Interview

KUHLMANN

KUHLMANN

INTERVIEW WITH KUHLMANN

Walter Kuhlmann known as a frontman of the band KUHLMANN has answered a lot of questions about his musical background and collaborations with different artists, about video production etc.

Almost all of the lyrics have a reference to real life and often to my personal story.

SERJ (NDH FM): Hello Walter, we have a lot of questions to you. The KUHLMANN project turned out to be quite original and interested many NDH fans. Tell us a few words about the way the idea of this project came to you? Do you write all the lyrics and instrumental parts yourself or is someone from the band involved in this process?

Walter Kuhlmann: Hello Serj! Hello to all readers and listeners of NDH FM Online!
For the birthday of my best friend and fellow musician Detlef "Dete" I wrote and recorded a song in the style of Rammstein just for fun. Actually it was just a joke. However, this song went down so well with friends that it developed into the idea of actually writing power music with German lyrics. Mostly it is me writing the lyrics and music, but Dete and Tom from the band are also involved.

SERJ (NDH FM): Obviously you have a lot of musical experience behind you. Could you tell us how and when you came on stage for the first time and where did you play before KUHLMANN?

Walter Kuhlmann: I had my first public gig in 1976. Together with my bandmates Kulle and Dete, I haveplayed in different bands for decades: Crystal Lake, Big Toys, Vivian Touch, DEWA-ZONE, VIVAcoustic and Eispilot.

SERJ (NDH FM): What shaped your musical taste at the beginning of your career and what are your reference points or sources of inspiration now?

Walter Kuhlmann: At the very beginning of the 70s it were glam rock bands like T.REX and Slade, later Mike Oldfield, Saga, The Cure and many other bands.
At the present time we just do what we enjoy. We don't emulate anyone or any band. KUHLMANN cannot be put into a certain pigeonhole. Nevertheless, my voice is always associated with the currently reigning heroes in Olympus. However, I have always sounded like that when I sing normally, without ever having to pretend to do so.

SERJ (NDH FM): Listening to KUHLMANN, you can notice the ironic mood in many songs. That’s why I have a question. Is KUHLMANN more humorous or some kind of a personal story for you?

Walter Kuhlmann: The music of KUHLMANN does not shy away from treating current topics with catchy lyrics and a lot of wit + self-ironic humor. Experiences are being manufactured into songs in a brute kind of way, whether it is love, suffering, separation or fears.
Almost all of the lyrics have a reference to real life and often to my personal story.

SERJ (NDH FM): Remembering the humor and irony of KUHLMANN, we can’t but recall videos for many of the singles of the band. Tell us who is the author of the ideas, who shoots the videos and, most importantly, why? For me, all KUHLMANN videos look like a self-irony and an opportunity to have a good time during filming. But perhaps you have a different view?

Walter Kuhlmann: You have to keep in mind that KUHLMANN is a no-budget project. We try to create a visual representation with little to no means. Most of the recordings are done in front of a green screen since outdoor recordings are always more complex and cost-intensive. Therefore, we are always interested in free video sequences that are available for free publication.
In our self-produced videos, we want to show that we can laugh about ourselves and don’t take ourselves too seriously. Much emphasis is placed on having fun with the music, as well as the visuals in the video productions. We think that using YouTube is the best and probably only real way to reach the YouTube audience.
In the fall of 2022, a music video for our newly released song "KATTA, KATTA" will be released. During this process, a film crew around Peter Dombeck was in action and it was mostly being shot outside. We are all looking forward to this video to be released.

Presenting KUHLMANN as a live act at festivals is an exciting idea.

SERJ (NDH FM): As we know, KUHLMANN releases singles every month; at the end of last year a full-length album was released, which included all the songs released during the year and a few new songs. Can we expect a similar concept this year as well? Are you planning to release a third full-length album?

Walter Kuhlmann: Yes!

SERJ (NDH FM): How do you feel about the album format in general? There is an opinion that with the advent of streaming, full-length albums, especially physical copies, began to lose their relevance. What do you think about it?

Walter Kuhlmann: Yes, unfortunately that is the case. Many of our friends don't even have CD players anymore, let alone vinyl. Today's generation listens to music on streaming platforms almost exclusively.

SERJ (NDH FM): Vinyl, CD or mp3? What format do you prefer to listen to music?

Walter Kuhlmann: We also listen to music mostly on streaming platforms.
However, when I enter my daughter's room, I hear the crackle and pop of old vinyl records. It brings back memories of the old days. Listening to music used to be more intense.

SERJ (NDH FM): Over the past year, you have been involved in several interesting collaboration projects that I would like to know more about. Firstly, as far as I understand, the track Nebelhaus - "Karussell" was supposed to be released as a part of your project with Tim, there was even a teaser with your vocals. Why did the song come out within Tim's main project?
How did you meet Tim and who offered to work together? How can you estimate this experience yourself?

Walter Kuhlmann: Tim approached me to see if I was interested in working with him. Initially, three songs came out of that. We agreed to release two of those songs with our main projects.
"Lieb mich oder lieb mich nicht" was released by KUHLMANN and “Karussell” was released by Nebelhaus. The "Karussell" demo with my vocals was created while writing and recording the song. Before the actual release, of course, the Nebelhaus singer sung the song.
Our third song "Der Kapitän" was also to be released and thus led directly to Nachtmann. Our joint project has its own name. So far four songs have been released with Nachtmann.
"Der Kapitän" 1 & 2 and "Hypermorph" 1 & 2.
Furthermore I participated in the project Tom Farmer & Friends of our guitarist Tom and wrote two songs together with him. "Neue Wege" and "Teufel der Fliegen".

SERJ (NDH FM): Are you planning any collaborations in the future? And who would you like to work with in general (not necessarily on the German stage)?

Walter Kuhlmann: I think collaborations can't be planned. I think they form spontaneously.

SERJ (NDH FM): KUHLMANN has recently released a cover of Rammstein's song “Sonne”. Why did you choose this particular track? And by the way, whose voice do we hear in the chorus?

Walter Kuhlmann: Actually, I didn't want to do covers anymore. I did that for many years with different bands.
But "Sonne" is my all-time favorite song by Rammstein and my bandmates think that the song is really good, too.
And by the way: Yes, I also sang in the chorus and all the other voices on the cover song. ;)

SERJ (NDH FM): Probably all NDH bands were inspired by Rammstein in one way or another. How do you feel about them? Can you remember when you first heard them and what impression did they make on you?

Walter Kuhlmann: Rammstein carries the crown and everyone else is the people. I think Rammstein probably had an influence on almost every NDH band, including us. They were and are pretty original.
I can't remember when I heard Rammstein for the first time and what impression they left on me.
However, I can very well remember the songs "DU HAST", "ENGEL" and "SONNE". Those were and still are brilliant songs.

SERJ (NDH FM): Bands are now resuming tours; pandemic restrictions are almost cancelled. Have you thought about performing on stage with KUHLMANN? Perhaps as a part of a festival?

Walter Kuhlmann: KUHLMANN was created as a pure studio project when there were no more live performances due to the Corona.
Presenting KUHLMANN as a live act at festivals is an exciting idea.

SERJ (NDH FM): By the way, can you remember the very first and last concert you were at? Also, which one made the biggest impression on you?

Walter Kuhlmann: The first concert I visited was in 1974 or 1975 with Status Quo. The last concert I went to was SAGA in Hannover, together with Dete. I was most impressed by a concert of Mike Oldfield in the 80s.

SERJ (NDH FM): Do you have any favorites among Kuhlmann's songs?

Walter Kuhlmann: Quite a few.... "Das Haus", "Ramm mich", "Hexenjagd", "Mensch ärger mich nicht".

SERJ (NDH FM): Let's move away from creativity a little, if you don't mind. There is an opinion that in Germany there is still a division into East and West Germans at the household level. What do you think about this, and on which side of the wall did you grow up?

Walter Kuhlmann: Politics is not my thing.
I grew up in West Germany.

SERJ (NDH FM): What can you say about the independent scene then and now? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different generations?

Walter Kuhlmann: I have the feeling that back then there was still a real chance to actually make it as an independent musician if there was enough positive feedback from the public. Nowadays, everyone is kind of a lone wolf since the mainstream music scene is very narrow-minded. Small musicians kind of get lost in the crowd as independent artists. This is certainly also due to the growing popularity of streaming, because although everyone can release their songs, big labels hardly show any interest in projects that don't fit into the usual listening habits.

SERJ (NDH FM): Is music more of a hobby or profession for you?

Walter Kuhlmann: Music is my hobby and my vocation – but it’s almost impossible to survive by only making music. Therefore, I have had to work in other professions all my life to make a living. The reasons for this can also be found in my reply to the previous question.

SERJ (NDH FM): These are difficult times, and you have already written several songs about it. And I would like you to say a few words to our readers and listeners.

Walter Kuhlmann: Yes, these times also have made us powerless and paralyzed. "Haltet zusammen" and "Kein Krieg, no war" were created directly under the influence of the horrific war.
If we reach even one person with our music, touch them, make them think, give them courage and hope, we have achieved our goal with our music.

Date: May, 2022

Interviewer:
Serj Tabu
Music journalist, showrunner, the co-founder of our radio. And just a freakin' cool man, without whom nothing would have happened!
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