Woog Riots are Silvana Battisti and Marc Herbert. The duo is based in Darmstadt (Germany). In March 2016 they released their 5th album “Alan Rusbridger”. Their career in pop music began in 2004 when they compiled and curated an international tribute sampler dedicated to Manchester’s indie icons “The Fall”. The double CD was released on the Hamburg based “What’s So Funny About” label, run by Alfred ‘the record Pope’ Hilsberg, the same label handled the first three Woog Riots albums. Sung in English, their electro-flavoured three minute garage-come-broadway-hit songs combine culture, pop and politics, with the emphasis firmly on POP!
Their new album is named after the former editor-in-chief of the Guardian who was jointly responsible for the publication of Edward Snowden’s secret documents. In 2013, under pressure from the UK’s security service, Rusbridger had to agree to the destruction of storage media containing the leaked Snowden material. Find our much more about the album and the band here. They kindly answered some questions for FEW back in April.
Do you see Alan Rusbridger as wielding the sword of truth and the shield of justice?
The way Alan Rusbridger described freedom of press and democracy to Mr. Vaz when he was questioned byf the home affiars committee of the Snowden leaks did really impress us. Mr. Vaz asked him if he did love his country, so they even accused him of not being patriotic by telling the truth. That was too much for us and we had to write a song.
Are you protest singers?
We guess so. Of course we could write about love, peace and harmony, but we were musically socialized in the postpunk era and this is why our motto is “move your ass and your mind will follow”. Write danceable tracks with lyrics with a message. Too many people do not vote, do not protest just let it happen. With our music we like to encourage them to raise their voice and fight for their opinions.
Injustice in general. A friend of ours wrote a great book “The Story of Pop” (Karl Bruckmaier). He describes how music became a form of expression of protest from the beginning of human kind. He asked us to write a 1 minute song to sum up the book and the first verse goes like “every injustice is a reason to sing, a reason to dance a reason to think. Lyrics and movements out of poverty, politics, war and slavery ….”
Are you scared by the modern world?
More concerned than scared. Instead of making our lives easier, modern technology makes people forget the basics like personal communication, charity and friendship. It is the egomania which really scares us as well as surveillance and everything that Snowden revealed.
Who is your favourite Beatle?
We like a little bit of every Beatle, but John Lennon with his great political engagement influenced us the most.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Silvana: The first single I ever bought was “Egyptian Reggae” by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers.
Marc: I think my parents listened a lot to The Beatles. My father told us he saw them playing in Hamburg, but maybe this is some kind of a family myth.
You mention “Penthouse and Pavements” as being an influence for the album – what’s your favourite song on it? I love the electro-marching sound on Fascist Groove Thang.
“Penthouse and Pavement” is the perfect example of what we said earlier: danceable music with a message. And yes “Fascist Groove Thang” is fantastic.
What artists/bands have had the biggest influence on you?
Uuh, tons of bands. To name a few: Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk, Television Personalities, Moldy Peaches, LCD Soundsystem, Fun Boy Three, Young Marble Giants, The Fall.
Do you like running you own label? Why did you decide to do it?
Yes, we love it. Our first three records were released on German label “What’s So Funny About” by Alfred Hilsberg who also released “Einstuerzende Neubauten”. It was great to be on such a famous label and Alfred is a character. We learned a lot from him, but never made any kind of progress. When Alfred started his label in the Eighties everything was DIY and we really liked that spirit. So we decided to follow his path and do our own label. For our latest release “Alan Rusbridger” we decided that we only want to release vinyl. The first 300 copies in coloured vinyl. I think it would have been harder to discuss this with a label as cost-wise it is much more expensive, but because it is our own label we said “what the heck, it looks great, let’s do it!”.
How do you feel about Phil Oakey?
The Human League is another great band we like a lot at least the early stuff. They say that Phil Oakey was influenced by German electronic music, Sci-Fi and avantgarde movies. “Being Boiled” is still a favorite when we do our DJ-sets. We did not like the twist he took on “Dare”. Still groovy songs but the message got lost.
What song by another artist would you have loved to have written?
Well, that is the good part of being a musician, you can write your own songs.
Silvana loves “Computerliebe” by Kraftwerk and “Final Day” by Young Marble Giants. Marc is impressed by tunes which became classic football songs like “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes or “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. But these great songs would not be the same if they would have been written by us. Marc once wrote a song called “Europapokal” for our favourite football team Darmstadt 98 which is regularly played in the stadium.
What new bands do you like?
Parquet Courts, Suuns, Sufjan Stevens, Sylvan Esso, PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, Liars, Hot Chip, 2Bears, Eleonore Friedberger, Django Django, Jeffrey Lewis, M.I.A, Chemical Brothers, Metronomy.
Name a song that makes you smile.
Martin Creed “Thinking / Not Thinking”.
What music would you like to have played at your funeral(s)?
Fun Boy Three “Our lips are sealed”
Marc: Vera Lynn “We’ll Meet Again”
The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale Of New York”