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Interview with

Oliver Wand of Obscenity Trial

‘Soulstrip’ is the name of the newest output of German project OBSCENITY TRIAL, and as such a title rouses questions, we thought it might be best to clear things up and directly mastermind Oliver Wand. What he had to say was recorded in the following little interview.

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): The new album is already out for a while now. How have the reactions been regarding ‘Soulstrip’ and did they turn out the way you hoped, or were there any damning reviews amongst them as well?
Oliver: Honestly, the reactions have been much better than I thought. After the “polarization“with both singles, I was not sure how the reactions would be about the album. That they so far have been this great was unexpected but I feel really happy about it. As for what I just called “polarization“: Unfortunately, the scene has changed in a way that is not really to its advantage. It seems that nowadays it’s more about political correctness than about music. And for some fans obviously image is everything, no matter what the music does sound like or if the so-called “singer“ does hit any notes or not. I personally don’t think it’s the best development, since you very often get the impression that the scene today has nothing in common with what it once used to be: An alternative scene.

RoD: When did the first ideas for a new album start emerging in your mind?
Oliver: I am constantly working on songs, so there was not “the moment“. At a certain point when I think I have enough songs finished that could fit one album, I kind of group them and decide which of them would work or not. Usually, while doing that, half of the songs are thrown back into the archive and new songs find their way to the surface. So it’s more a constant process rather than sitting down and writing an album on purpose.

RoD: On a related note, when did production of the album actually start and how long did it take until all work was done?
Oliver: I started producing after I recovered from the exhausting USA tour last year. At that time, I focused on the singles because I knew there was an external studio appointment with Tino Oac - who produced the singles - so I was a bit under time pressure with these songs. After the studio session with Tino, I worked on the rest of the album for another eight weeks to finish the production.

RoD: If my information is correct, Timo Oac also worked with you on the album. How did that collaboration come about?
Oliver: Tino produced the singles ‘Glück Auf’ and ‘Über’s Wasser Gehen’. When I first got in touch with him in 2008, the idea of working with him immediately was there, since I also knew that for years he produced a lot of big mainstream acts aside from being the incredible singer he is. But it took a while until he agreed to work on OBSCENITY TRIAL. When someone as Tino reached a certain level in his career, I think it’s rather normal that one becomes kind of selective before deciding whom to work with. The fact that both songs have been written by Robin Grubert definitely helped in this matter, since Tino is a big fan of Robin’s song writing. And a few phone calls and personal meetings later the deal was done. So that’s basically how things started out and still I am extremely proud and thankful that Tino actually did work with me on these songs. It was an amazing experience for me.

RoD: The name ‘Soulstrip’ already suggests the album is based on a certain concept. Was it already set that the album would be of e more conceptual nature at an early stage, or did it kind of naturally develop in the process?
Oliver: Not really. As explained earlier, I don’t sit down and finish an album on purpose. After the songs were finally produced I noticed that the album itself was a bit slower than before and it took me a while to come up with the idea how to name the album. ‘Soulstrip’ just fits; it is the perfect title for this album, because that’s what the songs are about. Each song is honest, open, deep and intimate. Each song is a ‘Soulstrip’.

RoD: ’Soulstrip’, compared to its predecessors, has become much calmer and more serene. So you think this was due to the intimate nature of the topic that the songs just couldn’t become overly club-oriented, or could ‘Soulstrip’ have turned out a whole other way as well?
Oliver: Well of course I think you would’ve been able to transform most of the songs also in up-tempo clubby tunes - but why? I consider it being a good thing to not only think about that this or that song now is not played by a DJ, because it’s too slow. For me that would be working in the totally different direction. OBSCENITY TRIAL never has been a club act. Of course, I was happy about songs that found their way on DJ’s play lists in the past but that always happened more or less by accident! I don’t sit here and write a song just for that purpose. There’re other musicians out there in the scene that can do that much better. As a songwriter for me the song itself has to work. As for ‘Soulstrip’ I think it is a good step forward. It shows that as a producer I learned quite a bit in the past years, especially compared to the last album ‘That Night’ which, in retrospect, shows a lot of weaknesses in terms of production. On the other hand again I think it’s a generally good thing to see when someone develops.

RoD: The opener ‘Seven Seas’ seems to musically depict the fight of a little boat or barque on the stormy sea exposed to whatever the waves decide to do with it. Did you actually cast that scenery into sound, or was that juts vivid imagination. That said, the song has turned out pretty epic. Is that due to the lyrical content of the song?
Oliver: Let me answer both questions together. Well yes, you’re right. The song is about being restless, being always on the move, searching for yourself. So the idea putting this into the story of the lonesome fisherman that is sailing around the world, seeing a lot of things but still not finding his personal harbour to finally come to rest is a nice picture for the basic idea behind the song. In my opinion such a topic can be done in two ways. Either extremely aggressive or hard, or even the way as is on ‘Soulstrip’ which in my opinion fits the song just perfectly.

RoD: ‘Wrong Place Wrong Time’ picks up again the metaphor of water a bit in creating an icy but not frigid atmosphere. Just as if someone wants to bury a painful incident under thick layers of ice and leave it all behind.
Oliver: Again you’re absolutely right. I think at a certain point in life we all know the feeling of asking the big “why“question. Feeling like being at the wrong place at the wrong time just wishing not to be in that certain situation! The chorus of that song more or less is a prayer like screaming all the pain of that situation out wanting it to be changed right away.

RoD: Maybe you could briefly comment on ‘Unplugged’ whose purpose I couldn’t quite figure out as of yet. Is it meant as some kind of transition?
Oliver: Well, it was more based on a joke while wondering how an electronic band would sound when you unplug them. In context of the whole album its meaning for me soon became different: We live in a world that is growing louder and louder, more and more hectic and stressful every single day. People simply have forgotten how pure silence feels like. If you meditate, you know how pure silence can be and what a healing impact it can have on you. As much as I do like to go out and party, have fun or even explore the world, I also like the total opposite. Being at home, being with myself, being in silence. Not listening to music or watching yet another shitty, boring TV show. So I decided to leave it on the album as it perfectly fits into the whole context of ‘Soulstrip’.

RoD: With ‘Yet Another Boring Day’ also an instrumental piece made it onto the album which I think sounds quite hard and edgy. What was the reason for putting an instrumental track on the album in the first place, and why did it turn out as it is on the album in the end?
Oliver: While I was working on that song, it soon became clear that it was a good instrumental. Also, in context of the album, I think it fits pretty well since it shows the aggression that boredom builds up in people. If you follow the analysis of teenagers running around and beating other people just for no reason, most of them claim that they were bored and that this would be the only reason for them why they did it. So I tried to put this aggression into this song.

RoD: OBSCENITY TRIAL live dates are quite rare at the moment. Is there still a little tour to come or are you going to leave it with some selected solo shows?
Oliver: Well, indeed we did not play much in 2009 mostly because of the production of the new album, founding the own label and preparing the entire necessary infrastructure. But we will announce new live dates for 2010 pretty soon. The situation for bands trying to play live is becoming more and more difficult. As for single shows, the promoters more and more only want the safe side. If you’re not one of the top bands gathering a few thousand people, a lot of the promoters nowadays simply won’t book you. The festivals seem to more and more follow their own strange rules which over the past years looks like they only book you when you’re working with one of the big booking agencies around - leading to the fact that you will see the same bands over and over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to rant and rave about this but the promoters definitely need to think about the live culture in Germany. Yes, in times when there’re 800 live shows nationwide per day of course it’s not easy. But dear promoter, it’s not easy for the band either. And don’t you think it’s boring to book the same over and over again? Nevertheless, we do have a lot of gigs planned and are already looking forward to them.

RoD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Oliver: Thanks a lot to each and everyone out there for your incredible support and your honest and open feedback you’re constantly giving me. Without you, none of this would work.

RoD: Then, we’ve reached the end already. Thanks a lot for answering all the questions
Oliver: Thanks a lot for the interview and keep up the great work with RoD.


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