Sir Robin & The Longbowmen interview
© Merzi Merzdorf
An interview with members of Sir Robin & The Longbowmen. We talked about their latest album, upcoming tour and even upcoming album.
Who’s in Sir Robin & The Longbowmen and what do you all play? Have you all made any changes to the lineup since you started or is this the original lineup?
Right now we are six people on stage: Konrad Reichel (vocals/percussion), Stefan Hühn (guitar/sitar/vocals), Friedrich Griese (guitar), Manuel Puschmann (organ/synthesizer/vocals), Robin Heller (drums/vocals) and Felix Franzke (Bass). Only Manuel and Robin are playing in the band since it started, we had a pretty intense change of members over the course of the years. The first album for example was recorded with D.A. Humphrey (former member of The Blank Tapes) and Martin Uslaub (guitar) and Felix Raskiewicz (bass) as well as Thomas Jahn (synthesizer).
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
We all come from different corners of musical taste but share a common sense and what you would call a general taste in that aspect, not only writing our own music but also regarding new bands we dig or albums we are listening to when we’re on tour. It’s been a self-developing process from where we started as a band to where we are now and where we want to go. Some of us have been playing in other bands before, some started making music with Sir Robin, so it’s a mix more or less.
When and how did you all originally meet?
Robin and Manuel basically got to know each other through a similar taste in music, listening and djing mainly sixties beat, garage and psych and pretending it was 1969. Haha. When Robin came back from London in 2010, we started to jam in Manuel’s room in a flatshare, with organ, guitar, bass and drums all squeezed together. After that we moved to an old shabby cellar where Martin Uslaub joined the band on guitar and we could then convince Konrad that he is actually able to sing, so he also joined in a bit later. Again we had to change our rehearsal space, and got to know The Roaring 420s in the process. We wouldn’t have to tell the whole story if the line up we are having now would be the same since the beginning but it is a pretty long story to tell, considering that we are only existing for seven years now.
When we finally had the feeling that we are having a proper bunch of people to start playing live, again there were people leaving, so Felix Raskiewicz and Stefan Hühn joined the band. As we could already realize then, consistency was something we should not get used to, which meant that after about one year we were kicked out of the building because the city of Dresden was closing it down. So once more, with changes in the band we also had to adjust to a new situation.
As we were more or less homeless and we knew that the next show was only a few weeks ahead, we asked at the venue where we played, called “Ostpol” if we could maybe rehearse a week before our show because otherwise we wouldn’t have a chance to get ready for the it. Luckily they approved and we moved all our equipment to the rehearsal spaces on the first floor. There was (and still is) an archer out on the balcony that belonged to the room we were in and we wanted to take a picture with him, because obviously it would make for a nice background for us. Although we forgot to take that picture, we got to know after we finished the show, that they were still looking for a band to rent the place and of course we ultimately agreed to stay there. That was kind of a magic moment for us. We are still located there and we are really happy to probably have the best rehearsal space in the whole city. “Ostpol” is a bar as well as a venue and it’s really nice to be a part of it in different aspects.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
For all of us it was a different approach. As we said before, Manuel and Robin were the one’s to start the band and Robin already had played in other bands. It went from a fun project to a more serious endeavour and it is still developing. It’s interesting to look back at how it all started and how it is today and we were pretty surprised about the positive feedback basically from all over the world at first and are very pleased that so many people enjoy what we are doing. It is a priviledge.
What does the name “Sir Robin & The Longbowmen” refer to in the context of the band name? Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?
When the Band started as a fun project with no idea which style the music will have in the future, Manu came up with the name for two reasons.
First of all Robin was the only one in the Band who could play his instrument well, so he deserved the title “Sir”. Second, Manu who was intensly listening to 60s Psychedelia back then, wanted a name that could have been the perfect name for a typical 60s UK “fairy-tale- inspired” Psychedelic Band, so he also liked the relation to Robin Hood. That’s why the “Longbowmen”.
Robin didnt like the idea to have his name in the name of the band and came up with new ideas every rehearsal, but when Konrad joined the band to be the lead singer he complied to use the name because he thought that everybody would probably focus on Konrad and imagine that he is Sir Robin, so that’s when we were called Sir Robin & The Longbowmen.
What’s the songwriting process like?
We are all throwing in ideas. Mostly we go by everyone’s personal song ideas or also stuff that we are jamming, save it and decide whether to work on it or not. Whoever comes up with the basic idea is to decide on how he wants to write the song and the others are filling in with ideas. Some of us also have a pretty clear notion about how they want to structure a song and it actually never happened that we had finished songs that we did not want to record or play. Luckily we are living in the 21st century where it is easy to communicate ideas and share recordings and thoughts about what we could add to a song or change. It feels good to develop and realise that everybody is improving or increasingly open minded musically and we really enjoy the variety of different approaches to making music from each of us.
Can you share some further details how your latest album was recorded and released?
We recorded our album at “Muggebude Tonaufnahmen” in Dresden with the help of Ricardo Röpke, who has been recording and mastering the album and also did the vinyl mastering for our debut LP. We had two sessions, one in 2015 where we recorded 4 songs and another one in October 2015, where we finished with the rest of the album. Before we went to the studio, we did demo recordings for all songs to more or less finish them before going to the studio and recording them properly again. We had to do overdubs for all songs because our bass player wasn’t there at the time we occupied the studio so we did it all track by track.
We released our debut album on 01.04.2016 at Beatpol in Dresden. The feedback we received was really positive and we had our first European Tour two weeks after that going through Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Czech Republic. As we did not find the right label, we released the LP ourselves and sold out the first 500 copies within 10 months. We reissued the LP earlier this year. Bongbastic Records from Paris brought it out on tape limited to 100 copies that were also sold out pretty fast.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?
There were quite a few occasions were we had the pleasure to share the stage with bands we like and really appreciate. We played with Night Beats, Kikagaku Moyo, Wand, The Flying Eyes, Moaning Cities and Rose Windows among many others. For our upcoming tour we are really excited to play with bands like Acid Mothers Temple, The KVB, Love Machine or Voodoo Beach.
What are some future plans?
Right now we are finishing the demos for our second album. We will go on tour from 29.09. – 14.10. in Germany, France and Switzerland and play new songs among the tracks for our first album. Once we get back, we will be recording our second album that will be released in Spring 2018. We hope to find a suitable label and also a booking agency for Europe because we plan to increase touring. Even touring outside of Europe is on the agenda.
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Robin: I don’t think King Gizzard need any recommendation anymore, so I go for Biche from France and Love’N’Joy from Ukraine. They are both working on their first albums and each of them only released an EP but they are definitely worth being checked out!
Manu: Khruangbin – The Universe Smiles Upon Us – amazing sound and guitar work.
Konrad: BADBADNOTGOOD – IV – Because it’s not bad.
Friedrich: Blind Butcher – Alawalawa
Great two men band that put out a record with an astonishing mix of Garage, 80s Synth Wave and Weird Blues Krautrock plus Chain and the Gang – Best of Crime Rock – The best of (the best of) the best (band) in the World.
Stefan: Klaus Johann Grobe – Spagat der Liebe – nobody else manages to sing more beautiful in German then they do!
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