The Scream Queen Interviews Andi Schnitzer of Germany's Kissin' Dynamite!
You guys are getting ready to release, Ecstasy, which is your first album via Metal Blade Records...What does it mean to you to be a part of the Metal Blade family now?
Before we were with Metal Blade, we were on Sony for Germany, Austria, Switzerland. We had 3 albums via AFM [Records] from Germany and now it [the recording contract] was over, so it was obvious that we could do our next record.
With Metal Blade, we are really happy as they are not only in Germany, but also in L.A. and that’s a big thing for us maybe because we’ve never been–we’ve been around 10 years now the same line up, we’ve never been to you [in the US] actually. Maybe with Metal Blade we can.
I listened to your new album and it sounds like you guys have so much fun while playing and recording. And I've also watched some videos of you guys live. How did you try to incorporate your live energy you have into Ecstasy?
You’re right. The first album is kind of more back to the ‘roots’ again. For us, this means just having fun; no compromise, no experiments, just down-to-earth, solid Pop Rock that’s fun to listen to.
And in terms of lyrics, we don’t have to prove to the world anymore, which we tried to do a little bit on the last album, but this one is just about having fun and partying– that’s really what it’s all about with Rock music.
That’s what we also felt because we were free of the AFM thing, although they were really great with us, we just felt that we needed to add another step. There is a really good vibe in the band here with the new team [Metal Blade] and the new album. Maybe that’s also why our album came out that much fun, solid, and no compromise.
I was reading that you write a lot of the lyrics, correct?
Yes, that’s right.
I ask this question to everyone I interview, it's one of my most favorite questions to ask...I always view music as alive, music is an entity in itself...Songs take on their own entities... So, when you're writing, how do you bring your songs to life?
Yeah, I think as you said, it’s a rare thing. There are not many bands that are together for this long. And I think there is big value in that. Also, it’s maybe we are not the best technical musicians, or whatever, but I think it’s sad that when I see other bands that change their guitar player like their underwear.
I think it’s cool, but if you have problems, and of course we’ve had problems and have some– I think it’s cool to not go the easy way and say, “Ok, fuck off. And we get another one [guitarist]. Let’s just sit together and talk about what the problem is and if it’s one that can be solved.”
In our case, we started very young; when we were ten years or so old, there were two bands that had all of us together, and they came together when all of us were about 13-14.
It’s a real childhood thing with Kissin’ Dynamite actually. [laughs]
It’s like, the first love you have and you never forget and you picture it in your heart. [laughs]
We still picture each other, but you never know what’s coming! Knock on wood. [laughs]
How do you feel your music represents the passion and love you have for Rock and Metal?
Hmmm. As I said before, for us it’s always been about having a good time and not so much…Of course messages are also important, but the thing is, that’s what I realized after writing the Generation Goodbye album; people want to come to the show and to forget about the things they think about. They want to not think– like meditation. [laughs]
I don’t say, “I don’t care about the lyrics.” They have to be good, but they don’t need to have a big message, [an] important, serious message people have to think about. It’s enough to say, I’ve got the fire and you’ve got the band that’s Kissin’ Dynamite. [laughs] It fits well together. And there’s fire on stage and we are playing powerful so everyone enjoys it.
You are the drummer of Kissin' Dynamite. So what was it that exactly sparked your passion for playing the drums?
I know it does not sound very cool, but with all of us actually; our parents are the ones that heard really good music like Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses, and Scorpions; stuff like this. Actually, our parents had the cooler music than our mates at school. So, that’s what we stuck to.
And for me, it was a concert together with my parents, I was 10 years old and I went to AC/DC in 2001. And I still remember it really like it was yesterday because it was the day I knew that I had to do this as well because I was 10 years old and it was almost my first concert and there were 80,000 other fans and for me, it was much like Heaven.
I have to admit there were some tears in my eyes when they began with Stiff Upper Lip because I just overwhelmed. And then I said, “I have to do this, I have to play drums. I don’t know why drums, but I got to be a rockstar!” [laughs]
[laughs] That's cool, that's the reason I'm such a Metal Head is because of my Mom as well. And that's so amazing you were able to see AC/DC!
There is always a magical feeling when you see a concert live and you have to feel it up on stage when you're playing. How would you describe that magic that you feel when you're on stage?
Hmm. It’s actually the same feeling like I have when I’m in the crowd watching a really good concert because in my opinion, it’s not about the crowd, not about the fans, but it’s about something bigger, magic– whatever is created all together. That’s what every musician says and it’s cliche, I know, that you play on stage, it’s coming in the crowd and back again and things like this. But I think that it’s real.
And I think that’s why I really like bands who are not assholes, who are not making their egos “bigger than they are” kind of guys, that are normal people who buy their eggs in the supermarket and then they go on stage and are big rockstars. [laughs]
They know it’s not about themselves, it’s about what happens when they play and the crowd participates. So, that’s why I feel the same because it is all about the same feeling for everyone.
With all of the songs that you've written over the last ten years, which song has the most meaning to you?
I think that Utopia, the last one from Generation Goodbye. It’s actually about a Torero, who kills bulls. The story, the background is, and now it’s getting really [inaudible], it’s not really [about] just having fun… But as I said on the last album, there was also very deep stuff going on.
And it’s just about the Torero who is stuck to the success he gets and to the fame he gets, while doing something that’s actually not good because this is killing animals. But he cannot stop it and he’s addicted to fame and it’s just a dramatic story, but actually with a happy ending because in the end, he’s being killed by a bull. [laughs]
But then he’s got salvation and enlightenment and he understands that it was all, you know, just bullshit. And now he has the inner peace he always looked for. And why I think these are cool lyrics is because of course it’s a story of a Torero, but you can take this and relate to it with any other theme.
So, the essence of it is just relax and don’t take things too seriously. For example, success or fame or drugs, or whatever– if you get into it, it will be dangerous.
What is the song on Ecstasy that has the most meaning to you whether it be lyrically or musically?
Ok. I have to think. Hmmm. I would say musically, I really like the title song [Ecstasy] because it is so positive and pounding live; also with Anna Brunner, who is singing together with Hannes, but that’s only musically. Lyrically, I would say Heart of Stone.
And why is that?
Yeah. There it is getting a little deeper. Again, about people that just…It’s actually a little similar to the Torero guy who is just pretending everything and is saying that he’s fine and it’s all cool, but the reality is, it’s all bullshit and he’s wearing a mask and he’s lying to himself.
He’s got no real soul, you know? He’s got one, but nobody can see it because on top of it is all bullshit and so he’s got a “Heart of Stone“. That’s what the song is about; if he dies and continues like that, his “Heart of Stone” will be the only thing that remains.
II think everybody knows people like this, so I think that’s why it is the most meaningful to me.
I always view music as a journey... Through your 10 year music career, what have been some of the important and profound moments of your journey that have impacted you the most so far?
One, of course, was the very first gig together with Hannes [Braun, vocals] and Ande [Braun, guitars]. In the beginning, there were two bands… One was with Jim [Muller, guitars], me, and some other guys. [The second was] the rest of our band with some other guys.
Later on, we came together and when we had the first gig, it was like…There was something in the air everybody could feel that this is something cool what we’ve got, that this is something not just for a few months or so that it could be something long and big. That’s what we sell tickets–it was no big gig, but a little one in our village. The vibe was so cool, that’s why I mentioned this one.
Another one was, of course, Tokyo in 2013, when we were in Japan for one week and this was also really– we were playing for our lives. [laughs] It’s also on YouTube, you can see everybody really had fun, we couldn’t believe saying, “Hello Tokyo! How are you doing?!” because we’ve only played in Europe so far. It was a really cool one.
Then last year, we were playing on Wacken for the first time in a very full tent in front of 10,000 people. For us, this would be a good highlight in our career. Wacken is of course just not anything, but it is Wacken. I think you know what Wacken is, don’t you?
Oh, yes! I definitely do! I've always wanted to go, haven't made it over there yet. Hopefully next year! Many of my friends have played it though! That brings me to my next question-- what are some of the moments you are looking forward to in your journey ahead?
We will release our album, Ecstasy in July and I’m looking forward to this of course! The 6th of July. We’ll be surprising [sic] what chart position we’ll make in Germany, it’s always nerve racking. All of us wonder about chart position. [laughs]
But we will go on tour together with Powerwolf. We were fortunate to be support for them for the Europe tour in Autumn and this will be the highlight and I’m really looking forward to this because we’ve met the guys several times and we’ve played with them. They are as crazy and funny as we are.
How do you feel you've grown over the last ten years as an artist?
I think a little bit like Torero again. You learn to take things not so seriously like you did before and that makes you free. You don’t worry about things as much as you did. You also play better. I think because you are– if I’m a drummer and my hands and my feet are linked to my brain and if my brain is heavy and my feet and my hands are heavy, then I am more free all together. [laughs]
If you don’t worry so much, you play also better and that’s what you have to learn over– I guess you cannot just read it in a book. You have to also have some pride in it and stuff. Like everybody in life, also with you. Oh, and wiser! Although we are not yet 30, we are still wiser than we were when we were 17.
In the United States, we have this non-profit organization called Guitars For Vets, which I am a part of. We give guitars and guitar lessons free of charge to our Veterans. Our main message is that there is a power music has that helps heal, especially those who are in a dark place mentally. How do you feel music heals? And do you have any experiences where you've been in a dark place in your life and it has helped you get through that time?
Mhmm, oh yes. Sometimes I think over and over that it is very like a miracle if you put the radio on and any song comes on; and it depends on which memory you link with it, you get a feeling… It can be good or it can be bad. But if you just look at this song, it is actually magic, only because you hear something, you get an emotion. Music has a deep impact.
And it’s the same with me. If I listen to songs I link [my memory with] to 15 years ago, pictures [in my mind] are coming [up] again… And if I’m down and I’m listening to music, I feel like it helps me, it really helps me. So, if you were to ask me to be blind or deaf, I would have to say to be blind.
What are some songs that you have listened to while you haven't been in a good state of mind that helped you?
There was one time when I had a big crisis and everything was dark, you know like you have sometimes, and you don’t know how you should go on or if you—not if, just how. But I listened a lot to The Doors. You know, “This is the end, my only friend…” It just fits to how you feel. If you feel like this, you don’t need to—you say “fuck off happy stuff, I don’t need it, don’t feel it.”
So, you just have to listen to this. In this time, I don’t know, The Doors–it was light and dark, like Jim Morrison probably also had. Because only happy, every day happy and smiling, ehhhhh– you know, it’s all bullshit. [laughs] At some point, there comes a time where it’s not real and nobody can smile like the whole day. And which songs? The End was probably the most important one at this time.