We are what we are
When in the spring of 1993 the album “Suck Success” of the Berlin formation Run Run Run Vanguard was released, nobody could have guessed yet which highly intellectual leaps of thought would inspire the music press. There were announcements like “Gothic-Grunge”, which were probably solely due to lead singer Alexander Veljanov, who should be well known to us from Deine Lakaien. It seemed to have been overlooked that Run Run Run Vanguard had been marching through the musical landscape since’88 and only now dared to release a longplayer. And you don’t want anything to do with “Gothic”, as you are, at least according to drummer Werner: “a live band” and “you can’t measure what a band brings live by what you hear on the album” (free quote, editor’s note). Of course, because an LP is usually recorded under time and money pressure and rarely reflects what potential a band really has. Anyway, Run Run Run Vanguard are an independent band, which should defy any comparison with the “lackeys” and should be classified accordingly.
NEW LIFE: Your trademark, at least on the album, is a banana. Does it have any connection to Andy Warhol or Velvet Underground, who also used this motif?
Alexander: Actually, it is. A little bit.
Peter: At least we all like to hear it and this banana has many meanings, so everyone can think about it.
NEW LIFE: It’s not an allusion to the former East?
Peter: No, no. The banana’s in the dirt, so it’s not a stupid allusion.
NEW LIFE: You have this problem, as for example in “TIP” (Berlin city magazine), where you are dismissed as a “gothic group”. How do you feel about people trying to put you in a drawer?
Werner: We actually think that sucks.
NEW LIFE: Would you define yourself in one direction?
Peter: I find that really annoying, I’m probably most annoyed about us, right?
Werner: I take it off your hands.
Alexander: You’re always annoyed about drawers.
Peter: The funny thing is, none of us has been and will not be a “tomb”, that’s why it resists me to be somehow so appreciated.
Alexander: Maybe there are different influences, perhaps also so-called post-punk, gothic or whatever you call it. “Gothic-Grunge” sounds good, so 2 G’s, someone just made that up. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, I’ve never heard the term before.
NEW LIFE: So you’re basically moving away from the gothic corner?
Alexander: Oh, from every corner. I don’t want to go to the grunge corner or metal or anything. We make the music we make, and there’s no need for a sticker.
Peter: The funny thing is that the melancholic things always get such a big weight in the evaluation that practically the other things are not mentioned. I don’t know how it works either, but it’s always like that, people see Alexander…
Peter: Well, come on, or hear that you have a low voice and low voices rarely have singers and then comes a quiet song and it’s just a “click”. And then nobody comes up with the idea to say: ” Hey, that’s trash metal”, as a contrast quite blatantly said.
NEW LIFE: That raises the question: Do you see yourselves more as a live or a studio band?
Alexander: We’ve always been more of a live band, that was our first studio record now and we played live for years.
NEW LIFE: Yeah, I read that the other day that you’re back after a year of abstinence, when did you actually start making music together?
Alexander: Yeah, pffff, under the name Run Run Vanguard so ‘88. so I started with Peter earlier, at that time we had another bass player, Timo joined in’90.
NEW LIFE: Meaning that it ran parallel to “Deine Lakaien” and is not just a project?
Alexander: So lackeys are even older.
NEW LIFE: But it looks like this: new record, new project.
Alexander: That’s not it at all.
Peter: So this is a very, very interesting question with the studio and with the live, we have understood ourselves the whole first years more as a live band and tried to develop ourselves from the corner. Everywhere a few small gigs and then came the phase, where we did nothing more, well and then exactly the reverse to start with this record and what we want now, is somehow to find a middle way, because we imagine that more professionally.
NEW LIFE: Was there already a response to your live concerts before the release of your album?
Peter: Oh, we’ve celebrated successes and been bored with our work.
Alexander: Bored too, that was very different. So in Berlin we played in almost every club.
NEW LIFE: And how were the reactions to the record release party? You said both good and bad.
Alexander: Yes, I talked to some people and it was just very different. Of course you have to consider that the island has a typical audience on the happy day, namely the dark wave audience, and the concerts on Fridays are mostly in that direction and we have already fallen a little out of the frame. Of course many people came because they knew I was singing along, lackeys fans, and I can’t blame a lackeys fan if he has problems with a guitar band. And vice versa, of course, there are also people who now find this better than Deine Lakaien.
NEW LIFE: Is it hard for you to coordinate between Deine Lakaien and Vanguard?
NEW LIFE: You can do all this without neglecting one or the other band?
Alexander: Either way, it’s always difficult to do different things. But in this case Lakaien is not a band that lives in a city and meets three times a week to make music. Lakaien was actually a studio project, then through the record release, “Dark Star” success, first tour… but it’s more and more a spurious collaboration, one always concentrates on a certain time, like a month, where I do lackeys and then I have time for Vanguard again, it doesn’t work both at the same time.
NEW LIFE: But you don’t give a band more weight, practically both bands have the same value?
Alexander: That’s hard to say, I mean of course in the last two years lackeys were much more important than Vanguard, because I had to work with lackeys much more, 2 tours, 3 actually, some records and Vanguard was put on ice for 1 year. And well, in autumn we went to the studio because we finally wanted to make a record with Vanguard. It wasn’t like I wanted to do my solo thing, it’s not like I’m one of four and not the boss.
NEW LIFE: Is there something like jealousy that Vanguard says: “Ey, you don’t have enough time for us”?
Alexander: There’s always a little jealousy, that’s clear, but it’s all very fair.
Peter: So far we have not had any concrete, scheduled corrosion. I mean, that’ll show now with the touring.
Alexander: Everything is possible. I mean, seriously, he does his stuff, too. Well, I guess nobody’s that fixated on one thing.
NEW LIFE: How will it go on with Vanguard, will there be a real tour?
Alexander: Well, we’ll play in Jena, Nuremberg and Berlin in April and then we’ll see. A tour is not possible at the moment due to lack of time. But one week, ten days we’ll be touring before summer.
I think it’s important that people don’t see it so narrowly. Vanguard and Lakaien are two different shoes, but I think that can be combined in a record shelf.