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Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Frederik Zäll und Robert Birming, am: 06.07.2004 ]

Eskobar haben dieser Tage mit "A Thousand Last Chances" ihr wohl bestes, weil stimmigstes und atmosphärischstes Album veröffentlicht. Nach wie vor wandern Eskobar einen schmalen Pfad zwischen großer Geste, Kitsch und grandiosen Popsongs und sind mittlerweile auch hierzulande fast eine Institution, wenn es um eingängigen Gitarrenpop geht. Was live bisweilen etwas gekünstelt wirkt, ist auf Platte ungemein effektiv und so blieb mir nichts anderes übrig als bei Frederik und Robert, ihres Zeichens Gitarrist und Drummer bei Eskobar, etwas genauer nachzufragen. Wir sprachen über den perfekten Popsong, Mode und natürlich Fußball.


Musicscan: I was wondering what the perception of the perfect song is for you?

Eskobar: F: It depends. If you look at our new album, there is such a wide variety of songs and we feel like every one of them is perfect in its own way.
R: If you make a song that someone listens to and gets a good feeling from it, that is a very good achievement. But that's very hard to say. I just want to feel something when I hear it.

Musicscan: Do you think you have already written the perfect song. You already mentioned that you think all the songs on the new album are perfect, but isn't that maybe a bit of an overstatement?

Eskobar: R. No, I think all of our songs are almost perfect. Take "Something New" for example, which is I think a perfect pop song. The way builds up and the duet and everything. To me that is a perfect popsong.

Musicscan: So what is the reason of continuing when you have already written the perfect pop song? How can there be a motivation any longer?

Eskobar: F: To write even more and to tour, trying to perform all the old and new songs. That is the fun part about having this kind of life. There is no problem with motivation at all.

Musicscan: Ok, because a lot of the bands I talk to say that their main motivation is to write the perfect song and that they would immediately stop if they thought they had written that song.

Eskobar: R: But we develop all the time and we always have new ideas and new things that we want to do. With this album for example, we wanted to make every song on the album unique in its own way, how we produced it an so on. There are a lot of songs that you can't compare to other songs that we have done in the past. I mean the next album might be totally acoustic or we might want to write a rock opera. A couple of years down the road it doesn't matter if we made what we thought was the perfect pop song. I think there are always new goals that you can set up and that you are looking forward to achieving.

Musicscan: How does the songwriting work for you? Is there one major songwriter or does everyone contribute equally?

Eskobar: F: It starts with Daniel, the singer of the band, he usually comes up with some chords and some words and the melody and he shows it to us and then we decided if we want to make a song of it. He is the basic starter of the writing process and then we sit down and talk about what the drums should do and what the guitars should do and how should the melody be and then we write the song together. He always writes the lyrics.

Musicscan: Do you feel like there is a lot of conflict in that process or is it pretty smooth most of the time?

Eskobar: R: No, it's totally smooth. There are no conflicts. For us it is a perfect way to work. Daniel just shows us the ideas and if we like it we keep working on them and we develop the songs, all three of us. So I think it feels really, really good, because we don't have a leader in the band or anything like that. The leader for us is our own music. I think that is also why we never have any arguments and we never fight.

Musicscan: Do you also share the royalties equally then?

Eskobar: F: Yes, Daniel gets the lyrics, but other than that we share everything. Everything is divided between us three.

Musicscan: It is probably hard to describe but what makes Escobar unique in your eyes?

Eskobar: R: I think there are many different aspects. For one thing, we don't want to become famous. We just want to make the songs famous. We don't have to be in all the magazines and we are just normal guys. The only thing that matters is the music. That is one thing that is pretty unique and also that we don't have any rules about style and how the songs should be. I mean if we write a rock opera and we like it, we will play it. We don't care if it is heavy metal or synth-pop or whatever. It is very nice to have that freedom, because you can do anything you want.

Musicscan: Would you say you have found your very own musical style that is unique, though?

Eskobar: F: Yes, I think we found this way of thinking quite early and that is when everything started to work out for us. It is all about not thinking. Whatever comes out of us, we write it. That is the unique aspect for us. Of course, we get inspired by other things without thinking about it. It can be anything in life really, reading a book, watching a movie, a relationship, a relationship breaking up. It will always be in our music.

Musicscan: Do you consider yourselves artists or rather entertainers?

Eskobar: F: I think both actually, because there are so many different things you do in this kind of work. Sometimes you are in a studio for half a year writing and recording songs and trying to find the perfect sound for each instrument. All of that is very much art. But when we are on tour and perform the songs we try to very much entertain ourselves and the audience. We don't do sad songs with a sad face, we do these sad songs with a big laugh, because we have such a good time. It is really hard to look sad, when you are playing a sad song and a thousand people are screaming and singing your songs. Of course, we are going to laugh and try to entertain them as much as possible. So I would say both.

Musicscan: This sounds really unselfish to me, because you try to embrace your audience and at the same time you are trying to create something that you feel comfortable with.

Eskobar: R: I think that is rather selfish. The writing process is very selfish. We never think about what our fans might think of the new album or if our record label says that we should maybe do this or that. You know the record company in France calls us up and tells us something, but we never care, because we write the music for ourselves. If others like it, than that is a great bonus, but when it comes to playing live I think we are very unselfish, aren't we? We really try to communicate with the audience and if we get a good response from the audience they will take us up to the next level. It's very much a two-way communication. So I think we are very unselfish when we are on stage performing our songs.

Musicscan: Is it really possible to shut yourself off completely and not think about what other people might think about you?

Eskobar: R: Yes, I think so. With this album, we didn't even let the record label or anyone come visit us in the studio, because we didn't want to get other people's opinions on the songs. We just wanted to make them the way we felt they should be made. So I think it was easy.
F: As we said, I don't think we have a special style. So nobody can say "oh, why have you changed?" Because we always change, with each song we change. So I think it is very easy to shut other people off.

Musicscan: Do you think it is necessary to isolate yourself in order to be truly creative?

Eskobar: F: For me it is. I don't listen to any other music when we make an album.
R: I think it is really important when we are working in the studio, it is really important to not get anyone's opinion on it. At the very beginning, of course, other influences are extremely important and we talk about them. Things you experienced in life, but I think those things get transformed into songs quite early, so when you are in the studio, it is very important to not get other opinions from people.

Musicscan: You mentioned that it is really important to you to communicate with the audience. Would you mind if you got a lot bigger than you are right now and you could only play huge halls as it is sometimes already the case?

Eskobar: R: I don't think it would be a problem, because we have done quite a few big gigs and festivals and so far I didn't feel that there was a problem or anything.
F: I mean it gets a bit harder to create this close feeling, when the audience is ten meters away and there are thousands of people, but you just have to change the show a bit when it is that big. But it is not a problem I think. I would love to get bigger.

Musicscan: But it surely doesn't feel as intimate and close as when you play a club of 200 people, does it.

Eskobar: F: It feels different, but it is still a very good thing. It is not like you would prefer one thing, because they are both nice, bigger and smaller venues. However, it is definitely different.
R: I mean on a big stage it gets really, really intimate sometimes, when you play a couple of uptempo songs and the people are just going crazy. And when we do one of our slow acoustic songs and 40000 people are totally silent and is watching and after the song everybody cheers like crazy. Then I think it feels particularly intimate, when there is silence among such a big crowd.

Musicscan: How do you deal with the media attention you get, particularly in Scandinavia?

Eskobar: F: I mean it comes with the job, it's not a problem. I mean when you have recorded and album and when it is released you only want to go on tour, but then you have to do a promotion tour for one or two months. It can be hard to get the same question ten times a day and not appear grumpy or in a bad mood. But ultimately this comes along with the job and it helps the band, too, of course.

Musicscan: Have you noticed that you are sometimes portrayed in a way that does not resemble what you are about at all? Can you influence how you are portrayed at all?

Eskobar: R: Yes, I have noticed that sometimes. It is very hard to influence that. In Sweden some magazines think we are one thing and we always say that we aren't, but in the end they still write as they want to. So know we don't even bother anymore. That is the way it works I guess.

Musicscan: How important is fashion for you? You seem like a very fashion-conscious band to me.

Eskobar: F: I think it is very important for us as persons, but it really has nothing to do with the band. I love fashion and I would love to do that if I wasn't doing music. So personally for me it is very important.

Musicscan: But don't you think you have a common style that you present yourself in, both on and off stage?

Eskobar: F: I don't know. We are not into strange looking clothes, we just want to have good looking clothes that we like. And if we are going to use it at a party or if we are on stage doesn't matter. I don't want to pretend to be something else. We don't have these band costumes that bands have.

Musicscan: Does fashion have a social function for you? Does it work to separate yourself from other people or to simply make certain aspects stand out?

Eskobar: F: For younger people I think it is very much like that. I mean you can clearly see what kind of music someone is listening to because of their clothes. I mean when you see these indiepop kids you immediately know what they like. For me personally, I don't think so. Not anymore at least.

Musicscan: Your new album sounds a lot more melancholic and downright sad compared to your previous efforts? How come?

Eskobar: R: First of all, Daniel has always written the songs when he is a bit depressed. When he wrote the songs for this album, he was more depressed than ever actually. That in combination with the lyrics being more open and much more straightforward. On our fist album, the lyrics were rather painted in pictures and so on. That is probably the reason. We are just older now.

Musicscan: In how far did that reflect on the record?

Eskobar: F: You just become more mature and you have more live experience. The world simply isn't always that nice, especially if you look at it right now. And, of course, all of that influences you and I definitely agree that it is the most serious or melancholic album that we have done. It is much heavier.

Musicscan: Do you perceive it as a rather dark album?

Eskobar: F: It is pretty dark, but in every song there is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. I think it is dark, but with hope.

Musicscan: Does art directly relate to society or are they two rather separate entities?

Eskobar: R: That is a hard question. I think it has a lot to do with society in general. When it comes to our music it is all about live experiences. In our case, Daniel writes when he is depressed and of course that has to do with life. I think it is the same way for a lot of painters, poets, film makers. I think it is quite common that people are creative when they are sad.

Musicscan: Ok, final question guys. What is your guess for the European soccer championship?

Eskobar: F: Oh, I know who will win? Do you want to know? I think France and Italy will play in the final.

Musicscan: What score?

Eskobar: F: Italy will win 2:1.

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