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Goethes Erben Biography

Last updated: 03/25/2003 01:42:17 AM

Goethes Erben was formed in January 1989 by Oswald Henke and Peter Seipt. The founding idea was to create music theater while focusing on the German spoken word. Following the release of two demo tapes and a debut concert, Peter Seipt left the band in July 1990 to concentrate on his other band The Seer. Oswald continued to work alone in the studio.

Not until February 1991 did Goethes Erben reform as a band. Mindy Kumbalek, keyboards, drums and saxophone and Conny R., guitars, completed the trio. In this formation they recorded the debut album "Das Sterben ist ästhetisch bunt" which was released in February 1992 with the Hamburg-based record company Dark Star. All later CDs were also released with this company.

Shortly before the release of the second album "Der Traum an die Erinnerung" Conny R. left the band for personal reasons. The band's first tour of Germany in August 1992, which ran parallel to the release of the second album, made them known throughout the country. Mindy Kumbalek and Oswald Henke were accompanied by Peter Seipt for this tour, who returned as a guest musician.

Starting in October 1992, Troy became a member of the live band. The musical core of the band, consisting of Mindy Kumbalek, Oswald Henke and Troy, was accompanied by various guest musicians for live performances.

At Christmas of 1992, Goethes Erben played for a larger audience for the first time at the legendary "Dark X-Mas festivals" in Hamburg and Bonn. There they presented their mini CD "Die Brut" which was not released until January 1993. At these two festivals alone, Goethes Erben sold 300 copies of this mini album.

In April and June 1993 Goethes Erben played six concerts in an extended live line-up. Along with music theorist and producer Dr. Vladimir Ivanoff, songs of the trilogy were rearranged for additional instruments. In addition to two violins, cello, a soprano vocalist, additional live percussion and keyboards, the element of dance first appeared. A live recording of this tour made in the city of Bochum in "Zwischenfall" was released on the CD "Leben im Niemandsland" in November 1993. This album later became the most successful project in the history of Goethes Erben.

The third studio album "Tote Augen sehen Leben" was recorded in early 1993 and released in February 1994 to conclude the album trilogy.

In August 1994, the first two demo tapes were re-released on the CD "1. Kapitel" due to the large demand. Even without any advertisement whatsoever, this CD sold as many copies as the third studio album "Tote Augen sehen Leben", which received controversial criticism from the press. One of the reasons for this was that Goethes Erben only played three concerts in Germany in 1994 and did their first European tour in September of the same year, which led them to Italy, Belgium and Holland.

From October to December Goethes Erben disappeared into the "Etage studio" to record a mini album, and then to record their "blue album" in Quator Studio in Munich with Vladimir Ivanoff.

With the release of the mini album "Der Die Das" in January 1995 Goethes Erben began a new chapter in their history.

In April 1995 Goethes Erben amazed and confused press and fans alike with the release of the nameless bright blue fourth studio album. The band presented itself to the public as a trio - Mindy Kumbalek, Oswald Henke and Troy - the album was bizarre and everything but commercial. The album, produced by Vladimir Ivanoff, showed the band from a very advantgarde point of view and captured the acclaim of the press but unfortunately did not help record sales. This album is the poorest selling album of the band to this date. Even the extremely extravagant live presentation of this album couldn't help record sales but did guarantee Goethes Erben the reputation of being different. One giant step was taken towards the ultimate goal of music theater. Following the successfull "Blau-Rebell" Tour, Goethes Erben started working on their next music theater piece.

In March 1996 Goethes Erben presented their upcoming fifth studio album "Schach ist nicht das Leben" during a series of concerts. In contrast to the "Blau-Rebell" Tour, the first live presentation of "Schach ist nicht das Leben" was considerably catchier and showed the band again in a completely new light. The static sequencer disappeared almost completely from the music. With a drummer and a bass player the band gained a live rhythm fraction. Other live guest musicians for this tour were Harald Lindemann on the cello, who had already been a member of the live line-up on the "Blau-Rebell" Tour, and Susanne Reinhardt, violin, on her first Goethes Erben tour.

On this tour Goethes Erben released a live album limited to 1000 copies which was a live recording of the legendary "Planetarium" concert in Jena on 15 September 1995. This CD "Live im Planetarium - Jena" is only available at concerts and is not available in record stores.

In early September 1996 Goethes Erben worked with the dance ensemble Ombra Ballare for the first time for a benefit concert in Plauen.

At the end of September 1996 Goethes Erben began recording "Schach ist nicht das Leben". It was the largest and most extravagant production to this date. It was produced by FM Einheit, an ex-member of Einstürzende Neubauten.

The long-awaited CD "Schach ist nicht das Leben" was released in March 1997 and a second live performance of the piece premiered in Chemnitz of the same month. The CD beat the previous record sales of the "Leben im Niemandsland" CD and nearly made it into the charts. Even while "Schach ist nicht das Leben" was still being presented live, Oswald Henke already began working on the next and largest Goethes Erben production : "Kondition: Macht!".

A total of nine months of rehearsals and preparation time were involved in the live presentation of "Kondition: Macht!". Goethes Erben again worked with Ombra Ballare and for the first time there was a second speaking role played by Sigrid Beierkuhnlein in this musical play in two acts. Susanne Knapp offered her assistance as co-director, helping mainly to fine-tune the details of the speaking parts. The event was originally planned for the small Berlin BKA Theater but had to be moved to a larger location, the Humboldt Room of the Urania Theater, since all tickets for the BKA Theater were already sold out in September 1997.
For the first time, each musician, each dancer and of course the actors received a certain role to play, and these roles were written and designated already while Oswald Henke was writing the play. The element of dance was concepted to fit into certain scenes and the optical aspects of the performance were concepted right from the start.

Already two weeks before the first performance nearly all four shows are sold out. The world premier of "Kondition: Macht!" took place on Good Friday, 10 April 1998 for a sold-out audience. Each evening ended with standing ovations for the ensemble. The four performances were recorded digitally and form the basis for the future release of "Kondition: Macht!" on CD. Following the "Kondition: Macht!" performances Troy left Goethes Erben due to hearing problems.

In May 1998, Oswald Henke went in the studio with Harald Wesely to mix the live recordings. The result of over one year of work was released in September 1998 and in January 1999 in two different versions.
The first version, "Kondition: Macht! - Das Musikthaterstück" was released in August 1998 as a double CD album limited to 2000 copies. On this version, the entire performance is documented - all songs, dialogues, monologues, sound collages and instrumental passages. In addition, the extensive booklet contains all lyrics as well as several live photos of the world premiere in Berlin. This album does not contain any additional recordings. All tracks are original recordings of the "Kondion: Macht!" performance on 12 April 1998.
The second version of "Kondition: Macht!" was released as a normal CD in January/February 1999. Only some of the songs can be found on this album and at times new vocals were added or replaced the originals completely. Shortly before the albums were released, the single CD "Marionetten" was released.

In September 1998, the candles returned to the stage for four Goethes Erben performances. Due to the great demand by the fans, the live interpretation of the trilogy was repeated in the "Leben im Niemandsland" performances. Nearly every show was sold out.

Just in time for the 10-year anniversary tour, a limited box set will be released containing the album "Kondition: Macht!", "Rückkehr ins Niemandsland" (a live recording made in Jena, Cassablanca during the September 1998 Tour, "Leben im Niemandsland II") and "Gewaltberechtigt?" (a re-release of the two mini CDs "Die Brut" and "Sitz der Gnade" containing three new songs). This box set is limited to 1000 copies and will not be available in record stores.

In March/April 1999, Goethes Erben will be celebrating their 10-year anniversary by going on a 3-week tour throughout Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. When choosing the songs to play on this tour, Goethes Erben asked for the help of their fans. The top 5 requested songs will be played as well as a wide range of other songs, old and new, covering the band's 10-year history. The 10-year anniversary celebration will be held following the concert in Bayreuth on 20 March 1999. All ticket holders for this concert can participate in the celebration which will include a cold buffet.

In May 1999 Goethes Erben will be playing at the "Wave & Gothic Treffen" in Leipzig.

"Gewaltberechtigt?" will be officially released on CD also in September.

(Thanks to Melinda Kumbalek for translation.)