There may not be a better example of the futility in trying to label a band than Einstellung. Isn’t Krautrock a label that’s used to describe music that’s too cerebral for most to understand? Hasn’t shoegaze become a label that’s used for bands’ that are more concerned with music than fashion?
Here’s the thing. Frankly, we prefer our songs to be in the three to four minute range. After that, the ADD kicks in and we’ve moved on. So when we tell you that there isn’t an Einstellung song that’s shorter than 7 minutes and yet they write the most interesting music we’ve heard in years, please take it as the highest of praise. Power, beauty, noise, melody, hypnosis, simplicity. Blending glorious monotonous “Krautrock” with melodic tones and heavy slabs of Sabbath riffage, whilst finding time to declare sonic warfare on those tinnitus victims who have passed the point of no return.
Hailing from Birmingham, England, Einstellung are Steve Hough (ex-Cable Regime, Godflesh, Grover) on bass, Simon Rider (Ex Grover, Moneygods) on drums, Andrew Parker (ex-Katastrophy Wife, Sally) and Andy Smart on guitars. A mutual appreciation of all things warm, loud and hypnotic initially lead to a 28-minute piece entitled Sleep Easy Mr Parker. Their most recent album, Wings of Desire challenges while nurturing your sense of melody and intrigue. Don’t be afraid. Sit down, open your mind and prepare to be mesmerized.
Having just completed their second album, “…And The Rest Are Thunder”, the members of the band took some time to talk about the process of creating their beautiful carnage.
TDOA: We’ve been describing your music to people who haven’t heard it, as taking the best Krautrock inclinations of Radiohead and taking it to greater heights. Are we in the ballpark with the your influences?
SR: I think we all respect Radiohead although I never really thought of them as an influence. Having said that, they were an influence on my previous band (Grover) and another band I played in supported them before they were massive, so you never know if that has trickled down to Einstellung.
I think, collectively, our favourite bands would be Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Neu, My Bloody Valentine, Black Sabbath, Spiritualized, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Stereolab. I think all of these and others influence our music.
TDOA: Wings of Desire happens to be my favorite movie all-time, so I’ll set myself up for disappointment here and ask if the album is a reference to the Wim Wenders film? If so, can you talk about how you see your music relating to the film?
AMP: You are correct about the reference so you won’t be disappointed! Visualisation is a big part of the stellung. We like to create an all engulfing experience. In many ways the actual music is secondary and the main idea behind Einstellung is experience. We play as loud as possible in rehearsals to create this engulfing sense of now. Wings of Desire is a beautiful film that also manages to give an underlying feel of despair. The search for the unobtainable. When we play live we have always had Wings projected either behind us, onto us or onto the kick drum skin. The combination of the film and the swooping sound creates something more than the standard local live show. Wings of Desire is also mentioned on the Spacemen 3 recording Dreamweapon– which is a welcome coincidence.
TDOA: You released Wings of Desire as a 2-LP vinyl album, which is a rarity these days obviously. Can you talk about the decision to do this, from a financial standpoint as well as artistically? Do you still buy vinyl whenever possible?
SR: Wings was originally released in Australia and New Zealand on CD as a result of Andrew Moscardo Parker’s previous dealings with Chatterbox Records in his band Sally. When Capsule offered to release it, we all assumed it would be on CD, when we learned it was to be vinyl, we were pleasantly shocked! When we saw Lucy McLaughlan’s artwork we knew this was going to be an item people would want to have, even if their turntables had been consigned to their attics. That pretty much sums up how I feel about vinyl these days too, I can listen to music on my MP3 player, but I like the fact I have a vinyl copy on a shelf I can pick up and look at.
TDOA: The 28-minute long, “Sleep Easy Mr. Parker” is an amazing journey for us as listeners. Can you talk about the genesis of this song? How long did it take you to get the song to a point where you were comfortable recording it?
SH: “Sleep Easy…” wasn’t meant to be a single. It wasn’t even meant to be an Einstellung piece. Originally it was just an idea of Andy Moscardo-Parker, given the working title “Coma”. It was to be a simple, repetitive piece that we’d record but keep for ourselves. Everyone had to play their main part in one take from start to finish, roughly half an hour. We could add extra parts if it needed them, if it didn’t – we wouldn’t. It was Alan at Bearos who mentioned it being an Einstellung piece since it ended up sounding very Einstellung. We couldn’t call it “Coma” because Andy’s father had recently, tragically died. The eventual title doesn’t need an explanation. It’s now sold out, unfortunately. It’s still one of our favourite pieces. We played it live from start to finish at a special show in Digbeth, Birmingham a few years back. Very moving.
TDOA: I’ve read a few references that would seem to indicate that this isn’t a band made up of guys in their late teens. Can you tell us a bit about each member of the band and their past musical work?
SH: Smart hasn’t played in another band but does have a separate project, Mahakalpa. I think Smart represents melody in Einstellung. We’ve played a couple of shows as a three-piece when Smart has been ill and, although they’ve been enjoyable, it’s not Einstellung. There’s a whole chunk missing when he’s not there. It only works with all of us. Si has played in Moneygods and Grover. I played bass in Grover for a while and me and Si worked well as a rhythm unit. In Einstellung I’d be lost without him. Grover was more post-rock, Slint with more noise and less members. Andy M-P played in Grover a couple of times. Me and M-P started to take Grover where Grover wasn’t meant to go really. Andy played in Katastrophy Wife with Kat Bjelland and Birmingham’s Sally. “C-Earth” by Sally is a wonderful album. My roots are more industrial rock with Cable Regime and Godflesh. Einstellung’s the best of everything we’ve ever been involved in.
TDOA: Wings of Desire was originally released on cd in 2007, which leads me to ask when we might be seeing a new album?
SH: The new album is recorded, as yet unreleased. It’s called “…And The Rest Are Thunder”. It’s an album that sounds right when played from start to finish. The opener, “Und Die Ruhe Ist Donner” was recently included on an Audioscope CD compilation in aid of the Shelter charity and, for me sounds odd in that context. I think songs from “Wings Of Desire” work quite well out of the context of that album. “…And The Rest Are Thunder” is beautiful.
TDOA: Is the music your currently recording similar to the music we’ve heard from you or are there going to be changes in style?
SH: We’re working on a new project at the moment called “Chromastises”. It’s a single piece again, like “Sleep Easy…” but made up of more defined elements. It’s much heavier too. Can’t wait to record it. There’s much more surrounding “Chromastises” than just the music. Watch this space.
TDOA: Some of your reviews reference Black Sabbath and Smashing Pumpkins, I wonder if these comparisons belie the beauty of your music. How do you feel about those types of reviews?
SR: I think those reviews are spot on. Parker and Steve are passionate about Sabbath, Smart and I love early Pumpkins. Jimmy Chamberlin is one my favourite drummers.
TDOA: There seems to be quite a bit of chatter about the numerous German references associated with your band, given that you’re from Birmingham, England. What should we read into this supposed obsession with Germany?
SH: The band name and song titles are German, albeit our own, bastardised version. Apart from that the only link to Germany is the motorik beat we frequently use which seems to originate from early 70′s ‘Krautrock’ & ‘Kosmische’ music. I say ‘seems to’ because no-one can say that a simple three kicks, snare, three kicks, snare beat actually originated from anywhere really. We’re all English, three of us live in Birmingham and even the bastardised German song titles are Brummie enriched, frequently nonsensical phrases.
TDOA: Have you ever played in the U.S. and are there plans to play here in 2010?
SH: We haven’t, as yet, played outside the UK! We’d love to play all over the world but unless SonyBMG want to make us an offer to give up our day jobs then, simply put, we can’t afford it. The various labels we are associated with are not major in any way and, as a result, don’t have budgets that stretch any further than releasing our music. If anyone can fund a trip to the US, we’re there!
To learn more about the music of Einstellung visit their MySpace page here.