Giant Rooks talk about the end of the world: Interview

Originating from the small city of Hamm not far from Dortmund in Germany, Giant Rooks is one of the most promising young bands in indie rock music in a long time. The indie pop five-piece already began to blow up with their 2017 EP New Estate, an anthemic EP of nothing but standout tracks, and the band has ever since been an indie rock force to be reckoned with.

Their critically acclaimed mix of indie-rock and electro has pulled in a global fanbase, and last year’s debut album Rookery caused a massive stir in the scene and was supposed to have been followed by a world tour. But like for all bands, an intense touring schedule ended up being interrupted by the pandemic. However, it made space for more time being spent in the studio and Giant Rooks closed the Rookery circle with an EP full of beautiful stripped-down versions, called Rookery Live Tapes.

As the summer arrived and the venues opened up across Germany, although with limited capacity and strict covid regulations, they embarked on a national tour and when they popped by Hamburg to play a gig at Stadtpark Open Air we sat down with Luca Göttner and Finn Thomas for a chat.

Riding through the storm: Postponed world tour

It’s obvious that the pandemic has been a huge bummer for most bands. How have you coped with the whole situation?
Luca: Most of all I miss to be spontaneous. We’re used to go out and grab a few beers with friends, watch bands play live and a whole lot more that we can’t do at the moment. Let’s say I miss the simple life, those things you just take for granted. It’s fine to stay at home but only if it’s a choice, it’s different when you know that you have to stay at home. That hasn’t been easy to deal with.

Finn: It’s pretty much the same for me, I’ve really missed the social stuff especially during the first few months of the pandemic because it changed so quickly. It has started to get better, and we can meet up with people again, but things like coming out for gigs or watch football at an arena are still something I miss to do. And of course having a beer with friends.

And the band had to postpone quite a big world tour, the Rookery Tour, and I guess that must’ve been a huge disappointment.
Luca: Yeah, postponing the Rookery tour wasn’t fun at all, especially the second leg of the tour where we were supposed to have supported Milky Chance in America – it was all cancelled. It wasn’t fun after quite a period of rehearsals when you got that call, “Hey guys, it’s not gonna happen”. That was tough to take because it was something we were looking forward to do really much.

On the other hand, we got some time off to relax and to write new music. It’s not all bad, some good has come out of it as well.

You had quite a success and grew a fanbase already after the New Estate EP and I guess you want to ride on the back of all the attention you got. How do you handle expectations from other people, like your fans?
Finn: Most pressure comes from ourselves. We love to continue to progress and write new songs and release new music, but it has to be good. We need to feel that it’s good enough because we want to look back on this period a few years from now and say “Hey, it’s still awesome!”. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing so far and we want it to stay like that.

So, it’s not really pressure from other people, it’s more like us wanting to keep our standard of what’s good music. We have to like it today and we have to like it in the future as well, you know, something to be proud of.

Luca: Most definitely! Especially when talking about our debut album, Rookery, because it took so long to do – and we wanted it to take time. In the end it took us a few years to pull it together and we’re so proud that we finally released last year. But now we’re facing the difficult question most new bands must face, “What comes next?”.

Being fascinated by the end of the world

At the end of August last year, Giant Rooks finally released their debut album Rookery, an impressively varied indie pop debut.  But although the music is everything but sad, their lyrics deal with important issues on matters important to young people, sometimes even dystopian themes.

I’ve listened to your album quite much the last year, especially the song “All We Are” which reminds me about Wir Sind Helden and their song “Wenn Es Passiert”. What’s so romantic about the end of the world?
Luca: (laugh) That’s a good one! To be honest, our guitarist Finn writes most of the lyrics, and he and Fred [frontman] think about that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of similar stuff on Rookery, like lots of social and political issues, you know all those things that matters to young people like us. Climate change, mental health issues and things like that; we just felt that it was important to talk about that kind of stuff.

But why the end of the world is so fascinating? That’s a tough one, but to keep it simple, it’s an ambition to answer a dystopian issue. In a world plagued by crises and unfairness, maybe that’s a way out, like “Ok, the end of the world may be a solution”. And maybe it will be better after that. Still, it’s a dystopian issue, but it’s something we give a thought at times.

Finn: Yeah, but a general thought. Somehow it does make sense that there’s some sort of glamour about the end of world no matter how horrible it might be. It’s over then, but would what happen to you then? I don’t know how to describe it, but in a way it’s something beautiful about it – “the world’s ending, what would you do”?

Luca: I guess I’d put on Kings of Leon’s Because Of The Times album and get friends and family together to listen to it one last time. That sounds a bit sad, doesn’t it (laughs). Actually, it sounds sick (laugh)! But it’s a really good record. However, if we look at it in the context of “the last thing you’d do”, it would be quite sad.

Finn: Can I come as well?

Luca: You’ll definitely be invited! (laugh)

Do you have any songs you play live and then they never get played again?
Both: Yes!

Luca: For example, there are songs we played at our first gigs, but when you release new music you want to play the new stuff. Although it’s sad, some older songs eventually disappear from the setlist because it’s more fun to play the new ones.

Finn: Think about all new songs we haven’t done yet, music to be released in the future; once played live doesn’t mean they stay on the setlist or will sound the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s the music or the lyrics, we just tend to change them quite much.

Most important as a new band is to get airtime and everyone wants to be played on the radio or TV, and you got some widespread attention after being played at the well-known German TV-show Tatort [“Crime Scene” in English].
Luca: Yeah, and on the Hamburg episode! There’s the moment when Wotan Wilke Möhring [actor] listens to our music and then takes off the headphones and says “Quite nice, isn’t it”.

What would you like to say to him?
Finn: You’d better put ’em back on! (laughs)

Luca: Or “Wotan, we play at Stadtpark tonight, come round”!

I remember when you played at Nochtspeicher in 2017 and did a cover of Dylan. Last week The Rollings Stones drummer Charlie Watts died. Which Stones song would you like to play in his honour?
Finn: We’ve already done that and if you keep up your attention at the show tonight you’ll hear that we have a few hidden gems in our set. But it’s sad to that our joke turned into a homage.

You’re still a band with a long future ahead of you, but what’s the most exciting experience you’ve made so far?
Luca: At first, I just have to say that the different phases we’ve been through as a band have been very exciting. But the best memory so far is The Great Escape [festival].

Finn: Yeah, I just have to agree on that.

Luca: Our first festival abroad was in 2017 and we ended up at The Great Escape in Brighton. That’s a legendary festival. We were there for the full weekend and played two shows, just an awesome experience for a band like us – we have so many beautiful memories from that festival.

We spent the whole night at the beach, and when the sun started to rise we were still there. That’s a memory that got stuck. Wicked!

Photographers: ©Katrin Arfmann
Journalist: René Biernath
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