Such a Surge is a very well known band in their home country Germany. Some weeks ago they released an album called "Spain" under the name Pain in the Ass. The music... well it is different than Such a Surge, but you can hear that it's the same guys playing. I was curious if it would be possible to do an interview with them as both Such a Surge and Pain in the Ass are on a major label, but in the end if wasn't a problem at all (Thanks to Stefan Nietzky for arranging it). So go ahead and read what Olli, singer in both Such a Surge and Pain in the Ass had to say... (Please note that Olli answered my questions in German. I translated his answers, but if you want to read the original German version GO HERE)
Hey Olli, how are you at the moment? Anything to start this interview off with?
I always like answering good questions, so let’s see what lies ahead of me. I am one of the screaming guys in PITA and Such a Surge, and I am doing quite alright at the moment… if you disregard all these things everybody knows: Too little sleep, too many cigarettes, too little healthy complexion, too much beer, too little time, too much boredom, too little going outside, too much stress, too little looking though all the stuff, too many unimportant things to tell. Apart from that I am doing fine, thanks for asking.
The first PITA songs were released as a b-side to a single by Such a Surge, right? When did you come up with the idea of doing a full length album with PITA? What was the motivation behind it, did you come up with songs that didn't fit to Such a Surge in your opinion or what was the reason?
PITA was founded pretty spontaneous after some session recordings. Back then we recorded some songs in a small studio in Braunschweig, Germany, and just called the whole thing “Pain in the Ass”. We don’t think that we’re doing music that is much different from Such a Surge, because many of the songs could be on a Such a Surge record as well. Some songs are harder than Such a Surge songs, because at that time we were into that kind of stuff. Basically it’s just fun for us to rock out, for us it’s the same if the band is called this or that. The time was right to record “Spain”. Last year after all the shows it was clear to us that we didn’t want to do another Such a Surge record yet. PITA also was some kind of test for us to find out if we can do a record in a very spontaneous way without that much of preparation. We thought it was important for us to go through such a test, because after 10 years we wanted to know if we are able to do such thing. And if we still have the same spirit that makes us play music.
Did you ever think about using some Such a Surge songs for PITA, like re-recording them with English vocals? Will you do that in the future? And what about the other way round, can you imagine using some PITA songs for Such a Surge?
No, we didn’t think about that yet. We had songs that we recorded in both languages, but in the end there was only one version left. Our records aren’t released in English speaking countries yet and we believe that in general everyone can listen to the music even if they don’t understand the language. When we were playing in England we found out that it isn’t that important to understand absolutely every word. The people there just felt there was something going on that they wanted to share with us. I also didn’t understand every word that Rage against the Machine said back then, but nevertheless I felt the energy behind it. Maybe we will do a record with English lyrics in the future, because we always had some of those in the past on our records.
Would you say the process of writing songs for PITA is different than that for Such a Surge? If so, what are the major differences then?
The production of “Spain” was indeed different than that of “Der Surge Effekt” for example. We wrote the album in ten days and recorded it in three weeks. With Such a Surge it took us much longer in the past. It was important for us to work in a spontaneous way with PITA and not to correct all mistakes. One should hear that human beings are playing these songs and not machines. We believe that “Spain” has a certain feeling because of that, one that is not clinical but authentic and original. Certainly we will keep some of these experiences when it’s time to do another Such a Surge record.
Did any band or sound have a particular influence on you while writing songs for PITA? If so, which influences would that be?
Our influences have always been very different for all of us. In the meantime it’s such a wide variety that it’s hard to name all influences. From Sonic Youth to Radiohead back to Refused, from Public Enemy to Two Dollar Guitars, Minor Threat and Mos Def. You see it’s not easy to describe which music really influenced us over the years. These are bands that can be found in our record collections. Bands that claim they wouldn’t have any influences and that they created something totally new are megalomaniacs (At least there are indeed very few bands that are able to create something outstanding and unique – Stefan). For us as a band it was always important that everyone of us was willing to compromise but nevertheless could follow his musical preferences. That’s what we think Crossover is.
Is the PITA album a one-off kind of thing or are there plans to do a second full length?
At the moment we just think about the next Such a Surge record and the time that lies beyond that is too far away for us right now. It’s possible that there will be more PITA records, but only when the time is right for us. Anyway, we want to make as much music as possible, no matter under which name.
Did you record more songs than appear on the record and if this should be the case, when and where will they be released?
As I said, on the upcoming Such a Surge record there will be songs for sure that could have been on a PITA album as well. It’s the same band with the same five freaks that are making music. We could have released the whole PITA stuff under the name “The Surge Sessions”. You could say that the next PITA songs will be on the next Such a Surge record that probably will be released mid 2002.
Did you ever think about doing a coversong for a PITA record? Do you play any covers live?
Yes, we think about covering a song from Alice in Chains, but it’s not quite sure if we will play it on the upcoming tour.
The info sheet I received for “Spain” says that this album would be the first one to capture the live qualities of the band. Would you agree? In my eyes this would mean that your didn't achieve this with your previous records.
The record just sounds RAW, it’s similar to how we sound live. The records by Such a Surge were always very much produced and I think we never succeeded in performing the songs as they sounded on the records. We didn’t wanted that, because otherwise people could stay at home. Apart from that, info sheets are always the same: “The record is great, full of live energy” and so on. (Yeah, you’re right, these infos really sound the same. Come on record labels, where’s the creativity?! – Stefan)
On the cover of the album one can find the words "Punk Hardcore Jazz". Is that your description of your sound? To be honest, I can't see any Jazz influences, so where are they ;-)
No, that wasn't meant as a description of the music. The artwork was done by a friend of ours and we let him do whatever he wanted. He said “We can replace the Hardcore Jazz etc. thing with something different” and we replied “Just leave it that way, it looks fine”. We were handling this in a similar way as the music. Apart from that Dennis (guitar) is very much into Jazz and even has recorded an album under the name “Valentinswerder” (Whatever that means… - Stefan). Information and downloads can be found at www.verandaprojekte.de
Is PITA just a project band for you and is Such a Surge your main thing or do you see this band as equal to Such a Surge?
Everyone one of us is doing nothing but music and we are all working on some projects, but I think that Such a Surge will be No.1 for everyone of us. The other things that we are doing are just subsidiary and will always be.
Do you think you can reach a different audience with PITA? I think the people in the underground Hardcore scene won't buy your album, would you agree?
We don’t give a fuck who is buying the record. We never felt that we belonged to a certain scene. The record surely will be bought by people who like loud music. I don’t think it will be a completely different audience but the die hard fans of Such a Surge.
Now there's a PITA tour coming up. With which band(s) are you on the road? Will you play any songs of Such a Surge?
We will be supported by another German band called Herzer. Yeah, of course we will play some Such a Surge songs, but only those that fit to PITA in our opinion. Songs like “Jetzt ist gut”, “Gib mir mehr” or “Ich sehe Dich” won’t be heard on that tour.
How long do you think can you go on making music? What will you do after playing in a band?
I don’t fuckin’ know yet...
Is it difficult for you to answer an interview like this for a small mag? I think you can reach more people by doing interviews with big magazines, so do you think doing an interview with a zine like mine can help you at all?
We always did a lot with smaller magazines. You can never know if it helps you to reach more people, because that depends on the quality of the magazine (Well, then you will reach thousands of new people ‘cause my zine rules. Well, no, haha – Stefan). But I am noticing that people who are running smaller magazines often think more about a band and ask better questions (No doubt about that. I really can’t stand big magazines in which you find interviews consisting of two or three questions and the rest is useless information written by the interviewer. Who needs such crap? – Stefan), because they can choose on their own about which topics they write. There’s less business policy involved like in the big magazines.
One final question: I love Bad Religion. So I was very pleased to find out that their singer Greg Graffin did a remix for Such a Surge in the past. How did that happen? Did you meet him personally? What do you think about him and the job he did?
We recorded our first album “Under pressure” in Ithaca, New York and the producer was a friend of Greg G. He also did a Bad Religion record and that was how we came into contact. We were not that satisfied with the remix, because you expect that the song is not only mixed again but that it sounds a little bit different than the original.
I guess that's it, thanks for taking the time answering my questions. Do you have anything to add?
No thanks, I guess I said it all. Thanks you!