Hubert von Goisern: "I was an unbelievably lazy person"

NEWS 23rd April 2015 | Photo: © ORF/Hans Leitner

The musician on his beginning, his big hit and what troubles him in Austria

Hubert von Goisern has been burning a long time. The Austrian musician discovered his passion for music in his youth - and it has remained untarnished to this day. The musician not originally blessed with success first shot into the charts with Koa Hiatamadl and found fame with a large audience. Now, more than twenty years and multi-faceted career later, a cinema documentary focuses on the Austrian singer. In conversation with NEWS.AT Hubert von Goisern talks about the journey of his life, his big hit and Austrian politics.

Hubert von GoisernIt's people who shape the journey of our life the most. Which people have played a large role on your journey?

There are many, many people I've met along the way. I lived in Vienna for seven years and was dependent on the generosity of many people during the time I was barely earning any money. There are also many people whom I've never met, whose thinking I have read about in books or in the media, who have influenced me too.

It was not the usual thing to turn the hobby of music into a job when you were young. What would you have done if music hadn't worked out?

I tried everything you can think of. I trained as a chemistry laboratory and completed the relevant exams too, but I didn't feel happy anywhere. I was very curious, but nothing fascinated me to the extent that I wanted or was able to give it all my fire and energy - and before I made music my career, I felt very superfluous. To be honest I have to make myself do everything. I was an unbelievably lazy person and never studied for school. I danced my way through it, but for a long time I was worried that someone might realise that I was actually lazy and couldn't do anything and wasn't doing anything. Music was the only thing where I found it very easy to really focus on it. I can immerse and lose myself in it. And it's not so quickly the case with other things. Maybe skiing ...

You were once really heckled and booed when you opened for Rainhard Fendrich. How do you deal with something like that? Do you think about never going on stage again?

No. In situations like that I perhaps having the preservational reflex of thinking: "All the others are idiots", they've got the wrong idea, but I haven't.
There were certainly moments where I thought it wasn't working, or I asked myself how I was going to manage earning enough money that I could afford to live. At these times I was dependent on accepting gifts, such as people inviting me to meals, or my brother sending me a parcel full of pasta and rice. I could take such things, but I never doubted the basic idea of becoming a musicians, because I knew I couldn't do anything else. I tried everything possible, but nothing made me happy. In that respect I had no choice. I just had to find out how to make it work.
I once asked Jon Hiseman, the drummer from Colosseum, whom I really admired, if he could give me any advice on how to be successful as a musician and he said: there are two rules: "Whatever happens, never give up" and "Never play at parties". I took both to heart.

Then suddenly it all worked with Hiatamadl: does one feel a little split about the fans, because first of all you're booed and then suddenly you're the "big hero"?

There's this and that kind of fans. Of course each one who listens to you and thinks what you're doing is great delights you. And then you have to learn to differentiate. Some people have no feeling for personal space and for respect and constantly cross the line and I had to learn that, which was painful. I let people into my life, who weren't good to me and I wasn't good to them either. But that's a normal learning process. I had the good fortune of having my success come very late and you've stabilised a bit by then. When something like that happens when you're 20, it perhaps takes you longer to separate the chaff from the wheat.

How much do you like playing Koa Hiatamadl nowadays? Do your own big hits sometimes get annoying?

No. It never annoyed me. I still like playing it, but I don't play it every day. It's a very tiring song, because it's very high and sometimes I get to the end of a concert and think, I'd better not sing it, otherwise I won't be able to sing at all tomorrow. And when I'm feeling good and the audience is too, I'll do it. But I still think it's a very good composition. Not without reason did it become so successful - it's simply a cool number.

In your younger days you were to perform at the Tunnel club in Vienna, but you were too nervous. Do you still get nervous before shows now?

Yes, really terribly. But I've made my peace with my nervousness. Now it would make me more nervous if I wasn't nervous.

Your audience tends to be on the older side. How difficult is it to reach the young people nowadays?

There was a real rejuvenation of the audience with Brenna tuats guat. In the 90s, during the time of the Alpinkatzen, everyone from 5 to 80 years old was at the concert and I liked that. Feeling the balance between young and old is a gift. I'm very happy that my audience is so varied. I also have many fans with an immigrant background, who haven't been in Austria long and who tell me that they like my music - and that makes me happy to hear that it's not just people in lederhosen wearing Styrian hats.

You are somebody who has never minced his words. What particularly bothers you about Austria, Austrian politics and how things are going here at the moment?

What bothers me most is how the country, society is always spoken of so badly. We live here in Central Europe in the best living conditions there are. I've travelled the world a lot, still do and happiness is not dependent on material possessions. There's much more to be happy about than not. And whipping up fear here that everything's going downhill, everything was better 20 years ago, I think it's a sickness. Of course there's a lot where you need to open up old wounds and sometimes that is done. It's just a tiring process to work through it, like with Hypo Alpe Adria, but it gets done. I am stunned that it could get that far, that it could happen. I'm stunned that so many Carinthians succumbed to Haider and still take pleasure from him, even though he was such a hustler, a scoundrel. But it's probably like this all over the world. I'd say that 30% of the population are seducible any time, because they'd rather hear what they want to hear over the truth. What really annoys me at the minute is this smoking thing. It's shameful. You see the incompetence of our politicians. There's nobody who's saying: that's it, we're done, no more smoking in the pubs and restaurants. It gets my back up. On the one hand it's not such an amazingly important subject, but when you see how they fail when it comes to something small, how can you expect government to solve the big issues?

After all these years where does the fascination lie for you in making music? How can you keep finding something new and avoid repeating yourself?

It's a system. There are people who like to repeat themselves. I'm made differently, I need the tingle of the new, the possibility of failure. Music is magic for me. It's a form of enchantment, to drift off, to be intoxicated without taking any drugs. It's a feeling of togetherness, it's an unbelievable collective rush. It's not about music in music. Music has to be selfless. Music is never self-satisfaction, music is satisfaction.

You travel a lot and have to keep leaving to gain a new perspective. What was your best journey?

Always the most recent one. The last one took me back to Greenland a week ago. There are people up there who touch me deeply and it's such a modesty, a truthfulness. There's no show, nobody wants to fool you with more than he has to give. It is this magnificent nature, which is simply the grand orchestras and people do not imagine that they can tame or change the natural world and instead look for a way to live with it. That's enough of a task.

How does it feel to have a film about you coming to the big screen?

When I was first asked, the first thing I said was that I couldn't be part of it. Of course it's pleasing, because it validation that what you're doing is important. But I'm looking forward to it now, because so many people have said that the film is good.
I know the director and I said that I wouldn't refuse additional filming if it was necessary, but I didn't want anything to do with putting it together, or choosing what was to be included.
But it's great that the trouble has been taken to span this arc on film and I'm very happy it's ended up as a film for the cinema, because cinema is something very different from television.

You say you're pleased, but isn't there a little bit of worry too?

I was forced against my will to watch the rough cut, it was twice as long as the finished product and I was horrified. I haven't seen anything since that and I know there will be things in there that I find unpleasant, but I have a good feeling about it, because Marcus Rosenmüller is a great, very sensitive director; unbelievably human, who never wants to get a laugh at the expense of someone else. That comes across in his films.

There will soon be a new album from you too. What can fans look forward to?

To the new music. I go through all the ups and downs when producing a new album and a year ago I thought, I'm never releasing it, I'm going to can it - and three or four months later I was amazed that I had such doubts. Sometimes you need a bit of distance. It's turned out to be very different music, it's something new. I took the subject of America, because this alienation between the USA and Europe gets to me. America was never the Promised Land for me, somewhere I always wanted to go, but I always thought it was a great country and great people. And suddenly it all overturned and they don't understand us any more, we don't understand them any more and I wanted to make a personal contribution to working against that. Because we share the same roots. This album expresses that, where our commonalities and differences lie.

Too good for success

Neues Deutschland 23rd April 2015 | Text: Marion Pietrzok

Documentary and sophisticated portrait of the exceptional Austrian musician Hubert von Goisern.
Marcus H. Rosenmüller explores the phenomenon of the artists, his musical and personal development.

"Grandad, it's a ghastly instrument", said Hubert, when the highly musical young man was given an accordion by his grandfather at home in Upper Austria. "I don't like the people who play it, they're so outmoded." And so Hubert didn't touch the instrument for years. Quite right, you think, because traditional music is played with that instrument, which in Hubert's homeland, the area around the Dachstein massif in the Alps, is generally seen to be rather folksy, especially the kind that helped make possible the connection to the Third Reich and it's where Waldheim and Haider were to be found too.

Head of the FPÖ for the many years, Jörg Haider, two years old than Hubert, who was born in 1952, came from Bad Goisern on Lake Hallstatt - the same as Hubert. The latter had no time for the FPÖ though, quite the contrary. When 34-year-old Hubert started playing gigs in bars and clubs in the Austrian capital, he took the stage name "von Goisern".

Hubert Achleitner, as he is really called, did it "as revenge" on the people of Goisern, he says in Marcus H. Rosenmüller's documentary about his life. Because the so inward-looking citizens only saw him as a second class citizen, because his grandmother and mother had come from the Sudetenland. The accordion survived though and years later was taken out of the corner, in an alcohol-induced attempt to destroy it. It didn't take it lying down though and just before it was ripped apart, it made a noise - "that sounds cool", thought Hubert and from that point forward never let it go.

Right at the time that everyone had a problem with anything with "folk" in front of it, as noted in the film - see Waldheim affairs - he started playing folk music on the accordion, but not the outmoded kind, instead he added rock to its elements and created ... alpine rock. High art, brilliance (nobody should be thinking of Andreas Gabalier as a comparison). The lyrics - as poetic as they are political - are mostly written in the dialect spoken in the province of Salzburg, almost a foreign language for ears accustomed to High German. But those who want to understand do and the music always carries you away anyway. Right at the start he and his band were playing support, so one of their first big concerts, and were booed by three and a half thousand people. An influential record boss, invited to listen by manager Hage Hein, concluded: "You're clearly too good for success."

But success came quickly, after a show - on TV(!). From the early 90s onwards, after the breakthrough with the really simple Koa Hiatamadl - "all hell broke loose", as it is put in the film -, his concerts and albums were breaking records with the public and in sales figures. His songs were hits all over the German-speaking region and found fans even in Paris, Texas and New York. But at the high point of his rise, he took a break - filled of course with: composing (eg film music for Schlafes Bruder), acting (Hölleisengretl), films (about the work of primatologist Jane Goodall in East Africa) and what he is always doing: testing himself self-critically, seeking out and gathering music all over the world, becoming acquainted with the lives of the people he met, getting involved with them. Risk included with the latter. He thrilled them all, be they Egyptian, Senegalese or Eskimo

In 2007 and 2008 he set off on the Linz Europa Tour - "like being stung by five wasps" (is how he describes his daring to take on such a strenuous effort): on a cargo ship converted to a stage he "put into practice the concept of Europe" (Hage Hein) and sailed east on the Danube to the Black Sea and west on the Rhine and Main to Rotterdam to give concerts with local musicians for the people on the riverbanks (the ordinary folk, not the privileged rich). Building bridges, uniting people in direct meetings and with music.

Many stages of this unusual artistic career are documented on film. A portrait of the person, his music and time develops from a chronologically edited selection of extensive archive material, framed with descriptive and commentative interviews from von Goisern and people who have accompanied him along the way. The film deserves a large cinema audience.

Even if a great deal is left out - personal crises for example, family - (unlike many films), one experiences a person in whom the flame is burning and has been burning a long time, right to this day. Burning for others with a watchful view for the societal grievances in the world, as in his song Brenna tuat's guat (money burns well) for example. And one gets the impression that he is someone who gives his all. Such energy, such perseverance. Such beautiful utopia in political thoughts and social deeds.

Life is extravagance, he says. Growing older, he now has to think about how to use his resources. This statement is the rather elegant conclusion to the film, which is arriving in cinemas punctually before the release of the new album and the start of the world musician's new tour.

Stubbornly popular

Abendzeitung 22nd April 2015 | Text: Volker Isfort
Hubert von Goisern

Marcus H. Rosenmüller has filmed a documentary about Hubert von Goisern well worth seeing

"It's a shame you retired." Hubert von Goisern has heard this a lot in Austria, even when his hit single Brenna tuat's guat was at number on in the Austrian charts. He has the explanation for it himself. Many people don't associate the Hiatamadl-Alpinkatzen-rocker with the artist who sailed the Danube on a ship for many weeks with guest artists, did a tour of taverns, or jammed with musicians on various continents.

With any luck the documentary Brenna tuat's schon lang will change all that. Because of course von Goisern didn't retire. The film by Marcus H. Rosenmüller, which is well worth seeing and surprisingly funny at time, heralds the summer of Goisern from tomorrow. A new album follows in May and then a concert at the Königsplatz in Munich on 26th June.

Mr von Goisern, the film shows your musical orientation phase with some crude appearances in excruciating clothes.

To be honest, there's even worse material, but I didn't get it out. But as far as the musical orientation phase is concerned, I can only say one thing: it's by no means finished yet.

You've made your peace with your hometown of Goisern though.

Sure, but the conflict back back then wasn't to do with my concept of folk music. Back then more than 30 per cent of people in Goisern voted for Jörg Haider's party and I was always pulling him to pieces. Some people took that as denigrating my own town, because Haider was from Goisern too. And from that developed the rejection of what I was doing artistically.

In the film you call the two Danube journeys with guest musicians and concerts your eight thousand metre climb. It was a spectacular idea, intended to bring Europe closer together. Where are we today?

It's appalling, deplorable. But back then it was clear that the Europe that politicians envisaged was purely an economic concept and nothing else mattered. But when you're standing on just an economical leg and it starts crumbling, the whole thing is then in danger. Perhaps now people will realise that a common currency is not enough.

Do you feel obligated as an artist to make your political thoughts known publicly?

Yes, but I don't know how much it achieves. Culture had no answer to the outbreak of the First World War Unfortunately I have the feeling that we as artists can do a great deal, but only reach a minority. I don't believe that an artist has a great obligation than each individual does to remember true values. We live in a world that is becoming ever more unequal and unjust. It will be difficult to change this system. But I think it's an unbelievably exciting time and everyone must do their bit to make a positive change.

You also showed the fear that people in eastern Europe had of the EU, which was barely covered in the west.

I went to Bulgaria and Romania on my first research trip in 2006, a year before they joined the EU, and there were already Austrian banks and businesses everywhere. And the population was simply worried that what little they had was going to be taken away from them. I also think it's awful that poverty is only seen as a blemish. When someone doesn't need much, they're seen in western society as a loser. Why shouldn't a peasant have a few cows and other animals, so that make ends meet? Not everyone needs 200 cows with turbo udders in order to be a capitalist.

But it's part of capitalism that a successful musicians promotes his products, writes hits ...

Oh dear, it's a constant matter of dispute between me and my manager Hage Hein from Blanko Musik. I do a great deal, I'm almost a workaholic, but I also do things that don't necessarily make strategic or capitalistic sense. I didn't want to do the film at first either. I said to Hage that I couldn't get involved, it really needed an objective view. And so after a few complications Marcus H. Rosenmüller was brought on board - a great and open guy, we didn't have the slightest argument.

And in May comes your next radio hit?

I write the songs the way they come. If there's something I can't do, it's to think and produce in a certain format.

The rebel from the Alps

MDR 22. April 2015

Hubert von Goisern is the founder of alpine rock, the folk music-inspired, powerful world music that shows the other side of Austria: coll, engaged and modern. The documentary Brenna tuat's schon lang (Still Burning) now brings an up-close view of Goisern to the cinemas.

Folk music? From the Alps? Are you crazy? - That's how it was for a long time when people were only dancing to such music next to their beer benches in barns at awkward village festivals. But then along came Hubert von Goisern with his accordion and made his folk roots rock in such an authentic way, that he delighted the masses and created a new genre: alpine rock.

Hubert Achleitner, born in the Austrian town of Goisern in 1952 is anything but backward-looking though. His music is fed by rock music and traditional folk music. But in his case, they're more reminiscent of world music, than shooting clubs and homeland films. The subjects of his songs are also vastly different from the cosy world of folksy colleagues. Goisern sings about the financial crisis and hunger and gets involved in politics. When the FPÖ used a song of his at an event in 2006, he appealed to them in an open letter to refrain from doing so and expressed his wish for a tolerant society, which is open for what is new and unknown, rather than the backward-looking, fear-obsessed world view of the right wing populists.

A life concept in the cinema

Now comes the highly recommended documentary Brenna tuat's schon lang to cinemas. The title is inspired by Goisern's Austrian number one hit Brenna tuat's guat. The film shows the power within Hubert von Goisern, as well as his closeness to nature, his quiet moments and his inner burning. It is also the homecoming of a person who has spent his life in places all over the world, who has worked as an actor and fashion designer. He's almost fallen out of focus a little in his homeland of Austria - and the film should counter that. And not least is the film highly recommended for all those people who don't know Hubert von Goisern yet.

Two evergreens

tz 21st April 2015 | Text: Antonio Seidemann

Interview with Marcus H. Rosenmüller & Hubert von Goisern

Bavarian-Austrian summit: Marcus H. Rosenmüller's documentary about Hubert von Goisern, Brenna tuat's schon lang, is of course getting more attention than other portraits of musicians might. The film opens in German cinemas on Thursday. We talked to the pair.

A busy interview schedule - annoying?

Marcus H. Rosenmüller: It's fine. It's limited.

Hubert von Goisern: If I'm there, I should do something too.

A film like this can be a learning process. Mr Goisern, did you learn anything?

Goisern: Sure. But I've probably forgotten it again (laughs).

Nothing remains?

Goisern (to Rosenmüller): I really admired how quickly you challenge yourself when you notice you've somehow convinced yourself of something. And how you can laugh at yourself. I know directors who must always have this big hat on, otherwise they feel naked. You wear the hat, but you don't feel the need to constantly wave it about. I think this flexibility is important when you're an artist.

What did you learn?

Rosenmüller: Funnily enough, something similar. When you have a concept and think about questions and you think they're particularly smart, only to have them dismantled in the answer - then you see how dumb the question was. It impressed me to not always know where we were going. What I learned was that actually nothing is certain.

Mr Goisern, were you always paying attention, or did you just leave it to Rosenmüller during the shoot?

Goisern: I left completely to him. Based on what I'd seen of Rosenmüller, I thought: he's no idiot.

Private things and family barely come up. Was that a stipulation?

Rosenmüller: The private life isn't of such interest to me in such a film. I wanted to know: who is the artist Hubert von Goisern? What kind of person is he? I don't need private anecdotes for that?

Was that as you wished?

Goisern: I've never enjoyed talking about my private life. I need a space somewhere where I can regenerate. Why should one include one's wife, children, friends, who all have their own private lives and are not in the public eye? It's unpleasant for them and a strain on our relationship.

A big focus is the two ship journeys. Was that the most exciting thing for both of you?

Rosenmüller: Goisern says on the ship that it was his 8000m climb. There'd be enough for a whole film about this journey.

Was it a key moment in your career?

Goisern: I'd put the ship ahead of any chart placement from Hiatamadl to Brenna tuat's guat. It was the essence of my artistic curiosity and my artistic action. the encounters with other cultures, the curiosity about people who think differently and play music differently. And it was the ideal platform for making these encounters possible. I con only really enjoy it in hindsight. On board I was constantly running on adrenaline, worried that something might not work. We were always scraping past catastrophes.

Mr Rosenmüller, when you looked at the archive recordings, did you think: I'd have filmed that differently?

Rosenmüller: No, it was wonderful. They were always in the thick of it and some of the recordings were very poetic. There were some really great things.

Have you decided to start any further joint projects?

Goisern: No, we've not talked about anything yet. We both have enough to do for now.

Rosenmüller: I'm of course keeping an eye on what he's doing now. And of course it would be brilliant if our paths crossed again.

Hubert von Goisern captivates on film too

Der Westen 22nd April 2015

Hubert von Goisern has been mixing up the music scene since the mid 80s.
As can be seen in the fine portrait"Hubert von Goisern – Brenna tuat's schon lang"

A man rows out onto an alpine lake and casts his line. It's an idyllic image, with which Marcus H. Rosenmüller presents the protagonist of his documentary portrait Hubert von Goisern – Brenna tuat's schon lang to the viewer. Goisern, now 62 years old, looks younger; not much, but at least that. He appeared on the scene in the mid 80s and has been mixing up the musical world ever since. Hubert from the town of Goisern whisked punk and Montanara with the Alpinkatzen, got involved in Africa and put his popularity and ability to use in the service of European thinking and his own social vein.

The private side reveals itself

The Bavarian director Marcus H. Rosenmüller (Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot) presents a gripping biography. Overall he works chronologically, but also takes detours and shortcuts by means of interviews with the star and his friends sharing their thoughts. Like Goisern's music, Rosenmüller's direction is equal parts sensitive and spirited, guaranteed in the changing rhythm of the production. Rosenmüller curious as a fan and shows enthusiasm when he lets a song play, but is smart enough not to lose his distance. Those wanting to know more about an artist and person must take a look at this work. The private side reveals itself in this fine film, which is sparkling entertainment, as it it is profoundly informative and allows its star the dignity of the moment.

Assessment: 4/5

"The name 'von Goisern' was my revenge on Goisern"

Wienerin 21st April 2015 | Text: Barbara Haas

Goisern's most famous son tells of his battle with the other famous Goiserer, Jörg Haider, how the mayor of Hallstatt "got his knickers in a twist" and why he didn't actually want the film about his life, which opens on 24th April.

The film Brenna tuats scho lang is opening in the cinemas. How important was it for you to make this film?

Off the cuff: not at all. Hage (Hein, his manager, Ed.) wanted to make the film for my 60th. Then he worked on it for a year and asked me to look at the first rough cut - and I begged him not to make me look at it...


Well, because: it doesn't interest me. There is something intimate about memories and I don't want to share them publicly. And the moment you take a critical look at success, it looks completely coquettish to the public and if you don't take a critical view, it's stupid ...

So you thought that you couldn't really win ...

Exactly, I thought: the less I have to do with it, the better. But Hage forced me to watch it - and I was horrified. But then Hage found Rosi (Markus Rosenmüller, Ed.). And at that moment I was really pleased, because I like his film, the guy is so cool and uncomplicated and bright and alert...

And you're happy now?

I haven't seen it yet.

You really haven't?

No, but I'm looking forward to it, because everyone says it's cool ...

A very striking sentence from you in the film is: "The name von Goisern was an act of revenge on Goisern". How do you get on with Goisern nowadays?

Saying this was a bit of a play on the thought that you can see it that way. I called myself that, because my name was Sullivan back then, like my former wife. And I thought, I can't play this music, which at its heart is built on the tradition of folk music, as Sullivan. And I didn't want to either. And then it kind of came about on its own that during the announcements at the Roter Engel in Vienna, we always said: "That's Hubert - von (from) Goisern", as a kind of badge of provenance. A journalist pounced on it and that's how it happened. Only in hindsight did I realise that I could make it deliberately against them (the people of Goisern, Ed.).

Lake Hallstatt is a main theme in the film, you were filmed there on a barge. Hallstatt has a unique history as a World Heritage site. Reason enough for many Asian tourists to visit and China even built a 1:1 copy of Hallstatt. However, some residents in Hallstatt now feel besieged by by the tourists, because the Chinese think it's all a museum and go into every building ... What do you think of this development?

Well, you can't keep people out when they want to look at something beautiful. It's an unbelievably picturesque town and has a lot of magic about it. I was at a World Heritage Congress in Hallstatt once and there was a sinologist there, who talked about Chinese culture. There are a lot of people who wonder why they're such pigs when eating, or behave that way - going into houses, having no sense of personal space. And the sinologist said: That's how they are. If you were to point it out to them, they'd be shocked and would try to behave differently. But you can't tell anyone, because of the language barrier. He offered to write leaflets in Chinese, which could be put inside menus. But the mayor didn't want to do it, he was worried that he'd lose ten tourists as a result.

Because they'd see it as patronising...

Yes, maybe. I played in Hallstatt and had a few posters made with "Freedom for Tibet" on them in Chinese. The mayor got his knickers in a twist and nobody was prepared to put them up. I think: they're here and you can say this to them, because back home nothing like it is said in the media. It's a chance to communicate. But nobody wants to communicate, they just want to take the money.

Your single Brenna tuats guat catapulted you back into the charts, you had your finger on the pulse, criticising waste. Are you an angry citizen?

I can be, but try to be as little as possible, because anger isn't a good feeling. Nobody can tell me that he's happy when he's angry. Of course I can get het up about one thing or the other, but mostly they're little things, the big thing make me concerned and sad. But when you get involved, you can get het up about everything. Whether it achieves anything, I don't know.

It releases energy...

Yes, but then you're shouting at your four walls, or outside ...

You have the means of publicity. Roland Düringer didn't shout out within the four walls of his caravan in Lower Austria, but made his anger known and thus raised awareness ...

Mobilisation can make sense, but for me I think it's better to stay cool and then I can really say something while others get het up. Shouting about doesn't achieve anything, it makes you small yourself. I think it's much better to stay cool and open up the wound. And perhaps poke about ... until the others shout. But not me.

"I like the guy"

Münchner Merkur 21st April 2015 | Text: Zoran Gojic | Photo: © Heinz Weissfuss

Hubert von Goisern on Marcus H. Rosenmüller, who has made a film about him,
concerts in the slum and the music business.

Marcus H. Rosenmüller und HvGThough Hubert von Goisern is known to be a bit of an interview grump, he is very cheerful and talks quite freely in our interview. The 62-year-old is promoting a project that in principle seemed a little suspect to him: the documentary Brenna tuat's schon lang, in which he overcame his aversion and talked about his life and career in front of the camera. The film by Marcus H. Rosenmüller opens in cinemas on Thursday. Goisern has a lot to do at the moment. In two weeks the new album Federn will be released and straight after that begins a big tour, which will bring him to the Königsplatz in Munich on 26th June. His biggest concert to date in the state capital.

When watching the film you get the impression: here is a man who all his life has looked for situations in which he can fail.

I have a lot of fantasies and always imagine everything to be wonderful. I don't look for failure, but I don't like starting things that can't fail. That's dull. If I know that if I do something like this and this and then it'll work, then it's uninteresting. It's much more freeing to achieve something that could have failed. The heart always wants t the same thing, the mind always wants something new. That's what it's about in life in general: pushing out boundaries, getting smarter.

How does one come up with the idea of giving an impromptu concert in the middle of an African slum, in front of people who have never heard of you?

And then it works out, even though it's totally improbable! I knew it would work well - if we survived it. People had said to us that we'd definitely be robbed and would only get out with our underpants. If that. But a man who knew what he was talking about said: "They're people like you, who will be delighted if you do it." I felt that we would all experience something good together. Life is a party and on that day it was celebrated right there.

To be honest, I was surprised that you let yourself in for a film that was about you.

I'm always asking myself questions when it's about my music, but definitely not when it's about biographical details. My manager had the idea for this film and I understood what he wanted to achieve with it. But I told him that I didn't want to be involved. I'm biased when it's about me and can't contribute. My manager then put together two hours and I was horrified. I said to him: if you want to make a film, get someone who knows how to do it. So he asked Rosenmüller and I was ever so pleased that he accepted. I like the guy.

Your manager Hage Hein has accompanied you for nearly 30 years and has always believed in you, even when nobody else did. How often do you drive him mad?

We have phases like that. There was a long phase in which we got on well. We'd also reached the point a few times at which we thought that we couldn't go any further. And at these low points I always said to him: there's no sense in the way things are now. But there's no alternative for me. It if doesn't work with him, then it won't work with anyone. Without denigrating people in the business - Hage is an exception with his integrity and loyalty. If things aren't working, it's not that he isn't the way I'd like, it's that the business isn't the way I'd like. I often had moments in which I didn't want to do certain things any more. Not because I was too good for them, but because I simply didn't like them. I don't want to go into details, but I don't like being for sale.

Such as at the beginning of your career, where you played the happy Austropop star on the TV show Nase vorn?

You have to have these experiences. It was my first record and from all the songs, they chose the most stupid one: Gern hab' ich die Frauen geküsst. I wanted to sing something else, but everyone insisted and so that's how it went. Even when we were recording the album, there were too many compromises. The producer did everything differently from the way I wanted. The record was a total flop. Then I then, from now on, I'm going to do what I think is right, never mind what anyone else says.

Is that why you're always tapping into new instruments and worlds of sound?

It's more that I wander into them. It's connected with what's going on in my life. Suddenly everything sounds different, there are new sounds and different rhythms and I adopt them.

"Then there are consequences"

Neues Volksblatt 21. April 2015 | Text: Philipp Wagenhofer

World musician Hubert von Goisern is coming to the silver screen,
the stage and releasing the new CD "Federn"

Bavarian director Marcus H. Rosenmüller has captured Hubert von Goisern and made an excellent film about the world musician, which will be shown on Friday at Crossing Europe and will be on general release in the cinemas. On the 8th May the album Federn will be released and Hubert von Goisern is also off on tour from 12th May. I met him at Café Valdez in Linz.

Is the film Brenna tuats scho lang by Marcus H. Rosenmüller a break, a moment to take stock?

It's taking stock for everyone else, but not for me, it's mainly for Rosenmüller. Hage Hein had the idea. I said, if you feel you need to do it, then do it. But I can't help you, because I have a different focus and basically don't want to decide what should or shouldn't be in such a film.

There are times in your career that you perhaps don't want to think about so much, such as the programme Nase vorn. Was Rosenmüller give free rein?

He had completely free rein. Hage had spent a whole year going through the archives and had found three hours of usable material. Rosenmüller made the film from that. There are a few things I like, which are really good, but you have to be careful about watching it too much, otherwise you quickly get too smug and then that's debilitating for what you want to do now or next.

There are contemplative moments - fishing on Lake Hallstatt, the meeting with Jane Goodall. Do they give you strength and awareness?

Gathering energy and pausing for a moment - it doesn't mean withdrawing, sitting back in the deck chair and waiting until the energy returns. Refuelling is first and foremost meeting with people who are exciting and who have something to say. I'm not always the talker. When I'm producing I'm very much concerned with myself and my thoughts and I'm happy when there are phases when I'm only interested in what other people think. Not with regard to me, but as far as their own lives are concerned.

Does the Eurovision Song Contest contribute to a feeling of connection?

I think so. It's great that it's being presented with this motto ("Building Bridges", Ed.). All these times in which people come together, including international sporting events, as well as cultural events, it's about personal encounters. A trust develops and perhaps friendship too.

There are not solely harmonious moments in this documentary. Are you an argumentative person when someone accuses you of, for example, making commercial use of traditional folk music?

I was accused of that early on. And perhaps there are still a few fuddy-duddies who still see it that way, but it annoys me less now. Back that it quite upset me. But it was an exciting discussion too, after all there's nothing cooler for an artist than discovering a taboo where opinions are divided. As an artist you're either flying above, or you're underground, but when you're on the surface, where it's normal, you're just superficial. Back then I was both underground and the one flying above. And there were a good many people shooting at me.

When someone compares Andreas Gabalier to the start of your career, does that get you hot under the collar?

There were indeed people early on who attacked me, because they didn't like it. But I don't hear anyone attacking Gabalier for taking the piss out of or lowering the tone of folk music. There are people who don't like the music and I don't like it either. One has to admit that. The bad feeling about him comes from the fact that there's something unctuous about him and he never sets himself any boundaries. And he's coquettish. But you have to say that he must be doing an awful lot right, otherwise there wouldn't be so many people going to his concerts. But it's all relative. Like the thing with the national anthem. He feels the need to keep the word "daughters" out of it and make politics out of it. You stand up there and a crowd of people are listening to you, then you say something as stupid as that and carry on so dumbly. If someone insists on being faithful to the original, like he does, then they should sing it the way it's meant to be sung too.

On your ship journey, Linz — Europe East, you change the concert location in Bulgaria at short notice, because the audience on the bank was being forced to buy food and pay money. Are you shaped by a sense of justice?

Yes, it gets my back up. The Bulgarian management of the group with which I was playing were against me. There were 2000 people who hadn't been let in and on the terrace were these people covered in gold chains, there was a real Mafia touch to it. So we moved the whole thing along and when it was over the Roma were crying. They had never experienced anyone standing up to this power.

On your current tour and your new album Federn you're following tracks in the southern states of the USA. Stoansteirisch as Cajun with yodelling - what unites Louisiana and the Styrian Salzkammergut?

With the Cajun numbers, I can play what is in our country dances or Steirers 1:1. Only the feeling is different. When the two things comes together then there are consequences. But: over there they couldn't see this. The stick in the muds down south are just like those in the inner Salzkammergut. If I hadn't grown up in such a milieu, I wouldn't have been able to deal with it, spending so many weeks there and running into walls and withstanding this scepticism.

Schnapps brought you to the Styrian accordion, is that the reason for the song on the CD?

No, it was a legendary first evening. After Steve Fishell (pedal steel guitarist, Ed.) arrived from Nashville completely jet-lagged I thought that before we start playing, we should have a trip in the Salzkammergut. He wanted something to bring himself back to earth, vodka or something. I wanted to go to a schnapps distiller. He said schnapps was gruesome. In America schnapps is gruesome. Steve thought I wanted to impose something on him. And then we went to a schnapps distiller and hung around a fairly long time. After this evening I wrote a song about schnapps.

How much pressure is there to land another number one hit?

The pressure is always the same to want to make a cool album. But such chart success is the bonus ball. You can't force it, otherwise everyone would just make music according to a formula.

Premiere in Vienna

Leadersnet 21st April 2015 | Photo: © D. Mikkelsen
Hubert von Goisern

More photos at

On someone who's burning

Kleine Zeitung 19th April 2015 | Text: Bernd Melichar | Photo: © Sarah Marchant

New film, new CD: Hubert von Goisern talks about homeland and his trip to the southern states of the USA.

Hubert von GoisernBrenna tuat's schon lang is the name of the film about and starring you. How did this idea come about?

A catalyst for this film, this review was what happened in autumn 2011 when I was driving home from Vorarlberg. On the Silvretta Pass I came to Mauthäusl and the guy at the toll said to me: "Aren't you Hubert von Goisern?" I said yes. The man said: "Such a shame that you retired!" I said: "I didn't retire, I'm on the radio all the time at the minute with Brenna tuat's guat." The guy said: "Oh, that's you?!" There are just so many people who only took notice of Hiatamadl and my time in the mass media. At that time I took a very conscious step back, I wanted people to forget me so that I could play more freely once again. I wanted to just break the image, the image that reduced me to just new folk music.

But your career continued after Hiatamadl. You were in Africa, Tibet, and became a world musician in the truest sense of the term.

Yes, the tours were and are often sold out. But evidently many people don't see the continuity in my career. And this film is meant to remedy that. But I didn't want to make a film about me myself. I am by no means free of vanities and I'd just want to show my good side. So I needed an objective view.

Director Marcus Rosenmüller provides this view. He says that he wanted to "illustrate Hubert's strength". What is this strength exactly?

Silence, peace, nature, love.

There is a particular scene in the film: you're sitting in a boat on Lake Hallstatt, fishing. Then you finally catch something, reel the fish in - and kill it. But without triumph or brutality. Is that connected with your approach to the natural world?

Yes, certainly. The natural world is one that feeds me, it is a primal power from which I draw. It is what I saw as a young boy: you don't necessarily need money so that you can go to a shop, if you want to feed yourself you can: go mushroom hunting, eat berries, eat herbs, catch fish. Hunting was always beyond my range. But: I've always felt quite at ease knowing that you can live from nature. I'll always find something to eat.

A sentence from the film: "Goisern is someone who often goes forward without knowing where it'll lead." How do you manage not to become disoriented?

By taking proper notice of the path I'm following. You lose your orientation the moment you're inattentive. Knowing your points of orientation is essential. Then you can forget everything and still not be lost. In short: you should know how to get back, how to get home.

Have we arrived at the word "homeland"? Willi Resetarits has always said that this world only exists in the plural for him.

I have a kind of hierarchy of homelands too, but right at the top is the Salzkammergut. The melody of language is totally familiar. It's something that starts to swing, it tells me: I know this, I've known this for ever. It's familiarity, a kind of nest environment. It's to do with security. Dangers lurk in the homeland too, but you know where they are.

Let's head to America. You went there to the southern states to better understand the country. You brought an amount back with you for your new CD: Cajun, Hank Williams, Amazing Grace. How educational was this journey?

I understand America better now - but that doesn't mean I'm happier. I went to deal with my own prejudices. But I came back with horrors; horrors because they confirmed and increased my prejudices.


Because I realised that the Americans are so self-sufficient and have no interest in understanding what's happening elsewhere in the world. It's never so bad for an American that they stop thinking that they live in the best and most glorious country. I think this inability to self-critique is appalling. Of course there are icons of truth too, Woody Guthrie for example. It brings tears to my eyes. But that was a different time, that's history.

The new CD is called Federn (Feathers) – but it's not as though you had to have your wings are clipped for it. You're in the best form of your life.

Do you really think so? The fact is that I wanted to can the CD a year ago. Everything was done and finished, but then I said: "I will never ever release this!" But then I left the whole thing in peace, tightened a few screws here and there and suddenly it worked.

You also undertook the adventure of playing the new songs at concerts long before the CD was on the market.

When I go to a concert myself, I don't want to know exactly what's going to happen either. I want to be enchanted and surprised.

Nobody demands Hiatamadl at a Goisern concert any more. Is that gratifying?


It is the way it is

teleschau - der mediendienst 16th April 2015 | Text: Heidi Reutter

Hubert von Goisern - Brenna tuat's schon lang

Successful director Marcus H. Rosenmüller (Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot) has turned to documentary film again and is offering a portrait of Austrian musician Hubert von Goisern.

(tsch) For 25 years Hubert von Goisern, alpine rocker and folk music rebel has stood on European stages. He has always gone his own way as a professional musician. Uncompromising, distinctive, saying a decisive yes to himself. May of his songs have achieved cult status. At the very latest by the release of his successful album Entwederundoder (2011) the critical and sensitive poet achieved great recognition beyond just the world of fans of alpine rock. And the 62-year-old isn't keeping still: this year he's on the road with a live programme, in May his tenth studio album Federn will be released. However people know little about his development between the high points of his career. The question of what von Goisern has done between his biggest hits Koa Hiatamadl (1992) and Brenna tuats guat (2011) forms the jumping off point for Marcus H. Rosenmüller's unagitated review of a moving artistic life.

Dawn breaks at the idyllic Lake Hallstatt in Upper Austria. A boat sails unhurriedly out onto the lake, on board is Hubert von Goisern, he's going fishing. This is the scene for the interview, behind the camera the Bavarian director Rosenmüller, for his part a profound connoisseur of alpine culture, asks the questions. Hubert Achleitner, as the artist who took the name of his hometown is really called, cannot be labelled. Von Goisern, it's alpine rock or alpine pop, or, as an American concert-goer called it: "alpine grunge". With substance, mind you. Because the Austrian is esteemed for his both deep and humorous lyrics too.

Accordingly there is a great deal of philosophising and musing in Rosenmüller's film, both on life and about music and so the focus of the documentary lies on the artist's personal and artistic development. One of the most important way-points, aside from stops in Africa and America, is the barracks ship, on which von Goisern spent two summers during the Linz Europa Tour (2007 to 2009). He went all the way to Rotterdam and live the idea of Europe at least musically in an impressive way. His music united the nations.

Alongside the interview on the lake Rosenmüller interviewed the most important people who have accompanied the versatile musician along the way, among them producers Kurt Langbein and Hage Hein, as well as his former teacher, who sparked the fire for music in his young protégé. The road move documentary is supplemented with archive material, which shows von Goisern as a young brass musician in traditional costume, or his somewhat silly appearance on the Frank Elstner show Nase vorn. One thing is certain: this music film is a must for all von Goisern fans. All those interested in music can learn something from it. And ideally the fire will be sparked for them too.

Assessment: compelling

Goisern up close

tz 16th April 2015 | Text: Sandra Brockötter | Photo: Weissfuss

Marcus H. Rosenmüller and Hubert von GoisernMusician Hubert von Goisern (62) walks shyly up Sonnenstraße to the City Kino on Tuesday evening. A storm of flashbulbs goes off, as he is the focus of the evening. His life is on show, up on the silver screen. Cult director Marcus H. Rosenmüller (41) has directed a documentary film about Goisern's life. In Brenna tuat's schon lang (out on 23rd April) the fans will see the film music innovator up close and see things that have eluded them until now.

Rosenmüller has been a fan from the start too. "Despite his many travels, many connected with boat journeys, Hubert has remained connected to his homeland. This rootedness is the main theme through the film. Thus the action begins in the neighbouring village to Goisern, on Lake Hallstatt: Hubert angling at 5am - before the Chinese tourists take over the place", Rosenmüller says with a laugh. The interview sequences on the boat show Goisern as a centre of calm while fishing. He is quite centred and the opposite of a stage rocker. "When I received the offer of making this documentary film, I was on board straight away. I've been listening to Goisern since I was 18." What particularly interested him were Goisern's creative breaks. "This time between his hits Koa Hiatamadl and Brenna tuat's guat", said the director. During this time, he travelled to Tibet and Africa for example. Journeys that later shaped his music.

At the premiere Hubert von Goisern gets himself some popcorn and makes it known "I'm looking forward to it, because l've had a lot of positive feedback on the film", the Austrian, whose real name is Hubert Achleitner, tells tz. Goisern - that's his place of birth.

Friends and fans accompany Goisern into the cinema. For actress and fan Sissy Höfferer it's a premiere of another kind. "I hadn't met him until today, so I'm all the more pleased that he's here today. I think he's someone who brings people together. I admire that." Goisern sidekick Markus Wasmeier has known the musician for six years: "I've been a fan for a long time, but a friend too. Once a year we go to Bobby Dekeyser's (former football goalkeeper and founder of Dedon furniture) place and have a guys' holiday," says the ski racer. Actor Jürgen Tonkel is not just a fan of Goisern, but of Rosenmüller too. "I think the film has come at exactly the right moment, because Hubert has changed his way of making music again - it's even more modern. So a look back at his life is exciting. And Rosi had really got to the heart of it all." Musician and composer Klaus Doldinger is delighted at the collaboration. "We met and worked together about seven year ago on his Linz Europe Tour, which he did on a ship on the Danube. He is an active musician with his band - so completely lacking in clichés. Cabaret artist Hannes Ringlstetter praises Rosenmüller's view of documentaries. "He is a companion in documentaries and doesn't start staging things. That's why I like Rosi's documentaries so much. They're authentic." As authentic and affectation-free as von Goisern, who scurries into the cinema also unnoticed.

Hubert von Goisern – Brenna tuat's schon lang

Artechock 16th April 2015 | Text: Doris Weininger

Inner and outer survey of the world in the airstream of the Styrian accordion

At the start of the 1990s Hubert von Goisern turned folk music on its head. He was set for life with his musical firecracker Koa Hiatamadl, which was played at every party. An edgily-played accordion, that could kick a pile of boulders into a chaotic swirl. Powerful music that could make trees burst apart like matchsticks. The musician and actor listens carefully to the ups and downs of the sounds. As if dramatically depicting the transience of man and his mercy at the power of an overwhelming natural world.

In Marcus H. Rosenmüller's film Hubert von Goisern sits in a boat on Lake Hallstatt in the early morning, casting his line. The timeless Dachstein massif glows above the still sleeping village. Hearst es nit, wie die Zeit vergeht, the Alpinkatzen sing over the ridge.

The viewer enters the conscious world of the musician, who catches his thoughts again as soon as they unravel at the edges. During the boat ride a caught fish is knocked out on the planks - inconspicuous and without drama. Von Goisern doesn't need any lederhosen, his music balances between the energy-laden, melancholic and political furore, between sounds, which - without being ruthless - spiritedly entwine, supported by a veritable band, who drive their rhythmic energy forward, fed with brilliant yodelling. Here you see a fisherman at work. The film carries into the confined valley the idea of concurrence between natural impression and inner vision. The mood supports the work and past of the artist, no effects are required to show that one has climbed out of the valley to the summit of freedom.

Jörg Haider grew up in Bad Goisern too. Goisern's parents came from the Sudetenland and were supported in their stay in the tranquil spa town by Haider's grandfather, a Nazi. One guy brandished the weapon of agitation, the other became a musical-political cosmopolitan.

He was thrown out of the brass band because of his "girly" long hair and had to return the trumpet, as he recalls thoughtfully. In between there was a harmonious meeting with his docile music teacher, who didn't reprimand him when he was too lazy to practise. He tried out the accordion when he was drunk one time and experienced a revelation of sound modulations, in which the poetic and sensual rises above the the loud roar. From von Goisern's playing of the accordion comes a tender look at the soul.

Authentic archive material shows recordings from an early TV show in Kiel: von Goisern with a schmaltzy look and in folklore clothes. He ended his appearance as support for Rainhard Fendrich in front of "an audience ready for a lynching", he says with a grin. In the 1990s the Alpinkatzen were in Austin, Texas at the famous South by Southwest Festival. The audience is totally taken with the crazies. An enthusiastic fan calls the music "Austrian grunge". Shimmering energy unites the multinstrumentalism and the States with the alpine tradition.

Faithful companion, Hage Hein, producer of "alpine world music", shares stories from the rich repertoire of anecdotes. He convinced von Goisern to perform with a band rather than as a duo that had indeed been successful.

Hubert von Goisern's visit with chimpanzee research scientist Jane Goodall could easily drift into the esoteric. The aura of the scientist and later that of the Dalai Lama too captivated him. His travels took him to Tibet, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and with Nubian superstar Mohamed Mounir he played to a crowd of 15,000 people in Assiut, Egypt. He always endeavours to play with local artists when touring abroad.

A few years ago there was a border-crossing musical river journey on a transporter converted into a concert ship, sailing from the Black Sea to the North Sea. He gave concerts with Wolfgang Niedecken, Claudia Koreck and Xavier Naidoo. When von Goisern fell ill for a few days, Naidoo learned his lyrics at night for the show and left behind his missionary zeal. In the final scene Hubert von Goisern and Konstantin Wecker sit at the piano. Two people have found each other. The melodies of the sentimental ones streamline, a wise oneness prevails between the two musicians, which has nothing to do with the tradition and homeland boom aesthetic. With these two Rosenmüller has chosen two reflective people as the final chord, who have both mastered many vertiginous points in life already. In the final scene Hubert von Goisern sits in the boat. You get the impression that he wants to embrace the world and its citizens with the accordion and his music. In view of the current flammable situations in the world and the resulting indifference, it is a compelling contribution, to at least approach each other musically.

With  Brenna tuat's guat Rosenmüller and his sterling cameraman, Johannes Kaltenhauser, have found a symbiosis of language, music and pictorial arts. It could have been a nostalgic journey back through time, in which musicians lament: ""Alas, alas, the osteoarthritis hurts when playing the accordion", or in which the fans are only offered worn-out snippets of memories. As calmly as Lake Hallstatt, we are told of a life devoted to music.