Enid’s Martin Wiese and Florian “Alboin” Dammasch about “Gradwanderer”, Romanticism and Middle Age.
Fabrizio Garau (FG): In my opinion, “Gradwanderer” is strongly related to the German word “Sehnsucht”. Could you explain what does this word mean for you?
Florian “Alboîn” Dammasch (FD): To me “Sehnsucht” means a lot, it’s a very poetical and romantic word with a pretty dualistic character. Of course longing mainly is a kind of pain in the heart, if you long for something it’s mostly because you can’t get it (at the moment at least). Then there’s a deeper kind of longing for something you can’t even name maybe, a subtle yearning with a religious character for example. We shouldn’t forget that “Sucht” means: to be addicted to something or somebody. Mostly that’s not a positive connotation.
On the other side, at least to characters like me “Sehnsucht” has a bittersweet aspect as well — it’s like melancholy: it hurts but it also lets you feel yourself much more intensively. I prefer longing a lot compared to feelings like hate, anger or feeling nothing at all…
Nevertheless I wonder how you come to that connection of “Gradwanderer” and “Sehnsucht”… more a feeling of yours or is there a certain concrete aspect?”
FG: In “Gradwanderer” we find another (very) significant German word: “Heimat”. The Wanderer and “Heimat”… How did this theme raise your interest?
FD: We shouldn’t forget that is all Martin’s work we listen to here… but we wouldn’t lead that band together if we were so different in our minds. Long before we’ve founded Enid I’ve already had a strange love to the German romantic period, with musicians like Schubert or Schumann, poets like Brentano or painters like C. D. Friedrich — the wanderer and the home (in German indeed ‘Wanderer’ and ‘Heimat’) are two absolutely central ideas in there, not only hollow words. It suggests a kind of better world to me, I like the (imagined) feeling to strive through the country, without cars, without streets, without noise and polluted air… that’s my picture of the romantic wanderer, who strives through the country he can call his “Heimat” maybe. Still, his home is everywhere and nowhere — because he feels that subtile “Sehnsucht” we’ve just talked about.
By the way… I suppose in Martin’s lyrics “Heimat” has a metaphoric meaning…
Martin Wiese (MW): Alboîn got it quite right. Wanderer and Heimat are in a way contrary words. The wanderer leaves his home, or is searching for another one, is connected to a certain restlessness, and a very romantic metaphor with which the romantic musicians (one of Mendelssohn’s symphonies for example contains a certain form of wanderer-motive in the bass-instruments, Schubert deals with the wanderer-theme not only but most intensively during his “Winterreise”, even Schumann deals with it during some of his Lied-works) identify their existence as an artist. I use the word “Heimat” as a contrary aim, for the wanderer nearly impossible to gain. The lights the wanderer sees in the text of “Gradwanderer” are described as “Heimatzeugen”, which means that they tell from home, even though it’s somewhere far away.
FG: “Sehnsucht” has a lot to do with romantic literature, and — as the romantic poet — you are fascinated from Middle Age. The musical consequence of this are the folk/medieval (if this term is correct) parts of your album. How do you compose these parts? From where do you draw inspiration or suggestions?
MW: The middle ages and romanticism are often mixed up in some unfounded way so to speak. In fact the early romantic poets or scientists around the University of Jena during the end of the 17th century (The Schlegel-brothers, Novalis, Tieck, Wackenroder) discovered the Middle Ages as a certain kind of, let’s say mystic and fascinating period of time with a lot of dark and spiritual, vague and undefined appearances. This view is often called a romantic view and so the Middle ages became a certain romantic attitude not only by the mass of fantasy literature nowadays. To call music sounding medieval is therefore quite dangerous, cause we don’t exactly know how music sounded a thousand years ago. We can only conclude from nowadays folk-music or read studies of old folk-material during the last centuries. We can’t tell anything foundated about medieval music. Apart from the music, led by the church like the gregorianic style, the ars-antiqua and ars-nova tradition and later on well known Palestrina, we don’t know anything about the kind of music we nowadays apply to when we talk about medieval music.
What I think is that songs like “Die Seelensteine”, which is indeed a fantasy story within a form of the early-romantic ballads drive you towards words like mediaeval (the original word) or Middle Age. The music itself is influenced by folk-music and may have its origin within the Middle-Age “Minnesang”-tradition or the early Celtic music. From where now do I draw inspirations… I would say from my view to the world, which is indeed romantic. Like Alboîn already pointed out we both are persons with a kind of romantic view towards things, I’m fascinated in emotional speech, music, literature, thinking and feeling in general. All lyrics come out of this view and contain my view of things others wouldn’t even recognize…
FD: I just wanted to point… what actually has Middle Age got to do with romanticism?
FG: In relation to the previous question, have you ever considered the hypothesis to release an acoustic album? Or do you prefer to keep your eclectic approach?
MW: The idea sounds quite fascinating and may be an idea for the future. I don’t know now how the next album will sound. I have to deal with other works for now and will see what’ll come up during summer and autumn…
FD: I’d like the idea to release an acoustic album pretty much… I couldn’t appear on such an album too extensively, but nevertheless that’s a fine imagination!
FG: Talking about your eclectic approach… From a musical point of view, “The burning of the sea” is rather unusual for Enid (and for metal). How did the idea of that particular arrangement come out?
MW: Yeah, the R&B-part! I simply was interested in the form, the 12-bar blues-form. I liked the idea to transform it into the metal-style but it was rather difficult to don’t make it sound like a cliché-adaptation. Therefore the text had to be ENID-typical. The sad blues tenor helped me to form a text- and soundwise organic song consisting of contrary parts but serving the same goal so to speak. The story seems to be, by the use of some “untrue” and “unpoetic” words, quite easy-going but in fact it is not, which one will recognize while reading and listening…
FG: You have a particular, epic and haunting voice. How did you learn to sing? Are you self taught, or what?
MW: Simply talented! No, talent alone will never lead to anything. Training is a necessity. I’m being educated in singing since I was 16 years old, a quite good time for a young baritone. Several years of training followed, since 2000 I’m studying at the music high school in Detmold where singing is one of my main subjects…
FG: Enid is constantly changing the line up, except for you and Florian.
FD: You’re a clever guy… Yes you’re right, we’ve often changed the line up — still I’d say: not more than every other young band does it as well. I mean, Enid as a band existed between the beginning of 2001 until late 2003, and we had something like 8 changes in the line-up, session musicians included. Considering the special story of Enid that’s bearable, at least in my eyes.
In case we’ll really get into problems with musicians we’d continue with just Martin and me I guess. We’re the core of the band somehow and Enid couldn’t exist without one of us. Still I hope that these continuous changes have an end now…
FG: What can you tell me about your artistic collaboration?
FD: Nothing, there is no artistic collaboration at all. Martin writes all the music and lyrics himself. Sometimes I give some ideas what kind of song (atmospherically for example) he could do, but that becomes less and less with every album. My position in the band is of some strange kind — of course I play the guitar, but I also care about our contacts, label business, website and so on. I’m more the organisational part and Martin the creative one — functions best as you can hear and see!
FG: The legendary Austrian cult band Summoning has more than a link with Enid. Could you tell our readers something about it?
FD: Great that you call Summoning a legendary cult band… still, to me they are no legend and no cult, the only fact is that they are Austrian and that I love them very very much! Back then when I came up with the idea to make similar music (1997), I only knew Silenius from an interview I did with him. Later on, in 1998, Martin and me met him during a visit in Vienna. I had some interviews with him during the years and some accidental contact with Protector as well; I regularly buy their releases (except for the horrible last MCD) and I can say they’re one of the very few bands that manage to differ a bit on every release but still stay on an extremely high level.
Hopefully people will claim that of Enid as well one day…
Musically, the last album that had Slight parallels to Summoning has been “Abschiedsreigen”, and was in 2000. Nobody who’s seriously involved in that musical scene can say that Enid and Summoning sound similar or that we steal ideas from them. I’d have to say that person must have lost all his sanity indeed!
Hm, when I think about it… their band structure is a bit similar to us, but only a bit. That seems to be all with the links.
FG: Final (and a bit polemical) question. Sincerely, I appreciated both music and lyrics, and how they fit together. The only problem for me is that — from a political point of view — the whole thing results a bit conservative…
FD: To be honest: unfortunately not a fine (and indeed a polemical) conclusion to that very good interview. Enid has never been anyhow political. I don’t know a person who’s more ‘only artist’ than Martin is. Also, I can’t remember any political statement we could have done in an interview. And, above of all, “Gradwanderer” surely does not give any reason to be a politically motivated album.
In general, I don’t care about politics at all… Ok, I have desires for ancient times and atmospheres, but surely not in that sense. Maybe I’m a slightly conservative person somehow, but I’m at least as progressive as well. You can’t conclude such ideas just from the fact that we have the words ‘Heimat’ and ‘Wanderer’ on the album… that’s truly nonsense.
Nevertheless, I appreciate your interview very much! Thanks a lot! Have a visit to www.enid-webrealm.de please!