Tokio Hotel

By paul

Hello Tokio Hotel, how are you all doing today and where in the world are you?
All: We’re fine thank you.
Gustav: It’s Thursday, August 17th and we’re in London at the moment doing promotion for our first single “Ready, Set, Go” which will hit stores on August 27th.

For people who’ve never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Tom: That’s a hard one. We always tried to find our own style, the typical Tokio Hotel sound. And if you listen to our songs you will hear right from the beginning that it is Tokio Hotel. In general I would say we do guitar and drum driven rock. Fast and emotional.

What would you say are your key musical influences that affect your writing style?
Tom: Talking about music is like I said; we try to create our own style. We all have artists we really like but we never tried to copy anyone. We all listen to very different music and our Tokio Hotel music is something you could call our musical common ground.
Bill: Speaking of lyrics: I write about everything we’ve experienced. About everything that has touched me emotionally. Situations out of our life, out of our families and friends lives and situations out of the lives of our fans that write about them to us. It can be anything around us and in us. That’s how we always handled things that were going on in our lives, we wrote them down. That’s how we cope with these situations.

Within the last couple of years, you’ve received massive critical acclaim in Europe, and received a string of prestigious awards (most notably the WMA Best Selling German Artists in 2006). Has your success come as a shock to you?
Georg: It was a very fast ride so far and nothing we ever expected. Sometimes when I see a piece on TV about us I think to myself: Hold on for a second – right that has really happened (laughs).
Tom: All we ever wanted was a record deal. After we found our producers we were in the studio for nearly 2 years – rehearsing, recording, rehearsing, recording and rehearsing. We thought we would never get a record into the stores. And now we have all these awards, played a European tour, which will continue pretty soon, and we’ll be releasing our first single in the UK. It’s more than we ever dreamed of.

How has life changed for you guys since becoming international best sellers?
Bill: Like Tom said, there was a time when we didn’t believe we’d ever publish a single. Then we got our deal and released “Monsoon” on August 15th 2005. From that moment on life changed completely. All of a sudden we went straight to number one in Germany and so many people were interested in our music and the band. From one day to the next everybody knew us. Everything took off from there and the ride hasn’t stopped – life is developing and changing every day and it’s great!

Before releasing ‘Scream’ in the UK, you recorded primarily in your native language, German. What made you decide to make the transition into English?
Tom: Nearly everywhere our album was released in German and we were really surprised that our fans picked it up, sat down and translated it into their own language, learned German and sang along with us at our shows. But that’s nothing you can expect, especially when you are very lazy in learning languages like we are (laughs).
Bill: Right, and because of that and because our lyrics are really important to us we decided to translate the German songs into English so everybody could understand them right away. That was a real challenge ‘cause first we wanted a one to one translation so nothing in the songs would get lost and second we wanted it to sound really good. Another challenge for me was that I always sang in German and now I wanted the English songs to sound like an English singer sang them, not like a German trying to sing in English. So it took me some time in the studio. But now we’re all very happy and proud about the results.

In June, you played the Carling Academy, Islington. How did that show go, as your first in the UK, and do you have plans to return to the UK at anytime soon for a full tour?
Bill: It went just perfect. That was the first time we performed the English album live and to be honest with you I was very nervous. I always was pretty good in learning songs right away. But now with the English songs on top I have two versions in my head. So I was scared of mixing German and English lyrics up. Fortunately that didn’t happen and we were very happy to see how great the fans reacted to the English songs.
Tom: And the fans were really amazing. We were very excited to see so many faces from all over Europe. It was very exciting to meet our English fans for the very first time. That was a very big night for us.
Gustav: We want to come back and play many more shows in the UK. Nothing is set so far but we’re working on that.

Despite your success, you’ve also received criticism in certain musical circles for being something of a boy band marketed towards the teen rock crowd. How do you react to that sort of criticism, and is it something you’ve had to deal with as you’ve grown in popularity?
Georg: That’s nothing we care about really.
Tom: Right. We know were we come from and what we are all about. We always wanted to do our own thing. We always wanted to be in control, we are involved in everything and in the end all decisions are up to us. Gaining respect, getting people to listen to us was quiet a though fight if you consider how young we were when we started. The most important thing to us was to be ourselves, ‘cause we’re talking about our lives here. We can’t and won’t do anything that’s not us. That was our way and it still is and that’s all that matters to us.

As a band, there seems to be a lot of Eastern influence in what you guys are about – from the name ‘Tokio hotel‘, to the manga-influenced artwork on your album and tour posters. Do you have a special interest in Japan and Asia that influences the way you are as a band?
Tom: We have actually never been to Tokyo so far, but we really want to go there as soon as possible. The reason for our band name Tokio Hotel is that, after getting the record deal, we felt it was a new beginning and time for a new band name – we were called Devilish before. And because we are all big fans of main cities we chose Tokio cause we all agreed that that must be one of the most exciting cities in the world. Then we were looking for a symbol that from now on would stand for our lives. We pictured that we would spent a lot of time in hotels, which came true. And there we had it: Tokio Hotel.
Bill: Speaking of style style: I started creating mine when I was really young, about six or seven. Back then I went to a Halloween Party dressed as a vampire. I really liked that look so I kept it and everything developed from there.

Where would you say are your favourite countries to play in the world? You’ve been to quite a few!
Bill: Oh, we can’t pick one. Germany is our home base. Everything took off there and our German fans made everything that followed possible for us. They kind of carried us out into Europe.
Tom: Right! Every country and spot we’ve been to since then is very special and unique to us. It’s impossible to name a particular one.

Thanks for your time guys, and we hope to see you back in the UK soon.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]