The music that is overwhelmed by numerous names, the bands that try to show off their talent, a name that has dominated the 80’s until today is: Remain In Silence. Founding members are guitarist Andreas Buchwald and singer Andreas Gimpel; RIS is the definition of what should be attributed to the musical genre of coldwave-post punk without the melodramatic clichés and the insubstantial drama that unfortunately exist in many other bands in the scene. Their music consists of just amazing melancholic vocals and the outstanding combination guitars-bass-drums that gives us a musical orgasm for all of us, lovers of dark sound coldwave or gothic post punk but also open-minded listeners who have been fortunate enough to hear their creations. I highly recommend them, so we present to you Remain In Silence , enjoy them!
Hello! It’s a great honor that we have the opportunity to talk to one of the most legendary German ‘wave’ bands! So, tell us about your recent news!
Let me start by saying that the honor is all ours. It’s great to get this kind response from Greece. We very much appreciate your interest in what we are doing. Well, the most recent news I can give you is, that we have just developed a concept for the next Remain In Silence album. I have already started working on a plenty of musical sketches and ideas while Andreas is preoccupied with the lyrical parts. We are absolutely curious about how it will grow. All I can say is that it’s sounding already thrilling at this early point. The album will be slightly conceptual and already has a title which we will reveal later this year.
In 2016 your 6th album was released ‘…And The Soul Goes On‘. Share with us some information about this most recent work of yours; What is different from your previous albums?
The overall approach is different, especially the way of evolving it. As we began working on that album it soon became obvious to us, that there was a deeper sense behind it all. A concept that was already present before we have realised it. As it surfaced, we followed that path and worked conceptually for the first time. The album is about longing, loneliness and transience, about the feeling of losing oneself and trying to find comfort. I think, it’s moodiest album we have made so far. Going through it was kind of an introspective journey to us – like a film with different action levels or like a river with many tributaries. Some people told us that they had experienced the album even visually whilst listening. Murray Webster, with whom I’ve produced the album, had a strong impact on its sound and became a permanent band member since then. ‘…And The Soul Goes On‘ reflects what RIS is about today. As a long time follower you might have discovered some analogies to past titles. To give you a little background information: With the release of the ‘Lonesome Hours‘ retrospective album on Dead Wax Records we were invited for a little tour to Spain. As we started rehearsing the live set we felt that some older songs seemed to communicate again to us. As if they were back from a long journey and had a another story to tell. So we felt like we had to face them anew. As we revisited those songs we we’re astonished how good they work together with our new tracks. We never had any inventions to reload the past, we regard it as a transformation. Whatever, when you dive into the album in it’s entirety you will need no further explanation.
When you create, is there any philosophy about lyrics or music?
Maybe our songs are something like companions. They have a complentative appeal, whilst they’re electrifying and drifting. They might accompany you on your way or lead you to places you’ve not been before. That may be what we unconsciously work towards.
The first contact I had with your band, was with your very intense album ‘Monument‘, in which atmosphere is obtained through melancholy, loneliness, the lost hope. It was like a balm, an escape from the harsh reality that surely many of your listeners will share my opinion. In art and generally in music, the artist reflects ‘‘parts’’ of himself. Which are your favorite elements?
Thank you, you nailed it with your description of the ‘Monument‘ album. Besides those elements, it has a lot of tension and some kind of urgency to express an inner state of mind and emotion. A German magazine once said it this way: ‘‘Music that pulls you down and lifts you up at the same time’’. I like very much that explanation. Generally I think, artistic expression should not only reflect oneself. It should have the power of imagination and the ability to explore new ground. So, it’s not important which elements are personally ours. Foremost you need to have empathy to achieve a believable expression.
What were the difficulties that you came along during the 80’s and which are the current ones? Internet hadn‘t existed when you first started, what do you think would have been different not just for you but for other artists too?
At that time we were absolute outsiders here, musically as well as concerning our visual appearance. We started in the tradition of post-punk bands like Joy Division or The Cure, but also songwriters like Leonard Cohen were among our influences. We were nihilistic, wore black, introvert and unapproachable. Our concerts were staged more effectively than at that time usual. We loved being underdogs. There was no Gothic scene yet and so we acted outside of any scene involvement in the period of our first three albums. However, we never wanted to get a stamp. Our music was and is characterized by contrasts. Our charisma was rather bleak, but on the other hand, we have always put a lot of emphasis on melodious songlines. Indeed, this unusual mix was regarded as exciting, but record companies found it difficult to market our music. This has not changed much to this day. But I could only speak for ourselves with that. Of course I do not say anything new, that the Internet and global networking are providing more opportunities to reach listeners today. In contrast, however, there is a barely overseen offer. In the end, nothing gets better or worse. It just gets different: other options, other problems.
Societies have been struggling with problems such as unemployment, crime, financial crisis, etc. The ‘‘blooming’’ of a musical genre like the post punk in the early 80’s and all its subgenres (coldwave, darkwave death rock). Generally, do you think music is the fuel that will give us the impetus to escape from our problems?
You can neither escape personal issues nor social ones through music. But music can give you release for a while and can empower you to face all sorts of struggle. Of course, music itself may not be able to solve problems, to change society and politics or even overthrow governments. But arts, and especially music its most direct expression, can very well be the fuel to form and strengthen your mind, your stance and your attitude. Without any question, music can release immense powers.
Before forming Remain in Silence, you were in another band right?
More or less. I’ve had a band before and for a little while parallel to RIS. That band already built the fundament for RIS as it had the same rhythm section (the first RIS drummer and the second RIS bass player to be exact). The name of the band was Die Schlechten Hirten (The Bad Shepherds). Its sound was more minimalistic, more PIL alike. The singer was a Greek from Germany: Georgios Tsantoukas. His lyrics were sang and spoken half in German, half in Greek. Indeed a very rare combination, not only at that time. Georgios temporarily went back to Greece for military service and later became a DJ. But this band disbanded after I met Andreas. Since that day it was clear, where to set the focus. We became Remain In Silence. Two young weirdos, two different characters, me the more intro- and Andreas the more extrovert type of guy. We immediately felt a special vibe between us, shared the same kind of humor and: we both smoked Reyno Cigarettes – not very usual at that time, indeed. Well, what else can do you but forming a band…?
In my humble opinion, art should highlight everything that troubles us. How do you see today’s music scene; I personally believe that commercialization has spoiled the aesthetics, what is your opinion?
Sounds like three subjects in one question. I guess, we could talk for hours about it. But let me cut it short. Concerning art in general, I agree with you. It’s what art should do. And just as generally said, that’s what it normally does. Concerning music, I cannot speak about a music scene, as you do. That term would give the impression that there is only one music scene. Generally, I think there is so much different and exciting music around, with many diverse genres, subgenres and scenes, from countries all over the world. No way of complaining about a lack of quality. Commercialism was always a matter, much has become just more professional these days. For every music lover there is certainly a particularly formative time. One discovers for oneself music, with which one feels connected deep inside and contributes to a personal development and attitude. Such experiences rarely repeat themselves. This gives some people the subjective impression that in the past everything was been better somehow. I believe, things don‘t get better or worse. Often it is just the attitude that changes. And as for the aesthetics, we should not complain. For example, vinyl is back after all, and as beautiful as ever.
Hailing from Hannover, Germany, the weather is somehow melancholic: rain, cold, snow… Does this help you to write “dark” music? Are there any places for you to visit that may help you in your creativity?
Sure it may help in some way, but it would be too simple as sole explanation. Ideas and inspirations do not come inevitably through external conditions or places. There is certainly a combination of external and internal influences. A seasonal sadness may be an input, but it does not automatically lead you into a writing process. It rather animates you to read a book or something. An idea can, however, arise quite unexpectedly. In moments where your thoughts could run, whilst driving in your car for example. Something might trigger your imagination, an acoustic idea evokes and suddenly you are beginning to create a melody or a fictitious soundtrack in the head. Talking about places: to me, some of the most inspiring are Portugal and especially Lisbon. This unique portuguese feeling of ‘‘Saudade’’ comes near to how I feel. It’s a mood which flows permanently into our work. Wherever you are, whatever the conditions are: Most important is an inner peace and readiness to engage yourself in a creative work. Therefore, “dark” music can arise just as well in spring and summer-seasons, which, believe it or not, we also have here Germany – rarely enough though, I have to admit.
If you had to characterize your music with one word, which one would it be?
(e)motion…ha, almost two words! Will you count it as one?
What have you gained both as artists and humans from all these years of musical journey?
Artistic work releases thoughts and feelings that were previously hidden. Being able to bring something to light that did not exist before is a privilege. The emotional exchange between musician and listener is still a fascinating moment. You give a part of your personality and a stranger absorbs a part of it. It is a gift that we were able to maintain a loyal fan base in such a long time, despite relatively little media presence. Having worked with many creative people, sharing time and emotions with them, making friends…it’s all a gift on our ongoing journey.
When do you think we have to ”Remain in silence” and when should we to speak up loud? What kind of advice would you give to us?
Better remain silent when you tend to speak faster than you can think. Raise your voice when you witness harm, violence, aggression or wrong of any kind against your neighbour.
What are your next steps and future plans?
It’s Saturday, 7.27 PM. As the sun has already set, the next step will be pouring a glass of Tempranillo. And the longer-term future plan is, of course, working on the next album entitled… oops…it almost slipped out of my mouth. Whatever, we hope to have it ready for release in 2019 and hope you’ll be staying connected until then.
Thank you for the time you dedicated to us! Please close the interview as you want.
Many thanks for your friendly interest and for sharing your time with us.
Photo credits: Ralf Böttcher