On the 28th February 2014, popcore four-piece Die Happy released their new album “EVERLOVE” on F.A.M.E records, after 20 years on a shared musical path. Their latest material (and earlier works) will be monetised on YouTube with iMusician. To celebrate, we invited Thorsten Mewes for an interview to find out more.
You’ve had the same lineup for more than 20 years now. How have you maintained a relationship that most married couples would probably envy?
It’s all about keeping RESPECT for each other. As long as you don’t lose that, nothing can really go wrong. Also, there’s the fact that we’ve all been going in the same direction with this project for over 13 years now – we all have an oar, and we all do our part to push the boat forwards.
Your style has remained consistent over the years, which has probably contributed a lot to your ongoing success. Do you also have side projects to express yourself as individual musicians, or explore another side of your music as a group, or experiment with different styles?
Marta sings in musicals in Prague, Jürgen plays drums for several bands, Ralph has 2 bands of his own, and 6 months ago I found a local Hamburg band which helps me to let out my Rock’n’Roll tendencies – alongside my management duties.
What do you think was the highlight of your creativity so far?
It was great when we were still a popular band at the big German festivals. To be honest, we even miss RaR / RiP and Hurricane and Southside a little bit…
When Marta was a jury member on POPSTARS, you made a clear distance between your band and talent contests. Why do you think some of your fans had a problem with that?
The idea of talent contests is always controversial. When they first became popular, we were worried that the musical landscape would change a lot, and we felt at a disadvantage. However, I still remember the phone call I received when our record was at number 1 in the trend charts – above the DSDS compilation. We imagined the long faces of our ‘competition’, who were probably thinking “WHO THE FUCK IS DIE HAPPY?”. In reality, we all know how quickly the winners of these kinds of contests come and go, while DIE HAPPY is still here. It’s also important to remember that there have been some talent contest success stories – most notably Kelly Clarkson.
Also, as the lead singer of a rock band, you obviously welcome the chance to be on TV!
You have described your new album “EVERLOVE” as being extremely emotionally rich, “honest, direct, powerful, intoxicating, encouraging, and comforting.” What triggered these feelings? Was there a lot of pent up emotion, or have you simply matured?
Marta became a mother – this meant that there was a flood of emotions, and these all had to be expressed on the album. Our original plan was to write emotional and slightly melancholic hymns for stadiums – and I think we achieved it.
You’ve already mentioned that Marta became a happy mother in August 2013, and this seems to have noticably influenced your lyrics. How did this development affect the band? Did you all share the endorphines, and grow even closer to one another?
Actually it slowed down the process, and a lot of Marta’s focus was shifted. However, she had been thinking about becoming a mother for a while, and we’re all extremely happy that she could finally fulfil this desire. In spite of her happiness about the baby she’s still the diva we know and love; and in that sense things have stayed the same as before – except for the fact that travelling has become more complicated, at least for the moment.
Why have you chosen to work with the same producer – Udo Rinklin – for the last few years?
He’s like the 5th band member! When it comes to writing and arranging, we need him as a mediator, and he somehow knows how to channel all our musical desires!
You’re a top quality live band and you know how to stir up your fans. Have your live performances changed over the years, and how important have live performances become as a source of income?
We’ve always made a living from the concerts. Of course you can’t help but notice that almost everyone’s begging on the streets these days, as you can’t make money by selling CDs anymore. Unfortunately, sales were never a relevant factor for us – I’m still waiting for my heart’s desire: a gold record on the wall.
What do you think about social media and new methods of selling and streaming channels, like Spotify for example?
Social media has become extremely important, as you can use it to build a direct link to your fans. Streaming is a great thing in principle, but I don’t believe that it will make enough money to pay authors and interpreters properly. Eventually it will probably even encourage people not to buy any music at all, as they will have already paid for streaming. I’m curious to see what happens…
How important is the role of a label for your band, and how has this changed over time? Do you prefer working with Indies or Majors, and why?
You shouldn’t underestimate the financial power of a major label. It becomes difficult if too much money is ‘burnt’, and you’re left in the red at the end. We chose an Indie label a few years ago, in order to be able to have more say in things, and be a part of the decision making process, usually leading us into the black – it doesn’t make us rich, but we’re happy. It’s mainly good to have a label so that you don’t have to bear all the financial risk of producing an album, promotion and marketing alone. We have a partner at our side, who trusts us, and we trust them.
What do you think is the most important task of a music publisher?
In an ideal world, I’d like to say: to know the songs in a band’s repertoire, actively work to connect them with other media like advertising companies and TV series, or encourage other bands to cover that stuff!
You recently signed an endorsement contract for YouTube Monetisation with iMusician. What do you hope to achieve from this, and what is your general attitude towards YouTube?
YouTube should really try and work out a fair deal with GEMA (and not the other way around), so that we can all enjoy consuming music and moving image at the same time. We are naturally hoping for another source of income via the YouTube monetisation, which we think is owed to the creator of any song.
At some point, it's logical for musician who understands how the industry works to take control of their own catalog. There are crazy stories floating around on how artists sometimes don't see any of their YouTube revenues. It is all the more important to have a reliable partner. We have hundreds of thousands of YouTube views so now we use iMusician to monetize our YouTube as well as distribute and publish special content.
What do you think is the most exciting technical development in terms of studio equipment, instruments, or live gear?
Everything is getting “easier” due to software like Garage Band, but it can’t really replace technical and musical understanding. Software plug-ins like Ampfarm make life easier, but for me, that kind of thing will never replace the need for a tube amp, a box, and a microphone.
One of the highlights of your career must have been your 1000th concert, which you combined with a DVD release. Where do you play most outside of Germany, and is there anywhere you’d really like to play? When are you going to tour next?
Our album tour begins starts on 19.03 and ends 12.04. Then we’ll do some festivals, and in autumn we’ll be doing an acoustic tour. We mainly play in Germany and the Czech Republic, but I’d love to tour in South America.
You seem to have been blessed with more self confidence and energy than ever – where do think this comes from?
You get more relaxed as you get older – we’re concentrating on ourselves, and it’s good. The situation with F.A.M.E has also spurred us on, as we know that we’re 100% supported in our creative process. There’s an A&R rep, but he only heard the album for the first time after it was mastered. Now that’s what you call trust!
What’s your greatest wish for the new album?
Successful radio airplay! Thank you very much for the interview. We wish you the best of luck with the new album!
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