In this period of enforced downtime – I last saw a gig on 05-Mar (Marika Hackman), and frankly who knows when I’m next going to get to go to one – I’m using the time to catch up on various amounts of writing for this site, and also get on with trying to make some of the features on here a more regular occurrence.
/Talk Show Host/061/Rotersand
/Talk Show Host/Links
/Talk Show Host/2019-20
This includes interviews, and this is the second of a few that I have planned. I’ve followed Rotersand since they toured their debut album Truth is Fantatic over fifteen years ago, have seen them live a number of times, and enjoyed every release that they’ve put out – in this scene, an unusually optimistic, bright-sounding band within industrial/electro, certainly compared to their peers. So as they release their latest album How Do You Feel Today?, I thought it a great opportunity to catch up with Krischan and Rasc from the group to discuss progress so far.
A note about the interviews on amodelofcontrol.com. This is now a long-running, occasional series, occasional because of the fact that I only interview artists when I have something to ask, and when artists have something to say. I don’t use question templates, so each is unique, too. Finally, I only edit for grammar and adding in links, so what you’re reading is the response of the artist directly. Thanks, as always, to the artist and indeed those that help to arrange such interviews, and also to the artist for supplying the promo photographs.
I first saw you live back in 2004, in Sheffield (supporting Assemblage 23, if I’m not mistaken). A whole lot has changed in those sixteen years – from your perspective, what has changed, and how have you adapted to them as a group?
/Krischan/Rotersand: Everything and nothing has changed. We are still a group enjoying to create music and especially enjoying creating music together, that has been our focus ever since. A lot has changed outside the group and we are trying to stick to our focus. We are still trying to reflect aspects of the outside world and transform it into music, so “change” has been a constant companion for us.
The new album title – How Do You Feel Today – seems eerily prescient in these virus-ravaged times. Words to that effect are being used all over social media to check in on friends and loved ones. How are you coping with the current situation?
/Krischan/Rotersand: We talked about this “eerie” feeling when the virus-situation unfolded with its massive impact on everyone’s everyday life. I felt a kind discomfort with releasing How Do You Feel Today at this point when the unfolding began cos the title and underlying themes of the album felt very precise and easily relatable to the present situation.
I’ve always considered Rotersand to be a group with a broadly, and unusually – in the wider scene, anyway – positive outlook in song. So it was surprising, perhaps, to hear the refrain of Hot Ashes: “Dancing on the hearts of fascists“. I never had any doubt that you were anti-fascist, frankly, but was there doubt from other places to make you say it outright?
/Krischan/Rotersand: If there were any doubts, we’ve never got confronted with those. Hot Ashes was never meant to be a defensive song. Hot Ashes‘s message is rather simple: maybe a fascist’s heart can be opened up by the archaic and social experience of dancing. We always considered a dancefloor in a club nowadays as a place where people can experience positive energy and come together on a kinda high level of equality.
/Rasc/Rotersand: Rotersand is a band full of positive energy. But this energy definitely comes from deep down. That´s true for all of us. Deep to the very bones, to the depth and darkness in our souls. Gaining momentum from there and jumping up high and higher to catch some stars. The song pair Welcome to goodbye / Dare to live (Number one and number two on the Album Welcome to Goodbye) illustrate this perfectly.
The other surprise about this new album is how varied it is – but it still always is recognizable as Rotersand. The synth-rock of Silence is a particularly impressive example, or the cavalcade of horns on You Know Nothing. Do you have a “plan” when going into the studio to create new music, or do you create organically, as it were?
/Krischan/Rotersand: We always tried and try to stay as open as we can for styles and ways to catch and carve out the vibe of ideas and first drafts of songs. So there is a lot of trial and error, and talking involved in the process from the first glimpse of an idea to the final song. Every new way (new for us) we discover opens up more room, enhances our “toolbox” and adds confidence to keep on doing what we are doing.
You returned to your debut album Truth Is Fanatic and recreated new versions and remixes of the songs a few years ago. Did that looking at your own past assist with understanding your future sound?
/Krischan/Rotersand: I think there are two (sometimes interdependent) ways of creating music. The “classical” process of songwriting by creating something out of nothing, which I tend to call magical, and on the other side the alchemistic way of creating by reassembling and reframing existing. Rasc is a magician, I am more in liaison with the alchemistic way. That’s why I like remixing so much. In addition to your question above, Truth Is Fanatic Again did open up some room for our today’s sound.
You’ve always struck me as a group that thrives on performance, on the live show – feeding off the energy of the crowd and pushing yourselves higher and harder. From your perspective, do you feel that too when performing?
/Krischan/Rotersand: Yes, we definitely do. I guess a Rotersand live performance without that exchange of energy between the audience and us wouldn’t work at all. Rasc sometimes says to me after an energetic show that he would prefer to be there in the audience, and this is also the reason why he is leaving the stage to celebrate with the audience during the show.
/Rasc/Rotersand: I am the biggest fan of this band. And I can´t wait to perform the songs of the new album. Silence, Whatever, You know nothing, Hot Ashes … this will be big moments in future shows. Can´t wait.
One thing I’ve found interesting about your sound is that you’ve managed to fashion a style that doesn’t reveal particularly any overt influences. Who were your formative influences, and what have you heard recently that inspires you?
/Krischan/Rotersand: I still have a special penchant for Detroit techno, soul and funk and their electronic derivates. A lot out of this field instantly touches a string in me (if this idiom makes sense in English).
/Rasc/Rotersand: We share a deep love for Techno, 80s, Pop. And also 70s glam rock, punk and art-rock. Punk in the 70s was a rebellion against the big art rock sound like Pink Floyd or Queen. But isn´t it fantastic times we live in, that allow is to combine historically antagonistic styles. This is was avant-garde is about.
The new Rotersand album How Do You Feel Today? is out now on Metropolis.