with Jörg Schwarz by Sergio Motta, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil - Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal Site
Sergio Motta - I would like to begin this interview by speaking about the keyboard player Ulla Boos and the guitarist Peter Stutz, who were the founders of the band. Have they contributed with any composition on ‘’Flower in Asphalt’’ album before leaving the band?
Jörg Schwarz: Yes, there is one composition from that time of Ulla Boos and peter Stutz. It’s ‘’Glockenrock’’, and I can remember when I had joined the band, I got a tape with ‘’Glockenrock’’ and a few more titles on it. It was quite hard job to learn all the notes, licks and breaks in the songs. The other boys wanted me to play exactly like Peter, and that was what I did in the beginning, but during our live shows and recording (which was the only song on the album without any overdubs. We just played it twice and the third time is what you can hear on the record). The song became more and more my handwriting, but I must say the melody is 95% from Peter. It was absolutely perfect for me and I was feeling very comfortable with it, so why should I change it? Peter is still playing guitar, but not Rock, he’s playing Flamenco and he’s still an absolutely great player and one of my personal favorites.As far as I know the band’s name represents a homage to the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. After all those years from the band’s foundation, do you still share the same views as him?
Jörg Schwarz: Yes, I think we can say so. His ideas are still young today. Maybe you can find a little bit of it in our music.It has been quite interesting for me to find a poetry from a Brazilian folksong at the booklet of ‘’Flower in Asphalt’’ issue. How did that poetry get to your knowledge?
Jörg Schwarz: When we sat together making plans for the cover of the album, Ali came out with this poem, I don’t know from where he has got it, we all felt, hey, that’s exactly what we feel. At the time we have released the ‘’Flower in Asphalt’’ album the charts were stuffed with punk and easy listening pop music and everybody told us, hey you are absolutely old fashioned dreamers. But you see, the dream is still alive.As all the band’s members were always taken for gifted musicians and your music taken as a high-grade one, I suppose you have consequently reached quite a few listeners along the years, where are most of your fans from, from Germany itself or from abroad?
Jörg Schwarz: Thanks for your compliments. We must say that we have got the best feedback from fans in France, Italy, Japan and Brazil. Our live shows here in Germany were quite successful, but we didn’t get much airplay over here. The German radio only plays pop and dance music. There are just very little radio shows that play music like ours, but the listeners became loyal fans.Let’s then go to the present time. Rousseau is now being reformed by you and the drummer Ali Pfeffer. Did the return of some German bands to the progressive scene contribute as an incentive for you?
Jörg Schwarz: Oh no, this was not the reason. When Ali and I met after quite a long time, we said, what about reforming Rousseau? We just sat together, talked about the old times and I also played some pieces of music, which I have recorded in the meantime, and there were also some Demo tracks. We both thought these Demo tracks had a little Rousseau’s feeling, and we have considered to produce these songs. Everything came out absolutely natural. We just sat together and played with different ideas. Music from the outside has never been a great influence to us. We never said: ‘’Come on, let’s become Genesis or Pink Floyd!’’. All we wanted was to play the music we like. I think bands that only reform themselves to make money; they will fastly disappear again. We had so many new ideas and we just had to let them out.As you told me previously, this new project would be at first accomplished by you and Ali. If you had then proceeded alone in this project, would you keep the name Rousseau upon it?
Jörg Schwarz: When Ali and I started the new recordings, we thought about releasing this project titled ‘’Rousseau and Friends’’ but after Hofi joined us, we were 60% of the old Rousseau line-up. So we think it’s absolutely Ok to use our old name. We did ask Georg Huthmacher our former bass player to join us, but he stopped playing music because he’s very busy with his own shop, he’s in the computer business. Our new bass player Dieter Beermann is working along with me for over 15 years. He fits perfectly to us and he has become a 100% member of Rousseau. I think it’s not fair if an old band is back again, and there is just an only person from the original members left, the rest are young session players, that’s ridiculous to me.You have told me that 7 new songs were already composed, and some others are still in process. Will this forthcoming work only feature new songs, or will something from the past also be included as a bonus track for instance?
Jörg Schwarz: Right now, we just want to release new material. We have so many new ideas and we can’t just wait to record them all, but there are some songs from the golden 70’s and 80’s on old cassettes; they are some of our live favorites that were never featured on a record. The sound quality is often very poor. However, maybe someday we’ll record them brand new.The music of Rousseau was always characterized by beautiful folkloric passages and pastoral atmospheres, do you also intend to keep that characteristic in this new album?
Jörg Schwarz: Yes, of course you’ll find some of our ‘’trademarks’’, but we don’t want to say: ‘’...now it’s time for a flute solo, or I want this string sound’’, we had some brand new ideas and I must say they all fit perfectly into the Rousseau context. We are not stuck in the past; for us Rousseau is a band of the present. And everyone of us has gone on in his own development. On our first LP ‘’Flower in Asphalt’’ I have just played the guitar, but after that I started to sing. So it became absolutely normal for us to record some vocal tracks. In the beginning of Rousseau, we have often tried to sing in our music, but that was very difficult because these songs were composed as instrumental tracks. But now, we have some songs which were written with vocal parts. However, they are typical Rousseau’s songs anyhow.According to you, the band have no pretence for the time being to perform alive, is that a matter to be considered later on, or is that possibility discarded?
Jörg Schwarz: I love to play live and I remember some great shows we have played. Even if it was often a fight with our equipment to produce our sound on stage. Nowadays it became much easier and we have thought about playing live again. Yes, but it will depend on how the record will do. A whole tour is a big expense, but let’s see what the future will bring. Definitively we will do our a little gig in our hometown for some friends, old fans and so forth, but this will just be a few songs, not a big production show. But we have not made any concrete plan for this gig.I would like to hear your opinion towards the current german progressive rock scene where quite a few bands are turning up day after day as it came about in the past. How have you seen these new bands and their music likewise?
Jörg Schwarz: It’s great to see the progressive rock scene in Germany is getting bigger. I have read a lot about it. in other countries this step was made a few years earlier, just think about Spock’s Beard, IQ and so on. In German bands like Eloy, Jane and Kraan made history and I have ever hoped their work was not in vain, they have planted a seed and slowly something is growing. But believe it or not, in the 70’s I was not only influenced by Genesis, Eloy or other big progressive rock bands, I have also listened to Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan and even Abba. I always wanted to be open to any style and I hope the new bands will see it the same way, otherwise you will be bored of your own music and you will lose all the fun, that’s why we are making music, fun. Good music was always fun for the musicians, I don’t think the Beatles, Yes or others thought they were just doing a job from 9 to 5.Just to close this interview, would you like to impart any message for all those who appreciate your band’s music in Brazil and in the world?
Jörg Schwarz: The band wants to say thank you to everybody out there. It’s just a great feeling that our music means a lot to many people in Brazil and so many other countries where we have never been. People from so many different countries are tied together by an invisible line, and that’s music. Thanks to everybody who believed in us from the beginning until today.
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