There was a MUCH shorter time between Klutæ albums than usual, what was the impetus for the quick turnaround?
Claus: Both "Electro Punks Unite" and "Black Piranha" were very successful for me, they still are, so I was planning to start in on a new one as soon as I got the time to start. On top of that I had composed and recorded about fifty finished Leæther Strip songs, so I kind of had time on my hands. Writing and recording the Die Klute album "Planet Fear" together with Jürgen (Die Krupps) and Dino (Fear Factory) also inspired me quite a lot. It's a lot of fun doing Klutæ songs for me, gets the old Punk out in me!
The new album shows a 2019 date, was this album delayed, or did you just need to space out releases due to other projects?
Claus: All the songs were recorded late Summer/Early Fall and I had it planned for release March 1st, but Kurt’s health and the Corona crap got in the way. It's a one-hundred percent self-release so I'm the only one doing the release things, like packing and mailing orders out, so I just didn't see it possible in March. Kurt was in and out of the Hospital since December 19th, so I couldn't handle it.
Just as you celebrated 30 years of Leæther Strip a while back, it's now been about/coming up on 30 years of Klutæ! What are your thoughts on the longevity of a project you initially just started for fun?
Claus: Yeah time flies. It will be Klutæ's thirtieth anniversary next year, so that's amazing. I still can't believe that I am still doing this shit. For being something I just started for fun, it really has made an impact on some people, and I have no plans of stopping any of my projects. I take them all very seriously, and I try to do my best every time. Klutæ is very important for me, I experiment in a different way than with Leæther Strip, and goof off when doing that I just wish I had more Klutæ gigs, I think that is where it really needs to be. I had two Klutæ gigs this year that got cancelled or moved to next year as all my other gigs.
Any special plans to celebrate Klutæ30?
Claus: Yes, but I'm keeping those plans to myself. It’s a surprise!
Klutæ is known for its use of samples, whether it's sampled guitar or a vocal sample. Does the sample shape the song, or is it the other way around?
Claus: Unlike the older Klutæ albums, on "Queer for Satan", apart from one song 'Shit Music' all samples were found and put on after the main song / lyrics / parts were done, so I had to find samples that were suitable to the theme of the song. The Depeche Mode Sample (Master And Servant) on 'My Master Is Angry' was added because while checking out my mix in the car I suddenly started to sing that Depeche Mode part while it was playing, and funny enough, it was in the exact same key as 'Master and Servant', so I just had to add that little vocal part.
The latest album has one of the best album/song titles yet, "Queer for Satan"! Background story for this title/song?
Claus: That song was inspired by the back of someone’s jacket I saw somewhere I can’t remember, it just got stuck in my mind. It's a basic "middle finger" to organized religion. Just like I did when I was a teenage queer Punk in school. Anything to piss the teachers off was cool. Since the dawn of time, religion has used LGBTQ+ and Gay culture as a whole, as one of the most evil symbols of Satan's work here on earth, and I can’t react enough on that, and it's getting worse. We need to sort this out, Gay teens have four times higher risk of committing suicide than hetero teens. We need to protect them from this hate coming from the Church especially.
I initially thought the song 'Shit music' was going to be like 'Kill a Raver', the opening sample made it sound like another music commentary, but the lyrics seemed to be more like social commentary. What is your take on this track?
Claus: The 'Shit Music' sample is from a YouTube video I remembered, where Iggy Pop comes out of a club enraged and hating on Techno music. So that comment kinda shaped that song. 'Shit Music' is a sort of metaphor for today's endless bla bla bla coming from most media and news stations especially, including today's chart music. DJ's or Webzines / magazines who actually does research, find new acts to play and introduce to the dance floors are a dying breed. I guess I'm a grumpy old man, but that's how I got to find most of the bands I loved back in the day. Most people today want everything thrown into their face to even give a damn. That's very sad. Most people stopped caring that much about music as an art form, and yes, I am allowed to be angry about this, and no I'm not going to pay to be on your chart or be in your magazine or on your compilation, which is now common these days. There is so much new talent out there who can't get a break, and they just give up, and that's a crime!
Last cover I remember from Klutæ was for an AC/DC tribute, any plans of doing another cover under Klutæ name?
Claus: I also did a few on the "Hit'n'run" album. New Order's 'Blue Monday' and The Human League’s 'Circus of Death'. I have thought about doing a full album of covers done under the Klutæ name / style. So maybe next year I'll start on that.
On the Leæther Strip front, you recently re-released "Spaectator" with bonus tracks. The album was initially released in 2016 via Rustblade, was the purpose of the re-release to bring it back under your own Læbel?
You have also been working on a HUGE cover album of Skinny Puppy tracks for Leæther Strip. You've covered SP before, how has it been to revisit this band, and what are the plans for this release?
Claus: Yes, it's at the printing plant now. It will be a 2CD release, very limited. I don’t have a release date just yet, but if people want this they should go and follow my Leaether Strip Bandcamp site, the followers will get first in line before it's released officially, if there is any left after that. It's been something I've wanted to do for many years, ever since I did the old cover of 'Testure' back in the 90's. And while I was locked out from seeing Kurt at the hospital I started in it, I needed the escape and I just kept going, not to have a full-blown breakdown. I was too crushed to really write new songs so doing covers instead really worked. Kurt only has me, and I only him, so if one of us crashes, it's over.
You've been very successful with your covers, most notably the Æppreciation series on Cleopatra records. While almost entirely self-released these days, you still work with Cleopatra, who originally licensed you here in the USA back in "the day". How has your relationship been with Cleopatra over all these years?
Claus: It's been good and sometimes stressful, the distance and communication sometimes is a problem, but I'm still with them, they have the rights on all my Zoth Ommog era Strip and Klute material plus they also have the Æppreciation series now, yes they have been very successful because my audience has been very supportive as usual, plus it has also given me a lot of new listeners, who never heard my stuff until they heard these covers. Not allowed to tell you what, but Cleopatra are working on something big, that will put a huge smile on some people!
You also indicated plans to start work on "Serenade for the Dead III". What has been your influence to continue this instrumental/soundtrack project?
Claus: Yes, I got four songs down now, I don’t really go for an ongoing theme on this one, I just see where it takes me. With instrumentals I have more freedom because I don’t have to worry about structure, you are "allowed" to anything really. That is also what makes it hard. I learn a lot doing instrumentals, and I have to ignore my thoughts a lot during the writing because my brain wants vocals. It's a lot of fun and very inspiring. I still have a dream of doing soundtracks for films, I did a few for underground movies, but I'd love to get a chance to score a bigger production one day.
Are you still hopeful to get in at least one more live show at the end of the year, or do you think it will be 2021 before you play live again? How much has the pandemic affected your livelihood?
Claus: The last booked 2020 gig was cancelled a few days ago, so my hope is gone. I am heartbroken, broke and I have a family to feed. One year’s income just gone. It's kinda hard to deal with, so I hope people will support by buying my releases if they can, it's our only hope as it looks now. I will shovel shit to support us, I've done that before but you can’t even get a job here doing that these days. Being an underground musician during this shit is a killer, as it is for so many people out there. Live music will be the last thing to open, and with the way people are acting worldwide, like it's all over, I fear the lock-down will continue far into 2021. I hope there will be clubs left when there are allowed to open one day. And I hope I won’t have to sell my equipment to feed my family, but it could happen, and then my music days will be over. I really don't want that to happen, I need to write songs.
Besides your own projects, you also have projects with Mirland coming up, what's on the slate for the rest of the year?
Claus: Yes, we finished work on the next Mirland / Larsen album, and the next Am Tierpark is also recorded, both will be released this year. John is also super busy with his own projects so productivity is not an issue yet. He has the same drive as I have. We need this to function.
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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