QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Chris Pohl (BLUTENGEL)

written by Marko Jakob || 04.03.2021 ||
translated by Judith Reumont

Pix666: Hello Chris. Thanks for taking the time for a quick interview. How are you doing – I hope you’re alive and well?

Chris: Looks like it! Actually it’s all good…. I’m just not very awake, because the weather is awful and I hardly see daylight in the studio anyway but I’m healthy!

Pix666: Your band Blutengel has been around for over 20 years now. What memories do you have that have left the biggest impression on you and that you will never forget?

Chris: Phew, there are sooo many…. The first gig at WGT, our first US tour, the first chart entries and then our record at number 2…. A sold out open air in Klaffenbach with over 3000 people…. Is that enough? 😉

Pix666: On 12.03.2021 the new Blutengel album “Fountain of Destiny” will be released and it contains cover versions of 80s hits. How did you come up with the idea to release such an album and what criteria did you use to select the songs?

Chris: I love the 80s and have already covered old songs here and there…. “Stay” by Shakespears Sisters, “Cry little Sister…” byTerminal Choice “Out of the Dark” by Falco and “Don’t go” by Yazoo….. I took it to the extreme with “Demons of the Past” – a 6 track CD with cover songs that came with the UN:GOTT box. This was very well received, I had a lot of fun with it and I thought: Let’s make a whole album! Said – Done! These are all my favourite songs or the ones I found the most interesting, with which I connect a story or ones which just impressed me.

Pix666: When you release cover versions, do you have to ask permission from composers or rights holders or is that not necessary? What are the differences from a legal perspective between playing a cover song live and releasing it on a recording?

Chris: You need to get permission because if the copyright holder is not satisfied, they can ban the release. People used to say that if it’s a 1:1 cover, then you can just do it…. But this is not right. We have edited some of the songs, made them slower or even sung deeper on our own… Therefore we needed the permission… From 13 requests we got 10 approved! However live you can play everything – that’s no problem at all!

Pix666: With ‘Nobody’s Diary’ and ‘Forever Young’, the first two singles from the album have already been released, one of them also with a video. How were the fans’ reactions so far and who filmed the beautiful video for ‘Forever Young’?

Chris: With cover songs, the reactions are always very different…. A lot of people have been screaming, “How can you? The original is way better – your version sucks and you’re an ass!” – the typical Facebook trolls! But I don’t want to be better than the original, I just want to “offer” my version….

With covers the reactions are often loud…. Nevertheless, I got the feedback from the fans that they especially find my version of “Forever Young” very soulful and beautiful. Some even didn’t like the high vocals of the original, so their reactions were positive! The video was filmed by Neil from ERDLING. Under the current conditions you couldn’t really do much, but I think it shows all the things that were important to me – me, my neighbourhood (The Park)….I think it’s very nice.

Pix666: In what formats will the singles and album be available and most importantly, where can you buy or pre-order them?

Chris: As always, everything will be available at Out of Line: on CD,Vinyl and various bundles, Digital everywhere too. We had a limited and signed edition of 666 copies with a different cover and 3 additional bonus songs at getnext.to/blutengel – but it was sold out pretty quickly!

Pix666: Social media and music streaming are both a blessing and a curse for bands. From your point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this development for your band Blutengel, if you compare the 90s with the present?

Chris: I am much more famous but poorer! You can sum it up like that! Everywhere in the world you can stream me and that increases the level of awareness. But with streaming you hardly earn anything. If this were the 90s I would be a millionaire with my sales figures! Today I can “only” live well from it, for which I am more than grateful. Still, it’s ridiculous to see that you only get €300 for several million streams. Social media is a curse anyway…. So many self-proclaimed music experts, politicians, psychologists. I hate Facebook and co….grrrr.

Pix666: You’ve been using the ‘Getnext’ platform for some time now, which I think is a great invention. How do the fans deal with this medium, where you get exclusive content for a fee?

Chris: Of course the community is divided. Nowadays, everyone wants to get everything for free! Put Youtube on, listen to Blutengel, pay nothing. Now all of a sudden they should pay for something? Ouch!!! People don’t see how little value the music and the musician has nowadays. Corona has cost us so much income. For me I’m missing around 55% of my former income – so with the remaining 45% I have to cover 100% of the costs (studio rent, two warehouses, electricity, internet, health insurance, production of albums, masters, video shoots…).

The calculations just don’t add up. Not for me and not for other professional musicians either. With Getnext for only 6,66 € per month you get exclusive podcasts, photos, videos from the studio, making of, behind the scenes, video interviews, introduction of new songs…. All this for a small contribution, which you can also cancel at any time. It’s only fair that artists get paid for their work! Who goes to work for free? And especially in these times? What else are we supposed to do if we are not allowed to go on tour? In the meantime we have built up a great community and many people have subscribed. But we would like to have more p! So if you want more Chris private and unvarnished: getnext.to/blutengel

Pix666: Is there already any information about the tour – I can imagine that the fans can hardly wait to finally see you on stage again?

Chris: Yes, in the next few days we will announce the THIRD postponement of the Living The Darkness Tour. When we will go on our own Blutengel Tour again, I have no idea, I still hope for autumn 2021 – with my vaccination certificate!

Pix666: As a musician, you certainly spend most of your time making music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to distract yourself – are there any interesting hobbies you pursue?

Chris: Not interesting but I am absolutely a gamer! I play on the Xbox/PS4 – that relaxes me. Other than that I love Boxsets and horror movies and my rabbits!

Pix666: Since I know you’re always pretty busy, I don’t want to pester you any longer – but maybe you’d like to give the fans, especially in these crazy times, something special to take away?

Chris: Don’t let social media trolls influence you! Corona brings out the worst in people. Believe in yourself, stay true to yourself and find REAL friends! And hang in there, because someday even this pandemic will be FORGOTTEN!

Pix666: Thank you for the interesting answers. Stay healthy – hopefully it works out with the tour this year – then we’ll get to see you.





photos © Annie Bertram