A turbulent, impassioned outpouring of feverish emotion and unrelenting alternative rock, Blackout Problems’ DARK is the dynamic and unapologetic soundtrack 2021 needs.
Stream: “MURDERER” – Blackout Problems
Munich’s Blackout Problems held nothing back when approaching their third full length record.
In a world where stylizing your songs in all lowercase has become the “fashionable” (or “cool”) thing to do, the German hard rock band went full Caps Lock on their songs – a subtle choice that accentuates the energy and urgency coursing through every moment of their new music. A turbulent, impassioned outpouring of feverish emotion and unrelenting alternative rock, Blackout Problems’ DARK is the dynamic and unapologetic soundtrack 2021 needs. It’s an honest and intense record of reckoning and letting go, social critique and personal growth, outer change and inner reflection.
Fridays are for murderers
Get your shotgun out, get your shotgun out
Take your dreams to the streets now
Get your shotgun out, get your shotgun out
The best politician is a dead one
Get your shotgun out, get your shotgun out
And books burn best when they’re freshly pressed
Get the fires out, get your lighters out
You see the soles of our shoes, we’re still marching on
You can’t stop us now; no you can’t stop us now
Every step we make, you can’t take from us
There’s not a step we make that you could take from us
You say the best politician is a dead one
But your books burn best when they’re freshly pressed
Get the fires out, I’ll get my lighters out
– “MURDERERS,” Blackout Problems
Released January 15, 2021 via Sony Music / Music For Nations, DARK is true to its name – and yet, it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. “It just felt like it summed up the music and the lyrics at the same time,” the band says of the title itself. A naturally intense album, DARK is a reflection of the times we’re living through. The four-piece of Mario Radetzky (vocals, guitar), Marcus Schwarzbach (vocals, bass), Michael Dreilich (drums), and Moritz Hammrich (vocals, guitar), Blackout Problems have always written self-aware lyrics with punk leanings. Their latest LP – their first on a major label – is also their most cohesive, experimental, and finessed offering to date.
“We started writing songs for this record back in 2018,” the band says. “If only we would have known what a long journey and what a crazy time was ahead. These last couple of years were so intense for all of us, not only in a private and personal way, but also globally. I’ve always thought that our grandparents or parents had an interesting time to be alive, but as it turns out our generation is in the midst of an interesting era. In the midst of which we wrote more and more songs, which finally came out in January. So I think the story behind DARK is pretty simple – it’s an attempt or rather an essence of what’s it’s like to be aware of what’s happening all around us at the moment.”
“We don’t have a real vision when starting with the writing process. We have to write a few songs and then take a step back and look at what we’ve got. Then and there the first concepts evolve, but we never plan a record before having some songs. The look of everything else like the artwork, the videos, the picture and so on are inspired by the music.”
[Dark] captures us as a band in 2021. I hope that it captures our will to change, to go further and to express ourselves in a pretty open kind of way without any genre-boundaries.
From the very first lines of DARK‘s provocative opener “MURDERER,” Blackout Problems spellbind with songs that melt emotion and politics – speaking to the unrest and upheaval of the late 2010s. “As far as it comes to the lyrics, I think they represent a lot of emotion – but there’s also opinion that is sometimes in-between the lines, and sometimes right in your face,” the band’s Mario Radetzky says. “I try not to differentiate between personal and political lyrics and try to melt them together if possible, because all political things are always connected with personal things. Political decisions often, if not always, affect people.”
The vocalist goes on to highlight “Darling,” the record’s fourth track, as one of his personal favorites. “What I love most about this record is that every song is different from the other and if I had to choose one part than I would probably say the long outro of ‘Darling‘. That’s something we would do live, but we had never done this on a record until DARK. It’s seven minutes long and to be honest I have no idea why we don’t do this more often.”
And yet, Radetzky agrees that one of the best facets of this dynamic, expansive album is that it has a little something for everyone.
“I hope people will take away whatever they need. If you need someone to tell you to not give up, if you need someone who understands life is not always that easy, or if you just need someone to spend some time with when you’re isolated, I hope you’ll find that. As for the releasing and creating part: I loved the feedback we got on this record by our listeners. They really got us, and that’s what matters. Thanks again for giving this record a listen and hope to see you as soon as possible.”
DARK may be a volatile set of songs, but beneath the sheer energy is an album full of light, passion, and feeling.
From the throttled, explosive anthem “Germany, Germany” and the downtempo glaze of “HOUSEONFIRE” to the engulfing pulse of title track “DARK,” the sheer uproar of “DRIVEBY,” and the pure passion and heart-on-sleeve sincerity churning throughout “LOVERS,” Blackout Problems made DARK their most human, accessible, and intimate collection yet. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Blackout Problems’ DARK with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their invigorating third LP!
DARK is out now on RCA Deutschland / Sony Music Germany.
Stream: ‘Dark’ – Blackout Problems
:: Inside DARK ::
The song ‘MURDERER’ was inspired by the death of a German politician. He got murdered in his garden by a right-wing fanatic. Being devastated and pissed off about such stuff happening in Germany in 2019 was the fuel that fired the song in the beginning. The first verse was a freestyle, it just came out as it is now. Despite the aggressive timbre, we wanted to make it unmistakably clear that once you get all your bad feelings out of your system, you need to recharge your batteries with a positive feeling.
We wrote this one in June 2019 and recorded it four times to actually get it to where it is right now. I remember us recording drums for this track on tour in Bristol where we played The Trinity Church that year when we’d been on tour with Royal Republic. We decided to play the song live and we added these drum parts that we wanted to record on tour. Then again we recorded it in our practice space and at Ghost City recording studios, but the recording that finally made the record was done at The Toolhouse Studios. So I guess, sometimes it’s good to take some time to get it right in the end.
The vibe of the song came about from a remix I started doing on the MPC on the backseat of our van while driving to Sweden, this day was only spent driving, because it’s a damn long way from Munich to Stockholm. According to a famous map on the internet, it’s an 18 hour and 39 minute drive. After crossing the border to Sweden we spent the night in a small town, where we could get a cheap hotel and some rest. When we arrived, I was still pressing buttons and remixing our song ‘9/11’ at the hotel the whole night.
I love that the vibe somehow made it into the record, and that this vibe came about on the backseat while travelling, because every time we play the song I think about two friends I spent my time in school with. After finishing school we took a wonderful inter air trip throughout Europe. It was such a wonderful trip. I remember us sitting on the beach in Barcelona talking to people who’ve been on the road for ten years and are still travelling the world. I understood how important travelling is to see some parts of the world you didn’t know before, and especially to connect with people you had no idea that existed. For us, growing up in a really, really small village, it was so amazing to get out of this mostly pretty boring area and get to see what’s happening out there.
I kind of think we were talking about doing such a trip again, but we never did it – life just happened. Everybody grew up, and I think that my friends turned out really great. One is a doctor in Switzerland, and the other is in Singapore having a wonderful family. Although I might not write or call as often as I should, I keep them in mind every time we play this one.
‘GERMANY GERMANY’ took a long time to write, and right before we needed to pack up our instruments to go to the studio we solved the mystery and came up with an arrangement of the song that suited everybody and turned out really good. We’ve tried everything – we’ve had so many different arrangements, but what the song had been missing was the impact of the whole band, so once we got that right everything was fine and we were ready to go to the studio.
As a kid, I never had identified myself as a German or thought about my nationality in any kind of way. It simply didn’t matter where I was from, and my parents raised me as an open minded little fellow. My dad worked with a lot of people from all over the place and they came by for dinner every once in a while, and it never mattered where they were from. But when I moved to Austria and went to school there I was confronted with being “the German kid” every day. It started when I was 10 years old and I was excluded from groups and getting the feeling of not belonging there. And it took on from there until I had finished school and moved to Munich. It never left my mind.
Nationalities are a weird thing. I mean, you can’t choose where you’re born and raised. But, in 2021, people still reduce other people to their nationality, gender, race, religion or whatsoever. Let’s face it – this is bullshit. For me, experiencing that in school taught me something that the actual lessons couldn’t teach me at all. Despite what I’ve experienced, my optimism was still way too big to get disturbed by some mean comments by some idiots.
So when I was 16, I felt like racism was something ancient – something that is over, something that books talk about to teach us about history. Shouldn’t we know it better? Oh well, growing up a little more my optimism got a pretty rough reality check. I believe humanity can overcome racism. It’s pretty optimistic, and there’s a long way to go, but realising that at least in theory there’s an actual chance of living in a world without racism, because it is something made by humankind and it can also be stopped by humankind, keeps me motivated.
I loved writing and recording ‘DARLING’. It was so much fun because it painted a clear picture of my trip to New York, which I loved a lot. I was visiting a friend of mine and had a wonderful time over there. Just packing my suitcase in between coming back from our first UK support tour and the start of our KAOS tour in 2018, was such a good getaway from personal shit I needed to leave behind for a little while. And to be honest, I never really took the time to do something for me, and such a trip was the perfect opportunity. It was so inspiring seeing my friend living there and experiencing the rhythm of the city and the mindset of the few people I met there.
We wrote ‘DARLING’ in a session with our friend Sebastian, who’s also known as Geister and does great electronic music. I remember working on the verse when I went to another room, sat down on the piano, came up with the chorus and told the guys “so here’s the thing, we need to blend these two parts together ‘cause I’m pretty sure this chorus is one of the best I could come up with.” I love that it worked out. Production-wise, I also love that we went with the long outro. This is something we’d do live, but not on record, so we thought “why not, let’s try it. Let’s try to get more of the live feeling on record and just go with it.” I hope you have a lot of fun listening to this one.
Believe it or not, but I tend to forget a lot about writing songs. Sometimes I have no idea how we came up with stuff so I talked to the other guys about “how did we write ‘HOUSEONFIRE’?” I’m not 100% sure but I think ‘HOUSEONFIRE’ was at least partly written in our practice space after a practice where the guys left and I stayed a little longer.
I think I built the loop on the computer and I played it through an old synth amp, which has something like four inputs. So I had one input for the loop and I had one for the MPC, and I programmed the drums and the bass on the MPC. I kept playing that loop for a long time, and it gave me a chance to write the first verse of the lyrics. I just kept walking up and down in the practice space, just singing along to the loop. The instrumental is pretty stripped down so it leaves enough space for the vocals.
‘DARK’ was one of the last songs we wrote. I remember us being pretty annoyed back then. I don’t know the current situation in the band, but we had seemingly endless conferences and calls about some problems, maybe the progress of the record or maybe something else, I don’t really remember, but we always met up after these long conversations that had no good outcome.
So we changed that routine, and started our morning with a band practice at 9am. I brought in some chords I was playing the day before and we immediately started jamming. I love it when we don’t need to talk and just play our instruments. I think at 11 we had finished writing the first draft of the song and it became one of our favourites.
I remember there were two versions of this song. One with the strong force of the floor kick drum that reminded us of a Euro-dance song that had some kind of modern vibe to it – I quite liked it, but when we were recording the drums for it in the studio, we decided last minute to go with the half time feel so I think it was definitely more suitable for the topic and the vibe of the song.
I know I said that before in the DARK DAYS documentary but I gotta say it again, seeing Greta on the news gave me a strange feeling. Somehow it encouraged me, and somehow it made me sad because I was reminded of how I was when I was 16, and I felt like I was light years away from what teens are capable of doing these days. It wasn’t like I wasn’t interested in what was going on back then – it was more like I wouldn’t have thought that we could be the kids who’d make a difference and open some eyes. It didn’t cross our minds that we could go any further, organise a protest or do something like that.
Now we’ve got songwriting, and having songwriting as the main outlet for all of our or my feelings, it was pretty clear that we wanted to have such a song on the record that was inspired by these kids who do it – who go on the streets and organise protests, march on the streets for a better tomorrow.
‘DRIVEBY’ is one of these songs that came about without a real plan. We wrote this one on a rainy day in Berlin – it was a great moment to get out of Munich and spend some time in the capital with old friends and be creative in the midst of it all. Sometimes, you just come up with stuff that is waiting in your sub-consciousness and you just start to bring it up by writing down whatever comes to your mind. It happened not only once that the lines I came with made sense later one. So take for instance the chorus line, “I don’t get your ignorance.” I could apply this one to a lot of things happening right now.
‘LOVERS’ was originally named after a small town on the coast of the Netherlands where we spent some days during our trip tour in January. We tried to work on the song there but we couldn’t really decide whether it should make the record or not.
A few weeks later a friend of ours came by the studio and we showed him some songs. We wanted to just hang out and maybe write some tunes together, which we didn’t really end up doing besides this one Coldplay sounding song we did, which I stumbled upon a few months later and had a good laugh about that one. But what we did was hanging around talking about the current playlist of the record, where ‘LOVERS’ was not included. After showing him this track he was totally stoked, and motivated us to finish it up. It was probably the last one we finished up.
‘SEVEN’ might be one of the poppiest tracks on DARK but when you think about it, it’s also one of the most experimental songs we did. With only using the falsetto voice in the verses and Moritz singing the chorus in a low voice, it’s really different from all the other tracks. I was sick and I couldn’t really sing, that’s why I hummed the song to Mo and he started singing the main vocals in the chorus. It felt great, so we just went with it. He has two very nice sweet spots in his voice – one is his screaming voice, and the other one is a chilled and really relaxed voice that he uses in this chorus for example.
This is a perfect example of our will to change our sound and experiment with everything we’ve got. Not to achieve anything else than just expressing ourselves in every possible way. Yes, there might be a few people hating our constant changing soundscapes and we really took that to another level on this record, but we needed to feel free and to try out growing in different directions. Despite the fact that we’ve been a band for quite a long time, we still feel like being on a journey to ourselves, and every song we write and everything we try is helping us get there bit by bit. We inch our way through the mist in hope to find ourselves somewhere along this journey.
‘FIREMAN’ was one of the first songs we wrote in a small cabin in Austria right after finishing the KAOS tour in December 2018. Sadly, this is not the first song I’ve written about a person I’ve lost.
My sister’s first kid was diagnosed with cancer. He had a tumour in his head, and the doctors were losing hope. Although this might make you lose your hope as well, my little boy really did everything he could to stay alive, fight the disease and still had a laugh on his face. Seeing his energy was amazing, and I think kids can do incredible things.
Experiencing something like that is heartbreaking, but also heartwarming, because of the way my sister, her boyfriend and their little boy were handling the situation. They outgrew themselves, and took great care of each other. I sang at his funeral and afterwards my sister asked me to record the song. It wasn’t this one, it was some kids’ song about birds he loved, but I thought he needed his own song, and I sincerely hope she still likes it.
The female vocals on ‘HEAVEN’ are from Leoni Klinger, one half of the girl duo Umme Block, a Munich based band we really love. I am so happy she’s on this track because while recording I had a feeling that she really got into the song, which should not mean that she got my story behind it, and she never asked about it, but that she made up her own thoughts and feelings which fitted the mood of the track. Her voice is incredible, so it’s an honour to have her on.
Although ‘HEAVEN’ is such a short, little and quiet piece, it’s a key song on the record and something that is very important for the story that’s been told over the course of our records. It was always supposed to be on the record, and I couldn’t imagine not having this one on the playlist.
Think of it as a breather, like a little meditation, where you dig really deep inside of yourselves to see what the status quo looks like. Sadly, I am sure you’ve experienced some bad stuff over the course of your life, and I’m pretty sure a lot of you can relate to that, but after a tough phase in your life you sometimes look back on stuff that seemed impossible to handle. But you did it – you might not have gotten any stronger by it, but you survived. You’re still here. It sometimes even makes you who you are.
It’s funny how often the title of this record appears, unfolding its different meanings and revealing its many faces. That, in fact, was something that wasn’t intended – it happened naturally. The drums and bass parts of the verse evolved from another song we wrote which was called ‘EASY’. We haven’t released this one and probably never will, but sometimes you have to get stuff out of your system to be able to do something you really wanna do.
We decided to wrap up the record with ‘GHOSTS’ which is a funny thing, because it somehow feels like a song to start something with. The lyrics kind of combine the personal and global topics of the record. “In the dark I light a house, it used to be a home for the both of us” and “the world might go down, but I’ll go with her for the both of us” – but since I don’t want to put too many clear pictures into your head, see for yourselves which pictures and feelings come to your mind. Close your eyes, take a breath and dive deep into the dark.
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📸 © 2021
:: Stream Blackout Problems ::