Berlin indie rock act Grey Television have been playing for a while now and have had some amazing successes playing with some very notable international artists. With a new track from them just out and another one on the way with a video, for bunch of guys out of Brandenburg, an area not normally known for birthing world class indie bands, they’re doing extraordinarily well.
On the eve of their support slot for Maps & Atlases on the 26th April and in the lead-up to their video launch on 19th May at Naherholung Sternchen, Blitzgigs.de caught up with two of the Grey Television guys and chatted about the many things that have influenced their music and the changes in their creative process since their formation that have lead to their current sound…
Blitzgigs: So who are you guys? Want to introduce yourselves for the interview?
David Boldt: We’re Grey Television, I’m David the singer and guitarist of the band.
Max Garth: …and I’m Max the drummer.
B: What’s Grey Television all about?
M: Grey Television is all about making music …making music in our specific way. …we like to transfer atmosphere and moods and we want people at our concerts to not only listen to the music, but to also feel the music and just get a feeling of laying into the music.
B: So the band has come together over a period of years since 2008…
D: Yeah, we had a lot of changes and I’m the only one who was involved with starting Grey Television, then Max joined the band, I think. The others just surround the guitarist and keyboard player. Julius, Benjamin and then Mirko was the last one. We all grew up in …suburbia, suburbs of Berlin and in time we decided to come to Berlin and do stuff here.
B: There are a range of influences in the music, there’s the shoe-gaze thing, the ambient thing, the experimental, indie-pop, it’s a bit dreamy also, do you think the way the members of the band came into the band over a period of time helps with that?
M: For sure. I think when we started there was a stronger indie influence and later on there came the ambient influence from Julius for example, and then later with Ben there came a math-rock influence and so everything changed …we’ve been searching for a real sound and I think now we’re getting close to the sound we want to have, all together in the combination we have now.
D: We’re now changing from the situation that we had, something in progress, something just, like, where we didn’t know how we wanted to sound. (Now) we know what we want, we know which bands we really like and now, this is Grey Television, that’s how it feels.
B: Talking about bands you like, you have had a number of very, very strong support slots, you’ve supported Foals, you’ve supported Battles, Wu Lyf and so on and so on, do you think the music of those bands has in some way affected the music of Grey Television?
M: Yes, of course. I think Foals are a really strong influence because we loved the music long before …I think we just started playing with Grey Television when Foals released the first album, so it was like Foals was the music we listened to all the time when we started making music with Grey Television. It was such a strong influence for us, and when we played with them and when we toured with them, it was like a dream come true and then we had long talks with the foals guys and they…
D: …it’s quite funny, we really love this band and you get an announcement that you’re going to play with these guys and we’re still in the situation where we’re dreaming about an album and they’ve already done it and they’re touring and you also want that, and you see that these guys are the same age and they’re so down to earth and give you really good advice. We learned a lot of the music we’re doing right now from them because of the talks we had with them, because of the advice. The same with the other concerts we did, like with battles, it was just like, such a great masterpiece and also the live shows they did. It’s quite funny because you read something in the magazines and you have a picture of a band that they’re arrogant or something like that and you see the guys and talk to them and they’re totally different, totally friendly.
B: So who would you like to support next? If you could pick any band in the world who would you like to support?
D: Of course Radiohead. <Laughs>. Radiohead and Liars.
B: What is it about Liars?
D: I saw them a couple of times and I’ve seen how they’re changing and …there’s a lot of complex life stories, albums, they’ve done, so I think that would be totally amazing. I also think Health, Health would be super interesting.
B: There’s been a change in the production value, in your music since the beginning and even up to the song that got released last week. What do you think is the main thing that’s changed the sound of the music over that period?
M: I think, it’s because we, it’s like …progress.
D: I think it’s that we’re no longer in a rehearsal studio where everyone’s trying something different and at the end of two months you just have a song. That’s what we had last year, we had a few songs, what it is it …that developed or grew out of just out of a few jams. Now it’s Max and I sitting down or Julius…
M: …just little parts of the band…
D: …and they’re creating ideas, and everything’s starting to grow.
M: …just little groups of us, two or three people, they build an idea and they transform it so far that it’s presentable to the whole band, then we can start to arrange the song on a higher level, (rather) than just hanging around the five of us and everyone putting an idea out there and nobody knows where it’s going …it’s easier to arrange a song and create a good, working, functional song in the end.
D: I think that’s the point, that’s what’s changed everything.
M: The new way of working that we’re trying now and it’s working.
B: So you did have a new song out last week, do you want to tell the readers what it’s called and what the main idea behind it is?
D: The name is Hlf Tme.
M: When we started, I think this is one of the last songs we wrote in the old fashioned way we used to write songs. We just made a sample with a slicer and that was all. The idea was “lets just make a kraut rock song” and <laughs> we had the sample and some drums and in the end, Ben made up a riff, the main lead riff, and then everything started to transform and change and then came the electro half time and the explosion in the end and just progress in two or three months …we were just changing and thinking and transforming and yeah, it was a long way, we were completely impressed when we’d finished the song, and we were like “we think it’s done” and then we were “whoah”. We got a 5 (minute) 30 music monster in this way, but we love it. It’s one of our favourite songs that we’ve made.
B: It is a very strong one, do you think this is almost a new way? Do you think you’re going to use this technique going on into the future?
D: No, like max said this is one of the last songs done in the old progress way, there’s several other songs we haven’t played live and haven’t recorded and they’re really just like …I think we had old songs that had some sort of level, and Hlf Tme is one of the highest from the old ones and the others are just like, at the same level or just a little better.
M: I think what we take from the progress of writing Hlf Tme is just that the song structure we had is a thing we always have in mind a little bit when building the new songs. It’s like we always think that songs have to go around a corner, our new songs never go straight ahead …we like to go around the corner and make the songs come to a point where the feeling just completely changes.
D: Its the same thing when we start talking about the whole music thing, why we’re doing something like this, if you have some emotions and you’re feeling really sad, you’re not feeling sad the whole time, so it means there’s several ways of feeling …fucked up. That’s why the songs that are starting really low or really heavy, there’s a half time part or something, it’s just like the same with emotions.
B: …and you’ve got a new video coming out next month as well?
M: Firstly, we can say that there’ll be an amazing, unbelievable, great video release party, it’ll be legendary, you all have to come. It’s on the 19th of May in the Naherholung Sternchen near …
D: …Kino International
M: …subway station Schillingstrasse! …and it’ll be totally awesome.
D: We invited all of our friends, from great bands that we’ve been working with like I Heart Sharks, Beta. A lot of djs, some from Ritter Butzke, different venues, also Ex!t too …the song, the video that’ll be released …the song hasn’t been released yet?
M: No, no it isn’t it’ll be released along with the video. Aglossia …is the right pronunciation of the name; we’ve all been saying it wrong for a long time. It’s called Aglossia.
D: …and this’ll also be something totally different!
M: The party will also be something completely different. The song is different to other things we’ve done before, but it’s hard to say too much, just wait for the video. Check it out, I think you’ll like it.
D: I think what we can say is that it’s really minimalistic.
M: …it’s minimalistic and it’s deep. …we haven’t seen it so far, but I’m totally excited. We’ll see it next week I think, cutting will be finished. The video session was a lot of fun.
B: Where was the shoot? Can you say?
M: UDK, a room in the UDK. The video will be just people, it’s dark around and it’ll all about the people in the video and when you see it you’ll imagine that we had a lot of fun at the shoot.
B: With the new track out on the 19th and the other one just last week, does that mean that there’s an album in the works?
D: There’s no album, we just did a recording session with Simon from I Heart Sharks and I think we recorded four or five songs …there’s no album planned, but we’ll see what happens at the end of the year.
M: Yeah, we recorded the songs because we just had the output and we just had the feeling that something has changed in our sound and to just make it fixed and just record it, so we went to the studio with Simon. We’re releasing two songs, but we have two more done, but not released yet. We’re just working to see if we can get them released with an EP or album later in the year.
B: So that’s one thing for the year, what else will you be doing this year? Is there a tour?
D: We cant say any specific details, but there will be a tour and there will be some festivals and there’ll be some surprises. I think there’ll be a lot of reasons why we might talk again in a few months.
M: Yeah, as Yannis (Foals) said, keep an eye on us. We won’t say too much, but there’ll be a lot of things this year and next year everything will explode.
words: Dan Haak; Image: Olga Bacznyska