Æ: Aglet Eaters

Interactions in Installments: DIN Martin Part 4

Posted in Discover by R on April 30, 2012

I have a few more small questions for you: Do you have any pets? Are you a coffee or tea fan? What’s your favourite kind of food? And out of cultural curiosity – what do you do in Leipzig when you’re hanging wit yer mates (as they call them in Australia)? Any preferred venues or activities?

Well I do actually have a pet. I have a little cat, called Rudi. He was already there, in the house, when I moved into my flat and after a while he started coming around quite regularly. Now he is around all the time and we became quite good mates!

I do enjoy the occasional coffee just as the occasional tea but I wouldn’t consider myself as a tea / coffee drinker. So no real feelings on that one. Same with food, well not really the same, but I eat pretty much everything. I’m a bad cook though, which I find really annoying. I’d really like to cook nice food and stuff but it doesn’t really go much further than pasta with me. I will do a course though at some point.

Leipzig is amazing. A really pretty city. I live, just as the rest of DIN Martin, in the west of Leipzig, which back in the days used be full of industry, factories…the builders and their families basically. After the wall broke down all the industry started to disappear leaving the empty factories and houses which were empty for a long time. In the last, say 5 years, they started doing up the houses which attracted people. Amongst young families and students, lots of artists came, some better than others, but the whole vibe changed. Many of these factories were being converted into galleries, venues, pubs, studios and so on. We’ve got our studio in one of them, too. It’s a really cosmic place, creative and alternative which I really feel comfortable with. 

 For a while now really we haven’t been really going out. This album and tour and everything around it, took up quite a lot of space and energy in everyone’s life. We usually just go and hang out in our favorite pub called “Noch Besser Leben” which means “Even better living”. (there is also a pub called “Besser Leben” which means “Better Living” which opened before the Noch Besser Leben, obviously 🙂 ). It’s a great place, we know many of the bar staff who are all characters, and you can still smoke there and sometimes you find yourself sitting there till six in the morning. It’s lovely. 

 We are really pleased with the video too. That was pretty exciting. I seriously couldn’t sleep for two weeks before we shot it. We had to plan everything so well, as we were in Leipzig and they in Bristol and communication was a bit tricky. But yeah, they were really on it. It premiered on national German tv by the way. That was pretty cool, and good for Richard, the guy who shot it, too. Good reference.

As is often the case with these interactions in installments (because, you know, there have been sooooo many) the conversation doesn’t really ‘end’, but the feature has to. I think this is a great place to publicly congratulate Ole, Carsten and the Martins on their work so far.  At this point, I’d also like to ask this Martin if there’s anything I’ve missed asking him about and that he’d like to share.

I think I mentioned it a little before but again thanks for doing this. Even though we are only emailing each other this feels like a really natural and personal conversation. A thousand times better than many interviews I did before. It has been really interesting and I’m surprised how much I was able to open although we haven’t even met! So well done you! 😉

C’est tout, folks. I’m left feeling most glowy and honoured and a little bit bashful that a DIN Martin digs my somewhat unique (lazy?) ‘interview’ technique . Also, I am stoked that Leipzig’s got this much talent in it. Father of experimental psychology, DIN Martin – what a great city! Once again, if you want to give DIN Martin a listen, this is the place to visit for a physical copy of their record, or you could go here or here for immediate gratification (aka downloads). I think you should buy their music, or at least send them a message on facebook or twitter or wherever telling them you dig them. They’re the nicest people and would only be too happy to hear your praise. Danke for your time and effort and luffly  company, DIN Martin!

Interactions in Installments: DIN Martin Part 3

Posted in Discover by R on April 28, 2012

That’s a nice line from the Go-Betweens’ song – it’s one I like to think I’ve lived by for most of my life. Yet I’m still a bit confused as to my take on it. On one hand I agree you shouldn’t confine yourself to a boring job just to put bread on the table, but on the other hand, in a weird way it’s not a bad idea to have a dull, boring, absolutely unrelated job on the side so your own music becomes the focus. It’s like – the more I write for other people, the less I write for myself. I don’t know if THAT makes sense since it’s barely formed in my own head, but it’s one of those thoughts that makes me think there isn’t a right answer to the way of life question. Not to forget the obligations and ambitions change across generations and cultures – we can’t equate our paths to our parents’ and in my time in Australia I noticed the expectations were very different to what I was used to in India. That must be why I’m so confused I guess.

I can only imagine what it’s like hearing non-music-makers speak so decisively about what YOU should do with YOUR music. I like to imagine I am a Good Guy but I guess I slip up as well. I find music piracy especially a difficult topic to comment on because, you know, it’s not for me to say since it’s not my product. So all I can do is equate it to my own work. But the problem – for lack of a better word – with music is that it ends up belonging to everyone. I’m no musician but I think I might be more possessive of some songs and albums than the people who made them. Sounds like crazy talk, but I think that, apart from ease of replication and distribution, the personal aspect of music – the ‘it’s mine!’ feeling might compound the problem. My ‘it’s mine!’ feeling is so intense I refuse to share music at all – as in not even play the songs I like to someone in the same room (unless they ask very very nicely and promise to pay close attention). Lars Ulrich would be pleased 😉

I guess the problem with that mentality might be that it limits the number of people who know you exist, so you’re back to the original problem again i.e. how do you get people to know you exist AND have them pay for your music. Maybe the choose your price technique?

I agree with you that there isn’t a right answer to the way of life questions. It’s really difficult and blatantly you’re not the only one who finds this confusing. I don’t know I think making the most of it is important, what ever that may be for one. That’s what makes me happy anyway and I’m thankful in a way and really appreciate that the general set up allows me to do what I want. I’m aware that this isn’t a given and situations are very different in other countries, some of them not far from Germany.

I like the Lars Ulrich mention! 🙂 I mean he’s a bit of pain to be honest and I’m sure he’s earned and spent more money than any of us are ever gonna see… don’t know whether you have seen the documentary ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ which is about Metallica, you have to! But he’s got a point in the end.

But I totally get you with the ‘it’s mine’ situation as well. I get that with music too. And it is the most exciting thing and this is what music is for. Totally! It’s tricky but I mean I don’t see many of our politicians getting this feeling and being so passionate about music as you are. But I don’t want to be prejudgmental. 

I always think it is great if you go see a band, you haven’t seen before and they totally blow your mind and you know it is something special. I couldn’t then go home on the computer and start downloading their music for free, knowing that they won’t see a penny of it. It wouldn’t make me feel right, you know. 

By the way, I should have asked this earlier – and it’s a cliché question, I’m afraid – but how did you think up the name of your album – The Second Before You Faint? Is it meant to serve as a description of the music as well? As in, how the listener should feel? (‘cos, you know, it can be pretty surreal)

Another naive question – what made you choose to sing in English? I know you’re not the only ones to do so, but it is something I wonder because I think German is a more expressive language (most are) – I would guess the primary reason is to be more accessible?

And a final one for now -tell me about the title video… how did you meet Alison of the Fauns? Any stories about it, any stories it’s meant to convey, etc.?

 The album title “The second before you faint” comes from the chorus line of “Before you faint” which is: ‘the second before you faint/no one listens anyway’. I really like that line, it’s pretty strong and dark and bad really. It is like someone trying to explain their inner self, trying to express their inner feelings and emotions to someone and trying so hard that finally they run out of energy and faint because the person was bored and not touched at all. This whole line works with the meaning of the song and the video but not really with the album. I wouldn’t want this person to be us trying harder and harder to express our music while the listener stops listening and goes off doing something else. 

But just taking the first bit gives it kind of a new meaning. What happens in that very second before you faint? … with your body, your soul, consciousness? Where does it all go and how does it come back? And why? I thinks it’s pretty exciting that our body has a reset button and uses it without us telling him to. My personal thought wasn’t really about giving the music a description with the title. It was more like if I was about to faint, for whatever reason, and this album would play (or not even just this one, any album I like) and make this second last really long, i wouldn’t worry, it would be fine and I’d feel comfortable. 

But I don’t know, I mean everyone can find a different interpretation and I’m alright with that. That was just what was in my head. 

There was never really a question about what language we are going to sing in. It was clear from the start that it is going to be English. One reason, of course, is to make it more accessible. Clearly. That’s why we are trying to keep communication on things like Facebook in both, English and German. But also for me, who writes a fair amount of the lyrics, it feels more natural to do so in English. I spent three years in Bristol, UK which helps a lot and I find English, speaking wise, so much more comfortable than German. German is really hard, long and expressive if you want but it doesn’t have such an easy flow as English. And I would imagine it being really difficult to work into our music. I think English works really well and to be honest I love speaking the language. There’s a word for everything in English whereas in German you need to describe and paraphrase, which some people probably like working with, but I don’t really. 

Lovely Alison I met when I used to live in Bristol. I also know the rest of the Fauns quite well. I used to play with them. I was their very first bass player when they started. Well, they started as a 3 piece (with a different singer, two guitars and without live drums) and then Ali, me, a keyboarder and the drummer joined. I played with them for a year or so until I decided that at some point I’m going to move back to Germany. So me and Michael Savage, who started the band who is kind of the head of it all, decided to go different ways, musically. Still we are all good friends, I always see them when I’m over and we are in touch. Choosing Ali to star the video wasn’t my idea, it came from the other DIN Martins but once it was said and once I had thought about it, it made perfect sense for me too. 

The whole input I have given into the band so far was pretty much connected to Bristol and my life over there. Working on this record and with that band helped me reflect and work through everything that had happened in that 3 years. It was quite a lot and really intense in most ways. I always think of that life I had there as a bubble and everyone who became a close friend during this time was in that bubble with me. All of us we came from so many different backgrounds, ages and stories and we spent the craziest time together, not having any responsibility at all, just living, laughing, loving every day and really feeling it. It was great! And so important. And then suddenly everyone was at a point where they had plans for their lifes. And some wandered off to live somewhere else, some started a family, some started doing a completely different job and so on. We all stayed in touch and it’s great to talk to them and see how they are doing. 

So yeah that’s why Ali is perfect for it and why we shot the video in Bristol together with a filmmaker from there, called Richard Edkins, who is a good friend of mine too. And it worked out great. I didn’t know Ali could act that great, it totally blew my mind and Richards camera work and knowledge is amazing and another friend of mine, André Mueller, who is German and who has been living in Bristol for 10 years now, did the catering and drove us around to the different spots we wanted to shoot at, just perfect really!

Interactions in Installments: DIN Martin Part 2

Posted in Discover by R on April 26, 2012

Can you tell me what you guys do – do you have day jobs or do you study? And what are your ambitions – not necessarily to do with the band. I mean, what do you want to be when you grow up?

All four of us have got different things going next to the band, jobwise. Bills and rents need be paid in the end and at the moment we can’t do that just by making music. Still though the band, or just the matter itself, music, is what we do and what we relate to the most (it’s our first love, one would say 🙂 ). That includes, of course being creative, writing, rehearsing, playing, recording, coming up with ideas, chucking them away again, making new ones, as well as promoting the whole thing, being in touch with people from the business or other bands, sorting out shows, being in touch with fans and so on. It’s so exciting to see the whole thing grow and go somewhere. One thing leads to another. An idea gets bigger and gives you rudiments to new plans. It’s great and it fills me with a lot of contentment and joy. So basically I’m already doing what I want to do when I grow up. (Does that mean I’m a grown up already? Mmh..) 

I personally would say though that the perfect scenario would be one where rents and bills wouldn’t really make me worry anymore. It’s not about getting ridiculously rich, but just to have enough to get along and also getting it through the music would be great but it surely is a long way. I really struggled finding words to say that now, which is weird. There’s this debate in Germany (again) started by the German Pirate Party. It’s basically about that all music should be available and downloadable for free on the internet and there shouldn’t be any more copyright laws and so on, which I find is complete bullshit and totally the wrong direction. I feel like this whole indie movement or whatever you want to call it, brought up this sense of being “uncool” when you earn money with your art or your music. Do you know what you mean? And that is really dangerous, cause the last thing you wanna be as an indie or alternative band is to be uncool. So bands go along with it. That’s the reason why so many indie labels didn’t survive. Some people expect to just get music for free. I don’t really get that. People should recognise it as someone’s job, and sure the music is for them to enjoy and listen to but it needs to be paid for, just as a you need to pay for a bloody yoghurt in the supermarket or whatever.

I drifted off there a little. It just made me wonder why I find it so difficult to say that next to all the other reasons why I’m a musician and why I love it so much, I do want to earn money with my music, too. 

Are you a grownup already? I’m 25 and still keep wondering what I’ll be when I grow up. is there a point you reach where you wake up one morning with the sudden realisation you are a grown up? I guess I just imagine one day I’ll have a steady job and a routine and stability and all of that, but I haven’t quite worked out how that’s going to happen. I really hope I turn into an adult before I grow old.

I’ve heard about the Pirate Party. I don’t know where I stand on the music/art should(n’t) be free debate. I understand the artist’s perspective of course – I certainly wouldn’t want something I created being distributed without my permission. At the same time I am a firm believer in the theory of intrinsic motivation and that music (or anything creative) comes across as more authentic, more honest, if it’s not motivated by money. Something very personal, especially, seems to be sort of cheapened if you put a price on it. For instance, I don’t want to know the worth of any of the more personal writing I do in dollar value. This doesn’t mean creativity is not a profitable skill – there are plenty of professional outlets for creative types where you can support yourself doing what you’re good at. I think a lot of these professions are regarded as ‘selling out’ and you should just be paid for what you want to create and not what someone, er, pays you to create.

I think the issue might be more one of appreciation/acknowledgement rather than money. The lack of “thank you”s, or “good work!”s etc. Since it’s impractical to expect everyone to be able to communicate their appreciation to you, paying becomes a substitute.

I like the internet for that, though – how I’ve had the chance to tell all the bands/musicians I admire how good they are. That’s why I like writing about music too – it’s kind of like ‘translating’ or ‘reinterpreting’ the work for an audience. Though, I don’t know, maybe you’re like Roland Barthes and think all those adjectives are indeed ‘the poorest of the linguistic categories’.

 I don’t know. It always bugs me a little when being grown up is connected with having a steady life and a nine to five office job (for example). I mean if that floats your boat then fair enough.

I know people who are in their 40s and they are probably the most grown up people I’ve met, although they completely live the opposite of a steady life with normal jobs, families and so on. Most of them are away traveling half the year and the other half they do jobs at festivals or in bars or so. I think for me anyway, it’s far more important to be able to do what ever it is that you want to do, as well as being at peace with yourself. I’d leave this grown up term out completely!

 This band the Go Betweens pops into my head there. They are from Australia but I think the lead singer passed away a few years ago. Anyway they’ve got a song called ‘Boundary Rider’ and there is one line that goes: ‘to know yourself is to be yourself’. If I’d make a movie called ‘Grown Up’ I would make ‘to know yourself is to be yourself’ as the caption. Go find out who you are and what you want to do and then do it. Is that too romantic? I don’t know. But seriously this line from the song really seems like a perfect guidance and once you are really clear with yourself then you may as well be doing that nine to five job in an office, have a family or what ever, cause then it’s your thing. 

(I don’t know if any of that makes sense to anyone who’s not me…)

 I see your points on the music debate and I’m actually with you. Art shouldn’t be money motivated. 

I’m making music because it’s my passion, that’s what I want to do and I can’t really stop it either. I would never make it just for the money. This has never been my or the bands intention (it’s also not in manifesto 🙂 ). I would stop it by now if it was just for money reasons.

But, and thats kinda going back to the grown up bit above, when you find out that this is what you gonna be doing because you enjoy it, because you have to do it, you don’t want to do it part time, you know? You don’t want to be stuck in a boring job on the side just so you can pay for a living. I mean that’s how it starts but the aim really, for me anyway, is to do music full time. Then you have the headspace to focus. 

But you still need an income, not much, just enough to live a fairly decent life. 

I think it’s really cheeky that people, who aren’t actually musicians their selfs, start debates about whether other peoples work should be available for free for just anyone. For me as a musician it feels degrading. They don’t accept making music as an occupation, which I think it is, not in a bad way. It’s a job that most people who do it, enjoy. Maybe that’s why it sounds so abstract. And believe me, I’m not about the money and I don’t want to sell records like Jacko did, but if people stop paying for music or concerts then I’m sure it’s going to fall apart and we end up with only the crap you can hear on daytime radio shows. 

Interactions in Installments: DIN Martin Part 1

Posted in Discover by R on April 25, 2012

“DIN Martin are four guys: There is Carsten Ritter on bass, Martin Zickenrott on drums and electronics, Ole Toense on guitar and me (Martin Joerg Hommel) on guitar and singing. It all started in early 2010 so pretty much two years ago.”

I was psyched when I received an email from one of the Martins of DIN Martin. You see, not only are they from my favourite European country (that I have never visited, fyi) BUT they are ALSO from LEIPZIG which, as we all know, is the birthplace of experimental psychology and the city where Wilhem Wundt set up the first psychological laboratory in 1879 (this fact is disputed by some who claim William James actually set up the first psychological laboratory, but really American cities are just not as romantic – look at the etymology of the word).

Of course, before I could listen to the music, I had to give this hapless boy a brief history of structuralism and like a good student he went and looked up Wundt, the man who (should have) made his land proud. Wonderful! What a great person to have a nice long INTERACTION IN INSTALLMENTS with.

Before getting started, a bit about the music. I believe DIN Martin are presently trying to pass themselves off as post-rock, but really I think they are more pop-oriented shoegaze with post-rock tendencies. You see, their music simply isn’t dark and broody enough to qualify as pure post-rock. It carries so much innocence – not enough to be twee – that I find it’s more pensive than melancholic. Perhaps it IS post-rock, and my conception of PR as darkly – not morbidly, just matter-of-factly – introspective (shoutout to my man WUNDT for that word) is flawed. Regardless, there is such a youthfulness to the songs that they almost appear hopeful in places. I’m certain I’m not wrong in thinking post-rock is not hopeful. Alors, you can listen to them yourself and tell me what you think:

Now, to business. We need to know how DIN Martin formed. Let’s ask our Martin:

I used to live in Bristol, UK till January ’10 and moved then back to Germany. The first person I bumped into was Ole. I knew him briefly as he was in another band before, and they came over to Bristol to play a show and we spend like a weekend together. I also knew Martin as both of us were (and still are) involved in organising a festival in Leipzig. 

We quickly decided to do something together and started as a three piece. We spent a lot of time meeting up for chats and drinks before we actually went to the rehearsal studio, which was really helpful for the process of getting to know each other, getting to know what the others like and so on. It turned out that, coming from different reasons and experiences, we kinda wanted to do and achieve the same things when making music. We wrote a little manifesto with the dos and don’ts and stuck to it. 

Carsten joined after a few months. Him and Ole have been friends for ages and they have already been making music together as well, so it was the perfect match for the band. Together we wrote more material, experimented with sounds, effects, different instruments, vocals and so on and then a year later we self-released our first 4 track EP <i>Elliston Road</i> [which you can pick up here] started gigging and played the first tour which lead us through England, Denmark and Germany. 

That’s how it all started. 

Okay, now here’s something I already know because I have spies on every continent and one’s conveniently based in Germany: DIN Martin is an intriguing name and the story behind it is worth going into. Can you share with us where the name is from? I believe it’s meant to be a pun or a bit of wordplay – is that what you intended? And are you pressuring Carsten and Ole to change their names for continuity’s sake?

Haha that would actually be quite funny but no, we don’t want to pressure anyone to adopt different names for any reasons. Especially not with the name Martin – as you know, we are quite enough here already. 🙂 

Still there were moments when the four of us went to a party and me and Martin started saying hello by “Hi, Martin my name”, “Hello, I’m Martin” and Ole and Carsten just kept going with “Hey, Martin as well.”, “Hi, Martin.”. So yeah it would make things easier, especially when asked ‘why are you called DIN Martin’ but that wasn’t the reason why we chose it. 

Naming a band is always so hard and can be really frustrating I find. You don’t want to give too much away with the name or have it sound ridiculous or whatever, still it’s gotta be something that people will remember. Only sometimes it happens that the name suddenly pops up and makes perfect sense for what you are doing. 

It was actually Ole’s idea to call us DIN Martin and as soon as he said it, we were pretty much like, yeah let’s do it, that’s great. The DIN in German is a standard norm or measurement kinda thing. For an A4 sheet of paper for example you would in German say, this paper is in format DIN A4 (or DIN A3 or whatever). So the DIN says, for example, that all sheets of paper in format A4 are the same size. 

The DIN in DIN Martin is based on the manifesto we wrote. It gives us, or better, it gives the band the norm. It tells us where we are going and what we are doing. After we had finished writing it, we were all at the same level, from then on we all knew what to do. That was actually when Ole said the name – straight after writing it. The Martin comes from the two Martins in the band. Does that make sense? It does for us, but it’s always really tricky to explain. 

It’s great though, what people think it means. There was a guy at our show in Bristol a few weeks ago who said “I thought you were gonna do cover versions of Dean Martin songs but in a shoegazy style”. I thought that is brilliant and I’m sure there would definitely be a market for that! 

What we found out after a while is that there are meanings for DIN in different languages too. In English it’s an old term for noise which fits and in Danish it means “your” which is kinda nice really!

Incoming: DIN Martin

Posted in Discover by R on April 23, 2012

In the second ever edition of (dun-dun-dunnnnn) INTERACTIONS IN INSTALLMENTS (!) we’re going to meet DIN Martin – a charming German post-rock quartet. Well, I’ve only been speaking to one of them and he’s overwhelmingly charming, so I’m assuming the rest are too. In fact, I’m yet to make friends with a German who’s not charming. Maybe that’s why I make friends with them, eh? Tricky things.

Stick around. (And do your homework)

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