THe BaND“This time I don’t need anyone to believe in me...”
They say it’s easier to stay away than to come back. To go out on a high rather than risk a new low. Hence the return of any band that left the scene at the peak of their powers (and, in this case, with a second consecutive #1 gold album) is regarded with a mixture of excitement and potentially morbid fascination. Can they still walk the walk? Are they ready to come in and rock out?
Rock’n’Roll has a language all of its own, where “musical differences” means more money, mo’ problems and “pursuing solo projects” translates as can’t stand the sight of each other. It’s a high octane cocktail which can explode at any moment. But with a tweak here and a touch of enlightenment there, the chemical balance can be restored with astounding results. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Take the emotion out of music and you are left with silence. Well, it’s about to get loud again. The time has come to welcome back the Guano Apes.
When they leapt onto the scene over a decade ago, the Apes were heralded as a much-needed injection of thrills for a languorous rock scene dominated by old men and the odd rock bride.
The Guano Apes sounded as fresh and looked as bright as powdered Alpine snow, an image reinforced by their “Lords of the Boards” single which sold in excess of a quarter of a million copies as they hurtled down the slopes with fearless abandon.
It was almost as if the Guano Apes had created a new brand of guitar song which they promptly claimed as their own and only loosened their grip when the aforementioned difficulties led to their very public disintegration. Unstoppable as they seemed, they stopped themselves – yet incredibly, there did not seem to be any other bands waiting in the wings to take over their position. Which is perhaps why they were so sorely missed and why their return is so hotly anticipated. Probably nowhere more so than in Portugal, where the Guano Apes, it is fair to say, filled some pretty impressive Converse sneakers for the post-Nirvana generation, selling out concerts of 20,000+ supporters, but also in such faraway places as Siberia, where the band are looking forward to playing for a crowd of 10,000 this year.
The Guano Apes – reunited in the line-up which brought them their greatest successes to date (Henning Rümenapp, Dennis Poschwatta, Stefan Ude and Sandra Nasic) – are that rarest of phenomena, a German band which has gone global. “Proud Like A God”, their debut album alone went gold and platinum in various countries on the back smash hitsingle “Open Your Eyes”, seeing the band tour Europe and the USA for an eighteen month period. Even when the Apes had retired from active service, their "Big In Japan" single proved to be a self-fulfilling prophesy, becoming the official theme of the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2009. By this time, the idea of recording together again was taking shape.
Of course, if you are planning to come back, then you have to be sure you’re going to be at least as good as before you went away, if not better. You want to be Ali not Foreman. So it’s a pleasure to be able to say that the Guano Apes are indeed sounding more energized, leaner and fitter than ever. And packing a mighty punch.
Bel Air, that most famous of Los Angeles districts (“a part of the city, but apart from it too”, as was once noted in the L.A. Times), lends its name to the album, a clear enough indication that the band is consciously breaking into new territory, no longer walking on a thin line, so to speak. From the anthemic oceans of “When The Ships Arrive” to the playful jaunt of “Sunday Lover”, Sandra’s exuberant delivery is complemented by a laser sharp rhythm section who step back into the arena with renewed vigour.
Bel Air (2011)
Bringing Jon Schumann on board as producer has turned out to be an inspiring move. His sterling work with the likes of Carpark North, Mew and Kent has already earned him Grammys in Sweden and his native Denmark. Add in triple Grammy winner Tom Lord-Alge (too many credits to mention, but U2, Coldplay, Oasis and Pink will do for now), Terry Date (Pantera, Soundgarden etc.) and Randy Staub (e.g. Metallica, Nickelback) on mixing duties and you have a revitalized group sounding better than ever before. Not only that, there’s a self-assured quality about the band, as if they have learned from their manic exploits of the past and have created their own serene space in which to write and play music, casting out the doubters, advisors and sycophants who can cause so much confusion in a young band’s formative phase.
Sunday Lover (2011)
When Sandra Nasic sings “This time I will make sure you won’t feel insecure“, she’s speaking to herself and her band as well as to an audience that has grown up with them. Maybe “Fire in Your Eyes” is a subliminal cut to The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” – a band not exactly lacking in bravado – and it really does feel like The Guano Apes are ready for anything now. The fire in their eyes is burning bright.
Because to the Spain' mini tour, with concerts in Madrid (22th January) and Barcelona (23th January), we wanted to talk to Guano Apes, about his return to the music scene, and to know more about their fantastic new album Bel Air (2011). Sandra was kind enough to answer our questions in free time of her rehearsals, with the rest of the band.
Why did you choose the name of Guano Apes?
We just wanted a special, unusual name.
A long time passed between Walking On A Thin Line (2003) and Bel Air (2011). It's surprising to think that when the Guano Apes was more popular than ever after throughout Europe it suddenly dissolved... Why haven't we known anything for so long about the Guano Apes?
We just took a break and wanted to do other things, different projects and spend time with our families. It was important for our music, so we took the chance to get musical inspiration and experiences with other creative people. Nearly every band does that after some years, thats part of it. Now it feels fresh again like a new band.
Bel Air has meant a return to the greatness of Guano Apes, is the public responding to your expectations?
Yes, more than that. We started with a different sound, thats always a risk and we had not released anything together for a long time. So we didn't expect anything. Fortunately our fans are still there and we have a great team around us.
Bel Air's album is perhaps more accessible to the public. Was it a chance? or has it been an approach to all audiences?
First you yourself have to be satisfied with your work, and if there are people who feel touched by your music, this is the best thing. If you try new things out you might lose some listeners, but you can also win others, that's how it goes, and that's good. It's always more interesting for us as artists to try out new things.
The 9th October we were at your concert in Berlin. It seemed you really enjoyed. You played new album's themes as well as classics. Are you going to do a similar show in Spain? Why should the Spanish public go to your concerts?
Yes, Berlin was great, I live there, so it was a special night for me. We had a phantastic tour so far. We'll play a mixure of old and new stuff everywhere. I'm looking forward to playing in Spain, beautiful country! And I do have some friends there, so that will be fun.
What are Guano Apes' plans for 2012? Do you have any new projects? ¿Are there
We will play concerts all over Europe this year and are in parallel working on new songs. I'd also like to make a new solo record inbetween, maybe end of this year.
Do you think the digital world will end with music as we know it today? What do you think is the future of music?
I don't know, but there's always going to be music, whether it's for free or not. And as long as people are going to concerts, there's gonna be musicians. People get overloaded these days, there is nearly too much information and people have to pick their jewels from the mass consume. But on the other hand, internet gives this kind of freedom to everyone. And that's a chance.
This time (2011)
What is your best memory about music?
There are so many, hard to find the best day. I love those moments after a great concert or an award, when you are sitting together with the band and crew and just enjoying the moment.
When you look into happy faces during a concert, or when you wrote a great song.
Have you heard of the Spanish-revolution? What do you think about it?
Yes, I know. People all over the world try to create a new world order. It's happening and I hope we'll find a solution.
Could you tell us about...
... A book?: Power and rebel (2003), Matias Faldbakken (Scandinavian writer).
... A movie?: Intouchables (2011), Olivier Nakache (French Movie).
... A song?: Getting Nowhere (2010), Magnetic Man featuring John Legend.
... An album?: The Roots
... A group or soloist?: Foals
Thank you very much. Best wishes.
De nada :-). Saludos!