Oomph! are back with a new studio album “Ritual”, almost 4 years after their previous release. Just before their London show in March 2019, Dero (vocals, drums) and Flux (guitar, sampling) talked to Grande Rock about their new album, their future plans, the new music label, Neue Deutsche Härte and Rammstein among other interesting things. Read more below…
Oomph! band pic
Hi guys, it’s been almost 4 years since your previous album. What happened during these four years?
Dero: Wow we’ve been on tour a lot, especially in East Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus etc… When we finished this tour, we tried to keep the spirit that we experienced and transform it into new songs. So you know we had two weeks off, and then we met at our studio and wrote almost 80% of the whole album in one month. So it was a good thing, a good experience. So, later on we worked it all out, the lyrics, the stuff, the riffing and the production. The whole ideas were pretty much fixed in one month and that was good to transform the stage experiences into a new CD and that was the first time we did it that way.
What has changed in your songwriting formula or the way you approached the songs this time?
D: We tried to imagine how it would feel if we entered a time machine and go back in the middle of the 90s and how we felt back then and to combine it with our current emotional and intellectual status quo. This is the first time that we had a hybrid or a mixture of how we felt back in the 90s and how we are right now.
Why did you decide to mix and produce the new album entirely on your own?
Flux: We had on the two albums before; we had co-producers and we had some co-writers some friends of us who wrote some songs with us. The album before was not mixed by us and we just wanted to change and we wanted to go back to the times where we did everything on our own, like on the first seven or eight albums and of course we can’t go back in a time machine and like being younger and naïve; but we tried to remember what energy we had and that we did not care about anything that people were saying about us, we’ve never been at the top charts positions on our first album. It was all about just putting ourselves in the music and not thinking about any album sales, which came later of course… when you first had your number one hit, then record labels come to you and say maybe we can do a song like this again or something. So, this time we have been totally free and get this fresh energy back after being on tour and we tried to get this live feeling back on the studio and think about nothing and see what happens when everybody has an instrument in their hands and just play music and have fun. Thinking about what we’d like to play live on stage, this was always in our heads, like “will this song be good to perform it live on stage?”…
D: For me it was pretty clear that this album should contain very provocative and sarcastic lyrics because I was full of aggression concerning what happens worldwide. So, it was the perfect time for me to transform this aggression, anger and the fact that I was so sick of the political development into new lyrics – this is what artists are about, for me is kind of a self-therapy in a way. So I wanted to provoke and as always you have to have a reason to do so; if it’s only for attention then it’s boring and dumb. But we have so many reasons why we still provoke and put the finger where it hurts.
What does the album title “Ritual” declare?
D: Ohh wow, our life is full of rituals, like when we go on stage we hug each other like a football team and we say bon appétit. So, this is our band ritual for example; but still the whole world is full of rituals and some of them are scary because they are anxious and got nothing to do with life and they are unnecessary to keep the society together. Some of them are absolute and some of them are completely full of horror, like ritual murders and yes this is a mysterious world that can be interpreted in many different ways.
What do the songs’ lyrics talk about?
D: It’s not just one specific topic, but many different like like different shades of abuse within policy within religion within churches or within a family. You know it deals with sexual abuse, abuse of power. So maybe that’s the main topic of it.
F: Yes there are  lots of different things that we deal, like development of the internet, like a strange thing for us to realize was the fact that the most goggled words of the most three discuss topics within the internet are terrorism, terror attacks and pornography and sexuality and Hitler or nazi Germany or whatever. So, that was the reason why we wrote these songs.
Is there any kind of connection between the cover artwork and the album title “Ritual”? I think is the most weird & intriguing cover artwork of your to date, what’s you say?
D: Yes it can be also interpreted it in many ways like the lady is looking forward to her crowing or is she afraid of it? Like you never know. What it is? Is it forced. It’s what we wanted. It’s mysterious, it’s dark, it’s kinda horror.
Which are the similarities and the differences among the new album and your previous releases?
D: Yeah, I think the main differences among the previous albums and the new one are the more guitar riffing, the more straight forward lyrics, the straight forward vocals, the aggressive shouting and the less melodic aspects. It’s also more “disharmonic” in a way. I think it’s darker, more aggressive, more provocative and more German (heheh).
How did the idea to feature Chris Harms (Lord Of The Lost) on “Europa” come about?
D: We’ve known each other for quite a long time and we respecting each other. I was thinking about I was like maybe we can work together in the future and he came up with this song on his album “Abracadabra” and then asked me if I could take part and I was like “yeah why not, it’s a good one and let’s try it out”…and it finally and turned out well. Then we had this song, “Europa”, on the new album and we werr like something is missing here, maybe it could be a duet and so we aked Chris to take part on it and we really had fun.
Why did you decide to release “Ritual” in German language entirely?
D: Because I think it’ more authentic and deeper if you express yourself in your mother tongue. That’s the only reason. I mean I really appreciate the English language, it is well sounding and perfect for music, but the roughness, the toughness and the edginess of German cannot beat this, so yeah that’s the reason.
What are your expectations from the new album and what are your future plans?
D: Hopefully we will go out for a second tour with this album and go on tour in more other regions of the world like Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and maybe Mexico, hopefully again. It’s like explore new regions with the new album with a wide distribution of Napalm Records. After this tour we’re gonna do some research on things we recorded on an orchestra show that we did in September last year in Moscow with a symphonic orchestra and we’re gonna release it…well let’s see what happens.
How’s the fans’ reactions been to the new songs on your live shows so far?
D: Very positive, all over the world people are enthusiastic especially they appreciate the fact that we have gone back to our roots and that’s kinda positive to hear. Of course you just cannot please everyone with the new release. There always gonna be people who’d say “I like that fact that you were so funny on this album and why don’t you keep on doing it like that”… but Oomph! is about surprises and changes, so you never know what you’ll get in the end.
How did the cooperation with Napalm Records occur and how’s your cooperation so far?
F: Well after the last album we have been free concerning record contracts, so we started to produce the new album and the songs and then we contacted all the relevant record companies in Germany and we got lucky that we could choose between eight good offers from major companies and indie metal labels. We met with all those companies and Napalm Records gave us the best feeling, when we talked to them we had the same vision of where to go with this album and it was an easy decision for us to make. And of course it is number one in Germany, so the decision is right so far and hopefully we can explore new countries with Napalm Records and see what’s going on.
Even though you’re one of the pioneering bands of the (so-called) Neue Deutsche Härte, and you have also influenced Rammstein musically to a great extent. Do you feel that you never get the all credits you deserved in Germany and globally for doing so? Do you have any regrets about that thing or what?
D: Wow that’s relative, isn’t it? I mean we were able to tour all over the world and we are still able to live our dream and we are satisfied from that fact. We cannot really compare with other bands because they have a completely different approach on music. Rammstein is about the show and the visual aspects. Oomph! never was about that. We tried to create as much energy on stage and that was the main goal, so we can’t really need to compete or compare with Rammstein. We respect each other and meet each other from time to time and they are fair enough to say that without Oomph! there never would have been Rammstein. Everything is OK and we know that you always pay a price for success and for a certain level of success. So I don’t know if I would really like to pay this price to be known in the entire world, that’s not my cup of tea. That would be really scary for me; I really appreciate intimacy and our private life. As long as I’m able to live from my music everything is fine with me.
How did you come up with the name Oomph! initially?
F: When we had our first song, we had a demo and it’s always the same you don’t have a band name but you have a demo tape and then we had this old English dictionary in our studio, we just went through it and we kinda stumbled in this funny looking name for us German, like double o and exclamation mark in the end and then we though it looks great and then we read it and it was an expression that you want to describe something which has energy and sex appeal. Like there was a sentence, for example, that said “Marylin Monroe had a lots of oomph!”. So, maybe it’s not fitting to us as persons, but hopefully it does so for our music and it’s open enough to any kind of music we wanna do in the future. It’s not like ohh this is a heavy metal band’s name or an electronic band name; it’s open, so we chose it, the record label liked it and it is what it is.