Tokio Hotel: “We can’t please everyone”
For five years they were like fallen off the face of the earth. Due to the hype about their private life the four german mega-sellers took the bull by the horns and moved to Los Angeles. After a long time of finding themselves the passion for making music came up again. “Kings of Suburbia”, the long-awaited comeback-album, distanced itself from the former works of the quartet and penetrates the charts as a trendy electro-record. In the “Krone”-Interview the singer Bill Kaulitz talks about the private and soundwise changes and why the band takes matters into their own hands now.
Krone: Bill, after years of hiatus, the concerns that you can’t live up on former successes were surely big. How big is the gratification now that the album has reached #1 of the iTunes-charts in 27 countries?
Bill Kaulitz: We have actually been very relaxed from the beginning, because we believed in us and our songs. We ourselves made the biggest pressure for us. Of course the success is great though and we’re also surprised by this positive feedback and that’s actually the most beautiful thing.
Krone: But not all of your fans are entirely enthusiastic – some older ones, who have always been listening to Tokio Hotel, are downright confused because of the style change to electric music. Why actually this change?
Kaulitz: The only demand for us was that we ourselves really like the album. We didn’t consciously change, but we wrote and produced. The result is the music that felt good to us. We also didn’t want to make compromises, but just go ahead with what was best for us. It’s clear that not everyone likes it, and that’s completely normal.
Krone: There were times when english texts weren’t a topic for you – now the complete Album “Kings of Suburbia” is in that language.
Kaulitz: Well, we already released every record in two languages since our second album, and also wrote the last one “Humanoid” in german and english. Already at that time we noticed that we only wrote german songs because people expected us to do so. We had a lot to translate and sing every song twice – a lot of the content was lost. Furthermore there are moments in the studio which you can’t carry off a second time. The translating was almost like office work. But we didn’t find that good anymore and we wanted to leave the songs the way they originated. In this case we wrote everything in english and because the process of translating felt so unnatural, we just didn’t do it this time.
Krone: In the video of “Girl got a gun” you can see a masturbating soft toy and many sexual indications. In the video of “Love who loves you back” you randomly make out with men and women. Is that a necessarity to stand out again after that long time of abscence?
Kaulitz: We didn’t plan to do that. Many people surely think that it’s all calculation, but we just make the creative decisions in the actual moments. We definitely don’t think about certain provocations, we rather were wondering about those discussions. We were absolutely surprised by that. We don’t try to create scandals, but just do everything in the way we find cool and awesome. People can then do with it what they want.
Krone: But it’s nice that you can even polarize. That’s not an easy thing to do nowadays.
Kaulitz: Yes, that’s true. There are so many sick things by other artists – some for example don’t have a part of their body which they haven’t shown already. For that reason alone I wouldn’t have thought that people would discuss about our video.
Krone: Because we were already talking about the different reviews at the beginning – a less flattering one was by the “Süddeutsche”: “It’s like David Guetta recorded with an e-guitar on his iPad.” How much does something like that concern you?
Kaulitz: (laughs) A criticism most often criticizes. Rarely something positive comes out of it then, often journalists are just pissed because they didn’t get an interview from us. Often in music history it were the best albums that were pulled to pieces by journalists right after the release. At the end of the day a single person writes that and because of that it doesn’t concern us particularly – we don’t even read that through.
Krone: After the third album “Humanoid” you hurriedly moved to Los Angeles, because the hype about you was unbearable in Germany. Was this step necessary to be able to grow up in peace?
Kaulitz: Moving was definitely necessary for the creative process as well as for our private life. After “Humanoid” we didn’t know what to say anymore, we were completely empty and didn’t have inspiration at all anymore. We had to get a distance from the career and just not do anything for a while. We tried to sort out our private life and that’s necessary to even make music. Of course we could just have gone in the studio and just record anything, but we had the demand to do something amazing, and we’re the hardest critics ourselves. We didn’t want to dash something, to just fulfil the contract. But things just take longer when you – as we do now – do them on your own.
Krone: There were times when you couldn’t even hear the name “Tokio Hotel” anymore. How long time did it take you until the energy and motivation came back?
Kaulitz: Well, it took up a lot of time. We had the feeling that we were always on tour and never had a break. Back then there were a lot of private stories in the media and in comparison to our music this got out of hand. We didn’t like that at all and above all we wanted to withdraw ourselves from the media. That was the much bigger and more difficult task. No private scandals, no nonsense, no interviews and no pics. It wasn’t easy to do that. And you miss making music quite fast, so we wrote and produced in our self-built studio again after about 1,5 years. It didn’t take long until the lust for performing came back and to share our music with the people.
Krone: Has your character changed? How american have you become by now?
Kaulitz: Well, all the Americans always say we’re typically german. We are punctual, reliable and all correct. I think it can be noticed that we retained the German in us also in the USA.
Krone: Do you have a more relaxed relationship again to your old home now?
Kaulitz: We actually never had a bad relationship to Germany and we absolutely love Germany. If we could live more undisturbed in Germany, we would be here. Georg and Gustav still live here and we all have a good relationship with our parents and families. There are actually no problems at all.
Krone: Such a comeback has to go along with a tour of course. What can we expect for 2015?
Kaulitz: Right now we’re in the planning of our tour, and I think we’ll play live concerts the entire year, beginning in spring. We want to go to every country and powerfully report us back to our fans.
Translation by Herzblut