Hanzel und Gretyl: Losers?

Actually it was the band suggesting this headline – and we, the editors, felt obliged to add the question mark. The least we could do for those fictional and slightly loony characters, inspired by a German fairytale, playing heavy militaristic Industrial Metal and recently (co)headlining Helsinki’s Graveyard Party vol. IV . Confused? Well, just continue reading and find out more about US based Hanzel und Gretyl (Vas Kallas, Kaizer Von Loopy plus live drummer Chris Kling) and how our STALKER reporter managed to establish the concept for their next album, got them to agree on making a video – and for the first time, received a real honest answer to the question about basic human happiness…

So what’s going on with the band now? You’ve been touring for how long now, about a year?
Vas Kallas: we just decided last year that we’re going to tour the world. We’re fed up with the music industry, all the bullshit and we said that we can just do it ourselves, and get out there and we did! We’ve travelled to Russia, all over Europe, went to Australia, and now we are going to United States this year, we’re playing Mera’Luna this year, we have this whole year booked up, just work-work-work-work…

And you’re doing it all yourself!? That means you’re financing it yourself too?
VK: yes!
Kaizer Von Loopy: yes!

All of it!? The whole tour!?
KVL: yes! All of our touring, so there’s a lot of work involved with that. With the budgeting…
VK: we are self-managed, we pay for ourselves… we have a label, but ,.. There’s no tour support, they don’t do anything.
KVL: we’ve fulfilled our obligations and we are finished. We are basically label-less right now.

So you’re like a DIY-band.
KVL: yes, we are a DIY-band, most certainly, absolutely. And that’s across the board: managerial-wise and creatively, and everywhere else, we’re very much a DIY-band, more so than ever! And I think, personally, that’s the way to go.
VK: and it gets to a certain point that there’s so much work to do, that you can’t do it all, and I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, because personally I can’t do anything else but this, I can’t just stop, because then the whole business will… It’s tough. We’ll see, maybe someday we’ll find somebody to help us out.
KVL: we’ve been doing this for so long, we know the band so well, it’s very hard to find any other entity that can…
VK: it’s very hard to find good people.
KVL: I want our drummer to manage the band, but he keeps on refusing. He’s actually… Well, he’s the best person for the job, but he’s declining, and I don’t blame him. (Chris Kling laughs in the background)
Chris Kling: you’re an idiot! (laughs)

What about some new material, a new album…
VK: it’s all up in the head right now, ideas and the lyrics we’ve been writing, and writing what we’re going to do, but we’ve been so busy with the business and touring, it’s hard to actually sit down and spend some days and weeks and months to… But we will do it, right?
KVL: well, she’s switched to playing bass and we have this awesome new drummer, so we really want to make a record that can display some sort of raw energy…
VK: our goal is to have at least a few songs finished by the end of the year. That’s the goal.

Any chance of a live album or some tour documentary?
KVL: (laughs) that’s a great idea, I think.
VK: I would love to do that, but again…
CK: I’ve got plenty of video from you last night…
VK: THANK YOU! That’s some classic drunk Vas Kallas video from last night, I was mumbling something, I don’t even remember.
CK: it’s usually like: she bitched about him, he bitches about her, and I film it, laughing, We drink more (VK is laughing in the background) and at the end of the day I lay on my bed thinking that I’ve accomplished something.
VK: I would like to do a documentary, I would love to do a reality tv…
CK: a rockumentary…
VK: (says in high power-metal voice) a rockumentary! I would love to do a reality tv!
KVL: I would hate that.

Just out of curiosity, what happens to you when drink?
(all laugh)
VK: what happens to me when I’m drunk? I get silly, then I get belligerent, then I get angry and then silly and then I fall asleep. And you?
KVL: I think everyone who’s seen our show, knows I do a fair amount of drinking on stage, but it’s a very sort of contrived planned drinking, it’s well-timed, and all thought-out drinking, and I personally think that it’s very important for the show, but nobody else does.
VK: it’s very organised, timed-drinking.

7sins_HanzelUG (3)

It’s very German, structured, organised…
VK: he’s trying to be, yeah…
KVL: I must have a long-lost German great-great-great-great-great grandfather…

So what’s up with the new drummer, how did he happen? And why did the guy before go?
CK: oh man…
KVL: this will be a long question! How much time do you have?!
VK: how do you want to approach this?
KVL: do you want to tell how we met?
CK: NO!!!
KVL: ok. The way we found our new drummer is we had a drummer in 2008 named Joe Letz, who drummered for Combichrist, and they’re childhood friends, as it happened, they both are awesome-awesome drummers, Joe drummed with us briefly and found out we no longer have a drummer, so he basically ordered us to take Chris and we did and…
VK: …it’s great! And we have the same birthday!

During this tour, any accidents or practical jokes?
CK: pffft!! Every second of it!
VK: the whole thing is a joke. (all laugh) It’s such a hard question, ‘cos there’s just so much! We flew in yesterday, from New York, and we’re going back to New York on Monday, and then we’ll go to Canada, we’re doing some stuff in the States. In the past…
KVL: we never know what’s gonna happen! The energy is very high, I’m a little bit drunk, a lot of things happen! People get hit with bottles sometimes.
VK: he hit me on the head with a bottle…
KVL: it was an accident!
VK: on stage, in Berlin.
KVL: it was a plastic bottle!
VK: it was a glass bottle!
KVL: it was plastic!
VK: it was awesome, ‘cos I just stood there… And then I walked off, like “I’m done here!”
KVL: speaking of Moscow, speaking of Russia, I will never forget, how I jumped off the stage, the first time we played there, and I jumped head first, and everybody in front of the stage just moved and I landed on my head!
(all laugh)
KVL: but Russian audience, I must say, is the most aggressive audience on the planet!

Hey, we are not aggressive – we are passionate!
VK: YES! YES! YES! I love playing Russia!

Well, Finns are known for their shyness, they’re quiet and very reserved. You aren’t gonna get that kind of PASSIONATE behavior…
VK: right, ‘cos they’re so calm here…
KVL: so basically it’ll be a bit of a challenge here!
VK: we’re gonna change all that! People always say to us (does a mean voice) “you aren’t gonna get anything!” and then they’re like – “holly crap, they were beating the shit out of each other!”
KVL: sometimes some audiences in some countries need a bit more encouragement, than others, but I will tell you that Moscow needs z-e-r-o encouragement! (laughs) ‘cos they’re already ready to go!
VK: I love it, I love the Russians, can’t wait to go back.
KVL: and a very similar situation with UK and Germany. So let’s see what we can do here tonight
VK: well, fuck that! I didn’t come all the way over here to see people stand like this! I’ve got the balls, I’ll make them go crazy, they’ll have to drink more, I’m gonna do it!
CK: he’s gonna hand them out three cases of beer before the second song!
KVL: I have found out, and I’m surprised other bands haven’t discovered that yet, and I’m trying to lead the way, audiences are pretty simple: if you give them free alcohol, they will love you! Period.
VK: ha! If you give ANYBODY free alcohol, they will love you.
KVL: as far as I know, I’m the only person doing it to the degree that I’m doing it. It already got to a point that a lot of people know what to expect when they come to our shows, so they get so close to the stage, because they know they won’t be paying for drinks all night! So I’m just trying to get the word out there – wherever this interview is going – COME TO OUR FUCKING SHOW! Get close to the stage and you will drink for free, what more can I offer you?!
VK: Loopy gets in a lot of trouble that way. Promoters are yelling at him every day!
KVL: (laughs) that’s true. They yell about me to her, but I mean, in keeping with the tradition, this whole fucking thing is suppose to be about breaking barriers, breaking rules and do the shit you aren’t suppose to, but like I said, if I see you – you’re gonna get beer in you, or on you.
CK: and you’re gotta be under aged!
KVL: and for the record – that was my drummer!

Do you think this band has a mission?
KVL: now I do!
VK: Yeah. I do, in a very strange way. ‘Cos we’ve been doing it for such a long time, since 1995, and we’re still unknown, really, it’s underground, and at this moment most bands would’ve stopped and said – “what the fuck?! I’m not doing this anymore!”
KVL: everything has happened to us…
VK: …but for some reason people keep offering us opportunities and we go, “allright, let’s do it…” and it leads to something else, ok.
KVL: what’s keeping us brilliant is that there’s a certain amount of people around the world – and just enough! – that we can show up in a lot of places and we just managed to keep this band, aside of the fact that we are so psychotic and masochistic that we’ll do whatever it takes, and it just keeps on working out.
VK: we want to take it to the next level, because we want to be a little bit more comfortable, yes.

7sins_HanzelUG (8)

So you’re saying, you want to sell your merch, your cds, you want people buy tickets to your shows, yet you’re still underground.
VK: yes! We are underground, and why is that?
KVL: we’re basically frustrated greedy people. We would love to be superficial and rich, but we cannot seem to attain this.
VK: seriously: yes, we are underground because we’ve never had the typical corporate music machine that certain bands have, which comes with manager, publicity, video…

Right, there’s no official HuG video!
VK: right! Because no one ever gave us a lot of money to do a video.
KVL: that’s bullshit. The reason why we don’t have a video is that we never made a video. A lot of people, especially nowadays, do a video, you can get people to do a video, it’s not that expensive, you edit it yourself on iMovie… So the reason why we don’t have a video yet, is that for some fucking reason we are always focused on touring. And I don’t think that’s the way to move “to the next level”, you have to have everything: you have to have videos, you have to have the release at the right time, you’ve to have tour support…
VK: it’s so much work! It’s just too much for two people to do… and a video DOES cost a lot of money!
KVL: yes, you can get a camera and iMovie and make a video. We just haven’t done it. I can’t even tell you what the reasons are because we should have a video.
VK: there’s no time, no skills… The two of us can’t! We need somebody come in, with a camera, who knows how to do the thing on the computer, and do it! And we yet have not met the right people.
KVL: this band is driven by confront and you’re experiencing this right now and I feel it.
VK: so that’s the reason?
KVL: I think we can do our own video and we will do, especially after this interview. Thank you. (laughs)

Then, along those lines, how would you differentiate music as art and commercial success?
VK: if it’s really arty, it’s good.
KVL: I think we’re just waiting for everybody to catch up to us. I think we put out all the record, this record “Über Alles”, was a lot of trouble, it wasn’t distributed to a lot of places, a lot of people told us that it black-bombed us forever, it put us out of the game for a lot of stuff, but it’s just as years go by, things get a lot more relaxed, with regards to subject matter and bans these days, so I think commercial success is great, but if you pursue it, you might end up with a diluted boring crappy product.
VK: we couldn’t do what we did if we were commercially successful. I don’t think the masses would allow it, the corporation would allow this insanity. They would definitely say “you can’t do this song, you can’t do this…” and you know…
KVL: I think the masses would love us if we could ever reach them. And I think we can only reach them in small doses and we’re working on it… Maybe a video will change that.

How are you received in Germany?
VK: ahmmm, great, I mean, it’s just the same as the United States. How are we received in Germany?
KVL: two thumbs up! Great.
VK: we are sort of the forbidden fruits and they come to see us sort of to…
KVL: we do look forward to playing in front of tens of thousands of Germans and see what happens!
VK: go up there and play “Number 1 in Deutschland” because that’s what we’re gonna be after that! In our fantasy world we are number one in Deutschland.

You’re touring so much in the US, but is there even enough audience for your kind of stuff?
KVL: no.
VK: in certain areas – yes, but the industrial scene in the US is only getting less and less, but we are more metal than we are industrial/goth/dancy, so it’s weird for us, we go on a gig, play there… We’re playing this huge festival in Brooklyn and it’s all this EBM, dance bands, every single one of them, and then there’s us. We completely don’t fit!
KVL: I think we do fit, I think it’s great that we got stuck into that, I just think we represent the extreme metal end of that style of music and I think we have a harder time connecting to the metal community ‘cos they’re more purist when they think about the style.
VK: we did a festival in Holland last year, it was pure metal, nothing but long hair and black leather jackets, and nothing but death metal and (does an angry roar/growl sound) bands and then us. At first they were looking at us like, very strangely, and then towards the end they were getting into it.
KVL: I think we are very comfortable existing in between categorizing what the hell we are.
VK: yeah…
KVL: I mean, we are ready to play metal festivals, and what we are playing now, it’s a harder market for us to break into, but industrial-goth-whatever, we are fine with whoever will have us, really.

Aren’t you worried that this kind of music inspires some aggressive violent behaviour?
VK: no.
(all laugh)
CK: that’s the goal!
KVL: that is the goal!
VK: if I don’t see blood and guts, then I go “there’s something wrong tonight”, which will probably be tonight! (laughs)
KVL: but it’s always nice to see the audience react, like you said that tonight will be a challenge for us, you said that the Finns are very reserved, not emotional, so we’ll see what happens, when we do this. It’s always fun.
VK: it might just change the course of history in Finland.
KVL: if we’ll put the goth audience to punch and stab each other, then I’ll think we’ve accomplished something.
(all laugh)
VK: I mean, we have played New York, a couple of nights ago, and it was so violent, it was ridiculous, I mean people were hitting on monitors, like screaming…
CK: you don’t really see that there…
VK: no!

7sins_HanzelUG (10)

CK: we keep on talking about this guy, who just stood there, during the whole show, just going (does a victorious Viking scream) “ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!”, 50 minutes straight, just “AAAAAAAARRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH” – it was great to see that!
(all laugh)
VK: it’s awesome! (laughs)
CK: it’s almost primitive!
VK: it was! People were so scared, they just went to the back ‘cos they were people beating the shit out of each other, jumping on stage, jumping off the stage, and I was like – “where did the audience go?!” – I saw nothing but crazy people!
CK: (in a very calm, pleased voice) I love it.
KVL: and we’ll be playing Mera’Luna and we really appreciate playing where everybody will be dressed to the maximum level, like amazing. We went there last year, to hang out…
VK: …with the Prodigy…
KVL: …and it’s amazing to look at everybody and we certainly appreciate that, but if you can have those people ripping their hair extensions out, tearing their tunics off…
VK: taking their platform boots out and just throwing them around, their New Rocks…
KVL: (laughing) then we’ll think we’ve definitely accomplished something!
VK: everyone’s getting in touch with their inner metal!
KVL: we want to see them turning into primates, to lower life forms!

And now you’ve to comment on each other. What’s the most annoying thing about Vas Kallas?
KVL: oh my God!
VK: who’s gonna answer that?!
KVL: Damn, this journalist is gonna get us in a fight! We want to make our audience kill each other and you’re making us want to kill each other! (laughs)
VK: So what is it? Say it!
KVL: ok, she has a tendency to… I mean, she is very obsessed with our merchandise to a degree that I find unsettling. She does not like to tune her instrument, which is punk-rock and cool and everything, but it’s driving me fucking crazy, I think she needs a haircut, what else?! I’ve got more!!
(all laugh)
KVL: look, she asked me a question, I’ve got to give her something! And I think she should shower more than once a week! That’s just my opinion.
VK: that’s bullshit!
KVL: but that’s just my opinion, now you go ahead.
VK: first of all, I’m obsessed about the merch because that’s MY responsibility. And if I’m not, then no one else will take care of it.
KVL: oh yeah, and she’s hyperdefensive too. She can’t take our constructive criticism.
VK: and you’re just jealous because you know you can’t do it! Because you’re just disorganised. The rest is whatever, I don’t care.

Now tell us the weirdest thing about Chris.
CK: oh, shit.
(long silent pause)
VK: (says in a shy voice) oh, I don’t know you that well…
KVL: oh, come on!
VK: I don’t have a weird thing about you yet.
KVL: I think he has a deep-deep fascination with faeces.
CK: !!!??!
VK: he’s all about the scheissenhose! He’s been telling me about the nosenhosen and the scheissenhosen!
CK: I just like to make my German words up, ‘cos I’m very jealous that… I mean, I’m just the only one who’s German too, so I want to speak German. I want to be more German than being German, and I so totally make sense! See?
VK: I don’t have anything bad to say about Mr Kling.
KVL: she didn’t say bad, she said w-e-i-r-d.
VK: weird thing about Kling? Is that he has to drink about 10 bottles of vodka before he gets on an aeroplane. It gets to this ridiculous point that he’s sitting on a chair, screaming for some 8 hours (does a scared noise) – “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba!!!”, and not remembering anything!! It’s awesome.
KVL: he picks strange moments to decide to get absolutely wasted, like on an aeroplane would be one of those.

Are you afraid of flying?
CK: petrified, petrified.

Oh good, you’re in the right business for that.
(all laugh)
CK: I’m on the plane all the time, but I still can’t get over it.

And no amount of cute and uniformed flight attendants soothe the fear?
CK: oh, those guys all just love me!
(all laugh)
KVL: and when on a plane, we just assume we’ll have to buy beer, but Chris just goes somewhere to the back and they give him free beer!

And now tell us the most romantic thing about Loopy.
(a breakout of laughter)
VK: (does an impression of a vomit overflow) that’s my answer!
KVL: be serious!
VK: that was being serious! That’s my answer (repeats the vomiting pantomime) There’s not one fucking little atom of romance in this person’s persona!
KVL: I DISAGREE!!! Can I disagree?!?!?!

VK: zero, zero, ZEROOOOO, Z-E-R-O!!! (jumps up and supports her words with various hand gestures) NADA, nothing, nichts, gar nichts!!!
CK: when we played in Ohio, there was shit on the floor.
VK: how’s that romantic?! Shitting on the floor!??! Hello?!
CK: (laughing) he totally did!
KVL: am I even gonna get a chance to defend myself?!
VK: NO!!! Because you’ve already attacked me.
KVL: first of all, the question was about the most romantic thing about me and shitting on the floor is not romantic.
VK: you have not one romantic dot in you! I don’t see it.
KVL: I have pink aura, what more romantic do you want?! According to our merch girl, I’ve a huge pink cloud around my head and I’m chasing a dream uncatchable, what can be more romantic than that!? Next question.

What’s the meaning of life?
KVL: acting phony?
VK: see? Douchebag. Ahm… Love is a spiritual feeling that appears for no reason, and you can’t control it.

…but I’ve asked about LIFE, not love.
KVL: (laughs)
VK: oh, life… What was the question again?
KVL: what’s the meaning of life?
VK: oh…
(CK gets up and leaves)
KVL: our drummer is offended by that question and is leaving the room.
CK: I’ll be right back.
KVL: I’m gonna answer this for him and he’s gonna say that it’s about barbecuing and rocking out. The meaning of life? Why are we here? Is there a purpose?
VK: there’s no purpose, it’s just each moment, it’s what it is. And that’s life and you accept it. That’s it for me. But what’s the meaning of life? Is that survival? Health? And something called “happiness”. That’s it.
KVL: that’s really self-preservationist point of view.
VK: I don’t know what the meaning of life is.

So then, can you answer this: are you happy?
KVL: (laughs) whom are you asking?
VK: (very seriously) sometimes, but not all the time. I am the most happiest when I’m moving and travelling, but when I’m not, I’m very unhappy. But I can admit to it, I can admit to being not happy.
KVL: let’s put it that way: I am very happy right now. I’m on a very comfortable couch, drinking a beer, everybody’s here supposedly because they want to see us…
VK: yeah, right now I am happy, I’m happy. I’m here and it’s all going great, yes.
(CK comes back in)
KVL: what’s the meaning of life?

CK: get married, have children, world peace.
(all laugh)
KVL: he’s not kidding, he’s a psycho!
CK: no, I think the meaning of life is to do things which make you happy. And just, have fun while you’re doing it.
KVL: oh, great, when you left the room, I said I’ll answer this for you and I said that the meaning of life is barbecue ing and rocking out, and now you come back and give me this, like, moist ass.
CK: I gave you a moist ass?!
KVL: life is a swirling sucking idiom of despair, filled with brief moments of false hope, in an ever blackening universe.
VK: (in excited voice) definitely!!! I can fucking agree with you for the first time during this God-damn interview!

But hey, the world ends in 2 years, so what does it really matter?
VK: definitely, and if it won’t end, it’ll shift, and we’ll all be like (does an impression of lost balance) “woaaaaaaahhh!!!” – “what was that?!” – “I don’t know!” (laughs)

So that’s it!
KVL: we’ve done it???
VK: we’ve done it!!!!!!!!
KVL: (in a loud victorious voice) we’ve done it – another successful interview!
VK: we’ve fucked it all up AGAIN!
KVL: (laughs) losers! That’s how you should title this – “Hanzel und Gretyl = LOSERS!”
CK: can’t wait to hear it: we’ll get on stage and everyone will chant “losers!” thanks Harri Proteus for assisting our journalists.

Autor: Marina Sidyakina, Translation: K.Weber Photos: Julia Sheremetyeva

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski