“No pressure” is our way – Interview with JE from German psychedelic spacerock band Black Space Riders
I spoke with JE, member of a new wave of heavy psychedelic spacerock band Black Space Riders from Germany. They released this year intriguing album “Refugeeum” and brand new EP “Beyond Refugeeum”.
Peter Balkus: Your band Black Space Riders is based in Germany. Please tell us more about how the band was created. And why.
JE: I have been making music and have been playing in a lot of bands since the 80’s. In the beginning of the 2000s priorities shifted a bit towards job, family, house and at a point in life, where most musicians stop their musical careers. I noticed that I wanted to continue, but not in order to make a living on music. I just wanted to do my own thing, my own art, my own songs, independent, free from economical pressure, “just for fun”. Especially walls of sound and loud rock music was missing in my life. My old friend, drummer and former bandmate C.RIP was in a similar situation, so we decided to meet and I called a friend from the school days, SLI, to join us on second guitar and he brought in a guy that we hadn’t met before, SAQ, who became our bassist. At the beginning, it was just for a jam. But after the first jam we had 4 songs almost finished and arranged. We sounded heavy, psychedelic, hypnotic and groovy. We decided to continue the idea and make it a real band. That was in January 2009.
PB: And now famous Classic Rock Magazine says about your band “A complex, psychedelic stroke of genius”. How do you react to such reviews?
JE: Well, it’s great. To be honest (and modest): This was quoted from the German issue of Classic Rock Magazine, translated by our American promoter, Scott (laughter). But it’s true, we are getting enthusiastic reviews and reactions from all over the world. It makes us proud, makes us feeling good, of course it is kind of feeding our egoes, and sometimes we just wonder. But we are normal middle-aged, family-based, grounded people and we know that this is just a small, tiny part of life. There is so much more and so many more important things in this world than trying to get good reviews. So we enjoy it and then directly turn and carry on doing what we think is right, without caring too much about what other people might think of it.
PB: Art doesn’t like pressure. And your new album Refugeeum sounds like recorded without pressure and without overthinking how people gonna react to this. Maybe because – like you said – you don’t care too much about what other people might think of your music, your music sounds different/better than if you cared?
JE: I don’t believe that there is THE one right way. Not in creating art not in politics, not in religion, not in anything at all. In every situation and for each man different ways and point of views might make sense. We all experience more than enough pressure in other situations in our lives (job-wise, family-wise, economically), so we are trying to simply enjoy making music, letting things flow and happen. This results in a sound, structure, songs and lyrics that we ourselves really enjoy, which is the most important aspect of our music. If other people also enjoy it and call it “great art”, then better! Great! Another aspect: our music comes from an atmosphere of friendship and respect. So for us “no pressure” is our way.
PB: Please tell us more about this album “Refugeeum”. As far as I established, reading your previous interview online, it shows compassion and solidarity with current situation of refugees in Germany/Europe. But also the album seems to tell us all – at least in between the lines – that all people are refugees in a way, looking for Home. I read the album like a manifest saying: We all are on the same boat. Let’s help each other, not hate each other. Am I right?
JE: Absolutely. A possible and useful interpretation. I believe that an interpretation of lyrics, music and art shows a lot of what the recipient thinks, feels and believes. Sometimes this aspect is stronger than the artist’s initial intention. We like to write lyrics and songs that create images. Songs that trigger something inside your mind, a kind of movie inside your head. Create art that leaves a lot of space and freedom for interpretation. But you are right. We had a very clear vision, idea and intention in creating Refugeeum. We definitely wanted to take a stand. Not in a political way. A stand from the position of humanity and empathy. There is no justification for rejecting, abusing or mistreating people in need. It sounds like hippie-crap, but it’s true: love is the answer, nor hate neither fear.
PB: I know the refugees crisis is a hot talking point in Germany, and in whole Europe. From your words it looks like you fully support taking as many as possible refugees to Germany and Europe, and your last album is confirmation of this support. Am I right or wrong?
JE: You’re neither right nor wrong. The album simply doesn’t give an answer to that question. We don’t pretend to have the solutions to that difficult situation. What we want and what we are trying to offer is a change of perspective, a change of point of view. If we are willing to really see that refugees are in need, haunted and killed or starving in their homelands then a lot of things will look quite different. There is so much focusing on fears and problems. I wish we could overcome fears of loss, xenophopia and focusing on economical, social and political problems. We should try to see at the same time that we must help. Refugeeum is not a political manifest, it’s a cry for empathy and humanity. Humanity and empathy in our minds and hearts would sometimes probably change what we do and it would certainly change the way how we do things. Apart from that, there are common international law standards like the Geneva Conventions. They are valid and more important than ever. This “Crisis” will not end with the end of the Syrian civil war. It will last for a long time. As long as we are living in peace, freedom and wealth, while at the same time in other places people are starving, dying and don’t have any perspectives for safe life. In the long run, fences and guns won’t stop desperate people.
PB: Please tell us more about the cover of “Refugeeum”, it’s really sad picture of refugee camps, sad, haunting, isolated, but beautiful at the same time.
JE: The Cover of Refugeeum is a very old black and white photography of a refugee tent camp in the middle of a desert. It was taken back in the 1940’s. This Camp was on the Sinai Peninsula. The German Wehrmacht had chased Yugoslavian people off the Balkans, and those refugees were gathered and barracked hundreds and hundreds miles away from home, on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.
PB: What are you plans for the 2016? Are you creating new music or focusing on promoting the last album?
JE: We have been starting creating New music in Summer/Autumn 2015. It’s incredible but we have been creating hours and hours of new, really fascinating music. It’s always like this after a release. New music is literally pouring out of us. I hope we can complete and record this material before the end of the year, so that in 2017 there will be a new Black Space Riders album. But before that, on the 13th of May we released the “Beyond Refugeeum EP” with another 4 new songs from the Refugeeum recording sessions, plus 2 new, electronic remixes. We will play more shows in Spring and Autumn.
Visit Black Space Riders Website for more info about the band.