DATE OF INTERVIEW:
LONG DISTANCE CALLING
6th February 2018
With Long Distance's Calling's fifth full-length release, 2016's 'Trips', their second to feature a predominance of vocals, it seemed the German quartet were progressing further from their instrumental roots into a vocal-centric future. However, true to the essence of a genuinely progressive band, expectations were thwarted for their latest work, 'Boundless', which has seen them abandon any vague semblance of singing within the compositions thereon, and strip the music right back to the instrumental prowess for which they originally become renowned and loved. Released early-Feb this year, the resulting instrumentations offer an emotionally enriching journey through different textures, moods and atmospheres. 'Boundless' is an utter masterpiece. Metal Discovery quizzed bassist Jan Hoffmann about Long Distance Calling's latest work; blemished promo photos; and prognostic anagrams...
METAL DISCOVERY: Congrats on the new album. It scored a perfect 10/10 from me. I declared it as your “magnum opus”. Do you feel the same way with the music you’ve created for ‘Boundless’?
JAN: Wow, that´s good to hear. Thank you very much! I hope it´s not the “magnum opus”, ‘cause I hope it´s still to come, but I agree that it is a really good album and, for sure, one our best ones :)
(Jan Hoffmann on achieving a feeling of boundlessness through music)
"...music can help to push the envelope in your thoughts and to get inspired; it´s like fresh air for the brain and it´s triggering emotions, which is beautiful."
Long Distance Calling - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2017 - Michael Winkler
Long Distance Calling Official Website:
Thanks to Freddy Palmer for arranging the interview
Long Distance Calling Official Facebook:
MD: Whereas you only had vocals on a single track on each of the first three albums, it seemed the band’s progression was heading into a vocal-inclusive future with the last two - 2013’s ‘The Flood Inside’ and 2016’s ‘Trips’. At what point did you decide to revert to a vocal-free approach for an entire album?
JAN: Well, it was pretty difficult to write those last two albums due to many different factors and, for this time, we just wanted to keep it pure and simply. I think it started off when we played a festival show as a four-piece ,end of 2016, because Petter was not available and it felt just very easy and uncomplicated. Petter is one of the best guys in the whole world and a hell of a singer! We just realized at some point that we feel most comfortable as a four-piece, concentrating on our core.
MD: For ‘Trips’, you relocated to a remote hut in the mountains, and a forest cabin, for the songwriting sessions. But, I’ve read you shut yourself in a plain old rehearsal room for ‘Boundless’. Did you want to get back to basics, in this sense?
JAN: Totally. We wanted to go back and smell the old carpet with ash and empty beer bottles, haha. It helped to focus on the real thing: music. Of course, we are not 20 anymore so we pimped the rehearsal space a bit to give a bit more comfort, but we wanted that basic feeling what I think you can hear on the album.
MD: The music feels organic, free-flowing and with much depth and variance in its modes of emotional expression. It’s been stated in press blurb that you’ve called this, “the purest LDC album ever”. In what sense do you regard this one as more pure than previous works?
JAN: I´m happy to hear that. As big as the production sounds, it´s more simple and stripped down, I think. The songs are a bit more compact, there´s not a single word on the album and it´s pretty heavy. I think that´s why it´s pretty pure. Emotional expression is by far the most important thing on an instrumental album, in my opinion.
MD: There’s a very jam-like essence to the transitions and flow of the music in each of the tracks, which brings to mind your earlier work. Did you capture some of that old jamming magic in your approach, and do you think you gel better now as musicians?
JAN: We are definitely better musicians now and it would be ridiculous if not after ten years, haha. Jamming is always the core of our songs and then we take it from there and, this time, we just let it happen and see where it takes us. It´s a very intuitive approach to songwriting, coming more from the guts that form the brain.
MD: The concept behind ‘Trips’ was about time travelling into the future and past, through your dreams. Reverting back to the band’s more jam-like vibe for ‘Boundless’, is the new album more about travelling back into the past? Progression through regression?
JAN: No, not really. It´s just about pushing boundaries, not accepting frontiers and letting go. It´s about going out there and discover yourself.
MD: Does the album title hold any significance in relation to the creative process and resulting music? Did your compositional approach feel free from any sense of parameters? And is that always the case, anyway? Or at least something you always strive for?
JAN: Good questions :) We don´t need a concept all the time but we want a frame to paint a picture within that frame; I think that´s important. The album title should reflect the artwork, the song titles and the music; it just should make sense in a way. Especially, song titles are very important as an instrumental band because they are able to kick off a thought in the listener’s mind, and that´s an interesting thing to do because there is still a lot of room within the song to wander around.
MD: Have you ever achieved a feeling of boundlessness in your life, free from any constrictive societal rules? Is making and playing music when you feel most boundless?
JAN: Totally. In the “regular life” it´s difficult, of course, because there are rules and most of the time it´s ok or even necessary. But music can help to push the envelope in your thoughts and to get inspired; it´s like fresh air for the brain and it´s triggering emotions, which is beautiful.
MD: Are the track titles words chosen that abstractly reflect emotions evoked by the music, or is there any literal meaning and/or significance behind them?
JAN: See above :) The order of the titles are a bit of a journey from the ground to the mountain top that you can follow if you want to.
MD: There are some truly fantastic new promo shots of the band, up in the mountains. Out of interest, though, were blemishes added to the photos afterwards for any kind of intended effect? Many have marks on them, in the exact same position on each photo, that are consistent with what would result from a dirty DSLR sensor. Seems a little strange to me that such a great photographer wouldn’t make sure their sensor was clean!
JAN: Well, the latter is the case, haha. Everyone was so blown away by the landscape around us that it just happened without notice. On the other hand, it’s very authentic and real, which I really like. Everything is polished and retouched nowadays and we are setting a new trend now, haha.
MD: Judging by the photos, I presume you’re all into mountaineering, then? Is this something that helps give you perspective on life, music, a sense of freedom, etc.?
JAN: To be honest, it was the first time for some of us but we all liked the idea and there is always a first time for everything. It definitely helps to get a new perspective, to re-measure sizes and to see how fucking small we are. It was an amazing trip that I want to do again, for sure. It´s one of the most beautiful spots in Europe.
MD: You’re playing some European shows during February and March, mainly in your home country, but are more dates being booked? Any UK shows in the pipeline?
JAN: Yes, we are currently working on more dates for later this year and we hope to come back to the UK, for sure!
MD: How was the run of four UK shows in May 2016? Memorable shows? Good crowds over here? Fine English weather?!
JAN: Yeah, the weather was beautiful ;) It really depends where we are in the UK. London is always great and also shows in bigger cities but, if it gets more rural, it´s more difficult and smaller but the people who attended the shows loved it and so did we!
MD: Finally, two years ago, I pointed out to you in an interview that your band name is an anagram of “I’ll cancel d’no sing tag”, and suggested it might’ve always been your destiny to progress beyond your instrumental roots. Well, it’s also an anagram of “Do cancel all t’singing”… so, again, your destiny is forewritten within your name! In this sense, do you think we should be worried about these further anagrams: Tonic Gelling Scandal; Cold Anglican Tingles; Gangland Cellist Icon; Clinical Dong Tangles; Gents Gold Anal Clinic?
JAN: Haha, that´s funny and crazy. How the fuck did you find this out? Don´t be worried, life is too short to worry and we don´t know where it goes in the future, it´s wide open!
MD: Thanks for the interview, best of luck for the rest of the year, and hope the album does great for you!
JAN: Thank you very much, good questions! People, listen to the album and get it. This will help to bring us over to your beautiful island. Love LDC