After the release of their debut album 'The Greatest Band Of All Time' earlier in the year, and a gruelling tour in the Unites States of America, Arnocorps flew over to this side of the pond to begin touring the UK.
I was curious to find out more about this madcap band, so I hot-footed it down to the Dublin Castle in London where they kindly gave me a few moments to chat with them before their gig.
After a raucous beginning that was to be repeated many times during the interview, they explained a few of the essential qualities of being a member of the 'corps, and it seems being 'ballsy' is tantamount.
You've been in the UK for a week now, how are you finding it so far?
Toten: The UK is a fantastic place, all the people are great, they are treating us very well. We're feeling the pump every night with these people. They are fantastic crowds, screaming and chanting Arnocorps. We love it out here, we're having a fantastic time.
Holzfeuer: They understand the Action Adventure lifestyle. Absolutely no question in my mind, they get it and that is what is great.
And how does it compare to playing out in the States?
Toten: San Frantastic is a pretty good place but let me tell you- we've had some crowds out here, I've come in my pants five times-
Vielmehr: In one song!!!
Toten: That may be a record right here. No doubt about it right here.
So playing live is something you enjoy, how did you enjoy recording your album?
Vielmehr: There's something special about the live Arnocorps performance, and we wanted to really capture that on the compact disc. So we recorded every song in a live setting. It was in the studio, but we all played together.
Holzfeuer: We had no partitions between the instruments, we wanted full bleed. So it was really a recreation of what we presented live. For Arnocorps the whole point is to bring the people together, finally people can participate in the ancient stories and mythology from Austria. Because before, up until now, it has only been exploited and bastardised in Hollywood and the only way people can experience these stories of heroism was watching on a screen, there's no inter-action. When they see Arnocorps, they see the heroism and ballsy studs of Arnocorps.
Holzfeuer: And they get to become a ballsy stud too. Everyone in the crowd can become a god-damn hero. They come out, they do their face paint, they wear the helmet, they wear whatever gear they need. And so when we re-created that with the album I think we captured the energy in there.
Aside from all the fun and glamour, is there anything you don't enjoy so much about being in a band?
Holzfeuer: Anything that we don't enjoy about doing Arnocorps? No, nothing. Nothing. Everything about Arnocorps is the ballsiest thing that anyone could hope to be a part of. It is like a blessing from Crom, strong on his mountain, looking down on me. I seldom play because it doesn't matter but let me tell you, I don't even need to because I have been blessed with the ballsiest band of all time.
Toten: And the ballsiest fans of all time.
Holzfeuer: Exactly. That is the best part. Coming to fantastic Britain and showing up and seeing people that are already wearing face paint just like Arnocorps. And I've got to mention, there was a guy in Newcastle who decided that he wanted to embody each character of Arnocorps. He cut his hair into a mullet like Gellend Adler. He got that helmet, just like Vielmehr Klampfe. He got sunglasses just like me, Holzfeuer. He had the face paint just like Toten and Der Wolf. It was fantastic and I couldn't believe my eyes. He was injured, so a quick shout out to him. He's ballsy, he's a stud and he got a raw deal right there.
Gellend: Get well soon!
Toten: What could possibly be wrong with Arnocorps? Nothing. Because what it is is this: imagine what it's like for us, for the members of Arnocorps being up on stage rocking for all these people in England. It's like an orgasm up here. We want to do it, we want to play as often as possible, we want to feel the pump as often as possible. And the people are here making that happen so there is nothing, nothing wrong with the 'corps.
Holzfeuer: You make a good point. The downside of being in Arnocorps is knowing that when you are onstage you are doing the only thing in the entire universe and then anything other than that is a step below. The time between shows, you know, it's kind of like, climbing down the mountain. It's like the wolf on the mountain. It's like we always say the wolf climbing the mountain is more hungry. But what does the wolf say? The wolf says that he is on the mountain top already?
Der Wolf: What happens when the wolf is hungry?
Holzfeuer: When he wants food, it's there. So we all feel like wolves on top of the mountain right now.
Vielmehr: When you are playing fantastic action adventure rock and roll the fans, they're there. They always come out - even if they don't know they're fans - they see us, we walk around, we talk to them, we explain certain things. And then they're fans by the end of the night, they're jumping off the stage, they're painting their face.
Holzfeuer: You know what's fantastic? Even here in England where people have a different accent than us, by the end of the night somehow they sound like Austrians. They sound just like us and it's -
Toten: Everyone wants to lead the ballsy lifestyle. The accent that we have here, it's very Austrian but it's also very ballsy. These characters around in the audience, they're feeling the pump, they're being action adventure rock stars. They're getting ballsier, the ballsier they get, the more the accent gets stronger and the stronger and thicker the accent gets, the ballsier they get.
Holzfeuer: And it's not so much even an Austrian accent if you think about it that way. It's more of a hero accent. And there just happened to be a lot of people that were in the heroic stories in Austria that ended up talking this way because it's the only way that you can really talk to exude your ballsiness.
Vielmehr: Sometimes on stage I'm completely unintelligible, you can't understand a word I'm saying up here because I get so ballsy that [puts on thicker, more guttural accent] you can't even hear [roars].
With being ballsy and all that, I guess that would mean your music has to be fast and aggressive?
Holzfeuer: But it's not over-doing it. You could go too far. You know, we're not the fastest band in the world because if you go too fast sometimes, you know, there's a limit. You could think of it as the tempo of heroism. You know there's a certain tempo that you've got to, you know, it's an even keel.
Vielmehr: A big part is modesty as well.
Holzfeuer: We are the greatest band of all time but we're also very very modest.
Toten: We are perhaps the most modest band of all time.
Holzfeuer: I think we are. As a matter of fact I know it. The greatest and the most modest.
And what are your musical influences?
Holzfeuer: Musical influences? Let me tell you, it's across the board. I was just telling somebody, here we are at the Dublin Castle. Madness played here. Madness, maybe not a musical influence but they are an influence if you think about their energy. They knew how to get a crowd up and moving. And I see that happening and that ska scene and we keep that alive today like no metal band can do. No punk band can do. But Arnocorps can do.
Toten: Exactly. We take influences from everybody. Because most people have something ballsy to offer in whatever, a small part or a large part.
Holzfeuer: With what we do, you can trace it back to Austrian folk music. Basically there's Austrian folk music that's amplified. It's increased in aggressiveness, the aggressiveness has to be there. And I mention the tempo, so it's a little more up-tempo than regular folk. And you can look back at bands like the Misfits out there, Danzig, even Rammstein, and even bands like Minor Threat. You might even find a bit of influence in our work.
Your album's been out since February in the UK. How have you liked the reaction to it?
Holzfeuer: It has been astounding to all of us. We cannot believe the way that people have enjoyed the album. Except for the French. Most of the French people, I don't know if it is that they have no foreheads or what is going on.
Toten: I think it's their accent. They have a hard time converting their accent to our accent.
Gellend: I don't think it's across the board with the French people there. You know, I'm sure there are some god-damn ballsy studs in France.
Vielmehr: Of course!
Holzfeuer: I mean there have been a few good French reviews and I will say to them, thank you, they are fantastic. Very ballsy. Some people have said 'This is not just a band, this is art'. What can I say? This is touching me in the heart.
Toten: Hey, that rhymes right there.
Holzfeuer: But let me tell you, all the British reviewers, for the most part, have really been great and kind and we've been getting very fantastic reviews. And just two, three days ago our Manchester show was reviewed on BBC Manchester - this is mainstream right?
Toten: For us that is unbelievable.
Gellend: Where can you go from there? Nowhere. It's the top. We're the greatest band of all time. Let me tell you.
Toten: We call ourselves the greatest band of all time and now BBC gives us ten out of ten.
Vielmehr: But we don't want to get big-headed about it of course, we've very modest but we are the greatest.
Holzfeuer: We take it to heart when they say that and we feel very lucky but we also do deserve it, right?
Gellend: It's very appropriate but again we're very thankful.
Holzfeuer: Exactly and I would shake the person's hand and actually she was a lovely lady.
Vielmehr: She was a fantastic lady.
Toten: I tried to shake other things on her. I tried to shake her up but she was not having any of it.
Holzfeuer: She was all class.
Toten: I got a little slap on the face but it's okay because it was all in good fun.
Vielmehr: She was a very strong woman, she gave a strong slap.
Toten: Let me tell you, the people in Britain, in England are fantastic because it's very, it's right there, displayed for you. You grope, right, they grope right back. It's fantastic. If you grope a little too much you get a slap in the face but it's like an eye for an eye, a grope for a grope. I love it out here. I grope as many ladies as I can, let me tell you. Because you know what I like to grope but even more I like being groped. So all you beautiful ladies out here, I got fantastic glutes right here, I've been getting my ass to Mars quite a bit lately ladies, let me tell you. It's like warm, people have described it as warm marble, that's all I've got to say. Go on, have a feel right here, have a feel
[Toten offers his bicep for a feel]
No, you're alright. Thank you.
Toten: Come on, touch it, alright.
Er, no, but thank you. Apart from the groping, have you ever had any bad live experiences?
Holzfeuer: Bad experiences in England?
Or in the States?
Vielmehr: The poor guy who got slashed. I mean it wasn't a bad experience for us, but it was a big bummer for the night but...
Holzfeuer: He got in an argument, this is serious, he got in an argument with his girlfriend. She decided to break an astray and she cut his face. He had waited months to see Arnocorps. He's a big fan. We've come all the way from San Francisco and for this lady to do this to him - He was outside, the paramedics came, he refused to go to hospital because he wanted to see Arnocorps.
And that made us feel really good but finally they forced him to go to the hospital. They stopped our show for fifteen minutes, the police came in and did interviews with everybody. That was really bad, but we finished the set and the people there were fantastic, they really came through for us because we couldn't give them the whole show but they didn't mind because they knew it was circumstantial that we couldn't do the whole thing, so Newcastle - you're all heroes!!
Vielmehr: They are true action heroes there.
Der Wolf: In Northampton they are ballsy there too.
Toten: In Newcastle they make a very fine beer there also, that I have been drunk on many times let me tell you so thank you again Newcastle.
Der Wolf: Newcastle Brown.
And what's the future for Arnocorps?
Holzfeuer: The future looks bright, let me tell you. People always ask 'why do you use sunglasses all the time?' and I say it is because the future is so bright for us. Otherwise I would be squinting all the time.
Toten: We're going to have a little cinematic adventure.
Holzfeuer: The future is amazing, we're going to be doing some fantastic videos for our songs, we can finally re-define these words of ancient Austrian heroism and folklore in a way it was meant to be said, through the six studs of Arnocorps.
Toten: We've decided on this tour we'll definitely do a second album. That is down the road, we're not going to give any hints what it's going to be but it's going to be awesome.
What about live ambitions, is there anywhere you really fancy playing, like Wacken or anywhere like that?
Holzfeuer: I think the bigger the venue the better for Arnocorps. We almost got to play a big stadium near San Frantastic and we were going to rent a helicopter to fly over the stage and we were going to drop from ropes by helicopter. And it would be great to pick up some fans like a rescue team and swing them up and bring them back onstage. The bigger the better it's going to be, it's going to be fantastic. But you know we could play in a closet like this [Holzfeuer gestures the interview room] and it wouldn't matter. The energy would still be there, we're adapting to every terrain like a real rescue team should be.
Okay, well I'm going to leave you to get ready for your gig, so enjoy it. I'm sure I will.
Vielmehr: Thank you for coming to have a chat with us.
Is there anything else you want to say to your fans?
Holzfeuer: All god-damn heroes out there.
Toten: Every one of you, if you don't think you are a god-damn hero, listen to the album, learn the words, come to an Arnocorps gig and I guarantee you will go home with at least two inch growth increase in your biceps and if not you will have at least some growth increase in maybe your ballsy ego. Right?
Arnocorps: Much raucous agreement.
Interview © 2006 Amanda Hyne
Photos from Website
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