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We used to be Tourists: "And At One Point You Realize That You Are Not A Tourist Anymore"

Published July 18 2015.

  by Mario

Last Saturday when listening to one of my favourite radio stations - radioeins, FM4 is the other one :-) - I stumbled upon an interview with this Indie Folk trio hailing from Cologne. We used to be Tourists are currently funding their debut album on German crowdfunding platform Startnext. I talked to Ben about the band, musical inspirations, the crowdfunding (of course) and the upcoming album ...

50K MUSIC: First of all please tell us a bit about the band. How did you get together? Who had the idea of naming the band We used to be Tourists?
Ben: We got together in the late summer of 2012 and met – in a very non-romantic way – on the internet. I was looking for musicians to start a folk band without really knowing in which direction it would go. Isa was among the first people that responded to my ad and we noticed pretty quickly that we were musically compatible. We thought it would be a good idea to come up with a name while looking for more musicians. I remember coming up with We used to be Tourists when thinking of the feeling you have when you’ve lived in a new town for long enough: You used to be a stranger here, but as you get to know the streets and corners, beautiful and ugly spots of the place you get closer and closer to calling it your home. And at one point you realize that you are not a tourist anymore.

50K MUSIC: Where do you get your inspirations from? Who are your musical role models, if there are any?
Ben: I draw most of my inspiration for lyrics from everyday situations. Sometimes it’s just a small thing I see, hear or read that sparks the fire for a new song idea. For instance there’s a song on the new album called The Bullfighter’s Girl and it’s… well it’s about the girlfriend of a bullfighter watching her boyfriend wrestling a bull at the arena. I got the inspiration seeing an old news paper picture of Charlie Chaplin’s daughter Geraldine who was dating the famous matador Manuel Benítez back in the late 60s. I saw the picture in the morning and it fascinated me that much that the lyrics for the songs were basically finished in the afternoon.

As for musical role models I don’t think any of us has one. We all certainly love listening to a lot of different music and are all fans of certain bands and singers, but not enough to speak of role models.

50K MUSIC: You’re crowd funding your debut album on Startnext at the moment. Are you happy with the progress of the campaign so far?
Ben: We were a bit anxious before starting the campaign because we already funded our EP via crowd funding two years ago. And while it’s going a bit slower than the last time we are quite happy with the results so far. We still have 8 days to go and already reached more than half the amount we need. Sure it could always be more and always go a little faster but I’m positive that a lot of help will come towards the end.

50K MUSIC: There’s still a long way to go to reach your funding goal. How are you going to convince people to support your campaign?
Ben: We already released one song of the new album and are expecting another out next week – we hope that we can let the results of our recording sessions speak for themselves. We are also working on a little video compilation of friends talking about the crowd funding and promoting it.

50K MUSIC: Would you consider crowd funding a reasonable way to finance your music in general? (… even instead of getting signed by a label)
Ben: It’s a great way to give your music a kickstart by financing the studio, CD pressing etc. A label might push you into an different direction or disagree with you in some way, but crowd funding lets you do exactly what you want to do – if you reach your goal of course. On the other hand, a label takes away a lot of work and pressure enabling you to spend more time making music and less time worrying about financing it. I guess both ways have their pros and cons.

50K MUSIC: What kind of album can your fans expect? Could we have a sneak pre-listen to the songs?
Ben: Early in the progress of planning this album we knew that we wanted it to have a live feeling. It should sound like us in concert – with no additional layers of instruments or voices that we wouldn’t be able to recreate at our gigs. We recorded most of the songs live at the studio, as a whole band in front of 22 microphones. We were aiming for a very warm and honest sound and I think the listener will be able to hear that.

A few days ago we released the first song called Thicker Skin which is available at our Soundcloud site.


50K MUSIC: What are your further plans for the next few months apart from producing the album and spreading the word about it?
Ben: We are currently planning one or two music videos and are aiming to get the first one done while the crowd funding is still running. But what’s really exciting is that we’ll be playing a Germany wide tour of about 20 gigs in September and October to promote the album’s release.

50K MUSIC: And last one - anything you want your fans and supporters to know?
Ben: Everybody who has supported us so far – be it via crowd funding or in a different way – we are incredibly thankful for your help. We wouldn’t enjoy making our music if we didn’t get such overwhelmingly positive, kind feedback. It’s a great feeling to go out and sing and play those songs and have people sing along and interact with us – our fans helping us financing this album feels like the digital equivalent to that support. If we were any good at baking we would make individualized cupcakes for everyone supporting us, but we’re only musicians so all we can offer you is our music and our gratitude.