Meeting bands like Suns of Thyme is always a pleasure, not only because they are a nice bunch of guys, but because they hold a promise of accomplishing bigger and better things. Their shows already attract a regular audience and anyone thirsty for good quality psychedelic rock, despite them being a fairly new addition to the Berlin music scene.
They are humble musicians and find it hard to talk about their music. For them the pleasure comes from locking themselves in a room and focusing all their energy on coming up with new material and mastering their craft. 2012 was a big year for exactly that. They’ve been working intensely, often freezing their balls off, in the uncomfort of their rehearsal space to bring us their debut record Fortune, Shelter, Love, and Cure to come out by mid-July. With Tobias Feltes in the producer’s seat and perfected under the watchful eye of Tanno Dehn, with the new album we have something to look forward to.
This is their first interview.
What made you think that you should form a band?
Jens: I never thought that we could form a band. We met by chance and we tried each other out, that’s it – and it worked out magically. All of us had other bands before and – I can only speak for myself and Toby – it never worked out before. It’s like falling in love; you just know when it’s works. For me, it was the first time that it was really working and it’s like this for more than two years now.
Jascha: Toby and Jens knew each other before and Jens was a student –
Tim: – was a student colleague of mine and so we all met here (Berlin); we didn’t move here together. We all come from different cities; none of us are from Berlin.
What were the beginnings like? Did you jam? Did you have some material from your previous bands?
Jens: Toby and I, we had a band at the time and we were very unhappy with that band. And I met Tim at University. We had the same taste in music and we just liked each other so I invited him for a kind of secret rehearsal, and it just fit at that moment. He wouldn’t like what we were doing at that time; he influenced us a lot, and the work itself was just a different kind of working together as a band. And then we had a problem in that we desperately needed a drummer which is hard to find – always. We ran around Berlin and asked people who looked like they were drummers and asked them if they were a drummer. [laughs]
Toby: True story.
What does a drummer look like?
Jascha: Like me. [laughs]
What’s your description?
Jascha: Actually, I don’t really look like a drummer.
Tim: Yeah, it’s true. We looked for people sitting on the subway who would be hiting their thighs and then checked their eye balls to see if they are on MDMA – or something else – or if they were just listening to music.
Jens: But it wouldn’t work, actually – we never found any drummer. Well, we kind of gave up and then we went to a Spindrift concert –
Jascha: – yeah, at Bassy.
Jens: That’s where the magic happened. You (Toby) should tell the story.
Toby: I was standing on stage with another friend of ours – who played in a band before, but he’s not part of it anymore – and we were checking out the band’s equipment, the effect pedals and whatever, and there’s this guy who just shows up and says “Hey, are you a band?”, and I said jokingly, “Yeah. And you’re a drummer, right?” totally not expecting that he would say “Yeah I’m a drummer.” It was – I don’t know – like, love at first sight; it just fit and we’ve been friends since that day.
Jascha: Actually, I never ask people for anything – except to ask for a lighter or something – but I really had to (this time) because I just moved to Berlin three months earlier and I was really desperately looking for a band. I just saw those guys looking at the equipement, and asked them if they are playing or if they know anyone who is playing music.
Jens: I remember scaring him off by hugging him so closely. [laughs] We were in a very cynical mood at that time because we couldn’t find any drummer for months and then we finally found him and it was, like … he just looked perfectly. [laughs]
He fit the bill.
Jens: It was not about his looks, but it was just the vibes he sent. So I was sitting outside waiting for the next band to start and then Toby came out and said “I found a drummer,” I went “You’re kidding,” and then he (Jascha) stood in front of me; I just stood up and hugged him. I think I choked him.
And at this point you had no idea of what kind of a drummer he is.
Toby: No. No Idea.
Jascha: And the next day we started rehearsing.
Toby: And it was perfect.
What kind of a band are you? Would you consider yourself a democratic band or do you have a leader?
Toby: I think most of the time we try to be democratic but at some points … I mean, I write the lyrics and with maybe half of the songs I had the original idea and so, maybe, I had the biggest impact at the beginning. But now it all comes together in a natural way and each one (of us) is contributing.
Jascha: We’re definitely not a jamming band in a sense that we just go in to the practice room and start any song – it happened maybe twice.
Toby: Most of the time there is an idea and we work it out and everyone finds his part.
Jens: I think what we have is a special kind of democracy. If one of us says “I won’t do it. This is shit. I won’t do it,” everyone else accepts it and says “Ok, we’re not doing it.” But if you say “Well, I don’t really care about that idea,” (…) and everyone else says “I’d really like to do that,” we do it. And that’s our democracy. You can always say “No. I’m not doing it,” and everyone accepts it. But in the end I think you need someone who leads and you need someone who says we’re going in that direction. And I think that changes, it’s not always one person; it depends on the song –
Tim: – on the day. We try to make everybody happy, but –
Toby: – that’s very hard.
Tim: Yeah, that’s very hard to do. I think most of the time you need an initial song writer, otherwise you’re just ending up trying and that in the end it frustrates everybody (…) and it’s easier to have someone who says I want to go in this direction.
Jascha: Timothee is the most picky one.
Jens: Yeah, he’s very critical – but it’s good we need that.
What are your immediate influences?
Jens: A lot.
Jascha: Like bands or –
Tim: Constantly changing.
Jens: In the end it’s almost every band, everything we’ve ever listened to. Even if we sit in a bar in Berlin and listen to minimal electro and it’s very subtle and we wouldn’t even notice what is playing, but still, it has some kind of influence (on us). Of course we can give you some bands, but we would never stop.
You’re going to release your first album. Did you have any specific direction you wanted to go in, or was it more about “This sounds good. Let’s do this.” Was there some kind of concept behind it?
Toby: Basically, it just happened in a way. It all started out with a friend of ours who is a music video director (Christian Schmid Rincon). He asked us if we wanted to do a music video, and we said “Well, that’s a really good idea; let’s do that – but we have no proper recordings,” and then we gave him some songs which we just recorded at the rehearsal room with a hand recorder. We chose one song and then we said “Well we have to do some kind of a proper recording for this music video,” and we decided to go to the studio and record some drum tracks, but then we thought “Well, we don’t need to go to the studio for just one song,” and more songs just came together – which were, I don’t know, five?
Toby: And we said “Yeah, maybe we can do something like an EP after that because we had all these songs.” (…) All of it came together in a natural way and it just fit together, and we didn’t even plan it like that. Now it feels like it’s meant to be like this.
Jascha: It just turned into an album actually.
Tim: There are songs on the album that were never rehearsed; (…) that were just ideas we played around with and that fit in the whole rest that we did, so it’s quite a mixture that we have on the album. We have songs that we wrote all together, we have songs where we had an initial idea and worked on it and changed a lot of times, and we have songs that were almost ready from the beginning but we just rediscovered them when we wanted to do the album. (…)
Why the Suns of Thyme?
Tim: Never ask the band (this question).
I know, but come on there must be a story behind it.
Jens: It was a whole process finding the name, and I think that name just fit. First of all the easiest reason is because there is no other band called Suns of Thyme. It’s pretty hard to find a name starting with black or death or with any animal.
Toby: It’s all already taken.
Jens: What we did is to describe an image that is hard to imagine. Try to imagine the sun of thyme. We created an image that brings you to a place of calm and emotions and that’s basically the name. It’s not important that it has a big meaning – it’s important that you get the mood of the music, and it (the name) should transport the music as it is.
Suns of Thyme are Tobias Feltes (vocals, guitar), Jens Rosenkranz (bass), Tim Hoppe (guitar) and Jascha Kreft (drums, vocals).