Interview with Mekong Delta

First of all, welcome to Lithuania. It’s a big pleasure to wait for Your concert in our country. What do You know about Lithuania and Baltic states?

Oh, not to much ( think Erik will know more ). I know that with 2 other states you are building the Balticum, that you seperate from the Russian Empire after WW1, have been annexed by the Sovjetunion after WW2 and rejected to be part of the GUS in 91, also that you got some historical roots with Finlandia. Thats it for the historic part.

Could You please tell the background of the band? How and when exactly the band was created? Who’s idea was it? Why Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta The starting of Mekong is a real funny story. I got to know Jörg Michael and I noticed that he’s got a lot of talent, so I started arranging various occasions for him to play drums, I got him involved in various projects that I was working on, so we were often together, and talked a lot about music. The thing is that he was deeply into rock music, and I was into classical things and stuff like for ex“ Yes “. We came up to discussing this, he taught me something about rock, and I taught him something about classic. One funny evening, I think it was late 1984 or early 1985, he came in with a tape by a band that nobody knew at that time. Do you know which band was that? Metallica ! He played the first song from the tape to me, it was called “Fight Fire With Fire”, and there was a rhythmical anomaly in it that’s not so common. He was deeply impressed by that, and I also found it interesting – this combination between punk and very fast rock. I said, “Of course, it sounds good, but you can do it much more complicated and better.” He looked at me and said, “OK, do it!” I said, “OK, why not?” So I took my bass and in the evenings of the following days I composed four songs within a week. Of course, they were not real finished songs, more like ideas and riffs, but I played them to Jörg, and he was so enthusiastic that he said, “Let’s go to the rehearsal room, I have to play that.” This actally was the rehearsal room of Avenger, where Peavy Wagner also was at that moment, and we asked him to play the guitar to get a better idea of how it would sound. We tried it together, and for them it was a bit strange, because I put in some more abnormal rhythms than Metallica. But Jörg is a really big talent, so he got it very fast. We played these songs, and Jörg was again amazed by that, so he said, “You must make a whole album of such stuff!” It’s he who is responsible for the birth of Mekong Delta. There have been 2 reasons for the pseudonyms. The first, very simple one, was that we all have been under contract with different companies, and after they heared the stuff everyone says this has to come out here. So to get rid of this problem we used Pseudonyms. The second one is that I believed that nobody excpect german musicians to play such things cause they all the time think that only american musicians are able to do that. No german name, no discussion. But anyhow, people should anyway concentrate on the music, not on the persons beyond. The name has direct contact to our 1st album, which deals with people in extrem situations, for example war. So I tried to find a name which was provocant and also stand for something extrem done by human, so I choosed Mekong Delta. But I had to find out that historical knowledge seems to be not very popular, most of the people do not know for what this name stands – one of the hardest massacres in Vietnam. I am quite happy that I did not go for the second name which stands on my list „Höhe 13”, the first gas attack in history. Zardoz was an other option, but was not choosen as I like to use something which was more close to the real life.

Visgi žmonės turėtų susikoncentruoti į muziką, o ne žmones, kurie ją groja.

Mekong Delta Grupės pavadinimas buvo tiesiogiai susijęs su pirmuoju albumu „Mekong Delta“, kuriame pasakojama apie žmones ekstremaliose situacijose, pvz., kare. Todėl stengiausi surasti pavadinimą, kuris provokuotų ir tuo pačiu parodytų kažką ekstremalaus, ką padarė žmonės. Todėl ir pasirinkau MEKONG DELTA. Istorija nėra populiarus dalykas, daugelis žmonių nežino, ką reiškia šis pavadinimas. O reiškia jis vienas didžiausių žudynių Vietname. Džiaugiuosi, kad nepasirinkau kito pavadinimo, apie kurį galvojau – HÖHE 13. Tai – pirmoji dujų ataka istorijoje. ZARDOZ nebuvo pasirinktas, nes man labiau patinka tai, kas arčiau realybės.

What are the main influences of Yours (music, books, films, …)?

Main influences, hmm. Would say expressionism ( Prokoview, Schostakowich etc. ) and modern concert guitar ( Britten, Walton, Brouwer etc. ) stuff. Furthermore a big portion of 70 giants like, Yes, Genesis, E,L & P and so on.

Religion?

Religion ? Before I start with that lets simply go for a sentence of Lennon : „Imagine there is no religion...........................” Things like this should be discussed if one sit together, to complicate and the riscs of missunderstandings are quite high if you do it in an interview like this.

You are not only the ones who create a very sophisticated metal music but also You interpret classical one. Why? What composers are the best for You and why, f. e., You’ve chosen Mussorgsky.

Mekong Delta It is the fact that Mussorgskies harmonies and composing was way above his time, normally such music was done while the expressionism. I love things which are way ahead their time, you need a lot of courage to do this if no one really understand what you are doing. On the other hand for example “ The Hut of Baba Yaga “ was like really composed for a rockgroup and - from the technical point of view- was not to complicate to play, so it actually was a good piece for first exeperiments in adapting extreme classical music.

What he did with harmonies was incredible in his time. If you read to what Rakhmaninov and other guys said about the music he was making, they at least said it is bullshit. But it’s not bullshit, it was a vision. I like those kind of harmonies so much, that’s what I like the most in the works of all Russian composers. If you listen to a good Russian composition, especially played by a Russian orchestra, you can hear this vastness of the country. Got no favorites at all, I am open minded for all kind of interresting music.

One of the best albums of Yours is conceptual “The Music of Erich Zann”. What was the main idea behind the album? What inspired You?

Mekong Delta The idea behind was to cretae an concept album that was quite different to those already made. As I love Lovecraft, think he's a great writer of fantastic literatur, much better as for example Poe, I got the idea to transfer this tiny little story of Zann who tries to fight the evil with his music to save our world into nowadays. Our whole story is a big metaphor. If you read deeply into it, you will find a lot of references to what is happening in our world today. Once again it was Peavy who was handling the lyrics, I explained him the story and we start to transpose it into the present time. While sitting together with some beers, we decide which parts we could put into present time, and in our story Erich Zann is fighting against the media, lies and all this shit.

How many side projects do band members have, could You name them and tell a little bit more about them?

Oh, thats a good questions. All of them are quite busy with side projects, especially Alex, our drummer who also represents several drum companies worldwide.

Which album Yourself You consider the best and why?

I am satisfied with all albums done so far and could not make a kind of top 3 as I like them all the same. Each album was the maximum possible at the time we recorded it.

“I, King, will come…” Was it a messianic message to the humanity, or just an irony? What message do You carry with Your music?

Mekong Delta This songs mirrors the process our protagonist went through. While he tries to fight the evil as already mentioned in 7, he is going mad recognizing the ignorance and stupidity of most humans ( a sad feeling what I unfortuatenitly have to share with him ). So he got the feelimg that he and only he alone is able to save mainkind, so he got the feeling to be a choosen one. The message everyone has to find by himself as their is lot of room for interpretation, depends on the way one see it and which background you have. Žinią kiekvienas turi surasti pats, nes yra daug vietos interpretacijai. Viskas priklauso nuo to, koks jūsų požiūris ir išsilavinimas.

What are Your plans for this year? Maybe You already work with a new album?

Mekong Delta We got a lot of live shows throughout Europe this year, so we are quite busy with that. On the other hand I already work on the re – arrangement of the classicals songs from „Visions..” and the complete arrangment of „5 Fragments for Group & Orchestra”, where already 2 Fragments have been placed on „Lurking Fear”. As you can simulate an orchestra much better nowadays, I like to release those compositions again end of the year. We are also planning a live DVD which will content parts of different shows and also will include the old songs we play on live as a new studio version ‘cause a lot of fans asked for this.