Designer Magazine last hooked up with the Beatsteaks around the release of "Living Targets", an album which combined all the best elements of the Foo Fighters and bands of it's ilk yet was still raw enough at the same time for fans of their earlier material. Their new album "Smack Smash" sees the band ripping up the blueprint and incorporating elements of ska and reggae into the music. With the ghost of Joe Strummer laying heavily on the band we caught up with frontman Arnim to discuss the bands roots and influences.
Q: "Living Targets" was the Beatsteaks attempt at an
overtly commercial rock album. Was there reflection after this about where
you wanted to go with the next record?
A: The only thing we reflected was that we wanted to do something new, just because we don't want to repeat ourselves. Concerning attitude we wanted to go back to our first record 48/49. Concerning production we wanted to do it live!!! Concerning songs we just wanted to come up with something new but still BEATSTEAKS. So actually there was no chance to do a record like Living targets again....even if one of us wanted to there always would be another guy in the band saying "hey, we already did this back then" which is the death of that idea...
Q: Working with Billy Gould as a producer seemed like
a perfect combination. Why the change to working with Moses Schneider?
What did he bring to the Beatsteaks sound and how important was his role
A: We met Moses when we recorded the WOHNZIMMER-EP which he produced. We loved working with him cause he's a freak in the most positive way. He wanted to record live, like we wanted to, he's living in berlin so there's always an easy way of communicating with each other...his musical influences are very "sophisticated“ and we really loved his attitude towards music and recording!!! So there was no question he had to be the one to record with
Q: "Smack Smash" seems to be a much more open minded
album than "Living Targets". Still a rock album but taking in reggae and
ska influences etc. Is this what you tried to achieve?
A: You're right but there was no plan behind it ...we wanted to bring new influences into our music...but it came by accident...maybe it just reflects what we were listening to at that time
Q: You've covered the Clash previously and on "Hello
Joe" you wrote a song in dedication to the great man. How did you
react when you heard he'd passed away and how did his influence shape
A: There is so much you can learn about music when listening to the Clash. Concerning all aspects. You can learn a lot about being open minded, taking different styles into the music. The DVD WESTWAY TO THE WORLD is just one big lesson about music and how a band works and about what is dangerous for a band. Joe Strummer died one day after a show we played with Three Colors Red, who also did a CLASH-Cover-Version...the idea of a song about Joe Strummer was born on that day, and we hope he would have liked it....
Q: Again another figure that passed away. You've been
covering Nirvana again on the recent tour. How important is it to acknowledge
your heroes and influences?
A: It is very important to be aware of your roots, but in the end you have to come up with your own ideas....but at least NEVERMIND was one of the greatest R’n’R records of all times...reason enough to do a cover version...
Q: One thing I really noticed on the live shows is
how much of an influence Madness are on your performance. They were such
a British band it seems unusual for a german band to take their stance
on. Would you agree?
A: We really love MADNESS, they were musically very good, great arrangements, very entertaining, not too serious and always open for the funny aspects. Great videos.........!!!!!!! You can even realize this when you're from Germany and a little bit stupid....
Q: Madness had an ill fated musical last year. If the
Beatsteaks had a musical what would the rough story be and who would
you want to play yourself in it considering they have to sing and dance?
A: I don't know what exactly the story would be, but for sure it would be a comedy!!!
Q: The live shows are where the band really excel.
Are you gonna come back for a full UK tour and festival shows?
A: We hope to play Leeds and Reading festival. And we're planning to come back for our own tour or maybe supporting another band.. But we will come back!!!
"Smack Smash" is out now
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