Click Interview’ with Tommi Stumpff: ‘Utilitarian Music’

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Belgian born Thomas Peters better known as Tommi Stumpff became a true reference in the world of 80s EBM. Albums like “Terror II” (1988) and “Ultra” (1989) became successful productions featuring hits like the legendary “Massaker”, but also “Lobotomie” and “Meine Sklavin”. Nearly twenty years after his last studio production, there’s a new (mini)-album hitting the streets. “Alles Idioten” released on Danse Macabre Records features six songs mixing solid Electronic bass lines together with the Industrial power of the guitar play and enraged vocals. The production is getting us back to the powerful- and rough sound of the artist. Stumpff is now a true band already working on new songs.

(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)

Q: “Alles Idioten” is your first new work in years. What have been the triggers to start composing music again and what are the most significant changes/evolutions compared to your early years? 

Tommi: I was seeing bands with guys of my age, and that gave me the idea to start jamming again. I met up with Rüdiger Schuster at the Amphitheater back in 2014 and we decided to give it a shot. The big difference from my solo career is that this time, we’re hitting the stage as a band –with guitars. The sound became harder and more metallic. The baritone guitar from Sam H. Hunt is also part of our sound now.

Q: Are you nostalgic? I mean how do you look back at the songs and albums you released in between 1982 and 1993? And how did you perceive the evolution of music (and the scene) after you stopped yourself making music? 

Tommi: No, I’m not that nostalgic, but the music from that era –especially what I had been doing back then –well, I like it more than ever before. After all, it wasn’t long ago that I re-released my old albums “Zu Spät Ihr Scheißer”, “Terror II” and “Ultra”. Songs like “La Lueur”, “Lobotomie” and “Creve Petit Con” in particular –those are ones we still play live nowadays. It’s as much fun for me listening to them as it ever was.

I can’t think of any big jump that I’ve made from the music I was doing back around 1993. But I hadn’t spent that much time with it, either. 

Q: I think it’s nearly impossible comparing the 80s with the music of today and yet, I get the impression listening to “Alles Idioten” brings the good-old Tommi Stumpff sound alive. Tell us a bit more about the writing- and recording process of the album? What are the main points of satisfaction and what have been the main difficulties/challenges you encountered? 

Tommi: It all begins when I start working on an idea I’ve in mind, and then I start putting the Electronic parts into place. Either I start with a melody, or I’ve already got a line in my head. The lyrics always come last. 

Being able to switch to digital instruments in Linux was a great opportunity, giving me more control over the sounds I was creating than I ever had before. The analog parts –guitar and vocals, are recorded in a conventional manner at Dungeon Studio, Rhenania, with the help of Marcel P. 

Q: Because of the ongoing pandemic it’s rather strange to unleash a new album in such hard times. “Alles Idioten” however sounds as an appropriated title to reflect the world we’re living in. But what is it really all about and what did you try to express by this title and the lyrical themes? 

Tommi: It will take more than a pandemic to keep me quiet. The songs were already done and had to get out there. What’s interesting is that 90% of everybody thinks that 90% of everybody else are a bunch of idiots – which may very well reflect reality. 

Our new album “Alles Idioten” is. When the situation calls for it, it feels good to shout “Geh Sterben” ([fuck off and] “Go Die”) or “Alles Idioten” ([you’re all just] “A Bunch of Idiots”).

Q: Your music has been often connected with EBM, but I always experienced your sound as ‘atypical’. It’s not that different for the new work. How important for you is it to always have had this particular sound, kind of sound DNA? 

Tommi: Sounding different from everything else has always been very important to me. Needless to say, the new songs have the personal Tommi Stumpff touch too. I always tried creating distinctive sounds from the very outset, and that hasn’t changed, although I do make most of my sounds with Yoshimi and Linux. Whenever a certain sound captures my attention, I’m quick to record it and use it in one of my pieces. 

Q: You lived in Brussels (Belgium), Paris (France) and of course Düsseldorf (Germany). How important has been the impact of the places you lived on your music? And what did you keep in mind from you stay in Belgium and France? 

Tommi: None of that really influenced me that much. I started playing guitar when I lived in Brussels, and when I came back to Düsseldorf at the age of 16, I wanted to launch a career in music. We played in a schoolboy band back then. 

The things I remember most about Belgium and France were the schools –and the smells. Brigitte Bardot lived near our place in Paris. 

Q: Do we have to see “Alles Idioten” as a ‘one shot’ experience or do you’ve concrete further plans?

Tommi: We’re not calling it quits. We’re working on new songs. 

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