For every rock’n’roll millionaire there are thousands of talented artists scratching out a living. The choice is a tricky one: to establish a career takes an enormous amount of work and time just to reach out to an audience and become established.
One of those bands that continue their struggle, a band that certainly deserves a bigger audience considering their song-writing skills, is German indie rock act Eau Rouge.
A year and a bit ago we met up with the Stuttgart three-piece ahead of their show at Nochtwache and chat about how to reach out to an audience and the social-mediafication of the music industry. Since then the band has released three singles and the EP “Closer”, and when they returned to Hamburg to play kukuun we sat down for a new chat with the band to catch what has happened since our last meeting.
Keeping creative control
The last time we met up was about a year ago in Göttingen, and quite much happened since then. You released a new EP, went to the Sonic Visions Festival and as we speak you are on tour.
Magnus: It has been very good. We were in Göttingen quite recently and indulged in nostalgic memories at the Dots. It was nice, really great.
You also played the Sonic Visions Festival in Luxembourg recently. What makes that festival special?
Bo: It was really cool and am awesome location. The festival area was at an old industrial site with these big old buildings and chimneys at this huge area with several stages. It was a bit like the Reeperbahn Festival, just a bit smaller but with a very nice vibe.
Magnus: And a festival in November was also interesting. We were at an open air stage and watched Balthazar wearing thick coats in the freezing cold, but it was a great show and worth to stay in the cold and watch it.
You also released the “Closer” EP this year. How have people responded to it?
Bo: Actually it has only been positive. It was great to hear that many people saw it as a step forward for us, that was our intention. For us it was an evolution of the sound, something that has been very well received when we play live; those songs fit well into our set live.
Magnus: It fits well into the set we already had. People tell us how great they think the new songs are, but they don’t listen to our old songs. We get a good feeling from it and that’s why we already have started to play three of the new songs we’re writing at the moment. And it’s fun to say to people “Sorry, the song isn’t out yet”.
I remember we talked about it that last year, what it’s like to play a new song and get an instant response from the audience. It sounds like you’re happy with how the crowd respond to the new songs?
Magnus: Absolutely! Jonas said it quite well in an interview the other day, “We want to get out of the rehearsal room and play our songs live because it’s an exciting feeling”. That’s why this tour is so much fun.
Your songs are partly characterized by a very fragile sound, and the lyrics on the EP are more personal than on “Nocturnal Rapture”. Can you describe how your lyrics and sounds came about and what the influences are?
Bo: That’s right. Some songs of the EP are more personal, but funny enough I wasn’t aware of that at all. We write parts of the lyrics together and some parts ourselves. When you think about it you realize how personal we are in some lyrics. It is again a new feeling. With more personal lyrics like in the song “Fear” it’s a bit more heart in it.
Magnus: The sound is influenced by music and artists you listen to. Jonas said “We make music that we like ourselves” and that’s very good. We’re not a concept band that are committed to one genre, music-wise we do what we want to do.
Do you think the development of your sound is based on the fact that you have found your identity as a band?
Magnus: Totally! We know each other so well by now that we let each other have more space, our songs are a bit more clean today; there are less elements but more room for our personalities. That also goes for the live shows. I think having your own freedom, to allow something to happen, is a much better skill than coming up with something that might fit your bandmate.
The “Closer” EP was also your project. You took care of everything from the recording and releasing the EP to the artwork and the videos. How did you do that?
Bo: I have to say that Jonas has a very big part in it, he has ideas and realizes them quickly. That’s really his world. While Magnus and I were just happy that we have written a new song, Jonas already made the artwork and presented it to us. We would do it like that again because as long as you can do it yourself and it works out, it’s just cool.
It’s a lot of work to make it happen even if it’s someone in the band doing it all – we probably won’t do it like this in the future – but it worked out great considering the time we had.
Magnus: Jonas is very talented and has a great imagination, and we’re very lucky that he does the work. We have a lot of great people who help us but Jonas is that person pulling all the strings like a puppet master. It has many advantages because you see what comes out at the end, you’re following the process closely and the result becomes more personal. The EP is Eau Rouge. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t some other great people you want to work with. It was a lot of work but also a great experience when we pulled it through.
All the work was definitely worth it! You said something about collaboration. Who would you like to record a feature with?
Bo: That’s funny, we just talked about it in Berlin. We like Allie Neumann very much and Jonas is a big fan of her voice and would find a feature like that exciting because it’s a different genre, not completely strange, but something different. Or a cool rapper like Nura, just to see what would happen.
Cool, I’m a fan of Allie and Nura. But talking about touring. This Hamburg concert closes the first leg of your “Closer” tour. How has it been so far? Have there been any highlights that you will remember?
Both: Very nice so far, just awesome!
Bo: For me personally Berlin was a highlight because Berlin is a music city and has an incredible vibe, and as such it’s always a destination on our tours.
This time was the first I felt that everything was perfect. There was a lot going on; the club and the guys of Sultans Court were a great support; there were lots of people we’ve learned to know over the years, and the atmosphere of the tour was very familiar because of that.
Magnus: There hasn’t been any “low’s” yet, that’s probably the best highlight, but Berlin was still something special. It was just a very nice evening.
How do you feel after a tour? There’s this infamous low point when it’s all over which you pushes you down after touring. What’s it like when you’re back in Swabia?
Magnus: This time it’s perfect. We can rest for two days in our low and then the high returns, endorphins are in the works so no need to worry. I think everyone is just happy to sleep in their own bed for two nights, but then you will be happy that it starts again.
What do you have next in your plans?
Magnus: We’re pretty busy recording and producing, the next record is not far off.
Bo: We are just very productive right now and have a good team of people around who helps us produce things. Our plan for 2020 is to release a lot and hopefully get out on tour again, preferably with a massive album covering our creativity.
Eau Rouge pages