Three young Düsseldorf musicians formed Vibravoid in the early 1990s. The band was influenced by psychedelic rock of the late 1960s. They released countless of albums and today Vibravoid are celebrating their 30th anniversary.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of your band, you continue the ‘Triptamine’ EP series which started as vinyl only albums during the years 2000-2010. ‘Out Of Tune In Rosenheim’ was recorded live during December 2019’s ‘The Psychedelic Christmas Experience Tour’ and presents Vibravoid at their peak. What’s the story behind this recording?
The city of Rosenheim is located in the south of Germany quite near to the Austrian border. There is also a more or less famous movie – that does not play in Roseheim – but goes by the title of ‘Out Of Rosenheim’. We passed by this city so many times when we toured through Italy but never played there – so it almost became something like a running gag. Finally we made it to play Rosenheim and we were actually looking forward and happy to play there. Everything was fantastic and so we played a really good show… and we did not know that the show was recorded, so it was more than a cool surprise that we got the tracks of this show. It was just a perfect match and coincidence, so we had to release this show as an album. The album sold out pretty quickly so we probably did everything right. On the other hand it was for sure a really great “thank you” for the guy who organized the show, these things just happen from time to time, that everything works out perfectly – so we did not hesitate to take the chance.
“We never tried to follow trends”
Vibravoid is one of the longest continuously running Neo-Psychedelic band that influenced the current scene starting from the word “Void” in the name, the lightshows, vinyl records and the graphical design. Why do you think you never played on big Psych Fests and were basically ignored?
Yes, that is something I think it is really weird. My only explanation can be that this “new Psychedelia” has nothing to do with Psychedelia. I think that we are probably not that bad to be ignored especially compared with many hobby bands which do nothing but an instrumental jam sessions due to the lack of abilities to write a song. We predate all these other new bands, released vinyl records before it was hip and even have our own characteristic style.
Maybe we started so early and play a different brand of music (that actually can be considered as Psychedelia) that we are not a part of the current “Psych” scene. Most of the music today is just something else and it seems that the least music people want to hear is psychedelic music. Just have a look at the Psych Fests and you will find all sort of Hard, Indie and Alternative Rock but generally no psychedelic music.
It seems to be correct that a lot of our ideas are used by other bands today but it seems that they don’t even know about this due to the fact that they were not even born at that time when we started and that the press actually ignored us for so many years. There were large amounts of press features on the Psychedelic Rock Revival last years and we strangely were never featured in these… I have no clue what we have done wrong.
When we released vinyl records, the vinyl record was basically dead and only very few people bought records – that was some 20 years ago.
Yes, I have to admit it is a bit frustrating seeing a lot of bands doing direct copies of our style and ideas (like the French band which took our label’s name “Stoned Karma”) or other bands using our Vibravoid trademark style for their designs and logos. I do not want to say that we invented any of these things, but we did it so early that we only could be inspired by the 1960s scene and tried to put something new to it. For example using computers to generate the designs – as all these other bands did not exist when I was doing that, we cannot be influenced by them! When I started to use computers for the layout there were no other psychedelic bands around, so in this case I can say that I have invented a certain style.
The same could be said about bringing Krautrock back to a wider recognition. When we started we could collect these albums from the streets’ dump as there was no interest at all – I have never heard this from any of the other bands, so I can be sure that they had not been around at that time.
Also using the word “Void” in our band’s name, we did not invent that, but there are chances that we did it at a time that from today’s point of view it is almost prophetic if you see how many bands use it today in their names. There are today so many bands who are called “Vibration From The Void”, “Vive La Void” or “The Cosmic Void” and things. I always wonder if they are too stupid to use the internet to check if their ideas are original, that’s something what I do when I set up album names for example, I always try to find names that are not used by other bands yet.
As far as I can say that the word “Void” was least used at that time we started.
In 1996 I also set up the one and only UFO Club revival party for the 30th anniversary of the London premiere underground club, this seems to be like really ignored as you can read so much about the UFO Club today but never hear about the world’s only anniversary party that I initiated 24 years ago.
The same can be said about the first “Psych Fest” of the new millennium with the “Love Is Freedom” Festival that I set up in 2001, it featured just 3 bands as there were no more psychedelic bands around, public interest was so low that it sadly appears to be best forgotten today. I am sorry, but I actually have to admit that I really cannot follow why we have not been invited to play any of the bigger festivals and if we were invited the offers were so bad that it was impossible to accept those as they were more like an insult.
I lately posted the poster of the “Love Is Freedom Festival 2001” in some Facebook group and immediately got responses that it features the design of a West Coast Pop Art Experimental album – where I only could reply that at that time nobody realized that because it was completely unknown and those who knew it liked it a lot as they understood it was meant as a vital means to keep the spirit of Psychedelia alive.
Having a look at our cover songs which appear to be unknown by most people like our version of Tyrnaround’s ‘Colour Your Mind’ – where I had to explain that it is not an original Vibravoid song and that it was written by Tyrnaround – and now there is a re-release of the 1980s EP because suddenly everyone knows the band… I think that’s a bit weird, or am I that wrong?
We also never tried to follow trends but preferred to set them and what maybe even worked out well considering all the bands copying our style today. I also think that a lot of people are not able to cope with our “fuck off” mentality as credibility was always more important for us than commercial success. I saw so many other bands changing styles, directions and opinions just to sell a couple of records or to play more shows. I always thought this is absolute crap and it is most important to stay true to yourself and to create long lasting art. If getting copied is the highest compliment, I guess we have made it… and by the way, over the last 30 years I saw so many bands come and go, finally we have survived them all and are still doing our own thing – how cool is that?
How do you see the evolution of psychedelic music from 1960s to today?
Well basically there is no evolution due to the reason that psychedelic is psychedelic – no matter which period. Generally speaking there is no psychedelic music. It is not the music that is psychedelic it is the people who make the music that make the music to be psychedelic. Psychedelia is no genre – it is a general approach towards things.
To follow my explanation I want to start with an example. You can take same salty water (what is Metal for example) and you can take some sweet water (which is Psychedelia). If you mix these waters you will not have “salty sweet water” but you will have salty water. So how can genres like “Heavy Psychedelic” evolve and be explained with the progression of Psychedelia – that’s absolute rubbish!
You even find “Nazi-Psychedelic” bands today what is a complete contradiction in itself and most absurd – but people do not even understand this as they have no clue about Psychedelia.
Psychedelia can be Space or Hard Rock, but Space or Hard Rock must not necessarily be Psychedelia.
In the 1980s there was a big Garage/Mod/Psychedelic scene which basically did not leave safe ground due to the fact of being revivalists. The 1980s also revealed a respect for the original scene of the 1960s by using the term of “Neo-Psychedelic” while today everything is simply “Psychedelic” which indicates arrogance and ignorance of today’s “Hipster-Generation”. Anyway, doesn’t anyone see that everything “has to be psychedelic” by any means? And if you say: hey that’s not psychedelic the usual response is aggressive and people keep asking: how can you say this is bad music? I mean these are people who listened to Metallica and those bands in the 1990s and 2000s, first heard the word “psychedelic” a few years ago, wear Metal T-shirts, tattoos and baseball caps, never took acid but all by sudden are the new experts for this genre… this is really weird. I think if you once had a real psychedelic experience, you want to express this in any way starting from the way you dress and express yourself. Your start to think critically and do not just blindly follow the trends. I do not see anything of this in this new “Psych Rock” or “Heavy Psychedelic”.
The 1990s saw a totally different approach in the Techno culture that actually owed something to the 1960s scene due to the massive use of psychedelic drugs. It actually was a very friendly and open scene compared to today’s “Psych” scene which usually is nothing but hostile, dark, depressive and testosterone loaded.
Like Gary Ramon from Sun Dial stated in another interview the interest in Psychedelia was so low that these classic psych records were extremely cheap in the 1980s/1990s, OK there were some holy grails hunted by hard core collectors but a couple of hundred Euros is nothing compared to the thousands you have to fork out today.
Many of today’s experts also do not know that during the 1990s – when vinyl albums were set to die by the industry and customer – a flood of limited edition bootleg vinyl albums of 1960s psychedelic classics emerged – mostly obtained by collector’s who owned the original albums to prevent these from being played.
As well classic books on the topic like the “The Acid Trip” or “The Flashback” still seem to be completely unknown among today’s Psych enthusiasts and experts. Especially “The Flashback” contains a definition of what Psychedelia is that seems to be tailor made for today: there is a difference between psychedelic and mind altering music.
Record Collectors “100 Greatest Psychedelic Records” puts it best by setting up the formula:
a. I like psychedelic music
b. I like a “certain song”
c. so this “certain song” is psychedelic
Which goes perfectly along with the hostility you encounter if you tell people that their brand of music is not psychedelic as it appears to equal saying: “your music is not good”.
Around the early 2000s Heavy Metal made a big comeback as it was one of the very few genres to commercially survive the 1990s and Metal just kept adopting other genres due to a lack of artistic vision and creativity – like Gothic rock for example. I remember the 1980s when Gothic Rock (have a look at all the covers of 1960s psychedelic songs) and Heavy Metal (almost no covers of 1960s psychedelic songs) had contradict styles for good and the adoption did not happen the other way round. So all by sudden there was Gothic Metal. Anyway both genres were not considered as Psychedelia – hence the genres Gothic Rock and Heavy Metal!
So it is no surprise that Heavy Metal kept adopting other contradict styles like Psychedelic Rock – remember Black Sabbath who never wanted to be a Hippie/Psychedelic band but all by sudden were seen as the originators of Psychedelic music and used as a template for the Stoner Metal to come in the years 2000-2010. Probably this was the most absurd thing to happen with new genres like Heavy Psychedelic, Psychedelic Stoner Metal or the combination of Doom and Psychedelic (the brainchild of an absolute idiot) – which are only a clear proof that none of the genres were understood.
I can say from experience that around 1993 two guys from Germany’s leading Thrash Metal band Assassin joined my group as a result of taking heavy acid trips which made them realize that Heavy Metal cannot be Psychedelic, so they stopped making Metal music. I am not sure if any of the readers here remember 1980s record industry’s attempt to cash in on the garage and psychedelic revival with a Hard Rock/Sleaze Metal band “The Front” which desperately tried to copy a psychedelic style, I guess they could be a big success today but flopped at that time because everyone felt fooled by such a poor thing.
I am quite familiar with that early Stoner Metal scene due to the fact of working with Nasoni Records and helping to release a lot of these band’s albums, I can say from first hand how this scene just kept adopting styles and ideas. I can also say that almost all of the current bands do not even exist for the last 20 years, while those very few still existing started to use the term “psychedelic” much later.
Having a look of the re-discovery of the Fuzz pedal by the Metal scene (where in the 1980s we had garage bands like the Fuzztones or Alternative Rock bands like Mudhoney) the whole thing reached new heights of ridiculousness. Discovering something does not mean to have something invented! If you play a Heavy Metal guitar riff through a Fuzz distortion it does not become psychedelic, it is still a Heavy Metal riff.
As well, a new lack of creativity manifested – with a lot of bands using the words “Electric”, “Black”, “Dead” and “Void” in their names. Have a look at the diversity and creativity of the 1960s – so you see that creativity was a main asset of the psychedelic culture while today all these “psychedelic” band is just a continuous repetition of the same ideas!
When we were asked to play festivals I usually checked the bands on Youtube because they were all unknown to me with the strange effect that I did not have the feeling of listening to maybe 10 different bands but to one album by only one band.
Around the late 2000 a new brand of depressive 1980s Indie and Alternative Rock emerged using the label of “Psych Rock” (a term that was already used in the 1960s as well) and which has nothing to do with Psychedelia as well. Again the use of the words “Black”, “Dead” and “Electric” seemed to be essential – leaving the questions what these words have to do with the colorful experience of an acid trip and how they did manage to ignore that there was already the Stoner Metal scene using these words in their names?
One can clearly see that the term “Psychedelic” was applied to give these styles a sort of credibility that was lost decades ago and it is nothing but a media hype to sell music to people who have no clue about musical history, genres, styles and especially Psychedelia.
It is very obvious – just have a look at Youtube where these new bands have millions of views while the original 1960s classic tracks have minimal views. How can this be possible if all these millions of people like to hear psychedelic music?
Having a look at today Facebook groups that deal with psychedelic music, it is also obvious that you never find members of these new so called “Psychedelic” bands, what is a bit weird as it indicates another lack of interest of this new “Psych” scene in Psychedelia.
As well you will see that people show a strong “Pavlog’s Dog-like” behaviour in liking well known bands like the Doors, Pink Floyd and the today so commonly hip 13th Floor Elevators while equally interesting unknown bands never find any recognition. How can that be?
Accordingly the re-releases of classic 1960s albums (which are limited to only 300 or 500 copies) do not sell as well as Heavy Metal “Psychedelic” bands which are released on classic Metal labels like Nuclear Blast for example. This leads to another question: since when are Metal Hammer magazine or Nuclear Blast experts for Psychedelic music?
We also have these yearly “best of” and “ultimate psychedelic record” charts – which depending on the sub genre of Metal or Indie Rock never include the same bands. How can this be possible if these chats contain the “ultimate” psychedelic records? And by the way these charts never contain any psychedelic bands!
So we can clearly see that all these new “psychedelic styles” have nothing to do with psychedelic music. People do not want to listen to psychedelic music because it is too demanding. People just want to listen to Heavy Metal or depressive Indie Rock labelled as psychedelic for the “hipness factor”, that’s all.
As well it is obvious that lacking musical abilities in playing or song writing are just covered up by using the term “psychedelic” – 30 years ago these bands would have never got a record deal. Today these bands are published on hobby labels by people who also have no interest in quality but just in releasing vinyl records to satisfy their egos. And exactly those are the people who bought CDs throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
Real Psychedelia made its way back to the underground with only very few bands keeping this music alive – the rest is just a cheap mainstream cash in and Hipster stuff.
The same has to be said about the vinyl record – most people seem to forget that vinyl records were dead some 20 years ago but all by sudden today everyone saved the vinyl record. You can check Discogs and will see that especially the Heavy Metal genre did not release vinyl record throughout the years 1990-2010. Have a look how many of these albums are now released on vinyl for the first time!
Another good example is the wrong use of the term Krautrock. Krautrock does not define a certain genre but just says that it is a band from Germany playing a sort of “underground” music. So how does it come that we have Kraut (German) Rock bands from Japan, USA or somewhere else? This – again – does not make any sense at all – but seems to please people as they think to listen to authentic music, which actually is played for the last 60 years and so is not new or authentic at all.
It is also obvious that you can’t dance to the new music anymore. 1960s psychedelic music was also made for the dance floor. The music has to be an experience for the mind and body. If you can’t move your body to the music (and I am not talking about banging your head) the chance is high that the music is not psychedelic.
The whole new music business basically is a complete fuck up, cash in and distortion of facts… and it is definitely NOT psychedelic.
Are you also recording something new?
Basically we record new material all the time, but I cut it down because of the 30th anniversary of the band this year and the related anniversary editions. I put more focus on re-mastering and re-mixing some older albums which I had the feeling were neglected or deserve a better release. I tried to include as much new material as possible so that even if the recordings are old, they are unreleased and could be seen as “new”. The new anniversary edition of out debut album ‘2001’ will include 2 LPs of previously unreleased recordings.
How do you usually approach music making?
We do not think while making music, we just do it. Probably the most important thing is to make mind blowing music. I don’t know we have no plan, we let things happen in a natural way.
“It was the true love for the music, art and culture of the late 1960s.”
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
It was the true love for the music, art and culture of the late 1960s. I grew up in the 1970s so that period was not too far away and I think that I may have quite a natural relation to that music. The 1980s were just awful with that plastic music made with the Fairlight sampler and that super commercial shit. There was some underground music and if you have a close look, this music is all 1960s inspired to bigger or lesser degree. The 1980s were also the decade of the Revival Bands, from Mod, Garage to Psychedelia. Krautrock was a genre that was really underrepresented in the 80s and in Germany absolutely out and dead – the term was used to turn down things and you could even find Krautrock albums on the streets dump. We always refused Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and that stuff as it is basically inspired by testosterone and not by artistic visions. I also wanted to do psychedelic light shows so it all came together to form a band. It was also easy to find people who had the same interests – so it all just happened very naturally.
Can you share some further details how your latest studio album ‘The Decomposition Of Noise’ was recorded?
It started with that silent movie ‘Im Zeichen des Zwilling’ (‘In The Sign Of Gemini’) I had made in the winter of 2018/19.
My first idea was to release the soundtrack as an album. So I set up a premiere showing for the movie but thought I had to expand the whole event to something bigger. I thought it could be a great idea to also show the first experimental movie I made as a school project in the 1980s and maybe also do a kind of live performance. Somehow the track I put together for this performance turned out to be quite interesting and good – so it ended up to be the first track (“The Essence Of Noise”) for the new album.
Having released many studio albums in a row through the last years I wanted to have a stop for 2019 but also wanted to release some new material, so the “World Of Pain” single was done which is also a part of the new album. All these pieces came together and with the addition of the title track “The Decomposition Of Noise”, “Eardrum” and “It Happened Tomorrow” the new album was completed.
How pleased were you with the sound of the album? What kind of equipment did you use and who was the producer?
I produced this album myself, like all the other albums, because it is the best way to work. There are no producers around who know what psychedelic music is actually about, so there is no decision necessary. I used the equipment that I’ve been using for the last maybe 25 years, an old Tascam 4 track tape recorder and the usual gear that we also use to play live with. It is always very difficult for me to talk about the sound of an album because I am never satisfied with the sound and always want to make it better. Maybe I can say that this album contains the best results so far. Well, at least I hope so.
You are always working on a lot of albums. Please update us. What’s currently happening in the camp of Vibravoid?
As said before, I am putting together the 30th anniversary editions – at the moment I am working on new versions of ‘Delirio Dei Sensi‘ and ‘Mushroom Mantras’ – which will be released over the next couple of months. As well I am working on the OST album for the silent movie – which is a little bit problematic due to the Corona crises as the box was planned to be made in Poland and cannot be imported to Germany at the moment… I hope that we can sort this out as soon as possible. As we cannot play live I also have another live album in the pipeline, a show from Würzburg in 2012 – which I have already mixed and mastered. As a bonus this album will contain our version of “In A Gadda Da Vida” that was released as 7” only by Fruits De Mer Records, UK. I also started to use the time due to lock-down to work on some new songs… so you never know what is going to happen.
What do you think will happen to the music industry now that we are in the middle of a pandemic?
This is a pretty tough question as it will depend on the duration of the crises. I always try to see the positive things… I hope that people will realize that they prayed to the wrong gods for the last decades and that money and economical progress cannot substitute spiritual progress and education. We probably have reached the height of post-modern craziness and should be thankful that we are threatened by a relatively harmless virus compared to the pestilence or other diseases.
Yes, I think a break and a reset could be something really fruitful as everything has become so predictable and boring.
– Klemen Breznikar
Stoned Karma Records Official Website