ira is a band that you cannot listen to while reading, cleaning up etc. The music is so intense that you have to give it your full attention. You should also give this interview your fullest attention by the way.
Hey there, let's start with the usual introduction: Who is answering my questions, what's your "role" in ira and what would you do at the moment if you wouldn't be answering these questions? Oh, and what's the size of your shoes?
Andy: Hi there, I’m Andy and I’m playing guitar in ira. I am the cool guy in the band, like Face in the A-Team. If I wouldn’t answer your questions I would probably listen to the new Coldplay record (how is it? - Stefan), what I’m doing anyway, so please don’t feel bad! It’s a pleasure! The size of my shoes is 9 ½, I guess, and I like long walks on the beach at sunset, so then I can cry and no one sees it. (Hey, seems like you're emo, haha - Stefan
First off, congratulations to your album "The body and the soil". I haven't heard an album so intense and intriguing for quite some time. I think you must be pretty satisfied with the way the record turned out?
Andy: Thanks a lot! We really appreciate that!!! Yes we are pretty satisfied with the result, sure there are some parts we definitely could have done better, but that’s always the same when you’re working on a record. There are some parts you really like and some you’re not so sure about, I think everyone who plays in a band knows what I’m talking about. But in the end we are really proud of “the body and the soil”.
I was surprised to see that "The body..." was already recorded in 2003/2004, so why did it take so long to release it? Did you record the album before you had a record deal and then sent out the finished album to labels or what was the reason for this?
Andy: Yeah, that’s right. We started to work on the songs and recorded them before we had a deal, so there was no hurry and no pressure finishing the album at a certain point in time. Toby joined the band while we were already recording the songs and so we had to work on his vocals and we also had to change some parts of the songs for Toby. That took some extra time. We also didn’t own that much money at that time to pay for three weeks in the studio at once, that’s also an important aspect one should not underrate.
Since the album was recorded a longer time ago I wonder if the music is still actual for you. What I am trying to say is this: Did your songwriting change over the years and what can we expect from future ira songs? Any major changes of your sound?
Andy: That’s a good point. Some songs are more than two years old, so of course there are some changes in our song writing and in our sound. We have three new songs and we are already performing two of them live. I guess the most important change is that we are now writing the songs all together with Toby. Because of that, I think, we managed to integrate the vocals better into the instrumental section. Well, but somehow the songs on “the body…” are still up-to-date for us and it’s still fun playing them live.
As I said before I find your music very intense and intriguing and some of the songs are very long, so I wonder how you handle that live? Do you leave out the keyboard parts and samples, do you have shorter versions of the songs for live shows or do you play two songs and then leave ;-)
Andy: Yes, we leave out the keyboards and samples. But that doesn’t shorten the songs; we play all melodies and parts which are done with keyboard on the album with our guitars. And that means the songs are still long as fuck! We played three songs at the Krakfest and then our time was up, that was cool, because Toby announced the last song after we have played two. But the last song (disappear) took fifteen minutes and made up half of the set ;-)
important was Markus Aschenbrenner for the creation of the record? He produced
it and was also responsible for keyboards, samples etc., so would you say he's
kind of a sixth band member?
Andy: He was very important in the recording progress, but he is not our keyboard player. We came up with ideas doing some stuff with keyboard and he just did it. He knows how to work with effects and how to use all that shit you can find in a studio. There are also some parts done by Xandi, for example the piano on “you’re living all over me”, I love that one, and some things are done by all of us. Markus just understands us, he knows how things have to sound, he was a great help. He is also our live-mixer, so you can consider him a band member for sure.
Let's go back in time a little when ira was formed. I'm not quite sure, but I think that some of you played in Germany's very own Blindspot a.d. before? Why did this band break up and how did ira form? Maybe perhaps the sound of Blindspot a.d. and ira are quite different?
Andy: I don’t want to talk too much about Blindspot, but to answer your question: There was a time when Thomas, Xandi, Steve and I were jamming a lot in our rehearsing room without Pat (he was the singer). After a couple of weeks we all were pretty sure to go into other directions, musically speaking. I guess we were all sort of bored by Grindcore and we just wanted to play different kinds of music. Thomas and I have played in alternative Bands before Blindspot, so it was kind of going back were we came from. Pat didn’t like the new stuff and left. While we were writing and recording new stuff Toby joined the band. He is an old time friend of mine and Thomas and I started playing music with him ten years ago. We just asked him to listen to some of our stuff and he liked it. After a couple of sessions and a shitload of beer he was our singer and ira was born.
As Toby was/is active in the spoken word scene I'm curious how you chose him as a singer for ira?
Andy: As I said before, he is an old friend of mine and we’ve always been in contact. I followed his activities in the spoken word scene for years and I really appreciated what he was doing. So after Pat left the band we wasted no time and asked him to join us.
How about your connection with Fear My Thoughts? They get "special thanks" on the credits of "The body..." and I think you played a couple of shows together with these guys, right?
Andy: Oh man, we love these guys!!! We have known them for years and we’re always having a good time with these bastards. We both really appreciate what we are doing though we are the better looking band for sure. But I have to tell you: Don’t judge them by their ugliness, listen to their music, they will fucking blow you away and they are one of the best live bands around. I hope we will play with them again pretty soon.
When I first saw the title of "The body and the soil" I felt reminded to that old Sisters of Mercy song "Body and soul", but probably that's not what you had in mind when you chose the title for the album?
Andy: I guess I shouldn’t say too much about the lyrics or the title, because we think both should be interpreted by the listener. But the title is definitely connected to the lyrics and also to the artwork. As you can see there are a lot of landscapes on the artwork, Toby thought it would fit if you replace the “soul” by “soil” and there you go: “the body and the soil”.
Why aren't the lyrics included on the album? I could imagine your singer Toby has lots of interesting things to tell in his lyrics, so why no lyrics?
Andy: Yes, he has. I love the lyrics. The problem was the artwork. We didn’t want to put the lyrics on the beautiful handmade collages by Henning Barth, a very good friend of the band. We would have destroyed both, the effect of the pictures and also the effect of the lyrics. That’s why we decided to put the lyrics on the homepage. I guess the next time they will be integrated into the artwork.
How do you like the Bodensee area where you apparently come from? Any cool bands from that area worth to be checked out? And what about the scene down there? When I'm not completely wrong the legendary Regret came from this area, too?
Andy: We really enjoy living where other people spend their holidays. It’s beautiful in the dirty south, it’s like Malibu, but instead of the beautiful girls we have cows (to each his own, haha - Stefan). There are some cool bands: “the laybacks”, “come closer”, “desiato”, “the hangups”, and “the mooncookies” just to mention a few, sorry if I forgot someone. Yeah, you’re totally right, Regret came from here. Awesome band! I knew some of these guys. I wouldn’t say there is a scene, but there’s always something going on. Most of the time we have to drive to Zurich to see some cool shows or at least to see some bigger bands. But it’s not that far, so we’re ok.
What's your opinion about sXe? Is anyone in ira sXe?
Andy: To be honest, I don’t think too much about things like straight edge, the scene, being vegan or whatever. I can totally understand someone who’s straight edge and I respect that. I think in the end everyone is living his own life and should do whatever he or she wants to do. We are really into abusing funny substances and I can’t stand it when someone tries to preach to me, though he or she might be right. I hope you get me right, I don’t know if you are straight edge or not, but I hope you get my point (I think I do, and even if in fact I'm straight edge, I don't care if other people are not -. Stefan). Sometimes it’s just really funny to see a really fucked up guy who told me a year ago that alcohol is the fucking devil, you know what I mean? Whatever, Steve was straight edge for years, but these days he enjoys getting hammered sometimes and that’s cool. I guess Markus is still straight edge…
Please give short comments on the following topics:
Andy: There are some records I like and some I don’t. I’m not a big Bad Religion fan.
Insted reunion shows
Sometimes it’s cool if you have the chance to see a band that split up because you never had the chance to catch them live before. I would like to see Dinosaur jr, but I think they are not playing with Murph, so fuck that.
Reunions in general
Andy: It depends on the intention of the band. If it’s just about making a bit more money then fuck it. If they’re really into playing again and enjoy what you are doing then the hell yeah! Why not?
Andy: It’s a horrible word!!! There are some “Metalcore” bands I really like and there are some I can’t stand. Someone should find a new word for that sort of music! Most bands which are called Metalcore are boring as hell, sorry! But who am I?
Studying at university
Andy: I hate it!!! I’m glad when I’m done with that shit.
Being a lawyer and running a Hardcore fanzine (attention, your judging me, haha).
Andy: Sounds like fun ;-) If I wasn’t me I would love to be you!!! But it’s definitely cool to know a lawyer by now!
I think we're at the end of this interview. Did you like it and do you have any final words? Thanks for taking the time answering my questions!
Andy: I really enjoyed the interview, some interesting questions. You really got me with the straight edge one! I thank you very much for your interest in our music; I hope to see you on tour sometime! It’s been a pleasure! Take care, Andy