Set up in 1983, German synth-pop band Boytronic is an old servant of the music genre. The band went through several line-ups, but Boytronic remains. Because of the numerous changes, albums weren’t always released at regular basis. 2019 will for sure become an important year in the band’s history. The original singer of the band, Holger Wobker, joined in again to compose the new opus “The Robot Treatment”. Together with the last singer James Knights, this self-released (Wuff Records) album is pure lust for the ears. It’s the kind of work getting people dancing and happy. This is what Holger Wobker has to say.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: The new album “The Robot Treatment” already stands for a new line-up! Ingo Hauss and Hayo Lewerentz are no longer involved, singer and core-member Holger Wobker joined in again while James Knights who was singing on the previous album is now assisting Holger Wobker in the writing process while doing some backing vocals. How do you explain all these line-up changes and what’s the impact on the sound of Boytronic?
Holger: That’s a long story, but I’ll try to explain it in short: Hayo and Ingo were members of the second Boytronic line-up created by our former record company way back in the 80s. The company stole the name of the band and registered Boytronic for themselves as a trademark without our knowledge or permission. They did it because we had only a one year contract and we wanted to leave because we had very attractive offers from several companies. So they tried to tie us to the company with this… but Peter and I left anyway. They installed three totally different people who pretended to be Boytronic. I don’t know if this ever happened before or after to another band, but I would call it unique!
The fact is that these guys had nothing to do with the original band, and when I was asked to work with them at that time I refused. Later on in 2001 I thought I could give it a try and worked with Hayo on the “Autotunes”-album and some songs from the “Maxi“-compilation, which was a good experience and worked out somehow. But he lost interest after he realized that it didn’t work on the commercial side. So he left and founded a successful company releasing audiobooks.
To get this right, I will not blame Hayo or Ingo. They just accepted an offer, and for a unknown band this was a great opportunity. Who would refuse..? Later after they pretended to be Boytronic, they founded U96 together with Alex Christensen and they were much more successful than Boytronic ever was. That’s why I didn’t understand why they’re so stuck on Boytronic. Now they perform as U96 again. That’s the best they can do. It’s their band… Boytronic is mine. I wished them all the luck in the world, from a distance. And then came “Jewel“.
After “Dependence“ in 2007 I took a long break because I didn’t know where to go with Boytronic. You can hear that very clear on that album. But I never stopped writing songs. So it was clear that there will be a next album someday.
Then all of a sudden I saw announcements of a new Boytronic-album. First I thought it was a joke the fans made up, but unfortunately it was true. Hayo and Ingo tried to take-over the band for a second time. I immediately went to a lawyer, but It took a little time and I couldn’t stop the release of “Jewel“. After that I cleared these name rights one and for all. This time it was pretty easy, but it had something of a bad déjà-vu or a rash I couldn’t get rid of!
James contacted me, because he felt very unhappy with the situation he found himself in. He felt more like a stand in, and he always tried to apologize for what happened. He is a real fan of the original band. So he wasn’t the best choice to replace me, even if he’s a brilliant singer. He’s a very nice person and I liked him immediately. That’s the main reason why I chose to work with him. It’s no mistake and we work really well together. He makes great contributions to the tracks and he’s very patient.
Q: “The Robot Treatment” clearly sounds as a ‘feel-good’-album; happy music and danceable tunes! This album is an antidote to the dystopian world we’re living in, but what has been the goal when composing the new songs and the lyrics?
Holger: I’ve been really through hard times lately, accompanied by loss of friends, disease and all these things people upwards from 50 have to face. But I never pulled the blanket over my head and complained about how bad and unfair the world is. Life is a miracle and to be able to consciously perceiving this beauty that surrounds us is a great gift… every single day. You can decide what you want to reflect in your songs. I choose celebration of life. Like Sally Bowles sung in “Cabaret“: ‘What good is sitting all alone in your room? Come hear the music play…’
Q: How did the writing of the album happened? Did you follow a kind of guiding line? What has been the main equipment? What are the criteria and references when it comes to production?
Holger: Most of the songs I’ve written over the years. There are many more, but for “The Robot Treatment” we’ve chosen mostly uplifting tracks. That wasn’t planned, but it turned out to be like that in the production process. We choose what fits best together. On this album we used analogue equipment only, no digital plugins. We want to give it this full and warm original sound. You can call it retro. I call it courageous these times. I’m very happy with the result. It sounds exactly like it should.
Q: Boytronic has been always driven by good-old synth-pop music, but I also noticed the pure Italo-disco sounding “All You Can Eat”. This song makes me think to James Knights solo-project (KNIGHT$), but tell us a bit more about your fascination for Italo-Disco and Hi-NRG?
Holger: This question really make me laugh. When “All You Can Eat“ was written, James was 6 or 7 years old. It’s a track from 1986 and we only made very little changes from the original. Actually it sounds almost the same. At this time you can hardly say who influenced who. Did Boytronic influence Italo-disco or was it the other way round? If you take a song like “Late Night Satellite“ for example it sounds pretty Italo-disco, but again wasn’t our intention. Maybe we’re naturally sounding a bit Italo-disco like. But when it comes to those who really had a big impact on the sound, I have to name Patrick Cowley first, followed by …yes weird… Mike Oldfield or Bobby Orlando. And as I always said German Schlager of the 70s has also his share…but only the drama tunes. When I was a little child and we had friends visiting my parents, I went into the kitchen and sat underneath the kitchen table. It had a drawer with a button. Everytime the visitors place some sweets or something in the drawer and push the button I began to sing some Schlager tunes. A human jukebox… That’s how it started.
Q: “All You Can Eat” also is the single taken from this album while a clip has been made as well. What’s the importance of singles and clips today?
Holger: It’s still important even if it’s completely different from the past. For us, now as a totally independent band, it’s the only way to promote our music… apart from live shows. We’re also free to do what we want in the clips. For “All You Can Eat“ we’ve chosen a not so spectacular surrounding cause it was important to show who Boytronic is now. But in the future it gives a lot of space for artistic impression… but it has to be cheap and effective… that’s not always easy.
We’re not a million selling band and without the help of some friends it would not be possible.
Q: What about live performances, which according to Hayo Lewerentz, has been a problem in the past as you weren’t really interested in live performances? What brings the future for Boytronic?
Holger: I will not comment on what he said. We did our first live show last month in Berlin which was very successful and great fun. We will be performing next year in Italy, Sweden and Denmark and Germany of course. A few dates are already confirmed and we will announce them soon.