Interview with Iguana Band for Effusive Magazine
Photo: © Robert Meier
Effusive: Describe your background as a band in 4 High points.
Iguana: In 2007, I joined up with Iguana after former singer and guitarist, Tom, had left the band. We did our first EP under the same name a year later. „B|L|U|E|S” was then released in the EU and the States on Sweet Home Records at the end of 2008. In June 2012, we released our debut album “Get The City Love You” also on “Sweet Home Records”. It was published only on double vinyl. Last year, at the end of July, we got the chance to tour with Brant Bjork. During the tour we presented our current record “Cult Of Helios”. It was full band recorded and was artworked by Robert Reinhold who used his 180 x 60 cm oil and acrylic on canvas painting “Behind the Scenes” as template. On our last date of the tour, a live video-recording of our set was broadcast by Radio T. It premiered online a few days later through Visions Magazine. The video “A Deadlock Situation” directed by Michael Chlebusch was premiered by the Visions Magazine and among others streamed by MTV and VIVA.
Effusive: In which manner does the physical setting (as context, location) influence you during the process of composition?
Iguana: You know, Chemnitz is a very special place concerning art. It was always a city with a cultural spirit. As one of the richest communities from the 1900’s to the 1930’s, we still have a legacy of Fine Arts and Applied Arts. After the devastating bombing in WWII the once planned city of a million people got a whole new communist look. After the turnaround in the 90’s, the population dropped to less than 250.000. That means a lot of space! A lot of contradiction! That’s what I like! That makes my sense of life. It’s not a conventional city. You can still participate in what is happening here, but you have to create the surroundings yourself. That’s sometimes hard, and if you don’t want to go mad here, you have to be creative, you have to flee! I think that’s the reason why we still love creating and producing our music D.I.Y. and why our music is unconventional and, sometimes, contradictory. We also have a pretty vivid music scene here, reaching back to electro-avantgarde legends AG-Geige, the Raster-Noton-Label run by Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai (who recently contributed to the soundtrack of The Revenant), bands like Kraftklub, Suralin, Bombee, Playfellow or clubs like the Atomino. Most of the bands here rehearse in the same house and meet up in the same club. Everybody knows each other and talks about their own and each other’s music, which I guess is pretty unique. I think that influences me the most, to think of how people at home will react to my music. Do they like it or not?
Effusive: How do you see the relationship between space (location, the context where you are playing), sound and performance?
Iguana: I think it must be balanced; if not, you have to be professional to cover it up. The problem is, most people don’t know your music like you know it. But they feel your music maybe the way you do. If you cover something up that isn’t right, your feeling is definitely changed and you don’t have it under control anymore. You can just hope that the audience catches the basic idea of your feelings you created in hundreds of hours of work. The natural setting is your rehearsal room, the place where you get used to your sound, the space between your instrument and the others. That’s the sound you record and that’s the sound you want the audience to hear and feel. If you perform in a place where you don’t feel comfortable, you are not able to transmit your feelings. If you can’t move to your music the way you want, it will affect the way you play. So that’s always the challenge when you play on a stage: to find a sound onstage that is as close to the sound you are used to. The next step is to find someone who knows your sound to mix it over the P.A. the way you sound on stage. You see, it’s near magic to get it right onstage and over the P.A. You need good musicians, a solid backline, a good location, a good sound guy/girl, the right feeling and an audience who appreciates when magic happens.
Effusive: What constitutes a good live performance for you?
Iguana: Applause during a song, moving and dancing people, a tipsy promoter, a good sound on stage, smiling band members, just a few drinks before or rather one fewer, a lot of chit-chat at the merch.
Effusive: What do you consider to be the most difficult part in the process of composing? How do you feed your inspiration, when the thing that fulfills you, consumes you at the same time?
Iguana: Well, when we have an idea, there are mostly three things that are difficult to bring together: the accompaniment, the melody and the lyrics. When we compose a track together, we mostly jam around riffs. Step by step, we build a link to another part and maybe just another. Once you get through that process, I mostly have an idea what the song is about. Sometimes I look for a fitting melody for weeks, sometimes I find the melody during a jam. However, the most difficult part is finding the right words that work together with the melody. Should it be syllabic, shall I sing it high or low, can I perform it live, and questions like that appear. In the end, nothing should sound strange or uneven. It’s like sculpting a stone figure from a block. Step by step you get closer to the ideal shape that fulfills you. I like ambiguous lyrics that visualize something to me. In that period, I read a lot: novels, news articles, poems or I visit an exhibition to get ideas. In the recording studio, I record my ideas and play them back, share them with friends and band members. If we all like it, we take it!