Girls Under Glass

Interview with Volker "Zaphor" Zacharias by Fabio Babini

Your new album sounds like a sort of homecoming to the roots. Am I wrong?

You are right. But it was not a step we were planning. We just recognized that the Firewalker album was not really the thing with a satisfying musical result. No doubt, it's a good record, but there are many good bands doing this kind of music and there are many who can do it better. So we were just concentrating on what we can do best and thats combining strong melodies, with melancholic atmospheres and intensive vocals. That's all. It was more like getting back to the natural songwriting, instead of producing something we want to do.

You have always refused the label "gothic": why?

Very simple: half of the records we did are not "gothic" at all. A label means a certains indication. When you do something that does not fit to this indication, you're automatically somebody else. We never wanted to do music for a certain scene and we never wanted to annoy a certain scene. We are open minded people and expect the audience or the fans to be open minded as well. GUG is a band with a very interesting musical history and we have lots of fans who followed us on our way and growed up with us and understood the way we were going over the last 13 years. Many other fans didn't, because we were becoming too electronic, too hard, too much guitars, not enough guitars and so on and so on. We like the idea of having a band that is NOT copying itself again and again, but trying to create something new with every record. Equilibrium is the only album were we decided to let it go and without forcing it the record became a typical GUG classic. The Nightmare-compilation for example shows perfectly the styles, vibes and tunes we integrated in GUG in the last years and shows that the attribute "Goth" does not fit. Apart from that we don't have any problems with that scene at all. Years ago I was Mr. Super-Goth and was very deeply involved. Even at that time I always said that GUG is too open-mindes to be described by one certain categorizing word.

You realised "Nightmares" just after your third album with Trauma. How was important that experience for the new Girls Under Glass' album?

It was VERY important. We were just so much into the new Trauma record, because it has everything we like: cool melodies and an intensive melody. We prefer this record much more than the last two GUG records so that this Trauma record opened our eyes and showed us were our real musical strengh is. And it also showed us that our definite roots and influences are in the 80's and NOT in the 90's. You can hear this on the Nightmares record plus on the new german release Equilibrium.

Could you tell me anything more about the female vocalist for the new record?

She is a tiny good looking goth-girl called Jenny. She has her own band, called Obsidian. They haven't released an own album yet. We met at a party and she gave me tape of stuff she did. I was very much impressed and invited her to do the vocals for the new GUG record. And she did it brilliant.

Between "Firewalker" and your new issue something important happened: you change label, signing with Hall Of Sermons. Could you tell me anything more about this decision?

It was not really OUR decisison: We were very satisfied with the work of Nuclear Blast, but we were only on a small sublabel called Deathwish Office. When Deathwish closed, many bands lost this label. So we HAD TO look for a new label. At that time I even didn't know Tilo, but when we met and I told him about GUG he told me that he is an old fan and bought the first couple of records. So when I gave him the new stuff he was totally into it and so we decided to work together.

The new songs have a direct melodic attitude...Is it true?

Yeah, it's true, it's a very melodic record. Why you ask??? It's obvious, isn't it??

Can you explain me the meaning of the front cover of "Equilibrium"?

I can, but I don't want to. It gives you much space for interpretations. "Equilibrium" means "inner-balance", the yin yang symbol is obvious, the people in the background are Adam & Eve (they stand for "the beginning"), the eagle that targets the yin yang stands for "aggression" and mainly that's it. All together it's about the history of GUG, about the music and the feeling. I hope you still have stuff to intrepret in.

Is there anything you would like to erase from your career?

No, I can stand behind it. The only thing that is a bit weird for us is, that we used christian symbols on the "Christus" CD without knowing that these symbols are also used by several fascist parties. Since then we are a bit more careful with playing with symbols.

Did your new label influence the sound of the new Nightmares album?

Eh, what??? About what new label are you talking? About Hall Of Sermon? No, they didn't. About our american label Van Richter who exclusively released the Nightmares compilation? No they didn't either.

What are you planning for your various side-project bands?(Trauma,Cassandra Complex, and so on)

Cassandra just finished a new album (after a 6 years break). We are close to sign to a label so that we expect the new album to be out in May 2000. We don't have any plans with Trauma in the moment. We feel more like concentrating on new GUG stuff. We will start early summer so in that in the second party of 2000 there might be a new GUG album out. But: I don't promise anything.

"Equilibrium" is less aggressive than the previous one: what does it change in your mood?

It doesn't change me at all. It's the other way around: We did the record. Our mood changes the music and "Equilibrium" is the result of the mood we were in when we did the record.

Which are the bands or the musicians that mostly influenced you in the last years?

We are influenced more by 80's stuff. I mean, I can name you hundreds of bands I totally like and many new releases I think they are great. But they don't have any influence on our GUG stuff. Our musical roots are electronic bands of the early 80ies such as Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, John Foxx, Simple Minds. But we also liked guitar-wave stuff like Play Dead, Dance Society, X Mal Deutschland, Cocteau Twins and that kind of stuff.

What kind of shows are you planning for your live acts?

Our shows are simple. We play with 7 musicians and "rock the house". The more money we get for a gig the more we invest in lights and special effects. But if we can't afford a big light show we still play, because we believe in the power of our music and it MUST be good even with a simple light show. Music is music. Light is light.