Touring through Germany in the summer of 1988, I met someone (probably the editor of this zine, Holger Schmidt) at the In Der Au squat in Frankfurt, who sold me this zine Hustensaft #11 (‘cough-syrup’). Holger (who also ran Missing Link distro and was the singer of ‘Grinning Kids’) did it together with some friends (incl. Jörg Rosenbaum of RPN recs, the label that brought us ‘Pullermann’, ‘Live But How To Lve It’, etc.). It contains interviews with ‘Problem Children’, ‘Fearless Iranians From Hell’, ‘Bedlam’, ‘Pestilence’, etc. & book-/comic-/gig-/movie-/record-reviews). The ‘C.O.I.’ interview was done by Thorsten Zahn.
‘Crowd Of Isolated’ at that time were a promising, young outfit that Armin Hofmann of X-Mist (ex-‘Skeezicks’) – who released their records – introduced to us. Kind of emo avant-la-lettre… The band – Claus Kammer (bass), Michael ‘Gurke’ Kammer (vocals), Peter ‘Guschtel’ Gundal (guitar), Jürgen Thiel (drums) – was from the Saarbrücken area (Germany). Our Smurfpunx collective invited them for a gig (88-04-29) early on in their existence. I don’t think they had anything out besides their demo (Blow Up Your Chains, recorded in ’86) when we first saw them live. Their first album I Try To Tell About A Way… and 7” Bad Actors were recorded that year. In 1990 they did the LP Memories And Scars. All melodic HC. They came back to Belgium for gigs in Gent, Hasselt, Dendermonde & Westerlo (’90).
Well, I think you all know them by now, the name ‘Crowd Of Isolated’ has pretty much gotten around everywhere. To cut a long story short: here is an interview with Michael Kammer, the singer of the band. But before that a bit of info – from his perspective.
The band ‘Crowd Of Isolated’ was formed itself in the fall of ‘86 when 4 friends who know each other well and were just tired to just listen to music, read lyrics, to consume. They wanted to do something, not just take what others have dished up before. So they began to rehearse and finished their first gigs. In the beginning everything still seemed quite amateurish but that changed from rehearsal to rehearsal and from gig to gig.
Eventually we evolved so far that it can confidently be said that we developped our own style. Now that we have more and more concerts, and realised that people like our music; we decided to record a demo-tape. It’s called Blow Up Your Chains. It had a circulation of 400 and turned out very good in our opinion. We played together with ‘C.C.M.’, ‘Negazione’, ‘Spermbirds’, ‘S.C.A.’, ‘L.U.L.L.’, ’Rhythm Pigs’, etc. So far we had one foreign gig in Belgium. Most people say our music sounds rather American; which can very well be possible because we listen to a lot of things from over there, but we don’t want to be classified and determined. In the end we play how we feel like and what makes us happy. Our lyrics are very personal but also socio-critical, describing impressions of experiences we get, or they simply represent visions or ideas about one thing or another.
Our band-name came through our song Isolation, which is about how people end up in huge residential ‘silos’, skyscrapers because of political or other measures; that’s where they’re supposed to live, there’s no place else. Nobody has the possibility to develop, to meet others, to talk to them. Everyone lives his own life. That’s precisely what we don’t want, we’ld all like to live happily together and work together on things that seem important to us.
‘Friendship and love are the saviors of mankind!’
The line-up is Jürgen – drums, Claus – bass, ‘Guschtel’ – guitar, Michael – vocals. I would like to mention that these are not the only members. Also the people who’re around us, help us, inspire us and even write lyrics; particularly Thomas Klauck, our ‘manager’ so to speak, and Malle M., who always accompanies us and writes a lot of lyrics. A few weeks ago our first LP I Try To Tell About A Way… was released. It was recorded at Kong Studios in Reutlingen and was got out on X-Mist recs. Myself and many other people believe that we succeeded quite well. So buy the record, it’s certainly worthwhile, and write us, we are grateful for every letter and gig. OK? OK!
But now finally the interview…
HUSTENSAFT: Now that your first LP is out, there are many positive reactions, such as “best German hardcore band”, etc. What’s your response to such reactions? Are you surprised?
Michael: To be honest we’re totally happy that our music pleases so many people and they like the LP, that certainly builds one’s confidence, motivates us and gives us courage, and stimulates us to continue. But again I find it too generalised when people say “‘C.O.I.’ is the best HC band in Germany.”. For people who love our music we are but others prefer ‘Jingo [De Lunch]’, ‘Emils’, ‘Razzia’ or whatever; it’s -as I said- all down to the individual’s taste. However, it makes me happy when someone writes in his zine that he really likes the record and he considers it one of the best at the moment. Are we surprised? Before the recordings we couldn’t have imagined we’ld be getting such good reviews but now that the record is mixed and finished, we’re glad that it’s so well received, we were actually totally surprised. If someone had come to me a year ago and would have said “Listen, this is how your record will be.”, I would have told them they were insane.
HUSTENSAFT: You said that you exist since the fall of ‘86. Did any of you already have band-experience or are you playing in a band for the first time?
Michael: Yes, we played in other bands before; I played guitar in ‘Das Syndikat’ and the others had their band ‘Exquisite Protest’. Since we used the same rehearsal-room, the decision was made to start a band together with me as a singer, since I already had stepped in during an ‘Exquisite Protest’ concert. Before these 2 bands we’d all already played in various other bands -where the same faces could be found- such as ‘Blackwärts’, ‘Die Umweltfreundlichen’, ‘P.T.F.D.A.’, etc.
HUSTENSAFT: You sometimes play very nice melodic stuff, such as at the beginning of My Friend. Do you like melodies or do you prefer playing your fast and powerful stuff?
Michael: Both. One day we can make a fast powerful song and the next day a totally melodic piece. We like to play melodic stuff that opens up the heart. It’s also partly because we listen to quite a lot of melodic stuff such as ‘Hüsker Dü’, ‘G.I.’ [‘Government Issue’], ‘Dinosaur Jr.’, ‘Dain Bramage’ [with Dave Grohl], and so on.
HUSTENSAFT: Are you actually affected by this isolation that you describe in your songs or did your environment make you aware of these social problems?
Michael: I can’t say we’re personally affected since we all live in a village where everyone knows almost everyone else. But in Saarbrücken there are areas where one can speak of social isolation; that’s where the violence is, the violence stemming from helplessness and anonymity. Because of this we have been sensitized for this deplorable state of affairs. There are areas where in a week time 2 people jump from the 13th floor or are murdered in the nearby woods at night. When you go there, you only see a few houses but there live as many as people as in 3 villages with 20 times the number of houses.
HUSTENSAFT: What is according to you the main problem for such an isolation?
Michael: The main problem is the personal encapsulation of people. They themselves don’t even want to do anything against this anonymity. They’re worried because of their pride, ignorance and such things, but not at all about the people who live on the other side of the 10 cm thick wall. It’s mainly the cold-heartedness of the people that makes them ill and shattered.
HUSTENSAFT: Explain the phrase ‘Friendship and love are the saviors of mankind.’ a bit.
Michael: I’ve already mentioned it in the previous question. People have to reach out to and other a lot more, and live with each other and not next to each other; above all they have to show understanding. And when I said ‘Friendship and love are the saviors of humanity.’, I mean that people just have to meet up in small groups, that they must start to let friendship and love bloom, because that’s the best and only starting-ground to prevent and eliminate problems like hatred, war and power-struggles, but there will always be nutcases who strive for power based on feelings of hatred. (OK, yeah, I know but I’m born ‘68. Love, Peace, Power & Flower.) [Michael is a social worker nowadays…]
HUSTENSAFT: To conclude: What are your plans for the future (Recordings / Releases / Gigs / Tours)?
Michael: Well, plans, many many things…soon we will do some recordings for a split EP with ‘Lärm’ and ‘Heresy’ to be released by Anti-Schelski recs. [Peter Hoeren’s label before Crucial Response. That record never happened. They did appear on the Small Bands Big Sound compilation-7″ with ‘Spermbirds’ & ‘Anti-Toxin’] In August we go back into the studio to record for a 7” EP with 3 or 4 songs that will be released on ‘our’ label X-Mist [Armin Hofmann]. Gigs we have almost every week-end, we can’t really complain. In winter we will probably tour Northern Europe with another band (‘Unkraut’). That’s our plans actually!
HUSTENSAFT: Anything you want to add???
Michael: Thanks to Thorsten for the interview and good luck with the zine. People: write us, come to our gigs and keep smiling. 🙂