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General Fiasco: "Irish sounds more charming..." – und das sind sie wirklich!

ivgen0General Fiasco sind eine junge fetzige Band aus dem Norden der irischen Insel. Den frischen Wind bringen sie auch definitiv von dort mit auf die Bühne. Vor dem Konzert im winzigen MTC traf unruhr Sänger Owen und Drummer Stephen eher "under stage", denn im MTC geht es steile Stiegen nach unten... Auf witzige und nette Art erzählen sie von ihrem Umzug in die Hauptstadt, der irischen Identität, den Ideen für die Songs, und finden immer selbstbewusst und schlagfertig einen Kommentar, auch wenn dieser mal sein kann: "There is no answer...". General Fiasco sind ein offenes Buch, in das hoffentlich noch viele Kapitel geschrieben werden.

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General Fiasco are a young upcoming band from the North of the Irish Isle. The fresh wind from there they definitely bring on stage. Before the concert in the tiny MTC unruhr met up with singer Owen und drummer Stephen rather "under stage" because in the MTC you' re going down steep stairs... In a witty and sympathetic way they talk about moving to the capital, the Irish identity, ideas for the songs, always finding a self-confident, adroit comment – be it: "There is no answer...". General Fiasco are an open book, into which a lot of chapters will hopefully still be written.

To start with your name: I've read that it's a mix of two earlier ideas?
Owen: Yeah, we just – like – had a pile of names that weren't very good – one of which was General Music and the other was The Morley Jedarjack Fiasco – and my mom put the two together.
Stephen: Or so the story goes…
(laughing)

What meaning could it have?

Owen: We like the name but there's no military or political meaning behind it.
Stephen: Just sounds nice. People seem to think it's easy to remember.

It seems to be quite negative – fiasco?
Stephen: But we're not!
(laughing)

ivgen1Of course not! How often have you been to Germany and how do you like it?
Stephen: We've only been here before once and did four shows.
Owen: I think five.
Stephen: First two shows have been great, really surprising. There were many people. The food is good and of course we like the beer!
(laughing)
Owen: The first time we came there was snow and ice. In Hamburg I remember particularly the ice on the ground and now the sun is spreading in the trees, it's a lot nicer.

So, your home country is Northern Ireland? I was there in 1992, there were armed British soldiers and I've got no idea what it is like now…
Owen: It's a very laid-back place, it's cool. Belfast has got a very good music scene and Derry as well. And it's nothing like it was.
Stephen: There's no trouble.
Owen: There's a few cavemen still, with the old style of thinking, doing the odd thing, but you can walk along the street just like in every city.

We're a bit away here in Germany and sometimes you're being called an Irish band. Is that OK for you?
Owen: I think, people kind of respond well to saying you're from Ireland, outside the UK or even within the UK.
Stephen: It just gives you something different, not many bands have come from Northern Ireland. You could be from Scotland and still be called a UK band or a Scottish bandOwen: It makes no difference to us.
Stephen: Maybe Irish sounds more charming.
(laughing)

When you left your hometown Magherafelt (and here I learn how to say it correctly with a "h" sound), what did you leave behind and what's different in Belfast?
Stephen: Where we're from is about 60 kilometers from Belfast, you now, it's like a bus journey. We just moved on, got some jobs and concentrated on the band. It's a better music scene and better town to play gigs. It's just nice to move away, out of our parents' homes.
Owen: Belfast is a really cool place and there's more things, we can indulge our interests. We were sort of stuck. When we were home, we just practiced.
Stephen: We lived in a really rural area with not a lot going on. You can go out weekends but nothing happens during the week.
Owen: Most of the schools, universities and stuff are in Belfast, so everybody is there.

ivgen2I've read a lot about your topics and know the record but still I would like you to describe this.
Owen: We just wrote about things that we can relate to more so directly, like personal experiences with certain things and friends and family and stuff, it's all genuine. We didn't decide we'd write a love song or a rock song or a pop song or whatever, we just write about the things that sort of affect us, which probably most bands do. And we're trying to keep it honest and not contrived. It's popular in the UK – a lot of electro music and the content seems to be about night clubs and discos…
Stephen: There's not a lot of substance.
Owen: Yeah, it's lacking some substance in it. A lot of it feels superficial and kind of – there aren't many bands making honest music, you know, they're writing songs in that style to be cool but it's not what we're into.

What can you say about the cover of Buildings, your album? There is this guy with the bunny ears…
Owen: There's no real reason to the guy having bunny ears.
Stephen: We just liked it. It's some kind of dark and sinister, seems slightly sinister.
Owen: The songs have got a dark undertone and this guy is just staring out of the window, he's not looking at any thing. He's in a bad place but the bunny ears have sort of dressed it up a little bit. There's no deep meaning behind it.
Stephen: We have started the rumour among our friends that it is in fact one of our managers…

If you had to tell the story of your current single "Ever so shy" in a narrative what would it sound like?
Owen: The song is about feeling a little trapped in routine, maybe drinking too much and partying too much  and sort of relying on alcohol to kill time and have fun and also to connect with people.
Stephen: It doesn't
advocate drinking, it's quite scathing, cause where we come from, people tend to just get drunk a lot just to meet people and speak to people. A guy can't like take a girl on a date and be sober. It's a little like a crutch to people, they can't go out and have normal night without getting really drunk.
Owen: It's being aware on how dependent we are on alcohol and how destructing it can be. That's pretty much it: "Ever so shy" is not being fit to express yourself without having the alcohol to give you the courage.

In what mood or situation did you write "Sinking Ships"?
Owen: I was just sitting in my living room. The song would appear to be about relationship and stuff but it was many things going on at the time, and the song is about that it's easier to digest if you see it that way. I sat down with my acoustic guitar, playing and it sort of wrote itself. As long as it took to play it took to write – if you know what I mean? Just a few minutes. I remembered the lyrics as soon as I played it. it just happened all at once and really quick.

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There's this song on the album… Can you answer this question: "Does the rebel get by?"
Owen
(laughing): There's no answer.
Stephen: It's an ongoing question…

How could the rebel get by?
Owen: Uhmmm, I think it's a hard song to explain. The topic of the song is quit dark and  ach – it's about someone putting themselves in a situation where they're bringing a lot of bad vibes on themselves, and it's their own stubbornness that is making them feel so bad whereas they should really be paying attention to what they're doing, and that they're actually happy to do what they're doing.

Which topics do you still have in mind for songs?
Owen: I guess, now we've kind of been touring for like a year and a half straight, and whenever you leave, you leave a lot behind, and I think some of the next songs we'll be writing, we'll probably pay attention to what you leave behind and sort of the distances. Probably again feeling trapped in a certain situation…

ivgen3Which band would you like to play with although you have already played with many well-known bands?
Owen: Yeah, we've played with lots and lots of great bands.
Stephen: I'd love to play with the Foo Fighters…
Owen: Yeah, Foo Fighters or Jimmy Eat World…
Stephen: …or Weezer.

So these also influenced you?
Owen: Yeah, absolutely. They're bands we really love. I guess, we liked sort of American rock bands more so than the UK bands when we were learning the guitars and stuff. There were more American bands we were into. So this is what we like.

Can you say why?
Owen: I don't know why, there's some sort of message…
Stephen: There's energy. Also the image of a lot of these bands is quite pleasing and nice and kind of sunny whereas a lot of UK bands have grey videos. We get a lot of rain, we don't see a lot of sunshine so you watch that on the TV and kind of miss…
Owen: … a bit of colour.
Stephen : So as a 12 or 13-year-old you see Foo fighters or Chili Peppers or Guns 'n' Roses and you think…Owen: That rocks!
Stephen: …and you don't ever care more about music than you did then.

What goals do you have for the future?
Owen: I'd quite like this record to be successful and get to the state to make another album. I would love to play big rooms, if you could say like a thousand people in the UK by the end of the album cycle and whatever hit elsewhere, that would be amazing.
Stephen: We'd like to be as successful as we can be. It feels like it is getting better, shows getting bigger, we're writing better songs, we're playing to more people. I think, if you're playing in a band and you say you don't wanna do that, then you're a liar. Make a career out of it, if possible.

Are there any alternatives?
Stephen: Go and start another band…
(laughing)

ivgeneralbandWhat do you think your fans would like or should know about you?
Stephen: We're not really interesting people.
Owen: There's nothing like 'This is something you need to know!' We're quite shy.
Stephen: We don't have any real interests outside of music.
(laughing)

I found different lyrics versions to your songs.
Owen: I've a very bad pronunciation in  a lot of the songs and people don't know most of the lyrics.
(laughing)
Stephen: I got the album and I was like 'Wow!'
(laughing)

How can it be like that?
Owen: It must be from Northern Ireland!
(laughing)

Während die Vorband The Dashwoods aus Bremen spielte, traf ich den General Fiasco Drummer im Publikum. Stephen äußerte seine Begeisterung über den guten Sound, der ihn interessanterweise an eine Belfaster Band namens The Fools erinnerte. Nach der energiegeladenen Show mit einer aus dem Ärmel geschüttelten Zugabe, für die nach den letzten beiden Knallern "Ever so shy" und "Rebel get by" kein Hit mehr zur Verfügung stand, versuchte ich dieses Rätsel zu lösen und Owen erklärte mir lachend: "We don't do encores back home but I'll keep it in mind!" Aha, da brauchen sie sich hierzulande tatsächlich keine Sorgen zu machen! Ich verabschiedete mich nach kurzem Plausch mit dem Hinweis, dass ich noch einen weiten Weg nach Hause hätte, woraufhin er grinsend erwiderte: "Me too." Recht hatte er! Ich sag nur: schlagfertig und noch lange nicht fertig...

Link zur CD-Review "Buildings"