Musicscan: What led you to record another album as 13 & God? Why did you record in the States and how would you describe the experience together in the studio?
13 & God: Well, I would have to say, all of our individual lives and every day/night there in, led up to the recording of “own your ghost”. We are a bright bunch of best friends that were meant to meet and make together. The rest is just the tired and flexible politics of busy boys and their many bands. But, our intention since forming 13 & God was to be a band and make records as naturally, often, and freely as possible. Well, we recorded in the States, in order to be closer to Dax, who, due to his being paralyzed, can no longer travel. So we flew our German half over to sunny Oakland and made some lovely music on the very edge of the hood. Our experience is always true to us. We have breakfast, and then simply face whatever feels most natural and next for us. So each song would begin with a musical idea in word form. Like ”something aggressive”, ”something minimal”, ”lets sample tuba” and that gradually becomes us playing instruments and all working like a small colony of nurses on bringing a bouncing baby beat into the world. And simultaneously Markus and I also work on words or loose ideas of what lyrics may sound like over said song. And the rest just falls together as we make mistakes and music.
Musicscan: What makes this project special to you personally? What can you realize artistically that you are not able to realize on your own?
13 & God: A number of things, outside world aside, this is a group I never thought I would be in, and I still feel this deeply, it excites me and makes me feel like I truly fit in this universe. When I do music with my fellow ANT’s or alone, I sometimes feel like a conquistador and like I have to machete a path while making art at the same time and at the end of the day sometimes, I feel like I “make all of this shit up”. I make these songs, then pretend people really want to hear them, and blindly go be a centered salesman for the art I take so seriously. However, in 13 & God I feel the exact opposite, I feel like I was meant to have my own path, and that that path led to this, an entirely unlikely pairing of people who are so similar it’s eerie. This band feels like family to me, a merging of working with people that inspire me and are inspired by me. Such is the luckiest I ever feel. I also simply learn heaps from watching and listening to the 3M’s. They have a “way” or ear for songs, almost always very sure about what a song does or doesn’t need. It is gangster to be around, and a pleasure to internalize and try to use on my various other music and solo work.
Musicscan: How do the respective approaches to music differ and when do they most converge?
13 & God: I would say our approaches are overall very similar in that we enjoy the same sounds and aesthetics and genres of music. For instance, we all like the same patches on synths and hate the same patches. We also prefer to record not in a “professional studio”. That shit is for sing jobs and child stars. And they differ on an individual level, so it’s not like our German members see a song one way and the Americans another. Each member has a very developed and at times eccentric idea of their own ear, and what exactly sounds “right” to their inner ear. So Micha and I may agree on one thing and Jeff and Markus agree on another. And where we converge is as music lovers somehow. We all like turntables on records, and movie samples, and strings, and some dirty little mistake made on an EFX pedal, and room noise, and prose.
Musicscan: Does 13 & God feel like a real band despite the geographical distance between the members or does it have more of a “project” feel to you?
13 & God: We are a real band, as real as they get. And all that distance may keep the pace at which we can begin or finish albums a little slower than some would like. But the distance and language differences, truly only galvanize us, and reinforce this underlying similarity we all seem to share so naturally. I have never recorded a side-project in my short life. That is a dirty word in our book.
Musicscan: How did the songwriting process work in this case? Did you write all songs together in the studio or did you develop ideas beforehand and then shared them over the internet?
13 & God: Only two demos were begun independently of “the groupness” and those were just loose guitar and voice demos from Markus, which we quickly redid and made into band versions. So all these songs, unlike the self titled record, were forged as a unit. Unlike the first album, which we used as a means to blend our respective sounds by sending half finished songs to one another, and finishing them while apart, then completing them together.
Musicscan: What did you find most fascinating about each other’s bands in the very beginning before you started working together?
13 & God: I suppose it was the fact that “Neon Golden” was so perfect and lush to my ears. Yet it broke or bent all of these rules: turntable, glitch and then giant drums opposite banjo. It was all the perfect and “punch the police” I ever wanted in a band. And in a world of terrible fusions and new sounds, Notwist were the “straight dope” to my ear. A dirty little diamond that fit perfectly in my ear.
Musicscan: What do you hope people to take away from a 13 & God show?
13 & God: A piece of us. These songs are made of people, not parts and I would hope that when you come sit before us, and see who makes what noise when you can go back and listen with headphones to the albums, and see the hands behind the sounds that please you. Maybe a few people will even be inspired to start a band with foreigners who feel the same way they do about most everything that burns and begins under our humble one sun.
Musicscan: Has your songwriting changed because of your collaboration? What new creative avenues have been opened up through this project?
13 & God: Yes, from the three M’s I always learn the same lesson over and over, and deeper and deeper. That is that one cello is always better than 10. Or the clearest most focused presentation of a part is always best. Then one can imagine the harmonies. I know it sounds like “nothing new” but it is a simple way to work that can avoid an artist for many years. Most folks have the tendency to bring in everything but the kitchen sink, me as well. But there is much to be said for being “clear” about your ear and the parts it is hearing, the song before you needing.
Musicscan: Is there something you would have done differently with respect to this record?
13 & God: No, I only wish we all lived in the same castle. So our separation would always be briefer than our togetherness.
Musicscan: Did you notice a difference in terms of how you are received in Europe vs. the US?
13 & God: No, I don’t want you to think I am rude by saying this, but I ignore the press. I am more concerned with our people, the folks who went through tough or perfect times in their life, and had the first record as a sound track to that. This record is for them and once their expectations or false fears settle, I know all our people will be happy with the album we made for us and them. So in that case there is nothing Europe and US about it. It is just people and their headphones in their bedrooms, who need this art to do theirs. Or stay another month at their dead end job, or dump their significant other. No matter your language or locality the music that keeps you, keeps you. Our albums do not need reviews and articles that are loosely written about them. Our albums need ears and hearts that can get dirty and close to them.
Musicscan: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any new projects, collaborations, releases, tours planned?
13 & God: We are on tour now and will be on tour again in July in Europe and in the States in September. And we will surely make more music together before we go death major on this big old spun rock of ours.