After (accidentally) meeting Austria’s aspiring art rock act Ja, Panik (German for: Yes, Panic) and getting signed by the band’s very own, just-founded Berlin label Nein, Gelassenheit (No, Tranquillity), Hans Unstern and his music have attracted the vivid attention of more and more people. His lyrical texts with a touch of Poetizität (a poetic use of language) deal with escaping, with escapism. But he himself is unsure of whether he would describe himself as an escapist or not. “Maybe as a little one,” Hans Unstern says. And there’s not a lot he’s saying about his lyrics. Overall it takes him a lot of time to think and reflect – and he allows himself plenty of it.
Then again, he looses his conservation’s introversion in the moment of entering the stage. Here he fully devotes himself to his music. Hans Unstern is standing on the stage with his guitar, with his band, but in fact on his own. His long beard, a slight memento of the Robber Hotzenplotz, is covering his face. And beyond that, there’s not much one can learn about the singer of Berlin domicile. At least not through verbal communication. Perhaps, everyone needs to analyse Unstern on his or her own, interpreting, reading the music. Or just listen to it and fall for it.
Hans Unstern “Flecken” / Ja, Panik “Alles hin, hin, hin” (Video)
We are sitting in Cologne’s best, small venue, the Gebäude 9. The club is located beneath some S-Bahn rails not far away from the opulent cathedral. It’s an old, rundown building of various passages and tiny rooms, crooked low-rise ceilings. Despite his interview-crammed schedule, Hans Unstern takes himself some time. Jovially he sips Germany’s anti-cola, a bottle of Afri Cola with cherry flavour, while his eyes are wandering all over the room’s walls. Is he listening to urban life while he’s thinking?
Today, Unstern writes his own songs and creates, not only with his voice but numerous other instruments, real chanson works. Interesting and intensely forceful the lyrics‘ metaphoric hereby is, while the question, whether this figure of speech is a figure of art aesthetically effective art as well, gets merely answered by him, “I just think it sounds good.” His musical concept is nothing to put into words easily for him. “There’s a certain or as well uncertain, vague but important need, to say something or to raise a complaint. And I’ve found the way of music to convey this.”
Hans Unstern “San Simon” (ZEIT Online Rekorder Video)
For Hans Unstern this way was an important and long journey, on which he could take his music. Some of his texts were written on this small trip through Europe, where he sat down with his guitar on various, public places covering old classic tunes. That’s a form of communication, a form of freedom. Just playing on the street and pursuing one’s passion, the music. His steady, for satisfaction looking companion on the road, his wanderlust, can now be found in Unstern’s lyrics. ‘Ich würde mich gerne auch so winden, so finden, so verschwinden,’ (I would like to wind, find, disappear thus.) reads a verse of the song “Endlos Endlos” (Endless endless). To disappear from a world of égalité between economy and love? Yes, “in certain circumstances, at certain times,” Hans Unstern would call himself an escapist, too. “But I hardly concretely refer myself to things.” Well, there’s still nothing reprehensible about that.
Too, to Hans Unstern it’s way more interesting, what over people have to say about his music than him. And even less he enjoys talking about himself and his persona. Sitting over on the couch, he seems like a shy genius surrounded by walls and inconspicuousness. One likes to find out, what’s going on in his mind and so much more, but this wish gets denied. ‘Du willst die Welt vergessen gehen. Es ist dir egal was sie spielen. Du willst einfach nur spielen.’ (You want to forget the world. You don’t care about what they play. You just want to play.) – “Endlos Endlos”.
Please, see below for Hans Unstern’s upcoming, mainly German tour dates and a stream of the entire album Kratz Dich Raus (Scratch Yourself Up) , which is out via Nein, Gelassenheit / Rough Trade.
Hans Unstern & Band live
24.09. Köln, Gebäude 9
25.09. Hamburg, Reeperbahnfestival
26.09. Potsdam, Waschhaus
02.10. Hannover, Feinkostlampe
05.10. Frankfurt, Mousonturm
06.10. München, Kranhalle
08.10. CH-Luzern, Treibhaus
09.10. Leipzig, UT Connewitz
10.10. Stuttgart, Theaterhaus
21.11. Berlin, Sophiensaele
PHOTO: Tanja Pippi (All rights reserved by the photographer.)
ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Thomas Vorreyer