My name is Bernhard Hammer, I´m playing the guitar. In our band all the responsibilities are equally shared. So we all are not only instrumentalists but producers at the same time.
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
The whole band is based in Vienna and we are enjoying a good musical infrastructure: musicians are well connected, there are strong networks (especially in the experimental scene) and musicians are cooperating a lot. New festivals are evolving and fresh crews of promoters are appearing regularly.
There are more and more artists, who are touring world-wide. On the other hand one has to admit that Vienna has a narrow-minded and petty bourgeois face as well: new clubs are facing troubles with the neighbours, the municipality and the police.
The city is putting a lot of money into promoting huge festivals (that very often are at free admission) and DIY and alternative promoters get almost no fundings at all. Unfortunately music-wise the city government has still a huge focus on classical music.
You have an album coming out on the 26th of October , how would you describe the sound of this album?
The initial point of our new album “polybrass” was the desire to continue and deepen the examination of the sound of the trombones that we started with the EP “parade”, that came out one year ago. Actually we have been experimenting with the idea and the sound of the 3-trombone-ensemble for a long time. More precisely we did our first show with trombones at a FM4 radio-live-show in 2011. We composed 5 pieces and had just two short rehearsals. The show was great, but since we were very busy playing trio-shows at that time, we did not continue to work on this special project.
Our next step to “trombone-heaven” was a composition mandate by a jazz festival in Tirol/Austria in 2016. This time we had the budget to rehears for a longer period and used to rehearsals to recorded some of the compositions. Out of this we released the above mentioned EP “parade” and started our collaboration with Denovali-Records.
For “polybrass” we took some time to compose and experiment with the sound of the trombones and we did a lot of research of wind-instruments in different music genres like for example Haitian “Rara” music. We took a lot of time for the production and for that reason the album sounds deeper, more colourful and detailed than our previous releases. There are more “song like” tracks and 2 tracks are featuring vocals for the first time in our discography.
Where and when did you record?
Like I mentioned before, we took a lot of time and effort to compose, record, produce and mix the album. In fact we´ve been composing for some month, recording for 10 days and producing and mixing for 5 month. All this happened between September 2017 and May 2018. This was definitely the album with the biggest amount of work and time, but we are extremely happy with the result.
We recorded and mixed Polybrass in the studio of our friend Nik Hummer (at minusgroundzero studios/Vienna), who also acted as our recording engineer and co-producer. There was enough space and separated recording rooms to record all instruments simultaneously, which was very important for us. So we had one room with the 3 trombones and one room, where we recorded the drums. The bass and guitar were recorded directly without amps (we re-amp a lot in the production afterwards) to have a clean drum sound.
The album features trombones and vocals, please tell us more about how you have put the tracks and album together and what techniques were used:
We had around 10 compositions ready, when we started the recording session with the tree trombone players. The compositions were still very much open for improvisation and we tried out different possibilities. The ones, that worked best came to the post-production, where we edited, dubbed modified and reampted (sending the recorded signal through a guitar or bass amp to record it again) a lot.
For the two vocal-tracks we choose two different voices, that we admired and send each of them the one track, we thought that would fit them best. And both of them, the Austrian artist “76%” aka Lisa Kortschak (singing on “Miney Mick”) and the Japanese singer Takanobu Hagihara from the great band “Yolz in the sky” (singing on “Aerostat”), sent us amazing sketches, which we all liked from the first moment. We recorded the voice for Miney Mick at Minusgroundzero studios in Vienna and the vocals for “Aerostat” were recorded by Takanobu Hagihara himself in Japan.
How do you usually go about writing tracks?
Usually a lot of our compositions happen through or during improvisation, which is not the case on the new album. “Polybrass” represents a new and different side of the Elektro Guzzi sound. But are beginning to like this way of working and in the recent time, more and more compositions develop on the computer or on music-sheets before we try to play them on our instruments.
What or who influences your sound?
Since we are three musicians in the band and each of us has a different (not totally different, but different) taste of music and we are all researching a lot, our influences are in a change all the time. Sometimes our drummer Bernhard comes with records of crazy Haitian percussion music to the rehearsal, the other day Jakob (bass) brings a punch of fresh techno records and so on. We have a kind of “mailing list”, where we send us fresh discovered music to each other.
At the very moment I listen a lot to Nigerian Hip Hop music, which I discovered recently.
How did Electro Guzzi forrm?
Jakob and I met at the university of music and performing arts in Vienna around 15 years ago. We formed Elektro Guzzi around 2006, in a time, when we went to lots of techno parties and started to fall in love with electronic music. We had a different drummer at that time. We were really good friends, who were under the charm of electronic dance music and at some point just started to try to play techno music with our instruments. It just happened.
Around 2008 Bernhard Breuer jointed us on drums and after the first album, which we finally released in 2010 (it took as a while to do the first album), we started touring world-wide.
What do you like to do outside of music?
Music is present in almost all the activities I do in my live. But I love to play tennis (one could say I´m a bit addicted to it) and I enjoy riding the bike. When I have time to go sailing with (a good friend has a small boat on the “Neusiedlersee” very close to Vienna), it´s the activity that relaxes me the most.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?
I recently discovered a Afghanian restaurant and I am addicted to “Mantus”, which are dumpling filled with meat and lentils on the side. I buy them twice a week… And I love to hangout at the Danube Canal, where you can still find alternative bars like the “Central Garden” or the “Hafenkneipe” and cheap beer from street-vendors as well.