Max Coppella (vocals, clarinet, harpsichord) and Sissy Voss (double bass) from Coppelius
COPPELIUS: “Everything on stage stays very unique thing.”
Christmas time and New Year’s Eve are always full of miracles. And at the end of the year Reflection of Darkness was able to speak with COPPELIUS - one of the most mysterious gentlemen ever! They are always busy with so many aristocratic things like playing clarinet, having dinner or controlling if Bastille has been finished with the dust that he romantically calls “Sternenstaub”.
Anyway, we were persistently standing near the gates of the house to find out the truth and finally, we got the answers! On the 27th of December in Columbia Theatre Berlin, Max Coppella and Sissy Voss kindly told us about the upcoming ‘Krabat’ opera, the ‘Kammerarchiv’ concept, explained whether there was any difference between being a musician and an actor, besides we discovered a few more interesting things.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: In September you released the album called ‘Kammerarchiv’. What is the concept of this LP?
Max: In ‘Kammerarchiv’ we have so many different kinds of songs and so different eras of music. We put in this collection so many various stuff and had fun a lot. The ‘Kammerarchiv’ is about that.
RoD: The second time you used to include two songs: ‘To My Creator’ and ‘1916’. I would like to ask about the second one: it’s the song of MOTÖRHEAD, actually, but suits COPPELIUS so perfect. How did you choose this thing for a cover?
Max: (conspiratorially whispering) We haven’t re-note anything! Don’t believe it if someone says it’s the song of MOTÖRHEAD, it’s by us and that’s all. So they had them (the soldiers) to get very famous, and they got famous... but you know we’re still alive, we’re still around. So we are happy about that!
RoD: You have two songs which are alike: ‘Operation’ and ‘Komposition’. Why do they sound so similar?
Sissy: The songs have a different intro!
RoD: Yes! But they’re alike anyway.
Max: That’s the reason for that. The second one ‘Komposition’ is directly about stealing a composition. So, we answered by using one of the songs we have already written. That’s a joke, you see? We have stolen it by ourselves and that’s the funny part of it. But I remember there was an article in the newspaper about this version: “Oh, such a young band! Imagine, they are stealing from themselves, but they are too green to do it well.” So, I was laughing! They didn’t understand the joke.
RoD: Such a stupid situation! You are not only a musician but also an actor. Does it feel the same: to be on stage as an actor and as a musician?
Max: Well, actually I don’t think I’m an actor! (laughs)
Sissy: He is the greatest actor! The best. As for me, there is no difference, it feels the same. I stand up and I wake up - on stage, I’m always the same.
RoD: You had a musical opera ‘Klein Zaches’. Was it written for you or you saw the script and decided to take a part?
Max: We found out that this opera house wanted us to do this as an opera, so it’s more kind of an opera but has musical parts into it as well. The story is very serious, especially in the end. So this makes it not that much of a musical. The story of E.T. Hoffmann and the main actor Rudiger Frank was the right person for it. Mainly, it was made for him and for us and it was written by ourselves. We had help with it in arranging things, arranging the orchestra, the score and there were the small parts that weren’t made by us. The rest is our work.
RoD: I’ve heard you’re planning to release the Blu-ray of this play. Have you already had filmed the whole opera before or you use the fragments?
Max: We use the material of different performances. That what I think but I’m not sure, I’m really not sure.
RoD: In your new album you included the songs with Rüdiger. It was recorded in the studio or you took the sound from the video?
Max: The song was not recorded on stage, he recorded it especially for this CD.
RoD: And it’s one more opera that you’re going to play - ‘Krabat’. Could you tell me a little about this one?
Max: Sure! It will take place in the same opera house in Gelsenkirchen and it will be a bit different from ‘Klein Zaches’ because there will be more people involved, and they are not from COPPELIUS. ‘Klein Zaches’ is a story that was told by us and two more actors. Here will be, I think, two or three main roles not played by us. The play requires a lot of people on stage, many of the characters, so we cannot do it by ourselves.
RoD: COPPELIUS in the Hoffman’s story is a trickster. In school I was scared to death he would find me. Does this mystical name have any influence on your regular life?
Max: I think so, but I’m not aware of it, moreover I didn’t think of it. Or, indeed, I try not to think about it! (laughs)
RoD: How can you stay both: an elegant musician with clarinet/contrabass and be kinda a rock star? How is it mixing?
Max: Honestly, they don’t have to be mixed because nowadays we’re wrong thinking classical music and Rock music should be performed by two different people. A musician is a musician in any case... If you go back two hundred or even four hundred years before our time, do you think you would find something different? No, I’m sure it would be pretty much the same as the rock music but just a little bit quieter. But they were crazy as well! They allowed all kinds of drags which we don’t have nowadays...
Sissy: (coughs suggestively)
RoD: Dangerous guys! Music inspires, so a lot of grown-up people have a passion for some instrument but never had a chance to play. How can such person be involved in music?
Sissy: (strongly) With learning instrument, where’s no way around!
RoD: Even if they have no music possibilities?
Sissy: Music possibilities? As for me, such kind of possibilities doesn’t exist. Everyone has musicality but sometimes your parents or friends tell you that you have no music possibilities. But you’re the center of your own, if you really want it - you can learn it. Perhaps you have to try harder than others but there’s the way. It’s exactly about passion not about talent.
RoD: When you’re on a tour, is there are something you miss most of all?
Max: It’s more the other way around. (laughs) When you perform, when you on a tour there is a lot of work to do and you don’t have much time for thinking. And we aren’t touring that much. We have two concerts: today and tomorrow then we’re free. There’s a lot of time to get of the sickness, the cold as well as the most of us. So that’s not too much, it’s okay.
RoD: Everyone in the band is so close to each other like a friend, almost like brothers. And who is the boss in your company?
Max: As you’ve said we’re all friends, and we don’t need a boss. (laughs)
RoD: A few times you played naked on a stage. Is it a tradition or you’re at the top of your emotions?
Max: No, I don’t know about that. I wasn’t naked on stage.
Sissy: Half naked, to be exact...
Max: No way! No.
Sissy: (thoughtfully) It was in 2016 in several locations... All the girls around were screaming very loud! I remember that...
Max: Come on, we had a break in 2016! So I wasn’t where it was someone else. We didn’t play in 2016... Or seventeen or eighteen. (smile)
Sissy: (laughs) You see, we are really like brothers.
RoD: Oh, yes. Have you ever had some strange situations on your shows?
Max: Is it a strange situation when you can’t remember the concert? (smile) I can’t remember any strange situations except when we were not loud enough. That is strange, for real.
RoD: Do you have the thing in your work you love most of all?
Sissy: To play together on stage is the greatest thing. Also the different locations, crazy people. I’m never tired of it.
Max: Yes, exactly!
RoD: Can you leave a message to all people who will read your interview?
Max: The only one thing I want to tell everybody is that the message of this kind of music, the concept of our performing, in general, is every concert and everything on stage stays very unique thing. Having a live concert, we have no playbacks or any script, nothing. Just us, the musicians on stage and our music. That is a truly special thing. And I’m happy if people listen, having a good time with us and they’re involved in the performing. Every concert is a little bit different from another one.
Sissy: My personal message is: learn the lyrics! Look, it’s a great show when we are in your tone.
Max: Yes! Especially when we forget the words, because something happens, and when the audience helps to sing it turns an awkward moment into the beautiful situation that makes us closer.
Thanks to Jeany Leinweber for the provided accreditation and making this interview possible.