Only one year after their last studio album “Navigator”, Germany’s well-known Electro/EBM formation Funker Vogt returns with a completely new studio album. “Aviator” proves once again their reached status since years. Back also on the stages to perform a new powerful show, we could get some answers out of Gerrit Thomas and Kai Schmidt (the “hidden” FV member providing the lyrics…) on their new release and upcoming plans… Chain D.L.K.: Hey guys, only a year after the release of “Navigator” you’re back on returning with a new full-length CD “Aviator”. Some critical people could come up with the approach that your music and the compositional process has turned more and more into a mass production procedure. Please give us some insight in the technical process and the reasons why “Aviator” got ready so fast…
Funker Vogt: (Gerrit) During the work on the last album “Navigator” I started to build up my studio computer with a few new synthesizers and some plug-ins. After we finished “Navigator” I had the feeling that there could be done more approaching to FV with these instruments. So we started to make new songs directly after the release of “Navigator”. Normally we used to care about our side-projects if we finished the work for an FV-album, that’s why it took only a little bit more than one year to release “Aviator”. During the working process of this album I got more and more involved in all the recording technology. So I decided to do it on my own for the first time.
Chain D.L.K.: You could already cause some attention with the addition of a guitarist for the album “Survivor” especially presented on the track “Red Queen”. In between you’ve exchanged Thomas Kroll into Frank Schweigert. What has happened internal? Isn’t it not frustrating for a guitarist to be active on only a very few compositions? Is it an advantage for live performances to have a guitarist in your band occupation?
Funker Vogt: (Gerrit) First of all I have to say that Thomas left the band because of his own decision. His own activities didn’t fit anymore to all the time we have to spend for the work on Funker Vogt. He owns two pubs, has two daughters with different women, so there had been nearly no time for touring and so on. Another fact is that our guitarists always work just as live-performers. Only if we want to do a song with guitars which is maybe one or two times a year, they become a part of our studio work. The main reason why we use to perform with a guitarist is that there is more action on stage with four musicians. And “action” is what an FV-show stands for.
Chain D.L.K.: Also a question to an important happening in the past – you’ve created your very own label and management Repo-Records, which takes care on all business-related things and you could re-release some out-of-print classic recordings of your early days under this moniker. How important for the existence of the band was the finding of this management and the decision to split with Torben Schmidt and his Bloodline label?
Funker Vogt: (Kai) First of all, RepoRecords is completely independent from Funker Vogt. RepoRecords was founded by REPOMANagement in order to make all the old releases from Funker Vogt available again and to create finally a fair and artist friendly label. Furthermore we haven’t really had to make a decision to split with Bloodline. Bloodline stopped to work. So we couldn’t even release another CD there as it wasn’t any longer existent! So as all our releases from Zoth Ommog and from Bloodline haven’t been available anymore due to the breakdown of these labels, we decided to start a label and re-release the back-catalogue there! Nevertheless we are as well very content with the work SPV is doing now for all our new releases here in Europe.
Chain D.L.K.: The artwork for your new release “Aviator” shows some classic and at times rusty airplanes in a hangar out of a war-infiltrated past. I hope the concept behind it finally doesn’t mean that you wanna go in pension 😀 … Tell us a bit about the idea and the meaning of this art…
Funker Vogt: (Kai) Our artwork designer Jeff Walker was this time closely involved in creating the whole concept. All the artwork is about things getting forgotten, especially important things from the past like wars, the reason for these wars and the people who never returned from these wars. The whole concept is about not forgetting our past, the good and the bad memories as well…
Chain D.L.K.: Another often heard approach is the militaristic-inspired behavior of your band. With tracks like “Child Soldier” you seem to force it a bit. Are those tracks or stuff out of some crisis regions an ideal spring of inspiration for you? Has the militaristic kind and outcome through the years become a pure business-related procedure?
Funker Vogt: (Kai) Not at all. We always say that as long as wars prevail on earth we will write about them. People tend to cope with the fact that there are wars. And we will at least try to make a little change here. In a war still everybody is a loser….Or to say it with Plato’s words: Only the dead have seen the end of the war. So this is a serious topic for us, not only business!
Chain D.L.K.: For this year you’ve decided not to release a special MCD, but you’re more and more active by using the internet for promotional efforts. I expect that this is a rather cost-wise decision “thanks” to the lack of higher sales. Please fill in some background info of your web activities and the reasons not to release a real physically MCD…
Funker Vogt: (Kai) In the recent past we have still sold more from each our MCD than other bands might sell from their albums, but still numbers decline and we always included some really nice b-sides and right now it is a pity that these songs get noted only by our die-hard fans. But as a MCD is still important for the clubs we did this special DJ-edition which is not for sale, and will be only offered on our European tour or on the ltd. edition on our USA-release. Anyway, the internet is getting more and more important and with our ongoing activities we want to demonstrate that Funker Vogt also arrived in the WEB2.0. So instead of selling a MCD, we did a free download version of our new club-track “City of Darkness”. This was a special gift for our fans. Furthermore, we did trailers which were screened on youtube.com and there is a video-podcast available which is about the making of “Aviator”. The whole interview sequence which is about 20 minutes long can be found on the European limited edition which includes a DVD with 5 tracks from the CD in 5.1 Dolby surround and two bonus tracks as well.
Chain D.L.K.: Times are hard for all bands and labels due to the lack of sales and the growing downloading piracy. How does the currently evolution affect on you as a band? How important have legal downloading portals like iTunes become for your music?
Funker Vogt: (Kai) They are becoming more and more important. In Europe we are still just at the beginning of this new era, whereas in the USA is much more evolved when it comes to digital sales, but there is still much potential in it. Unfortunately, the main problem in digital sales is not properly addressed right now and here in Europe it is even worse. The problem is how to pay digital downloads! Especially the youth has not real opportunities paying for their digital downloads as most of them especially in Europe lacking an own credit card or even a bank account! Here we need better solutions in the future, as many platforms are still only offering these two possibilities to pay for digital downloads. So there might be people willing to pay for downloads, but they don’t know how! So they have almost no other choice than go back to illegal downloads if they don’t want to buy the CD in a shop. So we are all waiting for the change to the better, otherwise it can happen that in the future there won’t be anymore quality music, as people cannot afford it anymore to produce it.
Chain D.L.K.: How is it with live gigs? I think you’re gonna do a tour and you have already invited two supporting bands with Noyce TM and the Spanish act Dioxyde. Which surprises do we have to expect and are there plans to invade the stages of the United States?
Funker Vogt: (Gerrit) We are going on tour with lots of new material. There are also some old songs which we’re going to perform for the first time. So, the set-list will be very different to the old ones. We have some new orange lights and LEDs on stage, our banners vary from club-hall to club-hall. But the main show we are going to perform uses to be very personal and should show us, the musicians, especially Jens, the singer.
Chain D.L.K.: Please inform us about your upcoming plans, some new releases for you and your label you like to confirm here? How is it with your side-projects?
Funker Vogt: (Gerrit) We are planning to record a live DVD in about autumn of this year which should be done on the second part of our European “Aviatour”. Another release for the end of this year is a remix-CD also including some new songs. So there is still a lot of work in studio and also on stage. The side-projects are not active this time, but they’re still alive. Maybe next year again…
Chain D.L.K.: Some final words to our readers to conclude this interview…?
Funker Vogt: (Gerrit) We hope you’ll enjoy listening to “Aviator” and see you as soon as possible on our next US-tour. Keep “funked”…
Visit Funkervogt on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy. T. Rapisardi]