Hubert von Goisern


ALPINKATZEN >> The Alpinkatzen Years: 1 2 3 4

Yodel rocker with juice and power

OÖN 11th August 1992

Hollarähduliöh! The border between rock music and folk music will be broken through from time to time with hearty yodels. Hubert von Goisern and the Alpinkatzen are regarded as the most remarkable international commuters with their youngest album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen.

The connection of pop music and folk music has a long tradition in Austria. There was once Wilfried with Ziwui Ziwui, then there was the legendary Watzmann with W. Ambros. In earlier times, Attwenger caused a sensation with their punky gstanzls, and the Alpinkatzen have already been around longer.

But the Alpinkatzen have never been on such good form as now. Their Sepp bleib do is regarded as the happiest mixture of Gamsbart (tuft of chamois hair worn as a hat decoration) and rock. The folksiness brings juice and power and both are cleverly reinforced) by electric guitar.

The album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen indicates that is not Hubert von Goisern's point to stalk up on the rich hunting grounds of Musikantenstadl. His music sounds, although it is partly even mixed with rap, more genuine than the alpine rose schlager which characterises the Musikantenstadl. The album also contains softer sounds, among them two instrumentals which one can probably describe as "real folk music".

Over and under and everywhere

OÖN 14th February 1994

Mostdipf prize winner Hubert von Goisern on his new projects

At present, the Vienna Intercontinental seems to be his headquarters: in the ballroom recording for the new Karl Dall Show, in one corner discussions for a film project on which he is working, in the other corner discussions about a screenplay which he is writing himself. With it interview dates for his new record. Hubert von Goisern, 41, the Upper Austrian Mostdipf prize winner will also be going on tour.

It starts on 5th April in the Salzburg Mozarteum, on 29th April he appears in Linz in the Posthof. Hubert von Goisern and the Alpinkatzen have sold more than 183,000 copies of Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen, now there is a single with three titles, herald for the new album Omunduntn which will be released on 28th February.

The colour blue will play an essential role, optically on the cover, musically in the sense of the blues: "But that does not mean that I want to wallow in the blues, otherwise sooner or later I would have to laugh at myself. Omunduntn contains enough funny, happy pieces. The album is, all in all, more extreme than before. More extreme folk musically, but also more extreme modernly and impudently. The song Landlertanz perhaps conveys best what I mean. Much to the disappointment of my record company, Landlertanz was not produced as a "hit", since the song would fit seamlessly into the rest of the Ö3 programme. But it "breaks". You can't just fit me seamlessly in somewhere. Perhaps with the title Oben und Unten the whole thing works less problematically.

Incidentally, there is discord with the record company: "At the time when I was peddling my music, nobody wanted me. Ariola carried on for a long time under the motto, you don't really believe in this repertoire, but perhaps it could become something. What do the likes of us do in such a situation? You sign, even if it is a bad contract. In the meantime, what was arranged was that we would talk more after the first record - I had signed for four. In the meantime I have sold an unbelievable amount, and it was nothing new, everyone had already known. I didn't find this discussion fair at all. Tactically beating around the bush is not my style and nobody needs to show me that the company is counting on me.

Film one: For ZDF, the "Goiserer" stands in front of the camera in Joe Baier's Hölleisengretl (a part of the Kalendergeschichten by Oskar Maria Graf, originally called Die Geschichte der buckligen Hölleisengretl [The story of hunchbacked Hölleisengretl]). Winter recording in Bavaria is filmed, it continues in the summer.

"I am Matthias," said Hubert, "the principal character. A person who wrestles with his past and does not really overcome it. I always had a weakness for film, however first of all I only worked with this medium as a musician and composer. For me, film, this connection of visuals with music, is modern opera. Now I am a total fan of opera. Opera is perhaps something historical and hence something antiquated, I see film as a development. Acting? It was always like this in my life. First idea, then wish and finally the situation results where a wish is fulfilled."

As well as that, he is writing a film with Julian Pölsler (Der Standesbeamte): "This film should be like my music. I would say "homeland film" if this expression were not so tainted. But two years ago the people under my style of folk music would also not have been able to present anything. I have converted those for whom the expression "folk music" alone made them see red. In this sense, this project will naturally be "another homeland film" - but with relation to tradition. I will play a role, although not the main role, since I first want to see what comes out with Hölleisengretl. The screenplay is ready right down to the dialogue."

Up-to-date: Hubert von Goisern (alias Hubert Achleitner) is singing on 15th March at a festival in Paris, then flying, likewise to a festival, to Austin in Texas and in the future completing a club gig in New York.

A Mostdipf for Hubert von Goisern

OÖN 13th April 1993

Whoever is round like Vitus Mostdipf, without a doubt also has fat calves. But that was not reason why the OÖN editorial staff unanimously decided to choose Hubert von Goisern as the Mostdipf prizewinner 93. He has received the Mostdipf because he makes folk music without playing the alpine idiot. And because he is a critical person who has retained a healthy sense of humour. The praise has broken out like an avalanche and Hubert must struggle not to be buried alive by star stress. Suddenly there are lots of people "who want to have something from me". Like the two policemen who were at the door of his Salzburg residence one evening at 10pm. "When the police are standing at your door, you think that something has happened - but they wanted autographs."

Suddenly it looks "like the whole of Goisern went to school with me". But not just there does he have to live with constantly standing under public surveillance. That goes along with it, but Hubert does not want to let demands be placed on him: "I do not want things to happen that I do not want."

The Mostdipf was something that he wanted. After the presentation by the OÖN chief editor Dr Hans Köppl, HvG said he was "unbelievably pleased" about the recognition.

What pleases him less are accusations that Hiatamadl was more or less a stolen folk song. Folk song is correct, but stolen is nowhere near the truth, explained HvG. He has adopted the refrain "but the verses and the whole concept are mine". Misleading is, that only he himself is listed as the author on the record, "because the record company has forgotten a few bits of information." But anyone could check that the author rights are shared 50-50 between "folk song" and "Hubert von Goisern".

Haven't Hubert von Goisern and the Alpinkatzen gradually become sick and tired of the omnipresent Hiatamadl? No, laughs Hubert, "we haven't played it since January." And he doesn't hear it on the radio because he barely listens to the radio, at least not Ö3.

The new record is coming October

In April and May, they will have to play it often, for the Alpinkatzen are going on a big tour through Germany - up to Hamburg - and Austria. At present they are rehearsing and by October a new record should be ready.

This record should "be more sophisticated without letting the popularity break down", something difficult, but a matter of concern for Hubert. For Hiatamadl he says "was something like a bait and it could be that the audience spit it out again. We will see how far the people are prepared to go with us.

No interest in the Musikantenstadl

The direction in which he wants to go leads far away from everything that smells of schlager-like folksiness and beer tent.

He would never perform in the Musikantenstadl and he has declined to participate in a German TV show because the producer insisted that Caroline Reiber, known as the folksy aunt, should present. "I have nothing against these people, who there should also be, but I do not want to support them with my popularity."

Hubert von Goisern failed at the first attempt for popularity five years ago. In 1988 he brought out a record called Alpine Lawine, but it was unfortunately a flop.

On this record was also a song by Mikis Theodorakis, played by Hubert on the Styrian accordion. That is partly because of the accordion "which is completely strange instrument that forces a style of playing on you, a musical idiom. And the songs from Theodorakis are really suitable for it."

Furthermore, Theodorakis is an example for Hubert as a person and an artist: "He has come from folk music, developed himself and gone into avant-garde."

What his development concerns, thinks Hubert von Goisern, a "total opera fan", is an "alpine opera" combined with a film. He has a new form of opera in mind, possibly with elements of operetta and rock opera. But that is future music for at present there is simply no time to work on it.

Hubert von Goisern

Kurier 13th February 1993

For years he played accordion rap and harmonica reggae with the Alpinkatzen - more or less unnoticed in a Vienna pub. Until the breakthrough came with the musical motto Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen.

What does luck mean to you?
You can't be proud of luck, but just grateful.

What would you like to achieve?
Openness and trust.

Which animal would you most like to be?

Your favourite figure in history?

Which artist moves you?
Pablo Picasso.

Your favourite music?
From Bob Marley to Maria Callas.

Your favourite book?
Der Andere Zug by Wolfgang Struve.

With whom would you like to spend an evening?
With the Holy Mary.

Which quality do you value in your friends?
Uncomplicated honesty.

Your greatest failing?

Three things that you would take with you to an island?
A telescope, a world atlas and a Bösendorfer.

Which temptation do you not resist?
A good red wine.

What makes people people?
Their mind.

Your contribution for the environment?
Don't have a car, travel with taxi, train and bus.

What is the biggest misfortune?
Power for power's sake.

Homeland melodies in stage fever

Source unknown

HvG and BandTheir purring and miaowing now has the effect of a tiger roar: the Alpinkatzen and their boss Hubert von Goisern are the current absolute super stars of the rustic yodel rockers. With their album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen, they stormed all the hit parade peaks in Germany and Austria. Hubert von Goisern takes it calmly: "Boid bist om, boid unt" (One day you're up, one day you're down) he knows. And therefore, his current record is called Oben und Unten (Over and Under).

The strange fellow combines traditional folk music with accordion-reggae, washboard blues and alpine horn rap. His credo: "We have left concepts like 'homeland' or 'tradition' to the wrong people for too long. I feel like an anarchist with my music."

Goisern's lyrics are often so aggressive and sarcastic that the old-established Musikantenstadl-groupies pass out on account of the "degenerated, senseless appearances". But the fans like it. Hubert von Goisern and his Alpinkatzen toured to acclaim in recent months through the German-speaking republic with stops in Paris, Texas and New York. Their sight on stage is worth the entrance fee alone: traditional costume, hats decorated with chamois tufts, Western outfits and various freak accessories. The larynx yodels and the abdomen rocks. It also does not matter if now and again the accordion disappears like the guitars of Hendrix and The Who before. Bandleader von Goisern: "Folk music belongs to our lives. We ask everyone to stand by this part of their personality without it being stupid or embarrassing."

Hubert von Goisern: A summit stormer plays powerfully

OÖN 29th October 1992

Alpine rock from Salzkammergut

His record Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen is well on the way to conquering the summit of the Austrian LP charts. Together with the Original Alpinkatzen he makes "outrageous folk music". Ever more young people choose his songs - like for example Hiatamadl - for their sing-along anthems. His exciting stage show has brought him the name "Mick Jagger of Salzkammergut". His civil name is Hubert Sullivan. The folk rocker will certainly be familiar under his stage name. This name shows that he comes from a country where the music makers play an important role and also testifies to the fact that the bearer is proud of his origins: Hubert von Goisern. It is a long, long time since sounds leaning towards folk music from Salzkammergut have been heard by the Ö3-Hitparade public. Ziwui Ziwui was the title and Wilfried was the artist - also a Goiserer. "The difference between Wilfried and myself is that he did not carry on consistently and perhaps today does not stick to what he did at that time. But he was an important forerunner for the modern processed folk music," says Hubert about his predecessor.

Affair with rough diamonds

The music which is presently giving the Alpinkatzen so much success - the record is at number 10 in the LP charts - is not easily described. It is also difficult for Hubert to find a valid collective term for this affair between deeply rooted folk music and the rough diamond rock, funk, blues and rap. "There is no recipe for my music. It must be singable and go comfortably. But today everything is taboo that is nice. The more suspicious, the better. On the other hand, I believe only the people themselves can really open the beauty. What we play today is in any case the quintessence of that which I have witnessed and learnt in my music career.

The 40 year old thoroughbred musician has probably already witnessed more than most of his peers. He spent the first years of his life in "Bads". Born as Hubert Achleitner in Bad Ischl hospital, he grew up in Bad Goisern and attended the grammar school in Bad Aussee. Anyway, his middle school career was soon to come to an end because school was a "horror" for him. So his parents had to put their wish for their son to become a doctor right out of their minds.

The young Hubert had a lot of success in music. Early on he rose to the first trumpet in the Goiserer citizens' band. A dispute with the band leader over the repertoire - Hubert had expressed the presumptuous wish to not play the antiquated pot pourri In The Mood - he was thrown out. "The band leader was definitely irritated too, he was always being sardonically asked about my long hair, whether he had recently let girls join the band," grins Hubert mischievously.

The exit from the band also meant that Hubert had to give back his trumpet. So he switched to the guitar and soon founded a band. Anyway, he also had disagreeable experiences with this instrument: "We rehearsed in the garden because we thought that everyone liked it. Anyway, the visitors got enormously uptight, so the police intervened," he tells.

After a first rather unsuccessful record production, he emigrated finally at the age of 22 to South Africa. "I simply wrote to different embassies, for I really wanted to get away from home. I found work in South Africa as a skilled chemistry laboratory technician. The embassy asked me what I thought of apartheid. And I said honestly: "Apartheid? Never heard of it!" Therefore I was the ideal candidate!" With his girlfriend whom he soon married, two suitcases and 10,000 Schillings of ready money, he took himself to the Cape of Good Hope.

After three and a half years he had had enough of the inhumane politics of the racial segregation. "I was faced with a decision: go with it, or go underground. So we went back to Austria!" Arriving back home, the pair divorced. Hubert met a Canadian girl, married her on the spot and moved to Toronto with her. "For the sake of simplicity, I took her name. That's why, although I am long divorced, I am still called Sullivan today," Hubert reveals the secret of his civil name.

Experiences with headhunters

After two and a half years studying music in Canada, the Goiserer, who now lives in Salzburg, took himself off on a long Asian journey. There he had various crucial experiences which would change his life. "I lived for a few months with head hunters in the Philippines and there learned to play the noseflute, which is included in folk music. The people sang me their folk songs and I sang them ours. So we got along splendidly."

With these impressions in his luggage, he journeyed back to Vienna, there to try and find out how deeply folk music from the Salzkammergut "matched up". His study of experimental music he earned himself with various bands as well as with single appearances in bars and on Kärnter Strasse. There the manager of a record company finally discovered the musician and offered him and his partner Wolfgang Staribacher a contract. That was the birth of the Alpinkatzen.

Hubert's stage name also comes from that time. "We introduced ourselves at performances like this: 'That is Wolfgang from Vienna and I am Hubert from Goisern'", he rejects any suspicion that he could have chosen a title himself. The duo had relatively big success with the LP, tour and TV appearances. Nevertheless they split up a year ago.

"Pulling down the frontiers"

Since then, things are looking up for Hubert von Goisern and his new band. He explains why, "The majority of Austrians have folk music in their blood. Our music gives people the chance to listen to what they really want to hear. Perhaps with this we contributed a little to Austrians finding an identity. Then they can more easily accept foreigners. And because today frontiers are falling everywhere, the time is ripe to break them down in music as well!" Hubert's musical mixture shows two levels: tradition and anarchy. "That is truly a contradiction, but don't all things come from contradiction?"

In spite of everything his parents are not entirely happy with his choice of profession. "They say that if they had known that I would become a musician, they would never have let me learn an instrument," smiles Hubert.

Finally, he takes stock of his career: "Earlier people went pale when I unpacked my accordion. I was probably a bit ahead of time. At that time I swam in a huge stream of new folk music which was becoming more and more popular. Time is slowly making up to me, not yet, but soon, then perhaps I will look for something else!"