Our Fresh Act of the month from Germany has indeed some weird recording studio stories to tell:
Who are you – could you please introduce yourself and all of the band members?
I am Kai and play guitar in THIS IS REAL. The rest of the gang are Robin (Guitar), Priyanka (Vocals), Christian (Bass) and Daniel (Drums). The others chose me to hit the keys and be the voice of the band for this interview.
How did you meet each other, and when and why did you form this band?
We met near the end of 2012 via Facebook. At the start it was just Robin, Daniel and me wanting to play some melodic hardcore. Priyanka and Christian joined in 2013. Everyone had some sort of change in their lives, either as musicians or personal. Everyone of us was looking for something to channel their energy and we found it in THIS IS REAL.
How would you describe your musical style, and how did this style develop? What are your musical roots and influences?
In the beginning we just wanted to play straight melodic Hardcore. Soon we realized our personal Influences amount to something more, which expressed itself in our songwriting time and again. Of course our sound does still contain some classic Hardcore elements like lots of crew vocals. There is also our passion for catchy melodies and an undeniable ”Punk-vibe”. Interchanging between pop-style vocals and shouts is a typical aspect of Metalcore or modern Hardcore. If we´re up for it we´ll play the occasional Metal- or Crustriff. At the end of the day I´d say we´re somewhere around ”Modern- or Posthardcore”. Look at bands like ALEXISONFIRE or A DAY TO REMEMBER. They don’t let themselves be limited by genres and that’s what we aspire to do as well.
Was it a particular incident or song that inspired you to become a musician?
In this particular case I can´t speak for everyone else. So here their individual stories:
Kai: At the age of 9 or 10 I saw an Iron Maiden T-Shirt with the Peace of Mind Album Cover. I whined at my parents until they bought it for me. Later my older cousin told me that Iron Maiden are a band and assembled me a mixtape. I was thrilled ! Then I found out my cousin plays the Bass. Soon after I was hooked…
Daniel: My Dad made me the drummer I am. In the past he was a drummer as well and my personal Idol. This led to me drumming on everything I could get my hands on (buckets, bins, pots and a Mickey-Mouse drum kit for children). For my 12th birthday I finally got my own set and have been going at it ever since.
Priyanka: It was less a individual song and more a band inspiring me to become a musician. Back then I was a huge fan of Limp Bizkit especially and Crossover / NuMetal in general. Inspired by Wes Borland I started playing guitar. Sometime later the vocalist from my schools band was out of action and I picked up the mic, leading to me focusing more on vocals rather than playing guitar.
Christian: There were quite a lot of musicians in my family so I pretty soon realized I also wanted to be involved in making music. After trying out a couple of instruments and not being particularly fond of any, I tried playing the bass and soon realized, this is what I want to do.
Robin: As far as I can remember, I started listening to music at the age of 10 or 11. I first used to listen to Rock music while later I started to focus more on electronic music. My punkrock-listening brother intervened at the age of 13 by giving me a couple of CD´s which I should listen to. I did and soon after got very interested in Rock and Punkrock. The lyrical content prepared me for my future life while defining my view of society. Next up was a present he gave me for my 14th birthday: a cheap used acoustic guitar from a friend of his. This literally changed my life and view at the world.
In which bands have you played before? Do you all still have other side projects?
I´m playing with TO RESIST FATALITY (Progressive Deathmetal), currently on hiatus. Before that I was playing melodic Punk with SMOKY JOE, sadly releasing just one Album. Priyanka was part of RIPPED APART (Metalcore). Daniel is currently playing with SPRÜPUZZ (Punk) and SEPARATED MINDS (Grunge). Robin is part timing as Singer/Songwriter. Christian played in a couple of smaller bands before. Now THIS IS REAL is the main focus for all of us.
How do you write your music and lyrics, is it teamwork?
Songwriting is a team effort for us, about 98% done in our practice room. If were not all involved, it´s not a THIS IS REAL song. Our lyrics are mostly written by Priyanka with Robin and me pitching in for some songs. The great thing is there are no Alphas and we kinda do everything together.
Is there a particular philosophy behind your works, or where do you get your inspiration from?
This is a complex subject… our philosophy is kind of left-wing do-gooderish. Being a do-gooder is a very positive thing. Aside from socially critical Lyrics there are of course some personal ones dealing with subjects like friendship and interpersonal problems. If there is something we want to express with our lyrics, we do it. You can be inspired by anything, be it looking at the news, talking to someone or something spiritual.
How did you come up with the band name – is there a story behind it?
The name of our band can be taken literally. THIS IS REAL means there is nothing artificial or staged. That’s also the reason we chose the swan as our logo. It symbolizes sincerity, grace and intuition. Plus the name just sounded cool.
What is it like in your country to be a Rock / Metal band (playing the particular style you are playing)?
It´s easy being a German band. You don´t have to worry about artistic freedom. Although more and more clubs are closing in our hometown Göttingen and there´s a lack of practice rooms, we weren´t affected by that. The scene is quite big and diverse. Of course some people are more competitive than others but the biggest part of the German Hardcore scene is friendly, open-minded and dedicated. There are lots of concert groups, youth centers and other places to get some shows going. The slogan ”the scene thrives on participation” still means something. Even though a lot of stuff happens in the internet now, im comparison to 10 or 15 years ago.
What are your goals, dreams, what do you want to achieve with your music?
Your aspiration as musician is writing songs other people want to hear as well as getting better from record to record. Still, it would be a lie to say we wouldn´t want to play in front of 500 people singing along to our songs each night.
What are you doing ”in real life”, when you are not making music?
I am mainly working as archaeologist. In my sparetime I´m a novelist (under pseudonym) in the thriller and horror genre. Daniel studies chemistry while making a lot of music. Christian and Priyanka are aspiring law students. While Christian spends most of his time with books and the internet, Priyanka cares for her dogs. Robin completed his biologist degree with an affection for martial arts currently working on his PhD.
Everyone of us could be called ”Nerd” in one way or the other. We like to hang out together and when we do it´s more of a board games, cooking or concert going thing rather than all out partying.
Are you looking for a record company or would you prefer to stay in the DoItYourself mode?
Both have pros and cons. Naturally Punk and Hardcore are more of a DIY kind of thing. If you look at the radical nature of the lyrics and music independence is somewhat of a necessity. On the other side it´s nice being able to tour and to have your album for sale. Being a musician you want to focus on creating music and filling it with content. Strong partners focusing on the organizational side can help you out a lot. It doesn´t have to be a Major-Label. Especially in our line of music one can find a lot of enthusiastic smaller labels producing amazing stuff while helping out their bands in every way they can. Coming back to your question: Yes, we are currently looking for a record label suiting us.
What should an ideal record company do for you?
We want to tour. Our label should have contacts to a good booking agency. Also they should work closely with their bands and want to help them improve in the long run. The relationship between band and label has to be one of giving and taking.
What are your live shows like? What´s the perfect venue/show for you?
We like club shows packed with energetic, enthusiastic people. We´re always giving 100%, because we play every show for ourselves as well. It´s impossible to captivate anybody if you aren´t completely merged with what you´re doing. If after a show we´re not completely soaked in sweat and hoarse, we did something wrong. If the crowd is in the same condition, we did everything right.
Do you have a weird /absurd story to tell, e.g. about mishaps at a gig/tour?
How about a little horror story that happened while recording our debut album ”Swansongs”? Daniel and I were recording the last drum tracks when a pale, sweaty guy stormed into our room, slamming the door behind him, panicking, looking around. He blabbered that Russian or Chechen human traffickers are after him. The guy had pinhead sized pupils, he was wearing just shorts and shirt at a temperature of about -10 °C outside. To make matters worse, he started flailing around a pretty big kitchen knife right in front of us. As you can imagine, we were scared shitless! Thankfully we could convince him to let one of us go outside to look for those evil gangsters since they didn´t know us. We used this opportunity to call the police. When they finally arrived, he had hidden his knife in our room and was waiting in the dark! Later it became clear he was known to the police for his frequent abuse of chemical drugs with the occasional mental breakdown. Hats off to Daniel, still recording the last song after this incident. We chose to end the recording day sooner rather than later anyway. For a long time the song retained the working title ”Messerjunkiesong” (”junkie-with-a-knife song”).
If you could freely choose a band to tour with, who would it be, and why?
Nobody would be mad if we could tour with COMEBACK KID or RISE AGAINST. Those were the bands we took as examples for the kind of music we wanted to make when we first came into contact with each other and subsequently evolved to THIS IS REAL. Today our sound somewhat differs from this original idea but it nevertheless would be an amazing tour package and a dream come true because deep inside we´re still little fanboys & -girls.
The invention/ innovation you would still need in your life, and why?
A pill against ignorance and stupidity ? Does that count ? Why should be clear the next time you turn on the news.
What are your plans in the (near) future?
Our debut album ”Swansongs” is completely recorded, mixed and mastered. It will hopefully be released soon (hello, dear labels !!!). Otherwise were busy working on new tracks and trying to play more gigs. In 2016 we want to introduce as many people as possible to THIS IS REAL !
Bandphoto: Pashalis Nikoloudis