You still need something special for X-mas? How about a bundle “Rock album download plus 4 bottles exclusive IP Craft beer”? That’s the offer released by BLOCK with his ‚Hitparade‘ debut album in mid October (HERE or bottom affiliate link). BLOCK is the multi-talented Michael Pöttinger, musician, Craft beer designer and progressive cult movie producer (the 35mm horror comedy „Legion of the Dead“).
The ‚Hitparade‘ album represents Michael’s creative versatility, you’ll find Blues-Rock, Hardrock ballads, Goth-Punk, Alternative and Metal, even Rap and Alternative Pop, simply everything that features a heavy guitar and catchy tunes. German lyrics cross over to the song writer scene with their personal attitude. Just listen to ear candy like „Alles Ändert Sich“ (or check the video below). His own definition is „Salon.Punk“, but Block’s music is difficult to categorize. Everybody who enjoys Westernhagen or Ärzte sound will enjoy Block, too, especially when also enjoying BLOCK IP Craft beer -- hence “the craft of beer and music”.
Hello Michael, you seem to be the embodiment of “Jack of all Trades” -- film, music, Craft beer, and your Promoclip suggests that occasionally you live on a boat. Have you been dreaming of such a life style as a kid?
I have imagined something like this, maybe not as a kid but definitely as teenager. I live freely, I enjoy new challenges and still remain dedicated to music. This is the lifestyle that I love and I am aware of the fact that this is pure luxury.
How do you choose your projects -- or do projects find and choose you?
I do believe that the right thing shows up at the right time. All you need is to keep your eyes open when going through life, then things that suit you will find you.
Why, how and when have you decided to become a musician, writing your own songs and make a record? Was it because of a particular song, a particular band or someone from your family?
When I was 14 the person who played the bass on Hitparade and who is now my brother-in-law, gave me his old bass guitar, and I have been making music since then. For a long time I hang out with the same people playing in several bands where I usually wrote the lyrics or the whole song. Many years in cover bands followed and I still enjoy playing covers, yet it is not as fulfilling as living your own creativity. In 2010 I began once again to write my own songs, and this is how BLOCK came into being.
In the video above you describe your many styles of music (in German) and yet I hear that Blues-rooted Hardrock/Punk is the most dominant. Which genre do you actually feel most comfortable with?
The genres of most influence are NDW, Punk and Hardrock. But I do not remain in the past, I am interested in the development of those genres and what sounds modern. That explains the stylistic range of HITPARADE.
Which profession is mentioned in your passport (or would be if professions were still an item to be mentioned in passports)?
My business card only shows my name, mail and tel nro. For a good reason as I don’t know what to put there as my profession.
How did you come up with the project name Block? That name gives you some ideas …
The name should be short, memorable and German (and it works in English too, the ed.). BLOCK indicates something solid, with edges, yet as apartment block it means something urban and human, a home for dreams, fates and stories …
Your debut album „Hitparade“ has been available since mid October, what were the reactions of critics and fans so far?
When the press is concerned, I am happy about it, because I do not cater to a certain genre. Therefore my music cannot be easily categorized, that’s why I call it Salon.Punk. Surely there are songs that cannot be easily digested, but that’s the excitement about it. Fan reactions were absolutely positive, also on tour at the live shows! We had many radio features which indicates that this album has raised some attention.
How was the tour with Haudegen, you were touring all November?
As mentioned, we appealed to the crowd, which inspired and motivated us from show to show. I was anxious to find out how a homogenous crowd like Haudegen fans would react… and it was a very warm welcome throughout the republic. Playing with Haudegen, with Hagen and Sven and the whole band and tech crew worked like a charm and we totally respected each other. No stress, no ego issues, all top professional and straight forward.
You have some anecdotes about tour mishaps?
That’s Interna 😉
Being a solo artist you hired your band members for this tour -- did this concept work, and how did you choose your crew?
Looking for band musicians it was important for me to get a real band together, with the potential to form a regular BLOCK band also in the future. It turned out that Ritchie Kelly (git), Pavel Semenchuk (Bass), Matthias (Motte) Gruber (drums) are a real Dream Team. Only three weeks of preparation and only two rehearsals with all musicians we created a power station, which developed into a homogenous band from gig to gig, aided by the terrific work of our tech Alex Ernst, By January BLOCK will be completed with another guitarist so that Ritchie can play synth on stage -- another big step towards dynamics in our live performance.
Do you have plans to work together as a band in the future?
When it comes to song writing, I have lots of new stuff, but when there is a band there will be a lot of individual input. Especially when musicians are also song writers, a lot of ideas are bound together. Therefore it is nice to have a permanent creative band around and not music employees.
Was it fun to play so many different characters in the Stahlblauer Panzer video (below)?
Absolutely! Just like a musician loves to create different moods, it was fun to be different people as an actor. But it was a challenge which I could not have mastered without director Iván.
Which of the characters was most “you”, which one mostly a mask?
I really like the Hippie, the banker in suit is surely the one I have in common the least. The “super-ego” is the scary one … but all of them belong together and therefore I have to live with all of them.
Do you wear such steel-blue armour (Stahlblauer Panzer) yourself, and is it more a protection, or an aggression tool or a jail?
With Stahlblauer Panzer I created musically the emotion of depression, being shy and vulnerable, which results in withdrawal from reality. That is how I see it. But naturally everybody can decide for themselves whether to feel it from the subjective or objective viewpoint. I myself prefer to go through life without an armour, therefore I surround myself with people I do not require protection from.
You write in German and your lyrics seem to be very personal (sometimes sarcastic, as in „Die Lichter gehen aus, ob du willst oder nicht“, Alles zu seiner Zeit) – can you imagine to write in English too? And where do your topics come from, are those personal or fictive?
Well, as soon as I speak Englisch as well as German I will surely write something in English as well. Seriously, German is my mother tongue where naturally I can express myself the best. Especially when dealing with personal issues, things I lived through, emotions or my personal opinion. Writing lyrics is my tool to reflect on things and to let go.
How come you have your own beer? Are you a trained brewer or is it a hobby, and how much of it is available on the market?
I am not a brewer and don’t want to take the credit for that. It was about bringing two things together that belong together. Which is my own taste in beer and my personal music. This beer recipe was created according to my ideas by the brewer Werner Schuegraf (Hopfenhacker Brauerei) and he is also making it. The brew was 10hl which means there are about 2.500 bottles of BLOCK IP which has to go. As I don’t drink so much myself, I need people to help me with it.
Download and IP beer as a set – do you fill all those bottles yourself?
This beer, as mentioned, is made by a small and fantastic brewery in Munich named HOPFENHACKER where the bottles are filled too. By hand, though, therefore this BLOCK IP is a real Craft beer.
Your statement that beer and music go together wonderfully is something many Rock fans and Metal heads will agree to, no matter whether on or in front of a stage. Nowadays there are many band brands to choose from (e. g. Iron Maiden beer). What is the character of your beer brand?
The motto is “Bier spielt die Musik“ (which is a pun on a German idiom meaning “this is important”, I took the pun to “the craft of beer and music”, the ed.) and the bottles indicate that BLOCK IP has 15,5% original wort, 6,8%vol alcohol and 45 IBU. Strong hop varieties Centennial and Simcoe and light malts for a clean BLOCK IP aroma. As sincere as the BLOCK sound: crafty, powerful, authentic, remarkable.
You have also worked as a producer for the horror comedy Legion of the Dead. How did you get to this project, how long did it take from start (with a script idea) to finish (the movie)?
„Legion“ happened because of an accidental acquaintance with cult Splatter director Olaf Ittenbach, happened somehow at the right time for me. The idea for making the movie together was born 1998, the script was almost finished in 1997 I think. The pre-production and the principal shooting was in 1999, post production happened 1999/2000 and the release in 2001, pretty fast for a project of such dimension.
Comparing both, what was the more nerve-wrecking project, the movie or the debut album?
When it comes to the process of creating it, definitely the film, because this is such lot of complex work. It was not a video but a real 35mm movie production. A production of a complete 90min musical work seems like a “side project”… recording and producing the album was a lot of fun. When it comes to promoting a movie and promoting an album, both are equally nerve-wrecking….
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
We recorded a complete show at the Große Freiheit 36 club and also filmed it, which makes it possible to release a real nice EP, plus the video… I have written a lot already, therefore a new full length release might be coming soon, but there are no details available yet. And naturally we want to play live as often as possible, focusing on the festivals, but we would tour with Haudegen again any time. And let’s see what else happens.
And finally, please complete this sentence: “Many people will be totally surprised when I confess that….”
I am not a big fan of horror movies.