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The Roaring 420s interview

The Roaring 420s are one of those bands you will listen and re-check the recording date. Album is straight from the '67 and has everything we love about early psychedelic rock. Band is mixing surf rock with psychedelia and the result is wonderful release that came out a few months ago on Stoned Karma Records titled What Is Psych? They truly nailed it. 60s, summer, California, sitar and girls, that like to party!

How was the band formed?

Martin Zerrenner (bass) and I have known each other for a long time but it was in 2010 that he came up with the idea of forming a band together. I think this was right after we met Lulu (drums). I guess, if it wasn’t for her we would have probably ended up in an experimental poetry project or something because this is what we have been doing at that time. We did a lot of poetry shows together, sometimes arty stuff, exhibitions, happenings. But when Lulu said she wanted a rock’n’roll band, it was cool as well, it’s even better. Later Timo Eilert joined on guitar and Albrecht Schumann played keys but only for a short time. Timo has left the group last year and moved back to Hannover and Berk Gündogdu joined on guitar and keyboard. Lately, Stefan Koutzev plays rhythm guitar and Berk takes care of the keys.

© Doreen Siegmund

Were you in any other bands before?

We jumped on the bandwagon long time ago. Martin had a group called XistY back in his hometown which he ended up playing in for 15 years. I have another psychedelic rock’n’roll band called The Opium Theatre which I’m playing in for ten years now. And Lulu used to drum in a folk rock duo called Willa Mae. Berk and Stefan have also been working on other projects before.

Is there a certain creed behind the band?

I’d say there is but it’s hard to nail it. Of course we share a set of beliefs and a vision of the band in the way we feel obliged to it. Everyone wants to play shows, put out albums, create stuff that feels good. We also hang out together a lot, go to the same parties, get fucked up, it’s like a little family. We dig the same bands, same style of movies, books. After a while you’ll find out that a good friendship can be way more worth than playing skills.

How do you approach song writing? Can you please share a few words about making your album, that would be great!

It’s actually a very classic approach of sitting down and working things out. Sometimes there’s a jam that inspires a song, sometimes I come up with the lyrics and then try to put it into shape. Sometimes drugs can be helpful, sometimes not. I usually record everything and listen to it over and over again to see how things work together. When we’ve recorded “What is Psych?” we used our rehearsal room instead of a studio so that we were able to work day and night. Most of the arrangements have been created in the process. When the whole place was shut down and we had to move out, I took all the equipment to my apartment and finished the guitar tracks there.

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re currently located?

Vivid. Dresden is a good place for music of all kinds, there are so many artists around. Psychedelic and stoner rock is a thing here but electronic music is still huge as is hip hop. Some friends of ours run a string of psych parties which also featured bands like X-Ray Harpoons, Magnificent Brotherhood etc. I guess Dresden has a thing going on with rock music more than many other cities.

You recently released a split with Mind Flowers

Yes! They came up with the idea of releasing a 7” split on Levitation Records as they were putting out a bunch of singles at that time. We met them in April when we’ve been to Copenhagen and they took us to Christiania and showed us the mind flowers there. They’re pretty cool guys and I’m really looking forward to their forthcoming album.

You are probably very excited about the upcoming tour? Where all are you going?

It’s gonna be a looong trip this time. After a couple of shows in Germany we’re going to head out to Belgium, then France, Switzerland and Italy, then hop on a boat to Greece and from there back to Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia and Czech Republic. All in all it’s 34 shows. I’m glad The Blank Tapes are coming with us because they’re a cool band and people need to know. And it’s going to be a nice travel party of seven people packed in this nutshell of a bus. I bet after a week we’re going to smell like that but I read in a magazine that it’s good for your skin.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

The Roaring 420s, we’re travelling in one of these ridiculous sleeper busses and smoking cigars that we light up with the money we make at the shows. We’re wearing insanely expensive Versace clothing with parts ripped off to make it look ragged. We’d also have monkeys and cats for entertainment and a fat lawyer with slicked-back hair who’s driving. Maybe my mother would be there, too, because, y’know, it’s a dream…

To talk about influences would be too obvious, but maybe you can tell us some less known albums you like?

The Strange Boys with “… and Girls Club” is one of my favorites though you can basically take every album. We’ve played a beautiful show with them in 2012 but unfortunately they disbanded quite shortly thereafter. Ryan Sambol is still around making music and definitely worth checking out. Like is Tim Presley aka White Fence: he lately put out a new album called “For The Recently Found Innocent” which is also great. Then there are a lot of underrated gems from the 60s like Kaleidoscope’s “Side Trips”, the Dave-Axelrod-produced “Release of An Oath” that came out under the Electric Prunes moniker, Ultimate Spinach’s self-titled debut, the collected works of Italian composer Piero Umiliani (“Piero’s Pleasure”) etc etc…

Your album is released on vinyl and in these days when the vinyl is coming back very fast. What's your opinion about this format and do you collect records?

I think it’s the opposite trend to these huge media libraries people used to overload their hard drives with when they discovered torrent. Vinyl forces you to choose what you hear and to consciously listen to it. I think, this is because it’s not really a practical format. You can only listen to it at home and you have to get up after every five or six songs to flip the thing around. But it’s the best-looking medium of all. You wouldn’t eat pulp that tastes like steak when you can have a real looking steak even if it’s made out of pulp.

Thanks for taking your time. See you on tour. Last words are yours.

Come to the shows, support your local record store and the music scene and if someone says something isn’t good for the kids, then it’s probably awesome.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
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