Interview with Rainer Lange, guitarist of the surprising German band Trigon. By Sergio Vilar
Please Rainer, speak to me about your beginnings in the music until arriving at Trigon...
My brother Stefan (bass) and I (Rainer - guitar) have been playing together since 1982. We had a more traditional Rockband named Sneak Preview playing only originals, no covers. The style was a kind of Rhythm'n Blues. We started on a very "basic" level of abilities handling our instruments... but over the last quarter of a century we've managed to learn a little bit :-). The biggest problem of this band was the massive fluctuation of the singers, leaving us often without one. In those times without a singer we did a lot of sessionwork and so laid the basis for Trigon, which was officially born in 1989 with the first CD 1990 ("Nova")
Is your music absolutely personal, where do you think that the sound of Trigon is coming from? Which are your roots?
Our music is as personal as it can be. Naturally no one lives without influences. But we do not try to sound like someone or something. We just try to open the inner barrier to let the music flow outside and then we look at the result and start to arrange this stuff, if we like it. We never had the attitude to sound like another musician or band - if this happens it is the result of subconcious influences of what we once heard. And I listen a lot to Zappa and Satriani :-) Stefan has about the same music in his player like I do, and Daniel (our drummer) is listening to the harder stuff: hardcore, blackmetal... and to drum 'n bass. Stefan and I heard a lot of Doors and Hendrix at the beginning - later we listened more to King Crimson, Frank Zappa, and Satriani. We also do like a lot of the older Krautrock German Bands like Embryo (especially their guitarist Roman Bunka), Can and Guru Guru.
How would you define your style?
We name it "Heavy-Zen-Jazz": Heavy because it is definitly no Softpop, Zen because it is a kind of a group meditation and Jazz because we improvise it.
Besides your influences, what did it take to compose this type of music?
Every practice is called a "Public Jam", because an audience is there. And we start every practice with a jam, which we do record over a CD-burner. If some of those sessions are "remarkable" we collect it on a "Public Jam"-CD. All of those which are "reproduceable" find their way in the live-set-list and are going to be arranged and practiced. But still live titles are improvised to 70-80 %. So we do not classically compose.
What do you say about the scene today?
With the major companies dominating the musical scene, there is a underground awakening. Too long a time they spoilt the music, abused the listeners/consumers and musicians. The smaller and more unknown bands have no chance but to go new ways and do their own thing. Which, in the end, is good. The progressive rock scene for example is massively growing these days and exchanging ideas. The music dinosaurs are going to die. Hopefully fast.
And as for the new groups?
It is more difficult to play live nowadays. In the beginning of our band 25 years ago we had about 35 gigs a year without being ... good. And we were paid reasonably. And it didn't take a lot of time to do the booking. But today it is a hell of a job to do booking for a band like Trigon. And I have a lot of experience. So this is the problem for the new bands. They are in the practice room and are extremely good on their instruments (much better than we were 25 years ago) but to get on the road and on a stage is really difficult if you are not a cover band. The result is that most of the projects split or end up as a cover band, or... doing computer music, DJ music. But some of them really have the bite to cling together and do their own stuff. Listen to High Wheel or Noetics. They are fantastic.
Of the 20 discs that you have recorded, which do you think is the best for you? (It is really an incredible quantity!!!)
I forgot what CD I sent you... the "Public Jam"-CDs are my personal favorites, because the music on them is unexpected and wild (I am looking for extatic moments in music :-)) the last ones are "das UMO-Mandat" and "HeiZEN". To bring those magic moments on a stage in a planned way is what we are struggling for today, but bit for bit we are succeeding. So the next live recording (I have the privilege to be the first one listening :-)) should have its own quality. The sound quality of the "Public Jam"-CDs is better since the "UMO-Mandat". That was when we bought the stand-alone CD-burner which was a big step to a better sound against the old tape recorder we used before. Which brings me to our biggest problem... money! Send us all your money and we´ll set up a big studio with an awesome sound :-). But from now on the "Pulic Jam"-CD-sound should be OK and the sound of the live recordings every time depend on the location and is of a different quality. Our studio CDs always had a very good sound ("Nova" and "Beschränkte Haftung").
Which do you believe is the most important quality of the band?
The "chemical flux" in the band, the "telepathic module" - every hour we are playing together we have an increasing understanding of the musical language of each other and we are able to "smell" what comes next. That is really fascinating for us to watch a piece of music developing while we are playing.
When you plan to record the new disc? Do you already have plans in this respect?
Yes we have plans,... but as I mentioned above .. there is a little financial problem. But probably in first quarter of next year there should be enough funds to book a studio. The CD will be named "Trigonometry" and the content will be our newest stuff. We are looking very much forward to it.
To finish Rainer, do you want to add something?
Yes, we want to say "hi" to everybody with an open mind. Please visit our homepage in 3 to 4 weeks and you will find ALL our CDs for free download there. All of our music has the free open audio licence - so you can copy it freely as much as you like. You can change it, play around with it (there are four projects from which I know that use our music as a basis for computer music) and broadcast it. You can even earn money with it... if you ask us before and give us a part of the income.