Hubert von Goisern
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"Adrenalin spurts out of my ears"

echo - Rosenheimer Wochenblatt 25th October 2000 | Text: Alexandra Burgmaier | Photo: Trux

Hubert von Goisern in interview about his new CD Fön and the planned tour

Hubert von Goisern is back. On the 6th November, his new CD Fön will be released. At the same time the advance booking starts for his concert on 7th April next year in the Rosenheim Kultur und Kongress Zentrum.

It is six years since you celebrated success on stage with the Original Alpinkatzen. Why the long break?

If you don't count the appearance with the Tibet project, then the last appearance was on 1st November 1994 in Münster. When you are on tour for so long, you become totally divorced from reality. I wanted time for my family. I thought at that time that I would be on stage again in two years. But then straight away it was moved on with the film music for Schlafes Bruder, with the concert film Wia die Zeit Vergeht, with the work on the live album. I did the music for the two-parter Die Fernsehsaga and the music for the kids' film Ein Sack voller Lügen. The two journeys to Africa happened. Then the trips to Tibet and India. The two CDs Gombe and Inexil.

What is the feeling like, to soon be standing on stage again?

I was always terrifically nervous before concert appearances. It won't be different this time. Going on the stage is like a striptease. You are naked, open to attack, you can make a fool of yourself. The adrenalin spurts out the ears. But nowhere else, except if you climb a steep face, are you so completely in the here and now. The only music there is for me is live music. It has something mystical for me. I lack singing aloud every day for two to three hours. You only do that on the stage.

How has your way of making music , your music style on the new CD in comparison to the time with the Alpinkatzen changed?

I cannot judge myself to what extent I have distanced myself from my earlier style. But I originally set myself the target to only be on stage again when I had developed myself. My music at the time of the Alpinkatzen was a style of rocky translation of folk music. Now the style is rather a mixture of funk, blues and rock. It certainly still contains folk music elements, but I grew up with the music of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Miles Davis as well. And that all shows up in my CD Fön.

Why this title, Fön?

It absolutely had to have an umlaut in it. Some academic wants to say that the many umlauts in our language make us grumpy. Such rubbish. For me, Fön describes the creative process. Fön is an extreme condition to bear out. I simply rationalised the 'h' away. As an artist, you can write how it seems to you.

Are there songs from earlier that you are playing on your Fön tour?

The song Heast as nit, wia die Zeit Vergeht, then some pieces from the Africa CD and four or five songs from the CD I'm working on right now.

You do not want to play Hiatamadl?

I don't think that I will play it. My audience and I are six years older. The best thing I can imagine would be that my appearances are so gripping that the audience don't notice that I haven't played Hiatamadl until they get home.

Jörg Haider was always a subject with you. Is the political situation in Austria mentioned on the new CD?

Through the last elections, what was hitherto swept under the carpet is finally on the table. 20% voted for Haider and 20% didn't go to vote. I reproach these non-voters the most. Haider and the FPÖ have only become what we have made them. Now everything has come to the surface. Now one can concern oneself with it actively. In Kålt on the Fön CD are original quotations from Haider as coded eight liners in the booklet. I begrudge his name being there. I don't know how many people can take the trouble to see whether they could crack it.

Hubert von Goisern

SZ 21. September 2000 | Text & Photo: Josef H. Handlechner
Hubert von Goisern and Band

Hubert von Goisern has brought out a new album. Bad Ischl was present at the presentation of the singer's new opus, Fön, in more ways than one. The Hohtraxlecker Sprungschanznmusi took care of the musical part of the evening in the Neubauhütte and played into the new day. Admittedly the musicians could not keep from climbing the Sonnblick the next day.

One of the few Austrian concert dates in March will take place in the Kongress & Theater Haus in Bad Ischl. Not least a reason that director Robert Herzog and Hannes Heide as organiser of the concert went 3,105 metres high. The new CD is released at the very beginning of November. Our picture shows Hubert von Goisern with his new band and dog Bongo.

Hubert is back

Portrait im Traunspiegel November 2000 | Text: Alexander Savel

He was away from the stage for six years, now he is returning. His new CD is called "Fön" and for him is the most personal he has made until now. In an interview Hubert von Goisern reveals what the reasons were for his long absence and what he has already prepared for the future.

The day of the interview could not have been more typical: a hot Föhn day in the middle of October. Since Hubert's CD is called Fön and he sings: "wånn da fön geht, dånn krieg i glei wieder schädlweh" ("when the Fön blows, then I get a headache again"), the first question was whether he had a headache today: "No, I actually feel really good. Föhn is an extreme condition for me, like composing."

Hubert von GoisernThe sudden end

Exactly six years ago on the 1st November 1994, Hubert von Goisern stood on the stage with the Alpinkatzen for the last time. He was at the peak of his success. Hiatamadl was played everywhere, rocked on stage, sung in the audience.

Then the sudden end that only his family and close friends understood. For it was these people the sensitive musician wanted to devote himself to more in the future. "After the success of the Alpinkatzen project, time was necessary, time to ground myself, time for my family, for journeys and for new experiences."

Actually, he wanted to return to the stage after just two years, but things turned out differently from planned. "It was in December 1994, in deepest winter, when Jane Goodall dropped in to see me in Goisern. She was wearing a borrowed coat, and borrowed moon boots. Michael Neugebauer had told her about me and brought her over. It was the beginning of a friendship. She invited me to Africa many times, and finally from the experiences came a film and a CD."

Many projects realised

The "Tibet" project arose as well, a CD came from that too. 100,000 copies were sold of these two records, a sign for Hubert von Goisern that the public's taste is not as one-dimensional as is often portrayed. The film music to Schlafes Bruder, the two-part Fernsehsaga, the children's film Ein Rucksack voller Lügen were further projects in this time. "But then I said to myself: now I want to be back on stage. I need to feel the audience again. For a year I brooded about the what and how. Until I noticed that I had still not written any of my own songs. I simply sat myself down, played my instruments and noted down everything that came out of me. I think that the new CD Fön is the most personal I have ever made."

Hubert has matured in the last six years. "I was very rocky with the Alpinkatzen. I wanted to become subtler, soul, funky..." The music was written first. There are many elements, from country (Da Dåsige) through reggae (Katholisch) to blues (Fön) and rock (Kålt), also beautiful melodies (Die Stråss'n, Da Diab, Fia Di) with beautiful lyrics: "aber i kimm ma vir als wir a diab - dirndl - von deiner liab" ("but I seem like a thief - girl - of your love"). Or : "Nur nit herzoag'n, das wås weh tuat, daß i di no liab, nur nit trenz'n, nur nit woana, außer wånn's neamd siagt" ("I must always hide that I feel pain, That I still love her, Never weep, never cry, Except if nobody can see it")

Room for fantasy

On first hearing, one may be surprised by the complexity of the music. "I want to create a room for the listeners to create their own fantasy." You must listen to Fön repeatedly, discover details, learn to understand the sense and then perhaps Fön is the best CD Hubert von Goisern has made. "I wanted to be completely honest, because only if you say what you think, do you find out if it is also right." What Hubert does not know is how he will come back with it. "I am conscious that I set the bar very high six years ago. But they are really wonderful musicians with whom I will go on stage, they are the same musicians I played with on the CD. My anticipation is enormous anyway. I cannot imagine that I will play old songs, except Heast as Nit. For that reason, there will be songs from my next CD, on which I will record folk songs. Interpreted as I see them, with a timeless, simple arrangement."

From alpine rock to yodel jazz

Giessener Anzeiger 8th November 2000 | Text: Markus Schwarz - AP

Hubert von Goisern starts a comeback - "More elegant and subtle"

Munich (AP): In the background a drum grooves, in the foreground electric guitar and accordion fight playfully, a throaty voice starts a broad melodic sing song, only understandable for the residents of areas with alpine views. Hubert von Goisern is here again. And the elements from which he has crafted on his record Fön (Lawine/ Virgin), released this week, have remained the same.

Nevertheless, after a six year break, which was only broken by two CDs with ethno sounds, Hubert von Goisern sounds completely different from up to his last concert with the Alpinkatzen on the 1st November 1994. Goisern's legs apart folk music does not do a Bavarian folk dance with powerful rock, but dances more playful and elegantly - with borrowings from jazz, funky rhythms and Caribbean swing.

Is that now a conscious departure from the previous "alpine rock" concept? Hubert von Goisern shakes his head thoughtfully and explains: "No, rather a development. I had personally never had anything against the term "alpine rock". The term was first invented for what I did, for what Attwenger or Haindling did. The term does not have any history and does not restrict me because I will not forced into a concept, that does not suit me. Here the way was reversed: we played a new music, then the words "alpine rock" were formed. Mind you, I am doing something different now; but it is still too early to categorise it."

Rocker, globetrotter, folk musician

To make something different was already an essential part of life for Hubert Achleitner (his civil name): he shocked the brass band of his hometown Bad Goisern with long hair and electric guitars; after the end of training as a chemistry laboratory technician, he emigrated to South Africa. He did not cope with the apartheid nation, so he returned, and tried a few years later in Canada. From there he moved to Asia and finally back to Austria again.

This time it is the rock and pop musicians that Hubert von Goisern shocks: at the end of the 80s, he begins to translate folk music into younger and more rhythmic pop language. First in duet with Wolfgang Staribacher, then alone and finally from 1991 with the Alpinkatzen as a combo. The path he follows with his new crossover is stony, but it leads to the top of the charts, as eventually pieces like Hiatamadl and Heast as Nit became hit songs for many generations. The Alpinkatzen were even celebrated at festivals in the pop homeland, the USA.

But at the high point, Goisern ended the Alpinkatzen project. Why? "It is like with food," Hubert von Goisern explained, "You can still have so many good things on your plate, if you are full, you are full. Admittedly I could have still continued in the style of Hiatamadl for two, three years and could have had similar success with similar pieces. But at the end of 1994 a point had been reached where it had started to no longer be fun. And before I have the feeling that I am reeling off something mechanically, I stop."

But Hubert von Goisern never completely stopped. He took responsibility for the film music for Schlafes Bruder, released two world music CDs, acted, travelled to Tibet, met the chimpanzee research scientist Jane Goodall in Africa. In this time plans for a return to tried and tested musical terrain also slowly matured.

Hubert von Goisern went back to ideas that he had had six years ago: "On Fön I translated a lot of what I already had in mind at the end of the Alpinkatzen time: a subtler style of my music. I did not want to simply rock away, but to produce the whole thing a little more elegantly. Nevertheless, there are rocky pieces on the record. But the main focus has shifted. So seen, the record is a development as well as a new beginning."

Föhn weather - Hubert von Goisern

Prosieben 2001 | Photo: Blanko Musik

Hubert von GoisernMr Achleitner had a normal childhood provided that a normal childhood can be spoken of if you grow up in the mountains. For there, the Föhn blows here and there, a warm autumn wind that supposedly makes people crazy.

Crazy for people who wish for a predetermined life for the purpose of an overall view. Not only did the wind that drives you crazy blow around the tip of his nose, it blew him far away. And everywhere a central theme ran through: music.

The beginnings: at 5 years old Achleitner was certain that he wanted to be a conductor. As there was no money available for lessons, they did took the nearest thing and without further ado sent him to the local brass band. To the conductor, his hair was too long, to Hubert Achleitner, the right to a say in the matter too small, so the business ended. From the trumpet, which he had to give back, to the guitar: the concerto variants were too quiet for him. He had to have the electric sweaty instrument. And also the grandfather who taught him the accordion. And every other possible instrument, of more or less exotic nature, which he learned himself ... it was only an alpine cat's jump from the way up to Hubert von Goisern, which indeed led across whole continents, but the beginnings were there. South Africa, Canada, the Philippines ... It took a while until Hubert (still) Achleitner meant and wanted to sniff native mountain air again.

1984 return to Vienna, the work as a freelance musician and the study of experimental music at the Konsortium. At the same time he ran into Wolfgang Staribacher. And where Wolfgang von Wien was, was Hubert von Goisern - it was done. The rest is history. The Alpinkatzen were founded. Hiatamadl became a chart topper, later the musical swan song, a wonderful goodbye, if perhaps also only suspected: Heast as Nit. Only two of many steps which Hubert von Goisern took abroad, to Jane Goodall in Gombe (a CD of the same name arose), to Tibet. And here a new chapter opens. With Hubert von Goisern the Tibetan culture was finally livened up; position declared against the oppression from the side of the Chinese. For, like all crazy people, Hubert von Goisern does not mince his words. He says, sings, plays what things are. Most recently at the Amadeus Awards ceremony. The accusation that Austrian broadcasters do little for the native music scene - cut out ...

Since last autumn, the Föhn has been blowing again. Hubert von Goisern has caught and tamed it. Fön tour. We guess once that he soon lets it out again. The thirst for freedom is too great ...

Goiserer, damned awkward

Hubert von Goisern, was one of the first artists to make his position known about the controversial formation of government. Not least of all he also grabbed the non-voters by the nose. So he always shows his uncompromising side which can sometimes be hurtful (see the break with the Alpinkatzen). Whether it was his many journeys, or whether it may now be a stereotypically mountaineering enthusiast stubbornness is an open question. It is certain that Hubert von Goisern stayed true to himself.

Keyword Hiatamadl:
"I really do not want to play the old things any more, except Heast as Nit perhaps. I rather look forward"

Keyword cinema:
"For me film is the modern of opera. It was a fascinating job to compose the film music for Schlafes Bruder."

Keyword DJ Ötzi:
"Now, all musical levels be covered."

Keyword children:
"If I am asked which people are the most fascinating for me, then it is my two children."

Keyword Catholic:
"We admit that priesthood is also a form of being macho!"

Keyword Canada:
"An unbelievably tolerant country. Perhaps it is connected with geographical size, that the people do not have the feeling that each new immigrant would be one too many."

Keyword Zabine:
"One of the most innovative things to happen to the Austrian music scene. I hope she keeps the strength and excitement."

Keyword Jane Goodall:
"She came to Bad Goisern in deepest winter because a friend wanted to introduce her to me. We talked the whole night, from that came a deep friendship. I am very proud that I could make the documentary film about her and her philosophies."

"Then they should just expatriate me"

Sonntagszeitung 24th June 2001 | Text: Roland Falk

Austria's cult musician Hubert von Goisern about the National Socialism of folk music,
stupidity and the calls of wild chimpanzees.

Hubert von Goisern, what do you have on your feet at the moment?

Is that a well-established Swiss expression for a vulgarity?

No, I ask that because from time to time you drag journalists up 3000m mountains for an interview.

I did that once after the release of a new album. Record baptisms are a celebration for me, and I celebrate that at places that are suitable for me. I don't want to make it all too comfortable for the people who want something from me. That way I keep people at bay who are only coming because there is a free buffet.

While we are on the subject of mountains: how often in your life have you fallen off the rope?

Never, neither in reality, nor in the figurative sense. Somehow it was also great even if it was gruesome. I am an adventurer, and it goes with it that one gets lost now and again. Only this way can one discover something new again and again. Among other things, yourself.

Hitherto, what were the worst precipices for you?

(long pause) It is too early in the morning (laughs). There are certainly some. But I handle fear in such a way that no-one realises it except me.

Don't you like being helped then?

Naturally, I confide in some friends and my family. But that can at most reassure me. In the end, everyone must help themselves. I have not yet experienced anything existentially alarming. I feel too safe in the world.

One of your albums is called Omunduntn. Where are you at the moment - above or below?

Above. On the stage. I was away almost six years and worked above all in the studio, but then I began to miss the audience. After all, I had only wanted to have a two year break. The return was spectacular, but perhaps that is because my expectations are always low.

But I have the impression that now you are storing up a lot.

No, but expectations fulfil themselves. Rather, I have hopes.

What did you miss above all during your time without live appearances - the adrenalin rush?

The excess. The stage is a protected area in which things are possible that one cannot permit oneself in private.

For example?

Singing a song like Katholisch for example.

A song from your new CD Fön in which you credit each priest with a sweetheart.

Or two. In that song, however, I also picked out my own inclination as a central theme. With moral cracks, which everyone of us has got in our upbringing. I must overcome a slight sense of shame.

Were you once a server, or did you just get a religious trauma?

I was already 35 when I had the feeling that I wanted to become a server. The reason was quite simple: I wanted to be on stage.

To speak up against the church obviously still works, although this has long since ceased to be a shocking taboo.

I do not oppose this institution in principal. It still has - ethically at least - an important function, which unfortunately it very often is not aware of.

You'll roast in Hell for your heresies - have you heard about that yet?

No. When Fön came out, I requested an audience with the Archbishop of Salzburg and obtained one. Although I have left the church, I did not want him to find out about that song in a roundabout way. I played him the song and talked about it, whereby I once again became aware of the sad fact that dignitaries are not able to listen. A dialogue was not forthcoming. Those who preach for a long time just forget that other people also have something to say.

Hubert von GoisernFön is being talked about as your best CD ever.

Perhaps that is right. On the other hand, quality is always a question of time. When I listen to the album Alpine Lawine from 1988 for example, there are things there which I still like. Meanwhile, however, my voice has developed. It is much more mine than ten years ago.

Fön without an h - one associates that straight away with triviality like perms.

The title was my contribution to the chaos of the new spelling. Most of which is simply idiotic. But at least with speech you can in the end do you what you want.

The warm autumn wind, which is meant by the title, among other things means clear sight. Do you have that?

One could say that. But it also has to do with atmospheric pressure to which one has to stand firm. And it is deceptive: everything seems so close and then you still need five hours to get to the top. I experience both these things in the creative process.

Earlier you were boldly regarded by the media as laying a bomb in the army of lederhosen wearers. Is that image still correct?

I defend myself further and with great fun against groups who want folk music all to themselves and want to make it something almost National Socialist. This debate won't be over for a long time. People still treat someone who yodels and plays accordion, for miles around as a right winger.

Your current songs nevertheless sound more conciliatory, softer. As someone who is nearly 50 years old, will you suddenly be characterised by old age mildness?

I have become more mature - something that I do not always only see as positive. And I have learned to formulate and conceal criticism so that it will also be swallowed by the people that it should really affect. Enlightened people eternally ready to be confirmed in their opinion - that does not advance anything or anyone.

Music experts recognise influences on the Fön CD such as Van Morrison, Sting or Eric Clapton. Do such laying-downs bother you?

No, because I like everyone you have named. And each draws from music handed down. However, I ask myself how one can write about music anyway. Speech is indeed also music, but only if it is poetic. And most journalists are only craftsmen.

Folk music, you once said, is completely whorish. Nevertheless, you are amongst its clients.

If someone likes to see me as a folk musician, he should. The term is not a stigma for me, on the contrary: if someone makes an old-fashioned connection, I judge it even an honour. Mind you, he only labels a part of me.

You would only go to the barricades if it would occur to the management to sell you as the Luis Trenker of pop.

I don't think so. Now I can value and admire people who previously made me tear my hair out. For example, Peter Alexander, for me the Michael Jackson of Austria. In the 70s I thought he was still a scream.

On the new album you ask yourself whether anyone understands what you sing. With your cult status that must not really interest you.

(long pause) It is probably actually all the same to me. But sometimes I would like to know. After all I do not write Dadaist lyrics. Songs are a form of communication and to speak a language that no-one understands is mad.

But you will not be understood fully extensively. There is something of Hesses Steppenwolf in you.

Another one who presumably suffers by not being understood. And by the fact that there are only occasionally almost mystical moments in life in which one really senses other people.

Some songs on Fön sound woeful and carried away. How grounded are you?

Not as much as it seems. I am not someone who can put down roots like a tree.

You pick up sensitivities and disgraces - is there something for which you do not have a musical ear?

The completely real politics for example. It doesn't interest me at all. Naturally I read the newspaper and was upset about the success of Berlusconi, but it does not directly leave its mark on my music. I mainly react to atmospheric changes in my surroundings.

When you disbanded your group the Alpinkatzen in 1994, one thought, now Hubert will go to the dogs, it will not work any more.

The time was ripe for a new contemplation. When I put on my grandfather's accordion for the first time and taught myself a few pieces, I wanted to take folk music out of the right corner. We, the Alpinkatzen and I, were very successful with that. Everything threw ever higher waves, and at some point for me it was dead and buried. I am not someone who marks time and wants to permanently work with the same people.

You seem like someone for whom it becomes too cramped quite quickly. Are you afraid of having demands on yourself?

Yes, certainly. I feel oppressed if I stick too long to the same thing. And I have found that it is not just me, but also the people who become constrained around me if one persists in something. One begins to arrange oneself - a hideous word. In time you do not get annoyed by any mistakes of the others, and that is fatal.

"Well, people are stupid" you were supposed to have once said. That sounds a little arrogant.

Then that quotation can't be from me* (laughs mischievously) Seriously: only the radio presenters think that people are stupid. They constantly hum the same rubbish with the excuse that it is just what is wanted. The public is somewhat brainier than is constantly supposed. The incessant superficiality in the media is above all useful for the advertising industry, which is always out of the smallest common denominator. And the radio presenters are their bravest foot soldiers. Often they seem to me like the submissive people of the Third Reich, who still claim today that they had only done their duty.
(Editor's note: Hubert is right, see "No yodelling, no old hits")

Politics is allegedly not your thing. Have you even belonged to a party?

I cannot imagine one that would suit me. I feel inclined towards the Greens, but I also listen to all the other opinions. I frown upon doctrinaire. Just like the present political vacuum that has come at the right time for people like Le Pen or Haider.

Like you, Haider comes from Bad Goisern. Which of you two would hide best at home?

You must ask the people that. I have not been there for a long time. In my hometown I have been reproached for denigrating my country because I had repeatedly strongly attacked Haider at open airs and through the media.

Whoever thinks left in Austria must regularly see red.

Not me. I grew up in a family of Social Democrats, but for me Haider's work has nothing to do with right wing views. That is simply egocentric power politics. And with which he manages to make one begin to feel ashamed of everything traditional and preserved. Sometimes, I think, I would therefore become Aim Right although actually I rather see myself as Communist. Which has also become a swear word.

You may not drift far too right, otherwise you will be expatriated on Bad Goisern. The area is regarded as Red Canyon all the same. Despite Haider.

Then they should just expatriate me. The world is big enough.

Were you really paid advertising money for making the name of your hometown your own?

The mayor wanted to award me a prize, but I resisted it. As my music began to formulate, people in Goisern undertook everything to prevent my appearances. I don't like it if the same are now fawning merely because I am successful.

As an artist you say that to a large extent you keep out of politics. But with the formulation of your album Inexil you lent your support to Tibet aid. Is that not a contradiction?

I visited the country and noticed that everything is much worse there than people from outside think. After my return I was pressed time and time again to give my opinion on it. Then I brought exiled Tibetans, whose history is only still alive in stage shows, to work with me for two years on an album. But Inexil is a cultural, not a political statement.

The Chinese could not be driven out of Tibet by Richard Gere and legions of other prominent people either.

It also does nothing if even more people go there and run around in low spirits. Music, which draws attention to the problems definitely helps more than all the slogans.

As well as the Archbishop of Salzburg, the Dalai Lama also met you in a private audience. Does he already have your new CD?

No, but he knows Inexil. He was a little shocked because there is a song on it in which I have fallen back on an unbelievably wistful poem of the 6th Dalai Lama. It was something like a slip-up in the system, someone who was chosen at the age of 3, but later had not liked to achieve the final vow. He had constantly suffered under being unable to live like a normal person, secretly drank around, amused himself in Lhasa with whores and in the end was murdered.

At an Austrian visit that you initiated, a group dressed in national costume put a Tyrolean hat on the Dalai Lama's head. Quite embarrassing.

I had goosebumps on account of so much stupidity, but he ignored it with the height of composure. The man is an unbelievably great guy.

The same hometown as Jörg Haider

The Austrian musician and singer, Hubert von Goisern, 49, is really called Hubert Achleitner and earned his success with the Alpinkatzen at the beginning of the 90s as a founder of Alpine rock. He named himself after his hometown Bad Goisern, where Jörg Haider also comes from.

Von Goisern grew up as an only child of Social Democrat parents - his father was a hairdresser, his mother a weaver - and was a professional musician at the age of 27. After living abroad in Canada and South Africa, where he worked as a chemistry laboratory technician, he studied experimental music at the Musikhochschule Wien. After the end of the Alpinkatzen, he stayed away from the stage for almost 6 years, but cause a stir again and again with his own projects: with the ethnic albums Gombe (Africa) and Inexil (Tibet) for instance, but also with the film music for Schlafes Bruder from a book by Robert Schneider. Fön is his fourth studio album. Von Goisern, an artist without airs and graces, fights with his songs against what the folksiness from the right takes and misuses.

The mischievous popular figure is married, has two children and lives in Salzburg.

In a positive sense your album Gombe was apish, which the scientist Jane Goodall had suggested so that her chimpanzees could be constantly exposed. Were the animals pleased?

They never heard the finished record. Jane and I made a documentary together, but in the end, I got through my musical Africa project alone.

Someone like Paul Simon would be accused of imperialism, if he recorded Graceland with black people.

It would be ridiculous if one blamed me for something like that. After all, I have scarcely done anything other than sampled the cry of chimpanzees. And at the same time, I have let about a quarter of a million Schillings run into development projects. I need not have a bad conscience.

Have you ever made a twit of yourself in your career?

Yes, I think so. On TV shows, for example, that today I think defy all description. I am still not completely protected, for there are efforts on the part of the management again and again to place me in something unspeakable like Musikantenstadl. But I don't fancy that at all. It would only be a win for Musikantenstadl and I would not like to expect my fans to have to watch such a programme because they want to hear something from me.

It would probably drive you up the wall if you had to be in it.

If I were to say that, I would have to admit that I am working on something like an image (laughs).

Apropos image: in articles about you there is scarcely an allusion to your family. Are you so egomaniacal, or do you deliberately leave it out?

My person and my art are really so important to me that my surroundings often move into the background. The other reason is that my family have nothing at all to do with my public life. They already suffer enough under it because I allow myself such a life. And that media people lie in wait everywhere. To know that you are constantly under the eye of the vultures - that is the aspect of success that makes you sick. On the other hand, I am egocentric enough to be able to accept it.

At least it cannot be said of you that you are a womaniser. Are you more constant as a partner than in your musical orientations?

Yes. I have been married for two years, but my wife and I have been together for sixteen years. Out of some inexplicable mood, we wanted to get married before the Millennium.

Sixteen years - an eternity for a driven person like yourself.

I often wonder about it myself. You must just have strong stomach to put up with me.

"Mir brennen d'eier aloan vom hinschaun scho'" ("My balls are on fire just from watching them") you confess in Katholisch. That clearly sounds like a terrible sexual emergency.

Erm - no. That is deceptive. But I know the feeling.

Now and then you try your hand at being an actor. In the film Hölleisengretl from Oskar Maria Graf, you were a smarmy legacy hunter. How horrible are you in private?

I do not need to obtain anything by devious means. I have enough of everything myself.

Could you not understand the greed for material things?

I never do or leave something conditional on money or possessions in any case. My inner self, my visions are the most valuable things. When my CD first developed, I was really impoverished, but I never had existential fear.

Ecstatically beside yourself or plagued by doubts - so you once described the poles between which you beat back and forth. What are you at the moment?

Ecstatic if I think back over the last 20 years. But if I then read my records from this time, I get the impression that I was an incessant sceptic. The past quite obviously becomes transfigured. I am like a child: the moment is everything for me.

With the Alpinkatzen you gave 120 concerts a year. Are you exposing yourself to such a marathon again?

90 have been made out of the 40 that I wanted to do, but I do not know why I should still play in the autumn. Unfortunately the contract is already done. I would much rather produce the next 3 CDs for which I already have the material in my head.

You would best be a landlord in a hut up a 3000m mountain.

Exactly. In a hut that no-one finds.