Hubert von Goisern


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But there is nowhere more beautiful than home

Coburger Tageblatt 21st/22nd October 2000 | Text: Rainer Lutz | Photo: H. Lehmann

Experiences from all over the world leave their mark on the music of Hubert von Goisern - but the squeezebox from the homeland keeps its place every time.

Fantastic atmosphere in the "Schwarzen Bären" (Black Bear) in Beiersdorf. It is the 17th November 1992. The Alpinkatzen have just played their last encore, and "Alpine Sabine" has announced "It is Hubert's birthday today." The celebration then is past. In a few weeks Hubert von Goisern has another birthday. Future. Somewhere in between: An interview with Tageblatt - not about God, but about the world and the new album Fön, with which in March and April the artist will go on tour around Austria and Germany.

Before the birthday celebrations in 1992, the Bär also saw the same Alpine Cat on stage. Later they came no more. The Bär had become much too small. TV appearances, big halls, discs in precious metal (four times platinum for the album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen) scarcely a day without fresh news: Hubert in Texas, freak Village People in New York. After that the only way seemed to be up. Then the end in 1994: After the Omunduntn tour, the Alpinkatzen project came to and end.

The Goiserer wants to dedicate himself to his family and friends whom he has neglected. "What I do in the future I can't say," he answers to the question about his plans. And they just completely depend upon how he feels.

That he so consistently follows his inner voice has proved its worth in the six years since his last appearance on stage. He did the music for the film Schlafes Bruder ("It was a struggle for air and light") and Hubert Achleitner gave his acting debut in Hölleisengretl ("I did not know whether I could, I knew that I wanted to"). And he also did the music for the children's film Ein Rucksack voller Lügen.

Between ever more history and as much future as possible, the present of 1998 saw Hubert von Goisern in parliament. Not as a politician. With the words: "I have always been different from the others. And that is a reason to be here", he presented his new CD. It was called Inexil and arose from more than two years of concern with the culture of Tibet, which became persecuted in its homeland. Hubert worked with Tibetan artists in India and Austria and also met the Dalai Lama ("with his attitude, how he deals with unpleasant situations and the general crowd, he puts me to shame").

On journeys to East Africa and the meeting with the behavioural scientist Jane Goodall, the album Gombe arose and a similarly named documentary film. At the end of the film, the Austrian announced "But one day I will be on the stage again." And Jane Goodall gave him something to take with him: "When you have been here once, you will never be the same again."

Now he stands on the stage again really soon. And Goodall's prophecy proves to be true for him and his work: "I am not the same anymore and my music is not the same anymore either." Also, earlier albums were a conglomeration just like the new Fön. "But there was a main thread through all of it - and that was me. I have rough edges and I do not want to hide that."

Hubert von Goisern has developed himself. As a person, as a musician, as the unity of both, that he consistently lets shape his life. After the studio production he now wants contact with the public again: "You feel what the songs mean to people." The artist is certain that the mixture on Fön will find an audience. Soon jazzy, soon full of blues and soul, always interweaved by the silvery soft sound of his "squeezebox", the music always reveals after a while the Landler or the Schottishe or what the Goiserer borrows from the folk music of his homeland. It should not be a loan at all. He always wanted to develop further. Make something new. Elicit sounds from the "squeezebox", modify the yodel in ways nobody had succeeded before.

He does not like his fellow countryman Jörg Haider. And this is already evident on stage. He did not dedicate one song to the extreme right winger: "He is not worth that to me." Anyway, Hubert von Goisern thinks: "It shames the music if you politicise it. Political songwriters are politicians, not musicians." Music, he thinks, can bring about more if you make politics unimportant. If a community arises in front of the stage and overcomes the boundaries of the generation and political opinion.

Dreams? "We would still be sitting here tomorrow if I list them all!" One perhaps: "An appearance on the big square in front of the Potala Temple in Lhasa", but before that it is necessary to go to training camp to prepare for the lack of oxygen. "When I was there I wanted to do a juchitzer, but only half of it came out - because of the air."

Hubert von Goisern likes Coburg and still remembers well his appearance at "Bären". "Just because of the sausage and the (dark) beer, I want to come back here again." Why not on the Fön tour? This must be answered by the tour planner at Blanko Musik. Hage Hein: "For the tour preparations it was clear that we would come here. In Coburg there is a lot of media life. But where should we appear? Where?"

Hubert von Goisern | Text: Duklas Frisch

"Music is my most important way of communicating. Even without understanding the lyrics, one can feel very well which moods I want to produce."

With Fön you present after your last two albums another CD that goes more in the direction of the Alpinkatzen. Was there a particular reason for that?

I quite simply felt the desire to make something of my own. The last two productions Tibet and Afrika were very shaped by the fact that I was strongly influenced by other people and cultures. And I really want to make something else where I don't have to ask anyone else whether it is all right.

So how were Tibet and Afrika received by the general public? The two subjects were not very simple ...

Oh, I was very surprised by the reaction. I had simply accepted that it would be a big problem for some fans. Both CDs were released at the same time and in the German speaking countries, they sold about 100,000 copies, which is astonishing for such exotic music.

And nevertheless have you not pursued the ethnic ways on Fön? After all there are other countries and cultures to musically travel around.

I can do that in the future. I wanted to choose music with which I can eventually go on stage again. That was the real starting point for sitting myself down and composing. To stand live in front of an audience is really something very positive.

If I look in the CD booklet, the line-up of the musicians and instruments is fairly sizeable! The steel-drums on the second piece Da Dåsige are interesting too ...

(laughs) There were not so many musicians. The main team with me was five people. Then there was another violinist who was often there. All the others arrived in the studio more or less at certain points: a saxophonist for that number and Monika Drasch where there was something to yodel. Basically, that was it really. I play many instruments myself (pipes, guitar, accordion, flugelhorn, old horn, harmonica), I can cover a great deal regarding this.

When did you begin the recording sessions?

Actually I wanted to begin in February, but I had a lot of water damage in the studio: a 12.7mm thick pipe was frozen and leaked twelve days after that start of the thaw. Then I had to evacuate everything and find myself new premises, so the production had to be delayed two months in the end. (laughs) In this time, nothing actually happened except logistical things. So we began the tests first in April, in May we worked out the basic tracks, in June we did the overdubs. In July I laid down my solo pieces and songs, as well as that, then there was the choir. And in August we mixed the whole record, so that we were all ready on the 3rd September.

Hubert von Goisern: Folk music is embarrassing!

Rennbahn Express 11/00 | Text & Photos: Alex Lisetz
Hubert von Goisern

Mountain climbing with Hubert: he presents his new CD at 3000m!

Hubert and BongoHvG with Alex LisetzOne summit, two loudspeaker boxes and a load of tired journalists with blisters and aching muscles - the few ingredients Hubert von Goisern needs for the most romantic Austrian CD presentation of the year!

High above on Sonnblick, the wind whistles with the marmots at the top of its voice. At 3106m high, where the highest weather station in the world is situated, a mixed group of musicians and reporters trudge through eternal ice. Only the tanned man at the top has barely broken into a sweat during the ascent: HvG, who wants to present his new CD, Fön, here.

"Föhn is an intense condition that produces good weather and suddenly you can see things quite clearly. But you have to be fit for it, otherwise you suffer headaches and circulation problems!" As Hubert says, both things fit his new CD too.

"Folk music is embarrassing. Lots of kids find it to be so and that was also my opinion when I was 12 or 13," says Hubert on the theme of "alpine rock", "but if you gently season folk music with contemporary ingredients, the youth of today can also rediscover it." Unfortunately, he finds school totally fails there: "Anything that is not economically productive, like mathematics or foreign languages, is ever more pushed out. I have held a few music lessons myself at my children's school. There I found that many kids would like to play music, but become discouraged again because they can never manage it as perfectly as you hear it on the radio. Folk music with its simple note sequences would be a perfect start for them ..."

Bongo and HvGSo Hubert must be a real fan of Anton aus Tirol? He grins at the provocative question. "DJ Ötzi is an amusing story. And the best proof of just how the people are starved of songs that they also understand!" In the past year, Hubert has been occupied with songs that he himself does not understand: on a few long journeys he concerned himself with the folk music of Tibet and Africa and also recorded the musical experiments onto two CDs. "The mentality of the people there is very different from ours. In Tibet, for instance, I was travelling with two young people and in the evening I wanted to cook something for them. Anyway, they confirm repeatedly that they are not hungry! I didn't want to cook just for myself, so I only ate a couple of sausage sandwiches. When I was briefly out of the room, my companions rushed to the kitchen and made themselves supper. Via a third party, I found out that they were unbelievably hungry, but it would have been impolite for them to let me, as an older person, cook ..."

After all of the experiences with traditional music from other continents "I began to really want to write new songs again. But I want to develop myself and not just record three or four new Hiatamadls". The work went well - until early this year when there was a catastrophe! "When I was not at home, the pipes in my house in Goisern froze. As a result, there was a break in a pipe, from the first floor to my studio in the cellar was flooded and all my instruments, the tapes and the computer with the previous work were destroyed!"

For three days Hubert was desperate then the calmness that he had taken to in Tibet won over: "I tried to imagine what the test could be good for ... and that I would now have the chance to do everything new and better!"

"The accordion looked at me sadly"

Die Ganze Woche nr 43/00

After six years away from the stage and folk music, Hubert von Goisern throws himself back into events again. "Mr. Hiatamadl" especially missed the "singing out" in front of an audience. However, he has not missed the Alpinkatzen, life was becoming too stressful with them after all. Accordingly, Hubert, 48, comes back as a solo artist with a new musical backing, even if the basic mixture is still folksily tasty.

Six years have passed since you left the stage. Not without saying that you would never go back to folk music. Now you are here again with a new album. Changed your mind?

It was the inflation of folk music which I could never stand. Everyone wanted to sound a bit like Hubert. Apart from that, I only said that I would finish with the Alpinkatzen. And I really needed a creative break.

It became a long one.

Longer than I planned. I didn't yodel for a long time or play my accordion. When I opened up the case after five years, it was as though it was looking at me very sadly. A little later, it was suddenly broken.

Luckily, your voice has held.

But I also had to train that again. The yodelling anyway. No-one can hear you up at my lonely house in the mountains. The voice is like a muscle which doesn't work at all without training.

People will say: He's come back because he needs the money.

Do they say that? I say, I like to work, I like to play music, whether the money is good or bad. What I really missed was the stage. To go on stage and really sing out. But I don't want to push the whole thing ahead as with the Alpinkatzen. I am no longer going to accept every concert and every TV show.

With the new album, Fön, you've dipped again into folk music resources, but this time, you've added funk, rock and Caribbean elements into the mixture.

That was a requirement I put forward myself. If I was making a comeback, then I would only do it if I had made the relevant further development. I certainly did not want to start up again where I had left off.

Will a hit like Hiatamadl be present?

When composing, I do not think about whether a song could become a hit. I am too much a musician and too little a producer for this.

But you think very carefully about lyrics. In Katholisch for example, you have put one over the church.

Well the priesthood is a macho dream. If we are honest with ourselves, each priest today has somebody. But he can always say very officially: "I cannot marry you."

Other people can say that too. You, for example.

I was married a year ago. My priestly life is over.

You once said that the greatest sacrifice of success was going from being the observer, to being observed. Will you let that happen to yourself again?

I believe in the meantime, I can handle being watched quite well. If you don't push everything so excessively, there's longer until you reach the pain barrier.

How are your two children?

Very well, thank you. When somebody asks me who are the most fascinating people to me, then I say: these two. They show me exactly what individuality is. Although I endeavour to make them what I want, I haven't a chance.

You have made some big journeys to Tibet, India ... What has immersing yourself in other cultures brought you?

I don't know if I would have developed much if I hadn't made these journeys. But you can learn one thing: they do things quite differently from the way we do them at home, but it all leads to the same end. The heart of things, the wishes, dreams and hopes, are the same everywhere.

Your wife deserves a medal. You were not at home much.

Yes, she deserves a medal. Two children, a household, a job and then to allow me with my claim to be a musician and also an egocentric. Occasionally my bad conscience has seized me and the thought that I am really incapable of having a relationship. We have also often said that we would separate, but fortunately that has not happened.

Lately, you have been at home more.

Yes, the times when I was travelling are not comparable with when I was on tour. My son only knew me as the person who always appeared, fell over dead tired, slept late and then went out again. When I go on tour again now, it will be exciting. Now my son is already asking me again: "Papa, where are you going?"

What do you really think about DJ Ötzi?

I think all levels have to be covered. And as the saying goes: in times when the cultural sun shines very low, even dwarves throw long shadows.

But what about Hiatamadl?

I'm fine.

Hubert von Goisern - The adventure starts again November 2000 | Text: Hans Kraus

Hubert von GoisernHubert von Goisern is here again. Although he was never actually away. After the end of his Original Alpinkatzen, he wrote film music next, appeared as an actor, fought for the rights of the oppressed Tibetan people and visited the animal behavioural scientist, Jane Goodall, in Africa. Inspired by his journeys and experiences, the two ethno CDs Gombe and Inexil came into being. Now Hubert has turned back to his roots and presents his new CD Fön.

But why did he dissolve the Alpinkatzen in 1994?

I am an adventurer. And the musical adventure with the Alpinkatzen simply came to an end. We achieved more than we had ever hoped or dreamed. I already knew that in the autumn of 1992 and wanted to change our style. But the others worried that by doing that we would lose our success.

Do you still write film music?

Unfortunately not at the moment. Film music is an exciting affair. I am a fan of opera and for me, film is a modern form of opera. I hope to find a director again who lets me have the necessary room I need in order to write film music.

Will we see the actor Hubert von Goisern again?

Hopefully. I am waiting to get an interesting role. I have already had offers, but they are all along the lines of "mountain doctor", and that is not my line.

On Fön, you deal with social political themes as well as completely banal love songs. How do you put the themes for your songs together?

Not at all, it simply happens. They are my personal feelings which most people deal with in some form in interpersonal relationships. You cannot plan it, some time the creativity comes over you, then it is as if you are in a river and you flow with it.

In Kålt, one of your new titles, you reflect your disgust against characters like Jörg Haider. Do you believe that the EU sanctions have hurt him?

Haider perhaps still has something regionally political to say, but in terms of federal politics, he is put in the cold sooner. A positive point of the whole thing with the EU was really only that other politicians have to have a good look at Austria as part of the EU. And the sanctions? The economy has continued to work, so it is difficult to say whether it has really hurt. But you must also see that Haider came to power through a democratic process. How can you prevent that? Here, democracy unfortunately hits its borders. Many chose him, but just the same, many did not vote at all and for that reason, they indirectly supported him. Perhaps this political unwillingness will now stop.

In the title track of your new CD Fön, you maintain that everything you want is fine as long as you know what it is you want. What do you really want?

That always depends on the current situation. At present I want to go on stage again, it has really been my wish for two or three years. But I admit, I am shit-scared, after such a long time, it is like starting again for me. But I want to meet people. Such a concert is always an interactive affair, where the audience have a say in whether it will be a good or bad evening.

Why will you not play your old hits live?

There is already a one hour programme on my new CD. In addition, I am already working on the next one and I will also sing a few titles from it. There will also be something from the Gombe disc. With that, I have so much for a programme that I would then have to throw out the new in order to play the old.

Fön storm from the Alps

Source unknown 2000

Hubert von Goisern must be an eccentric, an awkward so-and-so, a stubborn fellow. Who else would have put his career on ice, just when the money was really rolling in? It ended in 1994 also without pleading and begging from the record company or fellow musicians: Hubert insisted on time out from the beautiful Tyrolean spot Goisern and he took it. Up to now he has not regretted this radical decision. On the contrary: "In these six years, important and lovely things have happened. I played with Tibetan musicians, flew several times to Africa, got to know people like the chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall and wrote film music. If I had gone on with the Alpinkatzen, none of this would have been possible."

After hits like Hiatamadl, mounting gold discs and innumerable concerts, however, the alpine loner lost motivation, as he admits today. "I found that I had achieved everything in this context. I also wanted to come down again from up there and gather peace and strength for new ideas. How good the self-imposed rest has been for the creative extremities is proved by his comeback CD Fön. With fresh new musicians, he has recorded 12 new titles in a Salzburg studio, Hubert von Goisern - also musically - reveals the cosmopolitan purity of the water: from hip-hop groovy to reggae rhythm, from melancholy sounds to lederhosen rock, from jazz blues to folk ballads he presents a stylistic variety without boundaries - without denying his roots. As in Alpinkatzen times he sings his cheeky and enigmatic lyrics in straight Tyrolean slang and calls the tune mainly with the diatonic accordion. The most beautiful request to speak from Austria for a long time!

View - Hubert Goisern

Müller for Music November 2000 | Text: Werner Pilz

Exactly six years ago on the 1st of November, All Saints' Day, he gave his last concert with the Alpinkatzen. At the absolute peak of his success. A good many journeys, film music and CD projects later, Hubert von Goisern stands with his new band and new record Fön before new triumph and a new tour.

Under the term "Fön" the lowlander first thinks of headaches and buzzing in the ears. Why have you called your new record that?

Fön is a condition, that brings unbelievable tension with it. Not everyone's thing. But Fön always spells good weather and a totally clear view. The vision that you struggled a long time for, appears suddenly in your mind's eye, is clearly visible, seems quite close and then it is a longer road to reach the goal. That describes the creative, artistic process very aptly.

On Fön you have turned yourself towards jazz, blues, soul ...

I ended the Alpinkatzen because to me their hard rock style, to exaggerate it, was too awkward. The rhythmics, that I played at that time became constantly smoothed down because there was always this centre parting that rock 'n' roll draws. Now I want fewer muscles and more liveliness in the translation of my ideas.

Do you have the feeling that you have been successful in making something new?

Some people say that it's absolutely nothing more to do with the Alpinkatzen now, some ask me why I needed a six year break in order to carry on with exactly the same thing. For myself, it is still too close for me to be able to reflect on it.

Even though root elements from yodeller to Zydeco are available, the predominate sound impression is very urban.

I wanted to become subtler. Without more urbanity I would have to reduce myself to an instrumental purism, which would have been a regional one. That would not be in accordance with my experience of life. I am travelled a great deal, I love Vienna just the same as I love Goisern, I hate Vienna like I hate Goisern, I go to New York, I have worked with Tibetan and African musicians. I would find it funny, actually politically not called for, if I were to retire to inner-alpine purism in times like these.

You use reggae-off-beats and steel drums, Da Dåsige develops a West-African/ Caribbean ease. A consequence of your African Gombe CD?

This last piece had this rhythmic bounciness in it. I went to Trinidad twice in recent years. My accordion broke there, because it could not stand the extreme humidity, it went mouldy while I was playing it. I played a few sessions on the steel drums. I was blown away by them, that was amazing that they play their sound and I play mine and neither makes a compromise and something develops that is much bigger than simply 1 + 1. I still dream about it. I would have loved to have produced some of the numbers in Trinidad. At any rate that would be up to my record company to arrange a tour in Trinidad.

Von Goisern, the Austrian Ry Cooder?

Ry Cooder is a musician whom I treasure very much. Sting, Peter Gabriel or Peter Simon are people who demonstrate that a cultural cooperation can be very exciting. It is very important that artists are use this part, to take a bit of fear from society about these meetings.

Again and again on Fön, a melancholy, sad emotional state comes up. Were there specific events that triggered this?

Yes, there is something, but I do not want to talk about it. I am a sensual and melancholy person. I can only write about what is inside me. However, we artists are not photographers of actual situations, but have the job of going over the banal truths and giving them a dimension which puts them in context. In that way they are again reduced to what they are, namely conditions which occur, set something off, but also pass by.

As in Weh Toan Tuat's Auf Jeden Fall (It Hurts In Any Case) ?

Yes, that leads into this New Orleans funeral voice. The feeling goes through you, and that is the real art which I don't always bring together. However, here I have succeeded, there is nothing which leads into the abyss.