Interview / Fürsattl  / Claremont 56

One of my favourite releases of the year was Fürsattl`s Rheinlust. Not quite a reissue, the record collected both tracks from their sole, sought-after 12, and combined those with pieces only otherwise available on compilations, or previously unreleased. Updating the music of La Düsseldorf, Klaus Dinger, Michael Rother, and Neu! there`s something super euphoric about Fürsattl`s modern motorik. The songs are shot through with this sense of propulsion, a feeling of perpetual forward motion – taking you racing through wide open spaces, the sun shining. The intertwining synth and microtonal guitar melodies constantly climbing. Painting optimistic horizons, and skies of clear blue. I asked Patrick Göbel, Oliver Stangl, and Frank Mollena, from the band how, and why, they do it. 

Where are you from?

Frank: Partick and I are both fro Nuremberg, Germany, and we`re both still based here. 

When did you first start making music? 

Frank: Back in school. 

Patrick: I started drumming at age 10. I had my first band when I was 16.

Do you come from a musical family?

Frank: Not really. 

Patrick: I`m the only one from my family who developed a serious interest in music.

Oliver: Both of my grandmothers were trained classical pianists, actually. But World War II and its aftermath brought their careers to an end. My parents and my siblings love listening to music, but in terms of playing an instrument: no, not really.

What instruments do you play?

Frank: Guitar, bass, and keyboards.

Patrick: My instrument of choice is a minimalist drum kit.

Oliver: Guitar, pedal steel guitar, bass

Have you had any formal musical training? 

Frank: At the age of 7 I learned to play the accordion.

Patrick: I have very little formal training.

Oliver: I started playing the violin, also at around 7, but over the years I discovered that I couldn’t play the music I wanted on that instrument, so I switched to the guitar at around 14.

Can you please tell me how you all met, and how, firstly, Mountaineer was formed? 

Frank: From 2000 until 2009, before Fürsattl started, Patrick, Oli and I were all playing in a band called Missouri. This was when we met the guys from the Hamburg-based band project, Mountaineer, formed by Henning Wandhoff. Some members of Missouri startet playing live with them. A few Mountaineer songs on their album, Sleep And Me, were recorded in our studio in Nuremberg. The album When The Air Is Bright They Shine was also mostly recored in Nuremberg. I coproduced most of the tracks. The Real McQueen album was completely produced in Nuremberg by Henning Wandhoff and myself, and recorded with guests from the Hamburg / Nuremberg collective. Through that time Henning was living in Munich, but then moved back to Hamburg.

Oliver: When we first met Henning – in late 2002 or early 2003, I think – he still was the drummer in a band from Hamburg called Fink  – not to be confused with the project by the same name from the UK. It was an alternative folk-country-band with lyrics in German – which was very unusual for that time – but it doesn’t exist anymore since its singer and songwriter Nils Koppruch sadly died 10 years ago. Anyway, in early 2003 I started playing with Fink besides playing with Missouri, and that’s when I met Henning. He quit the band soon afterwards and released the first Mountaineer record.

How long have you all been playing together? 

Frank: Patrick, Oli and I have been playing music together since early 2000. Mountaineer for us Nuremberg people was always just project oriented. 

How would you describe the sound of Mountaineer? What were the band`s key musical influences? 

Frank: Ah… better ask Henning Wandhoff really, as he always was the head of Mountaineer. The roots are the band members from Hamburg. By the time I was working together with them, I was very much influenced by soul stuff like Shuggie Otis, Brazilian music like Jobim, and also some indie-folk stuff like Kings Of Convenience for example. Henning, I remember, was very much into `80s bands like Felt and Cocteau Twins, but also Brazilian music. 

Were you surprised when the “Balearic” crowd latched onto tracks like A Town Called Ivanhoe? 

Frank: Yes, I really was. Just by accident, years after its release in 2008, I noticed that the song was on one of Claremont’s very first CD releases, compiled by Moonboots. It was only after 2012, with my first personal contact to Claremont 56, I realized that it had had such an effect on the Balearic scene. 

How did you find out that DJs were playing these songs? 

Frank: Paul Murphy told me (smiles).

The person who introduced me to Mountaineer, was the Manchester-based DJ, Moonboots. Did you ever get to meet Moon? 

Frank: Yes. This was in 2015 when I was playing at the Road House in Manchester with the Bambi Davidson project. We opened up for the Manchester band Horsebeach. Paul from Leng / Claremont 56, Richard and Jason Boardman from Aficionado were spinning records at the gig.

Bambi Davidson Sarah Salkeld detail

(Art by Sarah Salkeld)

Are Mountaineer simply on hiatus, or have the group disbanded? 

Frank: I haven’t seen Henning for a long time now. I have heard that they still play here and there with the Hamburg-based band, but not for sure. Parts of Mountaineer also play in a project called Halma…

What made you start Fürsattl? What does the name mean? 

Frank: Fürsattl is kind of a follow-up project from the band Missouri. Patrick, Oli and I started experimenting, playing studio sessions based on our interest in more open and experimental Kraut stuff. The name comes from a Boozoo Bajou track called Fuersattel. It’s the name of a tavern in the countryside, near Nuremberg. 

Oliver: Yes, the idea was to get away from song-oriented structures, and to give things more space and time –  making instrumental music that we love. It felt like a liberation to me, really.

Fursattl`s releases have been pretty sporadic. Why is that? 

Frank: That’s right. We just love to give it some time (smiles).

Do you regularly get together to jam / work on songs, or are you busy with other projects? Does it simply take a long time to write and record the songs?

Frank: No not regularly. Patrick and I have spent some time on friends’ stuff to produce it. For example Boozoo Bajou or Neumayer Station who are just releasing two tracks on Claremont’s new Editions 3. Oli, who used to live in Berlin for a few years, just moved back to the Nuremberg area. There is no hurry. Maybe there will be more Fürsattl tracks finished in the future…

Patrick: Fürsattl is a slow-cooking musical dish, that’s why we are taking so long between releases.

Claremont Editions Vol 3

What drew to motorik? Personally I find this music, yours, that of Neu! La Düsseldorf, incredibly uplifting. It always seems to blow clouds away. I think it`s partly the driving beat, if feels as if its going somewhere. 

Frank: I think that Patrick is the super Krautrock drum machine. He ate Can and Neu! with spoons ever since he was a small kid. His drum playing is extraordinary, characteristic, and defining.. and see, it is very easy to produce dark and sad sounds, but very difficult to produce tasteful positive tunes. That is what we try to do. 

Patrick: I was influenced by all the obvious Neu! and Can tracks, and those are still the ones I keep going back to for inspiration… and that uplifting feeling you mentioned.

Oliver: For me, even after so many years, it’s still a pleasure every time to listen to Patrick playing the drums. It’s really special. I’m still very happy that I met Frank and Patrick… and that we’ve known each other for quite a long time now (smiles).

I was wondering if you might be able to list a few things that you`re currently listening to?

Frank: What I love to listen to at the moment is stuff like John Carroll Kirby, John Jeffrey, Greg Foat, Eddie Chacon…

Oliver: Besides instrumental stuff like John Jeffrey, I personally also like to listen to all sorts of music. Modern American folk stuff, like Jake Xerxes Fussell, for example. Or I recently discovered Aretha Franklin’s gospel record, Amazing Grace, which for me is really just magic. Bill Frisell’s solo record – Music IS – is something I return to on a regular basis at the moment, as well as Bill Callahan`s Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle – an all-time-favorite of mine – or Adrianne Lenkers` Songs

Are there any other bands currently making this kind of modern motorik music that you think we should look out for? 

Frank: Hm. Do you?

Have you ever, would you ever, consider playing as Fürsattl live? 

Frank: It`s more a studio project.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Frank: On my day job.

Oliver: … and on trying to be a good father. 

What are your plans for 2023? 

Frank: No concrete plans yet.

When can we expect some new music from Fürsattl?

Frank: You will be the first to know.

Fürsattl`s Rheinlust is out now, care of Claremont 56.


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