Nils Finkeisen (guitar) from Die Krupps
If you’re looking for a pure stage-related joy, talent and adrenaline, you might want to go to one of the shows he is making. Known from crazy, vigorous performances with DIE KRUPPS, he is also involved in production, sound engineering and supporting numerous cool bands as a guest musician. About how Covid-19 pandemic influenced him personally but also his projects and live shows - with the marvellous energy sparkle - Nils Finkeisen.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: We catch up during your holidays in Dolomites… must say I envy you a lot. So first tell me, how is late summer in the mountains going? Do you have your guitar with you?
Nils: Hello Karolina, thank you for having me as an interview partner for your magazine and thank you for your patience with this during these extremely difficult times. Yes, I started to answer your questions for this interview when I was on my holidays in Italy and I cannot complain. The weather was still very warm and sunny. We have been hiking and mountain climbing a few days and I did not take a guitar with me, as I think, holidays must be a totally different thing from regular life. So no guitar, no MacBook, no recording tools and no emails for a week or two. Sadly the day right after that vacation, some terrible things happened here in Hamburg in the musical instruments industry sector, since the biggest shop for guitars, drums, keys and recording stuff in town announced that they are closing the doors and many of my old colleagues (I worked for that shop from 2003 until 2019 as well...) are now having the toughest times. And not only that shop has suffered from the Covid-19 lockdown and all the preventive measures. The whole club scene over here is struggling and many smaller venues like the LOGO Hamburg or Marias Ballroom are already closed or nearly bankrupt. Well, so I have tried to help some of these guys in the industry with projects, jobs, money, networking and so on, during the last weeks and that kept and still keeps my schedule extremely tight.
RoD: You know that old joke:
Person: how do you perform so well?
Person: It must be an innate gift?
Musician: It’s practice
Person: I can never understand why people have talent like this. It’s magical and mystery…
What do you think results in great performance?
Nils: This saying seems to be Polish - at least I have not heard it from anyone in Germany before. Anyway - in my humble opinion, this joke is simply the half of the truth. Practice is not the only secret. If someone has had the time to properly learn an instrument as a small kid or teenager, he or she will have the capabilities to play professionally on stage. So far so good. But does this always result in a great performance? I don’t think so. A great show is a totally different thing than a well-played concert. The word “show” implies and explains a lot. It is not about how good you play the instrument. It is about passion and true artistry on the one hand and about image, look, stage appearance on the other. So you have to practice that part of the game as well. I can vividly remember my very first shows with Jürgen, Ralf and Marcel very well and I must admit that I was learning a lot about the whole stage appearance thing from them. I had to learn it fast, since otherwise the audience would have started to laugh at me, sooner or later. So I can tell you, having a super cool performer like Marcel Zürcher on the other side of the stage helps a lot. He always has some good advice and ideas and definitely knows how to make a good show without all the nonsense like pyrotechnics, carnival costumes and stupid make up.
RoD: Tell me about your guitars collection - do you have an instrument you particularly like?
Nils: Although I am not only a professional guitarist, but as well a guitar sales guy, I have never started to collect instruments. I own seven, maybe eight guitars, right now and that is enough for me. My favourite guitar in this small batch is my worn and beaten up and old 1952 Fender Telecaster. This guitar is a pretty unusual choice for industrial metal rhythm guitar sounds and what I like most about using it is how people react to the instrument. Some nerds in our audience simply cannot believe that this thing does not only do the “Country and western - my geetar does it all!” trick. This 68 years old lady can sound really brutal and fierce. Indeed the Telecaster does the metal guitar thing better than many other guitars I have had before. You can hear the 1952 on the title track of last DIE KRUPPS release ‘Vision 2020 Vision’. The solo at the end of the song is played with that Telecaster. My newest guitar is a 2019 Charvel “DK24 USA Select” and this instrument has become my favourite for more technical stuff like Djent, Death Metal or the cliché eighties lead guitar stuff. The new Charvel guitars are really awesome instruments and I might buy some more from them for the next tour. As it comes to guitar amps, I am more of a collector, since I use them in the studio. So it happens that I own about twenty, to twenty five guitar amps from Marshall, Diezel, Fryette, Engel, Fender and of course Laney Amplification. The latest cool product in that range was a BluGuitar Amp 1 Iridium that I tried during the last Europe tour in November and December 2019. Really an awesome piece of gear.
RoD: What first brought you to music?
Nils: I think that must have been some cool bands in the vinyl collection of my dad. PINK FLOYD was probably my very first influence. The game changer for me was METALLICA. When I listened to their ‘Black Album’ for the very first time, I knew I had to buy an electric guitar and learn to play that thing.
RoD: The music you create is obviously harsh, with strong metal tint. What’s your taste in music? Are there any artists who inspire you?
Nils: I do actually listen to almost every style of music with guitars in it. I love Flamenco, progressive Rock, Metal, Classic Rock and even Jazz and my favourite bands are not from the EBM scene at all. If it comes to heavier genres, I like bands like GOIJRA, TIMES OF GRACE, TOOL, KILLING JOKE, CHEVELLE, KARNIVOOL, KATATONIA or OPETH. The softer stuff I like comes from bands as KINGDOM COME - and have had the luck to play for them as a guitarist during a short period in 2015 to 2017. So that was fun for me. And I love Punk - the really nasty, old-school Punk. Not the radio friendly softener music from the nineties, they used to sell as Punk music for video games.
RoD: Tell me more about your experience with DIE KRUPPS… what is the creative process like, the live shows, cooperation?
Nils: DIE KRUPPS is pure madness. Some crazy people from different regions of the world who like to sweat on a stage come together a few times a year to make some noise. Jürgen is more or less the crazy singer and creative mastermind behind the band and usually Marcel does most of the basic song-writing work. So many songs of the last three albums are from him. The creative workflow has changed a little bit with the last record as Paul - our new drummer - was co-producing a lot of the songs in his studio in Hamburg and even I was writing a song for the record. If it comes to cooperation with labels, booking agencies and other bands, touring schedules and strategic decisions and even song lyrics, Ralf is the man. If he would not double check all the financial things and manage the schedules, we simply would not be able to play a single show, I guess. But DIE KRUPPS is not only about Jürgen, Ralf, Marcel, Paul and me. We also have a very good crew with an amazing tour manager, a super cool light tech, the absolutely best EBM Industrial Metal sound guy in Germany and a very smart guitar tech, who even manages to baby-sit Marcel and me simultaneously.
RoD: About live shows - I had a pleasure to see you perform on several occasions and I always had the feeling you totally delve into the music during concerts, it was like a hypnotic trance and adrenaline shot at the same time… do you like live shows?
Nils: Yes, I love live shows with DIE KRUPPS and I love touring. My stage acting and my approach to performance is pretty simple: It is a show and I play for the fans and they want to see my alter ego. Trust me - nobody wants to see the ordinary Nils - as he is a boring nice guy. On the other hand, I do what I want to do on stage and what feels right at that moment. But your observation is perfectly right: If everything on stage works like it was planned, I am often in a kind of trance while I am playing guitar - I am “in the zone” then and enjoy the show as well.
RoD: Could you tell me more about the recent event Reeperbahn Festival?
Nils: Well, the Reeperbahn Festival took place here in Hamburg from September 16th till 19th and actually it was of course nonsense from a financial point of view. There have been many annoying preventive measures and they only allowed a bunch of guests in the clubs and in front of the huge outdoor stage on the Heiligen Geist Feld. But I have been there with and for “No.1 Guitar Center” in the musical instruments exhibition “Music Maker’s Playground” and we did not only show many old and extremely rare and expensive Gibson and Fender vintage guitars from the 50ies and 60ies, but also did some clinics for the latest new stuff from companies like BluGuitar, Aclam, Fulltone, Gretsch and Charvel. So I played some DIE KRUPPS songs on the small exhibition stage and explained gear related stuff. The whole thing was more or less like a mini version auf Frankfurt Music Fair or the NAMM Show in Los Angeles and we have had a lot of cool musicians like Rupert Keplinger from EISBRECHER or Jocke Skog from CLAWFINGER as guests and so the fun factor was definitely there for us all.
RoD: What can we expect from DIE KRUPPS in the nearest future? I know you guys were actually stuck in various places due to Covid-19 - is there any improvement in this area? Are there any live shows scheduled?
Nils: The whole situation is extremely difficult right now. All shows have been postponed until 2021 and as long as our singer, who lives in Austin Texas is not able to travel safely from the US to Europe and back, we will not be able to play any live shows. Right now we can only wait for a Covid-19 vaccine and better times for the music industry.
RoD: Are you involved in any other projects aside from DIE KRUPPS? Are you working on something new right now?
Nils: Yes sure! I am working as a producer, sound engineer or guest musician for three or four bands and albums right now. For example, there is an album based on a very cool international cooperation with Sonny Vincent, the singer and guitarist from a New York CBGB’s Proto-Punk band called THE TESTORS together with Jimmy from THE STOOGES on bass, Fabian Dee Dammers from U.D.O. and me on lead guitars and Bobby Liebling from the seventies Metal band PENTAGRAM on guest vocals. We are just re-recording some old songs and new ideas these days. Right now I am in the studio with the guitarist from a Hamburg based Black Metal band called NEGATOR and we are recording his guitar tracks for an upcoming album of his new band ANTIQVA with Lindsay Schoolcraft - known from CRADLE OF FILTH, Xenoyr from NE OBLIVISCARIS, Justine Ethier from BLACKGUARD and KARKAOS, Andy Thomas from BLACK CROWN INITIATE, Hakon Didriksen from OLD MAN’S CHILD and Dalai Cellai (session cellist for THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE and SOLSTAFIR and many, many more). The guitar-sound on the first single will be epic! Check them out on facebook.com/antiqvaofficial for more information on that stuff. Then there are some re-mixes in the pipeline for this autumn as well as a more extensive debut album production for a newcomer band called LEAVEGROUND as they booked me and my studio companion Geret Luhr, who runs the “Doubletrack Studios” here in Hamburg, for the whole recording process, mix and mastering. So there is a lot of work for me to do and that helps to come through this stupid Covid-19 times...
RoD: One last question - Petrucci, Malmsteen, Hetfield or Satriani?
Nils: Hetfield of course. He is the only one, who can play proper rhythm guitar, while he sings and he is a good songwriter and bandleader. There is nothing wrong with the other three guys, if you are into shred guitar solos and technical stuff, but they do not even drink Jägermeister…
RoD: Thank you very much for your time Nils, enjoy your vacation!
Nils: Thank you and greetings from northern Germany to the whole Reflections of Darkness team!
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)