Someone who constantly looks for the unknown
On his excellent new album "EntwederUndOder" Hubert von Goisern
fosters a small band and blues rock.
MUNICH. "I've never managed to throw a birthday party", says Hubert von Goisern during the MZ interview in Munich. From which he concludes that there probably won't be anything in November 2012 either. So it can be concluded that he has no worries about the big 60 that's looming. It remains to be seen whether an endemic Salzkammergut logic is behind such mischievous derivations. What's certain is that Hubert Achleitner from Bad Goisern has sidestepped catches all his life. Including himself.
His most recent twist is his excellent new album EntwederUndOder, that will be released at the beginning of September. After the extroverted ship concert expedition, after collective creative processes through the night with a multitude of musicians (that fed into the cracking album S'Nix), Hubert von Goisern reduced down to himself and like other of his age is fostering the blues again. "The blues has always been the right musical feeling. When I discovered it at the age of 16, heaven and earth opened up."
Of course he doesn't stick to just that. The singer and multi-instrumentalist from Goisern has clad the pieces that this time developed in singer-songwriter-style ("it's terrifying, how naked they are in the beginning") in a much more pared-down manner, there are no keyboards or other sound cloud tools; however he enriches them stylistically with rock, ska and folk music, with instruments like the Jews' harp, accordion or clarinet. The basis of the whole thing remains as a hard core, consisting of Alex Pohn (drums), Helmut Schartlmüller (bass) and Severin Trogbacher (guitar), and the lineup indicated what is communicated first and foremost: it rocks. Or as Hubert von Goisern puts it: "We're a musical guerilla unit now."
Commuter between many worlds
But the music and the way it sounds now is no subject for analysis for him. "Actually I have no desire to talk about it," he says with a smile. Because actually the new project is just an answer to what came before, the result of a lifelong rocking motion. "When I was a child I watched aeroplanes when I was hiking in the mountains", the 58-year-old says, "and I thought it would be great to be sitting inside them. When I was on the aeroplane to Africa for the first time, I saw the Salzkammergut from above and thought: it would be wonderful to be sitting down there on the mountain."
This is how t Hubert von Goisern has spent his life: as commuter. He went out into the world, he returned to Austria, he earned his wealth, disappeared into hiatuses, enjoyed commercial success with alpine rock, he packed it in without remorse. Somehow everything always evens out. Even one thin in particular: Hubert decided at a young age that there wouldn't be a pension fund any more by the time he was a pensioner. Which from his point of view allowed him to not look for arduous work, but instead to take to his heels. Which didn't stop his family praying for a "sound job" every time he returned home to catch up with relatives.
Finally the successful "Hirtamadl" freed him
Hubert von Goisern remained as stubbornly with his "running the gauntlet" as he later did with courage for change. "There's no main theme", he says, describing a defining part of his life. There are only the two sides of a coin that want to be mutually dependent, equally weighted, seen, used - "there's nothing else". It is exactly this that the album title EntwederUndOder demonstrates, seeming to be regarded almost as a musical legacy. "With every production, I think: this is the last one", he says. He has firmly resolved to "play myself empty" with about 100 concerts next year, in order to have another hiatus in 2013 and 2014.
"Artists must air themselves"
What comes afterwards? Work? "I don't like sport, I don't like practising", says the 58-year-old. And yet he goes into concerts as full on as before. "It's like skiing. It's just that the regenerations phases get ever longer." Hubert von Goisern will probably surprise us with another project again, because much remains undiscovered, untried. "I have always looked for the unknown", he says in retrospect. For decades this search sent him on journeys around the world, in order to find distance from himself and get to know landscapes, people and cultures. His music tells the stories of this. "In the moment in which I've done something, I've always thought: that's a mistake. Afterwards I don't quarrel with anything."
He certainly regrets that economic globalisation correlates with cultural withdrawal. "My counter is the album title EntwederUndOder. We need both sides, we need solidarity. And of course a strong tradition allows for an opening (for new influences), but not a weak one", says Hubert von Goisern, seeing himself as committed. "As an artists you have the task of throwing open the windows and doors in order to allow a cultural airing." And with Austrian serenity he knows how to deal with things if his "great basic trust in the world" were to be disappointed. "If things are stupid, they're stupid." Who would want to argue with the logic from the Salzkammergut?
Didn't understand BAP at first
With his music Hubert von Goisern creates his unusual genre mix of folk music, rock and sounds from other cultures. On promotional tour for his album "Entweder und oder" to be released on 2nd September,
the Austrian also made a stop in Cologne.
Your lyrics are written in Austrian dialect and you often accompany them with the accordion or yodelling. Whence comes your love for folk music?
I grew up with it. I had my moment of awakening at the age of 16 in a band that mainly played the blues. For a long time I felt a distinct love-hate for folk music. At some point the hate abated and the love remained.
On your new album you mix musical elements of your homeland with rock, funk and reggae. There's a little impression that you'd have difficulty settling on a genre.
Why should I decide on a genre? Every artist takes from many traditions. The opportunity of renewing and polarising these traditions is fascinating.
You recorded a duet with Wolfgang Niedecken in 2005. What connects you with the Cologne rocker?
When I came to Germany with my music for the first time, I was often compared to BAP. Of course that made me curious and I listened to BAP and didn't understand anything. So suddenly I knew how my listeners who didn't come from Austria felt. Certainly the insistence on singing the way that comes to us naturally connects us. But musically speaking BAP go a different, more international way. My sound is more connected with tradition.
You're coming back to Cologne in March 2012 for a concert in the E-Werk. What do you think of the city?
Cologne is a special city for me. I think it's down to it's position on the Rhine. People who live on the river always exude a great serenity - perhaps it has something to do with the flooding that they keep experiencing. People say that we Austrians have this laissez-faire attitude too. A special and very pleasant local atmosphere.
What sets Entweder und oder apart from your previous albums?
In the last four years I've toured all through Europe with a ship. At many stops we collaborated with artists from the different regions. It was a bombastic project, my Mount Everest. The new album has a reduced and more transparent sound, it's much more personal. I also got together with a rock band for Entweder und oder. A completely new sound always develops when you play with new people.
"Contentment is hostile to life"
Munich - Hubert von Goisern on his new album "EntwederUndOder",
tavern halls and the dream of writing an opera.
Three years after S'Nix Hubert von Goisern is now presenting a new studio album: EntwederUndOder. We met the 58-year-old musical multi-talent for a conversation and as befits the title of the new record, at first simply asked his either-or questions:
When you were playing as a kid - were you a cowboy or an Indian?
Definitely more Indian. They were the lurkers. The ones that said little, but looked meaningfully across the landscape. Cowboys are rather loud, rough.
Optimist or pessimist?
(Thinks.) Both. It depends on the situation in life. I'm either completely convinced that everything is right the way it is, then I can live out an unswerving optimism. But I've also often had the experience that Murphy's Law of "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" can strike at any time.
Clarinet or trumpet?
Both. But if I have to give preference to one instrument, then it's the trumpet - actually the flugelhorn, because it has a softer sound. I didn't like it when I was young, I wanted to have something sharp and shrill. But now I prefer the lyrical sound of the flugelhorn. The clarinet? Yeah, I'm slowly coming round to thinking it's not so awful (laughs).
Electric guitar, or accordion?
That really is an either-AND-or. It depends: if there's electricity, then the electric guitar.
Where do you prefer to perform: on rivers as on your Linz Europe Tour or on land?
The river was an exception. But I could imagine doing it until the cows come home, because it's just so great: never having to pack and unpack, but just mooring the ship, putting the stage up and playing. There's something really wonderful about that. But you are restricted to the shoreland.
In your private life do you prefer the village or the city?
I need an urban environment to get ideas, to compose, to add something to what is man-made. When I'm among nature, I see that there's nothing I can add. Nature is perfect in itself, I could only improve it for the worse.
Blues or jazz?
More blues. As far as jazz is concerned, I'm with Frank Zappa: "It's not dead, but it smells funny." The real jazz heroes made their mark in the fifties, sixties and seventies: Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington. That was time when it was great. It's gone downhill since then.
Final either-or question: Hiatamadl or Alpinkatze?
One is contingent upon the other.
What does folk music mean to you?
(Thinks for a long time.) I don't think about terminology any more. When I still dealt with it, it was clear to me that when more people in Austria know Beatles songs than know a couple of folk songs, you couldn't say that Beatles songs weren't folk music. Folk music is what people make their own. But like I said: I really don't think about terminology any more - "homeland" for example - it's constraining. Traditions are on the other hand something with which I very often deal - and enjoy doing so, because they are everyday. Folk music or folk culture is something that takes place in the village. Traditions happen always and everywhere. We spoke of the tradition of jazz, there are traditions in painting, in clothes. It's how one defines belonging. Breaking it or serving it is a everyday event. The positive thing about traditions is that they are a wealth of experience that was acquired over generations and must be tested again and again to see if they are still valid in the here and now. Because you don't get far if you're carrying around too many traditions, you end up staying in the village. If you want to get out of the village, you need to empty your rucksack at some point and reduce it to a more manageable travel pack. And if you're very brave, you leave everything behind.
The tavern also has tradition as a social venue. You've recently played in a number of taverns. Must one be as widely travelled as you in order to learn to love the tavern hall as a concert venue again?
It was important to me that I have satisfied many of my dreams. After a journey like the Linz Europe Tour, which was an epic journey through epic landscape, in which we had to be far away from the audience, I saw it as a necessity to let the pendulum swing in the other direction, to become more intimate. We managed it with the new music. The desire to play in taverns came when I was still composing. The people around me shook their heads and said it was dumb. Playing the tavern halls was a therapy - intended for my musicians. But then it turned out to be a much greater therapy for me. (Laughs.)
I've built up a great timidity towards the audience over the years. As they became thousands, it was too many to be able have personal contact. In the beginning of the big success, I hadn't realised and allowed people to get very close to me. Until I noticed that the people who were getting very close were the ones who got in your face. The great majority of people have a feel for closeness and distance. But then there are the patients ... You plan to avoid the situations that are too close and thus over the years this shyness in front of an audience develops, perhaps even worry that someone could be there who (pauses) needs a therapeutic conversation. I was able to deconstruct this shyness in the taverns. The regulation of the group still works there. This normality was a wonderful experience.
None of your other records are rooted as deeply in blues and country as EntwederUndOder...
The records feeds off the energy that comes from country and blues. I grew up with the blues. Country is as close and at the same time as suspect to me as folk music. There's a lot of light and dark. When you look at the country scene there's plenty that's as good as Musikantenstadl. But of course there are lots of great people who are trying to make a break. I wanted to make music as pared down as Johnny Cash managed on American Recordings.
Finally: you dream of one day composing an opera or writing a novel. How's that going?
No idea (laughs). When I disbanded the Alpinkatzen in 1994 and prescribed myself a two year break, which then became seven years, I tried to live a content happiness. Because I had achieved much more than I had ever dreamed of. It took three, four years until I realised that this situation really wasn't good for me. There have to be dreams and wishes. Being content is fine for the moment. It's wonderful that there are these moments in which we are content. But permanent is hostile to life. So I'm happy that I still have these big wishes and dreams.
"I can always hear music inside myself"
LINZ. Hubert von Goisern has pared down his music. On the new album ENTWEDERundODER the singers tells of the fundamental connections and aspects of life. He returns both introverted and extroverted to the starting point of his music.
You're back with a new album after a year and a half. How did it come about?
I let my ideas mature, until the pressure I was putting on myself was so great that I knew that I wanted to formulate something new musically again. It's not by any means a conscious step, but rather the moments in which I find myself with the accordion back in my hand in my studio.
How high are your own expectations of yourself having played music for so long?
They're no higher than they were 30 years ago. I'm still crapping myself before my shows. Before every production, before every audience. And also in case nothing smart ever comes to mind again. Things do always occur to me, but the cool numbers are a gift. I don't want to litter the world with even more noise. Silence is a valuable commodity. When I play, I want the music to be strong enough and have such a quality that it's worth breaking the silence.
Why was the band pared down to drums, bass and guitar on this album?
I halved the band because this great orchestral instrumentation that we had on the Linz Europe Tour and on the album S'NIX wouldn't have suited the new songs. I would have overloaded the music and I didn't want that.
Which artist designed the CD cover?
Robert Rottensteiner, I've known him for six years. He is a great illustrator and artist. It's my first cover to have been drawn by an artist. The idea came when we were sitting with him in Carinthia and I played him a couple of songs from the new album.
There was a tour in the spring where you played the new songs in little taverns in Austria. How did this concept come about?
I wanted us to come down from this great show that we had on the Linz Europe Tour. I thought that the numbers had now turned out trim and transparent and perhaps sparing at time, but nonetheless you didn't get the feeling that something was missing. Before playing these new songs to a big audience, I wanted to have the fitting setting and intimacy as well.
What effect did the tavern tour have on your and the band?
I think it was very important and therapeutic for us. I saw that it was good for us all to be back at eye level and in contact with audience. You drink your beer at the bar afterwards and people want to talk to you and see whether you're really flesh and blood.
There's also a TV documentary about the tavern tour on ServusTV...
It's turned out very well and I'm happy it has been made. I'm normally not happy with films about me, but it's different in this case.
Are you self-critical then?
Yes, I always cringe when I see myself. I don't listen to my own songs either. Only if I have to because somebody thinks they're making me happy by putting on one of my CDs.
What is music generally like for you in private?
I don't like background music. It's too exhausting, because I have to listen constantly. When it's quiet I can always hear music inside myself.
Out of context, I noticed two lines while listening to the CD: "I kann net sagen, dass ma was abgeht" (I can't say that I'm missing anything") and "zu meinem Glück fehlt nimma viel" ("to my happiness, there's never much missing") ...
These lines describe an anxious state. This realisation that even if things aren't as you would like them to be, there's not much missing. It's like a lullaby and is meant to take away your cares. It's about a situation that reminds you that not just good fortune, but also - thank God - bad fortune is fleeting.
The tragedy of private life
His river journeys and the big S'Nix project cost the 58-year-old world musician Hubert von Goisern a lot of energy. With somewhat smaller instruments he now follows up with Entwederundoder – and must be able to adjust to the standards of his daughter.
Hubert, Entwederundoder has turned out to be a completely unpretentious album and yet is as typical of you as anything else. Is it the lowest common Goisern-denominator we can hear here?
The most recent things such as the ship project and the album S'Nix were mega opulent, conceived for big stages, the compositions being almost suite-like. All that time I withdrew myself personally a great deal and worked rather more in service of the project. It's logical that I then needed a counterweight afterwards. So the new pieces are much more intimate and not as complex, so as not to distract from the core.
A lot sounds structurally familiar. Is it nonetheless new material?
Yes, I started composing in September 2010. Since then there were always phases in which I thought: no, you can't do that. But then I thought: you're old enough to no longer have to be ashamed of what you do.
A few words on the new band ...
... which with Severin Trogbacher, Helmut Schartlmüller and Alex Pohn is actually the old band - apart from the girls from Ganes and the keyboarder David Lackner, who didn't want to go on tour for the time being, because he has too much to do with the ORF. I look for musicians who bring with them the tendency to play the way I imagine. But they're on a long lead. The band co-composed on S'Nix, this time they were heavily involved in the arrangements. Due to this a lot came out differently from the way I had imagined it in the solitude of composing.
There is an instrumental number called ÜUOÖ, which perhaps needs explaining.
Yes, it's actually not so new. It's a composition in which I time and again meditate myself away with the accordion, I like it a lot.
You are often asked on new peak climbs and extreme experiences. Are your aims becoming smaller with age?
My aims are always dependent on the creative phase. When I'm on tour, I can't be creative and compose at the same time. Men are not known for their multitasking capabilities and that's how it is for me. But certainly I have plans and dreams, but I don't press so much any more to make sure that something is always happening.
Do you prefer talking about yourself, or about the rest of the world?
I find politics more exciting than my music, which should be self-explanatory and not need any words.
Okay: Amy Winehouse, Euro crisis, Oslo terror, famine catastrophes - can we still be saved?
Well, I don't think the world is going to end. The death of Amy Winehouse cut me to the quick - why didn't she have a protective sphere around her? My 18-year-old daughter said: sure, it's a tragedy, but the real problem is Norway. My son countered: Somalia is worse. I say: the true tragedy is in the private life, that's where there is a need for action.
Sorry, Hubert, I have to stop here. My wife is calling on the other line - her car's broken down!
Like I said: the real tragedy is in the private life. Now go and help her ... we're done here, aren't we?
Hubert von Goisern with a new album
What is typically Austrian? HE is for example. Since his hit Hiatamadl Hubert von Goisern has been part of Austrian culture - he loves his homeland - but also flirts with it and often adopts a more serious tone. Now the exceptional artist, who swings somewhere between yodelling, jazz and reggae, is releasing his eagerly awaited new album, the title of which signals that he doesn't like doing things by halves.
Hubert von Goisern - "I'm a slowcoach"
Hubert von Goisern releases "Entwederundoder"
Hubert von Goisern has found a creative backdrop in Munich for the interviews for his new album Entwederundoder (release: 02.09.): a row of picturesque artist studio houses approved for demolition. The 58 year old folk music rebel invited us to a conversation in front of large-scale, abstract imagery. Looking as great as always, a good ten years younger than he actually is, he rolls cigarettes, give well-considered answers, weighing up and thinking. To then talk about pubescent kids, sniffles with noseflute players, chocolate on Wiener schnitzel and his inability to consider Buddhist life.
The lyrics of your new album deal a lot with transience: Lebwohl, Es is wias is, Nit lang her. You'll be 60 next year, is that noticeable in the lyrics?
Not necessarily. I've always been preoccupied with death, with dying and becoming, as a young boy I would go to cemeteries. These places fascinate me and I have often written songs about transience and the end. But perhaps it's easier to find the words for the subject, because it's more relevant. As a young person you have so many other things around you. I've gone through life enough with it to be aware of the transience of the moment.
Because then you enjoy it more? But Buddhists say that you shouldn't think about the future and that the moment is passing. You should only be in the moment.
That is the great target, but it doesn't actually work for us. Aside from that there is something soothing about not just being in the now, but looking back. At what you've done.
It's good to think about why you've done something, why you put one foot in front of the other. If you're completely in the here and now, there's no aim any more. I finished with the Alpinkatzen in 1994, because in my opinion I had achieved everything I wanted and more. I wanted to have a two year break, which turned into more than six. I was completely content.
No, it occurred to me that I was actually completely unhappy. Because I didn't have any aims any more, no wishes, no dreams. I was content in the here and now. But just not happy unfortunately. So I reluctantly began to plan, to dream. - of going on stage again.
Six years without the stage: do you need the audience's feedback for your self-confidence?
Approval is something without which I'd have a hard time. I'm a herd animal, I like being surrounded by people and need their approval that what I'm doing and the way I'm living is right.
On your tavern tour you appeared in extremely isolated places where concerts never otherwise take place. Were you known there? Did the farmers gripe about the mutilation of their folk heritage?
Most people know me, you can't avoid me any more in Austria. But what fascinated me was that more than half the people had never been to a concert in their life. Concerts, weren't part of their existence! But they all took it on very positively.
What's it like when the audience is so close?
When I play music my visual sense ceases to exist. I don't see the audience at all. It was no different on the tavern tour. I don't register anything from outside. I don't like looking at people, because if I were to look at someone, a beautiful woman for example, then all I could do is look and I'd have to stop playing.
You are just a man ...
Not even in that moment! My musicians often say to me: "Phwoar, did you see that great women, the fox in the front row, right in front of you, she looked so good." And I have to always realise that I haven't registered her. It's a shame actually! (laughs)
Are you a late bloomer? You studied music at 27, became a professional musician at 30, your success came at an age at which others stop going on stage.
I'm a slowcoach. (thinks for a long time). Everyone must go at their own tempo. Back then everyone thought I was crazy when at the age of 30 I said: "Right, I'm a musician now!" Everyone said that I should have done it when I was younger, it was too late now. But I was too afraid when I was young. Only when I reached 30 did I dare to orient myself towards nothing but my own wishes.
How did you earn your money before then?
As a chemistry laboratory assistant and as a ski salesman in Canada, my ex-wife was a Canadian.
You travelled the world when you were young and learned to play lots of unusual instruments. Does this Filipino noseflute really exist?
Yes, there are noseflutes.
What do the musicians do when they have the sniffles?
Nobody has the sniffles in the Philippines. Only a few very old people can play this instrument now. And it's right: I travelled a lot, but it was the opposite of a jetset holiday. No pina coladas and white beaches. What drives me is the curiosity to find out what else there is, what people, what ideas. Travelling is always such an intense time for me, because you're somewhere where you don't know anybody. You see yourself completely anew, with different eyes. Nothing is interpreted, you're a blank sheet. It's just the way I am that I often don't do things that I want to do, because other people expect it of me. If nobody expects anything of me, it's easier for me to put intentions into action.
But instead you are confronted with prejudices. For Asians you must be a white guy with a long nose, who eats sauerkraut and yodels all day long ...
Sure, but I find that exciting. Because it's nice when these projections are made against you. Then I find it easy to say: "You're making it pretty simple, aren't you?" I have come across enough Africans who have no sense of rhythm. So I too had to dismiss my prejudice that everything that comes out of Africa grooves.
Your music was not influences by these journeys though: you play rock, jazz, blues, folk music - and that's it.
Definitely! I reject that. I think it's bad when someone says that he plays world music and then takes the vocals of an Inuit woman, an African drum, an Indian sitar and samples the whole thing together. That's not world music, that's all-purpose music. I like this regionalism. I also don't see why you need to garnish a perfect dish like a Wiener schnitzel with chocolate. I don't like listening to Austrian-inspired music in Africa, I prefer to listen to Africa. My musical gatherings always have a background of a personal gathering. I travel just to look for encounters.
With all your travelling, where and how do you live now?
In a big house with three sides, horseshoe-shaped.
An old place?
I can only really imagine you in an old place ...
My family didn't go along with that. Because old places can only be found far out in the country. But my family wanted to stay close to the city. They told me that I'm always travelling and have big cities around me, but they'd have to live all year in the middle of nowhere, just so that I could relax in the country during tour breaks. Do we built a new house in 2004, near Salzburg.
You're still married to your third wife ...
Still. My boy is 23 now, she had to make sure for five years that I was the right father for her children. Our daughter is 17.
How do you get on with your pubescent daughter?
I don't talk about that. Just to say: it's intense, but good inspiration too.
Does your family give you musical tips?
That studio at home is open, they can come in any time. But they don't. They only hear it when it's finished. For my wife everything with which I struggle is too close to. She is an educationist and works at the university in Salzburg. She has an exciting job and is very, very good at it.
Not one of those women who stand behind their husband while he's twiddling knobs in the studio?
No, definitely not!
What would you have done if the music hadn't worked out?
Something in the natural world. Maybe the landlord of a mountain hut! But I'd take down all the signs so that nobody could find me (laughs).
You look for the solitude of the natural world in order to recharge your batteries ...
Yes, always. Hiking, going into the mountains, cycling. I had a guilty conscience as far as nature was concerned because of my electricity consumption. Now I use solar power for the studio. By now you could turn off my electricity, gas and water and it wouldn't change much in my life.
Hubert von Goisern's Tavern Tour
The rock yodelling multi-instrumentalist Hubert von Goisern on musical early education,
self-discovery and the difficulty of the simple
Taking into account the DVDs and live concert recording, EntwederUndOder is the 20th release exactly from Hubert von Goisern since Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassn. With that album Hubert Achleitner from Goisern won the attribute "unstoppable". And today, at the tender age of 58, though he by no means looks it, the rock yodelling multi-instrumentalist can afford more than ever to challenge his audience. A conversation about musical early education, self-discovery and the difficulty of the simple.
I was a little surprised by the new album EntwederUndOder.
I'm surprised that you were surprised.
It wasn't to be expected that you had taken yourself back so much, pared down the music and singing to this extent.
I agree that the album offers surprise. Although Hage Hein (Ed.: his manager) thinks it is the big reconciliation record. Then others say that it's the big disturbance record.
If you're feeling crabby you could certainly be disturbed by it. It consists only of quoted styles. And they come from earlier times, when the album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassn started your career in in 1991 in the Lustspielhaus in Munich.
I had to put the brakes on myself to make sure I didn't make the thing too complex. It's much more difficult to make something simple than something complex.
The album is actually conservative.
There's simply nothing concealed. I didn't put any flourishes on anything. That's what I imposed on myself.
How many musicians were involved?
Only four actually. I play the piano myself live. For the studio I got hold of two keyboard players I know, because I have so much to coordinate that it wouldn't have made sense any other way. For Lebwohl and Nit lang her.
And you play clarinet too?
Yes and Jews' harp. Everything that's unrelated.
The lyrics are reminiscent – I don't want to offend you – of early Wecker lyrics with their compulsion to rhyme. No complicated wordplay.
Then that's good. Then it's worked. There are some weird rhythms in there, in Indianer for example, it's a 5/4 and you can't sing anything complicated over that.
It's the music of your youth.
I've now allowed things where I would have previously said: no, that's too clear, that's been done before, even if it was in a different form. But now you can say: it's tradition, I'm part of the continuity in songwriting.
And the combination of alpine and rock is a look back over your own history.
Well, I grew up with the blues, that was my first epiphany. When I played the blues for the first time at the age of 16, I thought: that's it. And now I've dared to do it myself.
I've never heard you play a blues. Ten years ago in the Lustspielhaus there were just a couple of pieces by the Stones.
My first band was a pure blues group. But when I started to write myself, I of course wanted to develop my own language. And now I finally have the feeling that I've broken free in playing and composing.
And is this now the accomplished work?
No, it's not finished yet. It's an ongoing process.
Was it the case that you sat down and said: so, now I'll do something completely different? Or was it a long-term development?
It took some time. It came from the exhaustion from the opulence of the Linz Europe Tour in particular, where everything was simply huge. We had loads of guests and I scaled myself back a great deal so that everyone would have room, so everyone would feel happy. I didn't want anyone to have the feeling that he was just finery for me. But in the end I was really starved and wanted a project that was more personal, more intimate.
Did you produce it in the mountains as you did Trad II?
No, in my studio in Salzburg. Producing on the mountain was amazing. It was full concentration. But at 2000 metres above sea level you can't get the force. The air is so thin that nothing comes out. You shout loudly, or beat loudly on the drum and nothing comes. But you don't hear it until you're mixing. You have less mass to swing and less pressure on the membranes up there. But you have a super transparency, but it doesn't work for a punch.
The sounds on the new album are very bare too. The beginning of Indianer for example sounds like the old Shadows from the sixties.
I have a friend who said: I want to build a guitar amplifier for you. I said, I have everything, a Marshall, a Fender, a Vox. Then at some point he rang me: I've built you an amplifier, it has everything. And it's true: it sounds super from vintage to the heaviest modern sound.
Everything sounds so direct, not at all digital.
We recorded a lot of things with just one microphone. So not on tracks that were then mixed together. Only the vocals and a few solos were mixed later.
And the musical motifs? A lot sounds like Little Feet, there's ska in Indianer, Hält nit an has the harmonies of Hang On Sloopy, Es is wias is is reminiscent of Sting's Moon Over Bourbon Street, with a different rhythm.
Earlier I always tried to get music out of the guitar and accordion that didn't automatically come from these instruments. And with the vibe that the guitar has, a lot of things volunteer themselves because they sound cool.
And the extreme, almost agonising slowness of the landler Über-Unter-OberÖsterreich. Do you sustain that tempo in concerts too?
Yes. In most cases it's the first number. And it's a real test as the first number.
There has lately been the remark that you are a kind of Christian Stückl of folk music. Is that an insult?
It's not something I would have thought of myself, but it's not wrong. He takes from tradition too and has a very down to earth approach to his material.
Keyword tradition: Hiatamadl was your big hit. Is it both a blessing and a curse when you land a hit like that?
It's just a cool number. I've enjoyed playing it, then for a long time I didn't. We played it now and again this year at first. After three times, I said: I can't play it any more. Either we find a new approach, or we'll leave it. And then we rehashed it in a session. For me it's on a par with the old version.
After the first big run of success, there was a Hubert von Goisern farewell tour.
Next year we're playing a hundred concerts. So the year will be pretty full. And on the topic of farewells: I want to work towards that. So that at the end of the year, I say: it's over now, there's no more fuel. Something pretty unusual needs to happen for me to be back on stage in 2013.
TV tip: Hubert von Goisern on tavern tour
Twenty years ago Hubert von Goisern brought his kind of folk music to the city. Now Hubert and his guys have come back to the country again, via Africa and Eastern Europe. With less accordion than he's had in a long time and instead harder things in his setlist.
"The Danube tour was Mount Everest for me, so a paring down afterwards was necessary and logical," the Salzburger says. And so the new album - Entweder und Oder released 2nd September - is presented in a compactness that hasn't been Hubert von Goisern style in a long time. Reduced to the quintessential. Bass, drums, guitar and the accordion too are there, but in contrast to earlier days they are clearly in the background. No great show, but rather the tavern. And so the Goiserer presented his new songs to the public. He travelled Austria on a tavern tour. Five gigs across the country. "No extras, no bright lights, no show," he says and stood on crudely carpentered stages. Here and there was even a curtain that was pulled aside as the music began, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
Most of the time, things went straight from the little room where the apples were stored into the tavern hall. Back to the beginnings. In earlier times Hubert von Goisern stood alone on the street and carried his music into the city. He later sang with Alpine Cat Wolfi Staribacher in the "Roter Engel" in Vienna - also a pub - until his big breakthrough brought with it big auditoriums, tour buses and helicopters.
The tavern tour was definitely a journey into the past as well as the present. "Of course it wasn't always romantic - but the close contact with the audience and the fresh country air were good for keeping a grip on reality," the musician notes. From the Salzkammergut to the Czech border, across the republic. Hard tavern beds, instead of hotel comfort. Friendly people, many of whom were experiencing their first concert.
"Driving yourself means finding your own way," the Goiserer says from behind the wheel with no sat nav. The tour was accompanied by a film team and a kind of road movie developed. Like the music, the film is unvarnished and direct. The camera doesn't lead, it accompanies. Taverns, as they have radiated their own charm for decades. the regulars' table, bar, the hall where weddings are usually celebrated, schnitzel, potato salad, wine from two-litre bottles, beer from the tap, peanuts from the vending machine and the Manner wafers shining pink. The film by Chris Weisz can be seen on Thursday 25th August at 8.15pm and on Tuesday, 30th August at 21.05pm on Servus TV. It is a must-see TV tip that shows clearly how music television can be: authentic and good enough to make you weak at the knees.
The tavern aids the therapy
Hubert von Goisern looks for grounding the closeness of guesthouse halls - Servus TV filmed
Vienna - Hubert von Goisern is happy. The second most famous Goiserer has a delicate procedure behind him: the re-transfer of an urban folk music to the backwoods. The most remote and sleepy nests opened their sociocultural hearts - that is: their guesthouses.
Goisern came along with four band members, a sound engineer and a TV team. So came about the documentary that will be shown on ServusTV on Thursday. The channel has also pursued a rather manageable audience thus far.
The protagonist is "very happy" with the documentary: "Of course there are a couple of things that I wouldn't have included, but I'm biased and would rather show myself at my best. So I'm happy there are people who do that for me."
The entertainer shows no signs of inhibition on stage - be it a hydraulic one with strobe lights, or one made of wood with standing lamps. Nonetheless, there is a degree of reticence when he talks about his relationship to the audience. "I've built up quite a level of timidity in front of the audience over the years. There are many people out there who look for contact with me after the concert and have no feel for the private sphere. I know that they are the exception, but in time you project this onto the rest of the audience."
He primarily wanted to just ground his band with the closeness of the taverns. In time the therapeutic effect also made itself felt on him. "There's no backstage area, you can't escape. Everything's at eye level." He hadn't looked for the conversation with his fans, but he couldn't deny the charm of a small swaying and singing crowd, as befits a tavern. "You don't want to go straight to your room after the concert, instead you stay in the room downstairs and conversations take place. I found it very refreshing."
"Archives are overflowing"
Goisern explains that he didn't start the discussion of a documentary about this personal trip through Austria: "ServusTV sought me out." ServusTV belongs to Red Bull, the programming being determined by the company boss himself, Dietrich Mateschitz, who made possible Goisern's Danube ship expedition down to the Black Sea.
"I wouldn't have pushed it myself, because I think too much in the world is documented", says Goisern: "The archives are overflowing and distract people from the here and now." The star presents himself a defender of the past and guard of the moments that must be protected like soap bubbles from bursting.
But he finds a great deal to be worth documenting too. The journey the band made to Timbuctu for the Festival au Desért is often shown on TV, only one broadcaster has thus far spurned the film: the ORF. "There are some resentments between me and the ORF. I'm not happy with the way the ORF treats Austrian artists. The ORF isn't happy with my comments on their programming. There are only a few people whom I respect and they feel it over there."
Things are fine without the the ORF and Red Bull likes to help. Hubert von Goisern has a knack for his own marketing. Reserved, but not boring, true to his homeland, open for other cultures is how the singer stakes out his territory, in which he time and again tries something new.
He has already tried out the pared down songs of his album Entweder und Oder on the tavern audience. They thanked him with sold-out halls. And with a furtive Hiatamadl on their lips.
Hubert von Goisern invokes the saints
After the Danube ship tour Hubert von Goisern has become small and personal - and unusually humorous - with his new album"Entwederundoder"
Saint Rita - she's Hubert von Goisern's favourite. Because her job is to make the impossible possible. That's why he calls upon her in the I versteh di nit, one of the songs on Hubert's new album Entwederundoder.
Even if the pumping blues song is meant humorously and the musician left the church long ago, the saints are nonetheless not distant from him. "I'm Christianly socialised and you can't shake off this moral concept", von Goisern explained in the interview with Kurier. "I often call upon the saints in life."
"Faith has a lot to do with letting go"
With varying results. With Rita "it's enough that she manages sometimes" to make the impossible possible. But when von Goisern invokes Saint Antonius, who makes lost items findable, there's a higher strike rate: "I sometimes find things where it makes me think, did someone put that there?"
He thinks that a lot of psychology is behind it: "When you invoke Antonius, you've already been looking a long time. And then you give up and call upon him. And I think that it is this letting go that works - when you go from searching to finding. Faith itself has a lot to do with letting go: when you have the feeling that you're not alone, you don't have to navigate everything alone, but instead abandon yourself to the stream of life - with the faith that it will take me where I need to go."
Satirical snippets of thought
Every song on Entwederundoder is a snapshot like I versteh di nit - satirical snippets of thought about burning money, relationships, the meaning of life. That, says von Goisern, is a direct response to the Danube and Rhine tour, for which the 58-year-old concert a cargo ship into a stage, sailing through Europe with it from 2007 to 2009 and giving concerts on the river banks with local musicians.
"I was occupied with that for four intense years. In order to give all the other musicians a forum, I scaled myself back a great deal. The previous CD S'Nix also arose in a composing collective and sprawlingly arranged. Through that came the longing to let the new songs be small, intimate and personal."
The idea of playing in taverns was also a direct response to the Danube tour: "I wanted to ground us again. Management and the record company weren't very excited about it. They said: "Why should we make ourselves small when we're big?" But the fact that this counter argument was made was proof to me that this was necessary for us."
Between beer mugs and pork knuckle
Thus in 2011 Hubert von Goisern played in guesthouses in villages that were hours from the cities in which he usually plays. In village pubs that hold 240 people and don't have a backstage area, where Hubert had to cut a path through pork knuckle and beer mugs with his show. "It was a painful process, because I don't like getting into close contact with the fans. There are too many and people often say stupid things to me. But in an intimate setting, it was manageable."