Alternative Music: Flake from Rammstein talks about Feeling B

The name, “Flake” Lorenz is most commonly known in the context of Rammstein. But this aspect besides the point, since there’s another matter presently linked to this man: Feeling B. A collection of 13 songs from Feeling B, the East punk band in which he played before Rammstein, was recently released, and seven of the songs were previously unknown. The rest have been polished and remixed, in order to make a modern release of a retrospect spanning the years 1983 to 1993.  A solid base with which to start this conversation with Flake.


Marius: To begin with, I would like to know where the idea to publish another CD with songs from Feeling B came from, after all these years…

Flake: Plain and simple, I had a bit of time, since we are on a small break with Rammstein. And to make an album is pretty expensive, so I thought, if I don’t do it now, I’ll have to wait yet another eight years!


Marius: So, it wasn’t a strategically chosen time in any way?

Flake: No – this is the thing: if I hadn’t done it now, who knows if I would have even wanted to do it in another eight years.


Marius: I only asked because the release was originally planned for the 9th of November 2007, the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Wall…so that was more of a coincidence?

Flake: I think, it was pure coincidence. But I like the sound of it.


feeling_b2Marius: Then we move on, but first, a little about the beginning. How did you even end up in punk?

Flake: I lived in Berlin, so of course I had access to the broadcasts from the West, SFB and so on. Through this, I was exposed to new music more or less at the same time as the West-Berliners, and I immediately became a fan of the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys. There was never any question of becoming a punk, it was somehow the natural development.


Marius: But it’s quite a bit different from Western punk, what you made in the end….

Flake: That really had to do with our musical shortcomings, and also, that we didn’t necessarily feel like we had to rebel against anything or such. We were more about the music than causes.


Marius: How did you get to know each other? How did the group get the constellation it had?

Flake: Our singer, Aljoscha, had an apartment where he let other bands rehearse. It was more or less like an open house, where quite a lot of artists and musicians met up and there was always a big party going on there. This way everyone got to know one another. I came in last, as if by pure chance, since I had once played a concert at a school. Playing in a school band, I was only just 16. The drummer spotted me there and brought me into Feeling B.


Marius: When you look at it that way, it’s really quite a long time ago and now comes the re-issue. Does this publication come with any strings attached or is it really just your personal story?

Flake: What I really wanted to make was a Best Of for people who hadn’t heard anything of Feeling B and wanted to form their own impression, since the interest for East bands after the Turning was equal to zero. Things got lost from the scene because of this, everything got so song- and sound poor, and I thought this was a shame. That’s why I wanted to make another CD, where all the songs –the good ones, that is – were included. Like a Best Of, so that you could hear them for yourself. Our first albums sounded really bad, sound wise. I simply wanted to put the essence onto a CD, so that you could say: “That was Feeling B”. In case someone didn’t know, or whatever. In all cases, so that you wouldn’t have to buy all the records if you wanted to hear what Feeling B was. For example, if you only buy our third album – it’s medieval music on that one – you’d think: “What the hell is this? I wanted to listen to Feeling B and now I have an album of Medieval Music.” With this release, you can’t go wrong.


Marius: You have already used the term “Best Of“. But the press release says that it isn’t a Best Of and also not a retrospective. What is it, then?

Flake: Correct. I wanted to make a Best Of album, that was actually my approach to this. But then I found all these old tapes with recordings in my basement, which hadn’t been released. It seemed important to me to bring out those unreleased songs again, so that they weren’t destroyed. So, now it’s not a Best Of, but an album with seven totally unknown tracks, four unreleased – but known – tracks, and three already published, but freshly remixed.


Marius: What made you name the record, “Grün & Blau“? Is it just because it’s an appropriate song, or was there something else behind it?

Flake: “Grün & Blau“ is the oldest piece that was ever recorded by us. Principally, the absolute beginning. This album spans over – also when it comes to the unreleased songs – our whole epoch, from 1983 to 1993, that is. “Grün & Blau” was the only song from 1983.


11295741_379859578874195_3974824721710774400_nMarius: When you look at punk from today’s point of view, the lyrical content contradicts that which we think of today as typically punk… What are your lyrics about and what inspired them?

Flake: The lyrics were utter bullshit. We didn’t put a lot of effort into them. They were just about what we found funny at the moment. “Green and blue/you know what I mean/it’s so comfortable/so pleasant” – you really don’t have to look for any deeper meaning.


Marius: But something must have inspired you, or?

Flake: Most likely the Neuen Deutschen Welle…


Marius: I have picked a few examples. I found, “Herzschrittmacher” an interesting lyric, bordering on the macabre. Where did you got ideas like this?

Flake: That’s just down to young stupidity, even to come up with such baloney. That was met by a lot of disapproval from the punk scene. The punks didn’t regard us as punks because of it. But as far as the establishment was concerned, we were punks. It’s like with my Gran — she can’t tell the difference between the Beatles and the Stones. For her, everything was “Hottentott”-music. In this respect, we were for the officials, the government and such, complete punks, but for the punks — absolutely not.


Marius: What I notice about the CD is that, on one hand, there is “Keine Zeit” on it, but on the other, also “Wieder keine Zeit”. How come both variations ended up on the CD?

Flake: Earlier, it was quite often that way with music, that you had a text that didn’t really fit any tune, or a tune that didn’t have any lyrics. Then you tried, while in the studio, to sing any lyric to this tune and vice versa. I think it’s very interesting that musically, the songs are quite different, but also cut at the same session. They’re both from the sessions at the Amiga studios. I liked the contradiction, showing how you can make things like that. That is, that you can sing the same lyric to completely different stuff. We weren’t sure at all – should we do this, or that? I wanted to show, how quickly things can change.


Marius: Another track I found very interesting, was, “Spacerace“, which is relatively uncommon, setting Hotline calls to music… What was behind that?

Flake: Oh, I don’t know if that was called “Hotline“ in the East… (laughs)


Marius: You’re right, probably not.

Flake: We simply called up the Army, the Police, the fire brigade and so on. Today it would be called prank-calls.


Marius: Back to something more general, what did it feel like for you to delve into the past once more, through working with all these old recordings?

Flake: It was very much fun. I felt young again. Only to hear Aljoscha’s voice is a good feeling and it was fun for me to release these songs once more. That is, to make them audible and not let them get lost forever into oblivion.


Marius: A bit nostalgic?

Flake: Of course, a lot of old stories came back to mind. I also met up with people who had some photos and film clips from that time, and I edited together a video from those old things. You can watch it on the Internet.


12004123_406561842870635_398645921353349774_nMarius: Speaking of “Nostalgia“, it’s like whenever anything has to do with the GDR, this Ostalgie wave is mentioned. What do you think of this hype?

Flake: I swim a long a little in it, since I really enjoyed life in the GDR. I liked it very much and I belong to those who keep saying, “Yep, it’s all bullshit here.” That’s actually nonsense and even I think it’s stupid, but that’s how it is.


Marius: Back to “Grün & Blau“: there’s a book that comes with the CD. How did the book come about and why wasn’t the CD released on its own?

Flake: The record company said that I had to make a book to go with it, otherwise they wouldn’t release the CD, since it wouldn’t be of interest to anyone.


Marius: I see… And how did the book come about? What were your thoughts behind it?

Flake: I had to come up with something. So, I went down to the basement, fetched my cardboard box with all my old notes and then asked my mom and a couple of friends if they would write an article. Then I wrote something about the photos. It was all done in three days.


Marius: The book, “Mix mir einen Drink“, has already been out for five years. How does that differ from this book?

Flake: I had to make sure that I didn’t repeat things, and that was hard. “Mix mir einen Drink” wasn’t made by our advice, but by Galenza and Havemeister. We were, so to speak, just the means to an end.


Marius: How would you yourself, when you look back on it, describe the legacy of Feeling B? For you personally and also the state of the musical landscape today?

Flake: It’s pretty hard to describe, since we were an East band. An Eastern band generally had its borders in the GDR. And in the GDR, we were highly regarded since we showed people that you could make a good thing out of a lot of fun and joy. Without necessarily being against the system, without traveling to the West and without losing any of the fun. Basically, the same thing that we show the Westerners now. I don’t regard all that highly the purely musical legacy these days. The music did actually come second to us.


Marius: That was what I meant, do you think that this, in retrospect, will appeal to new audiences?

Flake: I am very interested in what today’s youth thinks of this. That they, for once, will listen to music that is 20 years old. Will they feel the same about it as we do today? And how those from the West like it. Or if it’s just bullshit to them. I have no way of knowing that, at all. It’s exciting for me.


Marius: So it’s not like you have a certain, expected audience to which this record should appeal?

Flake: The main group is, of course, the Feeling B fans who know us from before, who were there and lived it. They, at the very least, are very happy now that there are new tracks available.


Marius: That was the case with me too. But what I really want to know, as a conclusion — is this release the ultimate closure of the Feeling B chapter, or is there perhaps something else to look forward to in the future?

Flake: Nooo, all done, now! Besides, I have unpacked everything, the basement is cleared out and very thoroughly so!


Marius: Thank you for the interview!

Flake: My pleasure!


Original Source
Translation by Murray
Photos provided by Galina Pras

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