Florian Toyka – Guitars, Bass
Tim Steffens – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Today I had the pleasure of talking with Tim Steffens one of the two minds behind the Klabautamann’s monicker, so we talk about the new release “The Old Chamber” and of the other projects are move on in his head.
Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine, how are you?
Tim: I’ve been ill a lot during the last couple of weeks which makes me a little depressed in combination with the winter darkness, but besides that I’m quite OK.
Let’s start talking about the band, how did born? Who is the musicians involved? Tell us anything you want about Klabataumann’s world…
Klabautamann is a two man project involving me and Florian Toyka. The first rehearsal was in 1998, when we wanted to participate a local band sampler. There we made our first song “Paskmust”, which was later included in our demo “Opus Obscoenum Infernalis”, released the same year. Klabautamann started as a fun-project – for example the lyrics of our first song are the ingredients of the swedish easter drink “Paskmust” – and in a way it remained a fun project. The themes of our lyrics became more serious, our playing and our production got better, but still we are doing it for the fun. It’s really satisfying to make a cool sounding record. The process is sometimes very exhausting, but still much more rewarding – especially when our fans like what we do! Though Klabautamann is mainly a two man project, there are other persons that can be counted as part of Klabautamann as well. First to mention there is Patrick Schroeder (ex Centaurus-A) who played the drums on most albums and also live. He influenced Klabautamann very much with his style of playing and he made Flo and me play faster than we ever though we could, haha! Besides bin a very skilled drummer, he is a good friend of ours. You can also hear his drumming on various Zeitgeister releases. Secondly our close friend Christian Kolf (Valborg, Island, Woburn House, Owl etc.) is an important part of Klabautamann. He wrote a lot of cool lyrics (“Eure MajestŠt, Dies Ist Deer Kopf Des VerrŠters” which means loosely translated “Thy majesty, here’s the head of the traitor”) which were very formative for the Klabautamann style and he did some live singing for us as well as vocals on two tracks of “Merkur”. But for sure he was also very influencing for purr compositions, as he is paling in three bands together with Flo. Also I had a lot of discussions with him on composing techniques which were very inspiring for me.
Antoher constant part of Klabautamann is Christoph Graf, who is our live bass player. He’s probably not as influencing for the musical style, but he’s a guy we really like to have around because he spreads good mood and you can have a lot of fun with him. He as well is a very close friend of ours, I did loads of hiking tours together with him, for example to Norway, Finnland, Slovenia, Spain and Jordan.
Rather shortly, my girlfriend Maria Koch also joined the Klabautamann team by writing the lyrics for “Herbsthauch” as well as for 80% of the songs on “The Old Chamber”. She is so nice and friendly, that you would never imagine, thatch could write such severe lyrics, haha! I have really nice memories of our composing and writing vacations in the Eifel, Italy and New Zealand!
“The Old Chamber” by Klabautamann (you can find the review on our websites), how would you describe this work?
“The Old Chamber” is an epic and atmospheric black metal / doom album. It’s no continuation of “Merkur”, but something rather new for Klabautamann: a step back to the roots, an anthem to the pioneers of viking / black metal like Enslaved, Borknagar, Helheim etc.
I noticed a look to the past in the Klabautamann album, it seems like a mix of “Our Journey Through The Woods” and that masterpiece called “Merkur”, what did change in these two years? Also the artwork and the mixing are mad by John Bauer and Armin Rave, two guys you worked with in the past, why this choice?
I’m sure you’ll find a bit of every Klabautamann album in our new one, we have a certain style which I think makes it easy to identify a Klabautamann release. But for me it’s not particularly a mix of “Our Journey” and “Merkur”. I can not say what changed during the last two years, it’s just a further development. The way we develop is very hard to anticipate, even for us. But we don’t care, we take whatever comes out! Anyways, there’s one major difference for “The Old Chamber” to all other releases: I wrote all songs and they weren’t evened planned as a Klabautamann release, they should have become a Viking Metal solo project by myself – which was the reason why I wrote them on my own. I appreciate very much that Flo is joining in again for composition of the new album. On the one hand working out songs with him works really well and is a lot of fun – and on the other hand we tend to enrich the songs of each other. Usually you can really tell that a song is much better after we worked on it together. We did not really work together with John Bauer – the guy is dead for about 70 years now – but you are right that we again used his artwork. We love his images and this one especially fit very well to the mood of “TOC”.
The decision to have Armin Rave make the mix was partially caused by me not having enough time to do the mix on my own – I would have loved to do that. When we thought about and alternative, Armin was the most obvious decisions. Flo has worked with him on many Zeitgeister release, we also have – as you mentioned on “Our Journey” – and he’s very skilled and well-equipped. It was definitely a good choice. I think the result sound better than if I had done it myself, it’s a flawless fat and atmospheric production!
Each cover by Klabautamann “tells” a story, what can you say about this?
Each listener can make up his or her own story to that. But one possibility is that the princess on the front cover holds the key to the door on the back of the booklet, guarded by an ugly troll and leading to the old chamber.
In the “rougher” songs you managed to keep that dissonant and psychedelic vein, which band influenced you in this way? Do you listen to psychedelic and avantgarde music, both in and outside the metal world?
I listen to a lot of different bands and styles of music. That begins with Micheal Jackson and leads over The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Esbjšrn Svenson Trio and loads of metal stuff to classical music like Chopin or Leo Brouwer. So it’s difficult to tell which was really influential, as usually that is a very subconscious process. Anyways, judging from likeliness, I would state Opeth and Enslaved as being heavily influential.
Patrick Schröder is in many bands under Zeitgeister as a session member, can i ask you why, since the collaboration with him started much time ago? He is part of the “family”, isn’t he?
Yeah, he is most definitely part of the Zeitgeister family! The reason why he is not a “real” Klabautamann member is quite simple: he doesn’t want to. We asked him a lot of times. But in earlier days he said that being in another demanding extreme metal band in addition to “Centaurus-A” was just too much. And in the last years he went through a lot of private issues, so he didn’t want any commitments of this kind. Well, if he should ever change his mind, he is very welcome!
Florian talk to me of your solo project Skarab, can you talk to me? why this name? Will have to do with egyptian culture?
Skarab is a very new project of mine. It came up with the idea of making something more simple and raw as Klabautamann. Funny that it now turns out to be rather demanding and progressive, hahaha! Most of the songs were written with a composition technique Christian told me about. I started writing them shortly after I came back from holidays in egypt. I still had all these intense and mystical feelings in me that came up when thing the stars in the desert at night and that are related to all the old egyptian buildings and mythology. In egypt mythology, the scarab carries the sun – though in reality it carries balls of shit to spawn, haha! I like these creatures and I like the reference to the egyptian mythology, that’s why I took it as name giver for the new project. Nevertheless you won’t find any further relation to egypt in the lyrics. It’s just the atmosphere over there that influenced the music.
Do your projects make live shows? If yes so, which is your favourite one? In which festival would you like to play and with which bands?
Currently none of my projects plays live. But were thinking about that with Klabautamann and Skarab in 2012. I’d definitely love to play at “Dong”, which is a cosy little festival nearby, on a hill top. I’ve send an application there for Klabautamann without telling anyone else of the band – so it’s a surprise, lets see what happens!
Let’s talk about Tim, when did you start listening to music and metal? The most important albums for your artistic growth?
I started listening to music very early, because my parents used to listen to a lot of music. That was mainly Beatles, Peter Paul and Mary – and Johann Sebastian Bach. The first album I bought was “Michael Jackson – Bad” – I think I was nine – and the first metal tapes I got were “Iron Maiden – No Prayer for the Dying” and “Megadeth – Rust in Peace”. Speaking of song structures and riff-schemes I think that “Rust in Peace” influenced me pretty much. But as I said earlier, it’s really difficult to tell. I experienced that music inspires and influences you even more, when you play it yourself. I feel playing Grieg and Bach on the piano as well as Leo Brouwer, Sylvius Leopold Wei§ and Heitor Villa Lobos on the classical guitar was very important for me.
The first and the last concert you saw? The first and the last album you bought?
First concert was Iron Maiden in the Grugahalle in Essen. I think it was on April 17th 1993. I was thirteen back then and my farther had to accompany me because you had to be sixteen to go on your own. Thanx again for that, dad! The last concert was “Screaming Souls” on there anniversary gig two weeks ago. It was kinda exhausting, cause I was still a little ill and I had to do the sound. But it turned out to be a lot of fun anyways! I think they put their “The Trooper” cover on youTube – if you like just go ahead and have a look! As mentioned the first album I bought was “Bad” and the last one hm, let me think about that I think it was the new Machine Head, but I’m not sure, bought a lot of stuff! Oh, just yesterday arrived “Hypocrisy – Hell over Sofia” on DVD and CD. The live show is just OK, but the “20 Years Of Chaos And Confusion” documentary also included was damn good – and really chaotic.
How is your life outside the band? Who is Tim in the everyday life?
Besides making music, I’m a freelance software developer and a passionate hobby fisher. Also I do a lot of traveling and hiking.
I’m really curious, what are your plans for the future? are there any dates and releases scheduled?
The release date for the Skarab debut was meant to be beginning of February 2012. But I do not think that we will be able to keep that. I guess it will be postponed by one or two months. Also the “Elements” debut – one of my other projects – should come out in 2012. For Klabautamann we are just starting to work on a new album – I’ll leave for rehearsal in 20 minutes. I guess it can be expected in early 2013.
Why should our readers buy “The Old Chamber”? Give them five good reasons.
1) It has great artwork and will look very good in your CD collection.
2) It features very intense and atmospheric songs and the production is fabulous.
3) Every coin we earn is put into new equipment and new productions, so you make sure Klabautamann makes a lot of new records this way!
4) You can buy it as a package with the new Woburn House and safe some money – checkout Zeitgeister website at www.zeitgeistermusic.com.
5) it’s a great christmas present – or if you miss christmas, it’s a great valentines day present, hahaha!
Thanks for the time spent with us, the last message for our readers is up to you
Thanks for the interview, it was fun answering the questions! Anybody interested in the new – or any old – Klabautamann Album can check it out on www.facebook.com/klabautamann – there’s also an advent calendar waiting – or buy it at Zeitgeister music or ITunes – BandCamp will follow shortly! Cheers!