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Apoptygma Berzerk (I)
Interview mit Stephan [Apoptygma Berzerk], 16.12.2008, phoner

Gut drei Jahre liegt die Veröffentlichung von “You And Me Against The World”, dem zuletzt erschienenen Studioalbum der Norweger von Apoptygma Berzerk, zurück. Anno 2009 ist es also endlich Zeit für ein neues Schaffenswerk der Electro-Pop-Rocker. Und ja, Apop bescheren uns mit „Rocket Science“ frischen Wind aus dem hohen Norden. Bereits die erste Single-Auskopplung „Apollo (live on your TV)“ gibt uns einen kleinen Hinweis, was uns auf der neuen Platte von Apoptygma Berzerk erwartet. Am 16. Dezember 2008 telefonierte ich mit Sänger Stephan und sprach mit ihm über Raum und Zeit.

Hello Stephan, how are you doing?
Stephan: Hi Lea, I am fine. How are you?
I am also fine, just waiting for the snow to come.
Stephan: No snow yet? Where are you?
It`s near Cologne where I am. Are you already in Christmas mood?
Stephan: No, not really. (laughs) I flew in from Norway yesterday where we have snow everywhere. So it was kind of nice coming here to Germany not having a cold dark winter with a lot of snow. I guess, I prefer this. But no, I`m not such a Christmas-guy.
The year 2009 will start with the release of your newest album called “Rocket Science”, over three years after the last one. And I don`t mean “Sonic Diary” in this case, but “You And Me Against This World”. Why did you have this longer break?
Stephan: For several reasons. One of the reasons was that this album has been very hard to produce. I´ve been to the studio for almost two years since I started writing. It´s been very complicated and has taken a lot of time. The album is called “Rocket Science” and that is kind of what the album is about, but we have gone really, really deep into details. For example we spent almost a year just to make the cover, the artwork for the CD. And also the music is very detailed. I did everything in my studio at home together with the rest of the guys. So instead of having a lot of other people involved in the production of the album, we did everything by ourselves in exactly the way we wanted to have it. And that took a lot of time.
A little foretaste of the album is the single “Apollo (live on your TV)”, which will be published a little bit earlier than the album. Which points have let this song “Apollo” become a single?
Stephan: The point about putting out “Apollo” first was that it`s kind of in the same style as what we were doing on the previous album “You And Me Against The World”. Since it`s been already three years since the last album, it`s important to put out something first that the sound of the previous album can be related to. I think, “Apollo” works as a great bridge from the last album to the new album, because there is a lot of stuff on the new album that is very different sounding than stuff what we´ve done before, but “Apollo” is a good song to get into the new material. And it`s a strong pop-song, so it was like an obvious single for all of us.
You also shot a video for “Apollo”. How many of your own ideas can be found in the video or was it only the director`s ideas?
Stephan: A little bit of both, but mostly the director`s ideas actually. The thing is that I´m not really much into videos. Well, I had lots of ideas there, but all my ideas were a way too expensive to make. (laughs) So most of the ideas that I had for the video weren`t realised, because they were like too crazy stuff. But together with the video team and the director we were brainstorming for a week going back and forward with emails and phone calls only talking about this. In the end we came up with something we could all live with and I`m really happy with the results. I think, the video turned out well. It`s nice to watch it and it`s also very interesting and quite funny at times in there.
Rocket science, Apollo, you wearing a space suit in the video: Are you fascinated by space and time?
Stephan: Yeah, I´m very fascinated about the whole NASA-thing and the whole moon-landing and all that. I`m also very fascinated about all the conspiracy theories that say that we were not there, that it was all a big hoke. But if we were there or not, I´m still fascinated about it, because either it`s the biggest thing that mankind has ever done or it`s the biggest hoke in history. (laughs)
Would you ever dare to enter a rocket and fly to outer space or was it your childhood dream to become a policeman or fire fighter?
Stephan: No, I actually always dreamt about being a musician, so I don’t think that travelling in space is something for me. It would probably be fun there, but I`m making my own rocket science. That´s also what the album is about. If you look at how much time I spent on music and Apop especially, you can see that my education has been as long as the education of NASA`s people. I´ve been doing rocket science in my own field, even though I´ve been not out in space. I´ve been in the studio as many times as they have been studying what they´re studying. So I´ve been doing rocket science on my own and that`s all what the new album is about.
But are you familiar with astronomy?
Stephan: Not really. I know a little bit about it, just bits and pieces here and there. I was always fascinated by it, but never really interested in it.
On the cover of your first single “Apollo” there are no “stars & stripes”, but “stripes & stripes”. How do we have to interpret that?
Stephan: That´s a very long story and it goes through the whole cover of the album. Have you also seen the “Rocket Science”-cover?
Stephan: As I said we spent like a year to go through the whole artwork. It`s very, very detailed and if you look closely in the pictures there, you`ll find many, many interesting things. Also if you listen to the lyrics, you´ll get the pictures. I will not give you all the clues right now and tell you what everything is about, because that will ruin it for a lot of people. When you discover those things and when you start to go through the details, that`s when you really experience the cover and the album in the way it should be.
Is “Rocket Science” based on a concept? Is there any kind of red line that can be found in there?
Stephan: Yeah. It´s about a lot of the so called conspiracy thoughts and theories that can be found during the whole album except for a few songs. Well, actually I won´t call it a concept album. I don`t really like the term. But there is a red line – as you`re saying – going through the whole thing and it is about a certain world view which is about what I found out during the last three years of researching these things. I found out that there`re basically only two world views. You have one world view that is about chance, that you think that everything got here by chance, that no matter what happens it`s just coincidence. And the other world view – that I have – is that nothing happens by chance, that everything was put here straight from the very beginning how we got here on the planet. So either you think the world was designed and God created us to put us here or some other intelligent being – because some believe in Allah, some believe in Jehova, others believe in green little men from Mars (laughs), there are many different variations there – so either you believe that somebody put us here, or you believe that we got here by chance. That are basically the two things you have. And based on those things, the whole world history until today is defined. So if you think that there is no God, no intelligent designer who made all this, then everything just happened without being designed. And to me that is totally ridiculous to believe in. I mean, if you`re making rocket science and putting a space shuttle out into space, all the details have to be totally perfect. If there is only one thing wrong with the engine or whatever, something is gonna exploding. And that is of course all what “Rocket Science” is about and that´s why it took so much time, because we were into all the details checking them out. So the red line of the album is about these two world views. But at the same time you don´t have to be into this way of thinking to enjoy the album, because there are also very nice pop-songs that can be enjoyed.
Will there be cover songs on the album again?

Stephan: I´m not really sure. I know that we have recorded some cover versions, but I don´t know which of those gonna be on the album, because we`ll put out a limited edition as well. So maybe on that there`ll be some covers, but I´m not sure. You have to talk to the label about that. (laughs)
Okay. “Music is…”, how would you continue this sentence?
Stephan: To me music is half of my life, but to most of the people it`s probably not. But music is for me a way to communicate with people, even with people who don´t speak my own language. So music is a communication tool.
In February of 2009 you will tour here in Germany. What can we expect from the shows? Will you enter the stage in space suits?
Stephan: I don´t think so. (laughs) Maybe? Nooo, I don´t think so. The album is actually not that much about space at all. Of course the “Apollo”-song is about it, but the rest of the album is not really. So we won`t be focusing that much about space.
Next week it`s Christmas. Did you already get all the presents together?
Stephan: No. (laughs) I didn´t have the time. But I guess, I will buy the last presents on the 23rd of December as usually.
How will you celebrate Christmas?
Stephan: I will be with my family. I´m not so crazy about Christmas, but it`s nice that the whole family gets together and spends time together. In the world today there is no time for anything. It`s only stress, stress, stress and you don´t even have the time to read a book or to listen to a whole album anymore. There is also no time to spend with your family, although it`s a very important thing, especially for me. I have a daughter and for me it`s very important that she spends time with her grandparents, so I`m in a way looking forward to Christmas.
What are your wishes for 2009?
Stephan: I don`t know. I`m just so happy that the album is finally finished and it`s gonna be out soon. So I just hope that people will enjoy the album as much as I do. And I hope that people will show up on the tour in February and that they gonna have a good time.

Interview: Lea S.
Fotos: taken from theapboffice.com
Website Band: www.theapboffice.com

(c) fhradio, darkmoments / www.darkmoments.de

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