Hubert von Goisern


ENTWEDERUNDODER >> Interviews: 1 2 3 4


HR info 14. September 2011 | Text: Dirk Leukroth

"Entweder und oder" from Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern is an Austrian and has always been a searcher in the world of music. He has travelled the world for more than 30 years and each time he has fresh ideas in his luggage. His hitherto greatest project was the Linz Europe Tour 2007-2009.

He sailed with a cargo ship converted to a stage, there were more than 20 harbour concerts. Now he has been in the studio with a simple rock formation. The result was the brand new album Entweder und oder. Hubert von Goisern is a man against all clichés. He is a globetrotter when it comes to music, but nonetheless he has never disowned his homeland of Austria. Why?

"I have a handful of friends at home and it makes me very, very happy every time we can find time for each other - I like the smell, the silhouette of the mountains that surround me, that I know, that I've climbed. There is a sense of familiarity there and a calmness too that's good for me, from which I can gain strength."

Strength - for example to go into the studio and record a really straight album called Entweder und oder that in a really positive sense has completely floored me.

"I like naïvety, I can do something with it..."

Great rock and blues - both are to be heard on Entweder und oder with bass, drums and not to forget the very special von Goisern element. With accordion, expressive singing and lots of joy in experimentation with stylistics.

"If I think beforehand if I do that, that'll work too - then I must admit: I'm not interested! I just wanted to write simple songs and I found that it's much more complicated than writing complicated music. Because you just have to capture this degree to naïvety. I like naïvety, I can do something with it, but it's then always only a small step or a shift in weight and things get tacky."

He has escaped this danger. Hubert von Goisern simply has an infallible feel for where musical dividing lines run and where it makes sense to venture a step across the border. The love song to a woman called Heidi as a reggae in 3/4 time even gave his band stomach ache here and there.

"But then I said to them, it's fine! Sure it's a cliché! But I want to play with them too and not carry on as if everything's deadly serious."

The high fun factor on the album Entweder und oder is certain to me and other listeners. The music isn't just creative, but so are the lyrics - drastic and poetic at the same time, socio-critical too. For example when the subject matter is our love of money. And if you have doubts due to the dialect - we took BAP to our hearts in purest Cologne dialect and became accustomed to Ina Müller's songs "op Platt". Now with Entweder und oder Hubert von Goisern most certainly belongs on your CD shelf.

Hubert von Goisern and the fire-raisers

Der Westen 15th September 2011 | Text: Susanne Schramm | Photo: Thomas Brill
Hubert von Goisern

Cologne. The former Alpine Cat Hubert von Goisern is going on tour with a new CD, angry lyrics and a small lineup. Susanne Schramm met him in Cologne, where he spoke about the heart of his songs, his aversion to compromise and the wicked lustfulness in playing.

Is this what a fire-raiser looks like? Hubert von Goisern wears flip flops with his knee-length shorts, his face is tanned and his hair likes neither comb nor scissors. He has been working a whole year, his new CD Entwederundoder has just been released, he'll be on tour with it from mid-January 2012. "So I'd love to go and lie somewhere warm for two or three days", says the 58-year-old and sips at his espresso, "then go home, not to work, but to do something. Mountain climbing, visiting friends, reading."

"It burns well"

With its mixture of dialect rap, Southern guitars and cow bell ska, between folklore, blues, reggae, jazz, swing and waltzing yodels the new CD sounds like a lucky dip bag. The first piece Brenna tuats guat has scared off a number of radio stations: "It was too critical for them. They said that it's a call to violence, for people to set fire to banks. It's a very angry song. Food like sweetcorn and turnips are being burned, but what you can't eat and would burn very well - money - isn't being burned."

"That's rock 'n' roll"

After the opulently instrumented Linz Europe Tour, during which von Goisern travelled with friends for two years, he has now returned to a small lineup. The CD and tour make do with accordion, drums, bass and guitar: "It can sometimes be very complicated when you play music with so many people. Now, with four of us, we're a kind of musical guerrilla troupe. One of us veers off in one direction or another and we all go with them or not. Playing with just guys, that's rock 'n' roll. He clearly backs the principle of less is more: "I had it in mind for a long time, I thought about American Recordings by Johnny Cash, very reduced, very few sounds. I wanted to carve out the heart of the songs. Until now I have been looking for something "unique", for new, different sounds. I thought, I'll make it very simple, bordering on naïvety."

The taut strings of life

Before the release of the CD he had played with his three guys in old taverns in Austria: "I wanted to do that without question. I was so keen to play that I didn't want until the autumn." The former Alpine Cat doesn't accept that Entwederundoder is a compromise both in terms of its title and its stylistic mixture: "I don't think much of compromises, although they are sometimes necessary. Music for me is the life that takes place between two poles. When you're in the middle, everything is really illuminated, but in this state you don't need life any more. You're very raised up and away from the actual important things. As long as I live, I want and must play with life. Life is the taut strings on which I can feel the overtones."

"I like to burn with a big flame"

Morgenmagazin 15th September 2011 | Text: Jörg-Peter Klotz

Hubert von Goisern on the difficult of simplicity, capitalism and his deal with the devil

"Hubert von Goisern has skinned his music", reads the information sheet for his recently released solo album EntwederundOder. After the opulently staged two-year world music tour on the Danube and the somewhat experimental album S'nix (2008) it sounds actually clearly pared down, but no less exciting. We talked to the 58-year-old, who will be presenting the work with his pared down band of drums, bass and guitar on Thursday 19th April, live in the Mannheim Rosengarten.

"Anything goes" or the only truth - is the album title EntwederundOder (Eitherandor) meant as particularly radical or ready for compromise?

It means that I need these two poles in life. It's not enough if I have to decide on one extreme or the other - certain not artistically. If we take tradition and the modern in music - I need the field of tension in between.

Stylistically speaking, on EntwederundOder you're more Anglo-American and less Alpinkatzen-like than you have recently ...

That's down to me playing music and living in opulence for four years. But the Linz Europe Tour on the Danube was only possible in that form, because I drew myself back a great deal - I was more impresario than front man. Since I wanted my musical guests to come into their own, I was rather thwarted and was pleased to be able to do more myself again. It soon became clear that I wanted to make the band smaller and have more transparency in the sound, no more of this bright opulence. I thought about it for a good year, until I had a clear picture of the overall impression of the new album. Then I was terrified ...

Because such "simple, yes almost naïve songs" came to you, as you describe them. Was it a feeling of "the spirits I call"?

Exactly. I had to get it straight in my head first, so as not to embellish or inflate it. From the ship, we had to fill whole cities or landscapes with sound. Keeping it simple is ultimately more complicated and you make yourself more accessible.

A lot ultimately sounds like the good US singer-songwriter tradition in the style of John Hiatt - between rock, blues, jazz and, surprisingly, a bit of country.

In terms of the pared down production, that didn't surprise me so much. Reinventing the wheel doesn't work. Composing also means putting things together. Along the way out of necessity you drawn on tradition. I myself am only partly characterised by alpine music and I grew up with blues, jazz and rock music too. Only the country sounds frightened me a bit again. There's a lot of light and shadow there. Many representatives of the genre could top Musikantenstadl, but real killers exist too. The latter interested me a lot. It was then exciting to put the claim as narrowly as possible.

In Germany you've found almost musical followers with bands like LaBrassBanda and Stefan Dettl and Co. Does that please you?

I think it's great that such things happen. Because there's a swing there ... but it was there in the 90s too, when I was still active with the Alpinkatzen. That's just the way it is, football teams can't blossom for 20 years either. But it's good that people are looking again for what is still valid in their musical tradition and can touch people. Music is like a kind of magic.

You are one of the most political musicians in Austria, do you despair of the world, burning in every corner and seemingly without solutions for its problems? One can barely make any musical magic against it, right?

It's not true that there are no solutions. They're known. It's just appalling that they're not put into action. The pain probably isn't great enough yet. But I don't like political music. As a politician you must speak directly, as an artist you do anything but. Our magic should create utopian images that make the desire and courage to go new ways. It would be counterproductive to spread messages with music, even in the nuances that doesn't work in art.

So would you call the young Bob Dylan unartistic - or naïve?

Naïvety excuses a great deal. The loss of naïvety is the one thing that troubles me about getting older ... you no longer have this excuse.

What solution do you see then for the various financial crises?

What annoys me is that money has become the most important commodity. That's absurd. The fact that money earns money too. I see it as a form of energy. If money isn't flowing, it's worthless. The accumulation of wealth is counterproductive. We live in a world that knows everything about itself - including that affluence is at the cost of others. Saying that requires courage that unfortunately most politicians are missing.

Your opener Brenna tuats guat sounds as though you wanted to send capitalism packing to the devil, or at least to where he has his children ...

(smiles) That's certainly where it comes from, it's a child of the devil. But it's also one of the necessary poles that brings tension into life. You see this when you serve these images. But I think that I have a relationship with the devil too.

Aha, that sounds almost like the old delta blues man Robert Johnson, who made a deal with the devil in order to be able to play better ...

I don't know exactly what he looks like, but I think I've entered into such a deal too. In a dreamy, unobserved moment. It's more about chasms and in particular the heights of success that are somewhat dizzying. But I feel upbeat, that I can trip him up, but I do have a feeling of atonement too.

A big word ... Are you a believer?

Yes, but not religious. I've often been asked why I'm not a Buddhist. But that would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. All religions have something exclusive about them and that's what I don't like.

To whom do you atone then - yourself?

First and foremost, yes, I admit that. Life is like a flame - and I like to burn with a big flame, not just glowing away to myself. It costs energy and doesn't come off without loss. That's why I need breaks too.

From the meadow, into the world and back again

Augsburger Allgemeine 3rd September 2011 | Text: Henning Richter

Hubert von Goisern"It is simpler to be complicated, but complicated to express yourself simply", Hubert von Goisern writes in the booklet of his new album Entwederundoder. The Austrian world musician is dedicating himself once more to the supposedly simple sounds.

"Some of the new songs are very rocky, but there's country, blues and other sounds in there that have nothing to do with this genre", he says. While von Goisern used complex instrumentation on the previous albums, today he is part of a small, dynamic quartet. "We're versatile! I always say that we're a musical guerilla unit. It's huge fun to be on stage like that", he enthuses.

The current CD is often reminiscent of the earthy dialect rock that the man from the Salzkammergut made with the Alpinkatzen between 1984 and 1994. The decision to work once more with the small utensils of rock 'n' roll is his reaction to the lavish production of his last work S'Nix (2008). The production was a result of his river tour, which the daring musician undertook with his friends on a transport barge converted to a concert ship. "Everything about it was huge. We didn't fill clubs with sound, it was landscapes. I felt like more of an impresario than a frontman", he says of the ship concerts, for which big screens and speaker setups were necessary.

So now we return to the grounded Goisern. And his mixture of folk music and rock 'n' roll makes even the traditionalists happy. "In the beginning there were people who were frothing at the mouth because of my music. But a bit of resistance is exciting too. But there are also people who used to be bitter opponents and who now like me", says von Goisern.

In the lyrics to Entwederundoder he takes care of a round of different subjects. For Indianer he occupies himself with the cliché of the "noble wild men". "I once came home with a big wound after crashing on my bike. My parents said I should go to the doctor, but I said: 'Indians don't know pain'. To which my father answered: 'That's why they died out'."Halt nit an is about being on the road, a song for the camp fire. In Heidi he plays with another cliché. It's a yodel rocker that describes love on the mountain as it would be portrayed in a homeland film.

Von Goisern and his rock band recently went on tour through the guesthouses of his region. It was about a cultural retransfer, says von Goisern. "Having brought folk music into the cities, we were now bringing it back to its origins - enriched with urbanity and the breath of faraway places."

Music in the village

Deutsche Welle 14th September 2011 | Text: Suzanne Cords

HvG & BandHe is a folk music revolutionary, alpine rocker and sometimes a world musician too. Now Hubert von Goisern has taken up the cause of saving the tavern stages threatened with extinction.

He has travelled the world for many years, most recently he sailed up and down the Danube and Rhine with a cargo ship converted to a stage and gave harbour concerts. Then the Austrian retired to his studio in Salzburg and composed short and crisp songs swinging with lots of homeland feeling for his new album Entweder Und Oder.

On the last album S'Nix he had processed the experiences of his ship expedition in epic pieces, in contrast the new work comes across as almost minimalistic. A logical development the alpine rock believes, it's almost a matter of the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. "After this big tour, I set myself the goal of composing more miniatures", he says. "What we did on the ship can't be topped as far as size is concerned - unless I'd done something with a chamber or symphony orchestra."

Outdoorsman with the exotic in his blood

But getting ever "bigger and louder", as the musician says, doesn't appeal to him at all, so instead Hubert von Goisern presents pieces that can be played without an orchestra, with just a guitar or accordion. Consequently he had halved his band and disposed of the keyboard too. Because it sounds like an orchestra, he says: "I wasn't sure whether I'd manage to slim down in terms of content and sound too, but I think it's been pretty successful."

Hubert von Goisern makes it clear right from the opening piece Brenna tuats guat that the alpine fire of his youth still burns within him. Powerful and rocking he performs the dashing outdoorsman who takes on the devil too.

Heidi likes Reggae

Goisern wouldn't be Goisern though if he didn't garnish his alpine sounds with a sprinkling of the exotic. He has remained true to himself on his 18th album too and offers up the typical Goisern mix. Evidently the alpine Heidi likes reggae and in Indianer cow bells mix beneath the guitar sound.

The now almost 60-year-old Goisern has always been fascinated by the most varied and often exotic sounds around the globe. "Of course I take musical memories from my journeys with me," he confirms, "but I can't say that I then consciously incorporate them into my compositions." The foreign rhythms have crossed so firmly in Hubert von Goisern's flesh and blood that they knock quite automatically at his door during the creative process. "If I need a certain sound, I don't think about how they'd do it in Trinidad or Tanzania, instead I simply take from my musical memory", he laughs.

Far from cultural fug

The alpine rocker began his musical career as Hubert Achleitner in his village in the Salzkammergut as a trumpeter in a brass band - which he left mind you, because first of all his long hair was displeasing and secondly he found too much fault with the repertoire. So Hubert fled the cultural fug of his homeland and headed to Africa, Canada and the Philippines and then took the name of his village with him, from then on he called himself von Goisern.

The travelling gave him the opportunity to rediscover himself, of that he is sure: "When you're in a familiar environment, you go through life in a very routine way. But when you don't know anybody, you haven't mastered the language and you don't know what's around the next corner, it sharpens your senses."

With the pickaxe

Back in Austria Hubert von Goisern then became famous with the Alpinkatzen band, his accordion and unforgettable songs in Goisern dialect. He had resolved to take tradition apart and yes, to break it, he says: "The protectors of tradition should feel that someone is coming in with a pickaxe. It was actually a holy wrath that had led me to go at it this way, because this turmoil and this stick-in-the-mud attitude got on my nerves."

Oil has long since been poured on these troubled waters and von Goisern is established. He says he draws his inner strength for new projects from Buddhism. And so the song Es is wias is sounds like the alpine variation on "Ommm".

As an avowed globetrotter von Goisern nonetheless doesn't feel hemmed in when he shuts himself away for months in his studio to file away at his music. "You head goes travelling," the perfectionist explains. "I'm surrounded by many instruments that all carry the aura of the big wide world within them and get swinging when I play them."

Threatened with extinction

At times angry, at times placable is how Hubert von Goisern's stories come across and he always has a message. His music is at its most striking when he reflects on life and makes it clear that there isn't just "either/or", but there's "Either and Or" too.

The Austrian touches sore spots, campaigns for the Green party, for Tibet, for disadvantaged youths and now for taverns. Even in his home village, where von Goisern owns his own place high up in the meadows, the tavern shut years ago. That's why Hubert wants to bring culture back to the villages and play in old tavern halls in the country, with small rooms and stuffy air. Because these small stages, he laments, are almost threatened with extinction. And an Über Lower Upper Austrian - a "Üuoö" as he puts it in Goisern slang, can't allow that to happen.

Hubert von Goisern: "Life plays out between the poles"

Tiroler Tageszeitung 14th September 2011 | Text: Uwe Käding, dapd

Hubert von Goisern leaves no genre untouched on his new album "Entweder und Oder".
"The general theme is me."

Hubert von Goisern

Frankfurt/Main - After three years on stage with a nine-piece band Hubert von Goisern is celebrating a reduction: He is now appearing as just a quartet with new songs that leave out no musical feeling from tradition and jazz to rock, celebrating an uncompromising joy in singing and playing. After the Linz Europe Tour and the predecessor S'Nix, Entweder und Oder (Capriola/Sony) is reduction - and at the same time an expression of an irrepressible will for freedom.

"Life plays out between the poles," says the 58-year-old musician in the interview. "There are these poles of tradition and modernity, there are these poles of harmony and - not tension, but let's say anger, uncompromisingness, or where you just let it all out, where you don't take any shit from anyone. I think that if you only live in harmony, life will very soon be exhausted. It needs this tension, for me the 'both x and y'."

Von Goisern has written a dozen songs for the album, "simple songs that describe the feelings of life that have occupied me in recent times. Or feelings in which I have bathed, memories that keep coming back ... They are condensed dreams and memories too that then turn into music and lyrics."

Brenna tuats guat is an alpine rocker about the devil and money, I versteh di nit, Heidi halt mi, Suach da an andern and Neama Bang are exactly what Goisern said: condensed dreams and memories, whose musical intensity draw you under their spell. The songs are meant to be simple, but "I kept rapping myself over the knuckles this time when I thought, now that's too simple."

He challenges himself to write simple songs: "I proved often enough to myself that I can write complex songs and compositions. But simple songs, that's much more complicated than making something complicated. And I wanted to take on the challenge of seeing whether or not I could do it. Songs that you can sing and play on one instrument to present them. Where you don't even need a four-piece band. So I alone could do it on stage. But I won't, that's too dull for me."

That's the Goisern both this and that, the either and or. It works in the artistic arena, in private he admits to making compromises. "In the realm of interpersonal relationships compromises are sometimes necessary, to do without one thing or another." But musically speaking he does without nothing, guitar, bass, drums and a singer with an accordion can do everything, from jazz drum brushes to clarinet and distorted electric guitar with hard blues rock riffs, everything is there. "I'm the general theme, I thought. It'll be fine that I'm the main thread running through it."

The Über-Lower-Upper-Austrians play a Styrian

And neither is the attitude to life confined to a fatalistic Es is wias is (That's the way it is). Goisern looks at the mountain and knows "dass all's was's jetz abaschneibt nit liegen bleibt" (that all that snow that's falling now won't stay"). Getting upset about the status quo is a privilege of the young. But it doesn't follow that you are therefore happy with everything just because you're not making your discontent known. "Just because you say that's the way it is, doesn't mean that you're saying: it should stay the way it is."

How mischievously Goisern's music can also make its way into your ear without words is shown by the instrumental piece ÜUOÖ (Über-Unter-Ober-Österreicher) (Über-Lower-Upper-Austrian): "We've spent a long time searching for a band name and haven't decided on one so far. But the favourite is that as Upper Austrians we call ourselves the Über Upper Austrians. And I come from the very lowest part of Upper Austria, so I'm a Lower Upper Austrian. It's wordplay, because it's basically a really slow waltz, or actually a Styrian. I do live right on the border of Styria, but I didn't want to call it "Steirer", because we're Upper Austrians. So that's how that came about."

Goisern says that he and his band will be playing the whole album and a selection of his favourite songs on the tour next year. The Entweder und Oder tour starts on 19th January in Zurich and runs at least into the summer.

"We're ablaze"

Abendzeitung 5th September 2011 | Text: Volker Isfort | Photo: Eckhard Henkel

Hubert von GoisernHubert von Goisern play the alpines blues on his new album "Entwederundoder" and is now going on tour

Three years after his last studio album S'Nix Hubert von Goisern recorded Entwederundoder with a small band, a album that above all convinces with bluesy songs. A beautiful, mature album from the still boyish 58-year-old musician, who will be starting an extensive tour.

Mr von Goisern, you recorded your first album 23 years ago. And since then - without reservations - you have followed your own musical way. Not many are able to do that.

I can't imagine doing it any other way. I can only write and play what comes from my heart and soul. In the discussions for my first recording contract I was asked: "What's your target group?" I'd never heard the term before then and even to this day I've never given it any consideration.

But you know your fans. How have they changed?

Many have grown older with me, some have fallen away, not wanting to follow a few of my adventurous serpentine paths. Others have taken their place. I think it's all very natural, after all I took myself out of public life for a few years in order to start from zero again. I need this distance from music, even from my instruments, so I can approach them naïvely again, so that there's nothing automated in where my fingers go, because they know that these are established procedures.

There's barely a continent that you haven't travelled. Is it even possible to musically process so many cultures?

I've never gone anywhere in order to get ideas. For me that's one of the big misunderstandings - that I'm a world musician, because many cultures flow into my music. I feel like a world musician, but only in so far as I represent a specific geographically-located music, the alpine tradition. But when I played music with Tibetan musicians in their homeland, I held myself back and saw myself only as producer, a midwife almost.

Entwederundoder has turned out to be a very pared-down and personal album.

I spent a year thinking about what sound I wanted and didn't compose anything initially. I very much like listening to what's inside me and then when an idea pops up, a phrase, a fragment of lyrics, I scribble it down somewhere, on a notepad or a beer mat. And then at some point everything is ready.

What influence does the band still have?

With composition and arrangements, there's a great range of ways in which something can be played. If they're on a lead, then it's a very long lead I give them, but really I always have musicians who don't wear collars. I look for people who have the same vibe as me.

Do you still know the feeling of being surprised by music when you listen to the radio?

These moments most likely exist, but not so much when listening to the radio. I have friends who listen to a lot of music and who play me things. In my younger days it was more classical music, or pieces that had been around a long time that surprised me.

Your rest phases are often followed by frenetic activity, you're planning a hundred concerts.

Music is still a drug for me that catapults you out of the banal world and into a space where things transcend you, to use the oft-used word. In a live concert it's about us on stage leaping away and taking the people on the the journey with us, at least those who engage.

With which musical friends will you be engaging on stage this time?

None at all. It's not, that we're not easy-going, but the programme is pretty intense. It's pretty easy to look very stupid if you're not embedded in it. We don't improvise.

You need the adrenaline on stage.

But I'm burning! I see my life as a flame. We're ablaze on stage, exuding warmth and light, but at some point the fuel reserves are exhausted.

What have you achieved with your music?

I don't feel like someone who has sown seeds for other people, but I've ploughed deeply through the crusted, moss-covered ground of alpine tradition so that things can thrive again.

The Achleitner pendulum

SONO September/October 2011 | Text: Christian Stolberg

Two years after his spectacular Danube tour the alpine pop star from the Salzkammergut has looked for the way back to simplicity - with the album "Entwederundoder" and a tour of remote guesthouses.

Hubert von GoisernFans who have long followed the artistic career of Hubert Achleitner, who so beautifully renamed himself Hubert von Goisern after his hometown in Upper Austria, know the phenomenon: the charismatic star of alpine rock by no means follows a straight line in his work: after the first phase of success with his Alpinkatzen came a more withdrawn period with film soundtracks, the albums also by way of comparison alternate between a high percentage of pop and world music and quieter, more traditional works, just one thing is set: you have to count on surprises where Goisern is concerned.

"I always invest myself so completely in my projects that I inevitably neglect a lot of other things during that time. And the result is that when a project draws to a close, I'm pulled flat-out in a completely different, often completely opposite direction", says the youthful-looking 58-year-old of this pendulum swing in conversation with SONO.

The musician from the Salzkammergut made a sidestep with his last two projects too: after his highly publicised Linz Europe Tour on the Danube, which saw Goisern pursue his vision of an "eastward cultural expansion" from 2007 to 2009 with 60 concerts on a ship between the Black Sea and North Sea with many guests (among them Konstantin Wecker, Xavier Naidoo, Zap Mama), an undertaking "in which I really had more the role of impresario, I wanted to record a somewhat more personal, private album again, something that had more to do with me as a person again".

Goisern says himself that he has no "master plan" in mind when he starts a new album, "but bit by bit an acoustic picture develops, a concept of what kind of musical impression a record should have. And when it gets to the point where it's almost blurting out of me, set to recording." From autumn 2010 to February 2011 Goisern and his now slimmed down band recorded the twelve songs of his new album Entwederundoder, straightforward, sometimes intimate songs with arrangements pared right down to the quintessential.

An important colour in Goisern's "acoustic picture" for Entwederundoder comes from modern country music: "I looked for the kind of quality that's in albums like the American Recordings series by Johnny Cash, this total cutting right to the heart of the matter." The blues plays a fundamental role in two pieces (I versteh di nit, Suach da an Andern) - and the Austrian draws on an early key experience: "I was maybe 16 or 17 years old and had just learned to play a bit of guitar, when I was able to play in a session at a club for the first time. I had no idea about the blues, but I soon realised how easily you can fill this form with your own feelings. Because there are no "forbidden" sounds either." Blues records by Alexis Korner, John Mayall, John Lee Hooker and others were from then on components of his musical socialisation. Hubert von Goisern has drawn the circles tighter again on the new album, not just as far as the sound is concerned, but with the subjects of the songs too: melancholy meditations (Es is wias is, Lebwohl), anger (Suach da an andern), interpersonal communication (I versteh di nit) – he doesn't just address large-scale world politics here, but also "the things that happen in my environment, problem areas that I keep dealing with as a person".

Therapy in the tavern

Once the return to simplicity was executed in the studio, Goisern was urged to more down-to-earth experiences live as well. And so in April he and his band undertook a short tour of eight remote Austrian taverns, giving concerts there without any great show frippery, on small stage and with thoughtful, direct contact with the audience. "It was initially meant as a kind of therapy for my band. I'd found that that they'd got a bit used to the big stages, the great lights and the whole bangshoot." In the end though, the bandleader confesses, it turned out "that it was therapy for me most of all". In the course of normal concerts Goisern and his band, like most of their similarly successful colleague, retire to cordoned-off areas, "but of course that doesn't work in the tavern - an experience that grounded us all very well again".

New album from Hubert von Goisern

ORF 2nd September 2011 | Text: Benno Feichter

From 2007 to 2009 Hubert von Goisern sailed the Danube upstream and downstream on a concert ship. The result of this grand musical journey was the two opulent albums S'Nix and Haut und Haar. Now comes von Goisern's newest album Entweder und Oder - and it's a surprise!

Listening to Entweder und Oder one thing is quickly clear: a smaller band, slimmed down instrumentation and more direct numbers than last time.

After his lavish two-year concert journey through Europe Hubert von Goisern most recently played a tavern tour through the Austrian province with a three-member band. Ottensheim and Leopoldschlag rather than Rotterdam and Bucharest. Having no backstage area into which you can disappear and being at eye level with the audience, the immediacy of the taverns was a kind of therapy says the musician.

For two years from 2007 to 2009 Hubert von Goisern and his band played the river banks of the Danube from a concert ship. He recorded his experiences on the Linz Europe Tour in Stromlinien - Ein Logbuch. Mixed feelings remained.

Back to his beginnings

Entweder und Oder is now in a way a return for Hubert von Goisern. Back to Austria and back to his beginnings too. They are stories that sometimes happened to him years ago, but songs which he had not previously had the courage to put on an album in this form.

Entweder und Oder is now the 18th album from Hubert von Goisern - and it's another surprise. This time not with the more recently familiar musical joy in travel, but with easygoing directness: unagitated and yet somehow thrilling.

Hubert von Goisern returns to a small band

MusikWoche 1st September 2011 | Text: Dietmar Schwenger

Hubert von GoisernHaving worked with a large ensemble in recent years Hubert von Goisern has pared down his band for his new album, Entwederundoder. However unchanged at his side stands his business partner of many years Hage Hein, with whom the Austrian has a 360 degree arrangement for label and live work.

"I'm very grateful that I have someone like Hage, who takes care of the business matters with which I don't want to bother", says Hubert von Goisern on the MusikWoche couch. He has the greatest confidence in Hein. The decision for 360 degree marketing was a very deliberate one: "Hage and I saw that you couldn't make long-term plans any more because the life of a manager's career is so short. So we decided upon the current setup, in which he takes care of management, label, publishing and booking for me." With everything coming from one place, there are negative components too, but he lets Hage know those too. "But only so he can work harder," von Goisern jokes. Nobody has ever persuaded me when it comes to decisions concerning content. Just one time the then record company BMG didn't want to release the song Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze on the forthcoming album. I said okay, then we'll release it on the next album." And so it was released.

Von Goisern also took on the production of the new album calmly - Entwederundoder, which will be released on 2nd September on the Capriola label of Hein's company Blanko Musik, distributed by Sony Music. "My last big project was the Linz Europe Tour 2007 - 2009, during which I had to hold myself back a lot as an artist, because I had so many guests on board," he explains. He sailed with a concert ship from Linz along the Danube to the Black Sea and on the Neckar and Rhine to the Dutch coast. It was important to him that none of his eight musicians, or the many guest artists had the feeling that they were just "surface finery" for the project. "It was an exciting time, I listened a lot and learned a lot. I was more of an impresario than the defining figure on stage." The experiences of the big lineup then precipitated into the production of the 2008 studio album S'Nix, for which the songs were a collaborative effort. For the new songs Hubert von Goisern is once more responsible himself. "After the opulence of this tour I wanted to do something more personal, intimate and smaller." In addition, for various reasons not all the musicians were available any more. With the lineup of bass, guitar, drums, plus von Goisern on diverse instruments, he is once more open for both rocky and quiet songs. "After all, the record is called Entwederundoder (Eitherandor)."

Hubert von Goisern doesn't see himself as the godfather of a new, alternative folk music: "I don't have the sense that I've sowed anything. It's much more that I've driven wildly into folk music and ploughed everything up. Now seeds can fall on soft ground. These movements come and go."

"Music is much greater than politics"

Salzburger Fenster 31st August 2011 | Text & Photo: Helmut Hollerweger

Hubert von Goisern talks to Kulturfenster about the new CD, the "tavern tour", new, old and failed projects,
trouble with politics and his life in the city of Salzburg.

Hubert von GoisernYour new CD has the title ENTWEDERundODER. That's most likely to be understood programmatically, right?

Yes. There are the two poles between which life plays out. And it is not a question of us choosing one or the other, but instead we have to live with both. And that's good too.

The musical spectrum on the new CD is very broad - from rock, reggae, and blues to jazz, swing and ballads. How did the songs evolve?

This time I didn't want to do it the way we had with S'Nix, where we had a collective composing process. Instead I wanted to find my way back to myself again. For me it was the necessary swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction after the Linz/Danube tour, on which I scaled myself down a lot. I was more of an impresario than a frontman. And four years of this holding back led to a strong desire to make a personal record the next time.

The end of the song about separation I versteh di nit is very witty, where all the saints are called upon. Is praying sometimes the only salvation in relationships?

It's definitely not the only, but perhaps it's sometimes the last (laughs). Relationships have a lot more to do with trust. And I think that praying creates trust.

Your career has been paved with unusual projects. The most recent was the so-called "tavern tour". What experiences did you have along the way?

We wanted to make a contribution towards reviving mostly under-used event halls with the "tavern tour". There were a few criteria: the tavern had to be at least an hour by car from a big town. And: the landlords were given just two posters: one for the tavern and one for the town hall. We then mostly played in front of about 300 to 350 people. More than half the spectators had never been to a concert before.

What was the contact with the audience like?

You're simply at eye level with people. You can't withdraw, there's no backstage, no security to seal you off. We all had to rig and de-rig together. It was good therapy for everyone involved and great for teambuilding. And we discovered Austria in a way that you don't otherwise discover it. Sometimes we thought: this could be somewhere in the Ukraine.

A new project will be leading you to Greenland in September. What's that about?

It's about an identity-building programme with young Inuits who have lost their perspective on life. The aim is fewer suicides. I just want to make a positive contribution. If there is a perspective after the two weeks that I'm going to spend there, it'll without a doubt be a long-term project.

You're off on a big tour next year. How do you keep it up - playing 100 concerts in a year?

No sports (laughs). A great deal comes back to you too when you stand on stage. It's quite simply very exhilarating to play a concert and then sit in the dressing room or on the tourbus at midnight with a beer and know that you've just sent 2000, 3000 or more people home with a feeling of happiness.

You've celebrated a lot of success in your career. Are there things where you've failed?

Yes, there are a couple of things. By way of an example I only want to mention my dream of organising a big festival of reconciliation to bring people together on Lake Tanganyika in Africa. I've been pursuing this project since 1997, it was to take place this year, but I didn't find a suitable partner.

You're a very political person. What troubles you most at the moment?

The senselessness and fear and the laziness when it comes to really making a change. It only ever happens when it really hurts. We've known for some years now that the economy is a big bubble. And then there was the big crisis, then the big panic and then the big rescue operation - and then you carry on as before. Or the situation in Africa: we steal their raw materials and then give them development aid. I think you should just pay Africa for what you take out, then you wouldn't need to hand out alms.

You once said: "You can't leave folk music to the right-wingers!". Does music have a political function in your opinion?

I that everything in our life has a political component. Avoiding it entirely means leaving politics to other people. But bringing politics into a song from the outset breaks music. Music is much greater than politics.

You've lived in Salzburg for 20 years. What does the city mean to you?

I had a hard time with Salzburg at first. That probably comes down to the bourgeois nature of the city. It's not punk enough for me, not underground enough. As much as I love the high culture and the beauty of the city too, there's something missing for me. I always have this feeling: I don't belong. But I've sort of soaked it up now and feel very happy in the city.

You played twice in the Domplatz in Salzburg. As a pretty much unknown street musician you once provided for polarised reactions in the crowd, in 2001 you then gave a celebrated concert as a "star". In July 2012 you'll perform there again. How do you feel on stage there?

I can remember going on stage in 2001, thinking: So, nobody can come and say "Stop, go home, I can't take it" now!