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On The Road For The Record: Klaus Johann Grobe

Comprised of Sevi Landolt and Dani Bachmann, Klaus Johann Grobe is the Swiss pop band whose German lyrics and disco beats have graced us since 2011. This past Tuesday, on the second night of their ongoing European tour, we sat down with them in the green room of Paris’s rock club, Super Sonic, to chat about their upcoming US tour, crime podcasts, and how headphones might be the only form of privacy on the road. Tomorrow they’re hitting Rotterdam, and in May they’ll be back in the US after three years. 

What would you say is the biggest misconception about being on tour?

Sevi: I think people always imagine it’s quite romantic; driving so many distances, and seeing so many different places. But to be honest, most of it is just boring; boring and exhausting. You don’t have time to do anything, you drive and you wait.

Who are you currently traveling with?

Sevi: In the van, there’s the band, which is Dani and I – we are basically “Klaus Johann Grobe.” Then we have a bass player with this us, a keyboard player, a sound engineer, and sometimes a tour manager. So five to six people.

How has this tour, so far, differed from your past times on the road?

Sevi: Hard to tell, we only just started yesterday. The mood always differs right from the start, and this one feels really relaxed. Everybody is really happy and comfortable; I think especially compared to the last one. We also eat less, we ate so much on the last tour because it was so crazy. Now we stopped a little bit, so it makes you feel more awake.

How do you mentally prepare to start this run? What have you done in the past week?

Sevi: Trying to finish as much work as possible, so you actually can relax on tour. We all work part-time on some other stuff as well. Basically, that’s it. And me personally, I just like to have two quiet nights before I go on tour with my wife, or with friends, or just alone listening to music; just to calm down a little bit.

Dani: Try to do everything you can. The last 48 hours are just struggling, trying to do everything you need, and then getting to the bus with not enough sleep. Then you start the tour.

What city are you most looking forward to on this tour?

Dani: Well for me, it’s stupid to say, but Paris is the highlight. I’ve got friends here, the last concert was very special. Paris has actually always been very special. It may sound stupid to say that in Paris, but it is for sure. Luxembourg, as well, because we played there two or three times already at the same venue. The hosts are almost our friends now, and we love the place. It’s great to come back there. These two places are definitely special, but each city has its own special thing in it. The cool thing about touring and playing concerts is you never know what to expect; it’s always changing. You arrive somewhere, and you think, “Oh, that’s going to be great.” And in the end, it’s not, or the other way around.

What are the different kind of crowds that you encounter? Bands I’ve asked in the past have mentioned that in some cities, in SF, for example, everyone seems too cool and is standing in the back of the room, but then in other cities in Spain, for example, people are screaming and trying to jump on stage.

Sevi: I mean those two are the classics: either nobody’s interested in the music or they’re really into the music, and come up front.

Culturally, have you noticed that different countries respond differently?

Well it’s different from country to country, and from city to city within the countries as well. Basically, you can say, Switzerland for example, is pretty careful, they don’t want to expose themselves much in the audience. The UK, for example, is always really warm. It’s the same in The States as well. They talk to you before the show, they talk to you right after the show and they’re really open. In Germany and Switzerland, it’s more cold, but also really nice.

What are the top five things you have to pack in your suitcase?

Dani: You mean special things?

They could be practical things too – whatever comes to mind.

Dani: I count my underwear.

Sevi: Yeah, but then again, if I lose my underwear, I can just buy some more.

Dani: Well, the instruments of course. Without the instruments, it’s going to be difficult.

Sevi: Of course like everyone today, you need your cell phone, and you need your computer, the charger. I wear contact lenses, so the solution, a spare pair – that’s at the top of the list. I definitely need headphones – it helps you when you’re driving in the bus, to kind of get a little bit of privacy when you don’t hear anything. That’s important to me at least.

Dani: Right now, we are just answering the necessary things, but it would be a cool idea to have some special things. I never thought about that.

What do you like to do when in your downtime? Books, movies, podcasts, etc.

Sevi: You’re a podcast kind of guy.

Dani: I am? Just news podcasts actually; crimes.

Any recommendations?

Dani: I love all the old school stuff. Swiss ones. I definitely recommend Dickie Dick Dickens to everyone, the world be a better place if everyone would listen to Dickie Dick Dickens.

When you finally get to go home after touring, where is your favorite place to go?

Sevi: My studio, well not the music room, but the other one; the creative space, which is a huge industrial room. That one is good to calm down and feel at home again. Usually places without too many people: no bar, no venue, or anything like that.

Dani: Anything near the water actually. We’ve got a great lake, we’ve got a river close to my house.

Last question – what advice do you have for musicians that are about to go on their first tour?

Dani: Don’t expect too much.

Sevi: Yeah, don’t expect too much. Be quick and fast, and don’t be nervous, that’s important too I think. Stay calm, because oftentimes, there are too many people around you that are nervous for whatever reason, all the time. Be close to yourself, it’s alright, you’ll make it. And don’t take yourself too seriously.

Dani: Stay open as well. Whoever travels, not only with music, just be open to other ways of doing things.

Images courtesy of Fiona Feder

Stay tuned to Milk for more from the road.

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