Hubert packs his bags

Rennbahn Express 11/94 | Text & Photos: Hannes Kropik
Hubert von Goisern Alpinkatzen

"I have absolutely no time any more to think about anything," Hubert von Goisern explained in the interview with the Rennbahn Express about why he wants to with draw from the music scene. On 27th October, Hubert is to be seen live for the last time in Austria with his Alpinkatzen in the Vienna Stadthalle, days before in Salzburg he says goodbye to his fans in West Austria.

"I am really looking forward to the time without a tour calendar," says Hubert. "I am not making any plans, but there are a few things which I could imagine: I want to dedicate myself to the genre of film, perhaps composing film music or writing screenplays. I want to read books again at last, do up my house, climb mountains, travel."

The new folk music star also wants to take more care of his family again, after he was almost permanently travelling in the past months and years: "I only know hotel rooms any more."

Above all, the six year old Nikolaus is really happy about his Papi: "He still can't believe that there will be a time in which I will be with him more."

Although the Alpinkatzen will be disbanded after the tour, there is also good news for the fans: in spring 1995 a live CD will be released.

No more time for mountain solitude

Kurier 27th March 1993 | Text: Konrad Kramar

"Koa Hiatamadl mag i nit", sings the landlord of the Gastein Luxushotel and dances in by the door, armed with a hunting horn. Hubert von Goisern laughs embarrassedly: "Everything is unbelievably tiring for me at the moment. Everything has gone so fast, and now I often put my foot in it." At the moment he is above all appearing in front of the TV cameras: whether Wir-Vital, Wer A sagt or German television: "the cliché of the earthy mountaineering enthusiast with the really earthy accordion rock is a sales hit. The record company choose from me what suits them."

Currently, when he is not racing to a TV appearance, Hubert sits in the Gasteinertal, practising for his big tour (starts on 10th May in Salzburg). It does not want to work so well with songwriting for the new LP: "I have no peace to be by myself." The late success leaves the 40 year old no time: "I cannot see my girlfriend and my son." But he does not want to moan about the success. "I have always led a privileged life. At the time when I had all the time and freedom and could not pay the rent. And today, where suddenly I have more money than I had ever dreamed of, and no time in order to live."

He knows that people expect a lot from him: "I feel the pressure of success and I also feel the responsibility." And he knows that many consider him to be the latest sellout of folk music: "I want to tell the people from the country something, not the people from the city, who hypocritically stand up for the farmers."

When you ask him why he does advertising events for a German make of car, he says: "Simply because I really like the man from the company," and means it honestly. He explains that in talkshows he most likes to tell of his forest walks with his little boy, that he always more often thinks about closing the door at home, cutting the telephone cable and not being Hubert von Goisern for anybody any more. He tells of the schleiniger, a folk dance, and the three-four and a bit time in the Innviertel. And then he wishes that everything will become quieter again, the music, the people, the media. But that will not be next year.

An Austrian enlightens not only Bavaria in all things folk music

Mangfallbote 7th April 1994 | Text: Philipp Roser | Photo: BR

Von Goisern and Original Alpinkatzen begin tour

Hubert von GoisernMunich: Educational work in all things folk music has for years been conducted by the Austrian Hubert von Goisern with his band the Original Alpinkatzen. And he provided for this sensation with some success in 1993 when his album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen made a jump into the German charts a year after release. The fact that a good share of his concerts are sold out proves also that von Goisern hit the nerve of many listeners with his mixture of folk and rock music.

Hubert von Goisern has been active with his group since the middle of the 80s and at first recorded more success in Bavaria than in his homeland. "That is also because folk music is tainted with more prejudices in Austria than in Germany," he explained in an interview with the German Press Agency. The traditional folk music becomes falsely equated many times with the intolerance and reactionary thought of the Third Reich, "because just 50 or 60 years ago, this music, the whole blood and soil romanticism let itself be used by the National Socialist cart." In Bavaria there is indeed a comparable folk music culture, but the people there "were somehow more self-confident about it," they had rather loosened themselves from these prejudices.

Clearly the yodelling singer and accordion player also disassociates himself from folksy music, admittedly underestimated and yet not a problem: "For the man in the street, folksy music à la Musikantenstadl is just folk music." He still sees much work before him to make the distinction between the two varieties clearer. He profits from the experiences that he gathered when he travelled the world for seven years. He was impressed by how naturally the north Americans treated their traditional music. He grew up with the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley, furthermore he incorporates Blues and rock elements into his music.

Hubert von Goisern, who today lives in Salzburg, has titled his new album Omunduntn. He had once wrangled with the Latin lessons, "but one word had always fascinated me: the word 'altus', which means high as well as deep." Sometime he realised the dependency of one on another: "There is no up without down." Life bestows wave-like movement of happiness and sorrow too and "sometimes you feel the simultaneity of these two poles." Such thoughts would have inspired him to this unconventional word invention.

The family man Hubert von Goisern meanwhile harbours conflicting feelings in the face of his success . In the time when he scarcely earned money with music, put himself to service as a ski seller and tourist guide, he could have done a lot, for which success today gives him little time: mountain climbing, cultivating friendships, looking after the family.

After von Goisern completed more appearances in the USA in the last weeks, he is away in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with his Original Alpinkatzen.

Hubert von Goisern ... cannot be pigeonholed

Austria Creativ March 1994, Nr. 32

Hubert von GoisernAt the end of February, Hubert von Goisern presented his newest album, Omunduntn. Two weeks before that, the single of the same name was released, which thanks to its undemanding, catchy melody could perfectly well follow his hitherto biggest hit, Hiatamadl. But who would have thought that the hit exporter also hides a philosophical vein?

At a time in which even ancient hits are technofied for the discos, finally a musician emerges who storms the charts with country dances. The consequence was that opinion was divided: because is it now folk music with electric guitar and hard beats for the new generation, or through traditional melodies distorted rock for the Musikantenstadl audience? Hubert: "I would not pigeonhole myself. There are people who somehow turn it inside out if I say that I make folk music. It simply depends on what one understands by the term." However, the conglomerate of old and new is less a naturalness than much more a consequence of his life experiences.

In his youth, he played in a brass band as well as a jazz rock band. But his parents had thwarted his plans of having a career as a musician, and so, for his father's sake, the good kid first completed a chemistry laboratory technician course for the time being.

While other young people asked the usual questions about the meaning of life in pubs, after he had learned "something proper", Hubert von Goisern tied his rucksack to his back and got going into the big world in order to find the answers there.

The globetrotter

He spent four years in north Africa, hitch-hiked through south east Asia for half a year, clambered around Nepal's mountains for two months and lived for two and a half years in Canada where he was even married.

"I simply learned a bit more everywhere." For instance in Canada, playing real blues and jazz, as well as avant-garde. "Canada is too young for a culture, apart from the Indians. But you do not see anything of them there because nobody may go into or out of the reserves."

Hubert von GoisernInstead in Asia he got an insight into the naïve natural ethnic cultures and their music, which was shaped by the sentence: "Don't panic, don't rush". In Africa, on the other hand, I sometimes got the impression that the population could not cope any more due to the many influences from the colonisation."

The consequences

He had no really found any concrete answers on his voyage of discovery, who he really now is, but the different cultures gave him the impetus where he could begin the search for his own identity. "After the journeys, I was not more quiet at all, but quite a bit more contented than before. While I was away, I had the idea, to eventually have a closer look at the taste of my region. And to see what the music affects, what of my alpine roots has actually still remained." The search for the individual identity of the now 41 year old father has still not ended: "Hopefully, the process never ends."

Die Alpinkatzen

Hubert von GoisernBack in Austria, he founded the duo Die Alpinkatzen together with the, contrary to him, city kid and politician's son, Wolfgang Staribacher. After the break with Staribacher, it then came to the still current Alpinkatzen, who for some time were given the adjective "Original". "But this "Original" was only a joke."

In his lyrics, Hubert von Goisern processed everything that moved him , without mincing his words at the same time (listen to Landlertanz for example) He enclosed his country music resulting from his roots with elements of rock, blues and rap, without risking a stylistic incongruity.

In 1992, Hubert von Goisern, a mountain climber for the love of it, finally ascended to the top of the Ö3 charts with his band for a week with the hit Hiatamadl. But before he only filled the halls with an enthusiastic audience in quite small concert halls - until today. "That this success then undertook such big proportions, we could not have realised at all. Each progress that occurs suddenly has many more consequences; which strains you on one hand, but on the other hand is incredibly satisfying. But with the resulting responsibility one needs to be able to cope with it somehow.

"Schubert von Goisern"

News 08/1992 | Text: Peter Leopold

Alpine tomcat Hubert von Goisern is Austria's most successful current composer and pop star.
With a diverse mixture of folk and rock music he climbed to the top of the charts

Hubert von Goisern on DachsteinOnly one Austrian journalist came to the presentation of his CD Aufgeigen stått niederschiassen seven months ago - and that was not just down to the original location the peak of the Dachstein. The Austrian programme Das rot-weiß-rote Radio once let itself be seen with Hubert von Goisern and his Alpinkatzen out of sympathy. The single Sepp bleib da did not find 1,000 buyers. And therefore in the first three months after release the CD only came to the still pitiful sales of 3,000 because Hubert von Goisern himself bought 2,000 copies and tried to sell them at his concerts. It did not look good for the unusual project, this hitherto unheard of mixture of folk and rock music. In which the Alpine Zappa believed so much with his Bad Goisern stubbornness that he had already invested 10 hungry years as a musician. And then suddenly everything was different.

Birth of the phenomenon. Today six months after the release, more than 38,000 albums have been sold - the November sales alone of over 25,000 reached gold. In the last seven days a sensational 9,000 orders arrived at the record company Ariola - more than an average Austro-popper sells per album. By Christmas the platinum boundary will easily be crossed with the second single Koa Hiatamadl, demand is so great that Ariola has quoted a delivery backlog of 1,800 records. Suddenly a musician ignored just a few weeks ago ranks at the top of the charts. A phenomenon is born: "Schubert" von Goisern.

His real name: Hubert Sullivan. Remnant of a failed five year marriage with the Canadian Kate Sullivan. "Because people there got a suffocation attack again and again with my surname Achleitner and my wife was on the emancipatory trip. It did not matter to me at all." But now: as soon as he has scraped together all the papers he wants to go through official channels back to how he came into the world 40 years ago in Upper Austria's Bad Goisern. Today Goisern-Sullivan-Achleitner lives with his partner Hildegard, a special school teacher, and their son Nick (soon five) in Salzburg.

Die AlpinkatzenThe chucking out. Someone had once banished him from the town's brass band because he stood by long hair and such progressive music as Glen Miller's In the Mood. For seven years he was on the run from the provincial confinement, hiking through Africa, Canada, finally settling in the Philippines. There the aha-experience overtook him: he observed how the natives, culturally stewed by radio, began to disown their own folk music. There he began to think about his own roots.

Conquering of the peak: from nobody to number one in seven months - The story of a stubborn Goiserer

The birth of the Alpinkatzen. Back in Austria he unpacked his grandfather's accordion (which has been strengthened with canvas in the meantime by a Carinthian accordion maker, because it has broken in two many times at the wild concerts) and began the Alpinkatzen project with the minister's son Wolfgang Staribacher. The original musical mixture, at that time in its invention phase, failed miserably at first: the first album flopped mercilessly. The duo's last act: a stage role in Ambros' Watzmann rustic musical.

Die AlpinkatzenAfter that: separation. Mind you they had already finished writing their next album. Goisern drummed up three musicians from the Salzkammergut, went into the studio and produced the future sensation album Aufgeigen stått niederschiassen. Shortly after production began, Staribacher came back full of remorse - but now Hubert did not want him any more. Today the atmosphere between the two is cold, Hubert: "He messed it up himself, but feels unfairly treated."

Also the Alpinkatzen would not be able to afford their daily quota of Whiskas without record sales: in this year between April and December there will be roughly 100 live, 90 appearances in which Goisern and his three men (from time to time there was also a Bavarian female yodeller) yodelled their alpine philosophy to the audience: regional tradition teamed with modern cosmopolitan attitudes. "The Goiserers," he says with proud understatement, "are strange people. Sarcasm, Dadaism, paired with fervour. That characterises them." And because his form of expression is music he dips his folk music roots into the humus of rock music. "Not pop," he protests, "that confines me. Pop is powerless."

The ideology behind the success is beyond reproach: "I am for the EC. The boundaries should fall, the multicultural society should come. And cultural identity is important exactly for that reason. Our down-to-earth legacy is estimable." Even though not to get mixed up with the synthetic yodelling of the Musikantenstadl: "That has a certain hint of the national. In this way Le Pen, Schönhuber and Haider become popular. But should I keep away from it because of that?"

With his Alpinkatzen Goisern is now the unintentional ringleader of a Musikantenstadl countermovement which was founded by groups like Broadlahn, Attwenger or Zerkochte Tiroler Knödel. A wave which also splashes over to Germany: at the beginning of January the elite of those folk rebels made an appearance under the motto Schräg Dahoam at the first big festival of "new folk music".

The market is already prepared. Goisern's manager and "dear friend" Hage Hein from Munich, who also made EAV big with the German neighbours: "Recently Hubert played on the programme Live aus dem Nachtwerk on Bayerisches Fernsehen. The audience nearly doubled, 10,000 records are already gone. My feeling says: the breakthrough is imminent!

Future of the Alpinkatzen: The Goiserer alpine opera - Hubert's plans for 1994

Hubert von GoisernWith the video for the next single, recorded on the Hallstatt lake and mixed with a black and white documentary about Hallstatt from the 60s, Hubert von Goisern concerned himself with the screenplay, direction and editing.

In his next CD (recording: February to August 93) he wants to use "more real elements of folk music", take relevant musicians into the studio with him and be more "technically flipped out" than with the current album Aufgeigen stått niederschiassen.

As a next step, Hubert von Goisern is planning a completely new type of project: an alpine opera! " As a classical fan, I made my pilgrimage to opera a long time ago. I like this fusion of stage, scope of action, music and production."

Together with a friend he has already finished with screenplay for a film which will be adapted to an alpine opera in 1994 and in succession should tour through Salzburg, Vienna, Graz and Munich in 1994. Since I have made music I have dreamed of such a project!" Goisern sees his wish as quite near to its aim. "One must just have such a reasonable name so that enough people come too." Happier remark: "If it goes on, it could be enough..."