Phillip Boa and the Voodoo Club : an interview
In the mid 80’s Phillip Boa appeared on the German music scene with dark, melancholic songs with male/female vocals that fused the black sky thinking of Joy Division with the suave pop chops of Roxy Music and a tribal drumming. It made him the biggest cult star in Germany with top ten albums.
At the same time Phillip Boa released loads of UK underground acts on his Constrictor label and was a massive help to countless musicians at the time in Germany.
His records have the nack of being pop and underground at the same time and they sound quite timeless after all these years. If we do the Louder Than War festival next year we try and coax him into coming over to play…
Decades later he remains on the fringes with his inventive and eccentric angular pop that is more electronic and less tribal these days but still has that melancholic edge.
1. looking back on your career what position do you occupy in the german music scene? maverick? outsider? indie icon?
—I think I’m a bit of all 3. Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub are pretty much isolated in their own universe here: Medium successful, very loyal fans, all artistic freedom.
2. you nearly produced Rammstein’s first single…please tell me the story!
— I got a cassette from Rammstein’s management via the record company. Rammstein were
thinking of using me as a producer for their first album. I listened to the stuff a few times and thought: This is perfect. I can only ruin it; never could I make it better. So I said no -they were a bit pissed off, I guess. But I recommended a producer, a friend of mine, who also said no, this time for a different reason: He did not like the music at all. Then they found a Swedish producer and guess what : I still think the demo sounded the same as their succesfully produced album. Anyway: I respect Rammstein for what they are doing.
3. what is you relationtionship with other German left field acts like Neubauten
—I was a great fan of the Neubauten and was very honoured that we played a few shows together.
They were a big influence. Blixa and me, in the beginning of my “career”, met and decided to sign a “Nichtangriffspakt” – a pact that we would not attack each other in the press. I believe Blixa did not like me very much. I got on well with their percussion player F.M. Einheit.
4. why do you think your music has never caught on in the UK?
—-Well- we had about 8 “single of the week” and 5 “album of the week ” between 1986 and 1990, loads of press in NME ,Sounds etc., good gigs; then I signed to a major record company and things got fucked up. I decided to leave it in Glamour rather then let the Glamour get thrashed by slow fading away.
5. you always had a very English influence to your sound, anglophile? can you explain this? and also explain how despite this you managed to sound quite German!
—Here in Dortmund we had English soldiers, the school was teaching English, I was good at it and we went to London twice with school. The first time must have been in 1979, when Punk was still everywhere. I was totally infected and became an “Anglophile”. Although I never put on an English accent- I could have, but I thought it would sound fake. The music was always a british-influenced Postpunk version of a german sounding band.
6. How much has the German music scene changed since you started and what is your role in this change? What are you doing right now?
—-The music scene here in Germany is really more dead than it ever was. I said it before: No support from Media, because the Media is totally commercialised and the younger and upcoming bands prostitute to stupid Radio + TV and thereby disqualify themselves; there is no scene, no support of bands for each other (jealousy instead). Without the net it would look pretty grim. There are some good german bands (like The Notwist) who lead the same existence and are pretty successful and happy within their own world. My role in the change : none. I am not a first-league band. But maybe I am too negative. Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub go marching on, touring, soon releasing a new album about treachery and loyalty: stories about a figure called Adorno(german philosophy professor) who storms through our age and is totally fascinated but alienated+ confused.