You grew up in Laurel, MD. What was the music scene like for you as a kid?
You were either into Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush and Led Zeppelin or the punk scene with Fugazi, Minor Threat and Jawbox. I got stuck in between the two. Our generation in this area spanned people who would listen to the Grateful Dead and Fugazi at the same time.
Why did you move to the German Alps 22 years ago?
My band, Sorry About Your Daughter, got a record deal with a German record label. We used to tour over there. The band broke up in 1996, and I was just spinning my wheels in Maryland. In 1999, I got an invitation from an old tour manager who invited me over there. I went to Germany with no plan. It was kind of like a roller coaster. Sometimes a lot of things happened. Sometimes nothing happened. I just really enjoyed the change of scenery. The change of pace and in the quality of life. I decided to stay.
Was that a culture shock to you?
For the first ten years or so, I felt like I was on vacation the whole time. A lot of people spoke English, or broken English. I was trying hard to learn. I would have dreams at night with these long German words I had heard during the day appearing in my dreams. I would wake up and ask, “What does that mean?” I had to figure it out. It was more of a culture shock when I took the first trip back to Maryland.
What drew you to the guitar in the first place?
I was learning piano from five years old to about age twelve. Then my “Cool Uncle” was living in New York. He turned me on to Pink Floyd, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He was moving out of Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and he had an old electric guitar. He asked me if I wanted it. And when I grabbed that thing I thought, ‘This is it! This is the object of coolness.’ From there on I was in love.
You are bringing Ape Shifter to North America for the first time, and the band lineup has changed.
Ape Shifter started off with the lineup that played on the two albums (Aug, Florian Walter on bass, Kurty Munch on drums), but coming over to North America, it’s just impossible to get foreign musicians into the U.S. without having mega bucks behind you. The cost of the work permit applications alone is $3,000 to $4,000 each. Just to apply. Also, the idea was, if I am doing this, I need some name players because nobody knows the name Ape Shifter.