January 24, 2019 Interview – Dero Goi of Oomph!
The new year is shaping up to be a huge year for music, and German rockers Oomph! have already staked their claim with their brand-new Ritual, which arrived on January 18th. Purveyors of the Neue Deutsche Härte movement, the band has enjoyed a three-decade-long career that has seen them rising up from the streets of Wolfsburg, Germany to tour the globe alongside the likes of Marilyn Manson, HIM, Metallica, Tool, and many, many more.
With the 11-song Ritual, Oomph! — multi-instrumentalists Dero Goi, Andreas Crap, and Robert Flux — cross genres fluidly while delving into hard-hitting topics grounded in humanity’s modern woes. The end result is an attention-grabbing collection that is as sonically delicious as it is intellectually-stimulating. In the midst of enjoying the initial reactions to the album from fans and critics alike, Goi sat down to talk about the weighty material behind Ritual.
Cryptic Rock – Oomph! have enjoyed a long and successful musical ride for nearly three decades now. What have been some of the highs of your career, thus far?
Dero Goi – I fear there are far too many just to mention a few. Of course, our first gig in New York City back in 1993 was a definite highlight. The duet with Nina Hagen for “Fieber” in 1999 was also extremely awesome. Our No. 1 single “Augen Auf!” in 2004 was a big high too, and so was our victory in a nationwide German fan-voted competition called BuViSoCo in 2007 with our song “Träumst Du?.” The list could go on almost forever. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – It’s never a bad thing to have a lengthy list of highs! Now, as a band you have done what very few others seem to be able to do and have kept the same core members for the duration of your career. So, what’s the secret to keeping a band together?
Dero Goi – Stubbornness, much staying power, a high resilience factor, thick skin, a long breath, much creativity, interest in life and people, and a healthy amount of ignorance.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) And a healthy sense of humor, clearly. Oomph! has always blended a myriad of different sounds to create something unique, but you also continuously evolve this sound. What inspires these evolutions, and who are some artists that inspire you, personally?
Dero Goi – I’ve got a pretty broad horizon concerning my own personal taste in music and art: I’m into Jazz, Metal, Electro or New Wave, Progressive Rock, Classical Music, and movie soundtracks. I guess that I reflect all of these influences in my music and lyrics. Besides this, I try and be as interested as possible in politics, society, economy, ecology, science, religion and philosophy, so that I’ve always been inspired by everything that I see and feel.
Cryptic Rock – That makes for a well-rounded and diverse background when songwriting, no doubt. On that note, let’s talk Ritual. The album has some bold themes that are geared toward inspiring discussion. The obvious attention-grabber would be “TRRR – FCKN – HTLR”. What do you want listeners to take away from the track?
Dero Goi – I was pretty astonished about the fact that these three topics are the most discussed ones on the internet nowadays worldwide. So, you could either enter a dating platform or a political discussion forum or the comments on a YouTube video, and after a very short time there’s those three topics that occur: terrorism, sex, and Hitler. Besides this fun fact, I found the similarities between those three chapters very interesting: after all, they’re all about seduction, abuse of power, and suppression. The third level of this song is the greed for headlines in our scandal and fear-controlled society. There’s many hints that we’re in the acute state of decay after we’ve left maturation and bloom behind us some decades ago.
Cryptic Rock – We are certainly living in interesting times, to say the very least. In “Tausend Mann und ein Befehl” you explore the dangers of blindly following orders. Do you feel that in 2019 this is still very much an issue throughout the world? What changes need to be made to inspire people to think for themselves?
Dero Goi – I guess it depends on who gives the order and who follows. If you consider the fact that we’re still living in a turbo-capitalistic world, we have to ask ourselves who gives us the command to buy and to consume all those things from which we actually just need a few. Besides this, there’s still many political dictatorships all over the world and if you don’t follow the command of those leaders, you’ll get executed. Remember that it was just one single Russian soldier who saved the world back in the 1980s by refusing the command to start nuclear missiles. This might be long ago for most people, but for planet earth it was just one millisecond ago!
Even though we live in a highly-developed culture with the knowledge of science, there’s still so many religious hardliners all over the world that seem so brainwashed, backwards, and uneducated to the core that they’re still following the commands of people who wrote down some religious sentences many thousands of years ago — and even if they might have made sense back then, most of them are nonsense nowadays! To be honest, organized religions are nothing but tools for suppression and manipulation to me. Then there are those flat-earth freaks and chemtrail nerds who’ve found their substitute religion in conspiracy theories. Maybe we have to blame the junk food for this, who knows? (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Perhaps we might look more towards education for the blame in our society’s degradation, but that’s a whole other conversation right there. To get back to the album, for “Kein Liebeslied,” you write a non-love song to humanity. What does humanity need to change in order to earn a real love song?
Dero Goi – I don’t know if humanity will ever deserve a love song! If planet Earth is an organism itself, it should immediately get rid of this big plague called mankind. I fear we’ve become far too many for this fragile ecosystem.
Cryptic Rock – This is sadly very true. Alright, forget humanity! How did Chris Harms of Lord of the Lost come to be involved with “Europa?”
Dero Goi – We’ve known each other for quite a few years now, and some years ago there was this idea of doing something together. Chris came up with this song called “Abracadabra” for their latest album and asked me if I could imagine to sing it together with him as a duet, and as I really appreciated the song and its vibes from the beginning I agreed and joined. It was a great pleasure, and we had much fun in the studio.
As we finished the songwriting for Ritual, I was thinking about having a certain song as a duet with a male singer because, so far, we have only had duets with female singers in the past. I found “Europa” perfect for this idea, and so I asked Chris if he wanted to ‘take revenge’ for “Abracadabra.” (Laughs) He was totally hyped and recorded his vocal parts immediately. I think he did an excellent job, and our deep and dark voices match pretty well.
Cryptic Rock – You complement one another flawlessly and it’s a stand-out on the album. Actually, you are about to begin a tour of Europe in support of Ritual, what should European fans expect?
Dero Goi – A whole lotta Oomph! (Laughs) As were six people live on stage, they can expect much live-energy, enthusiasm, power, fervor, dedication, honesty, authenticity, passion, and a healthy cross-section of almost 30 years of Oomph! history!
Cryptic Rock – That will be awesome, no doubt. Is your fan-base strong over here in North America and, if so, do you have intentions to return to tour?
Dero Goi – As far as Facebook says, we have pretty strong fan-bases in North America and Russia. As kids of the ’80s, which were extremely dominated by the Cold War, we really appreciate this fact. We would love to play everywhere all over the world but, unfortunately, it doesn’t only depend on us. There has to be a proper distribution of our music in this area so that there are local promoters who believe in Oomph! to play North America. As more and more people know that Oomph! are the founders and godfathers of Neue Deutsche Härte and that without Oomph! there never would have been Rammstein, it’s a big chance for us to show people the origins of this genre.
Cryptic Rock – Well, we would love to see you back on American soil just as soon as it’s possible. Actually, 2019 is a special year for Oomph!, as it marks some very special anniversaries for some of your albums: Sperm will turn 25 in May and Wahrheit oder Pflicht turns 15 in less than a month. Do you have anything special planned for either anniversary?
Dero Goi – We recorded our Classical concerts with a whole symphonic orchestra last year in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia for DVD. So, we plan to release one of these very special shows sometime in the near future.
Cryptic Rock – That will be thrilling for fans across the world, no doubt. To dig a little deeper, how do you, as the creator of the music, feel that those albums have held up over time?
Dero Goi – I dunno? They’ve obviously become kind of ‘cult’ over the years. To own the whole discography of the inventors of a new music direction in the beginning of the ‘90s seems to be a must-have for many kids these days. So, thanks a lot to all those freaks who already own our shit or who’ve already ordered it, and to all those who intend to do it. I’m proud to say it’s definitely worth it! (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Nicely put! Okay, last question. At Cryptic Rock, we cover music as well as films, particularly Horror and Science Fiction. Are you fan of either of these genres of film and, if so, what are some of your favorite Horror/Sci-Fi movies?
Dero Goi – For Horror, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), and Philip Ridley’s The Reflecting Skin (1990). For Sci-Fi, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982).