Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Wiedergaenger. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Your latest release is comprised of two EPs, Zur späten Stunde and Zeiträume (Ed: Jason’s review is here). Why did you choose to release them as one album instead of two individual releases?
Wiedergaenger: Greetings Jason. When I finished Zeiträume, I thought about a proper way to release it and I contacted Fu (Temple of Torturous), who had already released the debut Zeitenwende. He showed interest in releasing Zeiträume, but he asked me, if I had any bonus material to include, so that it could be a full length release. At this time Zur späten Stunde was almost done and I decided to combine both EPs, since the concepts are related and they work perfectly as follow ups on one disc.
Jason: How were the tracks for the two EPs composed? Were they written and recorded at the same time? Did you take a different approach in the writing of both of them?
Wiedergaenger: The general approach was the same, but the circumstances under which both EPs were recorded were very different. The process is almost always the same: I have some ideas in my head about a lyrical concept, maybe some main riffs and the title of the release. With this in my mind, it is alway quite clear in which direction I want to go and I set up my recording gear. Most of the time, I am micing the drums and the guitars simultaneously, so that I can switch between the instruments while recording overdubs. Most of the compositional work and the arrangement is done in the recording process and in the exchange of me playing drums and guitar.
Both EPs do sound totally different, and that is fully intended. I used different recording set ups and techniques to get the right sound for each EP-concept. For example: Zur späten Stunde sounds a bit washed and blurry, because I wanted it that way and not because I have bad recording equipment. It is all about choice.
Jason: To what extent do Zur späten Stunde and Zeiträume mark an evolution for Total Negation? And what was it that you wanted to achieve with these two EPs?
Wiedergaenger: The most important thing is that I didn’t want to do a release that sounds like the debut album Zeitenwende. Retrospectively I still like this album, but this direction was kind of a dead end for me. I am proud that I did an album like this to stand my ground and to have a good start by having a studio sound with a crispy high end production, but this time, some other things were more important to me, so I took a different direction.
Jason: Zur späten Stunde explores the “nightly trip of a resting mind” and those “transcendental moments and the delirious state of mind right before drifting off to sleep”, and Zeiträume explores the visions in our dreams and how they blur with reality. What was it that drew you to these ideas? And how did these ideas influence the writing of the music, the structures, the melodies, etc?
Wiedergaenger: Basically I write about myself and what goes on in my head. And over the years I realized: I hate lyrics that sound like whiny words from someone’s diary. So I embrace concepts that have their roots in my personal experiences and thoughts, but can stand for themselves. My lyrics describe things that are important to me or mysteries that I don’t understand. So the current lyrics are just that. The music of Zur späten Stunde was there first and it inspired the lyrical concept. I entered the recordings of Zeiträume with an existing concept in mind, which inspired me to let the EP sound more open, in a sense of including parts that breathe and take their time to unfold, like the soft lines of the vibraphone or the melodica.
Jason: For this release, you’ve integrated aspects of Krautrock into Total Negation’s sound. What is it about Krautrock that you find appealing enough to incorporate it into your music? Are there any Krautrock artists in particular that influenced you in the writing of these EPs?
Wiedergaenger: The beauty of Krautrock is that it does not define a musical genre, but more a state of mind. Krautrock can be a long blues jam and also a pure electronic piece of music. It is this special idea and the motivation to make music, which has not been there before. It quite often has some kind of a trippy vibe to it and always this spirit of experimentation. They weren’t afraid to try something, they tried almost everything. Of all bands, I really have to mention Can and NEU!, because without these two bands, my music would sound different.
Otherwise the albums Osmose by Annexus Quam and Trips & Träume by Witthüser und Westrupp mean a lot to me. And of course all the other obvious bands like Agitation Free, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel… The interesting thing is that once you are hooked, you get sucked more and more into it, because there is so much to discover.
I got the idea to incorporate the melodica from King Crimson (yes, I know, not a Krautrock band), because, when they blend wind instruments with string instruments, it sounds so heavy and strong. I tried to do this in the first main-riff of the song “Geist”. But of course no one ever comes close to King Crimson.
Jason: Total Negation has been in existence since 2007. How has it developed since its inception?
Wiedergaenger: In 2007 I had no perception of what I really wanted to do with Total Negation. The demo was the result of a recording session in which I had no specific expectations. I just followed the sound and I let things happen. Sometimes the sound composes the riffs, so to say. This is still the case today, but of course I got more focused on what I really want to archive with my music. I have to say, that I am no longer afraid to try something. With Zeitenwende I found myself in a quite narrow path of this whole depressive niche, so by releasing Zur späten Stunde | Zeiträume, I feel like I gained more freedom and confidence to just do what I want.
Jason: As you write and play everything for Total Negation, does your approach to writing the lyrics differ to how you write the music?
Wiedergaenger: Mostly the lyrics develop isolated from the music, as a separate work that is later on fitted upon the music. Of course both parts influence each other in general, since the lyrical concept has an impact on the choice of sound and the structures of the songs determine the flow and the highlighted key statements of the lyrics.
Jason: What was it that you wanted to achieve when you started Total Negation that set it apart from your other bands, Aurvandil, Nachts, and Through The Pain?
Wiedergaenger: When I started Total Negation, I just wanted to have the freedom to make music without having to care about other musicians. Nachts works the same way, but it sounds more “ugly”. For the other mentioned bands I only worked as a session member without having any say in the creative writing process.
Jason: Apart from Total Negation, you work with a number of other bands. Of all of them, is it Total Negation that gives you the most freedom for self-expression?
Wiedergaenger: Nachts and Total Negation are both pure self-expression, since I am the only person behind these two projects. I use them as two different channels.
Jason: What do you get from working with other musicians? Do they inspire music for Total Negation?
Wiedergaenger: Playing with other musicians is a totally different thing. It is great and the instant musical exchange is beautiful, when you play with people you can connect with, but this has no impact on Total Negation’s music, because there is an introspective process going on, where I only react to myself.
Jason: Does your approach to writing for Total Negation differ to that of those other bands?
Wiedergaenger: I only write for Total Negation and Nachts and the writing process in both projects is pretty much the same. The only difference lies in the goal and the messages of the music.
Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?
Wiedergaenger: The internet has not affected the general quality of music; it has just made more music available. And since only a small amount of music is good music, it is normal, that if more music is available, more shitty music is available. Another problem is that the internet makes it so easy to let a band seem professional or credible, that many listeners are blinded by that. These blinded people support such bands and by doing so, they are encouraging them to go on. And of course people of the digital era have become very lazy. Most of them won’t even bother digging for good music, since they seem to be happy with the inexhaustible high amount of good-looking music.
Jason: What’s your opinion of the digital era? Because of music being readily available in digital formats, has the music listening experience lost something in the digital era?
Wiedergaenger: The only people that matter are the ones who really love music. And these people will choose their ways to appreciate music. To me, that is sitting in front of your record player with the artwork and lyric sheet in your hands. People who don’t take their time to really listen without distractions are missing out on a beautiful experience.
Jason: What does the future hold for Total Negation? Is there more music in the pipeline?
Wiedergaenger: Yes, there is a third full length recording which will be the second album (Zeitzeuge). I am working on it right now and I am half way into the recording process. This album dates back to 2009 and the basic tracks were recorded shortly after Zeitenwende. The album will be the missing piece of a trilogy that comprises Zeitenwende, Zeiträume and now finally Zeitzeuge.
Jason: Will Total Negation be performing live? Are you planning any tours or festival appearances? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?
Wiedergaenger: Yes, the first live appearance of Total Negation will be this year in May in Germany. For this, I gathered session musicians that I can trust and we will see how it goes from there. Of course, if a booker has faith in this band, I will consider every offer to play outside of Germany.
Jason: What would be your ideal setting and/or venue for a live performance?
Wiedergaenger: A place with all the lights out.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Wiedergaenger: Don’t listen to genres, listen to music. Thank you.
And you can visit Total Negation here.