Hubert von Goisern


S'NIX >> Interviews: 1 2 3 4

"You sit and wait"

Gmünder Tagespost 11th October 2008 | Text: Wolfgang Nussbaumer

Next Wednesday Hubert von Goisern will be doing "nothing" in the Greuthalle in Aalen

Last year he was coursing around on the rivers of Europe. Docking here and there with his crew and his floating village of music. Hubert von Goisern travelling on waterways with his band. Those thinking he's in the wrong film are mistaken. The yodelling rocker from the province of Salzburg has travelled the world. Even in Benin they were taken with the song of the mountains. Why not in Aalen too? There this Wednesday the unconventional bard will be confronting his audience with nothing in the Greuthalle.

So should I even go? Some will no doubt be asking themselves. I can get that at home. No, you can't. Because "S'Nix" is an Austrian nothingness and therefore somewhat of an "ebb". According to the Goiserer's definition it is a state of mental weightlessness: "You sit there and wait and nothing around you reaches you."

What Hubert is waiting for is inspiration; that state of emptiness that will be filled; the vacuum that sucks in sparking ideas. It's good that he was able to sink into the emptiness on the ship. Because there on the waves of the Danube and other rivers the ideas swung him high, meaning that S'Nix is anything but nothing. We spoke to Hubert von Goisern about this, how the ship journey went and where he locates his music.

The time on the ship was wonderful. The team grew closer. There was young blood among them. The concerts. "Yeah, it was pretty difficult to cut the cord to this floating village". You can positively feel how seeks to describe this process. After all, the ship was his home for two summers. A home in which he travelled. He thinks for a moment and adds: "You've barely done something before another era begins."

Being without location was a source of the new songs, reveals the press text accompanying the new CD. That is, the ship that constantly changed its position. It sounds very philosophical, but it passes what it's really all about. Hubert von Goisern is rooted firmly at the edge of Salzburg. "I have the most friends there." There the horizon line of the mountains determine his coordinate system. Perhaps that is why he can't imagine singing English lyrics. In High German? Hubert's thought about it before. "But I'd have to live for a while in Germany to do that." "Treason", we scoff. No problem for the yodelling rocker. "Nonsense gets to me," he says - and goes on: "traditions can often be a hindrance too."

For Hubert von Goisern music is the bridge to the world. "This bridge has worked wherever we've been", he emphasises. With one limitation: "This bridge only works for people who are prepared to think outside the box." He's discovered that such people exist all over the world. The bridge has been made in Black Africa, the same as "down under" and in America.

So he must make world music? He rumples his nose. World music is for him often a kind of music "that doesn't have an identity any more". He owns up to regionally-coloured pop music. Something that can be most beautifully experienced in the nine minute ballad Siagst as, in which the son of Mannheim, Xavier Naidoo, assists him vocally.

When you visualise Hubert von Goisern, you see a wiry man, with an accordion in front of him. A cliché he asserts. No, he doesn't have a favourite instruments. For the wild folk rides it's the squeezebox, which does have many sounds - but not every one he needs. For the rhythmic pieces, the guitar, "and for the lyrical ones, the flugelhorn." The right instrument for every mood.

S'Nix offers many moods. The like of which overcome even the mere mortals who are not waiting for musical ideas. But that is Hubert von Goisern's job. He does it well. Only once does he falter. In response to the question of what he remembers in connection with Schloss Kapfenburg. He played at a festival there. Acclaimed. The man from the Salzburg province thinks for a long time. No, he can make no association. He travels a lot. Doesn't matter.

"German folk music? I don't know any"

Berliner Morgenpost 11th October 2008 | Photo: Pop-Eye

Alpine rock is intrinsically tied with his name: Hubert von Goisern united the traditional songs of his Austrian homeland with blues and rock, pairing country dances with drum beats, world music with polka.

Hubert von GoisernThe 55 year old has just finished his European tour, which led him as ambassador for the Capital of Culture Linz 2009 upstream and downstream on the Danube with a cargo ship converted to a stage: together with his band the man of the mountain, whose real name is Hubert Achleitner and who comes from Bad Goisern, played for two summers in 12 countries along the Danube. Now he is going on tour in a nightliner bus on the streets of Germany and will be appearing on Sunday in the Admiralspalast. Christoph Forsthoff spoke to Hubert von Goisern.

You pursued your very own form of "cultural eastward expansion" with your Linz Europe Tour.

The actual idea of travelling through countries with a cargo ship that had been turned into a concert stage came to me in Africa eleven years ago when I was at Tanganyika Lake and had the idea of holding a festival designed to bring people together with musicians from all the countries that border the lake. A few years ago when I was travelling on the Danube it then turned into a transposition of the idea, since it seemed to me that looking towards the southeast and the Black Sea there was still a need for getting to know each other and for dismantling fears and resentments.

And has this "cultural eastward expansion" been successful?

It has worked. Mind you, I didn't set out to fill in ditches or sand down breaks, but rather to acquaint myself with differences. It's not the lowest common denominator that attracts me, but this diversity and variety - without giving me the feeling that I have to integrate it all into the way I live my life or play my music.

On your tour you have constantly played music with artists from the various different countries - it sounds like pure harmony.

Of course it's not completely unstressful, because every artist - me too - has a pretty big ego, otherwise we wouldn't go on stage. But everyone has to hold back a little with such a joint venture and find this point where you say: now I'll leave the field to the other person. It's not easy.

Did things ever go bang?

It at least smoked a bit before we managed it. But that was the exciting thing about it too, because it's only when you collaborate that you get to know someone and see how the other person goes about with your music. Then you often hear your own music very differently, like with the title Siagst as with Xavier Naidoo for example: a good artist has a kind of magic that enables him to take something and make it his own.

The new album S'Nix is strongly characterised by rock - you left this kind of music behind a long time ago: rock, you said back then, is white music and you didn't want to be so white...

Perhaps I've reconciled myself with my white skin meanwhile (laughs). People are always changing: if I don't change for a long time, I find it very strange. I used to think that I had to live within my limits - but for a few years now I've had the feeling: as far as I stretch myself, I'll never reach them, for there are no limits. I become more relaxed. I've broken clear of the demand that my regionality must be detectable in the music - and from the demand that I have to satisfy everybody.

A regionality that is however characteristic for your music and treasured by your audience. Why do the Germans have such a hard time with folk music?

Perhaps because they don't have any - I in any case only know folk music from here that comes from Bavaria. Because what is shown as folksy music in the various schlager programmes is not what I can call folk music by any stretch of the imagination: a song like Hoch auf dem gelben Wagen doesn't embody any musical tradition.

Consequently it wouldn't be worth your while to dig for folk music roots here in this country?

No, I have no desire to sniff around for a year and not find anything - with the best will in the world I can't imagine that there is anything here. When I go to Lappland to listen to the Samis then I already know that there exists there a whole Sami music. But I'm not an archeologist who digs up every hill in the hope of maybe finding something: I have better things to do.

"Music leaves room for fantasies"

Nordbayerische Kurier 8th October 2008

BAYREUTH. After two summers on a boat the Austrian musician Hubert von Goisern has taken to the land again. While he takes a break from his Linz Europe Tour, the artist who was born as Hubert Achleitner in November 1952, will be coming to Bayreuth on his S'Nix tour to play a concert on Friday 17th October, at 8pm in the Oberfrankenhalle. Kurier volunteer Susanne Lindner spoke to him.

You lived many months on a ship on the rivers of Europe on your Linz Europe Tour. What kind of experience was that?

It was super. I couldn't spend such a long time on an ocean, where for a long time you don't see land and you only see a port from time to time. But when the landscape is always going past and there is something to see and you can moor any time and disembark it's a different kind of travelling feeling. It is water, it's great and there is something slowing about it. Apart from that there are no traffic jams like on the motorway. The ship was very big and there was everything you needed. Like a floating village. At some point it became home.

You were living on board with many different artists. What was this like? Were there conflicts?

There were as good as no conflicts. There was tension if not everything was working before the concerts. The docking manoeuvres were moments of tension in particular. The difficult thing was that at times of differences of opinion you couldn't get out of the way. You had to confront the person and were also confronted yourself. But I looked for people according to their social compatibility and maturity. There were musicians whom I would have liked to have had along, but I knew that they would go crazy after two weeks.

What have you personally taken from this time?

It was very exciting to see artists like Xavier Naidoo, to see how they stand on stage and grab people with their music and spread their magic. You're never so close to it. Either I'm on stage myself, or I'm in the audience. But to be able to stand on stage with the artists is something rare. What I took from it were rather the atmospheric things. I can imagine that the experiences were taken up unconsciously and come into my concerts. But I'm still too close to it all.

When reading your biography it shows that you have lived and played in an unbelievable number of places around the world. Is there a country in which you would still really like to travel as a musician?

Not at the moment. I love playing in front of everyone, no matter where they call home. But I've been travelling so much outside the German-speaking area that I've thought to myself, that's enough for now. If I get an invitation, then I'm happy to go, but I won't drive such projects myself any more. At the moment I have the feeling that I'll only travel in the German-speaking countries. I haven't given up my desire to travel, but worn it out rather.

You lived for a while with headhunters in the Philippines. What did you learn from this time?

I learned that they are completely normal people like you and me. It's just that there is a tradition of blood revenge there. Basically it's a form of social organisation there. There was no police force, or anyone who saw to justice. When an injustice was committed, it had to be atoned for. I don't see any great difference between that and countries like the USA, where people punished in that their life is taken because they took someone else's life. Of course it's a bit archaic and direct and mistakes happen just as they do in our justice system. But of course it is also a great deterrent against injustice.

How long did you live there and how did it come about?

I lived in the Philippines for four months in all. I had heard that there was an area there, where there was still a very original, archaic music and where instruments were played, in which I had an interest. So I really wanted to go there and it didn't put me off that headhunting still went on there. I'm sometimes amazed at things I've done. I perhaps wouldn't do that any more. In hindsight I'm happy to have come out of it again in good health, but it doesn't seem any more dangerous to me than driving from Munich to Salzburg in the car. I'm more afraid of that.

What were these instruments that so attracted you?

They were a kind of bamboo guitar and various kinds of Jew's harps and flutes. All instruments that can be made from bamboo. I learned how to play all of them.

During another journey you visited the Dalai Lama and asked for his permission to rework old Tibetan folk songs...

Before I met the Dalai Lama I had already had contact with musicians from a Tibetan commune. We developed the desire to rework traditional melodies and songs in a contemporary way. This included texts from the sixth Dalai Lama, which sound very poetic and which we wanted to set to music. When you think like a Tibetan, then the texts of the sixth Dalai Lama are through reincarnation the intellectual property of the current Dalai Lama. My Tibetan colleagues were therefore worried about using the material creatively. Then I asked for an audience with the Dalai Lama, told him what we wanted to do and asked for his blessing. And this he gave us. When I played him the pieces a year later, one verse was a bit embarrassing to him. It was nothing salacious, but there was a certain eroticism to be felt. A longing for a woman. I liked it of course, but he was less able to identify with it.

What role does the Austrian language play in your music?

The music is the most important means of transportation to me. Music is a language in itself and leaves great room for fantasies. The listener can weave their own stories into the music. That's often how it is for me when I watch an Italian opera. I know the plot line of course, but I don't understand the individual passages. I prefer to give myself to the music. Then many images and stories arise within me. I find that better than a text that confines my fantasy and specifies what I think and feel.

"A fire burns inside me when I go on stage"

Bayreuther Sonntag 5th October 2008 | Text: gmu

Hard rock booms. Pop bubbles. There's inner alpine yodelling. Luxuriance never becomes lost in the details. In addition Hubert von Goisern impresses with a voice that demonstrates hitherto unimagined versatility. It rocks through apocalyptic abysses just as it attests to hope with a touch of melancholy. On S'Nix Hubert von Goisern formulates calmness and impatience with equal conviction. S'Nix is the artist's new CD. We talk to Hubert von Goisern about his music, plans and the new tour.

On your last tour you sailed through Europe with a boat, evening converting the ship to a stage so to speak. Can you share a few impressions from this summer tour?

It was especially impressive that we lived on the ship too. We had room for guests, who often accompanied us for a few days at a time. We were in our own world, a floating village. We even had enough room to be able to record and produce. Of course all in all it was a very expensive affair. I found the ship an especially pleasant mode of transport. No stress, no traffic jams on the motorway. I can imagine doing a similar project in Africa in a few years. A real festival together with African artists.

You haven't had a break at all, as you're now on an autumn tour, the difference being that the stage is to be found in concert halls on land. What else is different?

After this long period wherein we only gave open air concerts, we're looking forward to sturdy house once more. It means we no longer have to sorrowfully watch the sky and worry about dry weather. Of course in a concert hall you also have the opportunity for greater intimacy. The atmosphere between artist and audience is more intense, closer contact is possible. Every form of concert has its own special appeal.

Hard rock or quiet numbers, where do listeners find the real Hubert von Goisern?

Most people have a profile that consists of more than one line, people carry many different things within them. You don't always react the same way in every situation. Sometimes the person is rather relaxed or angry or inspired by something. A fire burns inside me when I go on stage. And that's good. I behave very differently in private with friends. My lust for life is a just as important part of me as thoughtfulness and despair. But I think all creative people are this way.

You have humorously addressed Austrian football history in the title Rotz & Wasser. A word on Austrian football? Are you a football fan?

I'm naturally a football fan and since I'm not just an Austrian, but also a Salzburger, my passion is especially strong. We have a highly-paid team and are just kicking about in the midfield. Wherever you go, you're just mocked.

Do you know Bayreuth from previous concerts?

I've played in Bayreuth before, but that was a long time ago. I love the romantic classical music, so I like listening to pieces by Richard Wagner. But I've never been in the Festspielhaus. Since I've heard that you have to wait years for tickets, I've never even tried. I do know the area though, as I have good friends in Bamberg. It's clear to me that the beer tastes good here and the sausages are certainly to be recommended too. I can remember one or the other café. But normally you're only in the town briefly: soundcheck and then the show. After the concert I don't like so much to meet people I don't know, as I feel too vulnerable and am really just together with my band and the crew.

"I can't practise"

HNA Online 2nd October 2008 | Text: Matthias Lohr

Alpine rocker Hubert von Goisern on homeland and discipline

To promote Linz as the European Capital of Culture 2009 Hubert von Goisern became acquainted with the continent by ship: for two summers the Austrian alpine rocker and his large band went first along the Danube to the Black Sea and then this year along the Rhine to the North Sea. His hall tour will also be leading the 55 year old to Kassel on 8th October.

At the end of your ship tour you wrote in your logbook that you no longer knew what homeland was. Where do you feel yourself to be at home?

At the moment it's in the Austrian mountains. I live in Salzburg at the edge of the city. The Salzkammergut and northern Styria - that's what is familiar to me. But when you spend two summers on a ship, that becomes a homeland too, one in which you are travelling at the same time.

You have travelled a great deal and early on you made a 7 year journey across the world. Now you've been sailing through Europe. Must one have seen what is far away in order to appreciate what is close by?

No. Back then I would have gladly gone to Germany too - just to not have to stay in Austria. But at that time there was no borderless Europe. Emigrating to Germany was at least as complicated as going to South America. It's different now. And my motives for travelling are different too. Back then it was wanting to get away, now it's a matter of going somewhere. I want to meet people.

Two personalities come from Bad Goisern: you and the right-wing populist Jörg Haider. You were just two years apart at school and yet you've never met?

No. At school two years are an enormous difference. You only mix with people of the same age. I was 16 when he was doing his Abitur exams. Afterwards he left straightaway. And, thank God, we've never met since either.

But your grandfather and Haider's father knew each other.

Yes, my grandfather was a good friend of his father. You could say that they were both Nazis. They met often and talked about the old times.

Are you surprised that your perceptions of tradition and homeland find favour with the right-wing conservatives too?

No, tradition and conservatism are almost the same thing. But I'm not saying that tradition per se is something good. I look to see what it usable and what is unusable. At the end of the 90s a not insignificant proportion of my concert audience came from the right wing. I said to them at the start that things wouldn't be going as they thought here. Some left. Some went out changed from how they came in.

Is it true that you've never practised?

Not deliberately at least. I can't and don't want to practise. After two minutes I start playing. I know that I should practise and that it would be good for me to play the same five sounds. But I need the kick of playing.

But you must practise yodelling, surely?

No, I was at the end of my 30s when I tried it out. At first I didn't want to hear what was coming out of my mouth at all. So I stood on a motorway bridge in Regensburg. There you can only hear the traffic noise, but you feel what's happening in your larynx. It's like a trance.

I'm me

Nordhessennews 25th September 2008 | Text: Rainer Sander

Kassel. On 8th October Hubert von Goisern will be appearing with his 7 member band in the Kassel Stadthalle. After the end of his tour with a ship on the Danube and other waterways "Hubert" has dry land beneath his feet once more. In Kassel a rocking 3 hours concert awaits the audience. In the Nordhessennews telephone interview "Hubert", as he wants to be called, revealed to Nordhessennews editor Rainer Sander, that he is still deciding whether or not to have an interval. He recommends bringing a sausage bun just in case.

Hubert von Goisern took his name from his hometown in Austria. His civil name is Achleitner. Addressed in that way he still feels a strong connection to his homeland. His musical homeland is more difficult to work out. Journalists invent terms such as "new folk music" or "alpine rock". Nordhessennews wanted to know how he would characterise it himself. "Not at all!" was the artist's simple answer. Music is simple. It's the same with other musicians, like Mozart, where classification is made only according to era. Perhaps in 50 or 100 years we will characterise this era by whoever defines it most now.

Brass music, affinities to classical instruments, rock music and even flamenco. This is how varied Goisern's musical influences are. South Africa, Tibet, Canada, the Philippines appear as stops in his life. Would holism be an acceptable description? It seems to describe the musician's functioning and attitude to life quickest. And he also explains what holism is to him. He wants to understand the engine on his motorbike and always concentrate on what he's doing at that moment and nonetheless recognise the coherency in which everything happens.

Holistic life - holistic music

From his answers it becomes clear that Hubert von Goisern leaves nothing to chance, but also that he always does what is important to him. He reveals that this year's tour on a barge converted to both stage and living quarters was actually just the "rehearsal" for a tour on a lake in Tanzania. "Since on the shore you can only give concerts from the ship". And it was in Africa that this idea came to him. His involvement is also simultaneously his political message.

What awaits fans in Kassel

Hubert von Goisern has a very reliable fan base, who know their "Hubert". All those who are new admirers, be told that a very rocky, but also multifaceted programme awaits you. He can be forgiven for not knowing exactly where North Hessen is. The answer "in the middle of Europe" wouldn't have helped him. But he's been to Kassel before and his tour management Konzertbüro Emmert are based in the North Hessen town of Schwalmstadt.

3 hours, Hubert says, is how long he will play in the Stadthalle. Interval or not, it will be a long evening. He raves about his band and when someone like Hubert is so enthusiastic himself, it promises an unforgettable concert evening. The former Kassel ice hockey trainer Hans Zach was always called an alpine volcano. But with his passion on stage it fits Hubert von Goisern much better.

Hubert von Goisern misses football on the radio

Dolomiten 15th June 2008

The Austrian alpine rock Hubert von Goisern (55) gives German television broadcasters the advantage when it comes to football coverage. "There was a time when the Austrian commentators were better, but at the moment I'd rather listen to the Germans," von Goisern told the German press agency dpa in Frankfurt am Main.

The musician misses football reports on the radio: "Unfortunately football games never broadcast on the radio at home in Austria any more, which I'm very sorry about, because I spend a lot of time in the car."

Von Goisern has transformed the thrilling radio report of Austria's dramatic 7:5 1954 World Cup quarter final victory against Switzerland by legendary Austrian reporter Heribert Meisel into a song. "I have carried with me for years the idea of making a musical work from this word rap, this unfettered emotion and wit," the musician says.