Jennifer Rostock U.S.
Interview with strassenfeger (26/2015)

They’re a sworn team: Jennifer, Joe, Alex, Christoph, and Baku – and together they’ve been performing successfully under the band name »Jennifer Rostock«. The band’s released four albums up till now: »Ins offene Messer« (2008), »Der Film« (2009), »Mit Haut und Haar« (2011), »Schalflos« (2014). The next album is announced for 2016. Though the band has a whole lot on their plate right now, Jennifer and her boys took the time for an interview with strassenfeger. On one hand, we asked them for an interview for this issue. On the other, the band offered their support to us. In plain text: »Jennifer Rostock« commit themselves to the emergency overnight stay a »Roof over the Head« from mob e.V. at Storkower Street 139c. Exact details for it can be found here, check it out!

Anne-Lydia Mühle: Your last album is called »Schlaflos«, it came out in 2014. What should one expect for the future?
Joe: We released an EP, too: Kaleidoskop. But we’ve actually been working on a new album that’s coming out in 2016.

What studio are you recording in?
Alex: We’ll record the majority of the album in Boston and are flying there in January.
Jennifer: We already recorded both of the last albums in the USA because we said to each other that we didn’t want to set limits concerning countries. We’re looking for a producer who can get the sound we want for us. The producer’s name is Jason Maas. He was actually the guitarist for »Defeater« and also produced for them. »Defeater« are really successful in the hardcore scene.

Some of you live in Berlin, also in Friedrichshain. You’ve said: That represents a certain freedom for you…
Jennifer: For me, Friedrichshain is an area where a lot of political stuff happens. In Samariterkiez, for example, all of the demonstrations go through there and there are also occupied houses. For me, it has this feeling of freedom. I feel extremely well there in the corner.

Do you have contact with the squatters?
Jennifer: That’s always a bit tough. I’ve tried for conversation, but sometimes they don’t think it’s a good idea. We wanted to shoot something there, in front of the houses, and then they came out: »No, no shooting here«. I totally understand, I think they’re often messed around with by the press, and are often told: »We want to film something cool about you«, and in the end, it turns out to be something completely different.

Joe and you, you’re from Usedom and have known each other for a long time.
Jennifer: We’ve known each other since kindergarten.

When did you know that you wanted to form a band together?
Jennifer: Joe already had a band when I came along.
Joe: I think we’ve been making music together for 15 years or more now. And I think the most exciting thing is how you grow together. We recently found a ten-year-old video of ourselves.
Jennifer: Joe and I made music alone together, just keyboard and vocals. In a band, it’s important to understand each other really well. And when someone asks us if we ever fight, I think it’s so awesome that I can say: We understand each other amazingly. We were alone in the studio with one another for a month and slept together, worked together, ate together, and were together around the clock, and everything was cool. And such team spirit is the best thing in the band.

»Jennifer Rostock« has been around for nine years now. Did you play in Berlin in small clubs at first, or how did that develop?
Jennifer: In the beginning, we played in a lot of really small cities. Way back in a few clubs like »Café Zapata«. And then it started, us playing small clubs throughout Germany and playing in youth centers and very small clubs. At first, it was in front of 50 to 60 people, then sometime in front of 100, then in front of 200 people. And even in every hicksville, we were already everywhere, we saw everything in the first three years. For us, it was important to get the people right in front of the stage, and that worked well.

One song is titled »Du nimmst mir die Angst«. What’s put into the song?
Jennifer: Joe got married and wrote the song for his husband. It’s a love song but a bit rocker, in not-so-sappy words.

How do you see the topic of homelessness politically?
Joe: It’s embarrassing that people have to live on the streets in one of the richest countries in the world. Of course, there are certain collection mechanisms from the system, but it’s clear that people continue falling through the cracks and have to suffer through winter without a roof over their heads in the end. We witness it every day in Berlin, you see people everywhere living on the streets, people who sell strassenfeger. As a band, we ask ourselves if we can use our reach to affect something.

Do you see yourselves as a political band?
Joe: We mostly say what we think and take up positions on a lot of topics.
Christoph: In this hierarchy of people, everyone has their own opinion, the one might be more extreme with a topic than the other. Themes we comment on are consensus things where we say those are injustices, we want to change something about it. And that’s the chance to open the eyes of people in those areas, that they had no connection to before. We want to give food for thought, but not instruct anyone.

When you think of concerned citizens, I think of the following saying: »The Nazi doesn’t come back in the form of a Fascist, but rather in the form of a Democratic«…
Christoph: A lot of people quickly fall for the right mob’s tricks today, who probably don’t mean to at all. I didn’t take AFD* and PEGIDA** seriously in the beginning, but at some point, they were at ten percent in surveys. The NSDAP*** wasn’t taken seriously at first, either. You can’t take their messages relying on lies seriously. But the fact there are so many people who shout out their fears, you usually have to take that seriously. These people can’t be reached through arguments anymore, they’re so far away, that no one knows how to keep dealing with them.

You sang the song »Du willst mir an die Wäsche« with Sido. And you appeared on Udo Lindenberg’s live DVD during the song »Gegen den Strömung«, how did those collaborations happen?
Jennifer: For »Du willst mir an die Wäsche«, we got Sido for it because we couldn’t listen to the song anymore. We had it so long, and we though we’d do a fresh remake. I grew up with Udo Lindenberg, everyone in my family was a fan of him, and then he wrote me to see if I’d like to do it, and I was really excited and was happy to.

(Source: strassenfeger)

*Alternative for Germany [Alternative für Deutschland]

**Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident [Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes]

***National Socialist German Workers’ Party [Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei]