Alpine rocker Hubert von Goisern turns 60

dpa 16th November 2012

For more than two decades Hubert von Goisern has been attracting fans who would otherwise give folk music a wide berth with dialect, yodelling and accordion.

The songs Koa Hiatamadl and Heast as nit made the musician and composer famous beyond the borders of his homeland Austria in the 1990s. But it wasn't until last year that he was able to chalk up his first number one hit. On Saturday (17th November) the alpine rocker will be 60 years old and is wondering out loud about a second career beyond the stage.

His first album in 1988 flopped, before he started over in Salzburg in 1992 with his band the Alpinkatzen and the album Aufgeigen statt niederschiassen. Since then the mixture of folk music with rock, reggae and ska elements have been von Goisern's trademark. Numerous tours and albums followed for von Goisern, who lives in Salzburg.

In 2011 the musician had a brilliant comeback, having been somewhat quieter in previous years. He got to the top of the Austrian charts for the first time with his sociocritical song Brenna tuats guat from the album Entwederundoder. From the very start the musician's manager has been Hage Hein from Munich.

Performing with high German lyrics never came into question for the musician, who studied electroacoustics, as he said in an interview with the "Salzburger Nachrichten": "When I sing high German, there's a pathos that I find unpleasant. I don't feel it in colloquial language".

The musician was born as Hubert Achleitner in 1952 in Bad Goisern in the Austrian Salzkammergut region. There he attended the same school as the late right wing populist Jörg Haider, who was three years older than him - though they never met.

His desire to travel, which is still alive to this day, started in his early years: "HvG" spent several years in South Africa and Canada. He learned how to play the noseflute from headhunters in the Philippines. As a successful musician he disappeared off to Tibet and became acquainted with his role model the Dalai Lama. He also spent time with the primatologist Jane Goodall in East Africa.

Von Goisern, who has also always processed his journeys musically and allowed exotic sounds and instruments to flow into his music, toured Austrian taverns last year with his at that point unreleased songs. This year he is giving more than 100 concerts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on his Brenna tuats guat tour. His hitherto biggest project was the Linz Europe Tour though: from 2007 to 2009 he sailed on a cargo ship converted to a stage from the Austrian city of Linz to the Black Sea and the North Sea.

The unpretentious man, who has always avoided the spotlight when not on stage, wants to take a step back again in the next few years: I don't intend to go on stage in the next few years. Before people start saying: not him again, (or for me, looking out at the audience: not them again), I'm going to pack my metaphorical bags and disappear from view for a while, as he wrote on his website in October.

Other career paths interest the musician too, as he said to the German press agency, the dpa, last year: "I'd like to write a book in which I can let my fantasies play. In which I can formulate the deepest chasms of my soul without having to be politically correct."