The Room is Fenster‘s fourth longplayer, a dense soundscape about the relationship between the inside and the outside, that shows once more the musical qualities of the band as well as their strong communicative relationship which outreaches from the rehearsal room to the stage. So I met the band for their release show to ask where this room is and how it sounds.
Five minutes ago I had the pleasure to listen to your soundcheck. Let me say, that WahWah Sound was awesome, and in this case the best thing I’ve heard since I was listening to Jimi Hendrix when I was 15 years old.
Jonathan Jarzyna: Yeah, you really have to use it tastefully.
When going on tour, maybe in advance to a new tour, are you searching for a special live sound?
Lucas Ufo: For years we follow the plan to really play kind of quiet on stage, so that we can hear everything, espeacially each other. That way it’s as close as possible to the situation in the rehearsal room. Which is also good for our the sound guy since he has more freedom to do the mix he wants to. We can be loud outside but on stage it’s very quiet.
Jonathan Jarzyna: The idea is to have a sound that we can take anywhere, even when working with a sound technician who never heard us before. He can easily make mix that sounds like we wanna sound. It’s actually a really purist concept.
Your new record is all about the idea of writing, performing and recording an album together in one single room. Even the title of the album became simply The Room. What we’ve heard so far of your live sound, how far away is it of what you’ve heard in the room while recording?
LC:I think it’s not too far away, because the songs were recorded in big parts live, so it made it easier to transpose them into an ‘on stage’ situation. Of course, there is a different energy full off adrenaline on stage.
JJ Weihl: We tracked the songs live, and this is how they are on the record, but for us the songs keep evolving because we play them every night, so there’s already new stuff after the record has been out. For us the songs on the record are really a document of that single moment, but than we continue to take stuff away or add some parts live. So, there is this difference between playing a song like it was recorded and making a continuing live experience of it. There are two major opinions on this, one from the musician’s side one from the listener’s. As a musician, when you playing these songs over and over, at some point you feel the need to reinvent them. As a listener you know this recording, you have a personal relationship with it. Sometimes for some people there is a betrayal going on, since you expect that version from the record where you know every note.
Similar questions come up with playing a cover, have you ever covered songs live?
JJW: Oh yes we did, but very seldom, Some Black Sabbath, The Beatles.
LC: Also No Doubt, that was a very interesting experience.
JJW: We did a No Doubt cover band for a Halloween party, we like really became the band.
LC: We learned a lot about this band and about playing guitar, it was really hard to play. And even if they were big they have this family vibe we really can identify with.
A messy nature
All of you also dropped some solo works throughout this year. How much did your solo work changed your gigs with the band?
LC: It’s a good balance I think. It helps to know what is Fenster somehow, because it is not what you do on your own.
JJ: When I go on stage now [with Fenster] I try to feel like when I go on stage with my solo project. Because playing my own stuff showed me to take responsibility for my own because it’s you and you can’t disappear in the collective. You are responsible for if the show is going well and how you give energy to the people. I’ve got the feeling that we all took a bit of that solo energy into the band now.
JJW: When we play together it’s good to have that space on our own that we have developed creatively and then it makes us stronger as a collective. It’s like in every family or relationship, if everybody is strong on its own, the collective is even stronger.
LC: Solo work can also feel like releasing some steam on the side. For this record we really tried to make a democratic process where everyone does its part of the creation.
It’s hard enough to deliver an interesting yet relevant rock LP in 2018. Have you set boarders in terms of style and genres in advance?
JJW: It’s the opposite actually. There are guidelines for certain things in our own logic. But when we are making songs we really try not to think about that. I think the nature of thd band is a bit free and messy so with every song you can go from one world to another or from one reality to another.
LC: I think we always agree, when it’s going too far. When it’s going to be a bit too long or something.
JJ: Of course we are not talking in genres and all that stuff, but when we started to record with the direction we were going there was the slight danger that we maybe make another psych rock album or something. This was one thing we talked about; we wanted to have the music on another level.
Instead of having an external graphic designer for this album’s artwork, Lucas did it by himself. At which point have you developed it?
LC: I remember drawing it the first time on the couch, it was after we found the name. While the producer of the album was mixing it, we were sitting around and I was starting to make sketches. The idea to have a room in your head is something esoteric or spiritual.
On your last album EMOCEAN, you brought a whole movie as a visual support. Even the album cover was a still from the filmed material. That probably gave a suggestion for listening that thing best, namely in a velvet seat in a cinema. Where do you want people to experience The Room?
LC: In general I like music to be heard when you are doing something like driving or drawing, while you are focused.
JJW: The title track of the album works like this entry point into this metaphorical room.
JJ: The whole record is about that inside and outside relationship what is actually about human perception. Questions about what is actually real and what just happens in your brain.
LC: Which was also essential stuff that we were talking about at that time. Just questioning if all what happens outside is actually real or not.
JJ: Because we pretend that this is all normal, but actually nothing about any aspect of life is normal. We pretend it due to a mixture of fear and habit or something. It’s the fucking weirdest thing to be alive, to have become a physical thing out of DNA and to have a name and to walk around and to have any something to do.
LC: Especially now.
The Room is out now via Altin Village & Mine.