I always felt that having spent several years of my early childhood growing up and living in Vienna, I had a link to this city and it’s culture. Regularly returning to visit family and friends even after I had moved back to the UK. I remember being amused at always hearing the same tunes from the 80’s like‚Take on Me’ every time i took the bus from the Airport into the city centre.
Why was it that I never heard some decent original Austrian pop tunes that weren’t solely Oom-pa-pa music designed to be played to drunken crowds at a beer festival tent or Falco (don’t get me wrong I do love me a bit of ‘Rock me Amadeus’).
In the last year I realised that in the last 15 years since of taking that bus ride (I have now upgraded to the train may I add) there has been a slow and gradual evolution in the contemporary Austrian music scene, that is more than Falco or Kruder & Dorfmeister .
One band that has come to my attention the last year has been Zeronic. Originally hailing from the Burgenland region of Austria, bordering with Hungary, Zeronic have been busting out tunes together for more than 12 years now, since they were proverbial sand-pit buddies. Childhood friends who musically and stylistically exude an anglophile edge,emulating their idols – Bowie, Talking Heads and with a smattering of 90’s Brit pop. In this time they have accomplished a lot: Working with Gareth Jones, toured Austria, Germany and the UK extensively, and have been nominated twice for Best Alternative Act at the Austrian Music awards.
Three albums on they are about to release their most mature and accomplished work to date, The Price of Zeitgeist. It Twins intelligent songwriting with light up beat catchy pop melodies you can dance around your handbag to.
I sat down with the sleekly groomed Mik Tanczos (lead singer and songwriter) to pick his brains:
Bassma Fattal: How do you keep it fresh and exciting musically with your band mates after 12 years of performing together? It’s like a marriage in a way, what do you do to keep the ‘passion’ alive?
Mik Tanczos: We are a “best friends” band, that makes it very easy to have fun being together. I can´t imagine playing in another band – so no affairs and no warning signs of divorce. It´s a Hollywood marriage with quite successful and beautiful kids. When it comes to music, the best way to keep it exciting is to write a lot of new songs. It is always a magic moment when you rehearse a new song for the first time.
BF: Do you see the Price of Zeitgeist as being the natural evolution in your sound or a conscientious departure from your last 2 albums?
MT: I think it´s a kind of conscientious departure, because we wanted to change a lot in our songwriting and sound. We wanted to get rid of heavy guitars and include acoustic guitars, but at the same time we also wanted to speed up and make an uptempo album with glamourous pop singles. Lyricwise this is the first Zeronic album where I feel that the lyrics really reflect what I wanted to say. On the two previous records, I was afraid to show too much of the real me and hid behind ambivalent lyrics and phrases. Now it´s the real thing.
BF: Do you feel that the timing for the release of the album is coincidentally fortuitous, as it very literally captures the zeitgeist of our current cultural climate?
MT: Yes, that´s a very wicked thing. When I wrote the title track “The Price of Zeitgeist” and lyrics like “they did not manage to compete the neo-liberal disease” there was no sign of a crisis in the financial markets or anything. I will be very cautious about my lyrics in the future.
BF: Where do you hope see The Price of Zeitgeist taking you?
MT: We’ll see. I am really trying not to push it too much. Things will happen when the time is right. This is the first album that I am really proud of, because it is a very honest piece of pop. If people feel the same way, it might lead to something good.
BF: I love the video that accompanies current single. For me it conjures up a nostalgic Commodore 64 feeling, and a time where the world was more innocent and positive. Do you as a songwriter lean more towards a sentimentalised view of the past? And if so how do you feel about the present and future?
MT: It’s funny that you and a lot of other people get the feeling that it is meant to be a C64 look. That was not the intention, we just wanted to translate the lyrics into pictures as directly as possible. That´s why we used the letters to form the pictures. By the way I never had a C64, I was a Nintendo boy. I once held the European record in a fantastic game called “Match Rider”, one of the best moments in my life. 😉
At some time in my life I thought I had to get rid of that childish innocence and positivity. But doing that makes you hard, cynical and disillusioned. Now I am struggling to get back a bit of that innocent feeling. For me it´s most important to get pleasure from the small and simple things in life. If I can retain that, I am not afraid of the future.
BF: If you could have one musician/artist that you admired listen to this album who would it be and why?
MT:I guess it would be David Byrne, because he has such a perfect sense for combining sharp content and pop music.
The Price of Zeitgeist will is available on itunes as of the 20.02.2009.
For more information and tour dates you can log on to www.zeronic.net
The ubercool video for The Price of Zeitgeist