First interview of the year with German/French rock trio Schmilblick is available to read now!
Hello, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I want to start by asking for your names and positions in the band?
Thank you for having us!
Elisa Janson: Drummer and Yeller Max Gratsch: Guitarist, Singer Pete Weberlinke: Just the Bassist
I see that you guys came together during Covid. How did you find each other to form Schmilblick?
Max: When Covid was here, a lot of people took it very seriously when the government ordered everyone to isolate themselves at home. Since then, most bands wouldn't play regularly anymore, and I grew bored and more nervous each day. That's when Elisa came in. We met at our common workplace years ago and even were together for a little while. She was as bored as me but also very enthusiastic about playing music. She never did play the drums before and so we took the time and just jammed for fun. We soon realized that we actually created some decent tunes and saw some sort of potential, I guess. We asked Pete to fill in the bass. Pete and I came from different bands but since Pete helped out in my band a lot, we established a sort of musical connection already. Pete: I met Max in my old rehearsal room years ago. It was the best room we've ever had, overlooking the Spree, soon to be sold to an investor that got everybody kicked out. Shit like that happened to a lot of bands and people in Berlin. Shortly before Schmilblick I helped his other band out with some gigs. When Elisa and him started the band, I joined because, of course, of reasons. But anyways, I'm still just the bass player.
Going back further, how did you all individually get into playing your instruments?
Elisa: My mom pushed me to play classical piano at an early age and I am very happy about it. I guess I missed playing with people, that's why I switched quite recently to drums, an instrument that would allow me to play in a band with people who have similar musical tastes as me. Plus, the fact that I can hit the drums like a maniac and release all frustration is of course an undeniable advantage! Max: I always wanted to play the guitar and my mother denied all my requests of getting one because she feared I'm as bad as her when she tried to play as a kid. Turns out she is left-handed and was forced by her teacher to play right-handed like all the other students. When I was 12 or 13 years old, I finally got my first acoustic guitar for 25 Euros and couldn't put it down since then. I played before going to school (even got noise complaints from my neighbours), straight after school and before going to bed. I never grew tired of playing. Pete: I started playing Bass when I was 16 years old and since then I have had several bands. (But I also had several shorter and longer breaks in making music in a band). I never had professional lessons and basically told myself everything I know or learned it from friends while playing together. So, I became what I am: a professional amateur.
You guys have a cool sound, how did you all decide on the kind of music that you wanted to make together?
Max: I think that's the part that you never consciously decide for. Schmilblick offers a variety of styles and I think if we'd ever decided for something in particular, it would kill our drive. But yeah, of course, playing our own music is always an amalgam of all the different artists that influenced us one way or another. Elisa: Definitely, our favourite bands naturally influenced our way of playing. Also, what is very important for me is to have a lot of distance and self-mockery in our music. We don't want to take ourselves too seriously.
Are there any artists that particularly influence you?
Max: As a kid I really looked up to John Frusciante - I'd still see him as my mentor, though I never actually met him haha - and a lot of his guitar style deeply shaped my own playing. From there I went back to punk rock and all its varieties. This time trying to make my guitar sound like all the bands I loved and still do. I have listened to punk rock since I have memories. Ah and Pixies as well. I got into them pretty late but suddenly I realized that this is the music I actually want to do myself: music without any boundaries, without a stipulated sound. Elisa: All of the above. Also, I am a huge fan of John Dwyer's work and projects. His hyperactivity in artistic creation is very inspiring! Even his label, Castle Face Records is a gaurantee for exceptional quality when it comes to music. Pete: I pretty much enjoy all styles of rock music. I keep all the music algorithms confused with all the different styles I'm into.
What is the meaning behind the name Schmilblick?
Elisa: As I come from France while the guys are German, we wanted the band name to reflect the fusion of German and French. Schmilblick is actually a word that was invented by a French humorist. It can describe anything, it is like a placeholder name. Nevertheless, it kind of sounds German. That's why we decided to go for it. However, after several situations of having to repeat or spell Schmilblick, a word that nobody understands here in Germany, we realized that perhaps we should have chosen a much simpler word. Even Max is still struggling when spelling it haha. Max: Yes haha! But to be honest, I'm having problems spelling my own last name as well. Elisa sold me the name Schmilblick as "an imaginary object that is everything and nothing at the same time" - I liked that. And I liked that the name sounded super awkward. Pete: I look this word up on Wikipedia every two or three days. But I look up how to play bass every other day as well, so what do I know?
Moving forward do you have any plans to have your music available on popular streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music?
Elisa: Yes actually, the process is ongoing, our single Carbou/ xerophytes should be released on Spotify within the next few weeks. We just had a record session last weekend and plan to publish the new songs on Spotify as well. I have to confess that I have an ethical dilemma with platforms such as Amazon and Apple and I would rather avoid uploading our music on those. In an ideal world, Bandcamp would be enough! Music | Schmilblick (bandcamp.com)
Max: So far, we released our music only on Bandcamp - it's free (as well as our music itself - people determine what to spend for it themselves) and you don't have to pay an additional fee for releasing there. But we realized that a lot of our friends and their friends use platforms like Spotify a lot, so we decided to put the stuff there as well.
I noticed that you guys have come up with some fun merch items. How did you come up with the designs for these?
Pete: The merch basically started with a birthday present Max and I gave to Elisa. Elisa: The infamous Schmilblick pillow haha! It was an awesome present! Max: We are lucky enough to be surrounded by creative people and can't reveal everything yet. But be prepared for even more cool and fun merch soon!
I know you are a relatively new band but what would you say is your proudest achievement together so far?
Pete: Based on my experience with other bands I must say that having written so many great songs in such a short time is really a thing we can be very proud of! Elisa: Yes that's true, I am impressed by our productivity when it comes to songwriting. Also, I really loved the French tour we had last Summer. It ended up having only one show at a Guinguette, in the forest of Colmer in Alsace. We rode 1500km in 3 days and enjoyed every minute of this nonsense trip. This was a complete waste of money but we had so much fun and my family could see me play for the first time ever. We played in the afternoon at 38 degrees. A guy even fainted before we started playing because of the oppressing heat, we still pushed it and it was really awesome. I realize when trying to sum-up that all elements tend to indicate otherwise, but this was really a nice experience! Max: I see every single Schmilblick show we don't fuck up as an achievement haha. No seriously, everytime someone pats me on the shoulder and says, "I like that song" or "Great show!" I feel a little proud and happy about what I am doing.
What is the best thing about getting to make music together?
Max: To let it all out. Whenever I won't play music with people, I'll get grumpy and desperate. Then I wonder why I feel like that. And after having a session again I'm suddenly super happy and fulfilled. It gets me going and that's definitely the best thing in the world for me personally. Elisa: As we started during the pandemic, music was the only activity I allowed myself to do. The rehearsals quickly became completely cathartic as it would make me take a break from the anxious vibes. I guess this feeling is still present when we practice together it is a thrilling project on which I am super excited to work. Playing music together is an incredible motivator to get out of bed and actually do stuff. Pete: It's about bringing three people together in one room to make some noise that other people might actually enjoy.
A bit of a random one but if you could add any famous artist to your line-up who would you choose and why?
Elisa: La Luz, Rose Mercie, Crumbs and Shannon and the Clams: I love what they do and it would be nice to see more gals in the backstage haha. Max: Pink And Brown, The Hospitals, Thee Oh Sees, Damaged Bug, Witch Egg for example. It's all John Dwyer's bands and so we might ensure that he'll show up to one of our concerts. Pete: I am with Elisa, I'd like to see more gals on stage and backstage, it fits then that I am a fan of a lot of bands with a female lead singer and/or instrumentalist like Drahla, Kills Birds or Cherry Glazerr. That's why I would pick them.
Are there any upcoming plans for the year that you would like to share with me?
Elisa: We have some gigs in Berlin coming up and probably a tour in France in August. We are really excited about our first music video which will be released really soon! And we're in the process of recording a new EP - I assume we'll get it out in April this year. And there will be another music video shoot in early Spring! Max: I'm super stoked about that shoot. It's a clip to last year's single Troubalou. The single is nothing without the actual video and vice versa. We couldn't shoot the video back then because Pete and I got sick from Covid the very day the shoot was supposed to start. Can't wait for the full package to happen finally. Pete: Gigs, Gigs, Gigs.
As always, I like to finish with a few this or that questions so;
Air Guitar or Air Drums?
Pete: Air Drums Elisa: Drums of course! The bpm is what I say it is, even in the air. Max: Air Jordans
Silly Hats or Silly Socks?
Elisa: Super silly socks Max: I always wear silly socks, so your silly socks are regular socks to me. Sock on that! Pete: Silly hats for cute cats.
Tattoos or Piercings?
Elisa: Tattoo partout Max: Tattoos. Especially the kind Elisa does. Got one already. Gotta collect them all. Pete: Tattoos. I have none.
Is there anything else you would like to add for the readers?
Band: Many thanks for your time and attention, we hope to see you soon at one of our shows and have a great time together!
Interview with Kayleigh McKenzie
Check out Schmilblick HERE