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Mark Of the Male [2007-03-07]

Fuckhead are muilt-genre musically terrorist and  brutal/ confrontational performance artists who focus on male sexuality, mental health and other taboo subjects. One of their most well know performance was as guests of Scott walker curated  meltdown festival from a few years back. They have recently released a DVD Lebensfrische, covering most of their recorded live work, videos and their whole back catalogue in Mp3 format (reviewed here). The band kindly agreed to give me a email interview.

m[m] How did the band first come about?
FH the band was founded 1988. with first line up: Didi Bruckmayr - Vocals, Crixi Bruckmayr - Drums, Rainer Waldhoer - Git., Thomas Pichler - Bass, Walter Nadler - Noise Bass . There where three releashes under this line up: 1st EP , a 7inch Single with 3 Songs and one Song on the boiler Live Pool sampler.

The Second lineup consisted of :Didi Bruckmayr - Voc, Crixi Bruckmayr - Drums, Thomas Pichler - Bass, Josef Linschinger - FuzzBass, Samples, Michael Strohmann - Git. -> This line up did: four track CD  Ignorant and a full length life CD Live at Posthof where released.

The third Lineup was: Didi Bruckmayr - Voc, Josef Linschinger - Bass, Sequencing, Dieter Kern - Drums, Percussion and Michael Strohmann - Git, Sequencing – This line up produced  two cd's: Video Arena and  The male Comedy - der Traum vom kleinen Glueck"

The Fourth and recent Line-up for  the Lebensfrische DVD  was: Siegmar Aigner - BassVocals/DSP, Didi Bruckmayr - TenorVocals/Video, Dieter Kern - Drums, Percussion, Michael Strohmann - Bass/DSP/Video, Alexander Joechtl - Sound Mix, Peter Bittermann + Thomas Grusch - Lights/Video

m[m] Where any of you in bands before hand? Tell us a bit about the make up of the band who does what ect?
FH There are also several other and side projects of every member of the band.
If you want to know:
Didi Kern: Bulbul, Wipe Out, Kern+Quehenberger, Gonzo....
Michael Strohmann: itsnotfair, IMAGO, mongobloc, toxic dreams, ....
Siegmar Aigner: Vienna State Opera Choir
Didi Bruckmayr: Bruckmayr, Wipe Out, IMAGO, mongobloc, ....

As for the make up of the band, we are all equals.


m[m] where the idea come from for the bands name? And was it always going to be a mix of music and performance art?
FH Fuckhead was the title track of the very political industrial music band Test Department The unacceptable face of freedom LP.

FH The performance aspect was always very important. We wanted our concerts to be visually interesting and to let our bodies be taken away by the convulsive energy of the music. By being more or less nude we try to eliminate the borders of our self, to dive into a sort of cathartic "RAUSCHZUSTAND" - a vortex which drowns us, the audience, the venue and the conscious universe. We use a lot of dirt which might refer to entropy, "lower" life forms, death - there are flowers, bull-sperm, food, tattoos, violence, tenderness. What we are doing is not regarded as art by the art establishment - and music purists are offended by our theatricality.

FH Of course there is a connection to the Vienna actionists and body art, but the actionists wanted to awaken the bourgeoisie, to break down conventions of family, state and society. They thought that if everybody became an artist the world would become a better, more free place. Now everybody is an artist on my space or working for his "ichAG" ("MeINC.") in a precarious working condition. Also the Vienna actionists became either "State Artists" - working in and for the art-establishment they wanted to destroy 30 years ago or where taken in by their vanity and went to jail. We feel closest to Kurt Kren - filmmaker - who had a really genuine way of editing. He was hired to document the actions of Muehl and Brus but then he edited the material after a musical score, similar to surrealism. The result where extremely fast paced almost abstract movies with a lot of energy and an associative way of telling a story. He didn't really make it in the art world and died in 1998 in Vienna. Still you have to stay true to yourself and be aware of traps and pitfalls.


m[m] How did you musical progression come about from avant punk, to experimental touches to the Electronic cut up's of your last album? And were do you see you
self going next musically?
FH Fuckheads goal is to combine guts and brain. We are constantly trying to refine our musical and sonic vocabulary. To explore more deeply the possibilities of DigitalSignalProcessing, Linschinger and Strohmann studied Computer Music on the university of applied arts in Vienna - which resulted in "the male comedy" - where every bit of sound was treated by some algorithm in one way or the other - all the "guitars" you hear where produced with the yamaha vl1, a physical modelling synth. We also had access to an "Ircam Signal Processing Workstation" - which for that time was a quite advanced realtime engine. This of course happened in Vienna in the late 90's when computers still had this nimbus of an omnipotent machine. Also bands like Farmers Manual, EPY and the label mego, run by peter rehberg where tying to find this purely digital aesthetic.

FH Nowadays we are again more interested in the small fluctuations - their "flaws" - of real physical instruments and acoustic events played live on stage/studio. When you make music in a group you want to be surprised by the interplay of the musicians, something which emerges only out of this interplay. When you sequence your music in the computer there is not much to be surprised of. Even if you introduce some random parameters you cannot substitute the human organism. So the purely digital aesthetic lost a bit of its initial freshness, on the other hand we wanted to get rid of the "old" sound of guitars and drums... so who knows what sound will come next. Regarding the structure of our music we are a bit torn between song-structure and a dive into the open waters of sound.
In any case we set out to find a utopian place in music. You have to create, renew introduce the energy of (self-)organisation in order to fight entropy, decay conservativism.


m[m] How did it come about you been on the Scott walker Curated Meltdown festive? Did walker approach you personal?
FH We don't really know how Mr. Walker got to know us. He obviously got hold of "the male comedy..." at some point. The producer of the Meltdown Festival contacted us. We met Scott for about 1 minute after our gig in the Royal Festival Hall in the dressing room - he thanked us for the performance. Last year his record Label 4ad contacted us to clear a sample Mr. Walker used from the Male comedy cd. The sample is a big chunk from the track Dynamism and its absence.
Apart from all that we adore Scott Walkers music and attitude from Scott I onwards


m[m] Has you stage performance ever caused any problems when touring?
FH Once a venue we where playing in was sued by some right wing baboons because nudity was presented to under 18 year olds. On the other hand some German antifa activist, blaming us of being homosexual neo-Nazis, tried to intimidate promoters if they would present us on stage.


m[m] Who does your very distinctive visual overload videos? And how much input do you have in their structure and content?
FH In the past we worked with Martin Koch and Violet Suk (http://www.sukkoch.com/) and Mathias Gmachl (http://www.loop.ph/), now we do the videos ourselves and together with Peter Bitterman and Thomas Grusch of anyflag (http://www.anyflag.at/) as well as Joreg (http://joreg.ath.cx/).
Our goal, the Gesmtkunstwerk ;-), is of course only reached when the acoustic and visual layers of our work come together and create something which is more than the sum of its parts. We also believe that if you overload your senses the barricade which is your brain (according to Aldous Huxley) gets a bit tired and you start hallucination - which means to experience things that the focusing effort of your brain would usually leave in the dark unconscious.


m[m] Why did you decided to put all your back catalogue on the DVD, surely this is losing your self's out on album sales?
FH  We got mega rich by selling  tons of Vinyl in Russia and China so we can afford to give things away.
On the other hand we feel that selling music was temporary a thing of the recent 100 years. Musik is to important to be ruled by economics.


m[m] what's the most extreme thing you've done in your shows? And do you have any limits to what you would do? Where do you draw the line?
FH Eating the puke of each other. Didi Bruckmayr hanging on 2 hooks - the 3rd time ended in hospital because his flesh tore apart.
We would go a long way if we had artistic or personal justifcation to it.
In the end hanging from hooks was a dead end road, because you would have to be more extreme every show, just for the sake of being extreme.
After you crossed a certain limit more than twice you - and your body - would also loose interest. Although we are working on self-cancellation to have a look of what's behind, we would not cut our limbs or such things.


m[m] How often do you tour? Do you find you stage performer very mental and physically tiring? And will you be tour Europe or worldwide with the releases of
the DVD?
FH We did not tour too much lately, but in the wake of the new DVD release we will. We got two people, Christian Kemmler and Stefan Parnreiter to help us in organizing concerts.
Most of the times our performances are more energizing than tiring - physically a bit less than mentally - but: mind over matter!
Of course we are a bit more accident-prone than "normal" bands and some dents and scratches come with every gig, but luckily no major injuries occurred yet.


m[m] How did the idea come about to do the DVD? And what are you working on next? Any news on a new album?
FH Since the visual content of Fuckhead is very important, it was inevitable to produce a DVD. The question stays whether or not videos can capture, conserve and recreate in the living room the energy of a life performance. It quite sure cannot. So this DVD was not done to document our live performances. It is a collection of almost all (only the 2 theatre shows are missing) our music and visual work over the last 15 odd years. It's meant also to be a point of reference - where can we go from here is open and quite interesting because right now it seems that - after an important period of DJ's and laptop musicians - a stage act becomes appreciated again.

FH We are constantly working on, trying out and researching to find new ways of combining music and performance. We have to do it anyway in order to keep sane. We are also looking forward to the time when we are 75. What will it be like to perform with our old, broken, toothless bodies and all those shrunk tattoos? Let’s see what happens!

To find more about FuckHead go  here To find out more about Lebensfrische dvd & buy direct go here .
Thanks to FuckHead for the interview and pictures, Thanks to Ed from Dense Promotions for making it all possible.

Roger Batty
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