What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation?
Thomas: Seeing and hearing Depeche Mode videos as a kid and being impressed by their sound and coolness. So I bought my first (cheap) synthesizer and started making music. WHOLE first started years ago as a side project to our other musical occupations (like Vlimmer, Fir Cone Children or Forced Movement) and grew into a real band and album by the time we were working on it.
Alexander: I’d been making music since the age of four, but you know, it was all classical music because I was born into a family where this played a major role. It wasn’t until the age of 22, though, that I would be part of a “rock” band when I studied at the University of Greifswald. It was on a Deftones show in 2001 that I felt the urge to do something like this myself. I haven’t stopped making music since 2003. I joined another band, formed a handful of solo projects, went on tour, all that stuff. In 2009 I met Thomas. We had the same label and were sent on a 10-day tour with our bands Forced Movement and Leonard Las Vegas, and we really got along. Another seven years later he approached me asking if I were interested in collaborating. Taking almost every opportunity when it comes to music, I said yes.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Thomas: “BIAS” is the debut album by WHOLE and was a test if we both could work in a different environment compared to our other bands and projects. We were mailing ideas back and forth over the course of 2 years until this album really started to materialize. We both share the songwriting, singing and producing credits and really enjoy this kind of freedom to have a helping and inspiring hand through each other without any time pressure or set frame of any kind.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Thomas: Music: Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Recoil and a bit of Bowie and Beatles…
Non Music: Friends and family, I guess, but more subconsciously.
Alexander: British music, mostly but not only in the noughties, influenced me a lot in the beginning days of making my own music: The Cooper Temple Clause, British Sea Power, Radiohead, Hood, My Bloody Valentine, Flying Saucer Attack, My Vitriol. But also post-rock bands like Sigur Rós and Mogwai, and wild bands like Trail of Dead and The Icarus Line. Vocal-wise I was mery much influenced by Deftones’ Chino Moreno, but more in the way he stretches the notes than the actual sound of his voice. Altogether, I never tried to copy any of these bands because I knew I couldn’t. To be honest, it made much more sense to create music I would buy myself but couldn’t because it didn’t exist.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Thomas: Easy question, difficult answer… I guess it’s a mixture and blend of our other music projects and our (very different) musical influences and heroes, which means it should be diverse, ranging from pop friendly hooks to more harsh and dissonant stuff and we hope it sounds like WHOLE a bit of everything without sounding like a clone of something. But it’s hard to judge by yourself, this should be done by the listeners from outside the band camp.
Alexander: I wouldn’t even know who these other genre-related artists and bands would be. I’m confident enough to say we sound like no other band. All my life as an artist I’ve never totally fit into one genre only with my bands, and at concerts I’ve always felt more or less like the outsider, but that’s all right, it even takes the pressure of oneself. You don’t have to meet the audience’s expectations, you just create new ones.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Thomas: “The Fragile” by Nine Inch Nails, “Songs Of Faith and Devotion” by Depeche Mode and “In Rainbows” by Radiohead. Books: “1984” by Orwell and one of the books by Rammstein keyboardist Flake Lorenz… Movies: “Old Boy” / “Donnie Darko“ / „Drive”
Alexander: Music: No Age – “Snares Like A Haircut”, Radiohead – “OK Computer”, British Sea Power – “The Decline Of …”, and I’d secretly take And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s “Source tags & Codes” with me, ha! Movies: Donnie Darko, Anchorman, Human Traffic; Books: Kundera – “The Unbearabla Lightness of Being”, Stephen King – “Pet Sematary”, J. M. Coetzee – “Disgrace”
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Thomas: I like both and there should be time for both sides, because both have enjoyable and tedious moments, which means I can’t decide for one…
Alexander: I love both a lot, maybe the studio situation a little more because creating songs is just the most important and most enjoyable thing in my life as an artist. When we played our first two gigs with WHOLE a couple of months ago, however, I recognized how good it felt to be on a stage again, letting go, going wild, giving the audience something to look at, entertaining them. Before that I hadn’t played live for five years. Honestly, I felt comfortable with just recording and releasing music. Now, I can’t wait to play on a more regular basis.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Thomas: Meeting Gruff Rhys, the singer of the „Super Furry Animals“ at a club toilet and nodding at each other like we know for years was quite funny… And meeting musical heroes like Alan Wilder, Vince Clarke or Rhys Fulber was memorable…
Alexander: Ha, that’s too funny, I met Gruff Rhys, as well, after a show of his band in Amsterdam, and I can totally relate. It felt like meeting a friend, a dopey guy. Regarding my own career, I had a time where I was pretty abusive with the musical equipment around me. When I was smashing my keyboards live on Bavaria’s biggest TV channel the program director called and said how much he loved what we, Leonard Las Vegas, did. Some six or seven years earlier a sound guy was not too amused. We performed on a stage on water and he and his mixing desk were about 50 meters from us. When he saw me throwing away his microphone he ran towards me, onto the stage, yelling directly at me during the song. Afterwards I told him it was just part of the show and that I was throwing his mic right into my, very soft, bag where it couldn’t get damaged. He was still mad at me.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Thomas: That’s a tough one, I feel too close to decide, maybe the track which is the most ”far out“ to date should be ”What Scares You“ with it’s almost rap-like chant in the verses and the un-poppy chord structure. But I like all the tracks and everybody should discover them by buying the album…
Alexander: Tough indeed, I’d say “Berghain” maybe. It starts all bleepy and hypnotic with the electronic beat and the piano I recorded almost ten years at my parent’s before it was used for this song. Slowly it takes its turns, a natural drum beat, a growing urgency and intensity, until it explodes in this wall of shoegaze. It’s one of these moments I try to create on all albums I am a part of, the moment when the whole thing explodes and almost creeps out of your speakers. The songs fades into an outro which feels like walking across a foggy battle field.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Thomas: Releasing more music under this moniker and keeping this rewarding, natural and pressure free feeling when working with Alex.
Alexander: Playing more shows, gaining an audience, recording songs for the next album.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity.
Ok… Here we go:
Do you really have a collection of old VHS tapes containing recordings of old Tour de France stages and if yes: WHY???
Thomas: I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo…
Alexander: Wait, … what???
Photo credits: Christian Schottstädt (1st one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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