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Welcome Inside the Brain

Interview: WELCOME INSIDE THE BRAIN

I have to admit it: I have a thing for vintage psychedelic / progressive type of rock, and that’s why I found a debut album from German rockers Welcome Inside the Brain quite an enjoyable experience (read my review here).

Singer Frank Mühlenberg was very kind to answer questions about his musical upbringing, forming the band, influences, the album, and more.

Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites as a young man? Please tell us something more about your early life.

I started my first band in the age of 16. I listened to really noisy kind of music in this time and so I started with an extreme sound: not as a singer, but as a shouter. With 18 I became open minded for new music and started a cool Polka-Ska-Punk project called „Gegen Windmühlen kämpfen“ („Fighting against windmills“) with some friends. At this time I discovered older bands like The Doors, King Crimson and so on and felt in love with the sound of hammond organs.

How did you go about forming Welcome Inside the Brain? Who was the most influential when the band started its musical journey?

Our Ska-Punk band split up after some cool years, because we lived in different towns after finishing school. But our guitar player Georg, who was also a member of this older band, and me founded a group to celebrate the sound of J. Hendrix, J. Cocker and other hippy stuff. Here you can find the roots of our current band.

The members changed over the years and we started to create our own sound with own songs and three years ago we changed the name of the band to „Welcome Inside The Brain.“ I think the most important thing in this band is the very diffrent background of the members. Everybody listens to a very wide range of different music. We don’t think in genres. Sun Ra, John Coltrane, 70s African music, Led Zepplin, Zappa, Anna von Hausswolff… There is an endless list of stuff we listen to…

In the beginning, did you have some “fixed” tempo in composing songs or everything was a product of jamming, improvising?

We work a lot with improvisations, but this can just be a springboard for a song. When we got an idea, we fix it and work it out in detail. But there are also songs with open parts, nobody knows what will happen.

How would you describe Welcome Inside the Brain’s music on your own?

I think it’s really important for us that no song sounds like an other. Every song can be seen as a journey to discover new possibilities. But you can say that this band works a lot with dynamics to create an exploding point.  Structures become more and more intensive
and you’ll find suprisingly twists and turns. The band is looking for a maximum of energy, but I think you need an interesting way to reach the climax.

Celebrate the Depression

Your debut album, Celebrate the Depression, is a follow-up to the 2015 self-titled EP release. Have you felt any pressure while working on Celebrate the Depression because of that?

The EP was like a demo to find a label. We felt never pressure in any way. We always take the time we need to create something. The EP was an important step to the album and two of the three songs of the EP are also a part of the record.

How important the “progressive rock” tag is for the structure of your songs?

We don’t think in stereotypes like progressive or jazz or pop. The energy of a song is important for us. In retrospective you can say, „Celebrate The Depression“ is a Psychedelic-Prog album, but there is no category working as a stencil. To make music means to leave all boundaries behind you…

How do you see the German progressive rock scene today?

Mhm, I have to say, I don’t really know. I know a small scene of real fanatics. Cool guys, organizing really strange concerts, but mostly with French bands. I know a lot of bands, that work with elements you can find in classical progressive rock, but I think Germany is a
rough place for doing this kind of music.

Do you guys consider yourselves a part of any specific cultural movement, however peripheral?

I would say no. We are not part of scene like Gothics, Rockabillies or Metal guys. But I think we see a big worldwide clash of two different cultural movements. Everybody sees all the endless global problems we have. And I think there is a specific movement that locates the reason of this problems in people and tries to segregate them. They got a lot of power they use against other people or groups. On the other hand there’s a movement that locats problems in specific structures of organizing society. Of course we are a part of the second movement and the album „Celebrate The Depression“ refers to contradictions in human being permanently.

Are you also involved in any other projects or bands beside Welcome Inside the Brain?

I’m the only one of the band, who has no other band projects. But I organize a lot of concerts in the town I live. Here it’s also a wide range of concerts. Bands of Jazz, Soul, Afrobeat or Psychedelic music play at my events.

The other guys of Welcome Inside The Brain also have Jazz-, Reggae-, Soul- and Fusion- projects. So there’s a lot of different input…

So, what comes next for Welcome Inside the Brain?

We spend the last week in a lonely cabin full of equipment and wrote songs for the next album. It will sound very different from the first one. And we will play as much concerts as possible in the next months…

Welcome Inside the Brain

Review: Welcome Inside the Brain – Celebrate the Depression

The way Welcome Inside The Brain play their music is simply unparalleled in today’s prog. Imagine the twiddly instrumental bits of Haken‘s music, crank up the daftness by a factor of ten and forget about conventional things like verses or choruses. Welcome Inside The Brain live to make intricate, dense and thoroughly complex progressive rock. Pigeonholing this band into a genre proves difficult as words like jazz fusion, zeuhl, Canterbury and certainly eclectic could all describe this band. This is prog with everything including the kitchen sink thrown in. Utterly unpredictable yet thoroughly compelling stuff.

Celebrate the Depression

And Celebrate the Depression is the band’s debut album. It presents the listener with a full spectrum of sound, with styles from jazz to psychedelia being tapped into, all darkly twisted into a tasty progressive feast.

When played from start to finish, the first set of tracks seem to flash by, but they certainly make their mark. The lengthy self-titled piece seems to inform the listener with all of its intricacies. And this seems just to multiply in the coming songs.

The medium length tracks all take rather different routes: “Snails on Speed / Buddha in a Bottle” resembling something close to a song; “Welcome Inside the Brain” demonstrating the more typical instrumental pyrotechnics; the slightly longer “Ugly Beauty” and “Revolution” balancing the band’s technical side with their ability to create melody. Oddly, the first two sets don’t even take up half of the album. By the time we reach the scarily technical and experimental closing piece “Tears of the Past,” Celebrate the Depression finally feels like a fully-fledged prog rock album. Nine minutes in length, this is a tour de force of progressive excellence, featuring the whole band on top form in an intense extended instrumental with a fantastic climax.

Welcome Inside The Brain are leagues ahead of their contemporaries, both in technical ability and style. The level of effort that is required to write and perform such music is simply astronomical and for that they must be applauded. More importantly though, this is a band that fully realises what true prog fans want to hear and never skimp on the delivery. Their only weakness is that they can sometimes be too complex for their own good, although this is one of the most forgivable errors a progressive rock band can make. Let’s just hope we will not wait for too long for the next one.

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