Jan Hoffmann of Long Distance Calling: Interview

Long Distance Calling are set to release their epic new album, How Do We Want To Live? The album is a conceptual piece that sees the band adding more layers to their already rich tapestry of music.

We were given the chance to interview Jan Hoffmann, bassist with Long Distance Calling, prior to the release of the new album to find out more about the album, what life has been like during lockdown for the band, and what their favourite concept albums are.

First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. 

You’re welcome and thanks for taking the time to talk to us as well! 

The subject matter of the album is clearly very pertinent. Was it tempting to change any aspects of the album as current events unfolded?

We didn´t really change anything on the album as almost all songs were written before the pandemic and we also had the concept and the album titel before but of course the current circumstances influenced the work. The concept fits also to the current events which makes it a bit scary somehow and were were thinking about postponing the album as many other bands but we and our label decided that it fits perfectly to release it know.

Where did the idea for the alien lifeform that humans are a cancer/virus and not a mammal come from? Were there any literary influences?

Yes there were a couple of literary influences but when it comes to the background of the vocal samples on the album we ask every listener to find out for themselves and to dig a bit to find it.

The overall idea for the concept came last year, we found it very interesting to think about the now and the future and how machines will evolve and develop and how much of what is possible we will let into our lives.  

The artwork, like the album, is very cinematic. Did the inspiration for that come from anywhere specific?

We always wanted to do a movie or series soundtrack and with this album we had the vision to do something really wide and cinematic. 

Inspiration can come from a lot of different places and it can be life itself, movies, music, books, whatever. The futuristic aspect came through a keynote event that we played last year where very interesting people talked about curiosity, the future and artificial intelligence. 

Long Distance Calling - How Do We Want To Live? (Gatefold black ...

There is an increased amount of electronics on the album. Was it intentional for the project to sound this way or was it demanded due to the content? 

Exactly, we wanted to add this futuristic touch to our music. It has always been in our music but this time we wanted to shine more light on it that before. It fits really well to the idea of machines and artificial intelligence and we tried to make sure that we combine it with our band sound as good as we can. 

Is this style a new beginning for Long Distance Calling with Stummfilm bringing to an end a previous era?

We don´t know yet. We started a new chapter with “Stummfilm” and the “Seats&Sounds” concept behind it where people are seated at the show combined with visual content and a special light show. With the new album we go a step further but we don’t yet what the future brings. But it´s a lot of fun to work more on the audiovisual concept and the show in general so let´s see what we come up with next, haha.

You have a singer on this album; why did you decide that was warranted on this album?

We also had one vocal track on our first three albums and we wanted to revisit this tradition for “How Do We Want To Live?”

We also wanted a vocal song to support the narrative on the album. The song is written from the perspective of the machines this is was kind of important for the concept of the album. Eric did a great job with the vocals and it also adds another colour to the record.

Were there any other specific musical influences at play on this album? From listening, there feels to be a post Roger Waters Pink Floyd feel in some parts of the music. 

Pink Floyd is always an influence to our music and this time maybe a bit more than before. We are all great Floyd fans in the band and as we came up with this concept we maybe had to think of Dark Side Of The Moon or The Wall a bit, haha! Other than that I don’t think there are certain musical influences besides the stuff we hear in our private lives and that’s very different for any member of the band. 

Do you think there could narrative sequels to this album? There is scope for something grand beyond the grandeur on How Do We Want To Live?

If you mean if there will be a “HDWWTL?” Part 2 at some point in time: why not? You never know? There will always be progress and new things to learn in the future; it keeps being interesting.

Do you have any plans to bring the album to life in the live arena when the world is safer?

Of course! We have a tour lined up in Germany for September and we really hope we can do it somehow and of course we also want to bring the album to other countries sometime soon!

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How do you feel that concerts will be staged in the immediate future? The uncertainty has got to be huge for yourselves as a band.

It’s a nightmare! We hope there will be good and doable concepts for shows very soon, otherwise the whole culture industry will suffer a lot or even die.

Has the lockdown helped creativity or hampered it?

I would say it has helped more than hampered it.  You are forced to be creative and there was also more time to think and to go more into detail I think that ever before.

What would your top 5 conceptual albums of all time be?

  1. Pink Floyd – The Wall
  2. Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime
  3. The Alan Parsons Project – I Robot
  4. Rush – 2112
  5. Dredg – El Cielo

A huge thank you to Jan for taking the time to answer our questions. How Do We Want To Live? will be released on June 26th. It is a wonderful album and one that will be on rotation among the team at At The Barrier for a long time. We will have a review of the album in due course so be sure to follow At The Barrier on Twitter here, and like us on Facebook here. We really appreciate your support.

Check out the amazing video for Voices from Long Distance Calling, below.

Long Distance Calling: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

You can follow At The Barrier on Twitter here, and like us on Facebook here. We really appreciate your support.

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