Interview by Klemen from Psychedelic Baby Magazine, 2018: "Interview 2018"
Interview by Phil Jackson from prog-magazine Acid Dragon, 2018: "Interview 2018"
Interview Danny Angus from Underground-print-Magazin yoshiwaracollective.co.uk (Belfast) 2016:
"Long before Deep Space Destructors bleeped on Earth’s radar, Space Debris had already been emanating ripples of colour and waves of sound across our skies. Keen to interpret that trajectory since their gargantuan “Elephant Moon” 3LP eight years ago, these burning questions were put to sonic boom sticksman, Christian Jäger...
Welcome to the depths of our Yoshiwara Collective! Is it cold above the surface?
C: Haha! Yes, but thats the reason we sometimes play well-tempered...:-) While playing music together, it feels like we build our space ship around us...free floating in space, but with heating. We are the proof that ist´s really possible to be "above" while beeing an "underground" -band :-)
Our paths first crossed circa 2009 when we exchanged vinyl gifts. Whilst thoroughly impressed by the organic platter, absorption was slow and Space Debris soared on through the setting suns on the horizon. But before dwelling on the landmarks left in your wake, please tell us about your crew! What are their backgrounds, how did you meet and what makes that chemistry special as a unit of explorers?
C. There is my good friend Tommy Gorny on guitar since the beginning. He is able to play very intuitively and always with a relaxed attitude. He always knows how to bring a little fire to our music! And the fun he's having and his moving about on stage... that's never artificial or to impress the audience but its always how he feels in the moment. He is a Rocker and he likes Townshend/Blackmore/Hendrix as well as for example Zappa and Bach. He´s a very enthusiastic man and I like his soli as well as his riffs. Then there is the excellent fast thinking "brain" Winnie Rimbach-Sator who plays in a very energetic way too, but also he likes to play cool-jazzy e-piano and for example comic-strip-sound-effects and classical hammondsound as well. He brings a fresh view by being 20 years younger than Tommy and me and Winnie likes the 60ies and 70ies music as much as he likes Jazz and Latin style. His playing is so varied, by always having an idea or a suprise for the other musicans. Since 2015 we have Janni Schmitt on the bass-guitar and i´m very very happy about that. He is a good friend of Winnie's and the two just finished their Music studies in the same town. Janni is a solid member of the Miller Anderson Band and I really enjoy his bass playing, because he not only gives the band a very good foundation, rather he plays very important themes and melodies as crative input. He reacts unbelievabely fast - and a bassplayer has to think like two musicians because he is the bridge between rhythm and melody. Playing with all these well educated and high-level-musicans makes me proud. My function in the band is not only to be a drummer. I also have to do something like "conducting" the themes/tempo/changes etc. - which is nessesary when you're playing our free, spontaneous compositions. These 4 characters must understand the musical intentions and must be listening closely to the playing of the other musicans and so every member is as important as every other. No one is every truly in the "front" or "back" . It´s a net of communication and a free floating understandig and exchange of ideas and feelings.
Has there been any change of personnel during this second or third decade of your existence? If so, what impact have the changes had on your sound?
C: First we were three musicans without a singer or a bassplayer. Playing without a singer allowed us to play with more freedom and communication - and creating-while-playing instead of the usual songwriting. This freedom was the kind of music in rockbands we allways prefered and first we were only 3 members who wanted exactly this. The lack of a bassplayer was another thing... and so we added bassguitar in 2008 as a solid member of the band. Before that time it was only a relativly simple organ-bass what layed the foundation. Our Sound changed since 2008 a little as Winnie came in the band (because Tom retired from playing in bands) . His palette of styles and sounds and rhythms is much more versatile and sometimes fresher and more agile. That does not mean, that the first line-up was inferior, no! I like both ensembles. The main emphasis of the first group was the Hammond and now the band is more mature and more like a team and with a much bigger spectrum of rhytms and themes. It´s always an enrichment to play with a new bandmember, because he or she always brings new things to the mix.
It’s rather remarkable that there are almost as many live recordings as studio documents in your legacy. Please shine a light on those creative processes. How much time do you spend composing and rehearsing versus living the moment and improvising as you see fit at festivals? Is there a delicate balance? Where do you place more importance?
C: It´s very easy to answer: 90 % of what we play is totally free and only 10% are fixed riffs and themes. We never know what will happen before beginning a song. We have some sort of sing language communication for changing chords, and we compose spontaneously. Exception is the song "Mountain" where we improvise the part in the middle in a totally different way at every concert.
The past three years have been a particularly prolific period. Beginning with “She’s a Temple” DLP, it was billed as harder and earthier with a focus on ‘70s inspiration. Some intriguing song titles too. They are visually striking and suggest portals to other worlds. Was that your intention?
C: Some of these titels from "she´s a temple" where the idea of our former bassplayer Mitja (Glimpse of a dying sun, Time Traveller, Ever Drifting Particle) Normaly it´s my task to find titles. Yes, we often try to find song-titles which are evoking images and suggestions. "She´s a temple" had only a few psychedelic and space parts but more dreamy parts. Some of the titels would better fit to songs from "Phonomorphosis" for example.
Do you find it easier to create vast visions without words?
Frankly, yes :) instrumental music lets you make up your own story, your own trip. Without somebody flooding your brain with their colors and their feelings. Music with words would bring a very different impression to the listener. Of course the songtitels are there, they serve as a starting point. And of course these titles have got the function to help you remember which track is which when you look for them...
Which particular elements or movements within the double album are most special to your ears?
C: it´s not easy to evaluate one's own music, most special? Hm, "Cloudwalker" is very special, because it´s so sensitively played and nearly perfect, but "Glimpse..." is probably the most special track of this album. I like the percussion-part first and the melodies and the fine sounds and communication, but nearly every song at this album has very sensitive and fine parts inbetween the themes, it´s Winnies favorite album of Space Debris. I´m not totally satisfied with my mixing, i would change some things now if I could - even it´s a pretty good sound how it is. It´s very transparent and like from a Jazzband.
For me, the energy and subtle shifts in style keep the longer songs exciting. The first few minutes of “Palmyra” suggested it was going to be a classic rock song, then the tide turned and flowed in another direction. Multiple times! Was it presented first as a statement to expect the unexpected?
C: It was the opener at a concert in Heidelberg with no plans and specifications before playing the song, totally improvised. I like the developement of the song an the slidely change of melodys. It´s like jumping on a wild horse and going first wild and later it´s a unit between horse and the horseman/rider. The working progress titel was therefore "Wild Horse" ...but i changed it, because of the Palmyra-coverconcept.
During the rumbling “Skinflight” what was going through your mind? Does it take a huge amount of mental energy to knock the drum kit sideways?
C: "Skinflight": Usually i don´t play any drumsoli and I think this is no normal drum-solo. What I tried do do was totally special. In the first minutes I didn´t play any pattern I learned, but I played totally that what my arms and body produced without thinking and with no normal counting. It was like playing an instrument I never learned to play. I never played in that modus before and not after that. It was maximum risk at this little moment. Then in the middle I changed to some typical solo triols and rolls and because I don´t like showing off with drumsoli, I brought it to an end quickly after that :-) the hit on the rim at the last roll was a variation.
As the listener is intended to be the fifth member, participating through imagination, I probably most enjoyed “Time Traveller” because the keys really took the song into another dimension. Space Debris at its most spacey! But I also enjoyed the jazzy cool in the title track and “Supernova 1604” too. What other feedback have you received about this record?
C: Oh you can read two english and also (more) reviews in german language at our homepage (http://www.spacedebrisprojekt.de/reviews.htm) the feedback was very positive.
Less than twelve months later, the band returned with another double vinyl! But why did you wait eight years before recording a new studio album?
C: Sorry, wasn´t it "only" 6 years between Elephant Moon and Phonomorphosis? :-) But it´s really a long time. Why? Maybe I was too lazy. Recording/mixing/cutting/mastering/coverdesign/layout/producer/administration - all these things are usually my jobs. Since 2009 we have great support from Monika + Rudy Vogel (green-brain-krautrock.de) not only for the distribution. They have a big understanding for our music and they are perfect and fine partners of the band! Actually I've been working for 11 month at the new studioalbum, and it´s not done yet...sometimes it´s pleasure, sometimes work!
In marked contrast to the “Elephant Moon” 3LP, the shape of “Phonomorphosis” is quite pointedly four side-long suites. To what extent has your compositional approach changed to a wholly expansive jams? Are short songs now consigned to the past?
C: No, nothing is planned, the reason is, that we needed time to develope our musical understandig up to a point, where long track are senseful and are simply working. At the time of recording "Phonomophosis" we were at a relatively high peak with this bandmembers and we were able to play very long tracks. You can see/hear the same musicans at the new DVD/Herzberg 2015 where we played even longer tracks...it´s something like growing together. Thats necessary if you want it to be more than "rythm with endless solo"...
I immediately warmed to the organs of “Colossus Stranded” and was taken aback to hear a woman’s voice early in the lament. How did this particular song evolve with Petra? What did you want to achieve as you reached the stars in energetic climax?
C: Petra did this only overdub totally self-sufficient in the same way, how we are recording, she improvised some takes and we chosed the best one, it was a spontanious singing, and I asked here to try it at this part of the song, because I thought something with vocals was needed. Did we "reached the stars"? That would be a very fine compliment for her and the band, thanx! And don´t forget that the cover-collage is from a lot of paintings from Petra, too, i plundered her "archieve"...
"Journey Back to the Moon" also has a strong gravitational pull! Perhaps, again, it's the lure of the organs. What are your memories from that earlier session?
C: "Journey..." is funny, because Winnie brought his "new" old Transistor-Comboamp and wanted to apologize for damaged speaker, (I planned to record the session, but said nothing to the others before the session), but when he started playing it was amazing, because the speaker distortion sounded great with the organ, so it was a very special track! I like it, because it sounds really like a 1968 recording...(I played my older 1969-Ludwig (black) and at the other tracks of Phonomorphosis I played with the white Ludwigdrums from 1975).
Why did "Phonomorphosis" become the flagship piece of the platter? Was it more intrinsically you at that moment than the others?
C: Because it fits best to the word "Phonomorphosis" it´s more experimental and with more contrasts. In fact I like all four songs the same, they are very different but with equivalent quality.
Well, by now, it's clear to see that Space Debris can and will go in every conceivable direction. The festival circuit is at the heart of that exploration and the band has captured a few more expansive sets in recent years for different formats. What made Finkenbach 2012 special?
C: I met Mani Neumeier, the "Guru" of the Finkenbach-Festival, for the first time 25 years ago and he was one of the many reasons why I make the music I make. The Festival is only a few kilometers from our home and it perfectly fits to the band. Its something like an award to play there, because Mani only books bands he really likes and who are in friendship with him. It was one of the things on my virtual "life-to-do-list" to play there and the sound was fantastic, we had perfect conditions in every way.
From the very off, the flow and energy was spot on! A great balance of peaks and troughs with classic vibes, more organs and adventurous leanings. Love it! Tell me though, what's with the recurring mountain motif in your song titles?
C: It´s the running-theme of Tommy Gorny on guitar. We have been playing it since 2006 at every gig and we develope the song in every gig to a new thing, hope so...it´s nearly the only "song" we are carrying on a stage everytime. The Finkenbach-Version was very special.
Was "Out of the Sun" intended to have a a somewhat soothing or cooling influence for those present before letting loose again?
C: "Into The Sun" is the titel of the first Burg-Herzberg-Festival Gig (DVD filmed by German TV "Rockpalast"-Team 2006) and the song-titel of the opener there, too, we played a totally different version at Finkenbach here as our last song and the sun was at the other side of the stage...
That idyllic summer vibe was certainly captured in the photographs wrapped around the CD. For me, it seems rather alien growing up in the wet Irish climate where an outdoor gig is a risk at best! So have you ever played in cold and wet weather? Might that have dampened the mood of your performance?
C: The idyllic summer-vibes are originally photos from the gig itself, there was a very hot summer day! For the audience it was even hotter, because they stood in the full sun! We had good luck at all our festival-gigs, it seemes that everytime when Space Debris is booked, the weather is fine, at all our Festival gigs it was sunny and dry! Last one in Heppenheim/Starkenburg-festval this year! We had luck! Oh, wait a minute, our very first gig was at a Party (Burg Domeneck), where it rained very much, and the audiance was 30 Meters from the little "stage" in Pavilions and we played in an Pavillon. But it was a pleasure to play, Tommy played barefoot and Tom needed a flashlight to see the Hammond-Buttons...
Whilst having heard plenty of live material by Space Debris I've not had the pleasure of watching the band play. But your Herzberg Festival 2015 DVD has brought me a step closer! Please describe the location and atmosphere of this renowned venue. How was your day going and how were you feeling prior to the performance? Any customary rituals before you began?
C: Being there is like a time travel to the Hippie-years back in the 70ies, and our music is the perfect soundtrack to that scene. It was wonderful to play in a summernight with full moon without clouds, only the stars etc. And it´s typical for the Band, that we don´t play an opener to animate a party-feeling. We started as usual very relaxed and later it gets more and more to a hypnotic-rock-party-thing. We play like we feel in this moment and I think that's the reason why it´s easy for the audience to understand with the soul and not with the head.
Unlike Finkenbach 2012, this was a later evening set under the stars and full moon. To what extent do seasonal circumstances influence how you play? If not the audience, what brings out the best of the band on stage?
C: The reaction of the audience is of course very important. It is an exchange of energy between the band and the people, thats important. And the music is of course like a drug for us musicans, if it works good, and at this Gig it worked very well.
No idea how you do it. But the transition from gentle build up to fully blown rock out seemed effortless! What's the secret? Do you never become lost in the longer sequences?
C: Shurely that can happen, but then we notice it and we try to find an exit or a change of theme, riff, or rhythm.
Well, it looks like you had a blast throughout the set! How much more fun did you have dabbling with effects in post-production? Great late night viewing...
C: Oh, thats a nice story, because my good friend Holger Bösler has his firm "Shortkatz" and he had fun and pleasure to help and transform his and my ideas technicaly into the film, i´m very thankful, because without him the film would not exist, really! You just must watch the trailer at our website to realize that he did much more than a job, he worked very much for the film in an idealistic way, with a motivaton like a fifth bandmember.
Oh, was closing song, "Into The Moon" intended as a long distance reply to the opening of your "Into The Sun" Herzberg performance nine years previously? How much did the two experiences have in common?
C: They both have the same chords in the beginning, but then it gets different. This time we played "Into The Moon" , really!
Last but not least, you have recently released a split 7" with Paisley Tree. The collaboration is hardly surprising given how you drum with both bands and singer Petra has contributed to Space Debris. Having not heard it, please describe the flavours of these shorter songs. How have they been received?
C: You can listen to Paisley Tree at bandcamp and soundcloud and even at a subside of our website. (www.spacedebrisprojekt.de) The single was a something I wanted to produce, because I like singles. The SD-Track "New Rag" (6:00 min.) is an appetizer for our next Space Debris LP/CD and the Paisley Tree song "Spiral Gage" (6:00) is the last song I played with that band, after we produced the LP (Same) in 2015 together, because it was too much for me, playing in two bands, one is enough for me, it seems that I´m something like "too old to Rock n´Roll & too young to die" - haha! . PT has found a new fine Drummer and I just helped recording the next song without me on the drums some weeks ago. I still like the music of Paisley Tree, it´s a damn good Hardrock Band with very good songwriting from Tobi Reinhardt (git) and Magic Petra (voc/lyrics/harp), but for me Space Debris is more than enough "work", so unfortunatly i had to decide to quit.
My impression is that your audience is largely native German. Am I wrong? Where else in the world have you posted packages, spied reviews or given interviews?
C: Yes, but even we have fans in whole Europe, too and in USA ,we played in the Netherlands and Belgium and Switzerland and in the web you can even find turkish and russian and japanese listeners and writers.
Going forward, what do you still hope to achieve before Space Debris burns up in our atmosphere and collides with Planet Earth?
C: Yes we will release a next studio-album on Vinyl/CD in earliy 2016 and there will be another "archieve"-CD with recordings from 2004, a sister of the kraut lok-record. We just want to play our music and feel good!
Well, that must cover just about everything under the sun, Christian! Your DIY ethic and creative longevity must be applauded. Thank you for taking the time to share that incredible journey. Long may it continue...
C: Big Thanx to you!
Danny Angus October 2016
Interview by Phil Jackson from prog-magazine Acid Dragon, july 2008:
Acid Dragon (AD): First of all Christian, Tommy and Tom, congratulations on another stunning recording and for sustaining interest throughout a double CD that in the old days would have been a quadruple LP!
Tom Kunkel (TK): We offer also the triple-LP, because Vinyl is our prefered format, because the cover is bigger (you get more details), the quality of the graphics is better - on cd you sometimes need a magnifier - and you can hold a work in your hands. And of course vinyl is the format of the 70s and fits best to our kind of music. But we had a lot of material, so we were sometimes limited by the audio length of an vinyl side. Another aspect are the costs for vinyl and a 4-color cover. That is the reason, why it can happen, that the CD is a little bit different from the vinyl publication. Another thought was, not to overcharge the fan with the price for a quadruple LP.
Christian Jäger (CJ): …and the most people like our music on CD! For example for longtracks and if you use really the possibility of the higher dynamic of CDs, like we did on the “Into The Sun”-CD, CD has his right and advantage, too. So we must not demonize CDs.
Tommy Gorny (TG): ...no we mustn´t. Of course there a lot of people, who are as proud of their cd-collection like I am on my record-collection. It´s a matter of taste...
AD: Speaking of LPs, I believe some of your recordings are available on vinyl- still my preferred format. Do you think vinyl is beginning to make a return?
TK: I think vinyl is still the preferred format for listeners of that kind of music (and of course music of the 60s and 70s), but the masses listen to radio or CD, I think. Vinyl you can still put on in 50 years, I am not sure you can do that with a CD...
CJ: The most published CDs are over-limited and therefore very loud but with no dynamics, that’s the reason, why most CDs are sounding so bad today. But if you work with the different advantages of both CD and Vinyl you will have pleased customers, whatever you use. Mastering for CD or Vinyl is a totally different thing, and that’s the fault of even new Vinyl-productions who are balanced for CD and simply pressed onto vinyl. (For example listen to the BBC-Sessions Led Zep or the new Purple on vinyl).
TG: I think this depends on the age at the moment, most of the LP-listeners and -customers are in their forties or fifties, also sixties. They grew up in the seventies, when a young man needed to have big hifi-equipment and records to be a man. I don´t believe, that there´s a bright future for the vinyl anymore, when our generation lives in old people´s homes, deaf at all. But who knows?
AD: How did the band get together? You have obviously been musicians for a while and assimilated many classic rock influences.
TK: I started about 1974 experimenting with keyboards and record machines. I started playing without lessons or notes. Just by ear. When I joined a band in school in 1976 (there I played my first hammond organ) I began taking classical lessons. The first kind of music I listened to was classical instrumental music. Later I was influenced by Johann Sebastian Bach, by the Hammond play of Jon Lord and Jimmy Smith, the psychedelic kind of music by Pink Floyd in the late 60s and early 70s, the music of the german band "Kraftwerk" and the "live improvising" by Keith Jarrett (The Köln Concert 1975 - the whole concert is spontaneus improvised on a grand piano). I met Christian Jäger in 1994 and Tommy Gorny in 1998 and we were together in a Band called "Mandrake Root" playing covers of deep purple and the 70s. Sometime the improvisations were getting more and more and became independent songs. Christian recorded a lot in that time and about 2000 he had the idea to make a LP so that our recorded improvised ideas won't get lost in nirvana. First it was just meant for the musicians concerned and friends.
TG: ...yes, this was one of the most important decisions, christian ever made: to publish "Krautrock-Sessions" and all the other stuff that followed.
CJ: In my developement of drumming i was very much influenced by Ian Paice, Billy Cobham and John Bonham. They were my virtual drum-teachers, I never had lessons. I learnt a lot with my old friends Uwe Moldrcyk and Thomas Schütz, (who both were playing also as guests on the first SD-LP) with our then Trio “Brian Ortwins”. We made a lot of own, very much structured music (cross-over). In that Band we played sometimes very difficult rhythms and arrangements, sometimes too much, sometimes good. You can here that music on our website, I learnt a lot while playing and composing with these two musicans. In other projects i played a lot of Rythm- and Blues and Soul until it came out of my ears...:-) , but this were my personal "early 60ies" with a lot of live-experience and partys. But Space Debris is the first band in my live, who hits my personal taste of music 110%. I´m very happy about that.
AD: Do you find much interest in your music? You did remark that there have not been many reviews in English which puzzles me.
CJ: Yes the interest in our music is much and grows. The success of the DVD and the new "Elephant Moon" for example is very good and was surprising, even though we were satisfied about the success of the first three productions. We are happy, that there is a possibility to reach the not-mainstream-listeners and have found many (mostly) German facilitators (Magazines, Festivals, Mail-Order, Forums, Fans...). We believe now, that quality will bring a slow but constant growing for Space Debris, also in other countries, too.
TG: ..sometimes I still can´t believe it today...this was our dream when we were 14,15 years old and then it came to happen. To have found real FANS, who tell us, that they feel really good while listening to our complet back-catalogue in one night, is still a privilege.
TK: I ever had the hope that there were others feeling the same music, but I couldn't believe that space debris would be such a success. It is nice that there still is life outside...
AD: Do you play many live gigs- are these within Germany or further?
CJ: We are not a touring band, we play only a hand full of gigs per year in Germany. In November first time in Belgium. We try to get contacts in other countries, that’s not easy and we need help from the scene, and fans to bring us to festivals, although we are selling already in most of the western - European - countries and even a little bit in Japan, USA …
TK: The atmosphere and feeling is very important that the gig can get a whole work of art. Just repeating the same notes on every gig is not what I want. The best gig is when you can create something new that night.
AD: How would you describe the present classic/ progressive rock scene? (Are you aware of other bands, sites like progressive ears and magazines like Acid Dragon?)
CJ: Yes we are, go to our website-links! :-) There are more and more very good bands who manage to reach the listeners....thats great!
AD: What does the future hold for Space Debris and what advice would you give to young bands wishing to play retro rock, if I can call it that?
CJ: We will do like we did in the past: Making our music with our taste and pleasure and see who likes to listen to it. We are musicians, no managers. Do what you really like and feel, because then you got a reason to reach the hearts of the listeners and then you´ll have success. Believe me, that’s no phrase !! And try useing the old instruments, because they are sounding warmer…
TK: Listen to the old stuff and look at the roots of the bands you like. Then make your own picture. Don't try to sound like someone else, maybe only in the beginning to learn and understand.
TG: I met the blues-guitarist Luther Allison in the early nineties in a guitarshop in gemany, and all he said was: Just continue. What´s an important point to me, is to be open-minded to a large range of styles, and if it´s bavarian "Volksmusik". Closed or dogmatic minds don´t grow.
CJ: Looking to the future, we will and must play like as hitherto with different musicans (like we did and will with the fantastic keyboarder Winnie Rimbach-Sator), because we don´t want to call off gigs and delay CD-Vinyl-Releases by reason of individual interests for what understandable reasons ever. Its not easy to balance a band when you want to have characters and no slowpokes as musicans in it. And our music is open for different styles and different musicans and thats very exciting.
AD: Thanks for your time, Christian and Tom and I hope some of our readers will be encouraged to check out your music.
CJ: Thank you , Phil, for your support and understanding!