Psychohygiene with Petra Tausendpfend of Sielwolf

Interview by Paul Hirsch

Petra was a little taken aback with my first question regarding Germany's godfather of anxiety, Herman Hesse. I thought that indeed, you could compare a "Steppenwolf" with a "Sielwolf" because of the angst factor. Then I began to understand their grim satisfaction with pursuing this techno-industrial grind. Petra was willing to admit to a preoccupation with a raison d'être, a search for a centered existence through the practice of psychohygiene, which they see as a way of cleansing pent-up aggressions. As if you could throw all of your emotional baggage into a song and spew it right out. Many people become nevous when hearing Germans use words like "hygiene" or "cleansing". But these words are also tools for the excommunication of Fascist thought. Almost all the German bands I've spoken with have this underlying sense of brooding spirituality. Artists and musicians seeking to be judged not through the eyes of history, but as part of a world wide pop culture.

FAD: What is the difference between a "Steppenwolf" and "Sielwolf"?

PETRA: A Sielwolf and a Steppenwolf?(laughs). You can't compare them at all! A Sielwolf is a machine. It cleans the dirt and calcification from the sewers under the street.

FAD: You chose the name to personify your Techno/Industrial sound?

PETRA: Yes, and because it is the same in the cycle of human beings - that you clear up your "dirt" all the time. It's the same with our music. In the past we've used sounds from old bands, and we recycle it.

FAD: Is your attitude "deconstructionist" towards music?

PETRA: No, our first idea is to clear our minds. Everybody has aggressions. You have to get rid of it all the time. So, that's part of Sielwolf for us, to get rid of our aggressions in that form. It's too bad the lyrics are hard to understand (vocals are processed with heavy effects), because they really show what we feel. Do you know the word "psychohygiene", meaning that you get rid of this stuff before you need psychotherapy? It's like keeping healthy!

FAD: I see you're releasing some maxi-singles. Are these geared toward a dance audience or a rock audience?

PETRA: It's for both. In Germany, if we go on tour, the audience is very mixed. There are many rock 'n' rollers, but also people who want dance floor music. Not everyone likes it, but there is mixture at our shows.

FAD: On the rock side of it, the influence seems to be death metal which I know is popular in Germany now...

PETRA: You call it death metal? You think Sielwolf is part death metal?

FAD: Certainly the aggressive guitar chord riffs, sound like death metal...

PETRA: Ah, yes, that's right... There is a growing movement toward that. Die Krupps comes to mind... There are many bands doing it over here, but we get a little bored with it. I think, in the future, we will still use heavy guitar, but it will become a little bit more experimental. With more electronic parts too. It's like we've "done it" and may move on now. You're familiar with the Metastasen LP? We have two others that have heavy guitar. We've done it for quite a long time now. Even before MINISTRY.

FAD: When will you tour the US?

PETRA: That's a good question...because we are unknown in the U.S. we need to tour in support of a well known band. Paul (Abramson) from our U.S. label is trying to find us a tour, so maybe next year sometime...

SIELWOLF's latest recording is called "Metastasen" and it's available through VAN RICHTER RECORDS P.O. BOX 13321,La Jolla,CA. 92039-3321. It's a heavy techno - industrial/rock hybrid that may be of interest to DJ's that spin the cutting edge.