Fir§t Law Interview: A Light That Shines
Contributed by: Jack The Ripper
Heathen Harvest: What music did you listen as a kid?
Andreas Wahnmann: I was born in 63, so for the first eight or ten years of my life all the music around was German Schlager (for those spared the experience up to now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlager ). A music I still despise deeply. Then slowly rock music found its way into radio and TV and I had my first truly satisfying encounters with music. Not much later I started collecting records, mainly "dark" bands like Black Sabbath or Blue Oyster Cult, but, much to the dismay of my friends at that time, I also developed a soft spot for some more "arty" stuff like early Genesis, Roxy Music or Cockney Rebel and more experimental oriented music like Amon Düül, Pink Floyd or Kraftwerk. Later on, at the age of 15, I became friend with the owner of the leading local record store and for the next years I must have heard almost any record released at least once, while my own personal interest focused more and more on Punk, Wave and Independent music.
HH: How much of the musical idiosyncrasy, and musical temper from your country influence your music?
AW: What can I say? A small part of it had great influence and the bulk had none at all. It depends on what you consider a musical idiosyncrasy of my country. Aforementioned Schlagermusik? Definitely no effect! Classical music, marching music? Hardly any. Tekkno? Some. Experimental electronic music? I could hardly deny that. Working outside of tradition (due to lack of a genuine tradition)? I'd like to thinks so; our music has always been best when we did right that. And for the musical temper; I don't think there is a typical German temper. The majority of the contemporary German music is a penetratingly happy pop music; exaggerated and insistent. Much same as anywhere in the world and I sincerely hope I kept that from bleeding into my music.
HH: Considering that the greatest composers from history passed away and nothing comparable has ever come back besides that our contemporary culture doesn’t really produce music or art but consumer goods, do you think art becomes then a symptom of the decadence from western culture?
AW: I'm afraid, if you regard the works of the historical composers to be something better than a "consumer product", you see them in a much too favourable light! Almost all of these composers were paid for creating them and, as long as the audience was pleased, they were paid well. Take a look at Bach, his work was brilliant, no doubt about that, but creating music was simply his job. He was a professional musician and part of this job was to deliver a new composition every Sunday and he had to come up with something even the peasants in the last row could enjoy! So this is what he did, creating fitting products for consumers as a way to provide a living for his family. At the same time he came up with art that is beautiful, fundamental and ground-breaking. So, in my eyes, there is good music and there is bad music; there is old and there is new music; there is music sold in large quantities and there is music completely ignored by the audience. All these pairs are valid attributes to categorise music, but, nonetheless, they are not cross-related in any way!
Back to your question. I think it takes a Muslim fundamentalist to misunderstand the creation of art as a symptom of decadence. I'm none, so I will always respect the creation of art as a symptom for the urge to improve and thus quite the opposite of decadence. Admittedly, the overwhelming amount of music and art that qualifies as both, "bad/boring" and "sold in large quantities", may appear to a true lover of arts as abysmally decadent. But this is a false interpretation in the way that this abundance is caused by a genuine simple-mindedness of the best part of the people when it comes to matters like the appreciation and interpretation of art. And the term "decadence" would imply, there was a time when this had been any different!
HH: Corresponding to your response that alludes that most authors of classic and modern music can be comparatively similar regarding their work as mean to an end for basic survival or simple profit. Do you see profit as the exclusive finality in music then?
AW: Oh oh, you got me completely wrong. Maybe the part "the greatest composers from history" pushed my grumpy-button and I didn't put it quite clear enough. I said it already, I'm old fart and when I grew up there was so much good music around, but it got left off radio and TV and was bashed by the established art scene often enough with the smug "line of reasoning" nobody will ever be as good and important as these long gone composers, so why care? Apparently I still snap (too) easily in the "defend contemporary music"-mode. I am sorry.
I took Bach as an example because he was a full blooded professional musician. He devoted his life to his work up to the extend where had to drop any other occupation. In a way he betted his life and that of his family on his art, and he even accepted a harsh and strenuous schedule, something for usual associated with an office job and absolutely not with act of creativity. But he still succeeded to create something of unquestionable integrity. He didn't turn into a professional musician to get rich, he knew it was the best for his art and so he took the risk. Nobody sporting three or more functioning brain cells would pick art as an easy way to accumulate wealth. Don't get fooled by the glitz and the bling shown in the pop videos, for any musician capable of making a living through music there are hundreds, and for anyone actually getting rich, there are of tens of thousands who don't. So do you regard what he did as something despicable? I don't. And in fact, I chose the same way.
So please don't mix up these two things, the need of the 24/7 musicians of any era to rely on their art as a way make ends meet and the money machines the music and films industry likes to turn musicians into. If you understood my comments as a defence of commercialism in music, then you are completely mistaken again. All I wanted to say is, commercial success, or the lack of it, is so unrelated to the quality of art, it simply cannot be a criteria to quantify it at all. Though, admittedly, a catering for mass success for usual equals a lowering of standards and THIS, the lowering of standards, is of course unacceptable.
HH: Is music now worth for living? Ever was?
AW: I don't know if I'm the right guy to ask. I picked up learning guitar at the age of five and ever since I was doomed only to care for music. No other occupation captured my interest like it and no other job I picked ever really mattered to me. So how could I possibly come up with any answer other than: Of course is music worth living for! Ever was! Ever will be!
HH: Is it possible as some defenders of “free” music claim, that authors should preserve the same interest and will for creation in their music regardless the money reward? Is it possible to create music for free?
AW: Or what? He gets stripped of his status as a credible artist?? I don't think I need ANYONE to tell me ANYTHING about "interest and will for creation", and the same goes for all of the musicians I ever met!
I am sorry if I sound a little aggravated, it's not exactly because of the downloads. If you feel more broke than I am but want to listen to my music, be my guest, get some files from the net. What peeved me is the way the "free music scene" regards artists. Let me cite from an interview (it's in German but, anyway, you can find it here in full length: http://www.hingesehen.net/?p=1585 ) given by a representative of the German Pirate Party. Besides some smart things about the internet and censorship, he said: "... there is no such thing as 'intellectual property' ... An artist does not create a piece of art from thin air. He relies on the treasures of culture and knowledge held by the public and constructs new pieces by combination and modification." All right. I get it. I'm a copyist and my measly bunch of original ideas and the effort I put into my music are worth fuck. But if I fork it over for free, they might be inclined to listen to it nonetheless. How gracious! I'm so touched. Now, am I seriously the only one who regards this as an insult?
And for the second question, barred some very special scenarios, I don't think so. You can give it away for free, but for any piece of music out there someone paid up something somehow. For instance, no matter how hard I plead to my favourite music store or how desperately I'd pound the need for detachment from commercial aspects true art should show, I don't think I will ever leave the store with the Fender Jaguar I crave for so long without coughing up a few grands first.
HH: What you think about mp3s and your stand as a band about this?
AW: Maybe this is were my age is showing, but I don't care for MP3s at all. What I want is a format that is superior to the CD, not a bad comprise just catering to my convenience. Don't get me wrong, I'd be glad to sell you my music via the net; personally I don't care much for the packaging of a CD I stick in my player, for instance. But I do care for what comes out of the speakers and I want this to be as good as technically possible. I expect storage space and bandwidth will be of no more concern soon, even for users of portable devices, and I hope uncompressed 24 bit pcm audio will then become the standard for music sales via the net.
HH: Do you see mp3 as something positive or negative for you considering the increasing amounts of pirate downloading in the Internet?
AW: I have no idea. Or better, I can't make up my mind. Well, let me give you some numbers and you decide for yourself. In 2006 the Lokis and I released the "Chaos Structure"-CD. Two weeks later we had sold about 250 copies, that's not stupendous, but for nowadays it's not so bad either. Still, it's about 50 copies less than the one before had sold in the same time. "Well, maybe the people don't like it as much as they liked "Beyond IO"?!?", I mused and went looking for some reviews on the internet and was a little astonished at first to find it as a "free download" on different websites. I had a closer look, counted the downloads on the first three sites and came up with 3500 hits. Hey, a lot more people know my music than I expected! That's great! ... On a second thought, 3500 downloaded, 250 sold... hmm. So, what would YOU make of this?
HH: So do you think mp3 will definitively triumph over CD and the remaining ashes from vinyl production? Or do you think there will be a middle ground for this tendency?
AW: Well, certainly things don't look good for our beloved CD. I have seen the turning from vinyl to digital, but the mp3 spreads so much faster. And today the CD would already have to fight a whole new lifestyle. Seriously, how could a simple, old-fashioned CD-player possibly stand up against a monstrosity like this: http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2007/01/toto_toilet_seat_does_mp3s.html
An MP3 playing toilet seat, 4G RAM, an SD card slot and, as I read somewhere else, USB 2.0. Bluetooth coming soon, I suppose. As I said, a whole new lifestyle.
HH: Well I don’t know if I am an old analogue model but I prefer the feeling and the visualization of a real CD rather than a simple digital format. Off course I appreciate the content, but don’t you think that the form and the accompaniment is also important?
AW: Ayax, I am sorry to correct you, but you are not an old analogue, you're an old digital model. The old analogue models said the same thing about vinyl vs. CD twenty-some years ago. So, maybe a lot of this comes down to habit. A habit I share, by the way. First thing in the morning, I slam a CD in my player and turn up the volume. Then I start to care for some coffee. If there is something like a ritual in my life, that's it and stepping through the menu of a MP3 player is just not the same. And of course, the right packaging can set the mood for the best experience, particularly on a first contact. This is part of the reason why I think I have to do the artwork myself. But packaging and format are not essential, and I don't think they should be. Quality should by essential, so much for sure; and the quality in music and audio quality alike. So, if I have to watch the artwork in a browser window on a screen to get the audio files in a quality that EXCEEDS the CD, so be it; but it's true, I'd be more happy to buy some superior real-world audio carrying device. May it be another disk or, hey, glowing crystals would be nice; no matter what, I want an upgrade, not a downgrade.
HH: What do you consider more inspiring to create your music, reality or fantasy?
AW: Reality, of course! It's so much more surreal. And insane.
HH: Has your music manifested as visionary like states, like some sort of epiphany?
AW: No, I think this would be an exaggeration. I can loose myself deeply in the process of recording, my wife often enough has to call me at least twice before she gets any reaction, and I need to "hear" a track or a instrument in my mind before I can record it, but I rather see myself as a craftsman than a shaman. I come up with an idea (Admittedly, I don't know how I do this, so you could deem it an epiphany if you want. I don't.) and I know ways how to realise it. So I go to work.
HH: Do you try to induce something in particular within your music for the listener to perceive?
AW: For usual, whenever I create music, I have something very particular in my mind. A specific memory, a specific feeling or sometimes even a taste or a smell. But we all have our own special set of memories and associations and I cannot possibly expect the listener to own a set even close to mine. So I am more than happy if the people perceive anything at all. Though, apparently it does kick off vivid chains of associations and this is something I am very proud off.
HH: Do you pretend to shock or rather to suggest with your work?
AW: I never pretend anything and a shock strategy can only yield a short-term effect anyway. So I guess I rather suggest. Or make an offer anybody is free to take or recline.
HH: Your music often presents as a continuous movement of nightmares or visionary mystic states for the listener, do you think this is a product from his subjective leaning or a perception on your own subconscious expressed through your music?
AW: In my eyes, it takes a combination of both to make music work. Evidently, the structure of my music consist of continuously evolving and changing patterns. This is pretty much based on the way I perceive the world. Feedback systems; ebb and flow; semi-random sequences: change as the only constant; all held together by sheer math. Naturally, my perception shapes my subconscious and this again forms my music like a mould. That's simply inevitable. But music in itself is abstract. It takes the the listener to interpret it and, in a way, fill it with life. So it's actually his subconscious, his subjective leaning, his nightmares and mystic states he will experience.
HH: Favourite album from your own discography and why?
AW: This has to be the last one. It always has to be the last one, or the one I work on at the time you ask. I would really hate to release an album that is, at least in my eyes, no bit better than those before. Else, it's back to the drawing board. But as a matter of fact, in this case I'm very satisfied with the finished work and beside this, it was fun to record it. It took a few weeks longer than initially planned, but just because the ideas kept coming and coming. And additionally, I couldn't let it go. Whenever a recording is released, I usually don't listen to it very often any more. Till I'm done, I heard it literally a thousand times, and though I'm not exactly sick of it, it's a relief to call it a wrap. "Terrorforming" was very different in that matter.
HH: Schopenhauer said that the world/universe is music, what you think about this?
AW: Well, I guess he had something more metaphysical in mind than I do, but I agree. This Universe is full of waves, frequencies, patterns and rhythms. For instance, there is a reason why there is so much more carbon in this universe than e. g. oxygen. It is because of a resonance, flamboyantly named "beryllium barrier"! A simple relation between mass and frequency, but without it: No large quantity of carbon; no carbon-based lifeforms; no us. Perhaps even the "nothing" in this universe has a sound. Ever heard of vacuum fluctuations? Maybe one day we can detect them correctly and transferred to sound we will find this very universe consists of beautiful music. Fine, it's more likely what we will hear then is a harsh white noise, but let's think positive for just one time.
HH: Even though you say you’re apolitical, your short statements on interviews, some extracts from your albums and above all the last “Terrorforming” album booklet with the mini essay shows you as a Political Philosopher, what you think about this?
AW: I'm used to be called a lot of things. It happens when you speak your mind on certain topics. "Commie!"; "Nazi!"; "Reactionist!"; "Weirdo!"; "Moron!"; "Heartless, irresponsible bastard!"; I heard all of that before. But "Political Philosopher", that's a first! You didn't even spare the capital letters. Well, I don't know, I would still call myself apolitical.
See, in my heart I am an anarchist. Not the nihilistic destroy-just-for-the-sake-of-it type nor the dreamy free-the-people-of-oppression-and-unicorns-will-be-happily-dancing-with-the-dwarfs type nor the free loading de facto-anarchists working the financial markets; I simply don't feel the need for a government to organise my life. I don't want to be ruled and, just as important, I don't want to rule. I want true freedom of speech and, even more important, a genuine freedom of mind. And I know there are a lot of people in this world that, just the same as me, could organise if necessary and would happily go back to minding their own business if not. But to make anarchy, as I understand, it the foundation of a society, you don't need a lot people, you don't need the majority of the people, you need ALL of them to want to live this way. And take a look around you, what do you think the "regular people" around you will do if you annihilate the government? They elect a new one right away. Anarchy might be a very sweet dream for some, but in this world, there is no way it will ever fly. So, what can I do? My opinions do not match any of those supported by the different political organisations, my favourite political structure is unachievable; in a situation like this, not necessarily ignorance, but ignoring becomes bliss.
And for the parts of my music and the short essay in "Terrorforming",. I don't see these as political statements, for me they are just comments on social inconsistencies. For most of the time while writing the liner notes, I couldn't get rid of the feeling I was just stating the obvious.
HH: How would you define music in a philosophical way?
AW: I'm afraid, I don't know how to do that. For me, music is a part of my daily life, a part of my reality. From my point of view I cannot perceive it as a philosophical concept alone, I'm involved too deeply.
HH: Are we living already in a new dark age? Are we into the “Big brother”?
AW: A dark age? A time when a wealthy elite forces the poor to work for them under almost slave-like conditions while a pompous church just nods along and waits for its share? A time of diseases and famine? A time when you can be dragged away to prison and be tortured only because someone of power takes a dislike to you or the way you live? ... When exactly did we leave the last one behind? Did we ever?
Well, I don't know if in the end it will be the total control of a "Big Brother" scenario or more a pain in the ass like an "Obtrusive Cousin", but we're heading for a time when the governments and the economy will gather any information they can get a hold of. We already have the technology to collect the information, it already gets applied and we will have the storage space to hold these ridiculous amounts of data soon. There is only one thing in the way of total control: the analysis and evaluation of this data. For our contemporary technology it is fairly easy to do this with digitised text, but it's very hard with audio data and nigh to impossible with pictures and film. What use is a face recognition that throws false positives, even on a low rate of one percent? None. You need a human to check on the result. Or an AI, but this is still a matter of science fiction. Still.
HH: Is it an Apocalypse taking place product of the environmental and social débâcle? Or how much this is a campaign of terror?
AW: First of all, the end of the world as we know it doesn't necessarily have to turn into an apocalypse! And yes, it is of course a product of the social débâcle we're facing (The environmental disaster is just a logical side effect of all the nonsensical behaviour common to us.). And without a doubt, part of this is engineered and so in itself again a product of fabrication and exaggeration. But I wouldn't call it a campaign. A campaign implies intention and strategy, but remember Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." There's no need for a campaign nor a global plan. It's a wide-spread jumping on opportunities. Or more precise, a lascivious humping of it; so the appropriate term should rather be "clusterfuck".
HH: Is capitalism dying?
AW: What makes you think so? The sad faces of brokers and bank managers? Oh please; would you pity someone who lost an arm and a leg skinny dipping in a shark tank? Or the folding companies? As regrettable as it is for the workers, most of these companies had it coming for quite a while now. And right now is a very opportune time to do so. The owners and managers of these companies will end up splendid, no doubt about that! No, capitalism is quite fine, the old snake has just shed some skin. And it even has learnt a new trick! "Privatise the profits but nationalise the losses." Brilliant! OK, Keynes is mumbling "You fuckers got it all wrong!" while Marx just silently weeps, but does this sound like the death throes of capitalism to you? No, it's the final wheezing breath of common sense.
HH: How do you think the future will be considering the present implications from our actual world?
AW: There are too many undecided parameters involved to even come up with an educated guess. If we are lucky our time will be regarded as the overcome "Age of Greed and Stupidity", but much more likely the people will remember it as the "good old days".
HH: Are you a cynic or a nihilist? Or how would you define yourself?
AW: I may be a little cynical; occasionally even a little bitter and pessimistic whenever I take a look at the world around me; so much admitted. But I am not nihilist. I DO believe in different things. I believe in love. I believe in friendship. I do believe the people in this world all just have the best intentions! And that the road to hell is paved with them. I believe, if we ALL pull together as team, yes, we CAN and we WILL fuck things up beyond any recall. Besides this, I love my wife and my friends, South Park and Pushing Daisies and I want peace in the world for Christmas. Or at least a stylish powder-coated sub-machine gun and a few thousand rounds of ammunition.
HH: Do you believe in anything?
AW: Occasionally. Remember, the term " believe" stands for nothing more than the admittance that you don't own the full set of required data but you made up your mind anyway. So I restrict myself to just believe things when the outcome has no influence on my behaviour. I believe this summer could be pleasantly rainy; I believe Janson Button has a good chance to win the Formula One championship this year; and so on. So most of the time, I don't believe things, I quantify them by probability.
As for religious believes, I don't have a full set of required data. Yet. Let's face it, as much as I would personally hate this outcome, the chances that a god in fact exists do not equal zero. But we all will acquire this missing information right at the moment of our certain death. Until then, a final decision has to be postponed. But again, quantifying probabilities, an entity with powers and possibilities like those attributed by, for example, the Christians to their god; creating the universe, creating mankind etcetera... Do you really expect an entity like this to be so anal fixated that it matters whether you actually WORSHIPED it before? And by the way, which one of the competing brands of gods is actually the right one for successful worshipping? Imagine, you put all of your money on Yahweh, die, open your eyes in the afterlife... and find yourself face to face with Anubis? And you're not dressed correctly as a mummy? You're buggered!
HH: What do you think about the following phrase exposed by Nietszche? “I condemn Christianity. I raise against the Christian church the most terrible accusation that any accuser has ever uttered. It is to me the ultimate conceivable corruption. It has possessed the will to the final corruption that is even possible. The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity: it has turned every value into a disvalue, every truth into a falsehood, every integrity into a vileness of the soul.”
AW: Well, he got it pretty much right. Though he missed to point out the enormous size of the millstone around the neck of, for example, scientific progress organised religion has proofed to be. And for my part, I wouldn't just see the Christians as the sole culprit; there are so many religious and quasi-religious organisations out there which all have the potential to turn civilisation into an even worse train wreck than the one we're heading for already.
HH: What’s your vision on religion?
AW: My vision on religion is always dim and from far, far away. Just because this is the way I prefer religion. Far, far away. Despite the almost spiritual connection to my Gibson SG, I am not religious person. Maybe I am missing a gene a good part of mankind seems to have in plenty, but I just don't know what I could do with religion. I think we all know the special moments when you look inside yourself just to see what you come up with; a divine spark, a soul, a small sign saying "made by god for Chrissake!"... But I'm sorry, I don't have that. In here, I am completely alone. And in fact, I prefer to stay that way.
HH: Could you compare the undesired side effects from Islamic fundamentalism as similar or different from the Judaeo-Christian ones in the western culture? One of them possesses second hand weapons and the later weapons of mass destruction?
AW: I have no idea what you mean by "undesired side effects". As far as I can see, all effects caused by fundamentalism are straight out of somebody’s agenda and so they are neither undesired nor side effects. In fact, they appear to be quite the opposite when you take a look at how many governments used this oh-so undesired effect to pound the so-called necessity of certain laws they tried to establish for years despite the fact they failed again and again because of the vehement resistance of the people. So the word on their minds must have been rather "opportune" or "convenient" instead.
Anyway, despite the fact the mindsets of fundamentalists of all varieties seem the product of the same mould, each faction shows a different modus operandi. While the Islam is still in the adolescent phase of a religion with all the signs of puberty showing (Wild mood swings; outburst of violence; exaggerated claims etcetera.), the J-Cs play the roll of a seasoned religion ( Keep up the façade of righteousness; wait your time; and when provoked turn the other cheek for a day then hit the heathens hard with your big guns.). So I would say the effect on our western culture yielded by the Islamists could be compared to that of a street gang, while the J-Cs are more like the Mafia.
HH: Is it democracy a failure or a boycotted political paradigm?
AW: The concept of democracy is based on the intelligence of the people as a group and the decency of those elected. So until things change dramatically, a just and functioning democracy remains a pipe dream in my eyes.
HH: Is Europe dead? If so, in what way?
AW: Unlike America, Europe is not based on single nation or even the concept "nation". Europe is a collection of cultures. Very old cultures, grown throughout millennia; empires came and went, the basic cultural landscape remained the same. Things like that don't die so easily. But we do make mistakes and the basic, and in the end maybe even lethal, mistake we made in the last decades, was to try to emulate the American Way of Life and subsequently intertwine our economy so deeply with the American economy. Which again is quite understandable; for the first part of the last century America went through the biggest success story since ancient Rome and so we turned a blind eye to the magnitude of the peril this brought upon us. America loves its superiority. And if America is about to take a dive, it will make sure, the rest of world will take the fall even harder. And THAT, in fact, could be the end of Europe. But stop worrying for Europe; if so, we'll all be wearing the same globalised rictus grin with only the Americans grinning a little wider.
HH: As a German do you think the WW2 still rests on the German collective as a black cross?
AW: Sixty-some years may seem like a long time, but as long as there are people around who still remember parents or grandparents killed by the Nazis, it is impossible to put this episode of history to a final rest. Well, invading all your neighbouring countries and killing millions of people, this done twice inside thirty years and, last not least, the attempted genocide of the Jews... this is a stigma you don't shake so easily. And without doubt, it still casts a shadow on the German frame of mind. Maybe we simply don't know how to behave normal, but we went from one extreme to the complete opposite. We went from fanatic nationalism to having no comprehension of patriotism at all and from extreme violence back then to an overcautious and almost whimsical behaviour today. This is what disgust for the past can do to a country.
HH: Do you think is possible that Germany passed from victimary complex to victim complex today?
AW: No, I don't think so. In my eyes the "classical" view applies; Germany went from a textbook example of Megalomania to a latent inferiority complex. Of course, this is just a simplification. On a closer look, you could find a victim complex in the way the Germans in 1933 loathed their treatment by the winners of WWI and how they blamed the catastrophic condition of the economy on the British and French. And you could attest the Germans a victimary complex as they fell for Hitler's promises of new greatness and followed him blindly in an undertaking that plain and simple had to end in a disaster. But this was then, and today we only can guess on the motivations of the people of that time.
What I can tell you for sure is, it's not a victim complex the Germans are suffering today. We don't feel victimised by our past; we brought it upon us and we had/have to live with the consequences and one of these was, the majority of the world, and particularly our neighbouring countries, hated our guts for decades. And they had any right to do so. After the war the freshly democratised Germans tried desperately to get rid of the image as vicious bullies and all they wanted was to play nice. To this you have to add the aforementioned contempt the following generations felt for the Nazi period and what you get is the latent feeling "We're tainted. We're stained. We're not good enough. We have to make up for it.". A classic inferiority complex; possibly not very obvious from the outside, but trust me, its influence on the German frame of mind is second to none.
HH: Your perspective on Immigration, how do you see this phenomena?
AW: If the eco scientists are not exclusively trying to promote their particular line of hair-shirts, and more and more we all have reason not to think so, this will be one of the major topics of the coming centuries. I heard immigration is already a matter of hot discussions in the US and, thanks to the extrovert Muslim part of the immigrants, it is a growing concern on this side of the drink; but if these scientist got it even marginally right and only the mildest scenarios become reality, we will see ten percent of the global population lose not just their homes but also any way to support their lives further on. Up to now, the best part of the migrants are people looking for a better life. Now imagine 700 million people desperately seeking a place to survive! Ever heard of a weapons manufacturer going broke? I don't think you will in the foreseeable future.
HH: Is it the Universe a paradox or a sophism?
AW: It's neither. The Universe is sheer logic; a perfect example of basic "cause and effect" on the grandest scale. Any apparent paradox (And it can't be a sophism because sophism would imply an intent.) is just an artefact of our distinct lack of answers concerning the basic structure of it. Heck, we're a long shot away from even knowing all the questions we need to ask! So, being diametrical to logic remains reserved to the interpretations, motivations and behavioural patterns of the biological infestation disturbing this actually straightforward Universe.
HH: Do you like puppies?
AW: Sure do I like puppies! Not just puppies, I like all kind of animals, young and old, and evidently, they like me back. There's a saying, "Since I know mankind, I love the animals." and in more than one way I can relate to that. I had a handful of four-legged friends that proofed to be way more reliable than most of these with two. And remember, the ruling class of this planet comprises 80% of the known species, surpasses the biomass of mankind by a order of magnitude and thrives in places man cannot survive for more than a few days. And it sports six legs!
HH: Mention five Books that you would recommend for people to read?
AW: In no particular sequence:
Mark Budz: "Clade"; he proofs Orwell was an optimist.
Stephen Bury: "Interface"; presidential elections are so much more fun after reading this book.
Pat Cadigan: "Tea from an empty cup" (and it's sequel "Dervish is digital"); the rule book for Web 5.0.
Charles Stross: "Glasshouse"; socially introspective, unexpected plot twists and smart ideas. Stross always delivers.
And don't let me forget to mention John Scalzi, though I cannot make up my mind which one of his books I like best. "Agent to the stars", "Android's Dream", "Old Man's War", "Zoe's Tale"; they are all pretty much on par, so I guess you have to try all of them. How could you possibly go wrong with a guy that sticks bacon to a cat, huh? ( http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/09/13/clearly-you-people-thought-i-was-kidding/ )
I know, the list may miss diversity, but since my time is always tight, I just find enough of it to keep up with the new developments of my favourite strain of literature and that is, indisputably, science fiction.
HH: What you think about the extraterrestrial theory? Hoax or a serious issue?
AW: It's any nerd's ultimate dream! Aliens show up, you have your towel right at hand, stick out your intergalactic thumb and "Goodbye, madhouse!" it is. And your just the guy the universe has waited for. Right. Well, it's another beautiful idea that gets obliterated by numbers. Fine, we already observed more than 70 sextillion stars and there are a lot more of them out there. Even compared to the financial market losses this is a huge number. There are more stars out there than grains of sand on all the beaches of this world combined. Even if higher developed life is not common as muck life, I think it's a save bet to suppose we're not alone in this universe. BUT. Remember the enormous size of the universe, it's like there is a complete ocean between any of these single grains. What are they chances we will ever meet? Galactically small! An alien, flying by on his way to summer vacation? He twists the knob on the receiver in the wrong direction and accidentally catches a Terran TV show? Possible. Possible, but highly unlikely. And let's all just hope it's not Jerry Springer on the telly! Goodbye, alien visitors!!
HH: What you think of drugs? Do you use any?
AW: Drugs are part of human life since the first time a primate ate a herb that had some interesting effects. The taste in the particular substances changed throughout time but the general use never came out of style. There is no decent coming of age ritual without it; a lot of religious rituals involve it (Does the word incense ring a bell?); and whenever people meet at leisure right beside exchanging gossips the use of drugs is a popular pastime. It might not be called a communal use of drugs or be seen as an ancient ritual of sharing rare perception altering substances to express a friendly and benign attitude against each other; no, they will more likely use the terms "Come on buddy, let's have a beer." or maybe "Let's come together over a nice cup of tea.", but it's just the same. Like it or not, the use of drugs is part of the foundation civilisation is build upon.
And for the use, just remember, I was born in the sixties. I spent my teens in the Seventies and was a young adult in the Eighties. So what do you expect? That I never inhaled? Drugs give you access to experiences you can't obtain in any other way and I felt that called for a very thorough examination. I've always been a very, very curious guy! But that was then and I grew up. Sort of. At least I'm much older now and so today Aspirin has become my favourite recreational drug.
HH: Do you think legalization from substances is possible or necessary?
AW: Well, I can't see how criminalisation is helping in any way. It's complete nonsense in the case of mild, non-addictive drugs like Marijuana and makes things just worse regarding the hard drugs. If someone passes a law to banish something so intriguing and addictive in the true sense of meaning, he, as a lawmaker, really has to be aware, he will hardly get rid of it entirely. It might scare some people away, but at the same time it's making things just more interesting for others and you most definitely break up any contact to those involved, along with any chance on influence or control. But apparently, it is easier to build another prison than to come up with a plan that could actually improve things. This may be a side effect of politicians being complete morons or it could be just another way to keep social pressure and separation intact, there are a lot of different theories out there. Anyway, in my eyes it's a tragedy and thinking about it, maybe we all should drink ourselves in coma over it tonight. Fully legal.
HH: Why you think there’s a “war on drugs” campaign working around the whole world?
AW: It's a tradition! Since the days of old wars were waged on drugs. For centuries soldiers were filled up to the brim with alcohol and, the lucky ones, Betel, Khat, Opium, Hashish, Coca and so on. WWI brought the introduction of Heroin to the battlefields; WWII, in came Amphetamine; the Vietnam war saw a fall-back to Heroin again and nowadays you need all the advantage chemistry can give you to fly a modern fighter plane.
... Oh! Now I get it! You talk about "war on drugs", the global series of military operations with the flashy name, tailor-made to sell it off to the American taxpayers (It never really caught over here.)! That's simple; it's because of tradition! At least since the Opium War it became a standard practice to pay for clandestine deliveries of weapons by deliveries of drugs. And you simply can't have freelancing criminals ruin your resale prices. Hey, this kind of hardware is expensive, mate!
HH: Do you like porn?
AW: Call me disgustingly old-fashioned, but I still prefer real sex. Though, I'm male and so chances are good the right visual stimulus will provoke a pleasant change in my body chemistry. And, as an old friend of mine insists, porn is a great tool for anthropological studies! And isn't it precisely this why we went all the length to invent the internet? Anthropological studies ...?
HH: Back to music. Are you preoccupied with achieving any sort of transcendental goals through your work?
AW: You read my answers up to here and I think it is very obvious, I'm not the kind of guy who seeks transcendental goals. I want the quality of my music to transcend release by release and I wish mankind would transcend its knowledge about this universe and I wouldn't mind if they do so quick; but that's pretty much it.
HH: If first law could be seen as the soundtrack that constitutes your life, what kind of movie that would be?
AW: A fairly boring one, I'm afraid. The story of an angry kid, turning into an angry young man, turning into an angry middle-aged man. Some of the scenes seem oddly reminiscent of a David Lynch reinterpretation of "Dude, where is my car?" and the protagonist drops a decent one-liner occasionally, but his constant struggles with the most simple aspects of daily life are tiring to say the least. And while the film goes on and on, the plot gets more and more repetitive and even the cast starts to tire and partially quits or outright dies. I haven't seen the end yet, but since it's a biopic, I'm pretty sure it ends as an absolute tearjerker. The only thing remarkable this movie has to offer is the score, in fact, it caries the whole flick. It brings to the show a touch of grandeur the picture itself is almost missing. You know what? Forget the movie, just care for the soundtrack.
HH: Would you like to create more videos in the future? Why your old videos are unavailable?
AW: Yes, I would like to do more of them. There are no specific ideas yet, and they don't come as naturally as they do for the music, but my collection of raw material still grows and so I guess it's inevitable there will be more of them sometimes in the future. And I was surprised by the interest regarding the old videos. They were my first go on this medium, initially only made for the backdrop of an one-off concert at the WGT in Leipzig, and I never expected them to get such a positive reception. But they did and if they stay in demand I will have to find a way to make them available again. If so, details will be posted on my website.
HH: What you think of live presentations? Is it pleasant for you?
AW: Thinking about it, I can't actually decide if I like performing live. Most of the time on stage I am so deep in concentration, I don't notice much and an hour seems to pass in minutes. I suppose, adrenaline driven time tends to fly. But, what I like unquestionably is to meet my audience. The best thing about the aforementioned concert were all the people coming literally from all around the world just to listen to my music and say hello. I never expected this and if I'll ever agree to do another concert, these folks are the reason why. On the other hand, chances for a reprise diminished the same day, when I found out that what I really hate is travelling and this is now half of the reason why I don't perform more often. The other half is; I said in a previous interview it can't be done, evidently I was wrong, but I'd still have to accept too many technical comprises and this suppresses the urge to do it on a regular base very effectively.
HH: Have you ever dream of having collaboration with a famous band? For example I’ve heard that Douglas Pearce has always wanted to collaborate with Pet shop boys... What about you?
AW: Rihanna, I once dreamt about an intense collab... wait a minute, you are talking about a MUSICAL collaboration. Of course, musical. Sorry, I was thrown a little off track by putting Dougie P. and the Pet Shop Boys in the same mental picture "collaborating". Right, musical. In fact, I never considered something like that, but spontaneously I came up with two different ideas; a good one and a bad one. The bad one would be Frank Zappa. I'd expect a very interesting time, but, since it's an obvious clash of styles, I'm sure in the end we could only agree on another guitar album. So it rather should be someone who's records I hold dearly since the first time I heard them and he/it must still have a lot of potential but nowadays could use some fresh ideas and some of the help I can provide. How would you like a collaboration between "Fir§t Law" and "Fields of the Nephilim"? With me having the final say.
HH: Do you believe in the immortality through art?
AW: Oh, I truly hope there is something like immortality through art, else, I'd have to revert to Plan B and my wife and I would have to try to get infected by a vampire. Her plan, of course. - But seriously, show me an artist who denies any hope for "immortality" and I show you a liar! Though my hopes aren't so high in this case. A lot of great musicians are dead, buried and forgotten and so I'd be more than pleased to see my music show the least signs of longevity.
HH: Do you think First law will be remembered as a testimony for future generations?
AW: How should I know? I just created the music, what's going to happen to it in the future depends on the audience entirely and whether or not they deem it worth remembering. I don't think I have a hand in this any more.
HH: Final words for Heathen Harvest?
AW: Well, the "heathen" part in the name of your webzine always brings me back to a topic we already tackled, atheism. I'm not exactly sure what a "Heathen Harvest" is supposed to be, but I was immediately attracted by the idea that you associate yourself with the "odd ones out" in this god-crazy world. Billions of people are attracted by religion like the proverbial flies to the proverbial honey-pot and don't we all just hate how they sneer and snigger at our godless lives or being short a concept of an afterlife and things like that?
Admittedly, religion has a lot to offer besides fancy gods, pompous temples and stern priests. Role-models; ultimate wisdom; a moral code of conduct; salvation; forgiveness; promises of eternal happiness in more than fifty-seven varieties... all this and more like it. And what is it we got? Tons of "A priest, a Rabbi and a Minister walk into a Bar"-jokes. All right, there is nothing wrong with that. But no hope for a life beyond the one we're already living; no way to keep a clean conscience without living a life of decency; no mobs for backup... the Invisible Pink Unicorn... the Flying Spaghetti Monster... and Eris/Discordia as a role-model; that's pretty much it. And when I take these two sides in consideration and think about them hard and honestly, ... then I still don't suppose WE got the wrong end of the deal.
So, as for final words, just let me wish "Good luck!" to all of us. And let us all hope, we don't have to rely on it.