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Some bands are playing live only because they want or have to promote an album, others do it without a specific reason and without significant lead times. The organizers of Herzschlag, mostly Italians who live in Berlin, are basically only inviting acts and DJs to their events which they themselves are passionate about. An interesting approach that often leads to enthralling stylistic intersections and concerts by bands which actually do not exist in terms of live activities at the moment. This very well applies to Pankow – their last album was released about five years ago, a new longplayer is taking shape but many months away from its finalisation. Anyway: on February 2nd, the Italian-Belgian friendship, world-renowned for its Electro/EBM/Industrial creations with an artistic air to it, was invited to Urban Spree, situated right in the middle of the nightlife epicentre of the German capital. VOLT attended the gig and met with band co-founder Maurizio Fasolo and singer Bram Declercq for an interview afterwards.


You just played your gig. How did it go?
B: It was really good. We enjoyed it a lot because it is really a club and the music they play here and the people that come here are the audience we love to play for.

You wore new band shirts with the schematic face of a girl and some cyrillic letters on it …
B: It is my wife! The lettering is in Russian, which is just a funny gimmick, and means Never Trust A White Man. This is actually the title of our new album. We have the same shirt from the American tour with the Pankow logo on it and we made this one for fun for this show.

pankow live berlin 2019
Why did you opt for Never Trust A White Man as title for the new album?
B: Yeah, I mean – why should you trust a white man?! It is a sentence out of a poem by Ernest Hemmingway. Also, in the intro, we project the lyrics of the whole poem.
M: And there is more behind it. The white American men, Trump and so.
B: All the leaders actually.
M: Especially Trump.
B: It is typical for Pankow, that there is always a message, but it is never the obvious one.
M: It’s a mind game.
B: Most people, if they would see it, they’d be shocked, I guess, but, on the other hand, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t think about it.

What is the state of affairs of the new album right now?
B: We are still working on it. It looks like a work without an end, but we are still progressing. The thing is that we really have very good stuff and we really want to make it as good as possible. Like tonight, we played a couple of tracks from the new album and we are playing them live for some time now. It is nice that we can play and test, them to see how the audience responds. So we can tweak a little bit and change some things, make details better.

…and maybe discard some tracks completely?
B: Yeah, or at least not play them live. In our live sets we change things from time to time, when we feel that, for example, a track is a bit slower and does not really work. That’s what keeps it interesting. Of course, we have to play the old songs.

„Without Alex Spalck Pankow is not Pankow!“


It’s been a while since you released your last record And Shun The Cure They Most Desire in 2013. What have you been doing in the meantime?
B: We recorded the voices for the new album in Australia, together with Alex, because he needs to be involved, no matter how you turn it. He is living in Australia, which does not make things easier, but without Alex Pankow is not Pankow! He still writes lyrics, we adapt, we change some things here and there and he also now had the chance to do the melody. It is more like a feeling he wants to give to the song. Then we keep working on it and forming it into a song. It’s nice working together but, of course, going to Australia really took a lot of time.
M: I’m just sending him text messages. It’s morning over there. I also sent him some pictures of the show.

So Alex is involved the whole time …
B: Yeah, we are definitely in touch, weekly. We sent stuff, we ask his opinion. Internet is a small world.
M: Distance is relative by now.

So it’s not a problem for Pankow that you guys are not living close-by?
B: No. We sent WhatsApp messages, MP3s on a daily, weekly base.
M: Quite often I go to Bram’s place. And he also comes to Italy.
B: Of course it is a little bit different as if we lived close, but it’s just another dynamic, it is nice.

pankow live berlin 2019 2
Bram, what really may have affected your work a musician in some way is that you became father to a baby boy last year. Is that the case?
B: Not really. The only difference is that when Maurizio comes to visit us, he can watch my son and we are at ease [laughs]. I mean, my son went with us to Spain for a performance, he is part of the family. It’s nice to involve him, even if he never realises it. But especially for the future it might be very cool.

„If you’re listening too much to only one genre, you have the reflex to recreate that stuff.“


Maurizio, do you follow the current scene?
M: From the beginning I never followed certain scenes or bands.
B: Yeah, he is not very specific.
M: So I cannot really tell you what I am listening to right now, because I am not really interested.
B: He listens to everything. One album of a band can be bad and the other one can be good.
M: Of course, I had some inspirations in the 80s and 90s, but it was just in the beginning.
B: Same for me. I mean, I do listen to music from the scene, but that’s 50 % of what I am listening to. I also listen more to classical music. Just everything that is interesting – and there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on! I think, if you make music, this is necessary, because if you’re listening too much to only one genre, you have the reflex to recreate that stuff. So the more you broaden your horizon, the more interesting it is for you to discover and do new things yourself. And for Maurizio it is the same.

On that note: You’re working on another project where you’re only doing cover versions for quite some time now. How far have you progressed by now?
M: We are not doing the usual covers. We are covering songs that we liked long time ago and new songs that are around now, but completely out of this scene.
B: Alex does all the singing, he recorded it all by himself. Maurizio did most of the music and I sent him some sounds and also I remade a track. As a matter of fact, the work on this project is also very inspirational, everybody does his thing and in one way or the other it ends up in nice results.


Is there a set release date for it yet?
M: There is not a set day yet, but I hope it will be this year.
B: A lot of the songs are nearly finished by now.

And what about a release date for the new Pankow album?
B: There’s not a set date yet. I am afraid, it will take a bit longer. Maybe not this year, but definitely by the beginning of next year everything should be finished. Because, as I said, playing the songs live before finally recording them is really such an added value, not only for me to rehearse the songs, but to test them. And, of course, these things take time and we all have other jobs. So we take the time we need to finish the product. It’s not like it has to be finished by a certain deadline. Now we really have to keep continuing, it is the drive what you have to keep going.

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