Starting as a punk/metal act in the late ’80s, Munich-based The Notwist has shapeshifted their way to this summer’s The Devil, You + Me. A blissfully heady extension of 2002’s Neon Golden, Devil again sublimely melds indie-rock sensibilities with an experimental spirit. What results from Markus Acher’s mellow voice, Michael Acher’s bass, and Martin Gretschmann’s programming is a kind of easy listening that nevertheless gets fans endlessly riled.
Taking the stage at Prague’s Palác Akropolis for the opening show of the Devil tour in April, The Notwist appeased the anxious crowd with an exuberant performance. The cave-like theater’s dim lighting matched a harder-edged musical vibe, as songs bordering on industrial followed those like “Where in This World,” which rumbled with bass and horn arrangements. “Day 7” and “Pilot” got the most raucous reactions, from lip-synching to drunken body-slamming. Their encore, “Good Lies,” kept fans screaming, but all good things must come to an end–and they did, as Gretschmann hoisted up his laptop, which read (in typically humble style)“We’re sorry, but we have to go.”
XLR8R: How’ve you kept busy in the six years since Neon Golden?
Martin Gretschmann: I did some [music for the solo project] Console, and film music for our friend Joerg Adolph, which partly ended up on the Console album Mono. I started a club [Rote Sonne] in Munich with some friends. And I have been quite busy with DJing (as Acid Pauli). The others did records and toured with Lali Puna, Ms. John Soda, and Tied & Tickled Trio. And the three of us formed this 13&God band with Themselves from S.F.
Was there a point that you officially broke up?
No. We never broke up or even thought about doing so. We just did what we always do in between the Notwist records. We take care of all the others’ bands.
What prompted your decision to begin working together again?
It was clear that we wanted to make a new album after we made the other records with the other bands.
Was there a prevailing mood when making Devil?
Well, quite a lot of very positive and very negative things happened in the past years. Friends got injured in accidents or suffered from diseases. All of this made its way into the music and the lyrics. But this happened unconsciously. We didn’t really have a clue at the beginning of how it would sound in the end.
What is the biggest difference audiences might notice about your tour this time around?
We play some new songs. We have a new drummer, Andreas Haberl. And for the first time in our history, we have someone on tour who will take care of the lights.