GIRLS UNDER GLASS "Godfather's of German Gothic"

by Mikko Saari and Jyrki Virtanen

One of the most important godfathers of German gothic was definately Calling Dead Red Roses from Hamburg. The band's short career was summed up by album 1986, released posthumously. Calling Dead Red Roses split to make room for two excellent bands. One of them was Cancer Barrack, the other was Girls Under Glass.

Cancer Barrack's first vocalist was Thorsten Hammann whose influence on the band's sound must have been remarkable as the band thanks him in the sleeve of their debut album Luscious. The vocals on that album are, however, Volker Zaphor Zacharias from Calling Dead Red Roses. Bass was played by another CDRR-member, Axel E.
In 1989 this posse released another album, Humus, which was more important when looked upon today. The band as this stage was Girls Under Glass, with the following lineup: Thomas Lucke on vocals, Hauke Harms, who took care of programming, Zaphor on guitars and Dr. Fluch on bass. Humus was mostly traditional brit-goth played with a German attitude. The album included cover songs from Talking Heads and Sisters of Mercy. GUG's second album Flowers was soon released, but it was Flowers that really hit the spot. Flowers is absolutely one of the greatest albums in the German gothic rock history. The next album Positive introduced a new sound and a new line-up.
GUG was now more computer driven and danceable. Thomas left the band which now continued as a trio with Zaphor on vocals, Rodney Orpheus from Cassandra Complex visited on the album, also Connie Mollison featured as GUG's background vocalist. She who stayed with the band for a longer time.

GUG meet Wolfsheim meet Project Pitchfork meet Love like Blood

GUG released albums rather quickly, and yet they decided to release old songs again, but as new versions. They were recorded live, but instead of a real gig they played for a snall group of friends at the Soundgarden Studio. The result was a fine album on which the band tributed its roots by recording a Calling the Dead Red Roses song. In 1992 GUG released their fifth full length Darius which most people hold as their best. The classic trio line-up grew momentarily as another guitarist Raj Sen Gupta joined the band (only to leave before the next album). Famous musicians such as Markus Glitjes and Wolfsheim-vocalist Peter Heppner guest appeared on Darius. Zaphor sang "Grey In Grey" in duet with Heppner. The albums definate peak point was Connie Mollison's excellantly backed "Reach For the Stars".
GUG's return to trio form took place by the Down in the Park EP on which guest appearances continued: Raj Sen Gupta, Markus Giltjes, Mark Wheeler and Yvonne Ritz Andersen known from Love Like Blood. The EP's title song was often recorded Gary Numan cover but the EP's highlight is the song "When I think about You" on which Mr. Wheeler allowed to show his abilities as guitarist.
The band's first golden season ended with the album Christus which still represented the usual Girls Under Glass style. Unfortunately, Christus had no real gems; Connie Mollison was replaced by Yvonne Ritz Andersen (who actually does her job well). Also Giltjes and Gupta were featured as guest artists.

GUG's second coming

Girls Under Glass conyinued their regular album releasing pace but had also time to work on many other side projects. Probably the most famous one was REC which featured Project Pitchfork vocalist Peter Spilles and Love Like Blood vocalist Yorck. The other two were Nefkom and Zaphor's and Hauke Harms' project called Trauma.
Of all the GUG albums of that era Exitus and Crystals & Stones are worth mentioning. The band's popularity was on a steady way downwards until Van Richter announced they had signed the band as well as later on Hall of Sermon for limited Europe releases.
Runours circulated that GUG had returned to their musical roots - and that's what actually happened. Their return to the spotlight happened with the fine album Equilibrium, which has really no weak links whatsoever. The trio Volker Zacharias - Axel Ermes - Hauke Harms had, like always, afew guests. This time backing vocals were sung by Jenny Kahler and Sandra Bammer, wof which the latter received some credit for the lyrics. Eric Burton of Catastrophe Ballet did vocals on "Future Assault"

Volker Zacharias was friendly enough to answer our questions. When asked about his opinions about the Equilibrium being a back to the roots proof, Volker agrees.

"I think you're right. After the last two very experimental records, where we used much more samples, electronic drums, noises and loops. we went back to the roots. But noy our very roots.

Equilibrium represents more the return to the era of Darius, their fifth album. They were very goth when they began in 1986 and later.

"We became more poppy and melody oriented - and very atmospheric"

Still dark, but more wave-than-goth-inspired. Equilibrium is more in that tradition. It seems that GUG indeed succeeded since Volker continues by commenting:

"We like the Album allot"

"We never actually were a goth band"

When Girls Under Glass began their career, they were quite alone.

"In the beginning we had practically goth-fans only, because there were hardly any other German bands with this doomy atmosphere"

Having never really wanted to be labeled as goths, they were pleased when bands like Love Like Blood, Project Pitchfork etc. appeared.

"A whole scene for this kind of music grew up: people and fans recognized that we never actually were a goth band. The effect was that we got lots of new fans from other scenes - alternative and progressive orientated young people in general. GUG always tried to get out of certain scenes instead of being stucked and stamped as a band for goths. We always hated this limitation and selection of human beings. We don't think in styles, we don't think of scenes, we just are."

And indeed there are difficulties with placing a label on GUG, they have such varied influenes from here and there. The American Van Richter Records released a GUG collection album called "Nightmares" in North America. It is a best of as well as completely digitally remastered record with a few new songs. The question is why just for the U.S. markets? The first album that was released in the USA was Firewalker last year.

"I think they have a wrong impression now what the band is about and the idea behind it, so we decided - or Van Richter, however you want to see it - to bring out the best of with material of all decades and all records. After the US people got into it, it would make sense to release Equilibrium there".

Well that makes sense, but it still seems unfair towards us (Scandinavia).