Tokio Hotel has officially announced 4 Canadian tour dates. 4 after 9 years of not being in Canada. I can’t begin to express how much this means to me and how much emotion I have right now. From the time I first saw Tokio Hote on tv I have dreamed of seeing them here in my own country. I can’t believe it. Finally my inspirations are coming back and I get to see them in hopefully all four cities. Here’s to boarding the Dream Machine once again and seeing my entire country. Next stop on the Dream Machine: Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton & Vancouver. Oh Canada! God bless this beautiful country and this out of this world band. I wouldn’t be who I am without you.
Idolized, dismissed, celebrated and sneered at, but never overlooked: After the release of their debut single “Durch den Monsun”, Tokio Hotel became one of the most successful German music export of the past decade. Especially in France the band found a buyership and their singles and albums found a spot in the French charts. By now, even the average German who listens to music has come to terms with the expressive style of frontman Bill Kaulitz – you could even say that people are proud of the four boys from Germany, because they made it abroad – a rarity for German artists. In our interview with Bill and Tom Kaulitz, we intended to find out where they have been in the past four years, if we will – at one point – get to see Bill wear a plain T-Shirt and Jeans and especially: how the new album sounds.
Your, by now, fourth studio album will be released soon. It’s been five years since you released your last one. A year after releasing “Humanoid” you decided to take a break from your life in the limelight and moved to Los Angeles. Bill: Yes, frightentingly, four years already passed.
Why did you choose to move to America specifically? Bill: It was a spontaneous decision. We knew we had to leave Germany, and we already knew some people in L.A. – therefore it could’ve been any other city. At that time we had been looking for a secondary residence for a while now and didn’t even intend to move out of Germany completely. Tom: After the situation had gotten so crazy in Germany, we basically just ended up moving away over night. We hadn’t even seen the house we would move into, we just chose it online. Then we simply packed our things and moved, without a return ticket.
How hard was “doing nothing” for you? Both: Not hard at all! (laugh) Bill: It would be stupid to say that we worked on the album the whole time. At first we really didn’t do anything. We simply chilled and did things that we didn’t have time to do before.
In 2013 you were part of the Jury for “DSDS”. Was this because you did miss being on stage a little? Bill: We just didn’t have the time for such things. When we were on the road with Tokio Hotel, being in the jury of a casting show was out of question. There were constantly offers for such a job, and at one point it was just so good that we couldn’t even say no to that anymore. Tom: (laughs)
How did you stay in touch with your fans in the past four years? You uploaded a bunch of backstage videos on your Youtube-Channel. Was that a way for you to say: “Hey, we’re back!”? Bill: Yes, we basically started with posting Tokio Hotel TV episodes again. We had already done this in the past. With the new album we started giving people a look into our life and a behind-the-scenes look at our studio work again.
Tom, in the official trailer for the new album we also see you mixing the songs, apart from just playing the guitar. When did you exchange the guitar for the mixing console? Tom: It was more out of a necessity. When we started that whole process of picking the first songs, making music and meeting with producers again it all went in a direction that we didn’t want to go into. Writing sessions with other songwriters, for example, didn’t go the way we imagined them to. And that’s why I told Bill that we had to do everything on our own. We built up our homestudio and just started. It wasn’t even with the goal to produce the whole album. It just developed like that and now Bill and I are executive producers of the album and it just so happened that I produced a majority of the songs. It’s a great feeling, but it was – of course – only possible because we had so much time for that process to happen.
Let’s talk about the trailer again: Bill, in it you yourself say that you do say “no” to some songs that took hours to produce. Who in the band has the last word when it comes to choosing songs? Or is it indeed a group decision? Bill: We’re pretending that it’s a group decision, but in reality I’m the one pulling the strings in the background (grins). Of course we do decide it together, and we make sure that everyone can live with the decision. We know what’s important for the other. Tom knows, that if I say “No” to a song in a specific way, he knows that he doesn’t even have to try to convince me otherwhise, because he knows he won’t change my view on it – he let’s it go and vice versa.
Who’s responsible for the lyrics? Bill: We all wrote the album together. Tom: But the majority of them have been written by you. Bill: Of course I’m mainly responsible for the lyrics. A few songs have been completely written by us, others with other songwriters and producers. Tom: If the lyrics are brilliant and on point, then they’ve been written by me. Everything else by Bill. (grins) Bill: (laughs)
You’re using more more electronic effects and vocoders – is that the direction Tokio Hotel will be taking musically in the future? Tom: Especially when it comes to the vocal effects, I wouldn’t really say that that is where our musical style is going. It always depends on the song. We didn’t set a goal to use a vocoder or autotune. There are vocals you can do a lot of different things with, and this sounds cliché, but then there are also some that even sound good with an obscene amount of autotune, and that’s the category Bill’s voice fits into. At first I left those effects out of the song, because I thought that they weren’t needed. But then Bill kept on singing flat, because he can’t sing so the effects were needed. (grins, Bill laughs) Bill: We didn’t really think of a direction we wanted to take the album in. That was also partly a reason why we took a break, because we didn’t really know what we wanted to do musically. But since so much time passed, a lot of things happened. You change and develop a different taste. The album was also inspired by the nightlife, since we went out and partied a lot. We wanted to make music that we, ourselves, love listening to.
What was the last album you bought? Tom: I mostly just buy songs. I just recently bought a song from – how is he even called? José? Bill: (jumps in) Hozier or something. I don’t even know how to pronounce his name. Tom: What’s the song called? Bill: “Take Me To Church” Tom: “Take Me To Church”. That’s the one I bought. We created our own playlist on Spotify in which we hid the clue for the release date of our album. The playlist pretty much reflects our music taste. Bill: I also love Robyn. I buy every song she releases. I also really like Ellie Goulding.
The styling was also always an important part of Tokio Hotel. What can we expect there? Bill: You can expect a lot. (both laugh) Apart from the music, the visual aspect of everything is also very, very important. We had a great photoshoot the other day where we just let loose. My style constantly changes anyway. Tom: Bill definitely let loose, the rest of the band just relaxed. (laughs)
Bill, you also wear costumes on stage that don’t really look all that comfortable. Do you sometimes wish to just play a show in a simple T-Shirt and Jeans? Bill: When I go out with my dog I also sometimes wear sweatpants. It would never even cross my mind to wear that on stage. When we’re on tour and I don’t have an outfit to wear I feel really uncomfortable. Wearing a basecap, jeans and a t-shirt on stage would probably make me feel really insecure.
You always gave off that vibe of handling the media in a very relaxed manner, especially you, Tom, seem like you’re having fun teasing journalists. How would you describe the relationship you have with the media? Tom: Yes, we try to handle them in a very relaxed manner. But I do have to admit that this wasn’t always the case. I already had my first headline in BILD before our first song was even released. The next day I had to go to school and confront my colleagues there. As a young person you do get overwhelmed by it. At one point you just learn to deal with the situation, because it’s part of this job. It was a process, it didn’t just happen magically. You try and find a balance. When our career took off, we just did stuff that came our way. Now we do choose them wisely.
Do you think it was easier or harder for you to handle the media because you were so young? Both: Easier. Bill: I think when you’re that young you don’t really think about it. The older you get – and everyone probably knows that feeling – the more you think about this or that thing. You get nervous more easily and some things get harder for you to do. As a young person you just take things in stride. That’s like Alcohol or Drugs. As a young person you pulled an all-nighter and get up the next day. Today you think more along the lines: “Ok, when do I have to get up tomorrow?”
Are you grown-ups now? Tom: We just recently had that conversation. We were sitting outside, the sun was just coming up because our rhythm is really skewed. I said: “We’re 25 now and I still feel like a little boy.” Bill: I also don’t feel like a grown up. You’re just more mature in the sense that you put more though into what you do, and that you take more care of yourself. When you turn 25, people say that it just all goes downhill from there. (laughs) Tom: That’s because when you look in the mirrow now you can actually see the traces of the night before on your face. (grins) Bill: You always feel younger on the inside. Tom: When I was 15 I felt like an adult. Bill: Exactly! When I was 15-years old I went to clubs and thought: “How dare they ask me for an ID”. And today I just feel so young and almost shocked when people think that I’m older than I actually am. I believe that you learn a lot as time goes on. We will probably look back at this album and the interviews we gave, when we release our next one, and think: “Look how young and inexperience we were!”. I think you never really grow up in that aspect. Tom: Especially when you can do what you want to. We’ve been doing that since we turned 15. (grins)