Long Distance Calling | Interview with Jan Hoffmann

[Long Distance Calling]

Long Distance Calling is a five-piece from Germany that plays a beautifully dark and progressive-tinged instrumental music that for lack of a more suitable description, is often tagged as post-rock and lumped in with other bands like Pelican, Russian Circles and Isis. However, Long Distance Calling’s songs touch a much wider and boarder assortment of musical genres. Their second record “Avoid the Light” is heavily textured with progressive traits, drenched with dark and melancholic ambiences and simultaneously displaying gentle, emotional melodies and heavy-loud riffs.
SCRATCHtheSurface approached the band through email to try to figure the nature of their sonority and started asking bassist Jan Hoffmann if he thinks that due to the lack of vocals, writers hastily place Long Distance Calling within the post-rock canon?

“First of all, thanks for the flowers! We really try to stay outside the typical post rock circle but like you said, we are mostly tagged as a post rock band even though we don’t think we are. Of course you can compare us to it, but we definitely have a much wider range of musical styles, rhythms and yes, we are hailing the riff! :) And of course we have this electronic ‘colours’ added to our sound so I believe that we have our own sound.”

Although Long Distance Calling does share some musical traits with the aforementioned acts, the German group has their own musical identity that is way more difficult to pigeonhole. How would say Long Distance Calling fit in the current musical scene?

“That’s a good question! Of course we are no mainstream band and although we’re pretty experimental, we are astonished that we pull a really diverse audience, from indie fans to black metal kids, from rock fans to older prog-rock fans. That’s awesome!”

Like many groups that end up treading the instrumental route, Long Distance Calling initial plan was to find a singer that could fit in their musical framework, which was something that didn’t come through, despite a few tryouts. Would you consider looking out for a singer again in the future or do you think there’s not much room for vocals in Long Distance Calling at the moment?

“We are thinking of a singer pretty much, but we aren’t really looking for one. We believe it will fall into place or it won’t happen, you know? If it should happen, it will happen. If not, not. :) The songs work without vocals, but we are still open to give it a try when we meet the ‘right guy’.”

Knowing how singers can often turn into some eccentric prima-donnas with big rock star egos do you think it is somewhat liberating not having to deal with a singer?

“Definitely yes!:)”

Although Long Distance Calling’s music is absent of words, it talks to listeners as if it is describing a narrative through beats, riffs and melodies, displaying distinct moods and emotions. Can you tell us what inspires a Long Distance Calling song?

“That’s really difficult to answer...life itself is inspiring all of us. We are completely different characters within this band but once we got together in this room we just let it happen, that’s pretty magic sometimes. Of course there are days where nothing really happens, but this is the way we are writing our songs from the beginning.”

And how do you feel the new album “Avoid the Light” differs from its predecessor “Satellite Bay”?

“Well, I think it’s just better songs. All bands say that but when you listen to both albums you will recognize that we became better musicians and of course better songwriters. It’s more diverse, more dynamic and more colourful than ‘Satellite Bay’, but I still really like that album. It reflects exactly where we have been and who we were at that time. You can hear that we didn’t waste a single thought how it should sound or what we are doing, we just did it. ‘Avoid The Light’ is more mature and fresh at the same time and we tried to step outside the circle.”

Just like its predecessor, which had Peter Dolving from Swedish thrash-metal group The Haunted singing on ‘Built Without Hands”, “Avoid the Light” also features a vocalized theme. This time, Long Distance Calling invited Jonas Renkse from Katatonia to lend his melancholic and ethereal voice to “The Nearer Grave”. One of the most fascinating and addictive songs I’ve heard lately. How did you end up choosing Jonas Renske to guest on “Avoid the Light” and how did it happen?

“The song is called ‘The Nearing Grave’ :) (Oops, my mistake! Ed.) I love that song, every time I am listening to it, I can’t believe it’s us, really. One of us met Jonas before and had some email contact from time to time. We are all a lot into Katatonia so we just asked him to be a guest on the new album and he said yes, that’s it! I think he fits perfectly to the song and it adds another flavour to the album. Why not doing a vocal song if you want to?”

More info at: www.myspace.com/longdistancecalling