Let’s be honest: when we think about Germany and music, each and every one of us thinks immediately of Heino. But while the man with the sun glasses of doom and rapture is indeed the greatest artist in the world, period, there are also other artists who do great stuff, in Germany and elsewhere. YAGOW, the Saarbrücken psychedelic rockers of rock, are among these. With only a couple of days to go before the release of their self-titled debut LP on Crazysane, we at Archaic Triad are very proud to present to you this brief but informative little Q&A. Guten appetit!
You don’t play stereotypical music, but you’re getting a stereotypical opening question: tell us about the history and present of YAGOW.
If you live in a small town like Saarbrücken with only a few good bars and one good record shop (Rex Rotari), you find out pretty quickly who is into the kind of music you’re into, and whom you could form a band with. Marc Schönwald and I bonded over a few (ok, many) beers in a bar and that was that. Our first bass player Axel Rothhaar had to give up the band rather suddenly due to family obligations. Luckily our friend Kai Peifer was easily convinced when we asked him to join us and to help finish our record.
There are of course designations to define what you play: stoner, doom, psych, kraut, etc. If you had to describe your music without any such terms, but rather try to just explain it, what would you say?
What provides the basis for our sound is the groove – in the form of a drone, a drum pattern, or a riff as a musical phrase that is repeated over and over again. If you keep repeating it persistently enough, you don’t have to worry about the rest. We’ve baptized it psychedelic space gaze!
You are soon to release a self-titled vinyl LP and CD on Crazysane Records. How did this deal come about? Is it everything you could hope for in a record deal?
I do hope so. I met Chris (Crazysane) while playing football in school in 1992. We had scribbled the same band names onto our army backpacks with permanent marker. I reckon that was the foundation for our record, haha. Nice story, ey?
You’ve got plenty of sound of your own, but surely also musical influences. Which bands and artists have played a part for you, and shaped your creative process?
Several artists and genres have influenced us: from the minimalistic and improvisational approach of people like Terry Riley, Can, Neu!, Velvet Underground, to the noise and fuzzy reverb of shoe-gazer pioneers like Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, as well as 1970s psychedelic sounds.
Your music is somehow cineastic, and brings various movies to mind. Right off the bat, I’d mention U-Turn (1997) and Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2003). Are you influenced by cultural products aside from music, like movies?
Not really. Of course music always conjures up certain images – but we didn’t have any films in mind when composing our songs, if that’s what you mean.
Would you consider yourself part of a “scene”, and what scene would that be?
Haha, I think Saarbrücken is too small to have different “scenes“, but we do all have our roots in DIY and punk culture.
Your drummer is involved with darkkraut band Killflavour. Are all of you involved in various other bands? Would you consider YAGOW your primary creative vehicle, or one among many?
I have one other project, in which I’ve been involved in for a number of years now: Datashock. Both Datashock and Killflavour are bands that do not follow fixed song structures but rather create songs as they go along, whereas our songs with YAGOW are composed in a more classic manner, even though they include improvised elements as well. I think these two approaches complement each other really well and that’s why it’s difficult to say which project comes first.
We don’t really do the political thing that much, but since you play stoner: do you have any particular views on drugs? Should they be legal, are they cool, etc? More to the point: do you see drugs as relevant to your music, one way or the other?
Let’s put it like this: I think psychedelic music can elevate its listeners to a trance-like state. If you want to further enhance this state, I’m sure you know what to do.
What does the future, near and far, hold for YAGOW? Will you take the world by storm?
World domination is definitely on our agenda. But I think we’ll just try to play some gigs first.
To finish off, we offer you the microphone. Any final words of wisdom, or of promotion, for our readers?
We don’t really do wisdom, but if you want us to play your town, give us a shout!