Interview: Listening to Music with Eric Pfeil

Eric Pfeil was the man behind legendary German music TV shows such as „Fast Forward“ featuring Charlotte Roche or „Sarah Kuttner Show“. After a while he got tired of television and started to work for FAZ, where he wrote a diary about Pop music. In 2010 he published a book called Komm, wir werfen ein Schlagzeug in den Schnee at Kiepenheuer & Witsch. Now he released his first album Ich hab mir noch nie viel aus dem Tag gemacht. The music is a combination of Italian Pop, Jonathan Richman, Kevin Ayers and Lloyd Cole.

In our interview with Eric Pfeil we talked about music by Flaming Lips, Bruce Springsteen, Ja, Panik and Raffaella Carra.

Flaming Lips Ego Trpping at the gates of hell

Wayne Coyne once said to me: “Eric, if an intergalactic sword fighter would come in here right now and cut off your arm, that would be unfortunate for you, but I would have a great new song”. This sentence explains a lot about what is so great about the Flaming Lips.

This band accompanied me throughout my life. If you would wake me up in the middle of night pulling a gun at my head and ask me about my favorite band, I would always say “The Flaming Lips”.

I also like other kinds of music, but no other act has accompanied me as long as these strange guys. I discovered this band in the early 90s. Back then they were the perfect soundtrack for a time of carelessness and nonsense. Later on they become something like the most wise psychedelic band in the world – which also is a career path.

There are several reasons why I like this band so much: their empathy, their sound, the great songs, the figure Wayne Coyne – and Steven Drozd’s drums. There is just no other band where the drums sound like on the The Flaming Lips records in the time between 1993 and 1999. I want to marry the Flaming Lips drums from the years 1993-1999. By the way: this piece is great as well.

Bruce Springsteen Hungry Heart

Hm, this it the BAP version. I would rather recommend a live recording, but ok. Back in the days Bruce Springsteen was always unpleasant to me. I just did not understand what was supposed to be so special about his music.

But that is not entirely correct. In 1984, when Dancing in the dark, I’m on fire or Glory Days were hits, I loved him. I used to go vacation with my parents to the US, and I did not wanted to hear anything else but the Born in the USA album and Little Creatures by Talking Heads. Then I discovered acts like Go-Between, Lloyd Cole, The Smiths and Robyn Hitchcock, and therefore Bruce Springsteen seemed too shallow to me.

20 years later I went to my first Springsteen concert, and it made me cry. In fact I just realized that only this guy can do that. Bruce Springsteen sells empathy with the tools of show business. If you think about it, you could say: that is what this old fashioned thing called Rock’n’Roll was invented for.

One of my favorite songs is called I’ll work for your love. Even love is an object of work, and that is what it should be. If Bruce Springsteen is good, he has contact to something that is deeply scratched into the human soul. I mean “Everybody’s got a hungry heart…”. That maybe is the essence.

My daughter is 10 years old, on our last vacation she discovered Born in the USA. It just happened. She wanted to know everything about this music that is naive and smart at the same time. She studied all the lyrics, she wondered who Bobby Jean is and what exactly happens at this Downbound Train. I believe that music which you discover in the age of 10 can not be that wrong. When you are 8 or 9 years old, you are insecure. But when you are 10, you suspect what is going on. Originally Bruce Springsteen wrote Hungry Heart for The Ramones – that maybe is something worth to mention. Today he does not sing this song himself, the audience does.

Ja, Panik Like A Hurricane

This is a young band singing in German that really got me. I enjoy how they make a mess with language in this extravagant way. But you can get my with anything that is influenced by Bob Dylan – which definitely is the case here. I did not know this song. I do not like it as much as the older stuff, but it is pleasantly slack and flabby. But there are too many stupid haircuts for my taste. Anyhow: great band.

Raffaella Carra & Mario Del Monaco Felicita Tà Tà

You got me! This is exactly my world. Even though it is not Battisti, Celentano or Modugno, but at least it is Carra. Later on she did the original Italian version of Tanze Samba mit mir. I did not know Mario de Monaco (in English: “Mario from Munich”) before, he is strongly pushing the Belcanto thing, and I think that is good and right.

This performance is probably not the best example, but I take the opportunity to let the world know: the Italian popular culture of the 60s and 70s is a never ending source of pleasure. I can recommend to everybody to feast on that. I thank my parents for taking me to this strange country for vacation so often. Oh, and I would love to perform at the TV studio of this video. Maybe I just buy that studio and take it on tour. You should always think big…

Eric Pfeil Süden

This is the single from my album Ich hab mir noch nie viel aus dem Tag gemacht. My friend Alfred Jansen was the director, he also plays bass in my band. I wanted to shoot in some pizza places in Cologne, but then I thought: “Come on, you know Rome better than your parental home, and everything that your song is about happens there.”

So I bought 2 plane tickets for the two of us. We shoot the video in two days in which our Gin Tonic level was pretty high – you can see that in the video as well. The beautiful thing about Rome: nobody asks for a permission to film. In Cologne we could never have done that without getting thousands of permissions. In Italy police men are eager to be in the picture themselves (watch out for the police car in front of the Vatican).

While we were shooting a married couple came along. When they saw that I was doing playback into a camera, they asked me if I could sing That’s amore for the video they were shooting for their wedding. So now you can see me on a video for some Italian wedding: in front of the Vatican, singing That’s amore and playing guitar out of tune! As an exchange, the two of them are in my music video.

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<a href="" target="_self">Jens</a>