Over the next few weeks at The AU Review we will be featuring a series of chats with performers playing the Woodford Folk Festival. Woodford Folk Festival has been is a quiet institution over the many years it’s been around, and while in more recent years the grounds of Woodfordia has hosted Splendour In The Grass, the area is more about entering a world dubbed ‘Unreality’ over one of the more relaxing or partying times of the year, New Years Eve.
This chat was one of the most fun interviews I have had this year, or ever actually. My chat with German duo Die Roten Punkte was charming, funny, silly and all kinds of enjoyable. The duo have been performing (or rocking out as they would probably want to call it) for ages and are pushing the boundaries with a real deep, meaningful songs about bananas, dinosaurs and lions. They plan to be the best band in the world, and well, who is going to stop them with song subjects like that? Below is my chat with both members (and siblings) Astrid Rot & Otto Rot.
You’re currently recording here in Melbourne, I hear?
Otto: Yes, we’re recording our last album and our new album all at the same time at the moment. Just ‘cause we had been running behind on our last album Kunst Rock, which is basically Art Rock.
Astrid: We had to re-write a few songs to make sure they were really arty.
O: Yeah, and so we’ve already started working on our new album which will come out maybe at the end of next year called Euro Smash. So it’s kind of a situation where we are in between albums without actually releasing an album either side.
I haven’t heard of many artists working on two albums before.
O: Well, when you have so many ideas, you know…
A: And we were touring so much this year. It was just so hard to get into a studio.
O: We were in the USA and Canada at the beginning of this year as well as Australia.
You both seem to travel quite a bit around the world to perform. What’s the most interesting place that you have been to?
O: Winnepeg, Canada. People just love what we do there. There’s dancing…
A: And they get dressed up too. We did a concert in Winnepeg and we did this song called ‘Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I Am a Lion)‘ which is basically telling people we are lion and not robots, and we looked out into the audience and someone had made this furry lion hats with ears and whiskers. People were making moves in the audience with these things on. People also got dressed up as robots as well. It’s kind of strange, but in Winnepeg we get people of all ages at our concert. We can get people in our audiences who are in their seventies and eighties as well. It’s just like the whole community wants to get into it.
Do you encourage people to get dressed up for your shows?
A: No, not really. People kind of just want to do it on their own! They even had a Die Roten Punkte party with special Die Roten Punkte food. It was just these little cupcakes shaped in a lion with singapore noodles for hair.
They also had robot sweets with chocolate eggs as well, and had these vegan foods for Otto as well.
O: Yeah‚ ‘cause I’m straight edge and vegan
Did you get any ideas from that to further your Die Roten Punkte celebrity into cooking or anything like that?
A: I have thought about having a cooking show!
O: Astrid, she wants to have a sausage based cookbook.
A: I just want to make lots of sausage stuffings. Just get anything together, a collection of all kinds of food. I would like to experiment to see what wouldn’t taste good as a sausage.
O: That’s pretty disgusting.
A: No that would be cool and awesome!
Somehow Otto, I feel you wouldn’t be contribute to that cookbook very much, no?
A: We could stuff a sausage with a banana, and then fry it up with some onion, some mustard.
O: For the last week I have been on what I like to call ‘Banana Island’. I’ve been eating nothing else but bananas. I feel pretty amazing. I can bounce really high!
A: Yeah he’s been like a monkey.
One thing I have learnt doing interviews in the middle of the night with other musicians who live on the other side of the world is that banana’s are a very good source of potassium. They’ve helped me from falling asleep in the middle of conversations.
O: You know, there is this guy who is from Queensland – and I am hoping to meet him when we get to Woodford – his name is Harley Johnson, and he goes under the web name of ‘Durianrider’. He runs a website with his girlfriend called 30 Bananas A Day, which is all about a high carb lifestyle. He loves bananas too I assume. I’m hoping to meet him to hear his stories about bananas. I think he may live near Woodford too.
Speaking of Woodford, have you performed at the festival before?
A: No, never, we are very excited. We’ve heard it is really amazing. Music all day and all night and lots of people with some great bands and so on.
O: I heard Gotye is performing, and I love what he is doing. I have never seen him live but I saw his video with Kimbra with all the body painting and stuff. I just can’t wait to see his stuff on stage.
A: There is body painting in the video?
O: Have you never seen the clip?
A: No, I haven’t, sounds interesting. More body painting needs to happen in video clips.
O: Yeah it’s pretty cool Astrid, it really is a cool clip, you don’t get those arty videos anymore. We need to make arty videos like that one with our art rock!
A: One other thing I have heard about Woodford is that on New Years Eve, people sit on the mountain all night and watch the sun come up.
I’ve heard of that as well. The last time I went there, I unfortunately slept through that.
A: I heard they have this big fire event on the night prior as well? Is that right?
Well, yeah it’s all very nice and calm. There is no yahoo-ing or anything like that, from what I can gather anyways.
A: No yahoo-ing? Maybe I should take the partying to the mountain. If the mountain won’t come to Astrid, Astrid will bring the party to the mountain. We can’t wait. We are looking forward to being in the middle of Queensland and just meeting people and musicians.
I hear you will be performing three times during the festival?
A: Yeah, we performed in Brisbane at QPAC earlier this year. They had 12 nights of cabaret and we did a concert there which was great. Because this is in the mountains, it will be more colourful with lots of green and with lots more grass around.
O: They said we need to bring boots because it can rain sometimes. We need to make sure we look nice in them as well, so I think we have to get some fashion designer to make us some for the festival.
Well, yeah, it can be a muddy if it rains, but it really is genuinely nice scenery!
O: I think all the nature it will be a nice for Astrid because she had all that alcohol and drug rehabilitation…
A: No! We don’t talk about that!
O: And it will be nice to get away from all the effects of that kind of thing.
A: No! We don’t talk about that at all Otto! We just had a nice holiday Philippe! You know when you go away and have a bit of fun and eat food. You just lie down and have people give you massages. It was like that and it was all nice. It made me feel good on the inside and it makes me ready for more partying!
Is partying basically what is at the forefront of your music?
A: We like to write about having a good time and translate it onto the stage basically. Our music has developed over the year. We wrote songs that were about these experiences. These things we wrote about were called ‘We Are In A Band’, ‘We Are Going On Tour’, ‘I Like To Rock’. But nowadays we like to write about important things like dinosaurs and bananas and robots. There is another song that is about my second best friend that I like as well, that was pretty cool.
Your second best friend?
A: Yeah! You know, the second best friend! Like the one that you want to meet at the party.
O: Yeah, like I am Astrid’s best friend.
A: No you’re not my best friend.
O: Yeah I am!
A: You’re my brother. You can’t be my best friend.
O: Yeah I can!
A: No you can’t!
O: Well, who is your best friend?
A: Not you!
Well, um, I’m hoping we hear some of this great conversation on stage.
A: Yes, and lots of rock music!
O: We certainly like to tell stories on stage, with big rock songs, and dancing, and bananas!
You’re forthcoming album Kunst Rock means ‘Art Rock’ in English. What do you see as Art Rock? To me, Art Rock is kind of like slow paced music that people stroke their chins to, but what does it signify to you?
A: We were more inspired by people Brian Eno and David Byrne for this album.
O: Well it’s all kinds of things. Things like random sounds, noises and experimental stuff is an inspiration. Even bands like Pixies who mix rock n’ roll with a bit of art.
A: Peaches is a big influence as well. She is very arty.
O: Bjork is very arty as well. Very exuberant on stage with her art.
From what I have read, you have come to Australia about five or six times already. What brings you back?
A: Well, we have a bad manager who keeps putting us into comedy festivals over here Philippe. It’s a bit disconcerting.
O: It’s a bit weird for us, being a serious band and everything, who just want to play music.
A: You know, playing at Woodford is going to be a great experience for us though. We will be playing in front of true music fans that are there to listen to us. Sometimes we are put into the Melbourne Comedy Festival and everyone is laughing which is a bit weird. Otto says, “Don’t worry Astrid, as long as people are enjoying themselves when they see us, it’s OK”.
O: Yeah, as long as people see the show and they’re having a good time, that’s fine with me.
So, Astrid, do you feel people need to take your music a little more seriously?
A: I think we need a better manager! Otto keeps signing bad contracts when I go away on holiday. He’s very influenced Philippe. It’s not good!
O: For us, Australia and Canada are like second homes for us. We love to go back there because people seem to like us a lot.
A: Yeah we have been playing Canada about four or five times now. Places like Saskatchewan which is a nice place to pronounce.
O: We’ve been starting to play places in USA as well. We played a festival with Devo and Chris Isaak and that was really awesome. Places like New York, San Diego and Charleston, South Carolina. We are starting to love touring in America. They are very enthusiastic people.
A: They love it. They make more noise than anyone. You will find this very hard to believe, but they make the most noise out of anyone. They are the loudest audiences ever. Otto comes out on stage and says “make some noise” and they basically make noise for 20 minutes. Actually, Otto maybe don’t say that kind of thing in America, maybe save it for more quieter places, like parks.
Are there countries that you haven’t performed yet that you would like to perform?
A: Yes! Japan! We want to go to Japan. We want to rock Tokyo. Tokyo should get ready to rock.
O: I think we should write a song about going to Tokyo.
A: Yes, we always want to write songs about making our dreams coming true, so if we write a song called ‘We Want To Go To Tokyo’, it will happen and we will rock out like we never have rocked before. A long time ago I said to Otto that he should write things down over and over again and they will become true. I kept on saying to Otto when I tucked him into his cot as a baby that we will become the best band in the world, and that is coming true as well. So we need to try to write songs about Japan and that will come true as well.
Die Roten Punkte will be performing as part of the Woodford Folk Festival from the 27th December 2011 – 1st January 2012. More info at www.woodfordfolkfestival.com
You can learn more about Die Roten Punkte at www.dierotenpunkte.com. Kunst Rock will come out next year.