REWIND! Paul Kalkbrenner Interview

[REWIND! is a weekly feature where Hugh Voltage and Ray De Ation dig through the archives of previous concert coverage. The original words and photos are published as is… with modern commentary about what they think now.]


Hugh: Paul Kalkbrenner is seriously one of the coolest motherfuckers in the music industry I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing sick germs and alcohol with. So cool, in fact, that he mailed us a Blu-Ray copy of his movie, Berlin Calling, with a handwritten note when he got back to Germany. We’ve interview a lot of artists over the years, but I’ll never forget my first…

Ray: Yeah this dude was super cool, and his touring manager was even cooler. Most artists that we meet or interview are not as friendly as him, and aren’t as willing to just give you shit off their rider. We didn’t even ask, and he was asking us to drink with him. I’m super surprised we didn’t get sick from the cold that he was getting over. I guess Makers kills germs. It also blew my mind that his manager was such a man of his word, in regards to the Blu-Ray video popping up in Hugh’s mailbox.

Original interview follows:
Assuming you were capable of shifting focus from the gyrating crowd and the rich tones of the organ blaring through the North Coast Music Fest speakers while Paul Kalkbrenner was on stage, the first thing you would have noticed is the close cropped hair and GQ stubble that is almost ubiquitous these days with old school DJs – and Jason Statham. We had a chance to sit down with Paul after his set and ask him all the important questions that we needed answers to.

We met Marcus (Paul’s Manager – dressed in his Lemy best) and headed past the velvet rope (this is the only time we will say this, we promise) to Paul’s trailer. Walking into the trailer found us face to face with the hoodie-clad, relatively pale German man that brought Union park to its knees an hour ago. After handshakes and introductions he begins gnawing on a Laffy Taffy (banana flavored if you must know) and instructs us to raid his rider-ed Makers Mark and the Coke they gave him. You’d think that after this long in the music business he would have developed an ego, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Upon discovering that there was only one cup in the trailer he insisted none of us go without, so we shared.

With the ice melted, we moved on to the important matters at hand. It became clear very quickly that Paul values the same personal connection that we do, so this isn’t so much a Q&A as it is a conversation with an old friend. An old friend who just happens to be a hugely popular German DJ named Paul Kalkbrenner.

Turns out North Coast wasn’t Paul’s first jaunt in the city of great wind, so he was prepared for the chaos. Coming off two days at Burning Man (apparently only rich and super rich people) after 4 days in Mexico took a lot out of him because he said he was feeling “sick and tired.” For the record, it didn’t show in the live set or the interview.

On that series of notes, there’s a few more things you need to know about Paul. He’s been in the business since before you could just download the most recent remix of ten random top 40 songs, sort by beats per minute, and human iPod your way to party god. He does everything on the fly, live. He even had the courage to tell us if one of his pieces of equipment were to break (knock on wood) he’s basically fucked. But that’s the amazing thing about him. Everything about his music–even if it started as a different work–is original. Even when he “worked” with his brother Fritz on “Sky and Sand” for Berlin Calling it was pre-recorded vocals from a different tempo song that he made his own (no word on how Fritz felt about this). Being a good copyist as he calls it allows him to make things his own, but it also shades the process. Where possible, he likes working in complete silence so he can protect himself from, well, himself.

Back to Jason Statham. Yes, he’s gotten Jason Statham, but he’s also gotten Edward Norton (they do have similar bone structure). His comment about the similarity was this, “Every time I feel bad about going bald I watch a Jason Statham movie and I feel better. After all, as long as you don’t look like George Costanza you’re good, right?” And just like that – when we thought he couldn’t get any cooler – he goes and references Seinfeld.

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