Frank Möbus

Frank Möbus played in three bands at the Reims Jazz Festival 2004. A good reason to ask him a few questions...

How have you became a musician ?

I started playing the guitar when I was 7 years old. I my teens I played a lot of soul music with american musicians from US Army bases.

What are the musicians and the experiments which influenced you ?

Thelonious Monk, Prince, Anton Webern, Wayne Shorter, Neue Deutsche Welle, Steely Dan, Hal Crook, Free Music, John Lennon and a lot of my friends that I worked with...

I think you live in Berlin. Could you tell us what berliner and german jazz is like (how live a jazz musician, the places to play...) ? Is it very different from France ?

The music scene in Berlin is pretty alive and jamming right now. Compared to other german cities, in my opinion, there is much more of a variety of players that come from many different countries and there is definately some kind of interesting underground scene. There are even some groups and players, that can be sonically identified as a new german generation: They have a handle on the joy of being slightly different from any other jazz-culture in the world without forgetting about all the important parameters in music. Unfortunately its not so easy to be able to hear these groups in a 3-day-type-of-visit: Right now there is no home-base-type-of-club that presents that scene.

The working situation for local musicians is difficult, because the financial situation of many clubs in berlin is rather sad. But if U want to make it as an artist in modern creative music, you have to think beyond the local scene anyway and get ready to travel a lot. And thats the good news: A lot of people in the world are very curious to know, what music from Berlin sounds like today: Berlin can be a good place to start out from right now! From some of my musician-friends in Paris I hear quite similar stories about the work situation. But there is an almost historic difference: France has never been afraid of showing pride in its own artists (Film, Music, Theatre, etc.). That´s a big advantage.

I know that you lived in Boston. The Music world should be very different from Europe ? From your point of view, is it important to go there for an european musician ?

At the time I went to the US (85-89) there wasn´t too much of a serious jazz education in Germany. That changed all over europe in the 90s. It can be beneficial for a person trying to work in a creative field to experience other cultures and livestyles. This can seriously open your view. I made a lot of connections to musicians from all over the world at that time. Many of these people I still work with.

Your band “Der Rote Bereich³ is thirteen years old now. How was it born and what is its topicality ?

The group started out as a quintett. The 2nd album we got rid of the bass because of travel reasons (meaning also musical type of travel). The 3rd recording was the start of the long lasting trio setting with bass clarinette, guitare and drums. The band is now working on the preproduction of the 7th CD, which is planned to be released in Fall of 2006.

Last year in Straßbourg “Der Rote Bereich³ played with Vincent Courtois, Louis Sclavis and Dominique Pifarely. Could you tell us more about this meeting ? Had you played together previously ?

No. We met a few years ago in Istanbul at a festival and talked a bit there. I think, the idea to do something together in this spezific setting came from Philippe Ochem, the festival director of Jazz D´Or.

You play in many different Bands. Last year in Reims, I heard you in three different groups : Carlos Bica's "Azul", Der Rotes Bereich" & “Erdmann3000". Each time the music and the way you were playing was very different. Is it difficult or exciting to switch between worlds so often ?

These groups only request a natural musical behaviour. It is definately more exciting than difficult. Since all of these groups exist for a long time, it is fairly easy for me to get into the appropiate vibe. The biggest challenge for me in this case is the changing role of my instrument between settings with and without bass.

I think you¹re also a composer. Is it an important work for you ?

Yes. I want to make shure, that the music is worth the paper...It isn´t always easy for me to find the right mood to compose ...

What kind of music do you listen to nowadays ?

Independent Rock, Old and New Classical Music, Hardcore, Punk etc and a lot of demo CDs I receive from young musicians...

Are you interested in other arts ?

How can a musician not be interested in other artforms ?

I think you are also working as a teacher. Is it important to you ?

I am currently working at the Hochschule f. Musik “Franz Liszt³ in Weimar. Before I was working at similiar type of schools in Berlin and in Nürnberg. Occasionly I teach at workshops at different places in many places of the world.

Interview by Pierre Villeret