Spinguy ~ This interview could only start with one question, which I am sure is the one on every readers mind.
Where the hell have you been?
Holm ~ London, UK. Well, took a break for a while, started a family etc.
Spinguy ~ Kinder, or just a Frauline?
Holm ~ No Fraulein involved, I volunteered for a new cloning programme...No, we have a litlle girl -very cute
Spinguy ~ Now for the rest of you, Luke recently told me he was going back to London for a week. When he did, I suggested he pop over and pick your
album up while he was there, save shipping and time etc... (which is now for sale in the Popsicle shop)
I got a huge lecture on how impossible that was, how I don't comprehend what London is like, and how he doesn't have the time for an "errand" like that.
What am I, stupid?
Then so what does he do? He not only meets you, he goes out on the friggin town with you.
When he got back he had to write me right away what a glowing time he had with you and that "Holm is an absolute sweetiepie. Nicest German I ever met." Then he catches himself and says don't say that because it makes it sound like he never met a nice German. And also he says, don't mention the 66 world cup, or the War. Brits are complex, funny little bastards, aren't they? (for the record he was kidding about the last bits) But they are infuriating and endearing all at the same time, no?
Holm ~They are an interesting bunch. Very difficult to make out, you never really know where you are with them, which makes it interesting I guess.
Spinguy ~ You put that about the best way I everheard. Luke drives me mad at times with that, I don't know if he's kidding, serious, mad, laughing and then if I don't get it I get the "lighten up" email. But yeah, ya gotta love em.....
From looking at your bio, it does not appear that you were influenced by what was going on in the UK from the late 70 until 1990. I am assuming again, because nowhere do you mention it. It also seems there are not as many German bands that embrace it either, at least not as many as their ought to be given Germanies population. Is this true, and if so, do you know why?
Holm ~ I think I am influenced by a couple of guitar greats such as The Smiths, New Order and The Walker Brothers. As far as German bands are concerned, I think they embrace the darker side of pop, i.e. Gothic Music and Dark Wave stuff, weird really.
Spinguy ~ I saw you were chided when you moved to the UK because you had lived in a place where David Hasselhoff had a #1 song. Did this simply happen because his last name is German? In Germanies defense, whatever is currently topping the UK charts I am sure is hardly any better, not that two wrongs make a right.
Holm ~ In my country’s defence things are getting better! There’s currently a big German pop revival. Imagine Pavement meets Nena. Scared?
Spinguy ~ Is it the simple fact of language and culture, because when I hear a word like "Schlagzeugplatte" Kraftwerk is the first thing to come to mind. Does Germany really have that techno bent or is that just a misplaced stereotype?
Holm ~ I think Kraftwerk still made the biggest international impact by any German band. They still rock, I saw them in London last year, awesome. Rammstein is another candidate that fits the bill when it comes to cultural stereotypes. It’s a shame really ‘cause there are loads of bands in Germany that deserve to be heard outside the fatherland , like Blumfeld for example.
Spinguy ~ I noted your zodiac is Cancer. So is my wife. Are you close and reserved in person? I find a lot of singers are Cancers, and I think it's their way of letting out all they normally bottle up. Although I cannot get my wife to sing for love or money.
Holm ~ Haha, keep trying. I heard that before somewhere about Cancers having an artistic streak. Things get bottled up over time, definitely, and singing is a good way of letting some of it out.
Spinguy ~ Now that we brought up singing, lets get right to it. Where and when in Gods name did you get this voice from? Did it materialize after puberty or was it always so deep and "liquidy", and when did you first realize you had it?
Holm ~ My voice? Oh, that came later in life. I did some harmonies and backing stuff in bands I was in before, but never had the guts to be the front guy. I took a few singing lessons and discovered my voice that way. It ‘grew’ over the years, I guess.
Spinguy ~ Somehow I can’t hear it singing in German either “Freitag Nacht und die Lichter sind niedrig...", (that's probably incorrect) Haven't spoken German since high school. Did you sing in German initially?
Holm ~ Your German is amazing! But that line doesn’t translate very well. I tried a few songs in German but it never really worked. I think I would have to live there again to sing in German and give it another try.
Spinguy ~ You were in a few bands before you went "solo". I assume you were the singer in all of them as well? Why did none of them really click and survive?
Holm ~ I was more of a session guy in most of them. My first band where I was the singer was ‘Plastiscene’. Why none of them lasted I don’t know, bands are not meant to last forever unless you start off together when you’re 15 and become U2.
Spinguy ~ Your first EP was Music For Astronauts. I really liked the sleeve art and imagery. How and why did you come up with that?
Holm ~ I found some of the images on the NASA website and they were free to use and not copyright protected. I built the whole theme around that, the idea of flying to the moon, H.G Wells ‘War of the worlds’ influenced ‘Afterglow’ the single from the EP. The theme also influenced Moby and Tom Cruise I
reckon, or maybe not.
Spinguy ~ Is that you in the spacesuit in your website pics? If so, where did you get it to use?
Holm ~ It’s me, yes. Bloody hot that thing, got it from a costume hire place in London. It’s a replica of a NASA space suit.
Spinguy ~ Sorry, the real ones are air conditioned.
So you were walking all over London in that thing, down in the tubes and all? Did you cause a commotion?
Holm ~ That thing was bloody hot, there were moments when I thought I would pass out, cause the tube is hot enough as it is. We did some of the filming during the morning rush hour, most people tried their best to ignore me. Good fun though, walking in a space suit through a sea of grey suits. We didn't have permission to film at the main stations , so everyting had to be undercover which was easy, cause we filmed with digital handhelds.
Spinguy ~ It also looks like it was from a video. Have you made any?
Holm ~ Yeah it’s from the Afterglow video which is now on my website for the world to watch.
Spinguy ~ Why did you decide to not carry over the space theme to the new LP? Too long a gap for continuity? I was a little sad to not see it there I must admit.
Holm ~ Yes, the gap got longer and longer and I thought it was time to do something else. Plus Moby and Foo Fighters did some space stuff and it would have looked like a cheap rip-off. God, the pop world moves so fast…
Spinguy ~ I assume that EP did OK for you? Because I know a lot of us were wondering if you were gone for good when you vanished.
Holm ~ It did so well, that I bought myself a couple of nice Ferraries and seriously thought about early retirement, hahaha. No honestly, I’m still waiting for that royalty cheque from my old label…The EP did alright, but just because the BBC plays your stuff doesn’t mean you hit it big time of course.
Spinguy ~ I'll write Uwe a note and remind him for you.....
Holm ~ Oh, thanks, but leave it to my lawyers ;)
Spinguy ~ Oohh, hardball. OK, I 'll stay clear, thanks for the heads up.
Did you ever get any feedback from ABBA about your cover of "Dancing Queen"? I think I actually prefer your version.
Holm ~ Believe it or not, the guy who recorded it , bumped into Bjoern and the other guy with the beard at a pub in London after the ABBA musical premiered- and he didn’t walk up to them to give them the CD!!
Spinguy ~ I suppose because of the nature of your voice you're less of a pop “star” and more of a "crooner". Does that seem appropriate to you? If not, tough luck, because that's how you’re getting labelled. :^ )
Holm ~ Crooner? Great! That’s where I see myself. I’m a baritone by nature, so yeah I don’t have a contemporary pop voice, it’s more classical like Bing Crosby, Dean, Elvis the pelvis etc. They were amazing…
Spinguy ~ Crooners always had nicknames like "old blue eyes" or "the velvet fog". So what would yours be?
Holm ~ Blue! Young blue eyes.
Spinguy ~ In fact, and this came up in a past interview I believe, you remind me of an old Warner Brothers cartoon with Porky Pig trying to get his hens to lay more eggs. So he has 2 roosters who are Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra come and sing to them, and the hens start laying eggs the minute they hear them
sing. Is that what you’d like, to have your voice make people lay eggs? I did when I heard your first EP.
Holm ~ What shape were they? On a bad day, when I had to many Guinesses what comes out the other end is similar to rabbits’ droppings, but let’s not get too much into this..
Spinguy ~ That's not only more info than I think we want, I think you missed the point. I mean to "emotionally" lay an egg, to be in rapture over, etc... not take a crap, christ....
Holm ~ Sorry! But to answer your question, that'd be nice if my voice touched people and made them lay an eggs...or two...
Spinguy ~ Speaking of Christ, you got a German Pope. Are you stoked, upset or couldn't care less?
Holm ~ Don't really care where he comes from, to be honest.
Spinguy ~ OK, we go right from the kudos to the kick in the nuts. When I first got the new LP I did not like it one bit. The sexy, drippy, sensual-ness that made the EP to die for was in my opinion entirely missing.
MUCH listening later, I have come around. Why epiphanies like that happen I don’t know, but it was late one night, I was reading while listening, and it hit me. While I now like the album, I still feel it does not plumb the depths of raw sultry smoking lust that the EP did. I think the reason is the way both were
“Last Summer” is the perfect comparison as it appears on both, but in 2 different recordings. The new one is a bit sparser which means lost atmosphere, I think the piano doesn’t belong either, but more than anything it’s how your voice is miked. It’s a little too “hot” and up in the mix. What’s more, this time
you are not letting the song happen, and the lyrics are sung slightly rushed. That song is a breathless quiver at the breaking point, and if rushed it breaks. On the new LP, you break it. You only went a hair too fast, but it was enough, in this humble reviewers opinion.
OK, let me have it. :^ )
Holm ~ How dare you! Well , in a way you’re right I worked with a different producer (Dirk ‘Diggler’ Kusche) second time round and in a different studio. We remixed and partly re-recorded some of the tracks on ‘Last Summer’ to give it a clearer, less cluttered feel, maybe some of the dreamy bits got lost on the
way…I prefer the new version of course..
Spinguy ~ I don't mind the new version now but you're wrong, it's not as good. The lushness got sucked out of it.
Now that the ugliness is out of the way, I do quite like the rest of the new LP. (because I don’t have better comparisons?) Well, it doesn't matter because it is good. They are all very catchy songs and clearly more chart friendly perhaps than the EP was as a whole. Maybe what I mean more is you are closer to a pop
star here than a crooner, and I fell in love with the crooner.
That aside, there are some really great ballads like “Tell It Like It Is”. Are these songs more recent compositions or have some of them been penned for some time?
Holm ~ The crooner will be back, no doubt. ‘Tell it like it is’ is one of my favourite tracks on the CD, it’s the most accomplished I think. Some tracks were a couple of years old, when we recorded them, but others were written while we started recording, like ‘London Nights’ for example.
Spinguy ~ Are you the type that does the melody first or the lyrics when you write a new song?
Holm ~ I usually have a chorus with some words and then build the rest around it.
Spinguy ~ Does the albums name “South Of The River” and carnival theme have a significance for those of us who’ve never been to London and are as Luke says, "stupid"?
Holm ~ ‘South Of The River’ is on the other side of the river Thames, the South Bank. I love that area cause it’s got some great venues like the Royal Festival Hall. Great place to get drunk and watch the sun set over Waterloo (station). The wheel in the background is the Millenium Wheel, so no carnival I’m afraid.
Spinguy ~ My kids been insisting on asking questions, even though they're always the same ones, but it never hurts.....
What is your favorite colour?
Holm ~ Blue.
Spinguy ~ What is your favorite animal?
Holm ~ Haven’t got one, but I don’t like rats.
Spinguy ~ What is it with germans and animals? There's an old joke that goes something like "What is a German Veterinarian? He's a German who won't shoot your dog for free." Do Germans have pets, or do they just not domesticate animals? I've heard you're not really cat lovers either, too free willed, huh?
Holm ~ Germans have loads of pets, I grew up o a farm with horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, sheep, geese, I love animals!! But at the moment I don't have one.
Spinguy ~ OK, wasn't trying to stereotype there, but the PA Germans here are very historically old fashioned and for them animals are things that stay outside, they generally never had animals in the house, or pets.
What is your favorite food?
Holm ~ Pancakes, German style.
Spinguy ~ What's German style? And do you mean flapjack pancakes or potato pancakes?
Holm ~ German pancakes are slighly thicker and bigger than American pancakes. I make them with apples, brown sugar or maple syrup and cinnamon.
Spinguy ~ I'll be right over........
OK, now I'll ask one. This ought to cause a stir. Who's beer is better, Germany or England? And while you're at it, was it tough adjusting to the food in the UK? No more kartoffelpfannkuchen for you...
Holm ~ German beer ist besser! But I like the ales and bitters, they are piss warm but tasty. Food in London is generally good, but expensive.
Spinguy ~ Take your life in your hands and answer this one. Who's football is better, Germany or England? (You can say Brazil if you need an out)
Holm ~ Brazil is awesome of course, Germany are working on a big comeback , Klinsmann is the new coach, so things can only get better. England have never been really good. The Premiership is only great because of the foreign players. Beckham is too busy pleasing Las Chiqas in Madrid. But the moment of truth is the World Cup in 2006 in Germany
Spinguy ~ Just out of curiosity as well, was putting the tv show "Friends" in the title of one of the songs a gratuitous attempt at chart success? (It's OK to admit it. We're all capitalists here)
Holm ~ No that song is about staying in with your girlfriend because she’s pre-menstrual while your friends have a fab night out. Friday night was ‘Friends’ night on Channel 4 and it really pissed me off how everybody got so hooked on ‘Friends’ over here. I mean the show is o.k. but sacrifice a good night out for
it? The pubs here close at 11 pm, so by the time the show was over , it’s almost too late to get a pint down your throat. Thank God it’s not on anymore.
Spinguy ~ See gang, it usually is better not to ask. I'll never listen to that track the same way again... and are you telling me you've dated women with such heavy periods they can't even make it out to a barstool? You know what, I'm not sure I even wanna know.....
And you sort of lost me anyway. If you don't like Friends, go out and drink like a fish while everyone stays home watching the show. Or are you saying you stayed home to watch it too?
Holm ~Sometimes I stayed in , watched it and got drunk.
Spinguy ~ So, do you have distro for this thing in the US yet or not? (For the time being copies are available in our Popsicle shop)
Holm ~ I’ve started my own label ‘Mano De Dios’ and I’m currently selling exclusively through my website but I’m looking for distribution in the US, offers welcome.
Spinguy ~ Hand of God huh? That's not too humble, is it? Do you plan to sign other acts?
Holm ~ That's a football reference, you remember when Maradonna scored against England using his right hand and when questioned afterwards said: 'It was the Hand Of God!' What a genius, he had his stomach stapled hadn't he?
Spinguy ~ Any plans to tour the states?
Holm ~ Would love to play over there, but no plans yet.
Spinguy ~ Thank you very much for your time and the new album. I'm sure everyone won't be as anal as I was at first to really enjoy it, and we wish you the best of luck with it and your career! And for those of you who would like a copy it is available in the specials section of the Popsicle shop.
Holm ~ Cheers buddy!