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By: Jamie Jones
11 years on from their first EP A Mirror is a Window’s End 2016 finds German stoner/sludge two piece Beehoover in fine fettle. having unleashed their rifftastic 6th record Primitive Powers at the end of February to wide acclaim. A lithe yet muscular collection of tracks it further cemented them as a model of consistency – despite working strictly with just bass and drums they never fail to wring an impressive amount of variety out of such a limited set up, topping off a series of mammoth grooves with off-kilter vocal hooks and inspired lyricism. Jamie Jones got in touch with Claus-Peter Harnisch, the drumming half of the band, to ask how the band has evolved and the inspirations behind the new record, and find out when we might get a chance to catch them on stage in the UK.
(((o))): Congratulations on another fine Beehoover album! This is your sixth by my count – has anything changed in the writing/recording process for you along the way? How do you see your evolution looking back?
Claus: True, it’s the sixth if you count in the first EP. For this album we went to a proper recording studio for the first time, so we tried to be well prepared. It was nice we didn’t have to think about the recording process, but concentrate on making music exclusively instead. The writing process hasn’t differed too much from our usual routine; Ingmar [Petersen, bass and vocals] comes up with some basic riff ideas, which we work on, record, share online, combine with other riffs, throw away and so on until songs emerge.
(((o))): What were the influences for this record? Is there anything different on Primitive Powers you’ve drawn from that you haven’t on earlier records?
Claus: No, not really. Musically, the result isn’t predictable anyway. An album is always kind of a snapshot of your current situation in life. It reflects into songwriting, sound and lyrics.
(((o))): One thing I love about you guys is that you’ve always got such an interesting range of lyrical influences – can you tell us what inspired the lyrics to the songs on Primitive Powers? I know one of them is about the infamous Mad Jack Churchill – what is it about a person like him or Stanislav Petrov that makes you want to write a song about them?
Claus: Oh thanks a lot for this nice compliment. Our lyrics cover topics like domination, aggression and human behaviour on one side and hope and despair on the other side. Sometimes we’re inspired by historical facts or people like those you mentioned. Basically the story about Mad Jack is just very bizarre, whereas Stanislav Petrov is a modern, widely unknown hero. Both make for good stories and can make you think on different levels.
(((o))): There’s a nod to your record Heavy Zooo in the song title ‘Anti Zooo’ – what made you return to that? Do you look back over your previous work often or are you more forward focussed?
Claus: ‘Anti Zooo’ gives just a winking connection to that album as the lyrics are somewhat similar, but in a sarcastic way. We’re definitely forward focussed, rehearsing the new songs for playing them live, producing the vinyl edition, sorting out merchandise, booking gigs and so on. We do everything ourselves and there’s a lot to do.
(((o))): I know you get asked this a lot but along the way many bands that start out as 2-pieces eventually cave and succumb to a more traditional band line up. Have you ever been tempted to branch out and add anything to your set up? Ingmar’s style of playing makes adding a guitar unnecessary, but I was wondering whether you’ve ever considered adding any other instruments?
Claus: We have never considered enhancing the line up. One misconception some people may come up with is that you can be more creative with more instruments. Others say that restricting yourself makes you more creative. We don’t think either, as we’ve never felt restricted anyway. If you aren’t creative in the first place, a different instrumentation won’t make it any better. Anyway a song should work no matter the instrumentation. Perhaps more instruments would add a bit of bling bling here and there, but for us it’s about the song, not about special effects.
(((o))): I’ve heard you have written a book – can you tell us more about that? Are there any plans for an English language version? And do you have any other extra-curricular interests you’d like to tell us about?
Claus: Haha, that’s true. It’s a half-real, half-fictive tour report of our Germany tour last year. If someone wants to translate it, feel free to contact me. As already mentioned, concerning the band we do everything ourselves, so most of our free time goes into Beehoover.
(((o))): I’ve also heard a few whispers we might be seeing you in the UK again soon. Can you tell us anything yet?
Claus: We’ve done it two years ago and it was really very nice so we thought it would be nice to do it again. We’ll be able to tell a bit more in a couple of days.
Primitive Powers is out now on Unundeux records. Beehoover will be touring the UK later this year, see the dates here: