Thanks so much to Péter Palátsik for the interview! The Legendary Bang, well, they are legendary in my book! They were a fantastic band from Itzehoe/Hamburg in the late 80s, early 90s, that released a couple of singles on Marsh-Marigold, both of them truly fantastic. Fast guitars, frantic guitars, great energy, and catchy lyrics mixed with boy and girl vocals, were their trademark. They should have been big! Enjoy the interview!
++ Hello Péter! How are you doing? Whereabouts in Germany are you these days?
I live in Berlin, which supposedly is the coolest city in the world, but honestly since I stopped going out much, I can’t really tell anymore. I see many tourists who seem to enjoy themselves very much. No, honestly, if you think about music, Berlin is maybe not the most vibrant place to be. Berlin is all about fashion, art and maybe clubbing.
++ How did The Legendary Bang start? Was it your first band?
Phew, let my try to remember. It’s such a long time ago. I guess it all started with the C86 sampler and the Smiths breaking up in 87, or so. Jens, Martin and me, we were schoolmates and I guess, Jens maybe had the idea to form a band.
Maybe you also need to ask him these questions. Jens was always the one documenting everything we did with the band, also having the idea and the urge to record the first sessions on tape and trying to sell them on the school yard. He always had a very good sense of marketing.
++ Who were the members? How did the recruiting process work out?
First it was Jens, Martin and me and two other friends. They left the band soon, though, as soon as we started to actually play instruments, play more gigs. It took several tapes with weird noisy songs that sounded more like BIG FLAME on drugs than real music.
When I moved to Hamburg and met Oliver from Marsh Marigold, the whole thing became much more serious and when Britta and Sandra joined the band, we actually only then really became a band.
++ Where does the name The Legendary Bang comes from?
You should ask Jens, he knows the answer, I don’t really remember, haha!
++ How did you find out about indiepop? Who would you say were the main influences of the band? Just out of curiosity, were you big fans of The Wedding Present?
I started listening to THE SMITHS, when I went on a school trip to England in 84, or 85. They were a revelation to me as much as bands like ORANGE JUICE, THE GO-BETWEENS or THE PALE FOUNTAINS, AZTEC CAMERA, THE STYLE COUNCIL, etc. But the C86 sampler was like a bible to me. The last song on the record was My favourite dress by THE WEDDING PRESENT and that was the moment I thought: “I want to play music!” I started to learn how to play guitar and because it was so difficult, I was actually mostly interested in playing very, very fast!
So, yes, the WEDDING PRESENT were a major influence. Still, when I listen to early Weddoes, it gives my the chills of pure excitement.
++ Those late 80s, early 90s, in Germany seem to have had lots of noteworthy guitar pop bands. Why did you think that happened? What do you think triggered that?
Good question. Maybe it started with BERND BEGEMANN and his band DIE ANTWORT or with the FAST WELTWEIT cassette sampler. Suddenly from everywhere bands popped up and played wonderful music. At those times everyone wanted to be in a band. Strangely enough not much of it is still left. Most bands are forgotten. Who still knows DIE FÜNF FREUNDE, although I still believe, they are until today the best German pop band, ever!
++ How was it like in Itzehoe? Were there any other bands there? Did you ever move to Hamburg?
Itzehoe was hell and I always wanted to leave as soon as possible. In retrospect we had a pretty fun time, though. I guess, especially Jens, Martin and me, we made the best of it. And having a band was like being in a gang, or so. Than, after high school, I was the first one who moved to Hamburg, because I started studying. There I met Oliver Goetzl at a GO-BETWEENS concert and we immediately connected. He was very upbeat and talking about his label, selling records from a plastic bag. He then listened to one of our obscure tapes and wanted us to record a 7″. Oliver actually was the very first person who said that we were good, haha! Until then we were just hanging out in Jens’ bedroom, torturing our instruments and screaming nonsense over pure noise and silly beats from a Roland TR-303.
++ As follows from the fact that Germany is not known as a bastion for indiepop or the kind of music that Marsh-Marigold would release, how did it feel coming from a town like Itzehoe, and then being known the world over, at least in the indiepop scene?
We didn’t feel special or anything, at least not for me. I just wanted to get out and I also didn’t take the whole band thing too serious. Like I never wanted to be a musician, I always wanted to make movies. Actually the first time I met some very nice Japanese guys at the last Sarah-Records event who not only knew our band but also where totally excited to meet me, while HEAVENLY were playing on stage, I realized for the first time that maybe some people out there actually may have liked what we did.
++ I read that even before signing to Marsh-Marigold, you were already friends with Oliver. How come? Did you go to Hamburg often?
As I said, I met Oliver at a GO-BETWEENS concert. SO, please see above.
Meeting Oliver with his spiky earring and his energy and love for music, or Sonja Commentz or Henning Fristzenwalder from DIE FÜNF FREUNDE, who both still are very close friends of my who I love dearly, was like meeting the coolest people on earth.
++ How did you get a deal with Marsh-Marigold? Was it with contracts and all, or just a handshake and some good German beer?
We never signed anything. Mainly because Oliver was afraid that as soon as Marsh-Marigold would become too big he would have to pay taxes. We also paid for the studio and the producer, who was Carol von Rautenkranz, the guy who discovered TOCOTRONIC.
++ Speaking of which, which is your favourite beer?
Haha, I don’t drink much. Since I live in Berlin, I sometimes like to drink Astra, because it’s this shabby beer from Hamburg. But I like it.
++ You started quite noisy but during time you became more and more mellow. Was there any reason behind that?
Very simple: We actually learned to play our instruments. Still Jens for example refused to play anything else than C, G or D minor because everything else was rock music in his opinion.
++ How do you remember your gigs? Were there always a big crowd? What are the ones you remember the most?
I remember we once had a smoke machine. Where was that, again? Anyway. We played in front of 10 people and sometimes more. Once we played a festival in Leipzig and the place was packed! I remember we rocked that place.
++ First 7″ was “Big Bluff”, and it’s great! Was it the first time you went into a recording studio? How was that experience?
Thanks you for the compliment. That is very kind of you. That was actually really the first time we went to a studio and the recording took ages. We also paid for the whole thing ourselves, because Oliver never had any money to pay for the studio.
Recording was difficult for us, because suddenly we had to play very exact and precise. Two things that didn’t really fit to us. I remember we had a few fights and I also remember sitting in the mixing and didn’t hear any differences. We recorded the record in one day and had, I guess two days of mixing, which didn’t interest me at all, because I could never hear any difference.
++ Your second 7″ was dedicated to “Louise Brooks”. Why? Were you a big fan of hers?
Henning from DIE FÜNF FREUNDE was always in love with Audrey Hepburn and me, I was obsessed with Louise Brooks. She had the most astonishing career, being one of the most beautiful women of her time and when she had enough of acting she worked as a salesgirl in New York. She also was a heavy drinker and married a millionaire, just to divorce him only a few months later. She just didn’t care what others were thinking of her. She even had a one-night affair with Greta Garbo and she at that time we recorded the record was my ideal of the woman I wanted to be in love with and because I had just read her biography LULU IN HOLLYWOOD, I convinced the others to pay tribute to her by naming the record after her.
++ On this record you released maybe my favourite songs of yours: “The Sound of Love”. Care to tell me the story behind this song? It’s so good!
I wrote that song because I loved TALULAH GOSH so much at that time and wanted to do something with a similar energy. Also Jens and me always talked about the perfect pop song which in our opinion had to be under 2 minutes. That’s actually why it’s so fast and has no C-part. Sandra was suffering so much playing the drum part that fast to keep the song short and if you listen carefully, you hear how much she is struggling to keep the tempo straight. I still love the song and I think it’s maybe one of the best songs, we ever recorded. It’s a sweet and simple pop song. Carol von Rautenkranz maybe had the biggest influence on the song. He totally understood what the songs needed and kept it very pure and simple. He also had the idea to tweak Britta’s voice for the background singing of the song.
++ Have you seen the “Happy” video made by a Japanese fan on Youtube? It’s really fun!! Why didn’t you make a video back in the day?
I like it a lot and am still proud of that video. I don’t know the story behind it, though. Btw. I just watched the women’s football finale and the Japanese women played brilliantly against the USA.
++ What about the artwork of both 7″s, where did you get those photos?
Jens is the master mind behind the art work. He can definitely tell you more, if you ask him.
++ Oh! and what about this… is there any secret formula to make short songs? Seems nobody can do so these days!
I don’t know, we had so many ideas and songs we wanted to play, but for example at a concert we always played with one or two more bands which left us with maybe half an hour of stage time. We actually only tried to play as much songs as possible. Also we were still influenced by Punk, where the songs can be very short as well. Especially Jens listened to a lot of Punk music. And any song longer than 3 minutes was Hard Rock and lame. An exception was playing some noisy wall of guitar sound for ages at the end of a song, just like MY BLOODY VALENTINE or THE WEDDING PRESENT. That was fun to play.
Actually at that time lots of it was sort of ideology. Short songs like in Punk music, also THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN never played a concert longer than 30 minutes – and we liked that idea a lot. A while we only played 10 songs and whenever we had a new one, an old song had to go, so we always only played the best songs we had.
++ You moved to Budapest, right? Why was that? Didn’t you miss much being in the band?
I started studying directing and screenwriting at the film school in Budapest. I didn’t give up playing music, though. With two class mates from film school we formed a band called RADIATING HAPPINESS and I played solo as ELSEWHERE for quite a while. I had written tons of songs during that period, but never recorded anything which is a shame. I still regret that.
++ When and why did the band split? What did you all do after?
The split up is a sad part of the story and I think I rather not talk about it, especially because when we met for rehearsing for this one gig at the 10 year Marsh-Marigold festival, there was suddenly this guy singing the songs I had written and sung. After I had left the band, they had continued with a friend of Jens, singing and when we rehearsed I felt like I had to beg for singing my own songs. That was sad.
++ What do you think of Kristallin’s tribute song “The Legendary Bang”?
Great song, great band! I wish them all the best!!!
++ Is there any chance that the band will ever reform? Maybe even for a one off?
You never know, although I’d be quite surprised. If we might play again, I promise we play “Sound of love”!
++ On the Twee.net there is a Legendary Bang CDR listed as “Noisepop Helden aus Flethsee”, what was that about?
Flethsee is the hometown of Jens.
++ Are there any unreleased tracks of the band still? Have you ever thought of putting together some sort of retrospective compilation?
Jens is working on something, I suppose. But there are no unreleased tracks as far as I know.
++ What are you doing these days? Do you still play music? What other hobbies do you have?
I write screenplays for movies and television and direct commercials and movies. With Henning from DIE FÜNF FREUNDE and CAMPING we were thinking of recording a bossa nova version of a LEGENDARY BANG song, let’s see what comes out of it.
For my movies I like writing music or working closely with the composer on the soundtrack. I also still have a few songs that are waiting to be recorded once. Maybe with the new techniques like Garage Band. Let’s see 😉
++ One last question, and I need some suggestions here. I think I’m going to Hamburg later this year and I want to visit another cool town around and I already knew Lübeck. Is there any other nice town worth a visit around there?
Come to Berlin and we have beer together!
++ Thanks a lot Péter! It was great fun to interview you! Anything else you’d like to add?
These were a lot of questions. If I think of anything else, I write to you.