Chain D.L.K.: Hi there. First of all, how are you? Hope I haven’t disturbed… What were you doing before answering?
The House Of Usher: Georg: Well, really fine. Last week we did a concert in Dortmund and now we’re all heading towards our summer holidays. Besides just that, we’re all involved in our day-jobs. In my case I work as an editor of a German audio recording magazine.
Jörg: It seems that I will not have any holidays this year, neither at my job nor from the band, since I am working on the “Necrologio” DVD which is planned to be released in October/November this year. There’s a lot of work to be done.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever felt angst and if so why?
The House Of Usher: Georg: Yes, of course! I think it would take a little bit too long to explain in which situations I’m full of anxiety. So let me give you a more general answer: in my opinion fear is a physical and psychological reaction in an uncertain situation, warning you that there is danger that might threaten your life. It’s an old instinctive reaction, still preserved. Nowadays those “dangerous situations” are not as risky as in ancient times, but the reflex still exists. Mostly fear comes up, when you are confronted with a situation and you are not allowed to predict what will happen. That’s it.
Chain D.L.K.: I think we can all agree when people says that too many records are filed under “gothic rock” even if they’re really something else. What’s your definition of this peculiar music style?
The House Of Usher: Georg: There are several aspects to this discussion. One fact is the historical development. Not long ago, this kind of music was subsumed under the “New Wave” label. Then there was this gothic-notion and I don’t know who came up with it first. In the meantime several other musical facets were added under the gothic umbrella. Then, there is also, let’s say a philosophical or maybe life-style discussion connected to gothic. But first let’s just concentrate on musical aspects. I’m a child of the eighties. And for that reason I was musically socialised by New Wave and Punk. This era is my musical canvas, and I’m still appreciating all the new bands and new styles coming up in gothic. So for that reason, I cannot connect with bands that have a metal background. There is also a lot of crap out there trying to conjoin heavy distorted guitars with electronic dancefloor/techno elements, leaving behind the melancholic impetus of gothic and trying to make it much more mainstream-oriented instead of enriching the gothic scene. Yet these bands still are labelled as gothic because of their fashion-style.
Jörg: That’s right! But we should make a difference between gothic and gothic rock. I mean… just listen to The Chameleons, The Mission, The Cult, The Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and so on, and then tell me if there is any relationship between them and bands like Unheilig, L’Ame Immortelle or Rammstein. I’m missing the wonderful guitars, the atmosphere, the feeling. Surely we can say there is a changing paradigm, and probably in a few years people will say that gothic is something completely different. But I cannot accept if someone says that those bands are playing gothic rock…
Chain D.L.K.: Even if “Angst” is made up of different tracks, it seems it’s a sort of a narration, an emotional journey… am I right?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: Yes, you are right indeed. We are always striving to find an overall sound for our albums so that you can tell that certain songs come from this album rather than that. It is the use of effects, instruments and images that are responsible for the atmosphere of an album. I’d prefer to say that every album has its own language. It also reflects the emotional state of its musicians and the situation they are living in. I am sure that the next album of the band will sound rather different even if we were just trying to copy “Angst”, which would make no sense to us. I think that every song on “Angst” is a typical THOU-song in the same way that every song on “Cosmogenesis” is too.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking of “Cosmogenesis”, even if there’s a “logical” fil rouge joining the aforementioned albums, what are the main differences from your viewpoint?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: When we started to record “Angst” we said that we would like to return to a very classic gothic rock style. “Inferno” dared some experiments with very complex song structures but many people seemed to be overstrained with this. “Radio Cornwall” had some great songs but the production was too clean and trying to have a popular sound with lots of synthesizer effects and so on. We thought that there was a lack of atmosphere and we planned to go two steps back with “Angst”. But you cannot simply repeat what you have done before. I may bring back into our conscience that already ten years have passed since “Cosmogenesis”, which had been recorded on an eight-track recorder. We had an unlimited number of tracks this time around, which is dangerous, because you might overload your compositions with more and more instruments. So we tried to work with very basic arrangements and just a few effects. This made it similar to “Cosmogenesis”. Yet the songs are completely different, maybe because there’s only Martin and me left from the line up of that period.
Chain D.L.K.: My favorite moments of your brand new album are the melancholic ones…personally I would say that tracks such as “Deep Inside My Heart” and “For My Vengeance” are the better ones! What about you?
The House Of Usher: Georg: Every one of us in the band has its own favourites on “Angst”, that’s for sure. In my case I appreciate songs like “Invocation” and “You’re the Fire I’m the Ashes” very much, which are very energetic and powerful, even on stage. I also like “For my Vengeance”, because of its hymn-like character. Songs like “Friendly Fire” and “Down Below” are also very hot candidates for my personal favourites list. In these songs we’re doing much more old style 80s-wave with undistorted guitars, which I still like very very much. And last but not least “To Whatever End” in my opinion is one of the highlights on “Angst”.
Jörg: I also like this song very much. For me it’s this one, “Invocation” and “I Wanna Know” which I appreciate the most, but I think that any song from the album is important. We treated every title as if it was planned to be released as a single.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking generally, do you feel that fear and anxiety are planned today? What’s your opinion on conspiracy theories? And what’s your favourite one?
The House Of Usher: Georg: Oh boy, with this question you have the right addressee with me. I’m convinced that governments base their politics on fear and anxiety. Look back to the Bush-era with all this mania about terrorism. I recommend listening to the first song off the Ministry-album “Rio Grande Blood”. This collage of George W. Bush footage in the beginning is a very good summary of this kind of -well, let’s say- fear-based politics. But this was not an invention by the former American president. Conservatism for example built its guidelines on fear. With this political philosophy, the goal is to preserve the actual achievements, the state of affairs, but in their own backwards oriented minds, trying to uphold old values. And at the same time, as a logical consequence, this political attitude is trying to prevent new developments. Why this? Because this political attitude built its philosophy on fear. Fear in the face of unpredictable developments. The hypocritical thing about all this, is that conservative politicians are banking very strongly on this fear, trying to implement it into people’s minds and at the same time spoiling any new ideas.As far as favourite conspiracy theories, there are two at the moment which feel very actual for me. The first one is, that the attack of the World Trade Center was organized by the CIA/American government. Also now I’m waiting for theories telling us that Michael Jackson is still alive, living on a little island in the south-sea and that his death was staged, because he couldn’t physically make these announced concerts in London and because at the same time with his death he has the opportunity to make a lot of money and get rid of all his debts.
Chain D.L.K.: Your story is intimately connected with Equinoxe’s one, an astonishingly fast-growing label, which in my modest opinion is one of the most interesting of the entire scene… what can you tell us about this “intimate” connection? What about future plans for the band?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: Neither …quinoxe nor The House of Usher are really interested in growing too big to quickly since we have seen many bands and labels who expected too much just to find themselves disappointed afterwards. In fact the label was originally established to release The House of Usher’s music independently from anybody else. We wanted to have absolute control over anything we did and having our own record label was the only thing that guaranteed us that. Later we got in touch with other bands that had the same problems as we had during the first years of existence. Most of them had a gothic rock background… Ikon, Reptyle, Neon Dream, Mystigma…We probably missed some chances to move over to a bigger label. We might have had the chance to become famous. But I’m sure that this would have changed our music in a way we could not accept. I am sure that that is no alternative for us.
Chain D.L.K.: Your style seems to be deeply influenced by the British 80s wave rock… how do you relate to that period?
The House Of Usher: Georg: Well, as I have outlined before, I’m a child of the ’80s. It was a very very exciting period. A lot of music came up in that time, a lot of different musical styles. For example bands like Joy Division, The Nightingales, The Passage, Depeche Mode, The Sisters of Mercy, Cabaret Voltaire, X-Mal Deutschland, The Cocteau Twins, and so on and so forth. Everything was allowed. It was a period of musical experiments, which I have never seen again since. Every week I listened to the legendary John Peel, giving me a lot of input about what was going on in the New Wave scene. This diversity of music is still very inspiring us.
Chain D.L.K.: After the House of Usher has fallen, now it has been rebuilt… what about Mr. Usher’s reaction?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: I met him at the Roman chapel in our cellar last week and he told me he feels rather comfortable. He’s kind of an old guy, and as long as no one disturbs him – you should know that he’s very thin-skinned – he stays rather friendly…
Chain D.L.K.: The whole booklet’s liner notes are in German, but you sing mainly in English… it might seem weird to you, but sometimes I personally prefer German lyrics… how do you explan this choice? Just a commercial one?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: No, that’s not the reason. In fact I never asked myself which language people would prefer me to sing in. Gothic rock’s origins are in England and there are some examples of German bands singing in German which are alienating me. It’s strange, but it’s sometimes easier for me to express my thoughts in English when we are working on songs. As far as my stories go, that’s another cup of tea.
Chain D.L.K.: ”I wanna know which power keeps the flame alive that burns deep inside my heart day and night…”: have you reached you goal?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: Definitely! I know what is moving me, and I knew it all the time.
Chain D.L.K.: Any live shows in the forthcoming future?
The House Of Usher: Jörg: Just a few gigs in October. We’re going to play in Dortbirn/Austria the 17th of October and in Berlin/Germany the 24th of October. Maybe some additional gigs will follow soon. Everyone should occasionally have a look at our website www.the-house-of-usher.de
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks for answering… I usually like to end an interview asking what you thought about my questions…
The House Of Usher: Jörg: Well, even you cannot get along with some basic questions which we’re often asked, but that’s okay. How strange would it be if you’d ask us something completely different?
Georg: But in almost every interview there are exceptional questions, which are more exciting than the usual stuff.
Jörg: We appreciate anyone who is interested in what we do! Keep the fire burning!
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