2011 – PHANTOM SONGS & the other end of the world
At the beginning of March we fly to Australia. We’re the first German band to be invited to play WOMADelaide. What a thrill! It takes 26 hours to whizz us from winter in Berlin to tropical Singapore, and from there to the dry heat of Australia. What a spectacular festival we get to be part of! Tens of thousands flock to the beautiful grounds to see local and international artists playing on a multitude of stages.
We play two concerts, and hang out with the crowds. It all ends with us teaming up with Reggae drummer Anthony “Drumtan” Ward as we back the all-star band feat. Jamaican legend Horace Andy, and Qawwali singer Faiz Ali Faiz from Pakistan among others. What a special mix of people!
Then the WOMAD circus moves on to play at the Taranaki festival in New Plymouth in New Zealand. The customary owner of the area, the Taranaki tribe with a Pōwhiri ceremony welcome us. What you basically do is, you stand face to face, shake hands, put your other hand on the others shoulder, touch forehead and nose, look one another in the eye, and say „How are you? Where are you from? How do you feel?“ Imagine us, 120 musicians from all over the world, lining up to rub noses with the entire tribe in a long-house. Intense!
Then we are all invited to sing a song from where we come from. In this way we spend a magical afternoon with all these people from all over the world: from Mongolia, England, Egypt, a girl from „the North Pole“, Mali, America, Pakistan, France, Berlin, and elsewhere … in fact we are all quite taken away. And so we all forget to take more pictures.
We fly back to Europe in 36 hours.
Here’s a video with pictures from NZL and elsewhere:
In May we take our new album on PHANTOM tour through Germany.
It’s always fascinating to find out how songs recorded in the studio change on stage. And how the audience becomes part of the way we rediscover our songs.
In summer we play festivals in France, Spain and England.
For the beginning of Ramadan we stage a special concert in the museum for Islamic Art in Berlin. Along with Wayang puppetier Bayu Herlambang Aji and the Indonesian gamalan player Aris Daryono we dive into the mythic world of Java.
Then in November we tour Germany again. We also play in Switzerland and on the isle of Gran Canaria / Spain.
2010 – Breathe in … breathe out!
After a year like last one it’s neither easy to sit back, nor to start something new. The ants in your pants keep you moving …
We will play less this year, and concentrate on recording a new album.
And it is a nice change to spend more time in a beautiful landscape, instead of flying by it in a band-bus. It’s also nice to meet old friends and hang out in Berlin.
We do play a bit though. In Idar-Oberstein and Erkner. And in Worms, Palermo, Hitchin, Aranda de Duero, Marcoussis and Saarbrücken.
Oh, of course it’s great to be out and about.
We start recording our new album PHANTOM SONGS in February … in our own studio. On and off we take all year, with our long time co producer Klaus Wagner and our guest producer JD Foster from NYC encouraging us to experiment with sounds and voices.
LAZY FRIENDS & PROMISES is our story of travelling the high seas.
This makes it possible for details to develop new dimensions. A process that sometimes takes weeks and months. New ideas form themselves, new horizons are discovered … and we allow ourselves to loose ourselves … and come back. We end up with 13 new songs that contain everything in music and lyrics we had on mind and heart. Playing together remains a thrill!
Here’s a clip that was shot during our recordings.
Sadly Charlie Gillett passed away on 17. March 2010. With him we all lose a very very special person, who has been a mentor, a critic and a friend to us. He always urged us on.SON MYSTÈRE (from the Heimlich album) was his favourite song of ours.
2009 – We give our best
Our new Album EL DORADO is released by the end of January. Our grand 2009 tour starts on the frozen East Coast of America! With temperatures rapidly falling to below minus 22 F (not even mentioning the snow, and the wind … ) we drive (and play of course) all the way from New York City, via Montréal to Chicago, and Milwaukee. Did we mention … we drive. Ourselves. In hired cars. Everyone in North America seems to be so “moderate” about everything (“cool” somehow sounds wrong under these circumstances) “You guys from Germany call this winter? This is nothing … ” We admit, we’re wimps …
February and March sees us on tour in Germany, playing 30 gigs across the country (oh, and our first ever concert in Luxembourg!) And … starting in January Daniel “Danda” Cordes replaces Carsten on bass. Carsten wants to spend more time with his family! At first it was not easy for all of us … to realise that a musician, who has played with us from the very beginning, will not be joining us as usual … on the other hand, a new musician, especially one filling such a vital position, opens up new opportunities … anyway, the tour is great… Danda’s our man!
The global financial crises somehow passes “us” by! “Us” meaning our audience, and us (the band) … well we all seem to enjoy hanging out together!
The albums “song” seems to beADIEU. And we keep on trying songs in a southern Hessian dialect: UZ is a lively tune about what they down there consider fun on weekends.
Summer kicks off with our annual 17-Hippies-Tour flyer:
Our summer count-down starts in Madrid (bottom left), and finishes with us playing in Tel Aviv (top) in November. In between the two, we play concerts in: Spain (a second time), Germany, France, China, Germany, France (again) , Germany (yet again), England, Spain (again and again), USA (this time we drive from Phoenix via California to Madison), Germany, Switzerland, and … Belgium. Phew! Ahead of us are: Amman, Paris, Hamburg and for the third time that year … Berlin
You may ask, “will all this be too much”? Well, you may ask … but to tell the truth, we have this amazing privilege to travel the world, meeting all these wonderful people, while playing our music. What can one possibly want more?
Our highlights in 2009 undoubtedly are: the WOMAD-Festival in England, playing on the main stage and we’re guests of Charlie Gillett on the BBC3-live stage, the Schleswig-Holstein-Musikfestival, our concert at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and our sold-out performance at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris …
But as you know, it’s not always those big events that make our day … more often it’s the unexpected meeting or the quite moment that has this magical quality: the cooperation with our friends of “Boom Pam” in Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, the bus journey from there to Jordan, jamming with the Jordanian band “Zam Za’atar“ (Sign of Thyme) in Amman, and of course those late night (early morning realy) concerts in the Basque country, and meeting up with friends during various festivals in France …
Then by coincidence we happen to be in Berlin when “Whisky mit Wodka“ is premiered – a new film by Andreas Dresen, featuring us in a short scene as a 20ies Tango band (completely dressed up in wigs, suits, and fancy clothing!)
We end this special year, yes, we played over 100 concerts in 15 countries, by reopening our traditional, and legendary “Hippie-Haus-Tanz” for two nights. We are supported by a very special Musician from New York … Elyas Khan!
2008 – China, Algeria, USA, UK, Israel, El Dorado!
This year simply flies by! We start work on a new album, so we tour a little less … meaning we ‘only’ whizz though 10 countries.
Big on our agenda was our joint venture with BOOM PAM, the great band from Tel Aviv. We put on a joint show – playing six songs together – and go on a small tour, in and around Berlin. Of course we plan to return the visit! Our visit to Algeria turnes out to be one of our all time highlights. Invited by the Centre Culturel Français and the Goethe Institute we spend an amazing week playing, travelling and meeting people … what a country, what a discovery! Concerts are packed with youngsters, with an incredible passion for life. Civil war and terror have almost forced this country to its knees, yet the people are warm, open … and curious! We return home speechless.
Then in November we visit China for the first time. Well to be honest, we visit GuangZhou (ex Canton). Given the size of China, this of course can hardly stand for the rest of the place. And that is what this visit is about to: we have no clue. China is HUGE! What we can say is, that what we see we like; we are surprised by the fantastic response of the audiences, surprised by the feel of the place, surprised by the look of the place … we love it, and it’s all about the future. We spend a wonderful week with great crowds (in every aspect of the word – these guys are party people!) We would love to come back.
Playing with a percussionist is always special for us, but teaming up with Dhoal drummer Johnny Kalsi is a dream come true. We invite him to play with us on the WDR (German national radio) “Radio Night” in Dortmund. “17 Hippies & the Beat” will go down in history as “one of those nights”.
We use our touring breaks to record. Well we do sit back and relax too … anyway, our ideas slowly boil to 12 songs. These we rehearse, and record. “El Dorado” the title, develops as we start to think about what it is like to go out into the world, and find yourself “at home”!
2007 – 17 Hippies worldwide
Well … almost world-wide! Our new album HEIMLICH in our packs, we toured France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, the US of A (for the first time in 10 years!) and Canada. Not to mention our spring and autumn tours in Germany criss crossing Germany several times.WANN WAR DAS is a good example of where we are heading musically.
Gosh, with so much going on, it’s actually quite tricky to pinpoint the highlights. The Sfinks-Festival in Antwerp definitely is one. A great festival, with great musicians … and great people, behind, on, and in front of the stage. It was made even more special by the fact that we rushed in from the desert venue of Fraga in northern Spain, where we played the night before. There it was hot hot hot (to be precise: 42 degrees Celcius … at 10 o’clock at night) Then hours of driving to Barcelona in the unbelievable early morning light of the plains of Spain … just in time to catch the plane to Belgium…
… where it rained … (it had been pouring there for days, northern Europe was flushed out) … the festival was flooded too, mud everywhere, and us being too tired to be tired … and everyone seemed to be handing out hot drinks … followed by a truely fantastic gig! We just loved it!
September saw us in North America, the land of pancakes and maple syrup. 6000 km of Indian summer, great concerts … and great people in Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Montreal, Ithaca, NYC, Washington, Stone Ridge and Bloomington. Stopping at a motel in the middle of nowhere the owner put it all in a nutshell: „You guys sell tickets? For music? Wow, you must be famous!“
In December we visited friends in Paris, and they … let us play at the legendary Olympia. Are you getting it: THE OLYMPIA!!! The temple of French culture. Edith Piaf has played there, Jacques Brel has played there, even The Stones have played there … we’re thrilled to bits, and what a way to close 2007!
So what’s up in 2008?
Well, among other things, we are going to record a new album and play concerts here and elsewhere, including tours both in the US and in Algeria. We’ll be back at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, when “Kasimir & Karoline” hits its second season, … well, let’s wait and see what else will be in store for us … there’s so much …
As poets say: “those who don’t leave, won’t come back!”
Photos: ?, Kruisko, ?