Interview to !Distain
I am honored to host !Distain on the Vox Empirea's pages. Manfred Thomaser is the current line-up with the band-founder Alexander Braun. 19 years have passed from your official entry into the European electro scene, so I think that now it's time for an objective discussion about your career, past and present. Which aspects of Distain's history you are most proud of and which others you would like to correct?
> Alexander: First of all, I am trying hard not to regret anything and use each and every experience to learn and progress. Sebastian (from the first period of distain!) and me were so different, very probably the most opposite characters you could imagine. It was clear that there would be stress and fights and discussions. But to be honest, I really don´t know what I could have done to avoid this...
The only thing I would do in another way today is simply to enjoy everything more...much more. I was so young and so uncertain (btw lyric of “ship of fools” from erasure that I was not aware of all that nice things that happened during the first (very successful) years. But this is different today....now I am enjoying the full range (whatever this means...smile).What I am proud of is that we never sold ourselves, we always did what we liked to do. And I am proud of our long distance ride...means that we are still here and that we still have lots of fun creating music!
I have always admired you for the ability to combine electronic art, romantic and clean melodies with a fine danceability. Do you consider Distain as a band different from the others, or you think that your music style is similar to other European electro bands?
> Manfred: Of course, it feels good when people say that they like our music and think that it sounds unique somehow. But as a band we do not think in terms like these. All we do is composing songs or writing lyrics in our own personal way. There is no other reason than the urge to “do it”. Everything else relating to art, melody or other bands has to be evaluated by fans, journalists, musicians.
During the artistic journey of a band, especially as long as your, the technical changes are almost inevitable. From 1992 to 2002 distain saw the separation from Oliver Faig and Sebastian von Wyschetzki. In which measure is changed the own band's compositional style from those days?
> Alexander: Sebastian was the main songwriter in the beginning. But I always contributed a few songs per album. Like “confession”. And since the split, Manfred and I create nearly every song together. This is much more fun and I dare to claim: even the better results...in any case the faster results! The funny thing is that with every CD-release, some journalists write “typically !Distain”
Do you think Distain as a flexible band that knows how to adapt itself to the newest market demands, or you remain faithful to a single music thread, indifferent to the increasingly rapid changes in trends?
> Manfred: Time is running fast. That means if you want to follow market demands you need to be very fast to catch them. And even if you are fast you need to be good at all changes the market may demand. To us composing songs is a very personal process. And it seems better to compose and write without being influenced too much. After all, if you want to survive you need to stay credible.
In 2010 you published a rich collection of successes and unreleased Songs entitled "Anthology 1992-2010". Are you satisfied how the public has agreed this release? I know that this album has entered on the Top 5 of the DAC (German Alternative Charts): It was a result that you expected or it has been a surprise for you?
> Alexander: I hoped that the feedback would be like that and I was really happy about it. But I really was surprised about so many good reviews. It showed me that people liked our whole work and respected us...and this is a good feeling.
I note with great pleasure that you are still one of the bands that in their publications prefer the CD format rather than the downloading solution. What is the reason why you choose this option? Do you think that one day !distain too may choose the net-labels?
> Manfred: It feels better to have a CD in my hands than a file on a computer. But habits keep changing. As long as we can sell CDs, we will release them. But if more and more people buy mp3 files we need to react to this, too.
Work with a good record company is very useful to meet ambitious targets and long lasting. To support your new album "on/off" you chose Echozone, label specializes in electro, industrial, gothic and dark-wave: by what criteria you select the group record that best suits your needs?
> Alexander: First of all, I realized that there are many other good bands like Minerve, Moon74 on this label. And the 2nd point is the communication: for us it is so important to have contact to our label all the time and not to wait for an answer for weeks. We had made bad experiences. With Echozone it was such a good dialogue from the start and we are still very happy about this collaboration.
What is the disease that hurts mostly the present underground music panorama? What would be your suggestion for possible improvement of the situation?
> Manfred: There seems to be a huge gap between the idea people have about a musician’s life and reality. If a music star sold 10 Million CDs in 2000 he may sell 1 Million today. You can still live from selling 1 Million CDs, but consider those musicians who sold 10.000 CDs in 2000. You could say that music needs to be appreciated again… but we can’t force people to pay for music.
Talking about the title of your new album, "on/off": What turns on and what turns off for the !Distain?
> Alexander: Push the “on” button of your CD player, put the album into it and push “off” only after the last track has finished.
Nowadays is always difficult for a band to plan unique sounds, something that has not already been widely exploited. What new elements have you exercised in the implementation of the new album? Describe us in detail this new work.
> Alexander: It was a very exciting and comfortable way of working. We wrote the songs in our studios at home and the very last step was done by Remi Janotta (ex-Psyche). In some tracks he added some new sounds and even composition, and in others he “just” mixed the stuff. So we have the creative input of 3 guys and 3 working places with different sounds. And I am very satisfied with the final result. To mention one thing in terms of unique sounds: we love the sounds of the Soft Synth/sample Player “Nexus” which we have used a lot for this production. We are friends of the "Soft-Synths" and we're open to every new development.
Are you planning to support the newest release with a tour?
> Alexander: We are working on that. Most of the inquiries are from outside Germany and the difficulty is to coordinate them...but we will let you know.
Although the modesty is always a must, what goal have you set to achieve with "on/off"?
> Alexander: The goal is always to become popstars, but the problem is to let all the people we know. And hopefully satisfy our label Echozone in order to continue a fine collaboration.
It was been a pleasure to interview you on Vox Empirea. The readers will appreciate this better if you dedicate them one of your thoughts...now you have absolute freedom of speech!
> Manfred: We wish to thank you for your support. Many of you have been around since 1994/95. And it is great to share memories with you.