[sic] Magazine

Dead Guitars – Monchengladbach

Dead Guitars have new songs. They’re written, they’re recorded, they just need mastering and then they can be unleashed. 2011 could just be worth getting up for after all, except that I haven’t heard any of the new material. Not one song. Not a single bar. So the opportunity of catching the bands final gig of the year was too good to miss.


I’ve seen this band in venues ranging from bunker size to arenas and they are always superb. Tonight is no exception as they launch right away into a new ‘old’ song. Some of the younger faces amongst the audience could be forgiven for thinking ‘Dead Guitars’ is a new Dead Guitars song. It is actually older than the bands oldest output. The song is from a previous project Carlo van Putten put together with Adrian Borland of The Sound called White Rose Transmission . It can be found on the album 700 Miles Of Desert and it is a nugget. It certainly works well as a set-opener.


As you tend to find with all good bands, the individuals make fascinating watching. Patrick manages to produce an interesting, muffled sound from his drums. His rhythm section partner Sven-Olaf remains locked in furious concentration on bass duty. Together they make few, if any mistakes, although I do recall an earlier occasion when Se7en (Sven) accidentally skipped part of ‘Blue’, a segment which just happened to be Carlo’s favourite part to sing. I think he may have been in the ‘naughty corner’ after that particular show but tonight Se7en is heroic.


Carlo himself is the poet. His work has often made me think of a marriage between performance art and poetry, perhaps because he doesn’t play an instrument? (Unless you count the brief thrashes of air guitar he allows himself when he turns away from the audience). He also leaves the stage rather a lot making the whole show feel like a series of encores. Personally I rather like this. I think this must be due to the added importance I tend to attribute to entrances and exits. I’m the same with records. You’ll often find discussion of opening and closing tracks on my review pieces. I’m not sure why? First and last impressions I suppose?

One of Carlos ‘disappearances’ isn’t exactly planned though. The frontman somehow manages to trip over guitarist Pete Brough’s pedal array, flying spectacularly into a mass of cables just off stage. It’s only rock and roll, though (and we like it). Pete feigns mock concern over his wine, (which was punted God knows where in the process) and the two men spend the next couple of songs teasing each other. There’s a real friendship here. Not only the band themselves, but the whole venue. Of course Monchengladbach represents something of a homecoming show, at least for Pete and Ralf. The audience is warm and appreciative. The venue has decent sound and I’ll certainly go back there. As for the new songs, I’m loathe to judge anything on first listen but going out on a limb I’ll call them ‘laid back’ sounding. I’m looking to the new album to bear me out on this. It promises to be gorgeous.

Ralfonzo n Carlo

For the bulk of tonights set the band lean more towards their debut, Airplanes than the more recent Flags. ‘The Great Escape’, ‘Crumple Zone’, ‘Name Of The Sea’…. all delivered with the assuredness of old hands. I thought ‘Crash’ was stunning but ‘Cruel’ managed to top it. Then in an impromptu second encore, ‘This Was A Year’, was nothing sort of triumphant.


The final word goes to Dead Guitars cult figure, Ralf Aussem , guitarist, producer, art director and all round Genius. Aussem could make any reasonably creative person jealous, except you don’t really feel that way because he’s so likeable. Up on stage with the rest of Dead Guitars, part of a guitar duo, Aussem still cuts an isolatory figure. It’s as if he’s cordoned off in his own little world. What goes on in the kingdom of Ralfonzo , I wonder? I know one thing, Ralf is his own worse critic and seems genuinely unaware of how good he really is. I caught him after the show: “Great gig Ralf” ; I mentioned and for a second I thought I’d made a breakthrough. A flicker of acceptance crossed his face, the merest hint of acquiescence and the slightest nod of agreement. Then the light in Ralf’s eyes diminished, the nod became a weary shake of the head. “It was chaos up there” , he remarked by way of reply before shuffling off and I realized he had slammed the door shut once again.

With Ralf it is partly an act and partly his truth. It is the very same way with the music of Dead Guitars.

~Band photography by Luna.~

Dead Guitars

Brett Spaceman’s photoshoot