Kombynat Robotron interview
Kombynat Robotron is a four-piece, heavy freak-out, krautrock band hailing from Kiel, Germany. All four band members play in other bands and met for a jam in April 2018.
“We work well together as a jam band”
The band recorded several sessions that were released under the names Modul 12 and Modul 13 on tape and via Bandcamp. Kombynat Robotron have been part of the Tonzonen Records family since August 2018, have released a split tape with Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska on Cruel Nature Records and have plans for several releases for 2020, the latest being on Drone Rock Records.
Kombynat Robotron is:
Jannes Ihnen – Guitar/Synthesizer
Claas Ogorek – Bass
Richard Schröder – Guitar
Thomas Handschick – Drums/Percussion
What’s the concept behind Kombynat Robotron and when did you form this group?
We formed Kombynat Robotron in April 2018 after a few jams. At some point we began to write parts and songs and that’s usually when the fun part of simply jamming together ends. It’s not that we don’t like to write songs, but we had a feeling that we work well together as a jam band. That’s why we decided that we don’t want to write songs in this constellation.
The concept of Kombynat Robotron is inspired by Kraftwerk, it is based on the idea of stepping back behind the music as individuals and create floating repetitive patterns as a unit.
Would you like to talk a bit about your background?
We’re all from different cities and have different rock-music-related backgrounds as well. When we met in 2018 we didn’t knew each other for long but we all started playing our instruments when we were teenagers and we’ve all been in bands since these days.
Are any of you involved in any other bands or do you have any active side-projects going on at this point?
Yes, all of us are involved in other bands and side-projects. Richi plays guitar in AUX, a heavy- prog band, Jannes plays guitar and sings in a garage-punk band called tot and Tommy and Claas play together in a doom band called Earthbong. All of us are involved in a psychedelic groove collective called Astral Noise Kollektiv with other members of AUX, Earthbong and more musicians from Kiel.
Tommy also has a solo-ambient-project that is still nameless and he and Claas recently started an ambient/noise/groove project with Nico Seel from Hamburg.
“It’s all based on improvisation”
How do you usually approach music making? Is it all based on improvisation?
Yes, it’s all based on improvisation. There surely are some recurring patterns that have grown over the time. Some of them have their roots way back in our first jams, but we keep constantly developing new patterns in most of our jams that replaces the older ones or add new flavours to them. Listening to our jams and talking about what we did and which ideas we want to focus on is also very important.
You have quite a lot of material available on Bandcamp. Would you like to go through your releases and make some comments?
Lately we took a handheld recorder and our equipment to different places to record our KR sessions and it was fun to absorb the energy of those places. We still have a lot of unreleased material that we are planning to release digitally and physically as well if possible.
Records like Watte were recorded in 2018 when we were at a point where we didn’t finally decide not to write songs and play with structures and riffs, that’s why it has this heavy stoner- like riff in the end. Recklinghausen was recorded at a live-gig in Recklinghausen. There was no other band playing that night so we opened the stage for ourselves and played two sets that we both recorded with that handheld recorder.
How about Modul 12 that was released via Tonzonen Records? Can you share some further details how it was recorded?
Our good friend Ole, the drummer of Richi’s other band AUX is the recording engineer behind Modul 12. It was recorded at our rehearsal room in a bunker in Kiel. As said before everything we do is based on improvisation, so we did not take more time to record than the length of the songs. We met, set up our instruments and the recording equipment and started jamming for a few hours.
We met a few weeks later with Ole at his place, listened to the records and he did some cutting, but none of us remembers where the cuts were made, so we suppose he did a good job on it. We made 50 tapes and released the record digitally. We sent it to some online magazines just for fun and were surprised by the positive response we got on it, which lead to Dirk of Tonzonen Records asking us if we wanted to release it on vinyl. We were totally in for it. That’s the story of Modul 12 basically.
What are some bands/musicians that have a big influence on you?
A big influence on how we look towards the way our music works are definitely The Spacelords. We played with them in Hamburg shortly after our first gig in Kiel. They are in the psychedelic rock business for quite some years now and they said the most important thing is to just do things, record stuff and just release it. We’re trying to keep it that way.
There are a lot of other bands that have a big influence on our music of course. Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska from the UK with whom we released a split tape via Cruel Nature Records last year must be mentioned for sure.
What are some future plans?
In early June Dickfehler Studio Treffen 1 was released via Drone Rock Records. The record is named after the studio where we recorded it with our dear friend Hanno about one year ago in his studio.
Hanno actually is the drummer of tot. It was really nice to record there because the studio is in the middle of nowhere in East Frisia. We spent a whole weekend there, so we had plenty of time to record and hang out in the really huge garden, it was a really nice experience. Bernd Frikke (who plays bass in the East-Frisian based post-rock band MMTH, also with Hanno on drums) and Bardi were there throughout the weekend and filmed several jams.
Aside from that we were really looking forward to summer 2020 because we had some festivals ahead of us we’d loved to play. Due to the circumstances most of them were already cancelled so there will hardly be any robotronic live action this year. Nevertheless we are looking forward to a future where playing live will be normal again, some of the festivals already said that they will take place next year with the same line-up so this year we’re probably do more recording stuff and then hopefully hit the road again in 2021.
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?
Tommy: When it comes to Krautrock I found some new pretty good stuff from France and Belgium. I like the motorik Düsseldorf School you can find on records like Moon Tango by Abschaum, maybe the most played record of the year so far. Another french band I can recommend is Ashinoa with their beautiful album Sinie Sinie. The Belgian band Motor!k serves, like you can imagine, the perfect robotronik beat driven synth krautrock.
Speaking of Synthesizer Music, I like to mention Electric Orange‘s Unterwasser Vol. 1 & Vol.2 from Germany. It’s mellow floating analog synthesizer greatness. Another one of this kind that sticks to my record player for many spins now is the latest album of Yorkshire post-industrial musicians Craven Fault with Erratics & Unconformities. A journey through architecture of another industrial time.
Some more all-time favorites in no certain order: Hills, Centrum, The Myrrors, Dead Sea Apes, Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska, Kungens Män (plus all related projects), Øresund Space Collective, Pärson Sound, Träd, Gras och Stenar, Minami Deutsch, France (the band) and many more. Our friend Nico Seel has released a new album of his project called Krautwerk.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Thank you very much for having us!
– Klemen Breznikar