Die Krupps is considered as one of the Godfathers of EBM. The German band from Düsseldorf (Germany) was set up in 1980 and experimented with much more styles than only EBM. Fourty years after their set up the band is still active and are actually promoting their newest album “Vision 2020 Vision” released by the end of 2019 on SPV GmbH / Oblivion & Metropolis Records. The album is driven by a furious mix of industrial/metal guitar play and EBM. Front man Jürgen Engler kindly accepted to answer a few questions about this new opus.
(Picture credits: Franz Schepers / Interview courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Die Krupps this year celebrates its 40th anniversary! What does it evoke to you and how much of the early Die Krupps and the ‘younger’ Jürgen Engler do you recognize in the new album “Vision 2020 Vision”?
Jürgen: The band went through many different phases, the noise-industrial phase of the early year, the pre-EBM electro style, the industrial-metal phase and so on. This new album picks up where we left it off in the 90s, but obviously with a modern twist and production. The songs still have the same spirit musically like “To The Hilt” and also lyrically, like “Fatherland”, the lyrics being political for most part of the album and verbalizing what is going on in these extremely troubling times.
So back to your question, I would say a lot of the original motivation is still intact, we still have something to say and you better count on Die Krupps, there’s no end in sight!
Q: Let’s talk about “Vision 2020 Vision”, which has been introduced as a dystopian vision of the world we’re living in. I get the feeling it’s not a dystopian-, but a rather realistic vision and maybe the most ‘engaged’ and ‘political’ album to date! Tell us a bit more about the content and the sources of inspiration?
Jürgen: I absolutely agree, it is not a dystopian vision, but rather it has become reality. We are moving towards exactly what the album lyrics prophetically suggested may happen. In my house the news are on from the second I get up to the moment I go to sleep. I have almost no doors in my house, so even when I’m working in the studio I can hear the TV somewhere in the background, so all the information that I absorb during the day or night will find its way into my lyrics and music. That is a very important part of my work and I could not have done the album without. This may very well be the most engaged and political album to date, but it’s no wonder given the political nightmares we are facing on a daily basis. Never did we have a more erratic madman controlling the button of the nuclear arsenal. It’s beyond crazy!
Q: The Trump administration is clearly not getting your support! But how do we have to understand Trump will probably reelected? What does it mean to you dealing with this theme and how do you transpose it into the song writing?
Jürgen: The problem lies in the American system, a so-called democracy which is not, where the power of the people doesn’t matter, and the popular vote doesn’t matter. What kind of democracy makes it possible for a non-politician with nothing, but money to run the world’s greatest country? A country that doesn’t know the difference between socialism and communism, where the pure thought of socialism scares 2/3 of the population away from the voting booth. This is not a democracy, the voting system is from the middle ages, and it’s run by a wanna be king! How fucked up is that?
Q: How did the composition of the album happened? Were there some basic ideas about ‘sound’ and ‘production’ properly speaking? Did you handle specific criteria and/or do you have explicit references to know a song/album is accomplished or not?
Jürgen: I wrote all my songs here in my studio in Austin (USA), Marcel and Nils contributed some songs or ideas, and Ralf and I shared the lyric writing. We didn’t meet until all songs were written, all basics recorded and when it was time to do the final recordings, vocals and guitars, and mixing the album, which was done in Hamburg Germany in our new drummer’s, Paul Keller’s, studio, who also engineered the mixes. The idea behind this production was to have an album that is like a snapshot of what the band is about at this very moment. The production did not last for two years or more, but rather three months max, so it really sums up best what Die Krupps 2020 is all about.
Q: You last year started with the “Vision 2020 Vision”-tour, which unfortunately was interrupted due to Marcel’s injury. How do you look back on the tour so far? And can you tell us a bit more about the preparation process of such a tour?
Jürgen: The European tour for the album was one of the best that I can remember. The audience response was amazing and in parts better than any other shows we’ve played in the past! We have a very loyal following and it’s amazing to see how younger generations and older generations, long-haired and shorthaired of both sexes and in-between, all come out to see us play. The audience ranges from the 20s to the 50s, and the shows usually end up with people dancing from the front to the very last row, and occasionally with 50 or more people dancing on stage, as happened in Budapest on the last day of the tour! It’s been a blast, and I cannot wait to play here in the U.S. later this year!
Q: I’ve always experienced Die Krupps as a band without real compromises and especially when it comes to ‘sound’ although you set up Die Robo Sapiens, which is pure electronic and should I dare to say ‘getting back to the EBM roots of Die Krupps ’? Can we expect new work from this side-project and do you’ve other projects/releases in the pipeline?
Jürgen: That is also true, I hate to compromise, we never played by the rules of the industry, we always did what we thought was right and best. A new EP will soon be released for the Robo Sapiens project. I’m still working on the rest of the tracks for the album, which should also see the light of day hopefully in late spring or summer. I’m also still playing and recording with my first band, which was Germany’s first Punk band from 1976, and we are still doing shows in May. Other projects are all Cleopatra Records related, because that is my main job! I’m one of their in-house producers and have been for over 10 years now, and a lot of their releases have my touch. It’s very diverse and interesting, and definitely my dream job! Who gets to work with William Shatner, David Hasselhoff, Al Jourgensen, Iggy Pop, Nik Turner and hundreds more? I can’t complain (lol).