Hubert von Goisern


BRENNA TUATS TOUR >> Interviews: 1 2

Creativity can't be steered

Straubinger Tagblatt 4th November 2012 | Text: Ulli Scharrer

Interview with Hubert von Goisern, who'll be performing at the Stadthalle on Monday 12th November

The pioneer of "alpine world music", Hubert von Goisern, presents his familiar classics in unusual form as well as his new songs from summer 2011's twelfth studio album Entweder und Oder live at the Stadthalle on Monday 12th November. Including of course his current hit Brenna Tuats Guat. He rarely gives and doesn't enjoy interviews, but he gladly talks to the Tagblatt about why folk music should be re-invented and why it's good not to know when or why a song will be a hit. Remaining tickets are still on sale through the Straubinger Tagblatt's Readers' Service, telephone +49 (0)9421/940-6700.

You were one of the pioneers of folk music with a new face and swing. Why was that necessary and what was your opinion of it?

There was a need for it as far as I was concerned. It was necessary to deal with it, but in a way in which I could can my peace with it too. A lot broke down, beginning with the Nazis. As spiritual representatives and musicians emigrated and little was left. Folksy representatives then filled the vacuum. But folk music is a field in which it is necessary to tackle it and make something new.

Do you get on okay with the term "alpine rock"?

Yes, of course I get on okay with it and I don't necessarily reject it either. Mind you, it only applies to me to a certain extent. A part of my music also feeds on rock and blues, a partial aspect of my creativity.

Koa Hiatamadl was your breakthrough, an atmospheric hit, but many other songs have a political or social message. Which songs are more important to you and how do the lyrics develop?

My ideas basically come from inside. I don't have any lists or themes. While composing or writing lyrics, things come from under the surface that I can only analyse in hindsight. I can't and don't want to steer my creativity. I sit for days and let my fantasies roam.

Do you get the feeling of whether a song will be a success or not? Or are you surprised yourself when one song is a radio success and another isn't?

I don't think about it much. It's not under my influence. So it doesn't make sense to lose any sleep over it. I have the good fortune to have had success and open ears with my audience for the past twenty years. Of course it's great when a song goes through the roof. But in principle it's not something that can be planned - thank God.

With which artist/musician would you still like to have a project? And what kind of project would that be?

There are a few people, but they shouldn't hear about it through the newspaper. The artists I like are of course very busy too. But I've spoken to some; it's just difficult to find a common timetable and it often fails due to my own busyness, which leaves me little time.

You're known as a globetrotter. Which is the best country you've travelled around and to where are you still drawn?

I can't give a ranking. Neither with countries, books, nor composers I like and I resist doing so. There are many beautiful places in the world, whereby beautiful is a relative term. I look for nature when travelling, but first and foremost it's about people for me, even though I prefer less populated places over urban areas. Encounters with people and the possibilities that arise from them are what I find exciting. And you can find people with whom something like is possible anywhere. Germany for example is an undervalued country. It is so diverse and with so much nature and so many different people and mindsets, I don't think that the term "industrial nation" fits. For me Germany is a country that you can travel and explore long and often.

The neighbours of Bavaria and Austria are regarded as being spiritually related. But what is different?

The relationship is accurate in the border regions in particular, further away there are fewer commonalities. Mind you, we all speak the same, or a very similar language. So I can't state any differences. Except Bavaria are better at football and we are better at skiing. Of course exceptions prove the rule.

What would you have liked to have been had you not become a professional musician?

I can imagine anything to do with creativity and artistic expression. But music was something that's been with me from birth and comes to me most easily.

What can you express with music that you cannot with words or film?

If there were words for it, I'd answer the question ad absurdum.

How should the concert guests feel when they return home after your show?

They should go out feeling better than when they came in and with an attitude towards life that I always think of, but never vocalise as: go forth and multiply. I'm no proponent of a ban on condoms, but the world needs more children.

"Our economic system seems like a Ponzi scheme to me"

Format 2nd November 2012 | Text: Miriam Koch | Photo: Thomas Stampfl
Hubert von Goisern

Musician and capitalism critic Hubert von Goisern on absurd interviews, his "anti-capitalism anthem",
money and economics students who don't get it.

Have you given any interviews to economics magazines before?

No. There have been lots of requests, but I find it a bit absurd.

What do you find absurd about it?

I know some colleagues who have talked to political or economic magazines before and I've ended up thinking, if you'd stayed quiet, you would have remained a philosopher.

But your hit Brenna tuats guat is seen as an anti-capitalism anthem and has certainly contributed moving the mood against the biofuel E10 ...

I'm not giving any new insights in the song, I've simply packed them up in song form. The fact that it has been so successful shows that people know what's going on. That it's wrong when food is there not for people, but for machines. And people are starving. I don't think that songs change the world. But perhaps it has contributed to making it more difficult for the Minister of Agriculture Berlakovich to push through E10.

Would you want to sing the song at a work party for Agrana, one of the companies that produces biofuel?

I don't play for private circles.

Does it suit you to have Brenna tuats guat called an anti-capitalism anthem?

If lots of people see it like that, I wouldn't want to take that from them. Capitalism is one of those words that makes me think, that's unhealthy. If you want to subordinate the world to capitalism, I'm certainly against that. Just the same with communism, nationalism and all these isms. When you're subordinated under such an ideology, you're already off on the wrong track, because all other ideas are excluded. And the great potential is in fact this variety of ideas, views and suggested solutions that there are in this world.

Was it the music or the lyrics that made this song a hit?

Both things are just as important as each other. It's an illustration of statuses and circumstances paired with a really cool groove, so you're not left thinking "oh, the world is so terrible". It's the chance to dance through the crisis. People like to take advantage of that too. There's no sense in hanging your head and scolding. The undertone of disingenuousness, in which most look at themselves and their clique, should be changed and I have the feeling that the crest of the wave has been crossed. Even if law and legislation are still lagging behind. It would be important to put a few people behind bars, or at least remove them from positions of responsibility. Not least in order to bolster those who are honest and conscious of their responsibility.

Do you think there is a particularly large amount of corruption in Austria?

It is handled in a much sloppier way than in Germany. As far as self-purification is concerned, Germany is exemplary, because politicians retire from their offices. Here people who have been convicted sit in office and have the cutzpah to remain there. It just can go on like this.

How politically interested are you?

No more than most people.

Do you still vote?

If I'm here, then yes. I've participated via postal vote in the past, but when it gets really complicated, I say, it's not going to come down to my vote alone..

Have you ever been asked by a political party whether you wanted to take up a position?

No. It's an open secret that I sympathise with the Greens and I've given them party endorsements for many years. But like probably 90% of Green voters I suffer under the fact that they're still not doing things better. A great deal is incomprehensible to me. After a concert in Vienna I met with a couple of people from the Greens and told them that their publicity work, the way they present themselves, could be better. I offered to go to a party conference and give them feedback. But I wasn't permitted.

Because you're not a delegate?

Because I'm not a party member and haven't gone through the hierarchy. That stung me. But actually I should be happy, otherwise I'd have slid into it far further than I would like. I don't want to be a politician, because I don't have this thick skin needed to keep out these constant attacks. I take everything personally, every criticism. For me some of the worst politicians are the heads of the parliamentary groups, because they basically go for any opponent, no matter whether an argument or an idea is good or not. This reflex of proclaiming everyone else to be idiots disgusts me.

Do you think the tax system in Austria is right?

I don't pay particular attention to it. I know that I'm in the highest ax band and would be prepared to pay more.

Do you think that death taxes make sense?

I know many people who say that they don't make sense, because it does damage, Austria as a company location would be put in danger and it would prompt people to emigrate. I find it difficult to say: I'm for death taxes. I would want - as with many other subjects - for there to be no polemic discussions, but instead fact-based information to be offered. Like for example with the army debate. I'm getting too little information for me to really be able to vote. I probably won't go to vote, because I know too little. But when it comes to a Defence Minister, who was a conscientious objector performing community service, I don't buy that he is at home in the case. It's like a barefoot person wanting to tell me what makes a good shoe.

You were recently at the Vienna University of Business and Economics. What do you think that prospective manager need to learn?

The number of economic students has grown greatly across the world in the past few years. I do wonder what is being taught if it's nonetheless getting worse and worse. Or is this why the system is so screwed, because more people are concerned with the distribution of goods than with the production thereof? I'm appalled that people who study economics don't get that it can't work like this. There's this image of Jordan, which feeds two bodies of water: the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. One is a fertile sea and the other is without life. Why? Because with one of them the river water only flows in and nothing flows out. The economic students should realise that giving is necessary, not just taking. Energy has to flow. Money is energy and must flow. It doesn't make sense to just hoard it and buy a stupid yacht.

Our economic system seems like a Ponzi scheme to me. But one must be clear that someone has to pay when you join in with such a game. I was in Greece and talked to a woman who said sadly that the programmes from Brussels, which have helped in the past, have been discontinued. And I asked her, where do you think this money comes from? She said naïvely: from Brussels. But the notion that someone has to generate it is neglected.

How important is money to you personally?

You're asking someone who has a lot of money. It's easy for someone like that to say that it's unimportant.

You've lived through other times though ...

There are existenzial worries both with and without money. You can't buy the essential things with money: you can't buy health, you can't buy friends, you can't buy love, you can't buy good days. Feelings of happiness and being happy are closely linked with accepting things even when they're not the way you'd like. kann man sich nicht kaufen.

But what do you do with the money you earn?

I have invested an amount, some is in savings and a large amount is in the current account, because I simply don't have the time to take care of it. I'll look at it at some point. I have a great bank manager and I sit with her twice a year and we look at what is good and makes sense. When I invest money it needs to be in things of which I needn't be ashamed. Green technologies and such things as that. I don't look for great security, but I'm not a gambler. There are shares with which I can identify and in those cases risk isn't as important to me.

Do you know how much money you have?

No. ein. The awareness that I'm rich has only been with me for the last five years at the most. But I've been a rich man for the last 20 years.

Has this awareness changed anything?

No. I am now perhaps somewhat idealising the time in which I was as poor as a church mouse and was dependent on the generosity of my friends. But back then I had a great deal of time. I had barely any engagements and suffered with that, but on the other hand I had a lot of time for meeting friends, reading, going into the mountains. I lived in Vienna and went to the opera a few times a week in standing place.

In Vienna you were also a faredodger. Do you still travel without a ticket?

No. But actually I'm of the opinion that public transport should be free.

You also once said that it doesn't bother you when people illegally download your music.

I'm pleased for everyone who hears my music, it doesn't matter whether they copy it or buy it. I know many young people who endlessly download music and don't even listen to most of it. That doesn't hurt anybody, because they wouldn't buy the CD anyway. Where music really happens isn't on the record, it's in concert and this moment is irreproducable. I think it's a healthy step to have shifted from record sales to concerts. If people want to make a living from music, they must play concerts.

But that's harder work.

Well. We're playing a hundred concerts this year. That means that we're not playing for 265 days. You don't need to have sympathy for an artist who plays a hundred concerts a year, but for those who don't have any engagements.

You're also a small businessman and manager and co-partner of Synthakus Musikproduktion. What does the firm do exactly?

I produce: musik, film music, concerts ... There's also been an associated publishing company for the past year.

Is the business side of things fun for you?

No, but I have people who take care of that, it's all Greek to me. But I understand a few things now.

"Music is bigger than politics"

Donau Kurier 26th October 2012 | Text: Susanne Hagenmaier

Ingolstadt (DK) He sings Austrian, plays accordion and electric guitar, his music is a mix of rock, world and folk music: on Sunday Hubert von Goisern will be coming to Ingolstadt with the Brenna tuat's Tour.
Susanne Hagenmaier talked to him about his success.

Hubert von Goisern, did you go to Oktoberfest this year?

No. It isn't just that I didn't go this year, I've never been.


I don't like such events. I don't like beer tents, I don't like village festivals, they were never my thing. Why should I change now?

But have you heard that your song Brenna tuat's guat was a hit there?

People have told me that the song was played over and over. Of course that made me very happy.

Brenna tuat's guat has political lyrics. How political is your work?

In basic terms I don't think that the politicisation of music is good, because music is much greater than politics. But of course I aspire to have my lyrics have something to do with our life in the here and now.

What drove you to write these lyrics?

This stupid practice of turning food into fuel has nettled me for a long time. In a time when every single day children are starving, you can't burn food to drive machines. It's simply nonsense. And when something annoys me for long enough, it comes out as a song. It's the same when something pleases me long enough too.

Has that always been the case?

Yes. I can only write songs about what I experience and feel myself. I can't write songs about Reinhold Messner's feeling of being alive. I can only write about occupies me both positively and negatively.

The current CD Entwederundoder was a great success in Austria. Is that something special?

It is wonderful of course. It is always lovely when lots of people are interested in what you're doing. First and foremost I write for myself and want to play, sing and arrange the music so that it's understandable. Music is a form of language and communication and I want to write in such a way that people understand me too. Whether they then like it is another matter.

You have travelled the world in past decades. Do you have a real home?

Yes, sure. Home is where my family is and where my friends are, so that's the Salzkammergut. I live in Salzburg, but that's not far. It is also a blessing of birth to be born into a country like Austria and at a good time too - 70 years ago it would have been an uncool time and an uncool place!

You'll be 60 soon - what does that mean to you?

It doesn't matter to me. It's more for people such as yourself, who are always asking me about it. But I'm not asking myself. It doesn't make any difference whether there's a zero on the end and a five or a six on the front - it's whether you can accept it. I can accept it mostly, thank God. But not always, I admit.

On Sunday you're coming to Ingolstadt. On Monday you're playing in Marburg, on Tuesday in Mainz. Do the people there even understand your dialect?

I feel that I'm still just talking German and people understand not everything, but most of it. Certainly more than when someone sings English.

In 2007 on your Linz Europe Tour you sailed up and down the Danube. Did you like Ingolstadt?

I didn't get much from the Danube that day, but I spent the night on land and the whole area is great, I think. I'm not someone who looks for built up areas, but rather the countryside around it - and that's terrific.

"Reduction is very appealing" - Hubert von Goisern in Bozen

STOL 18th October 2012

With radically reduced songs, his accordion and a young band consisting of just drums, bass and guitar, Hubert von Goisern is back in South Tyrol. In Bozen he will be presenting his current album ENTWEDERundODER and his hit song Brenna tuats guat.

The singer from the Salzkammergut is clearer and more concise and direct than ever before on ENTWEDERundODER and dedicates himself to the most elementary aspects of being human. In the interview Hubert von Goisern talks about his bewilderment, music that moves people and the reduction of his music.

On the current album ENTWEDERundODER you have the single release Brenna tuats guat, which had its finger on the pulse. What was the trigger for writing such a song?

I'm bewildered by how casually resources and the truth are treated. Food is turned into fuel when at the same time people are dying of hunger. Things are going wrong in our system and many people are becoming ever more aware of this.

Brenna tuats guat became a hit. Did the anger of people play a part in that?

Not necessarily the anger, but I can feel that the song touched on what people were thinking. The knowledge of current circumstances and the helplessness in facing them down is nothing new, but has been a very topical subject since 2008.

The title of the album combines the two opposites "either" and "or". Is that characteristic of the music to be heard on the album?

I combined very intimate sounds and stories with grand sounding and powerful music on the album, just "either" and "or". All the songs were recorded with a small lineup and this reduction is very appealing. Two things were important to me: that the songs were short, little miniatures and self-contained as stories, and that they could be performed alone with one instrument, a guitar, piano or an accordion.

On 19th October you will be playing in South Tyrol again. What can the audience expect?

We'll of course mainly be playing songs from the new album, but older songs will be there too. The South Tyrolean audience has always given us a warm welcome and we'll do all we can to make it a great concert and a good evening.

Hubert von Goisern: Goisern is different

Volume 1st October 2012| Text: Philipp Heinkel

Hubert von GoisernIt rocks well: Hubert von Goisern and his band and his award-winning album Entwederundoder are playing one sold out big concert after another – all over the German-speaking region that is. This November the boundless world musician from Upper Austria will be 60 years young, but beforehand there will be a festive guest appearance at the Vienna Stadthalle on 25th October. VOLUME talked to Hubert von Goisern about Vienna, daily finger care and passionate burning of money.

On 17th November Hubert Achleitner will be celebrating his sixtieth birthday - has your hometown of Bad Goisern let you know when they will be building you a monument? What relationship so you have in general to the market town in Upper Austria?

I've made my peace with Bad Goisern and I think it's the same in return. But a monument while you're still alive - that would be really embarrassing.

Apropos a round birthday: where and how does the globetrotter Hubert von Goisern celebrated his personal life anniversary?

In Austria - I can't narrow it down any further yet.

You can have fun in the Salzkammergut, as the song goes: which lake or mountain do you particularly love? And where's the best tavern?

It's best if I keep it to myself - or only tell my closest friends. Otherwise I won't find any room any more when I go to the lake, mountain or tavern.

Music has engaged you since your early childhood, over the years you've taught yourself to play many instruments. Which instrument do you still really want to learn to play in this lifetime?

Actually I haven't mastered any. I can play most, but I'm not a virtuoso on any instrument. So the work ahead is still pretty big...

Squeezing the accordion until your hands bleed: which remedy do you recommend for battered fingertips?

I intend to go into a nail studio and ask sometime. At the top of my list is a superglue for nails. I need long finger nails for the guitar, though they often get in my way when playing the accordion - it's bad when one breaks. What's certain is that nail varnish doesn't work as a stabiliser.

Entwederundoder was awarded the Austrian music prize the Amadeus for "Album of the Year" and achieved platinum status - whatever that means. Which albums or musicians are at the top of your personal charts for 2012? A current recommendation from Hubert von Goisern:

I'm not up to date with the latest released. What definitely comes to mind is Adele. It's an unbelievable gift that this album was the top-selling album of 2011 - a masterpiece like 21 ahead of every other record on sale, not just in the favour of journalists. It lets you hope, or confirms what I have thought for a long time: namely that the consumer goes for quality when he gets it.

So much for "It burns well": do you have a passion on which you "squander" money?

When I go out to eat, I'm not looking at the money. On the other hand, it can happen that I stay hungry because I don't find anything decent.

Is it true that you always have a corkscrew with you on tour? White or red when it comes to wine?...

Both, the main thing is that they taste good.

This year a hundred concert are on your tourplan, 2013 is planned as time out - is it even possible for a busy artist such as yourself to completely turn off? If yes, how?

I don't switch off, I switch over. From the public life and stage to the non-public. I still work, I'm not completely private - composing, writing, travelling, meeting people, making contacts or reading books.

Far, far away - at the moment various music projects are drawing you to the north. How would a concert journey on an icebreaker be? You already have already gathered experiences with musical ship expeditions from the time of Linz09.

There were thoughts - not from me, but from a friend - about putting me and my band on an ice floe and letting us drift south with our music. By comparison the idea with the icebreaker is harmless.

Speaking of breaking the ice: Vienna is different and not every Austrian man or woman feels happy in the capital. How do Vienna and Hubert von Goisern get along?

We get on very well, because I'm different too. Vienna is my favourite city. Worldwide.

On 25th October you'll be playing in the Vienna Stadthalle – home game, routine or a new challenge every time?

Anything but routine - I think I last play in the Stadthalle 18 years ago. So there is great anticipation!

On both sides - all the best and see you soon in the Stadthalle!

Hubert von Goisern: "There's nothing comparable in Austria"

OÖN 4th August 2012 | Text: Lukas Luger | Photo: APA
Hubert von Goisern

What lies behind Hubert von Goisern's success?

Entwederundoder has been in the Austrian charts for 45 uninterrupted weeks, the single Brenna tuat's guat held at number one for five weeks, there have been dozens of sold out concerts from Bern to Munich and Linz – Hubert von Goisern is on a roll.

"It's a dream. We're playing more than 100 concerts this year, almost all of them in big locations. There's simply nothing comparable in Austria," says bass player Helmut "Hell" Schartlmüller. Together with Alexander Pohn (drums) from Ottnang and guitarist Severin Trogbacher from St. Florian near Linz, the man from Steyr forms the musical trio behind Goisern's most famous son.

"Young musicians who can really give it all and have energy" - these were the specifications with which Hubert von Goisern put together his new band in 2009. A lucky find. The power chords from Trogbacher, who comes originally from jazz, the aggressive, but always song-appropriate playing of Pohn and tearing bass runs from "Hell" – who knows whether the new Goisern songs would have developed their breadth of effect without this musical fresh cell therapy?

Although the writing of lyrics is absolutely the boss's job, Hubert von Goisern gives the three Upper Austrians a lot of space to play when composing. "He's happy for everyone to bring their influences into the rehearsal room. And we repay this trust", says Alexander Pohn (35), personally a fan of electronic music. There were no exact guidelines, just a general direction that was worked out. Bassist Schartlmüller (47) adds: "Developing songs from jamming - there's nothing cooler for a musician."

However the immense success of Brenna tuat's guat brought with it doubts too, reveals 29-year-old Trogbacher, who has lived in Vienna for years: "We weren't sure whether suddenly there would be audiences at the shows that were only there because of one hit single. As happened to Hubert back then on a grand scale with Hiatamadl." A look at the front rows at the first concerts allayed all fears though. "The sometimes very deep lyrics speak to the older people and this mixture of rock and folk music is very catchy for the younger generations," drummer Pohn says, trying to explain the "Hubert" phenomenon.

Anyone wanting to see von Goisern and his band live must hurry. The Brenna tuat's tour only runs until December. Then that's it for the time being. In 2013 Hubert von Goisern wants to take a break. Hopefully for not too long.

Hubert von Goisern's band:

Helmut Schartlmüller

Helmut Schartlmüller (bass)
Born in Steyr, he didn't take a serious interest in music until he was 14. To this day the bass has remained the first love of the "PC nerd". The 47-year-old, who would like to open a diving school in Thailand, has an easygoing view of his role in the band: "The bassist has to hold everything together and hold back as well, so that the whole thing works."

Alexander Pohn

Alexander Pohn (drums)
"And even if I just play the tambourine on 2 and 4 for the whole song - the song has to go over well. That's the only thing that counts", the 35-year-old says of his music maxim. The decision to become a drummer was made at a Hubert von Goisern show. "The final concert with the Alpinkatzen - I was 15 and in the audience and knew: that's it!"

Severin Trogbacher

Severin Trogbacher (guitar)
Born in St. Florian in 1983, the guitarist has been a member of the Hubert von Goisern band since 2007. It is above all the free, intuitive music-playing that he has learned from his boss, the Miles Davis fan says. "Hubert doesn't worry about rules, or what is taught in music school. He does what he feels and suddenly unbelievably complex things emerge."

"If that makes me difficult, then that's the way it should be"

Tiroler Tageszeitung 29th July 2012 | Text: Liane Pircher | Photo: Konrad Fersterer

Reservations and boundaries only interest Hubert von Goisern in so far as he wants to overcome them.
That's how it has always been and remains that way.

Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern has a lot going on at the moment. The current Brenna tuat's guat tour is taking him through Austria, Germany and Switzerland - it is a mega success. Only with a lot of luck does an interview date work out in Salzburg, says his press representative. It's tight, but then it really works out.

At the moment you're in the middle of your concert tour. You always play your current hit Brenna tuat's guat at the end, although people are really amped up for it. Is it that you don't want to let your complete work Entwederundoder be reduced to one single hit?

We've also played the song - on a whim - as the second number. But there was no reason to keep that up. You don't eat the main course before the soup and that has nothing to do with the quality of the soup.

With your song Hiatamadl it got to the point for you where the audience called for it so much that you didn't want to play it any more. Do you worry that the same thing could happen with the new anthem?

It could always happen. You can make a horror out of anything by overdoing it.

Brenna tuat's guat is rather socio-critical - it's about subjects like the burning of foodstuffs, filthy lucre and the financial crisis. Does it bother you when the song is played over and over in the discos and people let loose to it?

No, that doesn't bother me. I actually think it's great. It's better to dance through the crisis than get depressive or angry.

You've always been someone who has spoken up and in an earlier TT interview you once said: "As an artist, you have the chance to get involved. I do just that. Politics can't be left to just the politicians." Do waste and greed annoy you the most at the moment?

What annoys me the most is the audacity with which the many politicians, managers, directors and people at such levels siphon off six, seven or even higher figure amounts into private accounts abroad and avoid taxation. And the inability of our justice system to catch these people annoys me. They'd rather zero in on a youth who's got a marijuana plant on his balcony, or admonish a cyclist who's breaking the rules of the road. It's a bad example to set too. It eats away at the morale of the whole of society. This whole gambling boom bothers me too. I don't think it's right that betting offices are allowed to advertise on public television. I'm not for a ban. As far as I'm concerned gambling has just as great a potential for addiction, misfortune and thus destruction as do alcohol and nicotine. The stuff should be banned from advertising.

Apropos banned. From time to time you like to leave Austria. You also have soulmates in foreign cultures, for example the African artist Mohamed Mounir. What do you love the most when you travel?

I'm a curious person and I like to face the unknown. I like this feeling. And I like it when I come home inspired by it.

Is there a country that you would never travel? That holds zero interest for you?

No, actually there isn't. But in general I can say that I'm drawn more to nature than to densely populated, concreted over areas.

Have you ever toyed with the idea of emigrating permanently, or could you never turn your back on Austria? And could you be without the mountains?

In principle I've already as good as emigrated twice (Ed.: Goisern lived for a long time in places including Canada and South Africa) and have spent seven of my many years on this earth outside Europe. At the moment I feel very happy here. But certainly mountains are something very important for me. Without them I'd grow depressed in the long run.

One gets the impression that the traditional and homeland is as close to you as your love for the exotic. You blow up both in your music in order to show the lack of boundaries. Do you think that this can only be done so well musically?

That's difficult to say. All traditions have arisen through demarcation. Be it free-willed or forced by geographic or other conditions. I grew up in a special cultural biotope, namely that of the Salzkammergut. Through this I have an understanding for and fascination in these self-enclosed worlds. Mind you, I also gained the realisation early on that I am a wanderer between worlds and for that reason I have always seen borders and border controls in particular as vexatious. Because everything is connected. Reservations and boundaries only interest me in so far as I want to overcome them.

AS a young guy he fled the local brass band and went to another. You were rather a rebel in the village. Did the relationship with you change with your increasing success as a musician?

I would say that on the whole I have made my peace with my homeland - and it with me.

You manage to swing between total internalisation (Trad) and extroversion in sound. To which emotional state are you closer in everyday life? Is there much difference between private life and work?

I think my private life has this spectrum too.

Your sound must have been described in many ways over the last twenty years, do you still want to be called the innovator of folk music?

I can't judge whether my accomplishments warrant with predicate. But my aim was - and still is - to go new ways.

What's on the plan for after this huge concert tour? It's said that you want to write a novel, is that right?

That's speculative – I have many dreams and ideas, but even I don't know how things will go, so I can't give you an honest answer.

When I was preparing for this interview, a friend happened to come over and when I told her who my interviewee was going to be, she said: "He's a good guy, but definitely a difficult person." Would you agree with such a statement?

I know mostly what I want, or at least what I don't want. If that makes me difficult, then that's how it should be. But I think that the line between bearable and unbearable is different for everyone. It's like with mountain climbing - for many people two hours of climbing are too many, or the fifth grade is insurmountable. For other people that's where it starts to get exciting. Those who find me too arduous just need to find someone simpler.

Interview with Hubert von Goisern

Mainpost 19th July 2012 | Text: Christoph Forsthoff

Your new song I versteh di nit reveals a close relationship with the saints, although you haven't been a member of the church for a long time …

It's less a religion and more religious stories to which I'm referring. I think it's very important not to go through life with a feeling of omnipotence, but rather carry with you a certain calmness. And that's where faith helps me - and I'm not afraid of making an appeal either.

To whom does Hubert von Goisern appeal?

The classic saint is St. Anthony, who stands for finding the lost. Everyone knows the situation of looking for a key that's just gone. And at some point you have to let it go, you have to stop searching and accept it - that that's the way it is.

And then?

Then you can give the searching over to St. Anthony - and if it's possible, he makes sure that you find the key. Simply because you've let it go and your eyes are open for other places, because things can hide themselves. That's ultimately more psychology than faith, but of course it has something to do with believing too.

So religion doesn't play a very big role in your life?

No. Though my favourite saint is St. Rita: I didn't discover her until I was looking at this subject in the course of my composing and lyric writing. She's responsible for making the impossible possible - and I think that's optimal: so you need to take note of her (laughs).

Nonetheless faith and religion still seem to be a big fascination, not least for many young people - although at the same time ever more of the so-called final secrets are being deciphered. How does that come about?

I don't think that it's a contradiction, I think one thing needs the other. Take this current situation: a lot is scary, the whole financial market situation is precarious and in the last two years we've seen how it can teeter on the brink before it's saved by the skin of its teeth.

Where after the supposed save, the next financial crisis comes along, the Euro crisis.

And we see the incapacitation and emasculation of politics, which simply has to submit with a shrug of the shoulders to the economic rules, because they're obviously global and the politics can only be regional and national - and to find a bit of faith in such situations, I don't think that's wrong.

But can faith really help?

Religions in general enable us to develop a feeling of unity. Away from "me" and in to a feeling of being embedded in a collective: that's the main reason people come together in a field and pray to a white spot that they can see far away on a screen.

And what gives you support?

In Buddhism there's an image of a small and a large vehicle - the small one takes you to salvation and enlightenment, the big one takes everybody. I like this image: the religion is the vehicle, but not the destination. There's no sense in praying to the religion: I believe in God, but certainly not in the church.

Hubert von Goisern on the stage as a home

Salzburger Nachrichten 11th July 2012 | Text: Bernhard Flieher | Photos: SN/Wolfgang Lienbacher

Hubert von Goisern will be playing the Domplatz three nights in a row from Wednesday. The musician in conversation with the Salzburger Nachrichten on the stage as a home, heavy doubts and dealing publicly with a hit.

Hubert von Goisern

Three home games at the Salzburg Domplatz, sold out three times: 59-year-old Hubert von Goisern has been on the most extensive tour of his career for months. To "blame" is also his hit Brenna tuats guat.

Over the next few days you're playing three sold out concerts in the city in which you live. Do such shows have a special appeal?

It's more stressful, because the expectations are greater. My own - and I get the feeling that the critical looks and ears are more discerning at home than elsewhere.

What role does the location play in the quality of a show?

There are places where I don't want to play any more, because the hall is grimey, or the acoustics are bad. But there are also places where a very homelike feeling can spread.

And the Salzburg Domplatz?

It's an unbelievable backdrop. Three times in the Domplatz is about 7000 people - we could have played that once in the Salzburgarena too. But I didn't want to play there. The Arena is like a symbol for the impertinence in this domain of Austrian: there are no good halls for pop music, just this multipurpose venues in every provincial capital. That annoys me. So the Domplatz three times is a thousand times better as far as I'm concerned, despite the greater organisational and financial outlay.

You have always carried your music far out into the world. How important is the experience of the foreign for the return to the familiar?

Abroad, in places like Egypt or Mali, I have the feeling on stage that it's about life. That's what you take with you.

Why is that so existential?

Where nobody knows you, you have to win people over. There's no resting on your laurels like here, where you go on stage and people clap because they're happy you're coming. Away everything is much tenser and less can be taken for granted than here.

So the stage is still a place of not taking anything for granted, even after all these years?

Yes, it's an exceptional time, a window in time in which there is only a here and now. There is nothing that you lets remember that you forgot something, and there are certainly no thoughts of what could be in the future.

So you're still going out to the microphone with uncertainty?

Yes. The possibility that things won't go well is always there. Sometimes more, sometimes less - and this possibility is very seldom forgotten.

You have a hit. Brenna tuats guat was at number one and played constantly on the radio. How do you explain this success?

I have no explanation. Funnily enough, this number changed for me a great deal after it was played so much and became mass phenomenon. I heard it differently. I suddenly heard the song as a hit. Previously I only heard the mistakes and the opportunities I missed, what I could have done better, but didn't think of. I only heard the weaknesses. Barely had it reached number one and the weaknesses were gone. I found this shift of perception pretty funny.

Hubert von GoisernFrom where does this shift come?

It comes probably from a basic uncertainty. On the one hand a feeling of invulnerability characterises me. But there is also the other extreme, the doubts and trepidation.

How big is the danger that - as was once the case with Hiatamadl - many people will only come along for one hit?

There are certainly people who come to the concert who only perceive this little segment of my creativity and who don't realise that they're going to have to get through quite a lot at a concert in order to then hear the hit.
I think it's fine that these people come to the wrong film so to speak. Because then they have to step into another world in before they get what's familiar to them.

Do you hope that a few of them will also get caught in this other world?

The potential to appreciate and absorb something new is greater with most people than the industry and likes people to think and itself wants. If you boil everything down to the lowest common denominator all the time, in the end it's simply quantitively cheaper and easy to sell.

How was the feeling of happiness about Brenna tuats guat in comparison to Hiatamadl exactly 20 years before?

I stopped in 1994 because I wanted to come back down to earth, having lost that thanks in part to a hit, Hiatamadl. I wanted to be able to go second class on the train again, go shopping, go to a tavern, without the constant feeling that everyone was staring at me. When such a hit happened again, it was a step back to this time.

Was it difficult to deal with?

I have the advantage that I knew it all already. I was caught wrong-footed back then, certainly it was joyful, but a really excessive demand. I allowed far too much and far too much to get close to me. That doesn't happen any more. The fever is back again and the temperature has risen again. But now I know that in such a situation it's all about staying cool. Back then I fell into it and got lost.

But after your return and in particular your return in 2000 you remain a public figure.

But I'm older now and have a twenty year curriculum vitae in public life. I'm not a no-name like back then, around which the lust for contact, for every new thing, was huge. There is now a kind of respect, a threshold that is no longer so easily crossed. I was much more down-to-earth then than now. I don't want to be the opposite now though. I'm not someone who hides behind his sunglasses feeling important. But I've learned how to slip into a fort undetected like an Indian.

The Domplatz is host to an Austrian cultural jewel, the Jedermann opera. After a twenty year career, where do you see your place now in the country's cultural landscape?

(thinks for a long time) I can't say anything that couldn't be used against me.

Between mountain and stage

Auto Touring July/August 2012 | Text: Christoph Löger | Photo: Heinz Henninger

Hubert von Goisern on travelling and why it's important to have a corkscrew with you.

Hubert von GoisernMany people say that they can't get on with folk music, but they mean folksy schlager. Does it bother you that the two things are constantly mixed up?

I don't know many people who mix the two up. That's probably down to the people I know. But I understand when people reject homeland stuff. It doesn't matter whether it's musical nature, you're talking about kitsch postcards, or clothing. Almost no real folk music is played on the radio for example, it's mostly schlager.

You've got around the place a lot, living in South Africa and Canada. How important is it for you to travel?

It's perfect for breaking up a routine. If you don't know what's around the next bend, you have to approach it very differently from how you would if you knew that there was going to be a ditch beyond. But I need both - the being at home on the one hand, my friends, my familiar mountains. And on the other hand, the leaving. Actually, I never go away, I'm always going somewhere.

Is it a difficult adjustment going from home to being back on tour?

Cutting the cord from home is always an endeavour. Into the bus, the bunk bed, that's rock 'n' roll. I have the smallest suitcase of us all, that's what J.J. Cale sang - "Travellin' light is the only way to go" (laughs). Coming home means reintegrating myself into the family. When you're not there, they adjust and live without Hubert. When I'm back, my place is taken and I have to take it back. For two days we are rather careful with each other. They let me arrive slowly and I sharpen my eye for in for an inclusive life at home and don't let myself float like on tour, when very little happens other than sleeping, eating, soundcheck and stage.

What's always in your small suitcase?

A book, a pocket knife with a corkscrew, so you don't have to push the cork into the bottle if there's a good bottle of wine somewhere, and a headlamp. That's practical for being somewhere where the organiser has forgotten to put a power cable out to the tourbus for the night.

Do you think that people have become more tolerant towards other cultures through the simple access to travelling available nowadays?

I think people are more relaxed. Think of Africa or Greenland: if we were to act there as we do in Austria, we wouldn't survive. When you act consciously, you imagine yourself less in the way of life to which you are accustomed.

Has anything changed in travel in the last few years?

It has become more natural. But the high point of individual freedom and mobility has been exceeded. Because of disasters, global warming, fuel prices. I think it's absurd that so many goods that are available regionally are transported across Europe. I have nothing against there being a Vorarlberg beer, but why do I need to be able to drink it in Vienna? I don't want to forbid it, but it bothers me. If we didn't have this supported transport of goods, mobility would be confined to people's real concerns of the heart.

On 14th July you're playing at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. How does this fit with the nature lover Hubert von Goisern?

I like motorsport. I like watching Formula 1, and like falling asleep in front of it too (laughs). It's the most relaxing Sunday occupation there is. And I have a PlayStation on which I play the "Gran Turismo" racing game. I built a case for it myself, complete with bucket seat, pedals and steering wheel. I even had it on tour with me. I would also really love to bomb it round the track in a KTM X-Bow one day. But other than that I'm not a fast driver, more of an enjoyer.

Hand on heart: would you prefer never to have written Hiatamadl?

No, never. I don't play it at every concert, but when we do, I really love it. It's a number that really gets going. It's just that it was played to death on the radio back then to such an extent that even I had a hard time when I heard it. But I have no idea how my life would have gone without Hiatamadl, in that respect I'm grateful. I think we've found our peace with one another.

Alpine rock between poetry and provocation

Saarbrücker Zeitung 14th June 2012

On Friday 20th July the Austrian Hubert von Goisern will be giving an open air concert at the Strandbad in Losheim as part of his Brenna Tuat's Tour 2012. From 8pm he'll be performing with his accordion and his young band consisting of just drums, bass and guitar and will present the songs of his new album Entwederundoder. The new songs - like the hit Brenna tuat's guat - are rock songs with a touch of the alpine, drawing inspiration from world music, jazz and classical music, seeming radically reduced in comparison with the earlier almost orchestral works. SZ colleague Adrian Froschauer talked to the Austrian musician.

Your most recent and hitherto most successful album has the title EntwederUndOder (Eitherandor). What does the title mean?

It goes against the grain for me to give explanations of my songs or the titles. There has to be something for the listener to do too. It's about stirring up fantasies, not giving explanations.

This year you won an Amadeus Award for EntwederUndOder in the category "Best Album". Unfortunately in Germany nobody is likely to get a pop music award with "alpine rock". Are Austrians more open to different musical styles, or what else could it be down to, do you think?

"Alpine rock" is a pigeonhole; my musical life takes place in the open. Rock music is one of the sources that feeds me, others are the blues, jazz, classical, romantic, baroque, as well as non-European traditions too. I wouldn't claim that Austrian are generally more open. But Austria isn't Germany and that's fine. Apart from those in the so-called industry, nobody has any interest in standardised behaviour.

What excites you especially in traditional folk and in modern rock?

Every creative person has to feed from one source or another. It makes no sense to try and reinvent the wheel. I study the traditions - rock is "just" a tradition too - because they carry stories. Tackling them critically is exciting and inspiring.

As mentioned, you combine alpine folk music with not just rock sounds, but with reggae, jazz, African and South American influences too. Have any of these experiments ever gone wrong? Is there a mix that absolutely doesn't work?

Composing is above all - as the word itself says - putting together. And that's a personal question. The people taking part determine the relationships; it's never the content itself that refuses to be combined, but rather the people who see themselves as keepers of the Grail. But you have to have such people too.

You have travelled Africa and Asia and played music with the people there. How did the members of a completely different culture take to the yodelling Austrian?

Yodelling is to be found in many different cultures. It doesn't sound so strange in Africa and Asia. Actually we've always been received very warmly and with great curiosity. There is something unifying about music. Mutual listening is the foundation of a meeting and music creates that - because music is a ideology-free zone.

You play guitar, piano, accordion, trumpet, harmonica, clarinet and probably many other instruments. Is there one you prefer when composing?

No, I compose a lot without any instruments too - in my head.

Your lyrics are frequently socially or politically critical, like for example the number one hit Brenna tuat's guat, which covers the financial crisis. Do you think that music, or art in general can change anything?

If I can bring attention with my songs to subjects that I find fascinating, then that makes me happy.

Unfortunately Austria didn't qualify for Euro 2012 this year. Will you nonetheless be offering your single Rotz und Wasser as a free download like you did two years ago during the World Cup?

Yes, that's a good idea. I'll call my webmistress - my webmaster is a woman.