Girls Under Glass

Interview by Mike Faucher

I'd like to start with a little background first, if I may. What is Girls Under Glass' bloodlines? The obvious first guesses would be Bauhaus, Killing Joke? But you've been around for nearly two decades now, so that would make you influences on some of the younger acts and mates with the others? What sort of events or environment lends itself to the creation of your band?

We have been part of the Hamburg scene for over two decades. Most of our influences come from the German scene of our fellow colleagues we have come up with Project Pitchfork (that even formed their band at a GUG show), Das Ich , The Fair Sex and so on.
Of course a big influence on us was the early wave bands of the 1980's. Our personal favorite being Gary Numan. We would say a good subculture as well as German work ethic lends itself to creation for our band.

It would seem the Goth/Industrial scene over here in the US has gone deep underground? Occasionally it rears its head, but it's mostly in the form of the heavier, metal edged sounds. What has been the progression as of late of the European scene?

No the scene here continues to flourish on the creative side even if the genre is not so popular. Europe has an established subculture unlike the States which seems to be very trendy, commercial and hit driven. In Europe the underground scene is respected more as a craft and not dependant on how many records you sell. Also there is a much bigger club and festival scene for independents and unsigned bands unlike the states.

Lately there's an especially large amount of disposable acts over here as well. What's refreshing is to hear your sound gaining ground again, coming back into the light, so to speak. How familiar are you with what's been going on, musically, in the US? And what part of it, if any, interests or influences you?

We know the states is more money driven and not so concerned with the quality of the music which is quite sad. Bands are disposable when they just follow a trend and are not true to their own art form. It seems that once a band has big commercial success over there that the major labels only want to release cookie cutter clone bands. It is all about making money for these majors not the music. Of course we do respect the industrial bands in the states that broke new ground in the 80-90's like NIN and Ministry, but sadly we have not seen this kind of creative production coming from the states in almost a decade.

The new disc is definitely, as the press kit says, a more accessible NIN's "Broken", or even "The Fragile" for that matter? Partly attest to the fact that some of the songs are classics, being nearly ten years old. Is this something to tide fans over until a new disc comes out? I know you were on pace there for a while (1992-99) to release one disc a year?

We have never until 1999 had any releases out in the U.S. market. We consider anything we put out there as new material because no one has heard it there. We do add new tracks, remixes and remastering to give the long time import fans something to satisfy them as well. Yes releasing at least one record a year in total obscurity was not in our best interest as a band. We realize this when you look at NIN that really has only had three full length releases in the past decade. If you just pump out titles one after another your releases just get lost in the pile of product out there. Our label now has more of an artist development philosophy whereby less is more! Release just a few quality albums and work them tenaciously until people know about them. If more companies did this there would not be such economic troubles in the music industry.

The original version of "Frozen" at times seems like it wants to be performed your way? Heavier, grittier, darker. What brought that about? Why a Madonna song? Are some songs just begging to be remade?

We have had a reputation of doing cover versions over the years. We have covered Gary Numan "Down in the Park", Simple Minds "New Gold Dream", John Carpenter "Halloween", Kraftwerk another others. We look for titles that do fit into the GUG vision. The Madonna track had a darkwave feel that was begging to become a GUG signature track. The last seminal Madonna song done by a genre artist was Bigod 20's "Like a Prayer". We do try to make our version better than the original in style creativity and production. Another GUG classic.

What I think is interesting, especially here in the US, is how misunderstood a lot of your type of music is. It's not always dark, dreary. It has a distant and foreboding sound, but the lyrics are evocative, honest and mostly about love and desire. Even if it the songs are about the tougher parts of relationships? The losses, the breakups? The lying?

You are very perceptive as to our writing. We write about life experiences whether they are about love, hate, desire, loss etc People over there seem a little closed minded and tend to label bands and only regard them a certain way. Just like when rock music started out over there.

What instruments do you use for your sound? What other tools do you use? Have the increase in computer power/accessibility greatly enhanced your ability to create what you have in mind, or do you still use "traditional" Goth/Industrial techniques?

We like Kraftwerk have invented some gear for our sound along with the traditional Vox, Guitars, Samplers. Axel is a engineering genius. He invented several pieces of midi gear that are unique to the GUG sound. He as also created equipment for Die Krupps among others. We also have are own home studio like most professional German bands and use the standard software such as Protools, and Qbase. At the end of the day you can have loads of gear but it is meaningless unless you can write songs. We use GUG signature techniques.

What do you consider a good experience when making an album? Smooth recording sessions? Fluid songwriting?

We don't recall any bad experiences. After so many years together everyone knows their role in the band as well as recording studio. Since we have a home studio we are not under the time gun to get songs completed nor have a major label breathing down our backs or trying to change every song. We all have good and bad days during the recording process of every record however we all know our rolls in making a record and respect each others talents in the studio as well as on a live stage.

Has the proliferation of techno/trance around the world opened fans up to your sound? Do you appreciate others remixing your songs for the dance halls?

In Europe of course we have had a following for two decades so this is not so much of an issue. The techno / trance fans seem not to cross over to the darkwave EBM side of music. Most prefer more of a happy sound all of the time. If you have any guitars they run away from you. Industrial has always seemed to be the homeless child between electronic music and metal. We have been very pleased with the remixers we have used over the years. Our sound has a dance element already so the remixes do not necessarily make us any more accessible to the dance crowd.

Any plans for a North American tour?

Yes we would love to tour the states but your market is very hard to obtain a national booking agent to make a tour for us. Very few German bands get to cross the pond. Also the cost is very expensive to bring everyone over. Of course if we sell millions of copies someday that won't be an issue. Until then all the GUG activities can be found on our website