So first of all how did you all meet?
Alex – We first met in 2009 when we were playing a 10 date live tour with our bands of that time (Leonard Las Vegas / Forced Movement) and eventually that turned into a friendship which lead to WHOLE.
Where are you all from?
Thomas – We live in and near Berlin and were born in that area too.
How long have you been playing your respective instruments?
Thomas – I’ve been playing synths / keys since the age of 14 and added instrument like bass + guitar some years later. But I’ve never had classical training.
Alex – I had my first musical experience playing the violin from age four to, like, six, I guess. At the age of eleven I started to learn playing the piano, but after four years I stopped. I don’t remember why but I guess I got bored. At that time it was all about playing classical music and I really had no idea about the alternative music scene. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that I could use my musical abilities to create “rock” music. Since then I’ve been playing different kinds of instruments, mostly guitars and keyboards, but also bass and – using an unconventional setup – drums.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
Thomas – Different to say, because it’s a broad mixture of almost “everything” (hence the name “WHOLE”). There is indie, pop, electro, shoegaze and whatever else somebody might find fitting to describe it.
Alex – I would have said it’s simply indie plus electronic, but more and more it seems that people consider our music to be post-punk – maybe because it has got that gloomy flair. Well, I’m okay with that.
What are your influences?
Thomas – Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, David Bowie and so much else.
Alex – That’s hard to say, my influences are really diverse, also diffuse because they mix when I make music. Each of my projects parades or triggers another influence. In terms of WHOLE, I guess, it wouldn’t sound like it without The Cooper Temple Clause, Radiohead, British Sea Power. It’s quite British.
Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
Alex – With WHOLE we haven’t covered anything yet but it could be anything, as long as it fits to our sound and is something like an original and unique take of the song. With some of our other projects we already did quite a lot of covering, Thomas even is a member of the very successful German Depeche Mode tribute Band called “Forced To Mode”.
What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?
Thomas – “WHOLE” hasn’t a specific or simple meaning for us. We liked the sound and ambiguity of it.
Do you have a process for writing your songs? /Which of you writes the songs?
Thomas – Within this band we developed a unique way of writing and producing the songs. One of us starts with an idea, may it be a beat or an instrumental part or just a rough song demo. If the other gets triggered by that he adds his parts and sends it back to the creator and that goes on and on for a while till both sides think it’s finished. Through this method we manage to create band songs without even being in the same room or town.
What are your rehearsals generally like?
Alex – We’ll start rehearsing in January next year.
Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
Thomas – On our tour in 2009 one evening somebody broke into our tour bus and stole some stuff and the bus driver was asleep in the bus and didn’t notice it. The thieves were disturbed and eventually chased away by a fellow musician of us, otherwise we all would have lost a lot of personal things I guess.
What song do you remember most from your childhood?
Thomas – There are some strange pop songs like Max Werner “Rain in May” or Styx with “Mr. Roboto” which come to my mind. And Depeche Mode with “People Are People” of course!
Alex – There isn’t any song in particular that I would connect with my childhood.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Thomas – We’re still quite at the beginning, so the challenge now is to grow an audience and address people to check out our music and going to a show. It’s almost a blank page.
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
Thomas – At the moment you can order our music via bandcamp (https – //blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com) and in the future maybe at a merch desk during a gig.
Have you released anything yet/if you have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
Thomas – We’ve just released our debut album “BIAS”, and the first reactions from fans and the press were very positive and promising. Besides this we both are quite sure that when the time is right we will do another record.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Thomas – WHOLE still is a studio project only but the music itself should and would work well live, so we have to find out how to present our stuff properly to the audience and how to fit this within our other duties. I am a lot on the road with my Depeche Mode cover band.
What do you think about downloading music online?
Thomas – As long as the creator gets some credit for it, whether by paying him or at least officially sharing the music to friends it is OK but it seems that streaming takes the place of downloads in the digital music world, so every musician has to adapt and be aware of the chances and risks.
What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
Thomas – We’re signed to a small DIY-label which is basically only Alex, so it’s very hands-on and basic regarding the distribution of our music. Of course it would be great to have more connections and “man-power” to reach more people but nowadays it’s a lot harder to earn money with your music, there is so much good stuff out there and every potential listener has millions of options. It’s very hard to stick out and you have to be lucky. I honestly don’t know if the classical record industry can help with that anymore.
And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Thomas – David Bowie (dead) or Alan Wilder / Trent Reznor (alive). Bowie because I think he was the most talented pop artist of all time and still a very friendly and intelligent person. Wilder, because he’s my sound-hero (being responsible for the anthemic and iconic Depeche Mode records of the late 1980ies and early 1990ies) and Reznor being such a talent in many different fields of music. I think those two could be very interesting and I could learn a lot even in a short chat.
Alex – I agree, David Bowie would be super interesting It would probably be turning out a monologue with me listening in awe. When it comes to artists alive, I imagine an evening with Sufjan Stevens would be nice. I’m baffled by the way he creates an opus like “The Age of Adz” which sounds like 200 tracks at the same time, and when you expect something similar the follow-up, unexpectedly, is minimalistic, “Carrie & Lowell”. I sense a lot of emotional depth in his person, and it would be quite interesting to get lost in a kind of, what I think, philosophical journey through time and space.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/