The crossover / rap metal institution CLAWFINGER took the Schlachthof Wiesbaden by storm with a best of program on October 10th. Before the gig, the very sweet singer and frontman ZAK TELL answered questions from Lydia and Michael from the Metalogy.de team and told, among other things, about the importance of the CLAWFINGER successful album „Deaf Dumb Blind“, the messages in the lyrics, his job and the tour. Read part 1 of the English version of the four-part interview series here.
Hello Zak, thank you very much for taking your time.
Zak: I will try to answer all your questions.
You are on tour again. How has it been so far?
Zak: Yes, we had three concerts last week. They were great. Two of them were sold out. Not that it matters that they are sold out, but it’s just nice that we can still sell out halls after all these years. Of course, it still makes no difference if there are only three people and a dog. We would play the same gig and give everything. But there is a certain level of fulfillment when you realize, that you can still sell out large halls.
By the way, I wouldn’t call it a tour this time. There are three concerts and then we go home for four days. Then we do three gigs again. But it has at least a bit of the touch of a tour.
Is there a reason for this division?
Zak: Yes. There are several reasons. The most important thing is that we all have a job. So we have to take Thursday and Friday off for these shows. The other reason is that we all have families. And the third reason is that we’re getting old. We are middle aged. (Laughs) I could list other reasons, but those are the main reasons that come to my mind. Time and energy. We want to compress it a little bit.
So you all have other jobs?
Zak: Yes, we’ve had that since 2008, so for some time now. Probably if we put a lot of time and energy back into the band, we could live on it again. But I don’t think I want to. I’m sure some of the other band members would say otherwise. However, I don’t think I have the energy to do this as a full-time job anymore. I like having the music as a bonus on the side and then going on tour when we feel like it, when we have good offers and when it fits into our calendars. We now have a different time than in the 90s. The music business is very different. But we could certainly make a living from the band if we put that time, effort and energy into it. But we are no longer 25, and we are no longer 45. We have therefore decided not to make a living from it alone.
What kind of job do you have?
Zak: I work in a school. I am responsible for a common room. This is, so to speak, the only area in school where children can have fun. And then I look after a junior club for fourth graders after school.
Do you sing for them sometimes?
Zak: No, most don’t know about it. One of them happened to hear me the other day. No, actually he had said: „Mr. Tell, we’ll see you tomorrow.“ And I told him that we won’t see each other tomorrow because I’m flying to Germany. Last week, when I told him again, he didn’t believe me. He thought I was joking. When I was back on Monday, he said: „Mr. Tell, they were not there on Thursday and Friday.“ And I said that I had told him that I was going to Germany. “You really went to Germany?“ He couldn’t believe that I had really flown to Germany. He thought I was joking.
I am not working there as Zak from CLAWFINGER. I’m there as a gronwup. I don’t really tell anyone about it. The teachers and my colleagues know that, of course. But the kids don’t know. But especially when a new school year begins and new children come with their parents and most of the parents are my age, then I am recognized by many parents. And then they tell their kids. But first of all the kids don’t really understand that. After a while they take a look at YouTube and then come to me: “Mr. Tell, I saw you on YouTube. And they only wore their underpants and jumped into the water from the stage. ” Then they saw a clip from a concert in Ukraine, where we played six years ago. I actually took off most of my clothes. At that time the stage was on a boat or a barge. So I could actually dive into the water from the stage. It’s a little embarrassing when kids stand in front of you and say, „Mister Tell, I saw them in underwear.“ (Laughs) And that’s why I don’t tell them about them. You have to find out themselfes.
Do they love you all the more for that?
Zak: I don’t know. You have to ask that yourself. I cannot answer this question. I think some find it pretty interesting. Others honestly miss that ass. These are fourth graders. They live in their own world. They are 10 or 11 years old. They love Star Wars and Marvel and Rubik’s Cube and things like that.
Another topic: „Deaf Dumb Blind“ came out 26 years ago. How do you see the message from back then in today’s context?
Zak: I wish I could say that things have changed. I guess a couple of things did that too. But if you look at what’s going on in the world and how we behave as human beings, I think we haven’t made much progress. And it looks like there is a Trump for every Greta – that’s just an example because it’s just so much on the news. For every person who wants to improve the world, there is an idiot who wants to turn everything back. It kind of feels like it happens every time. I already thought that maybe this is simply human nature; the constant back and forth and colliding. I’m really not sure if things have gotten better. I wish I could say that they were. But I don’t think they are. So I think that the Deaf Dumb Blind message is still up to date and that it has stands the test of time quite well. Of course, it’s difficult to be objective with something that is a big part of me.
But, for example, an anti-racist song like „Nigger“ would certainly not be written in this way today. The political climate is different. There is more political correctness in a different way than in the 90s. Nowadays this song would surely cause us more trouble than it did back in 1993. If I would have written it now, I would certainly not be writing it that way. I will soon turn 50 and will not be 25 anymore. I would also write it differently, because maybe I would worry much more about it. I’m glad I didn’t do that back then. And I was glad that we wrote it as it is. He is what he is.
It’s like a tattoo. It is part of your history. It is associated with memories. Like a tattoo that reminds you of your time with a certain woman or when you were a fan of a certain band. It’s the same with this album. It is what it is because it is what we were then and what the world looked like to us at the time. I’m really pretty proud of this album.
Why was the message from „nigger“ sometimes misunderstood?
Zak: Many don’t really understand the song. But the message is still valid – in many areas and around the world. We all know it’s not a racist song. And it is clear what we want to say with it. This message cannot be wrong. That’s why we can still play this song. Of course, our fans in particular know the message. But I also knew that it could be difficult with the song if you took it out of context and played it to another audience. Then there could certainly be heated reactions. But if we play it in our own context, that’s never a problem.
Are you going to play Deaf Dumb Blind again today?
Zak: No, we only had to discuss this with our manager when we started because we were unsure of ourselves. That was just a specialty because of the album’s 25th anniversary last year. We will of course play a few songs from “Deaf Dumb Blind” today. But overall there will be a mix. A greatest hits program. I don’t know how many songs are really hits. We just play a mix of everything.
Lest hier alle 4 Teile des vierteiligen Interviews mit ZAK TELL von CLAWFINGER auf DEUTSCH
Exklusiv-Interview mit ZAK TELL von CLAWFINGER – Teil 1
Exklusiv-Interview mit Zak Tell, Frontman von CLAWFINGER – Teil 2
Exklusiv-Interview mit ZAK TELL, Sänger von CLAWFINGER – Teil 3
Exklusiv-Interview mit ZAK von Clawfinger – vierter und letzter Teil
Und hier unsere FOTOSTRECKE vom Gig
und hier ein CLAWFINGER Video gegen Trumpismus
Lydia Dr. Polwin-Plass
Promovierte Journalistin und Texterin, spezialisiert auf die Themen Kultur, Wirtschaft, Marketing, Vertrieb, Bildung, Karriere, Arbeitsmarkt, Naturheilkunde und Alternativmedizin. Mehr über Dr. Lydia Polwin-Plass auf ihrer Website: http://www.text-und-journalismus.de