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Interview with Hanzel Und Gretyl - Roseland, Portland, OR - conducted by Kevin Congdon - 12/7/97

Photos by Jester Copyright © 1998

Kevin: Why do you feel the need to incorporate so many different languages in your music?

Vas: I was a French major in college, so I was naturally into languages. I speak Greek and I went to Germany and learned German. It's one of my influences, so therefore I incorporate it into the music. Plus it sounds interesting; and it freaks people out, because people don't understand what your singing about and it makes them think.

Kevin: Are there any languages you haven't used yet that you would like to on your material?

Lupie: We're doing one on our new EP. What is it that we're doing?

Vas: Ancient Sumerian.

Lupie: It's like baby talk.

Vas: [something like] "Googoo gaagaa shammamma shubooboo."

Kevin: Where did you find out how to pronounce that language.

Vas: In a book. Everything's from a book. (laughs)

Kevin: Did that come across well when recording it?

Vas: It was cool; it was interesting. It's very tribalesque and ancient and futuristic all at the same time. And it's all very positive.

Kevin: Why do you incorporate so many astrological and space themes in your music?

Vas: I'm into astrology and Ginger is into the whole Star Trek and Science Fiction world. I read a lot of books about the future; books about prophecies and things like that. And so we incorporate all that into our music.

Seven: I'm kind of into futurism and that progressive vibe.

Kevin: Are you trying to get across any specific messages about the future in your music?

Vas: Yes; and I meet a lot of people who get it and come up to me with special books they have bought, or special things they have learned. There are a few people who really get it, but there are a lot of people, where it just goes right over their heads.

Ginger: And what's your message?

Vas: It's the future; things are changing. We're going to go into the fourth dimension supposedly, everything's going to be destroyed on the Earth. I don't know if it's true, this is just what I read. The mind calendar, the year 2012, all that kind of stuff. It's intriguing; it's something to think about and to read about and ponder about.

Seven: It's all about self-realization; there are many paths to it.

Lupie: And the millennium is coming and people are just collectively freaking out.

Kevin: How would you say you've progressed from "Ausgeflippt" to "Transmissions from Uranus?"

Vas: Lupie and I did the first album "Ausgeflippt" without having a band. And we never played live, so it was more of a experimental studio sort of thing, so it seemed a little more ambient. And Lupie was learning how to use the ASR10 and that whole process. Then after that, we got a band and started playing live and went on tour. So the second album "Transmissions from Uranus" was more energetic and in-your-face and focused.

Lupie: Definitely more band-oriented. More the four of us; and the next record will probably be even more so.

Kevin: What is the story of the snippets at the end of both albums where you two Lupie & Vas are fighting with each other. Are you two really that confrontational with each other?

Vas: Yes.

Ginger: It's too bad there weren't visuals as well.

Vas: Next time we'll do an enhanced-CD fight. Yes there are a lot of fights -- always fights, always stress.

Lupie: Her ancestors killed my great-grandfather, paraded his dead body around upright on a horse, then buried him standing straight up. (laughs)

Kevin: Do you find these fights enhanced the creative process?

Lupie: No.

Vas: I don't know.

Lupie: I would love to just to do a record and have it be this mellow, cool experience. I don't see why it can't be, but it just can't for some reason.

Vas: I don't know any other way. I've created with other people that were pretty mellow and it was boring. I think you need the stress.

Kevin: To try and push each other?

Vas: I guess. Because often I want one thing and he wants another thing; we fight about it and end up using both elements sometimes. Every single song we fight over.

Lupie: You can't even imagine it.

Kevin: Have you been in any previous projects?

Vas: I was in Cycle Sluts from Hell and Lupie was in that band with me towards the end. And after that band fizzled out, we started another band called the Art of War that blew up in three months time. Then we started up Hanzel und Gretyl.

Kevin: Have either Ginger or Seven been in other bands?

Seven: The Spitters, a New York band.

Ginger: I was in a band called Sulfur based in New York and our two bands used to play a lot of shows together. I'm also in a punk band called Stisisoma.

Kevin: How did you hook up with Hanzel und Gretyl?

Ginger: When Vas & Lupie made their demo, we were all working in the same bar. I loved the album and played it all the time; and I ended up getting them rehearsal space next to my space. I heard them the first day they were in that space playing live to their music; and I just ended up going over to their space, kicking down their door and started playing along with them to Shine 2001.' And that was that, I never left.

Lupie: Kind of like that Aerosmith video where RUN DMC crashes into their space. (laughs)

Ginger: Seven we actually recruited. We did start with another drummer who freaked out and went back to Canada. So we ended up grabbing Seven right out of his world.

Kevin: Who came up the slogan, "Machines good, people bad" theme?

Lupie: It was me. We just went through so many stupid people and stupid attitudes.

Vas: We just went through so many people who didn't care. And we thought these people can't stop us, so let's just get a bunch of machines, because machines will always be there when you want them to be. But there are good people.

Lupie: But now it's like machines are bad as well. They get irritating after awhile.

Vas: Everything is just fucking bad, that's our new slogan (laughs). Everything is bad and everything is good.

Kevin: Are any of you into psychic phenomena?

Lupie: Yes, Seven just gave me a really good book on that subject; ways you can meditate and see energy fields and other insights.

Seven: And ways to vibrate your atoms and molecules at a high level.

Vas: We're all heading towards that way.

Lupie: We're definitely into it, but some of us are a little more skeptical and cynical than others.

Vas: I think all of our songs are about the psychic theme in a very weird way.

Lupie: We definitely have songs about it.

Kevin: How have you been treated by your record label, Energy Records?

Vas: The first record was kind of rough, because we didn't have a booking agent, we didn't have anyone helping us. We weren't the label's number one priority; they tried to help us out as much as possible, but it was tough. With the second record, we became their priority, they put all their money and effort into our band, and it's been good. For as much as a small label can do, they are doing really good. And everywhere we go, everyone says that Energy is really awesome; the label is sending the posters out and making the phone calls and doing as much as they can.

Ginger: They've been really super to us.

Vas: We don't have a manager, so they're doing a lot of things for us that a manager would do, which we appreciate a lot.

Seven: The president of the company, Charles, is an awesome man.

Ginger: He opens up a vein for us every day, figuratively speaking. He is really wonderful.

Seven: He came out to see some shows in L.A. and San Francisco and hung out with us.

Kevin: Have you gotten any response from overseas?

Ginger: We're not quite there yet.

Vas: "Transmissions from Uranus" is going to be released in January in Europe through a very small distributor. We'll see what happens and hopefully we'll be able to go over there. Europe really doesn't understand us, they don't understand the record. They need to see us live, because live we are much heavier. To the Europeans, the record is more techno-based.

Lupie: We would just like to go there and see what happens, especially in Germany.

Vas: Hopefully next year we'll do a tour in Europe, that would be awesome.

Kevin: Are you working on new material?

Vas: We are working on a new EP. We finished the songs, we just have to mix it and even-up the rough edges of some of them.

Lupie: All the component pieces are there, but they all need to be processed and mixed. And we need to record Ginger's and Seven's part. There is so much to do I can't even explain.

Seven: There is going to be a cover of B52's 'Planet Claire.'

Kevin: Unit:187 just did a cover of that song on their new album.

Lupie: I just found out about that, so I don't know if we're going to do that song now.

Seven: We've been doing it as an encore at shows.

Lupie: Unit:187 must die now. (laughs)

Kevin: How do you so easily combine the more ambient/trancy material with the more aggressive songs on your albums?

Vas: We just kind of sense it, just feel it out.

Lupie: We just do the songs first and then try and figure out where they should go.

Ginger: It's almost as much fun as trying to come up with a set list. (laughs) I have a whole notebook full of set lists created after each rehearsal.

Kevin: Do you do any of the more ambient/trancy stuff live?

Vas: No, it's all in-your-face material.

Ginger: It's all high-energy stuff. Because once you stop, especially at these all-ages shows, and start going into an ambient sound, that becomes a "I have to get a drink" type of moment. You can't let them go.

Vas: We know how to get them and how to make them stay. Live we have an in-your-face, no mercy attitude.

Lupie: But there are some ambient interludes between songs.

Vas: I could never be mellow on stage, I would just rather go to sleep.

Kevin: How has the audience reaction been so far?

Vas: At some shows there are a lot of people who are anticipating us and who know who we are; they are really into it and it is really crazy. But at other shows, there are a lot of people who have never heard of us before and have an attitude. These people are all in the back, but as soon as we start playing, they come up to the front; and at the end of the night they're sitting there with their mouths open going "who the fuck are you?" and "where can I get your CD?" So it's been very good.

Ginger: It's either we start and the audience starts going crazy or they are like deer-in-the-headlights and by the end of the night we have totally sucked them in. We've been really lucky.

Seven: We've gotten great responses.

Lupie: Nobody's left yet. (laughs)

Kevin: What do you guys do when your not creating music?

Vas: I do a lot of reading, I watch TV, I clean the house. I read a lot of books with an astrological theme.

Ginger: I read like a crazy person. I'm trying to teach myself programming in what little spare time I have. I work a lot and just always try to keep playing.

Lupie: I drink coffee and stare out the window. I love doing nothing.

Seven: I read, I exercise, I eat right. (laugh) I work a lot in a bar.

Kevin: Have you noticed an increase in your popularity now that you've done two albums and been on this tour?

Vas: Yeah, it's cool to go out there and see people who actually who know you are -- to know we've created this. And it's so bizarre that these people know who we are.

Ginger: I think the next tour is going to show a lot more. Most people on this tour are like "I've never heard of y'all before." And what I'm looking forward to is the next tour where those people are coming back, and they tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on. I think we've played mostly to people who don't know who we are, because we've never been outside our little northeastern pocket of the US.

Kevin: Is it just Vas who does the lyrics?

Vas: Lupie and I share, but many people get involved.

Lupie: Even when we were doing an ambient commercial that was partially written by my friend and the by the guy who runs the label, everyone in the house where we record were putting their two cents in.

Ginger: Both albums feature drunk friends. (laughs)

Lupie: We'll take it from wherever it comes.

Kevin: Do you two [Vas & Lupie] fight over lyrics?

Vas: No, we never fight over lyrics. We agree on that part; that's one thing we agree on.

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