Hubert von Goisern


AUSLAND >> Interviews: 1 2 3

Koa Hiatamadl in Mali

Tageszeitung 20th October 2005 | Text: Arno Frank Eser | Photo: Wildteam

Hubert von Goisern: King of alpine rock

Hubert von Goisern"Das haben wir Not gehabt," says the globetrotter with the accordion, when he talks about his last Africa trip. In high German: "Das hat uns gerade noch gefehlt" ("That's what we were missing").

A journey full of stress and through Mali to Timbuktu and beyond; but also a journey full of worthwhile experiences, not just in the musical arena. Experiences that are important enough to be documented. After all, the journey to Mali was the end of the most successful tour Hubert von Goisern has ever done. The tour for the Trad programme, with native and original music.

This documentation is called Ausland, a CD in double pack with a DVD with Hubert von Goisern's first self-made film (Sony BMG), which is now newly on sale.

Hubert von Goisern knows that, "whoever goes to Africa with any expectations will inevitably be disappointed. But we're not so prepared that we could totally free ourselves from expectations. Neither in Africa, nor anywhere else."

But all too concrete expectations lead to disappointments. The parents of the young Hubert Achleitner from the Austrian town of Bad Goisern once expected that their boy would be a doctor. And the first wife expected that he would sacrifice his great passion, music, for her sake.

He simply couldn't accept that, because that would have been the worst thing that could have happened to him. So he had to "assert" his "stubborn", as everyone thought back then, self.

And it was worth it. Not just in artistic and business hindsight, but spiritual too. "I have a kind of inner mandate," says Hubert von Goisern, who should really now be called Hubert von Salzburg, "I have to pass on my music. And I'm only happy when I can do that."

"There are probably none," says manager, publisher and friend Hage Hein (Blanko Musik) from Munich, "who handles the maintenance of tradition as aggressively as Hubert. And he did the right thing at the right time. You always needs an intellectual vindication for whatever you think is good. Hubert von Goisern showed us that you can like folk music and rock at the same time without having to feel ashamed of it."

Yes, there was a jolt a good 15 years ago, when Hubert von Goisern & Die Alpinkatzen appeared in Live aus dem Nachtwerk. For the first time in history, the phone centre at Bayerisches Fernsehen completely broke down after the broadcast of a programme. Everyone wanted to know what these strange alpine rockers meant.

"So it began in Munich," says Hubert von Goisern, "not just on television, but at Tollwood concerts too. Apart from that, with a big open air in the Königsplatz, together with international greats like Peter Gabriel and Bryan Ferry. It made me proud that I was allowed to be a part of that." It's no wonder that he feels always connected to the Isar metropolis.

A kind of love-hate relationship connects him to his hometown of Bad Goisern at the foot of the Dachstein. Feelings between plus and minus, which probably everybody has with their homeland, and which you can't really classify.

Is it really true that Bad Goisern published a Hubert von Goisern stamp in his honour? "Yes, that's right. I bought one too. And I was surprised that the sale price is higher than the postage value. Bit strange somehow, isn't it?"

Aside from his stage life, Hubert Achleitner lives a completely normal existence.

As far as that is possible for a celebrity like him. Naturally he is recognised everywhere, but he has acquired his mechanisms for when he wants to be left in peace. A pair of sunglasses often helps to avoid direct eye contact. And when he's standing at the cheese counter, then he often looks meaningfully into the distance.

"Then people think they shouldn't disturb me, because I'm hatching something very important. And that's true: because I'm thinking about whether I should buy an Holzofenleberläse or a Neuburger."

At home in Salzburg everything goes his Goiserer way too. Wife Hildegard (49) teaches education at the university, is not tied in with the alpine rock story, she does her own thing. He likes going fishing with his son Niko (17) and teaching him music too. Niko on the piano and Papa on the metronome.

Daughter Laura (12) also plays music, she plays the violin. "But she's always looking for the buttons to be able to really turn up the heat and distort the sound," laughs Hubert, "she just likes loud rock."

Are there never discussions with Hildegard about the family budget? Does she never calculate that a new car or something could be bought with these immense expenditures for musical journeys to Africa and wherever else? "No," says Hubert, "We have everything we need. Hildegard appreciates my and also our life. And she's very happy with the 11 year old car she has."

But Hubert von Goisern himself is apparently not happy with the life he has on the outskirts of Salzburg. Why Africa time and again? "On the contrary, I'm happy. But I need the challenge of having to go to the boundaries, of having to achieve something. That begins with the search for an electricity cable in the desert and ends with the difficult communication with another culture."

But at home in Salzburg is the creative and planning phase. "And when I don't put anything to paper for a few days, I feel uncertain, I slide into a depression. It's nicer to stand on stage and get feedback. That's for refuelling for the soul."

Like in Mali, for example. The sequence in the travel report film on DVD is wonderful, where he sings his first hit Koa Hiatamadl with an African singer. "Jo mei, jo mei," the colleague from Africa sings, "I told him that "Jo mei" means nothing more that "Insh'Allah"; I couldn't translate it any better."

And now? Will Hubert von Goisern become a filmmaker?

"No, definitely not. It was a really good experience - but I must get out again and play. And I already have a project in mind. But you don't talk about unlaid eggs."

You don't escape life

Kurier 12th October 2005 | Text: Guido Tartarotti

Hubert von GoisernHubert von Goisern wanted to give 30 concerts in his Trad tour last year. Then it became more than a hundred. The shows were souled musical world journeys. Those who were there wanted to conserve this experience.

Now, exactly that is possible: a recording of this tour has been released as a combined CD/DVD (SonyBMG; the DVD contains a travel documentary) under the title Ausland. Hubert von Goisern: "I actually wanted to do a club tour. But at the first concerts we had to send a hundred people home. So I quickly decided, we'll record the concerts."

Although Goisern is known for enjoying going into the studio cloister, he experienced the concerts as musical diversification: "Once more something new develops. It is the attention, the concentration, the inevitable ... you don't escape [playing] live."

Particularly during the last tour he was able to experience the luxury of having listeners just as open as his musicians. "I have an audience that is curious: what's he doing today? And we musicians never got on each other's nerves, despite the closeness on tour."


Although nostalgia is foreign to Goisern, after ten years, he put his biggest hit Hiatamadl into the programme on the Trad tour. "I'm not subject to any compulsion to play it - and also no compulsion not to play it. I didn't know how the song went any more. So I listened to the CD and I was impressed. Now I also understand why people went so crazy for it back then. There's a real punk in it, an oomph you can't escape."

The cosmopolitan Goisern appreciates that people need anthems. "You come together in singing. And you must just sing some song." So the offer from Dietrich Mateschitz of writing the club anthem for Salzburg attracted him too. "I wanted to know whether I can do it. And I don't really care whether the strips are purple or red." The debate over the Austrian national anthem amuses him: "I have long sung the anthem with daughters and sons. And it's only sung in the football stadium."

Now he wants to have a break, write and travel. He is currently "doting" on Lappland and the music there.

HvG: the stage junkie's Lent

OÖN 12th October 2005 | Text: Bernhard Lichtenberger

Hubert von Goisern speaks about his abstinence from the stage until 2007, the custom of bird catching, the worldwide network, love for Africa, his musical journey "Warten auf Timbuktu" and the ORF.

You have just come from the panel discussion "The dark side of globalisation for culture". Your position?

Basically it's all about this GATS story*, the fact that cultural promotions should be abolished because they distort competition. Of course that's nonsense to reduce culture to a product that should act free of competition. Creativity is actually no product, but rather a result of a climate of stimulant.

But I am not of the opinion that there is something like a world conspiracy, the bad people who want to kill us off. I don't think that anybody wants to deliberately exterminate a culture - an exception is perhaps Tibet, because the Chinese stand behind proving to the world that Tibet does not exist.

A study showed that young readers cannot get on with the concept of "globalisation". Can you explain it?

Globalisation is the networking of the whole world. We don't just get what happens in the closest homeland, no further than the end of our noses, but rather all over the world - no matter whether it's disasters or goods we can refer to. I think that it's positive in principle. The word has this flat, bitter taste because it stands for economic exploitation and egocentric, egotistical acting.

But I don't believe that anyone wants us to turn back time and make close borders again with innumerable checkpoints. I am also against the idea that one builds a kind of Europe bastion and that one says, everyone who wants to come in, or bring something in, must pay a heavy penalty.

Is Warten auf Timbuktu a product of globalisation?

Yes, in the sense of diversification. I have travelled around the world since I was 21, I've lived in other countries in order to know how they act elsewhere. Becoming mutually acquainted diminishes fears. You only really have fear of the unknown. Warten auf Timbuktu is the last musical journey I made. Timbuktu is a synonym for the end of the world. And I wanted to play our folk music there one time.

Is there an end of the world?

You must leave the world, then it has an end.

Your head is full of thoughts, which you want to work around in the next year and a half. What do they look like?

I don't like talking about unlaid eggs. There are a handful of ideas, which I am working on simultaneously. I don't know yet what will come from it.

Is your departure from the stage like a necessary final stroke?

It's like a tabula rasa. Creativity arises from chaos and is an ordering of chaos. And when the chaos sticks together in a lump, then I have to clear the table.

You love Africa and African music. What feeds this love?

The West African music is something like a prime substance of music. They are cultures which have landed in America and the Caribbean due to slavery and have met there with the emigrants from the Old World with European musical culture. I feel a part of my own roots there, since I also grew up with the blues. What I like about Africa is that it's not all so regimented yet. I get the feeling that most of the energy of life is lost in keeping laws, from tax returns to standing orders. They don't exist in Africa. And when there's a set of traffic lights, everyone goes, no matter whether it's red or green.

This state, this chaotic state is threatening for many, but I find it very liberating.

Do you let yourself be infected by the African way?

It reminds me of a basic need of my life, namely not to put material things above human. That's also why I need this tour break, in order not to come into an automatism. I think it's desirable when the doing is less and one has more time for meetings.

You don't miss the stage?

I often worry about whether I am in an addictive behaviour, whether I need the adrenalin because I am a stage junkie.

I fast once a year, usually during Lent. For two weeks I eat nothing at all and drink only water or unsweetened tea. To see what is left over when you are still, when you reduce these trivialities. Seen this way, this is now a two year stage fast.

As the enterprise Hubert von Goisern you also have responsibility for your musicians. When you take time out, they can't work for you any more. Is that easy for you?

It was very difficult for me with the Alpinkatzen. But there was a greater than with the musicians I now work with. I said to them back then: I have two children for whom I am responsible. You are adults and we have earned a lot of money in three years. You too. Now I look for people who don't have the feeling: yes, now we're the band and when I play with Hubert, that means that I draw my pension.

My music changes more rapidly and radically that the people with whom I play. A group also moves forwards more stiffly than one can alone. The creative process is a solitary one for me.

You now have time to sing with your children. Which songs?

Everything, from Somewhere over the rainbow, all hymns, to the Andreas Hofer song. I play music with my children several times a week, my boy is learning the piano and my daughter plays the violin.

Your Trad film was shown on Bayerisches Fernsehen and on 3sat, but not on the ORF. Does Warten auf Timbuktu have a chance?

I don't think about it any more, and I don't get annoyed about it any more. It's like the weather. When it's pissing down, it's pissing down and you can't shift the clouds. You can't change the ORF either. They must catch on what they are doing with their quantified cultural policy, how badly they are shirking their responsibility of setting the tone. It is a stupid, short-sighted, solely market-oriented policy they have. Reducing culture to quotas doesn't do it.

As someone from the Salzkammergut, what relationship do you have to the controversial custom of bird catching?

I already said where I stand years ago. I said: I don't understand why animal conservationists engage in such a petty matter, where there are big, important subjects in animal conservation. I said to the bird catchers: if it's forbidden, then just do it underground. Then the whole thing gets an extra kick, because you are simultaneously the hunter and the hunted.

It's not my custom. I still have a problem with the very militant animal conservationists. Many have a clever bird, which they had to catch themselves at one point. I don't respect someone who eats meat, that is, someone who is prepared for an animal to die for his pleasure, who gets upset about someone who catches a bird, which he lets out again in the spring.

I know bird catchers. They are nice people and they understand the creatures.

*General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) - Liberalisation of service, also covering education, art, culture

"The subject of folk music is closed for now"

Neues Volksblatt 11th October 2005 | Text: Barbara Freitag

New live CD "Ausland" together with Mali DVD: Hubert von Goisern about his work and future

Dandelions adorn the cover of Hubert von Goisern's new CD Ausland. The popular rabbit food grows in the German-speaking countries, which the Upper Austrian visited on his last Trad II tour. Just not in Mali, where he entertained with his folk songs at the Festival au Desert. This appearance is documented on the included bonus DVD Warten auf Timbuktu. Goisern: "It was a wonderful time, but now I'm having a break until 2007."

He worked through until the middle of this summer, edited the film of the Mali concert and composed the anthem for the Red Bull Salzburg football club. Now he is tired and needs "distance". He won't go on stage again for another two years. Until then, he wants to try new things ("I have enough ideas"), stay within his own four walls in Salzburg and in the mountains. He doesn't want to occupy himself with folk music in the near future: "The subject is closed for now." His fans certainly can't get enough of it, whereby it is striking that the average age of his audience is relatively high. "It could be, but my audience has just aged with me." At the beginning of the nineties there were some rather pop-oriented young folk music groups. "It was a wave, which many hung on to. Attwenger are still around today, but they have developed very differently."

In recent years Africa was one of Goisern's favoured travel destinations. It says in the booklet that for him Africa is "like a great love, which is often not reciprocated". That means? "I love the chaos, the irregularity, the lack of punctuality down there, but it also hurts me, to be ripped off, thought of as stupid, or held over a barrel, as has often happened to me."