From Aural Innovations #41 (October 2010)
Polytoxicomane Philharmonie are a pretty amazing psychedelic jazz rock band from Germany. They have released three regular records (all double LPs) and one 7" picture disc. They really appreciate that the LP-CD is a piece of art as well and all of their releases have had amazing artwork, with cool foldouts for the CDs, interesting stories, etc. The band's latest release, Go Ape, out on the Nasoni label, is probably their best record ever. I really loved the Drosophila Road release as well. I recently caught up with band member Wum to learn some more about this great secret of the German underground!
Scott Heller (SH): When did the band form and what other bands were you in before that lead to this gathering of unique personalities?
Wum: In the 90s Polytoxicomane Philharmonie has been an open platform for experimental music. People met in a little house in the countryside, surrounded by woods, mixed chemistry with biology, physics went down on its knees and religion turned away with disgust. Various musicians, also those who thought they were, went out and in. There was no strict line-up and no solid musical repertoire but jamming and jamming with delight. Everything was allowed that was taboo in other bands! A hardcore crystallized, though everybody played also in other bands. Pure incest! In the new century "PP" started to make it urgent. Jamming was watered by rehearsing.
SH: How does one go about composing the music and who comes up with the cool stories and strange lyrical themes that are interwoven into your music?
Wum: Every musical idea is becoming maltreated until it deserves being called ludicrous. The words are shamelessly stolen from the nightly dream-theater and are inspired by the great pioneers of surrealism. The band practices democracy and tries to keep the Geneva Conventions in their cooperation.
SH: If you were going to play some cover songs, what do you think they might be?
Wum: Stimulated by Arf-Society and Nasoni-Records we created our very own psychedelic version of Zappa`s Green Genes and Peaches en Regalia. We still carry them around like the Arc of Covenant. Besides we´ve got enough to do with imitating ourselves!
SH: You do not ever tour and do not play live very often. It must be quite a cool experience to see you live. Please tell us about a live show. Do you do any live improvisation?
Wum: Well, the musical landscape completely changed in the last 10/12 years. Playing live is becoming more and more a losing business for a lot of bands. You need a civil job to survive and your leisure is limited. Some of our songs run wild in so called free parts, where there's no fixed structure. Again and again it is a loved adventure. Improvisation and structure have to alternate. Just like life: grasping and letting go.
SH: The latest record sounds a bit GONG inspired or is it just me? Did you hear the latest GONG record 2032?
Wum: We have seen GONG last year on the "Herzberg-Festival" - still amazing what they do, but we don´t know their last record - not yet!
SH: Please describe how a new PP record comes to life?
Wum: It's always different. Psycho Erectus still smelled like a project and at Drosophila Road we finally mutated into a band. Go Ape however is the record one always wished to create. A double-album with two faces: one for day and one for nighttime. We constantly have the desire to create a complete-work-of-art - this to accomplish takes time and effort. Everything has to be connected with everything - our music, the graphics of Alex Kraus and the adventures of "Ned Buskii" by Ahula Tinga, wrapped and carried in a neat package. In our modern times it´s necessary to switch down the ego to make small groups of like-minded people work. We feel like in the tradition of the Surrealists and the Beat Generation. Who knows how this will be continued…
SH: Does the band rehearse on a weekly basis or do you all live far away and only get together to rehearse before a concert and when putting the music together?
Wum: We rehearse 2 times per week. Twisted beats have to be practiced and crazy arrangements have one big enemy - Alzheimer!
SH: Do you record in a professional recording studio or do you do the recording sessions in your own studio-rehearsal place?
Wum: Here everything happens as we decide it for ourselves. We have some equipment and a little know-how. All happens in a bunker. This simply derives from tradition. Already in the past, people met in air raid shelters, however rather to seek shelter from what happened outside. Today, bourgeoisie rather prefers to know our Faustian art squad kept well inside these walls. Well, times are a changing.
SH: Do you often go see live concerts? If so, what were the last bands that you saw live? Do you find it inspiring to see a great band play live?
Wum: For sure it´s very inspiring, but to our regrets many people we'd like to see are already have gone.
Each one of us has different favourites, but also some in common:
Fishli - Gong 2009, Calexico 2005, Nektar 2003, MAN
Emir - Mike Stern 2010, Billy Cobham 2009
Wum - Anathema, Porcupine Tree 1994, Marillion
Matelot - Wayne Shorter, Ernie Watts 2009
Onkel - Colloseum 2007, Sun Ra Arkestra 2009
SH: What do you see in the future for the band?
Wum: Stinky, rich and famous! We're quite close to the first point. On the less used paths of rock music there are to be found some interesting creatures with gigantic ears. So to say the infected, which to reach would be perfect!