Girls Under Glass

Interview with Volker Zacharias by Mitch Kwiatkowski

The knowledge of Girls Under Glass in the US is pretty limited at the moment, even after 13 years of activity. How large would you say your European fanbase is?

We are well known and mostly respected but not big in the way like Project Pitchfork or Wolfsheim are. Our problem always was that we never cared about sales or fans. Instead our first aim was our musical integrity, so that we always did what we wanted to do. The result was 10 albums that all sounds quite different from each other. We started as a real electro-goth band, became much more poppy in the early 90's, and from the Christus album on much harder again, more experimental with more dance-influence.
The last record "Firewalker" is the hardest and most extreme one, but also the record that sounds like anything but GUG. Under this circumstances it is not easy to keep and built up a fanbase. We have lots of fans in Europe but that has changed a lot and a couple of times over the years.

Have you heard any word as of yet as to how 'Nightmares' is doing in the US?

Not at all. It's just out in the States. I think the record will need a while to sell. The reviews I read so far were very good and this time we get good support from the label- and also from the media-side. So hopefully this is the right way to become more successful also in non-european parts of the world. Iam very curious about how "Nightmares" will do in the US. But in the moment it is too early to talk about results or expectations.

Obviously, you're hoping it gains you a decent fanbase in the US by releasing a best of compilation. Do you plan on releasing all of your future albums in the US as well?

That, of course, would be great. We just have a new album out in Germany, that will hopefully come out in USA beginning of next year. This album is called "Equilibrium" and is more going back to the roots and to our very melodic, atmospheric phase.

Are there any plans on rereleasing old titles for US listeners or are they gonna have to hunt them down forever?

The problem we have is, that our previous companies have still the worldwide rights for the old records. But to be honest. I think, it would make only sense to release the other stuff, when we already have a certain standing in the US-scene. To give you the strongest impression we decided to present us with "Nightmares" first, because this record shows the development and the different sides of the band. One record shows you only the status quo of GUG at that certain point of time. I think "Nightmares" is the best first step allthough it is a compilation of tracks. Not a real best of. Believe me, we have many other good songs.

I've read that you have a remix CD planned for your most recent European release, 'Equilibrium'. Are you hoping or trying for more club play?

No, we don't really think in club-or radioplay-terms. We are thankful if we DJ-support, but we would never do music with the intention to be played by a DJ or a radio-guy. "Firewalker" was full of clubtracks, but after all we were not satisfied with that record at all. And thats what counts. Remixes are not automatically club-remixes. We think they are just another interpretation of songs.
Yeah, we think to release a maxi-single with the brilliant coverversion of Madonnas "Frozen" plus a couple of outtakes and mixes of "Equilibirum" stuff. One song will be remixed by Das Ich. The rest is done by ourselves.

Who would you most like to remix your work?

Good question. There are so many good and cool producers I would like to work with. Rhys Fulber (Fear Factory) is a brilliant producer and re-mixer. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins would be also one of my faves. Trent Reznor and Charlie Closer, of course. I think, all of these dudes live in their own, very special cosmos and would give new cool aspects to our songs.

Is there anyone that -you- would like to remix?

We love to remix bands in general. It really depends on the song, not on the band. If somebody asks us to remix their stuff and we like it, we will do it. There are no real faves. It's important that you have a vision of what you can do with the song. I would love to remix any band I like, and there are many. In the moment Iam totally into The Tea Party, Type O Negative, Filter, Tiamat, Massive Attack, Placebo and lots of other stuff.

You've said many times in the past that the name Girls Under Glass really has no meaning behind it. Is there a story behind how you came up with the name?

Tom L|cke, our former singer came up with the name. He was in the bathroom, watching his face in the mirror and suddenly this name came up in his mind. He just thought that it is a cool name. Very floating, good sounding and not to obvious to tell somebody what music is behind the name.

When can we expect 'Equilibrium' to be released in the US, if at all?

I hope in the first couple of months in the year 2000.

What sort of new direction, if any, have you taken on 'Equilibrium'?

Our musical development was like a journey through many different styles and variations of mixing and combining musical influences. We just decided that the journey is over, because there is no new aspect or musical influence in the end of the 90's that is worth to be part of our music. The last new musical invention for example was Big Beat or Drum & Bass. But we don't like that and don't want to end up as a band combining guitar stuff with big beats. We decided to go back to our own roots and just do music that comes naturally out of us. And that is atmospherid music, with lots of melodies, good hooklines and walls of guitars. We think "Equilibrium" is one of our strongest records ever. The fans and the european media think the same.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

We even don't know what we will do in the next months. We never planned a record. When we feel that it is the right time to do a record together, we do it. When we feel like having a break for a year, we just have a break. We don't feel like being under anybodys pressure. So I just can't tell you anything that could happen in the next 5 years. Hopefully GUG will be still existing then, and my biggest hope is, that we will have a following in the states by then. When this becomes obvious we will immediately come over to rock your clubs live !!!

Do you have any plans for future collaborations?

Not in the moment. We got lots of invitations for gigs and festivals. We just select what we want to do. Collaborations with other musicians or bands are not planned. We are all very much involved in many other projects such as Cassandra Complex (I play guitar in that band for 9 years now), we released 3 albums with Trauma so far. Axel is doing live-mixing for several bands and he is just back from mixing VNV Nation. We have all lots of things to do. Of course GUG is most important to us, but we are frequently hanging around with lots of other bands. So any collaborations can and will be very spontaneous. We love to work that way.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I use a SM 58 microphone...(har,har). You won't know many of the labels. The guitars are specially designed ones. We play Sirius guitars (thats the label KMFDM and Minsitry use live as well. It's a guitar designer from Hamburg, a friend of mine I used to play in Cassandra Complex with). We use 20 different synths, I don't know all of the labels, but can tell you that Hauke (our Keyboardplayer) invented his own piece of equipment. That's an data-to-midi-converter and the best one that was invented so far. That one is called Harms Mac 16 (in the case that you are interested).

What are your hobbies when you're not writing music?

Listening to music! Playing with my daughter Delphine-Marie plus going to concerts, watching sports (boxing), enjoying good food and good wines, meeting friends at parties. And I work a lot.