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flag Germany - Full Moon 37 - 10/24/99

The Notwist
an interview with Markus Acher

Noisy Le Grand - A conversation with Markus Acher

In their native Germany, there is no need to introduce The Notwist anymore. For the last ten years, the brother Markus and Michael Acher and their drummer Mecki Messerschmid have made a name for themselves as one of the most exciting and challenging bands around. Started out merely as a hardcore band, they released their self-titled first album on the underground label Subway as early as 1990. The Achers also began working with a whole lot of side-projects around that time, many of them - Tied & Tickled Trio, Village Of Savoonga, Potawatomi, Rayon - released their stuff on the legendary Hausmusik label. After touring with bands like The Jesus Lizard, Bad Religion, Verbal Assault or Therapy? and releasing a second album Nook (on Big Store), the band finally found it's very own groove, incorporating more jazz and avant garde elements into their music without forgetting about their past. 1995's album 12" (Big Store) was praised as one of the best albums of the year not only in Germany, but around the globe. Two years on the trio recruited renowed electronic boffin Martin Gretschmann (of Console fame) as their fourth member and began working on what turned out to be their most accomplished piece of work yet: Shrink, their fourth album (again on Big Store) that mixed the brutal guitar sound of their first records with more mellow jazz sounds and a whole lot of electronic sounds, was not only one of the best German records of 1998, with its release on the Stereolab-owned Duophonic label in Britain and Zero Hour in the States the Notwist finally found a larger audience outside of their home country as well. To coincide with their British tour supporting label mates Stereolab, the release of the Absolute Giganten soundtrack, to which the band contributed a handful of tracks, and the imminent release of the new Tied & Tickled Trio record EA1 EA2 (on Payola) I had a short conversation with mainman Markus Acher before The Notwist's recent show at the Cologne Prime Club.

Carsten: How does it feel to be part of The Notwist and the Tied & Tickled in the fall of '99?
Markus: I have mixed feelings. First of all, the Notwist are playing a few shows without having a single new song in the repertoire and that's kinda strange, but I can handle it. The Tied & Tickled album is only to be released in mid-November so we're still in the middle of the 'built up'. Hopefully in December, when we have the finished album in our hands and will go on tour that will have changed.

Carsten: When you write songs, do you know straight away for which of your many projects you'll use them? Or do you think: Okay, maybe I'll hold back this idea for a future Notwist LP and not use it for, say, Tied & Tickled?
Markus: Well, I can't write stuff on the spot. I have to sit down and think about it very carefully and if I do that it's for the imminent project only. You also have to meet certain requirements. For Tied & Tickled I only do arrangements and with The Notwist you simply have certain cornerstones that you put together.

Carsten: So there is no formula like "Tied & Tickled Trio = The Notwist minus Rock minus vocals"?
Markus: No, but the two bands are linked of course. You end up using elements with Tied & Tickled that you worked on with the Notwist already, but usually we do things with Tied & Tickled that we wouldn't dare to do with The Notwist. The Notwist is far more Pop-orientated and you wouldn't wanna do one Sax solo after the other.

Carsten: So there are more "musical boundaries" for The Notwist?
Markus: Tied & Tickled and Notwist just work differently. There are boundaries, but they are just our own personal taste. There are things we'd never do, simply because we think they are horrible.

Carsten: Does the success of Shrink have any kind of impact on any of your future projects, The Notwist as well as the other bands? Do you think it's gonna be easier or more difficult for you to meet people's expectations now?
Markus: At this point in time, I couldn't say it for Tied & Tickled. Martin's Console is fully functioning on it's own and I hope that it'll work out that way for Tied & Tickled as well, cause basically it's a completely different audience. There's only a few people who like The Notwist and listen to all the side-projects as well. When we went on tour with Console and Tied & Tickled, the whole Notwist Posse was nowhere to be seen.

Carsten: How did the support slot for Stereolab's British tour come about? Through the Duophonic connection?
Markus: Yeah, they just thought of ways how to give the record a little extra promotion in England and asked us if we wanted to join them on tour.

Carsten: Thanks for the interview!

Copyright © 1999 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Notwist articles/reviews: Close To The Glass, Kong, Neon Golden, Superheroes, Ghostvillains & Stuff, The Devil, You + Me.

© 2011 Luna Kafé