Before their final show of the small January tour that led Go Go Berlin through Germany and Switzerland I had the chance to talk to singer Christian Vium and guitarist Mikkel Dyrehave about new songs and their decision to change the way to record their third album. The concert took place on Saturday, 20 January at the Rote Fabrik in Zurich.
Go Go Berlin are:
Christian Vium (vocals, guitar)
Mikkel Dyrehave (guitar)
Anders Søndergaard (keys)
Christoffer Østergaard (drums)
Nick Lee (bass)
Indiespect: How was you first Swiss show in 2018, yesterday?
Mikkel: It was good. Christoffer had to pick himself up. But otherwise it was really nice at KUFA Lyss.
Christian: We had a crazy night before that in Mainz and Christoffer got his arm tattooed in the middle of the night. But I think the show went really well. Something always happens as soon as you hit the stage. Like something gets thrown in your face, you really get energetic. At least I do. I’m glad that it doesn’t really affect the show. Just before it feels like: «Oh no. I can’t do this». And then afterwards: «Oh, I got through it.»
Indiespect: So all of you have been quite drunk, then?
Christian: Not as drunk as Christoffer, no.
Indiespect: He told that every single one of you got a tattoo that night. Was that a lie?
Christian: It’s just because he fucked up and he wants to drag us down with him.
Indiespect: So, it wasn’t his plan to get tattooed anyway?
Christian: He came to me and said: «Christian, this guy has a tattoo machine». And I was like: «Oh no!». The first guy actually did not want to tattoo him. Maybe because he could see that he was too drunk. And then this girl said: «I have a tattoo machine as well». She just went home and fifteen minutes later she returned. She had a mask on and everything. So at least it turned out she was quite professional.
Indiespect: The words he got tattooed came from him?
Mikkel: They come from a new song we have just finished recording for the forthcoming album that will be out sometime.
Christian: It’s called «Never Fall In Love Again». Actually the song title is without again.
Mikkel: So, he fucked that up!
Christian: Actually, we were also tourcasting it live on Facebook. But it got turned down because we had so loud music in the backstage room. But we’ve seen the video and it’s crazy. We're gonna do an edit out of it at some point.
Go Go Berlin from left to right: Christoffer Østergaard, Christian Vium, Mikkel Dyrehave, Anders Søndergaard
Indiespect: You talked about your new record and that it’s almost done…
Mikkel: The first part of it is done. We did the part where we recorded it. But we still have some mixing and a lot of other things to do. It’s not almost finished. That would be a lie. We have no time schedule. Maybe this year, maybe next year. We don’t know yet.
Christian: We recorded it and it’s getting mixed. I think we’re going to release a few songs this year. But we don’t know when it’s gonna land yet. There’s a lot of strategy behind that. You cannot only wanna do it in one country. You want other countries to come along and that stuff takes time. But since it’s almost done we are so enthusiastic and want to do something now. It’s a really difficult situation when you have something and you can’t show it yet.
Mikkel: We took our time this time. We needed to focus. That’s why we took some time off to make the record. Maybe that’s also the hard part that we stayed in the studio for such a long time. Now we’re ready again.
Indiespect: When did you decide that you don’t want to play that many shows and to focus on the record instead?
Mikkel: Two years ago, maybe. We said we had to cut down a bit. Before you make your first album, you have all the time in the world to make stuff for that. At that time we created music for the first and the second album. But afterwards you have to stop again and collect material.
Christian: I think, because we toured so heavily after the first album. There was a lot pushing of the management and the record companies, and they said: «Come on. We have to do it one more time». Because the first one was at least some kind of success. And they really wanted the new album fast because we wanted to start to tour other countries. It was written, recorded, mixed and almost released within half a year. It went really really fast. That was okay for that time. We sat down after that tour of Electric Lives, our second album, and said maybe the next for us to do is something that we’ve never done. That was to slow down and let the songs come. Like Mikkel said, your first album is not written in a year, it’s written in many years. We matured a lot as songwriters, as people and as producers of ourselves. But especially in the songwriting. Christoffer said it one time. These are the best songs we’ve ever written. Maybe that’s why he’s proud of that song, too.
Indiespect: I saw pictures of you, working with musicians like Lydmor or Adam Olenius from Shout Out Louds. Did you write stuff with them or are you going to have collaborations on your next record?
Mikkel: We did collaborations with many people on this. And that was also one of the changes in our songwriting. The thing was to let yourself become loose and try different stuff. The reason we also needed time was to try out stuff. If it wasn’t good we threw it out and say: «Let’s try it again tomorrow».
Christian: The one with Adam Olenius is not gonna come on this album. But we learned a lot about the way he is writing songs. It was a great experience to meet that guy, be in the studio with him and be in Stockholm for a few days. That was really inspiring.
Mikkel: And it’s also a really good song that we have now. It only doesn’t fit on this album. It was the same with the first album. We had a lot of songs that we didn’t use. They came on the second one. The same thing is gonna happen now. We wrote so many songs that are not on the album but they are there to start the next one. The thing we’ve been doing now is gonna affect us for a long time. And it’s gonna make the next album faster then this one.
Christian: We had sixty or seventy songs. We tried to narrow it down as much as possible. I think we were at twenty-five songs when we thought: «Now, it just hurts to cut away more songs». But an album is only eleven songs. Right now it feels like we have almost two albums ready in some way. It’s been so efficient.
Mikkel: It’s repeating itself. With the first album and the second one. The same thing can happen again now.
Indiespect: That means you will use the songs that don’t make it on this album for the next one?
Mikkel: These songs are in the mix for the next album. But we can’t think about that now because we’ll have the head in the current one. But they are not out at all. There were some songs we’ve had from very early one that first became interesting now.
Christian: Heaven’s Gone Alive is from a demo that we made for New Gold in 2013. Lot of the stuff is always gonna be there in some way.
Mikkel: When we went to a pool of twenty, the only reason we could cut some off was because we could say: «For the next album». Otherwise it would have hurt too much.
Christian: They’re not gonna die. We just hang them up on the fridge.
Go Go Berlin have worked with several artists in the making of their new album. Such as Adam Olenius from Shout Out Louds (left) or Lydmor (right). Source: Go Go Berlin, Facebook
Indiespect: You weren’t sure if you want to have a new bass player as a fix member after Emil left the band. But now you found Nick. Is he a fix member now?
Mikkel: He’s a fix member on the live part now. He also did some recording with us.
Christian: Yes, we put him in at one song but he’s not involved in the songwriting. I think it’s gonna remain like this. But he’s definitely part of the family. Let’s see what happens.
Mikkel: That’s an open chapter somehow. We just talked about if he would like to do all these concerts. And we had him in a session where we recorded a track. It has been an open process.
Christian: We’re not dating anymore. We started a relationship but I don’t think we’re gonna to propose to each other right now. So, it’s a nice and healthy way. Stuff is going really well. (laughs)
Indiespect: You are going to play new songs tonight. And you played them on the four shows of the current tour as well. How did the audience react to them?
Christian: They reacted very strongly. I was really really happy. On the first night we played, it was very difficult for us because we were still focussing on playing them right. But we had really strong response on different songs on different nights. Maybe that’s because we played them better. And it’s so nice to feel that people are interested in hearing the new stuff.
Mikkel: We changed so much. But seeing that the people who liked the old stuff still like the new stuff, that’s really nice. Some of the songs there is just everybody grooving to it and feeling the vibe. And on other songs people are dancing and on others they are jumping. That’s just nice to see that whole spectrum.
Christian: I think we’re playing about fifty percent of this set with new songs.
We’re not dating anymore. We started a relationship but I don’t think we’re gonna to propose to each other right now.Christian Vium talking about the new bass player Nick Lee
Indiespect: Is it true, that your new style is between the alternative version of «Maybe Tomorrow» and your older songs?
Christian: It’s definitely more alternative. Maybe Tomorrow showed that we were thirsty for something else. It's that kind of world we’re looking into but maybe you’ll be the judge when you hear the songs.
Mikkel: A thing that this alternate version showed is that there are the melody and the chords but in between there’s also a lot of small tweaks. Little noises and stuff like that. That’s one of the big things we did on the new recordings. Anders is yelling at some point. That’s us embracing the recorded media. Just doing a live recording.
Christian: We recorded the songs almost as they should be for real. And we used a lot of that stuff. When you record that way something suddenly will be on the tape or pop up, small pieces of charm. It’s really important to keep that charm. Sometimes it’s a yell of the keyboard player. We were getting scared of the retro rock music. That was kind of the brand that we had. It became a bad word in some ways. At least in our heads. Retro seems like to be some kind of copy band. So, we felt trapped. Especially with the new stuff we wanted to say that it is not a replication of anything. This is us trying to make something new.
Indiespect: Did it influence your style that people said you were a retro rock band?
Christian: I think it already showed a bit of that on Electric Lives. We were moving a bit in newer territories at least. It’s not something I hate people for saying that. They should enjoy whatever they feel like. But that’s not our state of mind.
The alternative version of «Maybe Tomorrow» marked a changing point in the songwriting of Go Go Berlin
Indiespect: Some of the questions you already answered in your tourcast. Not all of you got a tattoo, you don’t have a name for your next record or an artwork…
Mikkel: We have to start that up. So, thank you for bringing it up.
Christian: For Electric Lives we almost did a new album cover every day. The reason why that feels clever is because in that process you feel if it fits what you're doing with your music. All of a sudden you see: «That’s what it’s all about». It takes a long time because it’s not the first thing that comes up. We’re really picky.
Indiespect: That means you will do it on your own again?
Christian: I think so. We alway tend to say if you want to do something right, you have to do it on your own. Maybe not with the finish but the ideas should always come from the band.
Mikkel: We are still four people that have to make up our minds. And then our collective mind afterwards. Every time we try to pull someone in and say: «Could you make something from scratch?» they get schizophrenia because there are four people yelling at them at different directions. So, we need to make up our mind before we invite someone in.
Christian: We have total democracy. But also in a democracy there’s different people taking care of different stuff. Everybody is putting the equal amount of heart in the project. When we found the skull for Electric Lives it wasn’t something like: «There it is!» and that magic moment where everybody was pointing at it. You do twist and turns to make everybody happy. It’s the one that got less negative thoughts about it where you think you finally have something to work with.
Mikkel: It’s a game. It’s just a long game. With lies and deceits.
Christian: But you said you liked it! Fuck, what did you mean?
Mikkel: Anders told me yesterday that you said…
Christian: We always respect each others opinions. But it’s difficult.
Mikkel: Democracy is difficult.
Christian Vium during the making of the artwork for the second album «Electric Lives». Source: Morten Rygaard Photography
Indiespect: You only played a few shows now. Do you already have plans for upcoming concerts?
Christian: A lot of it is not announced, yet. Actually, I can’t say or we have to kill you. We have two really big shows on the 23rd and 24th March in our hometown Aarhus and Copenhagen. We’re really looking forward to that. These are going to be very big shows and a lot of the future shows are going to depend on this ones for people to come. It’s a long time since we played in Denmark in that way and it means so much to us. We’re gonna do more than our best. We also have some in the summer and we have a Danish tour in fall. That’s why we came back to Switzerland and Germany. We wanted to see if people miss us. And it feels like people are, so it feels really really nice to be back home. We’re here tonight to touch base.
Mikkel: Also to get out of that tiny studio of ours. And get some fresh air.
Christian: We really missed it. That’s why you end up drunk. Just because you missed it so much.
Mikkel: It’s a rookie experience. Like a band touring for the first time, shaking everybody's hands.
Christian: In Danish you would say that’s what you live for. What you breathe and why your heart beats. We have also that Danish picture of every spring when cows will come in from the barn and get on the grass. Because the cows always do kicks and go crazy. A cow is not really an energetic animal but at that point it’s going nuts. So it feels like going out on the field for the first time after we’ve been in the barn for a long time.
Indiespect: Nice imagery. Maybe you should use this for your album cover.
Christian: That’s a bit Pink Floyd-ish. Or Aerosmith as well. No, no! We don’t want to be a retro band.
Mikkel: We don’t want to be Pink Floyd. We don’t want to be Aerosmith.
Christian: I think the reason why we are so scared of that, is that we admire and love and have so much respect for old rock music. That’s why we are in the game. But I feel such a big frustration. I had a talk with one of the owners of the club we played in Mainz. In Denmark we have a radio station called «My Rock». It’s a music station for rock music but it’s only old rock music. Or if it’s new music it’s really really weird stuff. That’s also why we want to call it alternative now. If you play rock music you get a label. It’s like AC/DC fifty percent of the time. There’s no future in those rock channels. Of course I want to be played on it but they would never do it. Now we can see that we’re actually not playing rock music then. Even though you feel a bit torn because you feel like you’re playing rock music. In no way you wanna be associated with old stuff only. That’s why we’re a bit afraid of that mark. It feels like you’re just doing a circus show that’s been going on for fifty years.