Special thanks to Michael of the Unruhr Online-Mag for supplying this interview.
In 1981, this Dark Wave band landed with the song “Suicide Commando”, an underground hit that in the following years spread - disregarding any genre - through the various music scenes.
Special thanks to Michael of the Unruhr Online-Mag for supplying this interview.
In 1981, this Dark Wave band landed with the song “Suicide Commando”, an underground hit that in the following years spread - disregarding any genre - through the various music scenes. The group itself disbanded in 1986 and slipped afterwards quite unjustifiably more or less into oblivion. Then a surprise at the end of 2006 when Roof Music released the double album “Remake/Remix”. 20 years after the end of NO MORE, this album presented in equal parts the band’s past and present.
Actually, the initial plan had been to release on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of “Suicide Commando” only a compilation documenting the development of the song with all its mixes and remixes. But the project developed its own momentum and what had initially begun as a Venus 45 project by A.A.Schwarz and Tina Sanudakura turned into a new NO MORE album that along with mash-ups of classic titles of the early phase (1979-82) also triggered the creation of new songs.
These mash-ups are, therefore, not only a reminiscence of the beginnings but, at the same time,a new start with which NO MORE attempt to give a firm footing to the naiveté of the early recordings. A naiveté “which was at that time still without the fear of embarassment and without the forced attempts of the puffed-up 80s to sound as grand and professional as possible”
(NO MORE) but which today has its own new appeal.
It will be interesting to watch the future development of No More.
The following interview reveals what A.A.Schwarz has to say on the subject.
1. What memories do you have of the time of NO MORE?
That varies depending on the time and the phase in which the band found itself. For the Remake/Remodel CD we mainly dealt with the beginnings. At that time (1979-81), the main aspect was the scene that disregarded all genres. For the “do-ers” it wasn’t important from which corner anyone came, and each approach from any direction was possible. Punk was the initial trigger for everbody and thus the unifying common denominator. Later on, everything drifted apart again. But dealing with this period released completely different feelings than the later history of the band. It was a very pleasant, spontaneous, innocent time and, therefore, full of positive feelings. In contrast perhaps to the ending, when the band dissolved. From that time, not necessarily only good feelings remain. Although musically we had perhaps the best team then and were technically better - but in the beginning we were probably more creative, or better - more spontaneous.
2. Over time, the sound of the band has changed quite a bit, going as far as a mixture of oriental sounds and Dark Wave that was quite special and exciting.
At the time, we also saw it like that. I think though that we couldn’t have gone any further into that direction. In that regard, it was also musically justified that we disbanded. I believe that we had already somewhat drifted off. And besides, we had never seen ourselves as epigones of the Sisters of Mercy or Fields of the Nephilim or some such thing.
3. Where does this enthusiasm for oriental sounds come from though? Is it the longing for drama and pathos found in this music and for these reasons fits quite well into the mood of Dark Wave?
That’s right. I don’t even remember how it all that came about. The first song we made in that direction was “Drums of Algier” on the “A Rose is a Rose” 10”. That was the initial spark. I think it was a French movie we saw at the time. And then we took hold of the subject and it developed. Later on, it became a bit of an obsession. We then tried stuff that we couldn’t really get under one hat, for example, to make the sound grander, grandioser and more passionate. Ultimately, we were unable to realize that, neither musically nor as far as the production side.
4. Did you see yourselves then at that time as a Wave band?
It is always difficult to say where one stands at any given time. In the beginning, we did call it New Wave, but at that time it meant something entirely different than today. Alfred Hilsberg’s NDW then also meant something different than as what is was perceived later on. At the very beginning, No More was more Post Punk and No Wave. Over time, these labels simply change in meaning. Punk today means something different than it did 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. When we started with No More in 1979, Punk already meant something different than 2 years previous. But anyway, these categories are really interesting only to journalists.
5. Your most important song and also the central piece of the “Remake/Remodel” CD is Suicide Commando which initiated a brief new phase of the band towards a more minimal sound.
Well, that period lasted for about a year and a half. At the beginning, we were really minimalistic but not electronically so. At the recording of Suicide Commando it was more or less coincidence that we made it as we did. We’ve had that song in the programme for quite some time but no concrete idea how to produce it. So then we decided to do it as minimalistically as possible. But that was actually already the second phase. Parts of the first phase are also on the “Remake/Remodel” album, with songs such as “What” and “French Kisses”, which are completely different.
6. What, in your opinion, is so special about Suicide Commando that this song retains as an underground hit its relevance even today, regardless of genre and scene?
I really don’t know. We’ve often asked ourselves that. We’ve also tried repeatedly to make a new version because we simply couldn’t get on with the old one. I think though that the title is important because it is very catchy. The sound, of course, is important as well, although opinions tend to differ in that regard. Some say its the voice, others that it is the keyboard theme. But it seems to have some universal appeal because at quite different points it suddenly took off - without any effort on our part. In the beginning, around 1983, when the single had already been out for about a year or two, we sold perhaps 400-500 pieces, that’s all. But in 1984, it suddenly took off. And later on, it came up again and again, the last time, of course, through the DJ Hell and Echopark remixes.
7. But in your No More time you seem to have had an ambivalent relationship with the song. You refused, at any rate, to play it in concert. Was that because it no longer fit in with your sound at the time?
We wanted to fit the song to the sound. But somehow we didn’t manage to do that. So then we said, let’s just leave it. We simply couldn’t play it live as it is on the record and we couldn’t integrate it either. But it was also a counter-reaction: We are being reduced to this song, let’s not play it anymore. That was a typical Indie-musician reaction. And in a way, that might have messed up our career somewhat. But, so be it.
8. On the new CD are two live versions of Suicide Commando and I would agree with you that the song live doesn’t come across so well. Although the version at the farewell concert in the Old Daddy in Oberhausen is nice, it does lack the atmosphere of the original. The Bochum version is already much better, with differents sounds and a different melody….
One should add here, that the Bochum version still has some overdubs. I must say that I also find the Oberhausen version quite alright, but the atmosphere of the original can’t be reproduced - in a good as well as a bad sense. The concert in Bochum was also filmed, by the way, but at Suicide Commando the tape ran out after 38 seconds or so. Now one could see that, of course, as some kind of omen…....Personally, I like the instrumental version best because it is the exact opposite to the original. For me, it completes the original for the first time and I have once more the feeling of the atmosphere in which the song was created.
9. What triggered the production of “Remake/Remodel”? Was it the result of going through old material for the “Dreams” album that was released by Vinyl on Demand a year ago?
Yes, that’s about right. First of all, we realized that an anniversary (25years Suicide Commando) was coming up and that, after all, can be taken as an opportunity to go through the files. Secondly, by occupying ourselves with the old material, we realized that something was still missing or that certain things were still incomplete. And that’s why we said, let’s see what we can do with it. Initially, we only wanted to add 2 or 3 other songs to the Suicide Commando versions. But then the project took on its own momentum and we wrote the mash-ups or, respectively, wrote new songs.
10. Did you still have the original tapes of the recordings? And then I imagine that it’s quite difficult to make mash-ups of this old material because the sound quality probably wasn’t particularly good.
We still had the stereo mastertapes but no multi-track tapes. So then we selected the relevant parts. That worked out quite well. We knew to some degree where we had to search because we had already compiled the material for the “Dreams” record and gone through the tapes before.
11. I like the idea of mash-ups instead of a remix or a new recording, because in the latter cases the character and the atmosphere of the original are so often destroyed.
The old material has of course something that cannot be recreated. And with this in mind we developed the mash-ups. We didn’t want to cover the song in the “up-to-date” sound.
12. Was this then a one-off project for this CD or a new start for No More as a band?
We’re already in the process of writing new songs. We hope that - if we get enough songs together and find a label - to make a new album in 2007 (- without Suicide Commando).
13. Can you already tell us into which sound directions the new songs will go?
No, that’s only possible once the concrete production is under way. Things like that keep changing during the process. But the Remake CD will certainly be the starting point of whatever direction we’ll go.
14. Then I’ll try it the indirect way: What are at present your musical influences?
We listen to all sorts of music. There are the all-time favorites: early Roxy music, Brian Eno, Radiohead, Bowie, Velvet Underground. That is, ‘the usual musicians’ fare. At the moment we are rediscovering CAN, and then Artic Monkeys, Coco Rosi - mainstream, really. But that doesn’t necessarily influence our own work - in the old days that was certainly different. We’re no longer part of a scene, and at our age one simply works with different priorities in mind.
15. I seem to hear though that your comeback does not exactly lean towards the Gothic scene, Lately, it’s been happening repeatedly that bands from the 80s regrouped but then - in style and sound - chummed up to the Gothic scene (for example, Pink turns Blue). That’s not the case with you, is it?
That’s not where we wanted or want to go. There’s simply too much dreadful stuff from the 80s. Since 1982/83 or thereabout there was so much rubbish, nobody needs that anymore. I think we’d rather go musically backward in order to go forward than to hop now into the mid-80s. That’s simply not conceivable.
16. Let’s jump now to Nijinsky Style. After No More dissolved, you founded
the band Nijinsky Style. Whatever happened to the release of the second album?
That has been released now, even a third one, although “only” as download albums at Fugeo. We produced the second album quite lavishly but did not find a label. We didn’t want to release the album ourselves and so it hung around until Friedel Muders at Fuego phoned us. He wanted to release the first album as a download, but then we also still had the “lost” album as well as a live album…..So that now all of them are again or for the first time available.
17. What’s really a bit peculiar is that other bands with a similar sound, such as Poems for Laila or, before that, perhaps also Element of Crime, were much more successful. A certain listener potential was there, after all… A pity, really.
Well, I thought so too, although Nijinsky Style was a bit more unwieldy than the bands mentioned above whom, by the way, we like very much. It was also an internal problem, because the band members changed too often and that frequently set us back. There also was - and still is - the location; Kiel is far from the front lines. Had we been in Berlin, things may have worked out differently. But, oh well…
18. We have a similar problem here in the Ruhrgebiet…
Yes, we also spent a year there.
19. That doesn’t really surprise me now. As a band from Kiel you had after all your No more farewell concert in the Ruhrgebiet, actually in 1986, in the Old Daddy in Oberhausen, and your label is from Bochum. Do you have a special connection to the Ruhrgebiet?
Since 1984 we simply played there most often, and our label - Roof Music - is in Bochum. It just worked out that way. But at that time we had decided during the tour not to continue with No More, and by chance Old Daddy was the last engagement. To have the last concert there had not really been planned. And afterwards we also lived for another year in Bochum.
20. Last question on your project VENUS 45. Can you tell us briefly what’s that all about?
After the end of Nijinsky Style, we didn’t make music anymore for quite some time. When we started up again, we first made a sound installation for a museum and later the music for an earbook version of “Quiet Days in Clichy.” In May 2007, there will be an exhibition - initiated by us - under the title “Kein Kiel” in the Kieler Kunsthalle, where we’ll make some contributions as Venus 45. Initially, we had wanted to compile the Remake/Remodel CD as Venus 45 and to add a few remixes/mash-ups. In the course of time, it gradually developed into a No More album. So as No More we had ourselves produced as Venus 45 - schizophrenia at its best. If there is time, we’d also want to record another VENUS 45 album in 2007.
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