SINCE arriving in Berlin six years ago…
amidst a rotation of drugs, hangouts and hepcats; the Odd Couple of Tammo Dehn and Jascha Kreft (two pals from school) felt out of place – and still do now. Their direct, real and socially-aware songs were not in keeping with the tone of the city. That name seems perfect for their predicament and place in Berlin. They, having seen the strange characters and odd people, went to the drawing board and went back to the past – creating music that recalled the legends of Rock. Queens of the Stone are big influences – as Tammo states – but their approach to producing and recording is modern. The duo’s second album, Flügge, means ‘independent’ – the guys stretching their wings. It is, in a way, the guys taking another chance and shot at the big-time. The Garage-Rock starkness mixes with looser, more relaxed sound that recalls Hip-Hop and Rap. I talk to Tammo about the new album and the inspiration behind it; how his childhood music influenced the music he makes now. I was curious about future plans and whether we could expect Odd Couple to come to the U.K.
Hi, Tammo. How are you? How has your week been?
Tammo: My week has been pretty stressful, actually. But, we are on tour (since yesterday) and I guess this different kind of input is good for me.
For those new to your music, can you introduce yourself, please?
We are a Garage-Rock-Psych.-Kraut-whatever duo from Berlin. We are Jascha and Tammo. We are twenty-six and originally from a little town called Norden (in the North of German). Right now, we are in a traffic jam.
Your new album, Flügge, is German for ‘to fly’. The album, in parts, looks at the disorientation of Generation Y. What other themes can we expect and what was the decision behind the album name?
‘Flügge’ means leaving the nest or ready to fly. We choose this title because it`s a state we thought of, or still think a lot about. (It is) these years in which you start to be independent – I mean really independent. Just because you managed to fly to Asia on your own doesn`t make you an independent person. You come back home, your mother helps you out with some money and you have to realise that you are actually really dependent. I see this a lot around me.
This is your second album. What are the biggest shifts between the debut and Flügge, would you say?
Flügge, we did completely by ourselves; Pressure was recorded with Frank Pop. We weren’t able to experiment so much with sounds (when we did Pressure) because we didn’t know yet how that stuff work. Berlin didn’t influence this record in the same way it did on our first record. But your surrounding always influences what you do and it doesn’t matter if its Berlin or a five-hundred-people village. Most of the lyrics have something to do with our personal social surrounding – which we wouldn’t have if we didn‘t live in Berlin. Vegans, lazy students; hedonists, arty people; homeless people, real artists; fake artists – and on and on. But, in the end, this record is more of a self-study than a social study (unlike our first one).
Gone Solid is the current single from the album. What was the inspiration behind the song?
Gone Solid was one of the few songs we had finished before the actual recording sessions. We tend to not write songs in a chronological way – and that’s also the case with this one.
The riff in the verse is maybe about two-to-three years old; the rest followed about one year later. Originally, this track had more parts but they got kicked out with the time. The music, in general, doesn’t evolve out of a concept but the lyrics have a nice story. My girlfriend always wanted to see me without my beard so I shaved for her birthday. That day, we were on tour and I came to her place at six in the morning. She was still a bit drunk and couldn’t believe her eyes. She loved it but I felt pretty strange in my body. Over the next days, I realised how different I looked, but also, how my facial expressions changed without the beard. Suddenly, I looked so fragile, unsure and sad. I guess a beard can create a certain veil over a part of your face; make you look more like a teddy bear. That’s where I got the idea for the lyrics.
Haste Strom, Haste Licht is a song I bonded with. It looks at consumerism and how we always want quick satisfaction. Do you think, as people, we are less connected to the world and our fellow man?
Well, I think everyone makes this decision for himself, but, yes, I believe that human beings were once more connected to (especially) nature: we lost some skills on the way to the point of civilisation we are in now.
You are called ‘Odd Couple’ but seem incredibly tight and on the same page. How did you guys get together and what is the secret behind that focused and incredible kinship?
We’ve known each other since kindergarten and grew up together. As a result, we don’t have to argue that much. We tend to like each other’s ideas (almost always) and give each other a lot of freedom.
I have a lot of freedom when it comes to the lyrics and recording of the songs – Jascha, when he does the visual stuff or the presentation of the band. I mean, we also live together so I guess, since our youth, we saw each other almost every day.
The music you play is quite simple: chunky riffs and catchy hooks. Do you think that simplicity is why the music has resonated with so many people?
I guess that it is at least a big part of it but we are playing live a lot, and there, we are way rougher and harder. I think we are one of these bands where people go to a show and lose themselves for an hour.
What is the music scene like in Berlin (where you are based) compared to other parts of the world? It is a bit of an unknown quantity to many. Is it quite a broad and productive music scene there?
First of all; Berlin is known for its Electronic music scene: people go there to party hard without limits. We have never been a part of that scene – even though I work in a club like this.
There are a lot of bands in Berlin, and I have to say, I just have an overview of the Psych. and Garage scene. The bands who frequently do a lot of stuff you can count on two hands.
But, for sure, you find a lot of creative people in Berlin that actually do shit.
There are elements of Krautrock and Garage in your music. What kind of music did you guys grow up listening to and bond with young?
We both have a pretty similar background when it comes to musical taste – but with the time we went in different directions. We come from Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, and in general, a lot of Stoner (Rock). Jascha started to listen a lot to stuff like Bowie, (The) Beatles or Flaming Lips; I went into stuff like Jesus Lizard, Earth or Nick Cave – as well as Psych. and Hip-Hop. In general, we both opened up to good Pop songwriting with time.
If you each had to select the one album that has meant most to you, which would they be and why?
Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age. That counts for both of us. This album, we grew up with and I think there isn`t another one that influenced us that much.
The simplicity of the riffs and the drumbeats, combined with its really catchy vocals; this Robot-Rock attitude. Still, you have some cool experimental tracks like You Would Know. Great.
Any tour dates coming up this year? Can we see you in the U.K. in 2017 at all?
Right now, we are on a two-week tour in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg. In some, we will play a lot of festivals.
We are planning a U.K. tour this year for sure and would, of course, love to play your country. I guess it`s time.
Is there any advice you’d offer upcoming songwriters?
Don`t try to fit into a clique that you are not (part of).
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Demis Roussos – When I`m a Kid
Ariel Pink – Dayzed Inn Daydreams
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