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interview : "If you start to calculate, you lose your identity"
"Wir sind Helden" is celebrated as the German pop-rock band. In 2003 the band achieved platinum status with their album "Die Reklamation" and since then has been awarded the most important German music prize, the Echo, several times. With their last album "So and so" they are now going on a European tour.
Who are "We are Heroes"?
MARK: "We are heroes" are first of all real and four completely normal people. Three guys and one guy, boys and girls, who have always enjoyed making music and have had an incredible time together ever since.
Do you reinvent yourself with every new album?
JUDITH: I have the feeling that with every album, at least musically, everything has grown very much together. There is no break between our albums. We have consistently followed through with the things that we have been doing since the first record, "Complaint". Some details have changed because tastes change too. But we do like - let's say - hooking up. When it comes to choosing a single, we are happy to choose the one that is not suggested first.
So is it your intention to make music contrary to expectations?
MARK: You have to be careful not to disappoint the expectations. But there is more to it than that. Now that we've reached a certain point in our musical career, you have to be careful. We are already aware that with every single that we decouple we draw a certain amount of attention to ourselves. Because the radio stations have a great fear of loss, it is not so easy with the variety of music. It's a big thing when we publish a political song like "Finally a reason to panic" first.
How do you manage to develop as a band after six years of existence and three albums and still keep an identity?
JUDITH: Without wanting to sound boring now, I believe that it really only works if you enjoy playing. When you are really doing what you feel like doing. And I think you lose that feeling of joy in playing when you start to think about it - Am I developing too much or not enough? - If you start to calculate, you lose your identity.
After the tour starts in Berlin, you will continue to Paris, London, Brussels and Amsterdam. Is there a different identity abroad, a different "We are heroes"?
MARK: It is already clear that we are perceived differently in France or the Netherlands than here in Berlin: we are an indie band there, an insider tip, something that we were in Germany years ago, something that we with the Time started to miss. Here we play in front of thousands of people. We've slipped into something like the mainstream here. At some point people won't care where you're from. As a musician, you can feel that you belong to indie rock based on your identity, but nobody cares. The concerts abroad are always an opportunity for us to encounter this original music scene again.
How is the response abroad when you sing in German?
JUDITH: A surprising number of Germans who live there came to our first concerts in France, for example. They then brought their flatmates with them or their friends. The next time it will be 50 to 50 percent German or foreigners and locals living there. So it's interesting that every time we come the quota slips up. And then when we sing our translated songs, people are always so happy. We call it a gift and the French think it's cute (laughs).
MARK: For me it's like this: Funnily enough, the feeling is almost identical when you play in front of thousands in Berlin or in front of a few people in Paris. Obviously you can tell: Oh, we're in a tiny club here! But we also know that from earlier. But when we play, no, it's the same magic as in Germany.
What is it like to be on stage abroad?
MARK: It's really interesting to play at concerts where the focus is mainly on the music and not on the vocals. We don't usually know it that way, we became known through our lyrics, which go with our music.
JUDITH: At most, when it comes to singing, people differ. They always sang along to whatever German they still knew. It was something like: Where is the train station? My name is Hans (laughs). The people who come to our concerts are then focused on our music. It's a lot of fun to see that the music can be transported without the lyrics. It's very funny to go on stage in a language where you know that most of them don't understand me at all. Just the sounds, and that sounds like "squirrels" to them!
How do you preserve your identity when you suddenly become famous so quickly? With the hype about German pop that has been triggered, it is surely difficult to remain the person you are and not everyone wants?
JUDITH: When I remember that time, I see us sitting in the eye of the storm. Back then it all happened incredibly quickly and luckily we had the feeling of being there every step of the way. But if we were taken out of there for half a year, our brain would have imploded ...
MARK: You have to imagine that for a year and a half, inquiries, emails, etc. came in every week. Each time with information that everything is even wackier. At some point you get used to it. And about identity: after all, it's just professional events. You still have your family and friends and that's the biggest part of the cake of the perception. That hasn't changed: the development of a band doesn't seem as magical as one would imagine.
Do you adopt a different identity when you stand in front of ten thousand in front of the stage?
JUDITH: Amazingly, not ...
MARK: You are in a different mode that you know from yourself, like maybe back then on a children's birthday party (laughs). But you practically see yourself getting down from the excitement.
As a band, do you have a ritual before every concert?
JUDITH: Yes! Actually totally crazy: the football team hug and meanwhile the circle is widening: we got three brass players and of course our band baby. My heart opens every time.
The interview was conducted by Zoé Jacob
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