while the German language is best for pointing harshslogans. It was extremely efficient to put the best of both languagestogether.
Chain D.L.K.: Your daily life besides being musicians. Please fill indetails, relations, hobbies, further interests.
Steril: Yes, we have.
Chain D.L.K.: Please let us know about your upcoming plans, some newreleases you like to confirm here?
Steril: We expand our online-portal at www.myspace.com/sterilmusic.There will appear a lot of new stuff even for a totally new album thatwe write in the moment. We set an exclusive song ‘Agitator Inside’ forfree download there and many other tracks will follow.
Chain D.L.K.: Some final words to our readers to conclude this interview?
Steril: At your instance – I am my biggest fan
Visit Steril on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]