Suns of Thyme interview with Tim Hoppe, Jens Rosenkranz, Tobias Feltes and Jascha Kreft

August 30, 2013

Suns of Thyme interview with Tim Hoppe, Jens Rosenkranz, Tobias Feltes and Jascha Kreft

© Arrow Mae
Dark, brooding and conceptual, Suns Of Thyme
would sound as at home in the Joy Division scene in London during the 80’s as
they do here and now.  One of my favorite
things when I listen to Suns Of Thyme is the fact that they didn’t mix their
vocals into oblivion.  There are clear
and legible lyrics to almost all of their songs and in this day and age of the
DIY, lo-fi movement it’s a refreshing change. 
On the heels of their debut album Fortune, Shelter, Love and Cure I was
curious what the band hand in store for the future.  Things aren’t always what they seem with Suns
Of Thyme drifting between some serious 80s synth influence, shoegaze,
middle-eastern and just out-and-out psychedelic rock.  When you listen to their music you get the
feeling there might be a little more going on that what you hear on the surface
as expertly demonstrated by the guitar solo at the end of The Years We Got
Enough which is sang rather than played. 
I don’t say it often but Suns Of Thyme really do help you just, turn on,
tune in and drop out, so join me while do so why don’tcha?
while you read at: http://sunsofthyme.bandcamp.com/

What’s the band’s lineup?  Is this
your original lineup?
The lineup has been the same since our first
show as Suns of Thyme: Tobias Feltes (Guitar, Vocals), Tim Hoppe (Guitar), Jens
Rosenkranz (Bass), Jascha Kreft (Drums, Vocals).  We are also supported by our close friend
Tammo Dehn, from Medusas Eco, who did percussions and synths on certain
tracks.  He’s a producer with an
incredible sense for music, which is very helpful.
any of you in any other bands?  Have you
released any material with anyone else? 
If so can you tell us about it?
Foremost we have to name The Odd Couple, Jascha and Tammo’s two-piece
band they started years ago.  They’re in
the process of mixing their debut record right now with Frank Popp but you can
already find a lot of demo stuff online. 
I have to say they’ve blown me away every time I’ve seen them.  Tammo himself has his solo-project, Medusas
Eco and they have an EP Ueberall they released on Bandcamp. 
Where are you originally from?
Tobi and I met about fifteen years ago at our school in Southwestern
Germany, close to the French border. 
Jascha and Tammo are from a small town called Norden located on the
Northwestern German Coast and they’ve been friends since Kindergarten.  Tim is from Dresden in East Germany, he’s the
only one who didn‘t bring a friend. 
Where is the band located now? 
How would you describe the local music scene there?
The band is based in Berlin.  The
city has a rich music scene with all different kinds of music but everybody
knows that it’s the city for electronic music. 
Even within the rock scene is widespread in that you meet artists on
different occasions who play all sorts of music.  I think concerning us as a band, there were
two major things we can talk about.  Our
starting point was the scene around Mindpirates e.V., which is an alternative
art gallery and a venue for all kinds of artistic happenings.  For example, we participated in a 24-hour jam
on a lakeside somewhere in the German countryside they hosted called The
Lovers.  Three-hundred people arrived at
the Mindpirates e.V. collective building at which point they were asked to give
up their telephone and jump on a bus that would take them to a secret
location.  This event clearly depicted
the wide variety of musical styles within the scene including Tibetan Chanting,
Dubstep, Krautrock, Hardcore, a naked screaming woman, etcetera; it was a very
interesting event.  In terms of Indie
rock, Berlin’s 8MM Bar has built a community over the last ten years.  People really support all the projects and
show up for each other.
you very involved with the local scene?
Jens, Tim and I were working at the bar at Mindpirates on some occasions
and we became friends with a lot of people that are connected to the
Mindpirates collective.  We met the
Director, Christian Schmid Rincon there who made the video for our first single
Soma (God for Gods), and we met the L.A. based artist and musician Lionel
“Vinyl” Williams who allowed us to use his image “Space District” as our album
We also hung around a lot in a friends place called Mammut Bar where I
have been working lately.  Through them
we met a lot of guys from the stoner rock scene like Heat and Samsara Blues
Experiment who got us in touch with our label Electric Magic.  On the 8MM side, we knew some people here and
there from Kadavar, Camera and The Blue Angel Lounge but we weren’t really
involved until a couple of months ago when we were approached by Christoph
Lindemann from Kadavar and asked if we wanted to contribute a song to the 8MM
10th Anniversary record.
it played a large role in the history or evolution of Suns of Thyme?
Mindpirates definitely played a huge role.  I think we all agree that we wouldn’t be at
the point we are now without them; a lot of love to Easton West, Kevin Klein,
Owen Roberts, Stefanie and Christian Schmid Rincon, and all the others at this
And 8MM is the reason we are able to see bands play in Berlin we
wouldn’t have seen otherwise, like Dead Meadow, Spindrift, Psychic Ills and
Indian Jewelry.  We met Jascha at one of
those concerts so I guess we have to thank 8MM for giving us a great drummer.
and how did you all meet?
Tobi and I were planning to start a new band after we left our former
band.  We were looking for a second
guitarist and a drummer.  In 2010 I met
Tim at university.  I think Tim was the
first person I spoke to at university and he was exactly the kind of guy we
were looking for, a friend and a music lover. 
After that we started writing our first songs.  Since it‘s frustrating playing without drum,
we were desperately looking for a drummer, but that proved quite a
challenge.  It seems drummers are rare in
Berlin.  If you find one, he‘s already in
five different bands!  Just before we
gave up searching, after three month of Craigslist listings, flyers and
approaching random people on the street, we went to a Spindrift and Dead Meadow
concert at Bassy Club.  Tobi and Tim were
checking out the bands equipment before the show and a tall blond guy asked
them if they played in a band.  Tobi
answered that they indeed played in a band but they needed a drummer,
fortunately Jascha was a drummer and just the one we needed.  The next day we rehearsed and started the
band.  Tammo moved to Berlin a few months
later and joined in shortly after that.
led you to start Suns of Thyme and when was that?
Tobi and I had played in two bands before Suns of Thyme though we
weren’t founding members of either of them. 
In 2010 we realized that it was about time to have something we could
call our own but we didn‘t want it to be just our band and some random
musicians.  We wanted the band to be a
collecting, with all members treated alike. 
We wanted it to be a musical dialogue between the musicians.  It was important to have the freedom to
experiment to all of us, not just to follow a certain style of music, but to do
what feels right at that moment. 
does Suns of Thyme mean or refer to?  How
did you choose the name?
Tim:  We
chose the name because of its aesthetics and the room it leaves for
imagination.  We liked its sound and
look, and it fits quite well with the music; and yes it’s a play on words.  There’s no particular reference but I think
we can say that Alejandro Jodorowsky and Scarborough Fair played a part in the
formation of the name…
guys sound comfortably planted in classic garage and psych, can you talk about
who some of your major musical influences are? 
What about the band as a whole rather than as individuals?
There’s not just one influence on the band but rather a combination of
different influences from each individual in the band, especially because every
member is part of the creative process. 
Every one of us has certain preferences and comes from different, but
still relatable genres.  I grew up
listening to Pink Floyd and I’d say it’s still my favorite band.
Well, there are bands I consider the home base of my musical interests,
like Joy Division, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Arcade Fire.  But to this day, nothing is able to overshadow
the experience of seeing Michael J. Fox playing Johnny Be Good in Back to the
Future when I was five years old, that’s for sure.
Tim:  My
interest in music started with classics like The Doors when I was
thirteen.  For a very long time now I’ve
been interested in Indie rock and new psych rock bands, recently I discovered
dark wave and 80’s music.
When I started playing in bands at the age of fourteen, I was pretty
obsessed with the early Nirvana stuff followed by punk, stoner, blues, kraut
and garage rock.  Nowadays I’m more and
more interested in pop music, but my band mates have the biggest influence on
me.  There are also specific songs which
have influenced me highly in the long run; check out White Denim´s Shake Shake
Shake or Michael Rother´s Feuerland.
absolutely hate to classify or label music. 
Can you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you
Tim:  We
have discussions about labeling in regards to other bands and music we
like.  But when it comes to our own
stuff, we’re kind of at a loss for a genre that feels like home.  We can only hope that the listeners and
reviewers find a way to place it in their musical genre of choice.
Spacy, sad and angry, but also repetitive, fun, and quirky.
Friends of ours from Mindpirates e.V. one time labeled us as krautgaze,
I liked that term.
Even though the album has a distinct touch of psychedelic and shoegaze
we try not to get caught up with those labels. 
These days it’s important to be versatile and combine different styles
and sounds, otherwise you won’t get people to listen to a whole record.  A lot of bands get stuck in a loop of just
doing one thing which can be repetitive. 
I do not want to get looped. 
Especially by my own music!
you tell us about Suns of Thyme’s songwriting process?  Is there just a lot of jamming or does
someone approach the rest of the group with a more finished idea to flesh out
with the rest of you?
Tim:  We
are not a band that gets together, has a couple of beers and jams for three
hours.  We simply do not believe in that,
or maybe we are just not good enough. 
There are some jams during rehearsal when we have the basic structure of
an idea and we want to get a better feeling of it and give everybody a chance
to try out some variations with it.  But
basically we consciously write our songs step by step.  How we come up with songs on the other hand
varies a lot depending on the initial idea.
© Linda Glas
There are several different approaches that work for me.  Sometimes I record a demo at home and we
start working with that idea together in the rehearsal room, sometimes it’s a
synthesizer or guitar sound that I’m looking for or stumble upon that builds
the basis of an idea for a song.  I’ve
woke up with a vocal line in my mind. 
Sometimes it’s a beat, bass line or guitar riff that one of the others
wrote that fits perfect to a piece of my writing.  I usually write a song while recording it and
then listen to it over and over again adding things until a structure emerges
that makes sense to me.  But that doesn’t
mean that everything won’t be changed again as soon as we start playing around
with it together.
recorded your album Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure a while back and it is
entering the final stages of release right now. 
Can you tell us about the recording of that album?  When was it recorded?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was recorded?
 © Arrow Mae
The songs were recorded throughout 2012. 
Tobias Schulz, a friend I met during my studies as an audio-engineer and
I recorded the drums together at a studio in Berlin.  Everything else was recorded in my bedroom
and our rehearsal room.  When you listen
to the album you notice pretty quickly that we’re big fans of effect pedals.  My favorites are probably the EHX Cathedral
Reverb and the Z.CAT Poly-Octaver 2. 
Apart from the typical stuff like drums, bass and guitar I recorded some
synth-sounds from a Korg Delta, some great iPad apps and some other digital
synth programs.  For example I also used
an electronic tanpura and an acoustic guitar played with a violin bow on Blue
Phoenix Tree.  We had the pleasure of
working with our good friend Owen Roberts who played clarinet on Asato Maa, Tammo
who some of the percussions and Lisa Maul who did some backing vocals.
© Arrow Mae
does the album title Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure mean?
It’s a line from our song Earth, Over and it felt fitting to the mood
and the aspects of the entire album. 
When I wrote the line my goal was to capture the basic roots of
happiness all humans are searching for. 
At the end of the day, those are the topics the entire album revolve
Four words that mean something completely different for everybody.  At the same time, everybody seeks some or all
of these things at some stage in their life and it‘s always a struggle to
attain any of them.  But one that‘s worth
it.  That struggle influenced a lot of
the songs on the record.
What’s the release date for that? 
Who’s releasing it?
We were lucky enough to find a very passionate guy who owns the label
Electric Magic here in Berlin who believed in our music and gave us the chance
to release the vinyl.  For both the
digital and the physical copy the release date was the 12th of July 2013.  The first edition consists of 150 green and
350 black vinyl copies including a download code and lyrics sheet.
there any plans for any other releases this year besides Fortune, Shelter, Love
And Cure?
We are working on new ideas right now and will do some demo recordings
soon.  There’s nothing planned so far but
I think there is a high possibility that we will release something like a new
single later this year.
the recent US postal rate increases where is the best place for our US readers
to purchase copies of your album?  What
about international and overseas readers?
Tim:  As
far as we know so far the album is only going to be released in Germany.  The best way would be contacting us directly
via e-mail or Facebook.  We’re sending
out some copies by ourselves but that includes the crazy international postage
rate.  Digitally you can find it on
Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and all the known digital platforms after the 12th
[of July 2013].
do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?  Any chance of seeing you here in the United
We’re working with a booking agency from Berlin called Magnificent Music
who also works with Kadavar and The Flying Eyes.  They’re planning a small German tour for us
at the end of the year.  Besides that we
are looking for support slots and festivals to get people to listen to our
music who don’t know we exist yet.  The
first step is to get out of Berlin, and then it’s on to other countries.
 © Linus Ma
 © Linus Ma
 © Linus Ma
©  Stefanie Schmid Rincom
To go overseas is simply a question of money and having a market.  It’s already hard enough for U.S. bands that
aren’t well known here to tour Europe, Black Moth Super Rainbow still haven’t
played here because too few people know about them for example.  And it’s the same the other way around if not
even harder.  If we had our way we would
play Austin Psych Fest maybe next year and have some shows around it.  We’ll see what happens.
are some of your favorite acts that you’ve had the pleasure of sharing a bill
So far we’ve supported TOY at their Berlin
show and shared the stage with The Sun and The Wolf and Camera at the 8MM 10th
Anniversary Record release party.
you have a music collection at all?  If
so can you tell us a little bit about it?
Tim:  I
guess you mean physical records since everybody has access to almost everything
nowadays.  Well, Jascha, Tobi and I have
piled up some vinyl over time.  My
Collection includes Black Angels, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Devendra Banhart,
Deerhunter, Dandy Warhols, Entrance, Goat, Richard Swift, David Lynch, Blur,
Blue Angel Lounge, Black Marble, My Bloody Valentine, Baïkonour, Grizzly Bear
and more alongside classics like The Beatles, Kinks, Doors, Beach Boys, Vanilla
Fudge, etcetera.
Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Pop
Levi, Ty Segall, Mark Lanegan, John Frusciante, The Flaming Lips, Sol Seppy,
White Denim, CAN, NEU!, etcetera.
Philip Glass, Rolling Stones, Ravi Shankar, Pink Floyd, Black Rebel
Motorcycle Club, Love, Claude Debussy, Jeff Buckley, A Tribe Called Quest,
must admit that I do love digital music. 
Having a copy of an album to take with me wherever I go, to listen to in
the car of wherever, it’s still a new and novel concept to me. But having an
album to hold in my hands, liner notes to read and cover-art to look at, it
makes the listening experience more complete; at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical
Tim:  Of
course!  That’s why we waited so long for
the album’s release even though it was done some time ago.  We wanted the vinyl digital versions released
at the same time.  Nothing is better than
holding your own record in your hands and we believe in physical records in general.  Not only because of any vintage hype or
better sound quality, but because we see no other way to make sure that the
artists are getting their money.  Digital
music is great because it’s easy to handle. 
But it’s also very quickly beyond the artist’s control and somehow you
reduce the music to some letters on a screen. 
Just another folder on the hard drive you might forget about over time
because you’re getting more music than you can handle.  Music records are a whole art package, and a
large part of our culture and people who take the music and artists seriously
are willing to buy physical material for that reason.
ask everyone I talk to this question in hopes of keeping up with all the killer
music out there, who should I be listening to from your local area or scene
that I might not have heard of before?
There’s a Berlin based solo loop artist, HELMUT who’s really great and
has a good feeling for songs that just get stuck in your head.  Camera, The Blue Angel Lounge and The Sun and
The Wolf are quite well known already and they’re all great.
We played with Roof Top Runners and Brace/Choir who are both more
international bands but based in Berlin and show how versatile the music scene
is around here.
And of course you should listen to The Odd Couple and Medusas Eco,
Jascha and Tammo‘s other projects.
They’re not from our local area but are nonetheless worth a listen:
Lionel Williams’ band Vinyl Williams.
about nationally and internationally?
Right now we’re all very impressed by the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Tobi:  I
recently discovered Dumbo Gets Mad which is super quirky, but I like it.
there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?
Tobi:  I
want to thank my parents for all their support. 
Without them I couldn‘t do what I do the way I do it.
Suns Of Thyme – Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure – digital, 12” –
Electric Magic Records

© Stefanie Schmid Rincon

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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