Also in Saxony: Helge Schneider is going on tour with a new album

Home visit to Helge Schneider in Mülheim. The musical clown serves delicious food surrounded by drums and trumpets. He also recorded his latest album “Torero” here, which will be released in early March. It offers ingenious silliness, social criticism and excursions into Dadaism, paired with a lot of jazz music. The 67-year-old doesn’t have to be funny at all costs and in the interview he reflects on his self-image as an artist, Karl May films and delicious food.

Mr. Schneider, you can be seen in bullfighter gear on the “Torero” cover. Did you write the songs on your finca in Andalusia?

No, on my finca in Mülheim. I bought the torero costume in a specialist shop and then it all came to me. The seller said after I sent him a photo: “The last torero”. But that looks good too! I had to make myself very skinny to even fit in there.

Helge Schneider performing in Dresden’s Junge Garde.
© Sven Ellger

On the record you describe yourself as the last torero alive, the last of his kind. Are you an old-school entertainer?

Sometimes I have thoughts like: The last of his kind. The last who still drives a motorcycle with a sidecar with real petrol. The last one not to use gender language. The last one who still knew telephones and black-and-white televisions. I come from another time.

What is your idea of ​​entertainment art?

I come from a time when a lot of effort was put into the detail in the mastery of one’s art. Today is a lot of show and equipment. A stage show nowadays is fireworks in the truest sense of the word. The inside of the music is rather secondary. And I’m just from the old school. My things are also called show, “The Big LA Show”. But that’s actually what I don’t need at all. That would also be much more expensive. I already put a lot of effort into it and spend a lot of money on great instruments, but if I had to have a stage with pyrotechnics, laser lights, several levels, four screens for rear projection so that I could play in stadiums – no, that’s me not, and I drove well. I’m an old school handyman with a small business. I’m not expanding.

Her current stage program is called “The Last Torero – Big LA Show”. Are you also a bit influenced by American entertainment?

I’m influenced by everything. I wrote “Big LA Show” on the front head of my drum kit. I found that kind of good. Okay, my trumpet was built in Los Angeles, the saxophone in Paris and the piano in Hamburg. You’re polyglot, but when it comes to shows: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Hollywood, that’s something.

On the album you play all the instruments yourself except for the guitar.

The guitar is played by Sandro Giampietro. In the summer of 2022, there were two of us. In a duo, the freedom is very large. Sandro plays acoustic guitar, so Flamenco-Fusion-Jazz-Blues-Rock, and also traveling guitar. Like at the campfire – and I sing and then play all kinds of instruments. That’s how we recorded it now, great fun. A record can be a bit different than a live performance, but it should be beautiful. I’m not the type to accurately reproduce a record on stage. I’m a jazz musician, I want to improvise. I want to surprise myself.

Another topic: Karl May’s western stories are boycotted by various media due to accusations of racism and discrimination. Do you think that’s correct?

If you boycott Karl May films, you have to boycott old people too. Because they have ideas that the modern world wants nothing to do with. We don’t need to talk about that. Everything cocolor.

Could your films be shown without offending the woken generation?

For me, neither this woke generation nor the so-called gender language exist. I’m not interested in that sort of thing. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find it kind of a shame that the world seems to be like this now. Social cohesion is thus endangered. Modern times require that all people somehow become equal. Terrible idea. Nothing for me. Hold your breath and go through.

What is the worst thing in the world for you?

Envy and resentment. I think that’s a big problem, especially for the people who are doing well.

You sing that you want to get a tattoo soon. Many artists have captured their love of music on their skin. What motive are you thinking of?

Of none. It’s just lyrics. In it, a guy wants to impress his girlfriend and gets her name tattooed on his sack. But unfortunately nobody sees that. I have fans in New Zealand who are traditionally tattooed. This looks great, but it is not comparable to a ready-to-wear tattoo like an ass antlers or a rose on the shoulder. I’ve seen that some people have already had drawings made on their arms by me. Personally, I don’t get tattoos anymore, at 67. That would be like buying leather pants that tie at the side and a Harley Davidson and suddenly being a rocker.

They also sing the praises of food, cakes, pastries and anything from the garden. Are you a connoisseur?

yes But I’m not a foodie. For example, weeks in advance we look forward to eating half a house duck with bread dumplings and red cabbage with plums in Munich. And then a Kaiserschmarrn with applesauce. And last but not least, a mountain gentian.

Does the quality of a performance also depend on the quality of the catering?

Not at all. Improvised concerts, where you arrive at the last second after a 1,000 kilometer drive and there isn’t even anything to eat, are suddenly great because it’s not straight forward. Because of Corona catch-up concerts, we were allowed to drive 30,000 kilometers in two months last summer. The route: Vienna, Kiel, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Oder, the Belgian border and Munich. So always in a different direction, which is not the case otherwise. We always pay attention to the so-called “routing” that always leads us from one city to the other, with not that many kilometers in between. I got a big knee from accelerating too much.

They sing: “I am the picadero until the curtain falls”. Do you want to keep going until the good Lord says: “Now it’s over!”?

Clear. I can’t think of anything else. There’s this trumpeter with the great jackets: Doc Severinsen. He will soon be 96 and has been trumpeting on a daily American talk show for what feels like 100 years. When you watch detective stories like The Streets of San Francisco, you think you hear his trumpet. With Doc Severinsen every note sits, which is artistically almost impossible, but he still performs – while sitting. I think it’s still going to happen in ten years. Maybe while lying down. That perspective is great.

Interview: Olaf Neumann

  • Die CD/LP: Helge Schneider: „Torero“ (Railroad Tracks/Broken Silence)
  • The tour: Helge Schneider is making guest appearances with his new program on March 28 in the Dresden Kulturpalast, on March 29 in the Chemnitz Stadthalle and on March 30 in the Leipzig Gewandhaus; Tickets are available in all DDV locations and online at