When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to Music. I've had a few minor epiphanies since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
Leo: I guess there were a few and they still come every once in a while. It was some kind of an epiphany to watch and listen to Led Zeppelin’s live DVD at Madison Square Garden, especially when you watch it with friends and you just know they’re feeling the same staggering experience as you do. Then again, most Pink Floyd albums are totally immersive. If I listen to them when still dozing, they stimulate the sleepy part of my brain subconsciously while at the same time address what’s already awake somehow. I always have a kind of double-feeling when experiencing good art, though it does not need to be of this sleepy/awake opposition type. Not the last epiphany I had but the one I remember best was while listening to CCR. It’s not that I listened to them for the first time, actually I already listened to them for quite a while, but I just realized in how much joy I am when listening to them. Just heart-warming to me.
Max: When I was fifteen, I saw the Eagles Of Death Metal play live in Hamburg. It was the first concert I consciously remember having made the decision to go to on my own. My dad came along but he purposely stayed behind and let me do the rocking right in the front row. The place was absolutely on fire. During the last Song, the crowd stormed the stage. I remember playing air guitar back to back with Jesse Hughes. That night I lost my soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
Leo: We don’t have a formula. Sometimes it is a riff, otherwhiles it is an unexpected part in a jam. Sometimes we just want to do something like this or that, adapt it and make it even better. Everybody contributes to the composition and we’re done if it just feels right for everyone.
Max: Sometimes I’ll just wake up with a random line in my head, melody included. I’ll sing it in the shower and I pretty much have an idea on what the song is about and what it’s going to be like. That’s the easy scenario. Most of the time though, someone will just bring along a riff to band practice and if the jam kicks ass, we draft an instrumental blueprint. Lyrics on top and *poof* - done. On second thought: both cases are the easy scenario. We’re smooth like that.
Who has influenced you the most?
Max: Personally? It’s almost become a band joke by now, but I’m gonna have to go with Neil Fallon from Clutch.
Leo: Everything of QotSA which I’d like to label ‘Strange Rock’
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Max: I once was told by someone from the creative industries that the greatest ideas come from mixing 90% trash and 10% of but the highest culture. That person was a dick to be honest, but the formula works like a charm and I hold that statement dear to this day. I also recently started making a habit of digging into literature that’s not classically popular in Western culture. I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek mythology for example – but then again that’s quite the go-to place for a lot of lyricists. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel though. I just think it’s important to consider as many different perspectives as possible. Some of my latest reads include Journey To The West by Wu Cheng En (demons, Fuck Yeah!), The Gilgamesh Epic (Sumerians, Fuck Yeah!), and currently Down There by Huysmans (more demons, Fuck Yeah!). Honestly though: Try to check out something different every once in a while - and apart from that just do whatever gets your juices flowing.
Leo: I’m always on the hunt for new music and even concerning the 60s and 70s there’s still so much good stuff yet undiscovered to me. That’s also the cool thing about the current stoner rock scene. There is just so much good music. Everywhere. I guess it is a motivation to contribute to this fact while maintaining your own distinctive style.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
Leo: I think we as humans are in some way a product of our environment, but I would deny that this holds for me as a music lover and let alone as a musician. Music transcends places and your local environment. I’d say there is not much about our hometown in our music. It might be the other way round, just as a friend of us once said, we bring the desert to the city, wherever we are, create our own musical home, so we kind of have the vibes in us.
Max: I pretty much agree. Cologne’s a lovely city, but none of us are hugely patriotic about our hometown as a band. While I always loved living in a big city, I think the whole Stoner / Desert thing draws its archaic energy from vast open plains and skies rather than the urban landscape and that’s what we’re trying to capture. (Good job, Captain Obvious).
Where'd the band name come from?
Leo: Just as some fight trucks, we ride plains. It also makes for good chants.
Max: What he said.
You have one chance; what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
Leo: The R-rated version of Firefly.
Max: Probably whatever abomination a Coen brothers / Tarantino / Jack Black foursome would give birth to.
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000-word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
Max: Clutch – Burning Beard. Still trying to figure that fucker out.
Leo: Generation X – Dancing with myself. Cause it’s all you do anyhow.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Leo: Fabe once fell asleep on a smoke machine. No one noticed.
Max: That one time we had to make our way to the Black Sunset Festival after playing a show earlier that night. It must’ve been around 11pm or something. First, we took off in the wrong direction because there were like three different towns with the same name in that area. When we noticed about 50km in and tried to turn around, the thickest fog I’ve ever seen just rolled down the hills and reduced our sight radius to what, 20 feet or something? Meanwhile, our driver (I’m not gonna name names here, Fabe, no worries) slowly started to notice the 4-5 beers from earlier as I was mountaineering on the gear stacks in the back of our (borrowed!) van, desperately trying to keep the windows clear. That was pretty Spinal-Tappy I guess. Also there was this Fabe thing on the ride to Munich… Not sure whether I can tell that one just yet though. Anyhow. Come to think of it: All things bullshit necessarily involve at least one Fabe.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Max: Well, we’re certainly having a blast hanging out together pretty much all the time – especially when we get to play live shows. I hope we can convey that to our fans as well. Sweat and beer are necessities. If we’re not soaked in both after the show, we didn’t do the job right.
What makes a great song?
Max: The Groove.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
Leo: We are still working on our first song. But it’s classified.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
Max: Probably whatever I wrote last. Except if it’s shit. Then it’s probably the one before that. Repeat until particularly proud.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Max: I’m not saying it’s Clutch... But it’s Clutch.
Live performance, studio albums, songwriting, grooves, riffs, attitude, LYRICS, these assholes have it all! Needless to say there’s tons of other awesome artists out there: The Company Band, The Bakerton Group… Just kidding (see what I did there?). Reignwolf, Crobot, Planet Of Zeus, 1000mods, Stone Rider, Nightstalker, Rival Sons, Truckfighters, Deep Aeon, Phiasco... Damn, Monster Magnet still put out great shit too. Way too many to list them all.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Max: Digital on the go, CDs for touring, and Vinyl at home. Full disclosure though:
I don’t have a record player in my apartment at the moment. Mea culpa. Workin’ on it!
I don’t have a record player in my apartment at the moment. Mea culpa. Workin’ on it!
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
Leo: First night beer, second whiskey so you can still get drunk.
Max: One bourbon, One scotch, One beer.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
Max: The Underdog Record Store has lots of good shit.
What's next for the band?
Leo: Writing our second album.
Max: Really? Pretty sure it was world domination. You sure it’s not world domination? Welp. Guess we’re writing an album then.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Leo: You misspelled Plainriders!