Im Kölner Luxor traf unruhr die äußerst sympathischen Australier von Eskimo Joe zu einem Gespräch über heldenhafte Namen, Vampire, Fledermäuse, düstere Texte und deutsches Brot und Bier. Bereitwillig erzählten Kav, Stu und Joel von ihren Ideen und Kreationen aber auch der Kritik mit der sie konfrontiert werden. Außerdem gaben sie gerne hilfreiche Informationen über ihr Heimatland, insbesondere die Fauna, die doch so anders ist als der Rest der Welt. Folglich könnte der Leser - weiß er doch am Ende welches Bier und Essen schmeckt, und wo er "down under" welche gefährliche Spezies meiden sollte - durchaus als Besucher dort überleben ... Aber schlussendlich ist das Motto dann doch: so Gott will. - "Inshalla"
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"We'll cast the net out again." Walking new, varicoloured ways...
In the Luxor in Cologne unruhr met the very likeable guys from Eskimo Joe for a chat about heroic names, vampires, bats, dark lyrics and German bread and beer. Willingly Kav, Stu and Joel talked about their ideas and creations but also criticism with which they are confronted. On top of that they helpfully gave information about their home country Australia, especially the fauna, which is so diverse from the rest of the world. So the reader - in the end knowing, which beer to drink, which food to eat, and where he / she should avoid contact with which dangerous species - could survive as a visitor... But after all the motto is: God willing - "Inshalla" (CD review)
Whose idea was the style of your homepage?
Stu: Well, that was the brainchild of an Australian design group called Mathematics. They also designed the cover of the album. I used to do a lot of the webside stuff back in the early days but nowadays we pretty much got our hands full... so it's good to relinquish that control, and I'm sure those guys do great work.
Yes, I like it very much. Is it any particular mountain range?
Stu: They sent us a few different ideas and that was one of the most striking ones.
Kav: It's probably from New Zealand or something (laughter), they've got all the good mountain ranges over there.
Is there any message behind it for you? A Mountain range, butterflies...
Kav: I guess it's meant to represent the Eskimo Joe world.
Stu: Yeah, we definitely tried to make this album a lot more worldly and a lot more different... so that kind of sums it up pretty well.
I think I just have to ask why a band from Australia has its name from a place called Eskimo Joe's in Stillwater, Oklahoma...
Kav: There's, you know, we call it Opshop, it's like a second hand clothing shop in Australia, and me and my friend bought a T-shirt from this place called Eskimo Joe's, which is a diner in the States, and at the time I thought it was a cool name. In hindsight it's a really ridiculously silly name. I mean the music we were making when we first wrote, that was really, you know, spontaneous, we were like 18 years old, it was just silly, spontaneous music. With album no.1 we started to get serious and back then I guess the name started to sound a bit silly, but I always reconcile it by saying The Beatles was a really silly name.
Most of the names actually are quite silly...
Stu: Smashing Pumpkins is the winner... (laughter)
There are the three of you and you got kind of hero names in a way... Do you know what I'm alluding to?
I mean Quartermain...
Joel (laughing): Oh, yeah, we heard something about that.
There is this novel...
Stu: ...and a movie, yes. Is he actually like an Indiana Jones type figure?
In a description I found he's called an "imperial outdoorsman"
Kav: There you go! That describes Joel!
Joel (at the same time): That's definitely not me!
Kav: Definitely describes Joel very well! (laughter)
Stu: And then you got MacLeod, who's the heir of Highlander, but funnily enough the name MacLeod means "son of the ugly one", not very heroic...
But still immortal.
Stu: Exactly! There can be only one!
And Temperley? Well?
Kav: That's just a plain old name really, I guess.
I also found one so-called "daredevil", who founded a city in Argentina.
Kav: Really? Cool! A Temperley? I'll have to check that distant relation of mine.
So you seem to be quite adventurous namewise.
Stu: In our ancestry. Well, you know, we're still a bit touring the world.
So it's not astonishing that the film industry knocked on your door...
Stu: Oh, the Twilight New Moon soundtrack.
Kav: Would have been nice actually being on the movie.
Stu: It's only on the Australian release. They've done it all throughout the world. There's like a German release CD with a German band. There's talk of getting all the different ones and put them on a CD.
Kav: Twilight is such a phenomenon, it's awesome to be associated with it in some way. People tend to be crazy about that stuff, so I'm happy for them to think of us when they think of Twilight.
What do you think about such fantasy films?
Stu: I haven't actually seen it, to be honest. Lots about vampires and I understand that it's very directly marketed at a young audience.
Kav: It's good fun. I mean anything to do with vampires is cool.
Stu: Have you seen it?
Kav (playing cautiousness): Yeah, at least say a couple of times. (laughter)
So what is this song "Thunderclap" about?
Kav: It was one of the earlier songs we wrote for the "Inshalla" record, the first song you write for a record, you're always absolutely in love with them. So we really like the song but once we kind of came to the end of the process, we had, you know, a whole lot of other songs that suited the album a whole lot better. It was basically for me a song about - I was entering a serious relationship, which I'm still in, and I guess it was my pledge to the relationship so that I was actually gonna make it work. You know, you have B-sides when you have to release a record. So we had to do a B-side and I think it was like in a half day and Joel ended up just playing all the extra bits on it.
Joel: I think we took about two hours to record it. Twilight is a twinkle in our eye. We thought that it was just gonna be a B-side that about 20 of our biggest fans would hear. And now it's ended up on this record and it's probably gonna sell lots and lots of copies.
Can you say a bit about your first three CDs before "Inshalla"?
Joel: Each album is kind of a reaction to the album before. The first one was very naive, being the first one, trying to get every single influence of a very single band member on it in every single song. It was like all over the place. The second record was a bit more spreading the wings and the third record was a condensed version of everything we'd learned, I guess.
Kav: Very distilled.
Joel: Yeah. And this one is a reaction to that. We'll cast the net out again.
Freeing yourself from everything before?
Stu: We approached this album in a lot of different ways. The way we wrote the music when we approached the actual roles in the band. There's still the three of us but live we have an extra drummer and a keyboard player, in the studio Joel does the drumming.
I've read that "Red Wine, Black Fingernails" was a particularly great success. Do you have an idea why?
Joel: I think that was one of those things driven by one thing basically, that was the title track. And I think it was one of those moments where it is the right song at the right time. It was probably counting on the tail end of a music movement that it almost had a little bit in common with and that it got on commercial radio. So it got heard by such a wide audience. The timing was really right for that song and it ended up propelling us.
Which movement do you mean?
Joel: It had a bit of that sort of dark - I hate to say the word emo, but probably coming of the back of something like that kind of music in America although that's not how we approached it at all. We were approaching it with more of a Eurythmics, INXS kind of 80s idea. But it happened to be there with the dark lyrics. I think if we released this song now, it would not be a success... everything's a bit more colourful now.
Kav: Could get on the Twilight soundtrack.
"Don't let me down" from your current CD "Inshalla" was especially criticised in a review I've read as having too much 80s in it. How would you respond to that?
Joel: I think they're dead right! It is too much 80s, but that's exactly what we were trying to do.
Kav: With "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" everything was very serious and what we wanted was something a bit more fun and light-hearted. No one wants you to change and do anything else and so when we did "Don't let me down" we really consciously were doing it as a hopeful uplifting pop song. And the funny thing is we've just released it as a single in Australia and it's doing really well over there and so I guess in some ways it's almost a bit of a "Fuck you" to all the critics that were kind of like... I don't know about this song. Because the general public - they just hear a song and either they like it or they don't. And so people actually are hearing this song and thinking it's a good song, which is all that should be. There shouldn't be anything more heady about it than that, you know.
Are critics like that worldwide?
Joel: Especially for a band in our position in Australia - we're a bigger band like Kav was saying before. We're up there for criticism. If we weren't selling lots of records, then I think people wouldn't be bothering to criticize us, but you become a target.
Kav: It feels like a compliment when people start to give you criticism.
Joel: We're not worried about being very 80s because it is.
Joel: That was purposeful and we like that.
Kav: It's not even like a Fuck you!' It's a bit more like 'We don't really care. We do our thing.' And if people like it, that's great and if they don't really like it that's their problem...
Joel: Fuck them! (laughter) That's the Gallagher way.
Kav: It's all theatre.
It looks as if you have interesting merch, what's in this songbook? Tabs to play along?
Stu: It's got piano and guitar. It's not the exact things we're playing, it's slightly edited so that a broader audience can play it.
Joel: Very close though. And the tip that we have to give is: tune your guitar down a semi tone or you will find it very difficult.
Stu: It says that in the book actually.
Joel: If you have the book, yeah, but I think a lot of kids work it out by ear.
"Foreign Land" seems to be another interesting song. What is about?
Kav: We started off this song where we got this Turkish loop together and started to kind of write the music over the top of this loop, and the melody formed the chords that we were gonna play. Then we went over to America and we were there when Heath Ledger died. He was a young guy from Perth, where we're from, and he died like a couple of streets away from where we were staying. We were all pretty heavily affected by it and so when we went home, the lyrics started to come together, and that was basically talking about his death.
When I was coming to Australia at the beginning of this year, I found everything different and strange. What was your first travelling experience outside Australia like?
Kav: I mean, the first time I really properly travelled outside was when I was like 13. I went to India and ended up in this kind of international alternative boarding school in England and my roommates were always German. I went through Germany at that time and then I went back and travelled through everywhere again when I was about 18, and that was when I went to Germany for the first time. I don't know if I found it so strange cause I'd kind of known theses kids and stuff. But I think in Australia we look outside through our influences all the time. We don't have - apart from the Aboriginal culture, which is pretty buried in Australia - we don't really have a heritage as such, so we look to England and America and Europe for our influences, so when we go to these places it all seems very familiar to us, whereas I guess to people coming to Australia probably it all seems a little bit foreign.
Well, it was all the plants, the animals, the smells, not so much the way of living...
Stu: The natural side of it...
Kav: Well, I guess we just take that for granted. It definitely is a very different place in the world. Because it's so isolated I guess.
Stu: Because there's so much room, you know, so much land everywhere.
Kav: And when you go to Sydney, it's such a big city but yet the plants are growing through the pavement, and it's all tropical and it's almost like - there're no other big cities in the world where it looks like nature's still has a hold on the city.
I was amazed by the bats there...
All: Yeah! Yeah!
Kav: Did you freak out when you saw them for the first time?
I wasn't afraid although they're quite big... It was crazy.
Kav: They're pretty cute.
Stu: Yeah, they're big.
Well, you have been touring in Germany and Europe quite a bit. At what festivals did you play?
Stu: We played Southside and Hurricane this year and we also played Gerten Festival in Switzerland, which is amazing.
Kav: Surprisingly amazing.
Joel: It was awesome. The weather wasn't great but people came out in droves, stood in the rain and watched us.
Kav: Clapped along to the songs.
Joel: And at Bern in Switzerland was especially an amazing festival. That was incredible. We didn't expect such a great reaction.
Kav: To fly around to the other side of the world and then have 5,000 people kind of clapping along with us. That's pretty amazing.
Stu, in an interview you said something about "fine German cuisine". What are you thinking of?
Kav: I think he was talking about bread. (laughter)
Stu: Oh, look, there's so much good fine German food. I mean, I'm Scottish heritage, so I love my baked potatoes and this one thing you do really well is really good meat, there's lots of good cured meats. We had the most amazing roast pork in Düsseldorf the other day, it was just incredible, and you cannot find a bad loaf of bread in Germany. It's very hard.
And what Australian food would you recommend?
Stu: Lemmingtons are good.
Kav: Ha, ha.
Joel: Well, I think, meat pie!
Kav: No, ignore all of that!
Stu: No, totally serious! Meat pies are awesome!
Joel: Very clear, when done well!
Stu: A good Aussie meat pie!
Joel: We stole them of the English.
Kav: But I think what's really cool about Australian cooking is the influence of the Indonesian and Thai and everything. And when that kind of meets the Australian barbeque mentality, the fusion food is pretty amazing.
Stu: Yeah, we do a BBQ very well. (laughter) And also, if you're gonna try Vegemite you have to get someone who knows about Vegemite to teach you the way.
Kav: Don't try that, that's rubbish!
Stu: Vegemite is amazing, but you have to have that really good bread that's very well toasted, thick butter, and a little bit of Vegemite.
Kav: Just ignore all of those guys! Vegemite is horrible! (laughter)
And what about the German beer?
Stu: Oh, everywhere you go, you get the local beer and it's always good.
Kav: Yeah, good beer, good bread.
Stu: Things you guys can do well.
Joel: We're drinking different beer every day here.
And the Australian beers?
Joel: We have a few good beers and lots of really bad beers. The good ones are great. Cooper's is very good. We're known for Foster's overseas...
Stu: But no one drinks it in Australia.
Stu: It's not great.
Kav: The beers that are good in Australia are all the microbrewery beers.
Stu: Cascade is good, Boag's, Little Britches.
Joel: They're definitely not as tasty as German beers though. It's more for hot weather.
Stu: You need it icy cold.
Joel: You know what I mean, easy to drink.
Then Stu drew some of the dangerous animals into a map of Australia for the adventurous traveller, and we discussed some species: