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Progressive Rock Interviews

Poverty's No Crime

Interviewed by Josh Turner
Interview with Heiko Spaarmann of Poverty's No Crime From 2004

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at

What can you tell us about the concept behind your album?
If you look at the album from the musical side, it is not a concept album. Every song can stand for its own, like a song, which has a beginning and an end. It doesn't need any songs around it from the musical way. If you look at the lyrics, we have the lyrical concept behind the album, which is pretty much covered by the title of the album, The Chemical Chaos. Also, the artwork is combined or connected to this lyrical concept. The lyrics deal around the topic of human beings just being influenced by chemical processes in their brains and in the bodies. For example, if you're in love, you think like something special is happening to you.

If you break it down, it is just hormones and chemicals acting, having an influence on your behavior. The question asked in the songs if, whether human beings are able to decipher for themselves what they are doing or are they just influenced by chemical processes. It is just the chemical chaos inside all of us that influences us. It is also connected to a lot of things behind the first Matrix movie where human beings think they are in control of their lives, in reality they are not, because they all live in this matrix, it is just an illusion. It is all about human beings being influenced by chemical.

MSJ: What can you tell me about the creative process involved in creating the album?
Actually, we have two different ways of writing music. One way, which might be some kind of a classical way for a band writing music that each of the band members have ideas somewhere at home or like at work or something. Working on these ideas, making parts for a new song from these ideas, going to the rehearsal room, and presenting these ideas to the other musicians, and we are working on these ideas making them becoming a whole song. This is one way. So, we are working as a team on those ideas. Everybody is bringing in ideas more or less for every song and then we work on it. The second way were working, which may be a bit special is that we are using the computer as a tool in a way that, for example, I have an idea for a new song, I'm putting my ideas into the computer program. I will also add other instruments around it. Me as a bass player, I can put guitar tracks and keyboard lines and drum patterns around it and play around with it. So, if I have an idea of a melody line for the keyboards, I can change it if I want. Then, I'm sending it out to the other guys. They have to listen to it. They are changing things on their instruments, on other instruments. Then, when we come together in the rehearsal room, almost the whole song is already said and written. Everybody knows what to play.

This is how we work. We've been working a lot with this method on the new album.

MSJ: When I was listening to the album, I heard a bit of a Dream Theater influence. I'm just wondering if Dream Theater influences some of your writing and what other bands might have inspired the group's song writing?
That's interesting, especially in the US we are compared to Dream Theater, not so much in Europe here we are not really compared to Dream Theater. It's more in the US that we are compared to Dream Theater. We have all different influences when it comes to the musicians. Like Jörg, our keyboardist for example, he is not listening to any metal music or hard rock music at all. He likes jazz and progressive rock. I don't know if you are familiar with the French band Magma or old seventies progressive bands.

MSJ: Sure.
When he joined the band, he didn't even know who our name was. For me, I have really a metal background, I've been listening to a lot of progressive metal bands like Fates Warning, Queensryche, also Dream Theater. Also, I like to listen to some Black Metal bands like Demorbidia, Cradle of Filth, but I also have a lot of CD's in my CD collection which are not connected to metal at all. I have a lot of house music, and chill out music, funk, and jazz rock. I love Jamiroquoi, for example. I think it is great music, they have a great bass player.

Our drummer, he is really metal guy listening to Soilwork, also Cradle of Filth, Black Metal stuff.

Our guitar player Marco, he is listening to bands like Chaos, like slower heavy rock bands. Our singer, Volker, he is not really listening to music. He likes old Rush and, um, Deep Purple.

That's kind of interesting. None of us is like really a big Dream Theater fan. We do like the band, but none of us is really listening to Dream Theater.

MSJ: How did the band came up with the name Poverty's No Crime?
That goes back to the very beginning of the band. That's about twelve years ago actually. People were coming from different bands forming a new band and they had some new songs and everything was okay, was just the band name missing. It was a long discussion about how to name the band, because you want to find a name that's suitable for the band, not just for two years, but to be able to use it for ten years, for twenty years. When you are young and you want to make hard rock or metal music, and, uh, the band was a little bit harder musical style in the first place, it is maybe cool to call yourself something like Metal Killers or Chainsaw, Rock Guys or something, but when you are getting older that is definitely the name you don't want to use for your band. The guys were looking for a band that can be used ten years. Somebody took it from an English phrase book. Volker, the singer, was coming to the rehearsal with a phrase book and he said, okay guys, we need a name for the band. I have some good ideas here for you from this phrase book. We were reading some phrases and Poverty's No Crime was the phrase that everybody says, yeah, this sounds interesting, this is a statement, which is true, which is true now, which is true in twenty years, which was true two hundred years ago. We all stand behind this statement. That how the band was named Poverty's No Crime.

MSJ: I was reading that the band was formed in 1991 under a different name, but that you joined in 2001. Is that correct?
MSJ: What events lead up to you joining their line-up?
The old keyboard player, he left the band around 2000, I think, so the band got a new keyboard player. With that line-up they've been recording One in a Million, the album before The Chemical Chaos. Right after the recording of One in a Million, the old bass player left the band, because he thought it was not a prospective to be long on the band, because he wanted to make a living from playing bass guitar. That's not possible with Poverty's No Crime, so the band was looking for a new bass player. They've been trying some bass players. I was actually called by a guy who was working in the studio with the band, he's been recording, and I recorded in that studio a demo with my old band. He said, okay, I have Poverty's No Crime recording here, the bass player is leaving, so I thought you're a pretty good bass player and this might be the music you'll enjoy playing. Do you mind going to one of the rehearsals and playing with the guys to see if you are suitable for them? That was actually very cool, because during the time I was a big fan of Poverty's No Crime. I was studying abroad during that time and I took with me about twenty cd's for that year, for that year that I was abroad studying. Two of those cd's were Poverty's No Crime cd's and that was like your favorite band calling you and asking if you wanted to play with them. So, that was pretty cool.
MSJ: How did you choose the bass guitar as your instrument?
My sister was playing electric guitar, and my family said it's no use having two guitars if you are going to play Metallica songs. So, you need a bass guitar. Actually I started playing Metallica songs in out basement at my parent's place when I was around fourteen or fifteen years. I thought bass was a cool instrument. It rocks. I still like it. I don't regret.

MSJ: What was the last concert you attended?
Um, good question. It's been really awhile. Well, I went to some festivals during summertime. I saw Slayer three times last year. I saw Stratovarius and that's all I remember. I don't really know so many bands. I like to go to concerts. Oh yeah, I know the band, it's Paradise Lost. That's the last band I saw live. I have a friend who is taking pictures for music magazine and I can go with him for free to concerts. Not too many bands are coming to the region where I am living.

MSJ: What region is that?
Right now I just moved to Munich , southern part of Germany about six weeks ago and I used to live in the northwestern part in the area of Brehman.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought?
The last CD I purchased was actually the new Dream Theater album. I liked it.
MSJ: I hear that you are going to be on tour in Europe?
Yeah, we are doing some dates in April. In Germany. We don't have a booking agency, so this is not so easy. We're trying to setup a little tour in April that we have already; it's not a big tour.
MSJ: Is that just in Europe?
Yeah, yeah. We got to be careful. It's our first release in the States and we have to wait to see how the sales are going. For a progressive rock band it's not so easy just coming over, coming over to the States. It's quite expensive. As well as it is in Europe just to go all over the place. We pretty much play everywhere where we can get in one day and get back in one night. That's most of the times.
MSJ: I was reading that you said you don't own a TV set. I wanted to ask you what that's about.
When I started studying about seven years ago I moved out from home, and I didn't take a TV set with me. So, I just thought I could get one later or it's not so important for me getting. After a couple of weeks, I realized that I don't need a TV set. I don't miss anything. I have so much time for myself and for my own activities, for my hobbies, and for my friends. So, I decided on not getting one. After some time, being at friends place, or my parents place watching TV, I was a bit shocked about the stuff that's running on TV, which I didn't realize so much before. All those talk shows, game shows, and the topics they have on the news they are not really important. It's just that they make it important. The viewers stayed tuned to those stations in order to see the commercials that are running out of the news show. So, I have my Internet connection reading newspapers on the Internet. I'm reading newspaper. I like going to the cinema watching a movie and I'm not anti-TV or media. It is just for me a decision, I have more time for myself when I don't watch TV. Always when I watch TV, I think afterwards that it was a waste of time. It is just sitting there doing nothing.

MSJ: I was also reading on the same page that your favorite book is called, "Faserland," by Christian Kracht.
It's a German author and it's a German book, you know.
MSJ: What is it about and why do you like it so much?
It's about a guy who is just describing his everyday life and some weird things that happen to him. He's like outside of, uh, of communities. He's like going through the country, telling what is happening to him. There are so many strange things that happen to him. It's really fun, reading that book.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
One thing I can remember right now is when we were playing in Hamburg in a small club and, uh, we had a time schedule of course when you have to play. Normally, it's like five minutes more or less is not a problem, but during our last song, we said okay guys you're playing the last song, like our time was up. Right when our time was up, the guy from the club he turned off the electricity on the stage. He turned on the disco music. He was standing on the stage playing our instruments. You could just hear the drummer and our singer singing. There was the disco starting and they changed the music. So you are like, okay, I guess the concert is over now. We couldn't say goodbye or thanks to the fans. It was just like really a heartbreaker and many complained afterwards to the guy at the club when he said no complaints guys your time was over.

I mean, he is right, but it is just rude to just turn off the electricity to the equipment just when you are playing the last song and we were announcing it. This is our last song for tonight.

MSJ: Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
Yeah, if they like our music and they are interested in the band, they can get a lot of information on our web page They can get some information about the band and they can listen some sound samples there if they are unsure they'll like the music and if they like it, spread the word and tell your friends about it, because that's what helps us the most being recommended to fans from fans.
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