Interview: Thom Fuhrmann




Dimitris Antonopoulos spoke with Thom Fuhrmann of Savage Republic and they had a really interesting talk like two good friends. Let's read what Thom said about Savage Republic, their new album, USA today, Greece and many other things.

It’s always a privilege Thom! So, first of all lets talk about 'PROCESSION', the new LIVE album of SAVAGE REPUBLIC.. With an amazing 'Best of' too..

I just now found out of the passing of Peter of coil, tg, etc.  Sad news. We just played with him on the same stage only a year ago...  We are losing too many talented people far too early....

The new best of "Procession-an aural history", I think is something far over due.  I had told Bruce for years that an Sr 'sampler' would open the world up to Savage Republic.  It is so difficult to only pick one cd's worth of material, but I think that James nice at ltm did a very good job.  I was very happy that he chose to use so much material from the latest incarnation of the band, including the live show from Spain earlier this year.

Is there a new album on the way? 'Aegean'?  Very familiar title for us here as you know (laughs!!) So, tell us the details.

Yes!  The new album is already 2/3 finished!  It will be titled "Aegean" and many of the pieces are profoundly Greek influenced.  One of my favourite pieces so far, is tentatively titled "Exarchion" in tribute to what happened to the young boy awhile back.  We have always stayed right on the square, (near An club) and I have always been fascinated with its chaotic energy.
The album will be kind of a mix of all of our albums really.  Some heavy hitting in your face political bits.  Some dreamier sounds capes similar to material on ceremonial, and some sonic influence from "1938" and "Jamahiriya"...  Unlike the last arduos recording process of the last album, this time around, we have and abundance of material and now I have the luxury of editing it down rather than re-mixing to fill space!
Kerry and Alan have been on fire!  It's by far the best rhythm section the band has ever had and it frees us up to paint around a solid foundation.  The album will feature some surprises as well.  A couple female vocals, and some horns, flute and classical percussion!

Thom FuhrmannAnd what about the Greek fans here? It’s a long story ah...?

Greece has always been our second home...  We have great fans all over, but there is no one more passionate than the Greek fans.  We consider them like our friends and try to share as much of our musical experience with them as possible.  I have become very close to many of them and value their friendship very deeply.  This album is dedicated to that friendship...

Thom, do you really have any memories from your recent gig here with SAVAGE REPUBLIC? Thanks again by the way for 'When all else fails', a precious present really.

It was a very bittersweet time for me.  I had decided to leave SR immediately following that tour.  As I have become clearer due to sobriety and mental health, I had grown frustrated with the lack of contribution from some of the other older members.  Some may consider me a control freak, but I had grown weary of having to do the lion's share of the song writing.  Thankfully that has changed...
Anyway, Athens is always so fun.  It was the first show of the tour and I really wasn't sure if we would be very tight, but the energy in the room really pushed us to raise our game.  We really look forward to coming back in 2012 in support of the new album... All three shows in Greece from the last tour will always be memorable...

Tell me about your collaboration with a Greek artist (what a GREAT idea!!). I am talking about Stella Papandreopoulou! Amazing voice!

Not only is Stella an incredible artist, but even more so, an incredible person.  She has such a direct, no bull shit attitude that I absolutely treasure.  She has been like a coach to me over these past few months and we can't wait to work with her!  I really look forward to the possibility of her joining us on stage in Greece as well!  I know that she is the perfect voice for this record....

Alan Waddington? Any comment for a great musician really Thom?

Words are not enough to describe Alan Waddington...  He is our "yoda".  He keeps us very down to earth and focused.  The fact that he is the best drummer in the world is only icing on the cake.  We are also very fortunate to have Kerry Dowling with us now and he has brought young life and a higher level of musicianship to what we do.  This 4 piece line-up has been my favourite to tour with and (as show in our recent krautrock session) by far the most prolific...   We are very focused on the soundtrack that we create, now more than ever...

AUTUMNFAIR was a fantastic side project of yours! What about a NEW album? Is there a chance for the near future?

AF will always be my first love.  I was playing a minor role early on in SR and I really wanted to play guitar (which is my first love) after, meeting Val Haller (Wayne County, lords of the new church, etc) I knew that it was the path that I wanted to follow.  Unfortunately, the band had a very short life, but now as we approach the 20th anniversary of the IPR release of "glacier and gods", we have decided to go back into the studio.  I have a ton of song ideas and I look forward to firing up the 'ol drum machine and seeing what sonic beauty we can create!!!

We're under IMF here (Greece)... I think you know. What about USA nowadays?'

Times are tough here, but I think we're bouncing back.  My coffee business is slow, but unchanged.  I guess that' my true barometer.  I have a feeling Obama may not get re-elected, but I’m hopeful.  I complain a lot about my country, but there really is no place like it in the world.  I've decided, that even in retirement, I will still spend 6 months a year here.   We have it so good...
I really hope that Greece can bounce back as well and maintain their identity.  I was reading some Henry Μiller over the summer and he went on and on about how great the Greek people and their culture truly are.  I couldn't agree more...

What about your influences as an artist Thom? Can you mention some of your favourite albums ever?

There are so many....  I think the principle three would be Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen and Led Zeppelin, but Wire, Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Wolfgang Press, Smiths, Eno etc. etc.  My current love over the passed 5 years has been Boards of Canada...  Lately, I find myself listening to a lot of ambience and mid-eastern folk music. Probably just looking for guitar hooks to steal! :)

A really powerful 'moment' with Savage Republic, after so many gigs. So many records?

Again, there are so many.  The most recent being our latest recording session two weeks ago.  3 of us in a room with the tape running for two hours.  Incredible tribal improv, great bass lines and shimmery noise..  Greg grunke was adding some nice acoustic 12 string from the other room.  It reminded a bit of '88 when we had toured so much and had become so tight and improved at every show.  It took along time to get back to that and I couldn't be happier.

As for the old days.  It was all so magical for a kid who couldn't play his instrument and getting to see the world.  I feel into a great opportunity and will always be thankful to Bruce for inviting me into the band.  My only regret was our lack of work ethic and continuity and I think we are making up for that now...

We were fortunate enough to play the part time punks festival in SF and la last year and as we left the stage in SF, I was stopped by Hugo Burnham of Gang of Four and he told me how much he loved the set.  That was very gratifying...

I still get chills when we begin every show and there is no where else I would rather be than on stage with these guys...

Are you still in love with Echo and the Bunnymen?

That love affair has waned significantly over the years.  I still love their early stuff.  As you know, my son is named after Will Sergeant who has been very gracious to me over the years.  I do hope that Ian can find the happiness that I have found on the other side...  He is so talented, but he keeps shooting himself in the foot.  I can relate all to well...

How does it feel to meet REM really? Michael Stipes used to love Savage Republic ah? I am talking about the London event.

Michael and Peter and have always have been very supportive.  Peter came to see us with the young gods in '88 in London.  I first met Michael on the REM green tour in NYC after their Madison square garden show.  Our former roadie Jon Mccafferty help designed the green album cover and invited us to the after show party.  It was the most crowded room I have ever been in!  No one paid a bit of attention to me until Michael walked up, hugged me and told me what a great band he thought we were.  I had to fight girls off the rest of the night!!! :)
I have a ton of respect for Michael...

John Doe, Ray Manzarek, Roky Erickson, 3 names, for JUST (!) 3 words by you for each name.

John Doe- straight ahead solid
Manzarek-a true pioneer
Roky-brilliant nut job!

For the end, do you remember the last time we've been 'on air' here together!!? Many good memories you know Thom..
Thank you! Dimitris Antonopoulos

Absolutely!!!  As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't in the best of spirits due to the fact that I was leaving the band, but it was great to finally get in the studio with you!  I look forward to the next time!!!  We consider you the fifth Savage Republican and we appreciate all that you do, not just for us, but for so many bands... Thank d!!!


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