Every now and again a band comes along that are so distinctive, so far outside the monotonous paradigm of modern musical ubiquity that you just have to sit up and take notice; Cold In Berlin are such a band. Ahead of the release of their new album ‘…And Yet’ Chris Hughes caught up with My (vocals) & Andy (guitar) to get the low down on the band.
(((o))): The name Cold In Berlin has distinct undertones, to these ears of an old goth anyway, of something Sisters Of Mercy might have come up with, is that era an influence?
Adam: Maybe, we grew up in the same Yorkshire landscape as the Sisters. It’s a Bronte-esq landscape of beautiful bleak moors and dark slate Gothic architecture. There were some great bands in the 80s. But it seems like a forgotten decade now. Recent revivals have just been about the colourful pop world of the 80’s.
My: It is a tone that is evoked by the name that we share with bands from that era I hope rather than an implicit connection or influence. I think it is clear that we are a dark band with a sense of loss and in some ways shame- maybe that era was full of that too?
(((o))): There’s certainly an image attached to that kind of music, is that something you find a hindrance or something you can play up to & use to your advantage?
Adam: I just feel comfortable with it. No need to play with it or up to it.
My: I don’t think about the image so much, life is really about expression and if I could control that, maybe I wouldn’t do what we do? Maybe I would be smarter and find a more commercially viable form of psuedo expression? But really, we attract a very diverse audience with a wide range of musical tastes which I think is much more successful and interesting.
(((o))): To my ears there seems to be an eclectic range of influences on the band’s sound giving it an MC5 meets Joy Division effect on the instrumentation – dynamic and brooding, yet at times explosive and accessible. Was it a conscious decision to create a sound that stuck out from the current crop of bands or was it an entirely organic process?
My: It wasn’t a conscious decision for me at all. I think we all feel that we produce what comes naturally to us as musicians. Sometimes it’s one thing like ‘The Darkness Bangs’ sometimes it is an entirely different beast like ‘The Lie’. Songs are all about the feeling for me, so some songs feel very different even though perhaps musically they can be more similar.
Adam: The organic process that created our sound was 4 people in a tiny room in a converted 18th chapel. Struggling with everything inside us and the process of getting it out. That quiet-loud dynamic must give it some accessibility.
(((o))): Are you influenced by anything beyond music?
Adam: I’m mainly influenced by things beyond music. Asian extreme films, early 20th century European literature, the works of Adam Curtis.
My: Yes! Anything and everything. I love reading and quite often if I read something that affects me then I can use the mood to create a base for a song. There is an amazing scene in Satre’s ‘Age of Reason’ that inspired me to write about the futility of relationships and the madness that results- which went into a song on the forthcoming album. Currently I am re-reading Gertrud by Hesse, which is a great book and I managed to get Gira’s ‘The Consumer’ on my Kindle which is so dark and full of disturbing imagery. And any strong female of course, anyone with a voice against the current political climate in the UK and USA, anyone who realises how shit things still are for women and refuse to stop highlighting it.
(((o))): A lot of the lyrical content brings to mind the old adage of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…” With that in mind, is that style of writing a kind of cathartic release or more of a general observation on love, loss and relationships?
My: Both for me actually. I write from life experience as object and voyeur and also, from more general observations of experiences of others. I want the audience/listener to bring themselves into the story or the image of the song so it needs to be relate-able and strong.
(((o))): I particularly liked “Total Fear” and the commentary on people filling up their free time with repetitive activities. Do you feel that musicians have almost a responsibility (as at times it can give you a feeling of being “on the outside looking in”) or at least a platform to express these views and effectively wake people up?
Adam: We’d like people to “wake up” to our music and if that makes them think about their world and their place in it all the better. We’re not trying to impose a cultural oligarchy though.
My: I don’t know. I think we are lucky to live in a country where we are free to give strong, opposing and opposed views and perhaps we could all do with being a little more aware of that at times. I am not sure that we can expect musicians to use their art as a platform for their views or that it would be a great thing…We should put more value on our great journalists, ignored intellectuals and children, the media saturated lives we live mean we don’t often get to hear these important voices.
(((o))): We saw you last year at Supernormal Festival & were totally blown away by the power & intensity of the live performance. Is playing live a particularly enjoyable experience in this band?
Adam: If the crowd respond then it is. It was a good crowd of music lovers (a rare thing in the UK) at Supernormal. We obviously fed of it
My: I love playing live, I love being with the audience. Every show is different and I always feel so lucky to be able to share my art with the band and our listeners.
(((o))): Bearing in mind the music industry is in a state of flux at the moment, what are your aspirations as a band and where do you see yourself fitting in?
Adam: At this moment of flux I’d like to see the wholesale destruction of the music industry. We aspire to living off our music and one of the things stopping that from happening at the moment is the mainstream music industry. It’s an industry in decline and it’s trying to save itself by force feeding a drunken populace banal manufactured entertainment.
(((o))): What’s up next for the band?
Adam: Come back single ‘…and the darkness bangs’ is out now on iTunes and as a physical single from coldinberlin.com. We plan to release the album before the summer festival season. We’ve got festival dates all over Europe to begin the promotion.