Girls Under Glass

Interview with Volker Zacharias by Girl the Goth

What made you think that this was the right time to try to break the States?

Look: we talked to our previous labels for years and years, but they didn't have any contacts to the US so we never had the chance to being released in the States. When the contract was finished we watched out for a label with an international department situation, so we signed to Nuclear Blast. They released our last record "Firewalker" in the states about 2 years ago. I wondered a bit that there were no interview requests at all and the sales were very annoying. We had to wait for this chance for ages. Luckily we met Van Richter who was interested in working with us for the States. So it was just a question of getting out of a contract and getting a new one that makes a US-release possible. I am very lucky that we could manage to release at least part of our stuff in US. Who knows: if "Nightmares" works well it's likely that we release other old stuff in the US as well (maybe "Nightmares Part2"?). Apart from that we are of course also working on new stuff.

Did the success of KMFDM's "Adios" and of Rammstein influence your decision?

Not at all. As I said before: we had a deal with a company that was not able to release us anywhere else then in Germany, but had the worldwide rights. So we couldn't do anything about it.

There have been a lot of different tags put on your music - electro-Goth, EBM, electro-Industrial, darkwave - is there one tag you prefer, or do you try to ignore them all?

We don't think and don't live in terms of certain names or categories, we just do what we want to do, so we are open minded for anything that is interesting for us. We are childs of the 80ies and very much influenced by 80's New Wave. We come more from the electronic side and always defined GUG as a electronic band with wave guitars. Because we don't wanted to repeat ourself with every record we combined our typical GUG-style with some modern and new aspects. So in a way you are right: we mostly ignore terms as EBM, industrial and darkwave. The results of our creative output are too different to give it a name. GUG, in way, is special, I think. At least in Germany nobody ever compares us with other bands, they only compare our records with our own elder stuff or with other bands we are actively involved in, such as Trauma or Cassandra Complex.

Is it frustrating that after 12 years, your name is still little know outside Germany?

Yeah, it is!!!

What is the story with "Equilibrim", which is still heavily promoted on the Hall of Sermon site, but isn't even mentioned in any other discography?

Hall Of Sermon is our main label in Europe. We took the rights for the States etc... out of the contract to make sure that we have the freedom to work with somebody who knows the american market and who proves that he is doing a good job. So we are in the very lucky situation to have two labels now. Of course Hall Of Sermon does NOT promote the "Equilibrium" record in the States, because they don't have the rights for US for this. Apart from that they do a brilliant job in Europe and we are very satisfied with the constellation of having Van Richter plus Hall Of Sermon. In Europe "Equilibrium" is promoted well, but we don't wanted to put out the record in the States parrallel with "Nightmares". "Nightmares" is the optimal introduction to GUG, while releasing "Equilibrium" in the states should be the next step. But this won't happen before next year.

KMFDM's best career move was moving to the States, while bands like Die Krupps and Young Gods never followed through on heir successes, largely because they stayed in Europe. Would you consider moving if your career takes off in the US?

I don't believe that a band has to live in a certain country to be succesful there. Michael Jackson is super-big in Germany and he even doesn't live on this planet! So I don't see a problem for us to stay in Germany and succeed in US.
But I love San Francisco and would like to live there for a while. But not for music-reasons.

The old EBM scene was largely taken over by techno dance music. How much do you think dance music has influenced the heavy electro/techno scene recently, especially as your version of "New Gold Dream" is a lot closer to the Utah Saints version than the original?

That's a very good question. Both scenes, the EBM and the Techno scene seems to influence each other. Many techno acts said that they were influenced by DAF, Kraftwerk or Front 242, while nowadays all three of them are very much influenced by techno music again. So in a way techno is the modern version of Electronic Body Music. I also know many EBM-heads who are very interested in techno-music. So there is definitely still a big intersection.

The European scene has seemed very close and friendly, with bands swapping members, remixing and touring with each other, much like the US scene was before NIN and Ministry became successful. Do you think this will change if bands become more successful?

No, not as far as I can see it. The band we are hanging together with started mainly at the same time. Some of the musicians we even know from the time before they started doing music. So with bands as Pitchfork, Wolfsheim and many others there is a real friendship. But we already had collaborations and guest-appearances, so it would be a bit boring to repeat this. There are so many good musicians that we prefer to work with different people on mainly every new record we do.

Are you planning to release any singles or videos of tracks off "Nightmares"?

We hopefully will release a single with new stuff in the USA in a couple of months, featuring a cover version of Madonna's "Frozen" and some remix-stuff from the "Equilibrium" album. A video is not planned, although we filmed our gig at the Zillo-Festival a couple of weeks ago and Van Richter might put some of the stuff into Internet.

What are your touring plans in the immediate future?

In the moment we are a bit tired of touring. We only play a couple of festivals this year. We used to play live a lot in the early years. Now we prefer the studiowork, because we have more fun in creating something new.
But fan-correspondence and meeting people and feeling this energy of a live-concert is also important. Just in the moment we are a bit tired of it. It might change next year.

Do you have any ideas about what direction your music will go when you get back into the studio, will it be dancier, or heavier?

No idea at all. I have a couple of song ideas. But first of all we don't know when we start a next record and second of all nobody ever knows anything about our development before we started to do the record and know with which guests we collaborate. We neither have a way nor a target. We will see.....