ANFOL otherwise known as ‘A New Form Of Life’ was founded during 2013 by a young talented drummer, Karl Schaier and his trusted manager Sandro Lemmen. Influenced by the greats such as: Blink 182, Sum 41, Green Day, The Offspring, All Time Low, Goldfinger and Tenacious D, ANFOL provides classic college rock.
The band consists of a very close network where everyone plays an important role. The musicians are of course Karl Schaier (Drums & Founder), Carlos Eduardo Alarcon (Lead Guitar), Marius Bernhardt (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar) and Benno Bernhardt (Bass).
The bands brains and organizer is Sandro Lemmen (Manager & Founder). Sandro is an experienced entrepreneur who has played in bands, managed bands and managed several businesses before his work with Karl and ANFOL, which makes him a great pick for the group. The press representative is Dr. Daniela Völker. Stefan Spiess is in control of Social Media Marketing.
During the month of 2013, ANFOL recorded their Debut E.P at La Villa – Creative Studios, Cote D’Azur. The project was produced by the well-known Damien Morvan seen before with ‘The Voice’/ ‘France’s Got Talent-candidates, and also with Clive Martin (from Stereophonics, Dolly, Superbus, Queen and Pop Idol).
After performing at several locations including the ‘Backstage’, Munich and the ‘Hardrock Cafe, Munich, the groups online fan-base grew to above 5,200 strong. Then came a great day for ANFOL, the team released their debut E.P. ‘A New Form Of Life’ in over 200 online stores, such as iTunes, Amazon, Play Store, Juno, Spotify and many more. Then in December 2013, they made the official music video for their smash hit ‘The Pop Song’, with Micaela Schäfer. It was then released in June 2014. Since then, the group has been involved in many gigs, got more solid fans to their movement and released their smash single ‘Reach The Sky’.
- How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Karl Schaier (Drums & Founder): I’m playing the drums since 2004; the only one in my family who is musical [laughing]. Just like the typical drummer cliché I started to hit my moms cooking pots. In 2004, very late for a kid, my father asked me if I want to have some drum lessons. One year later I had my first band. The rest is past.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon (Lead Guitar): When I was seven years old. I started guitar lessons, but my hands were really small and the rhythms and music were traditional Colombian folk. Not really a good start to motivate a kid, so I quit and 5 years later I started again, teaching myself and with friends.
Marius Bernhardt (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar): My first instrument was the flute! I started to play it because my mum wanted me to, but after all that was the beginning of my musical life! I started to play the classic guitar at the age of 11 and switched to electric guitar at the age of 15, I think. At the age of 18 I became the lead singer of my first band.
Benno Bernhardt (Bass): I started to play the piano when I was six years old, and I learned to play Mozart and Beethoven most. When I grew older I learned to play rock and I recognized that I couldn’t play an important role with my bass piano skills. I always loved and recognized the important role of the bass line of piano, so I wanted to be able to play the bass, because for a song it’s the most important thing to get a song sound amazing. I started to play the bass when I was 17 and practised a lot, all without a teacher because I knew the music I really love can’t be taught by a teacher… You have to feel and learn it yourself.
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Karl Schaier: Nirvana, Guns ‘n Roses, Green Day, Moby, Lenny Kravitz, AC/DC
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Music from the Andes; a mixture from sounds of Peru and Bolivia. A really life affirming music. Afterwards, Spanish rock such as Soda Stereo, Caifanes, Aterciopelados and Ekhymosis.
Marius Bernhardt: My brother Benno. Since the moment he was able to speak he started to sing all the time and didn’t stop until now – more or less comfortable… [laughing]
Benno Bernhardt: Sum41, Green Day, Mucc, Fall out Boy, Jimmy Eat World.
- Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anybody you’d like to collaborate with?
Karl Schaier: Frank Sinatra, Meat Loaf, Kid Rock, Biffy Clyro, Coldplay, Foo fighters, Muse, Lenny Kravitz, 30 Seconds To Mars, Iimmy Eat World, Chuck Ragan
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Right now I listen carefully to the Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age and The Killers. I would love to work with Kasabian.
Marius Bernhardt: In my spare time I like to listen to electronic music like “Klangkarussell”. But also Biffy Clyro, Wolf Maahn and Eskimo Callboy are some of my favorite bands at the moment! If I would have the chance, I’d love to collaborate with SUM41, my all time favorite band.
Benno Bernhardt: The Boxer Rebellion, Sohn, Lana del Rey… Definitively all of them
- Describe the first piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased. And which is the one piece of hardware or software you’re still looking to add to your collection now?
Karl Schaier: An old drum set from a family’s friend for 200 euros. I had this set for 9 years.
Now I want to buy a sample pad for some new freaky pop sounds for the band.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: I decided to save some money and give some private Chemistry lessons. Finally I bought a Washburn X-24, with a Randall amp X-15 series. I remembered I was strongly thinking about buying an iPod. At the end I made a better choice.
Marius Bernhardt: My flute. At the moment I’m looking for a new guitar amp.
Benno Bernhardt: The first Musical equipment was an electric Piano from a discounter or something like that. I always loved music with spherical elements with synthesizers. So one of the next equipment will be a simple synthesizer, to be able to combine the instruments I can’t play with the music I love to play.
- Tell us something about your current hardware/software and instrument setup?
Karl Schaier: One year ago I bought a Gretsch Brooklyn Rock set in satin black… so for the next 10 years I don’t need a new one.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: My lineup consist of a Fender Telecaster ’72, the classic Roland JC-120 and a Boss GT-100. Recently I got an original Gibson explorer ’76 Limited Edition “Baseball neck”. This guitar has got a beautiful history, because due to a mistake in the pickguard a Gibson employer bought it cheaper and sold it later to a studio producer in the EEUU. In this studio Johnny Deep made some records with this Explorer and Kevin “Geordie” Walker, the guitarist of Killing Joke, signed it in the rear part of the neck. After 28 years it is still like new and has an awesome sound. Right now I’m playing with delay effects and I’m going to try the space and delay multi effects from Eventide to enhance the colors of our ANFOL sound.
Marius Bernhardt: Most of the time I’m playing my Gibson Studio with a Roland Cube Box. For composing I use Cubase Elements 7.
Benno Bernhardt: I’m playing a Japanese Kawasami bass, combined with a Hartke top and box. For home studioing I got some stuff. I got a studio piano, midi audio interface, a mini synth, a mic and even some cables.
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Karl Schaier: All of it is awesome, but I think: performing and interacting with a live audience.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Personally I like all of it and when we work with the band we try to make a balance between music writing and gigs. I like when we just start jamming and we synchronize ourselves in the same frequency. Every flow is something natural and the feeling is special. But, on the other hand, I really love to be on stage and give all to my audience. Every song has a personality and every song has something special. You realize that when you are listening and feel it live.
Marius Bernhardt: Both, kinda…I love to work in the studio and get good results, but after all: performing live, doing a great show and watching the people dancing and singing your songs is the best experience a musician can have I think!
Benno Bernhardt: Definitively performing and interacting with our live audience.
- Which one of your original songs gets your adrenalin running the most, when performing in front of an audience?
Karl Schaier: All of them!
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: As I mentioned before, every song has a personality, so each one lets me feel different emotions, even if is a ballade. But as a Latin guy, I am very passionate and this year we opened a concert with ‘It feels like’ what is a good combination of punk/rock that woke me up and told me: -Hey Carlos we already started the gig, let’s go and kick some ass and enjoy the night!
Marius Bernhardt: Ueberkrass and Good bye.
Benno Bernhardt: The new stuff, because we needed time to find together and we are getting closer and closer to our own style.
- On which one of your songs do you feel you delivered your personal best performance so far, from a technical point of view?
Karl Schaier: The new one… It still has no name!
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: ‘Hold on’ – a track on our EP has really interesting parts. Actually for the recording we made around 8-10 guitar tracks that includes harmonics, pull offs, bending, hammer on and I had to play it very carefully.
Marius Bernhardt: Feels like and Down Down Down.
Benno Bernhardt: Until now it was the groovy bass in ‚Down Down Down’. But wait for the new stuff, that will be even groovier.
- Which ingredient (or trademark sound) do you think is most essential in making your music sound the way it does?
Karl Schaier: The mix of 4 people coming from different music genres.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Personally, the melody and intention of the song is the most critical factor. I heard a lot of simple stuff with no major contributions in the instrumental part, but the melody remains in your mind. The melody is the direct message an artist gives from the heart, it’s the soul of the song. This is the stuff you whistle when you drive back home.
Marius Bernhardt: Carlos’ guitar, and the mixture of different music styles in one song. Sometimes emotional elements with some hard rock stuff.
Benno Bernhardt: Carlos’ guitar effects.
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Karl Schaier: Passion, because I love to perform with and for a live audience.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Passion, as I explained before.
Marius Bernhardt: Passion…to express all your feelings and emotions
Benno Bernhardt: It is joy, desire and pride. It is an awesome feeling to present own creativity and see the look of the poeple who did never expect you to do something like that.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Karl Schaier: To make music with people who are also in love with music. You can be creative and express your feelings with music.
Victor Hugo said: ‘Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.’
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: We have the opportunity to make good music, with no deadlines, pressures from labels or stress from formalities. Music is overall an art and I believe we have the chance to create interesting music and make a good contribution.
Marius Bernhardt: I can be creative in the way I want…but nobody will pay anything for just having good ideas.
Benno Bernhardt: To be free, no pressure from a record company. You can take your time to finish a song until you are happy with the result. The negative site is money und publicity.
- Tell us something about your songwriting, recording and production processes. Who does what?
Karl Schaier: There are many ways but most frequently our songs arise from jamming or someone has an raw idea; and in the rehearsal such raw ideas become a song.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Some dedicated song writing, and most of the times when we are together. Marius can work with songs easily and he comes most of the times with some verse chorus ideas, and then we start together to create the song. My part is really easy work with riffs, so at home or during the rehearsals I show something to the guys and this is the starting point. We are recording demo versions each time, which each of us must study back home, and during the next rehearsal we refine the song. In the studio we record the original idea and start with drums, bass, guitars and voices. At the end the producer and the band always give contributions in order to have a general consensus about the final version, re-record some parts and polish the details.
Marius Bernhardt: Usually I create some raw guitar and vocal lines and present them to the band. Afterwards we complete the song together during rehearsals.
Benno Bernhardt: It’s a combination of someone’s ideas; there is no clear process.
- What are your feelings about talent shows like The X-Factor, The Voice and American Idol or any shows like these in Germany?
Karl Schaier: [laughing] f****ing bullshit!!!!!!!
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: I think it is a really good platform to find new talents, but on the other hand is not just seeing 3 people judging an artis. The objective of the show is the drama like the stupid love story shows you see every night. It’s totally pointless to impose the opinion of three people to 30 million of viewers. You can’t write a song every single person on earth will like.
Marius Bernhardt: I think you can definitely find some good musicians with those shows, but I’m not a big fan of that concept, because in the end the only one who really earns money is the TV station and the artist is not important anymore the moment the first hype stagnates.
Benno Bernhardt: Many people have beautiful voices and they can show their skills and talent in those shows. But where is the song writing creativity? They cover and later they sing the songs other write for them. For me the song writing progress is the exciting part of a band.
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Karl Schaier: [laughing] OK, to be true: be a fucking whore…. for this interview: stay on your course and make the music you do and love! Give a s**t about haters!
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: The best one is to follow your feelings by creating music. Please do not sign anything!
Marius Bernhardt: That practicing is everything. I was always kind of lazy, but without it you will never become successful. Few years ago I already had the chance to get professional singing lessons but I did not do it, right now I regret that, because I still have to learn a lot…
Benno Bernhardt: Practice.
- At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
Karl Schaier: Back to the roots… People have to re-establish the understanding for music played with REAL instruments [laughing]
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: You earn by playing gigs and touring around. More exposure using social networks and the opportunity to perform with great bands can give you really good opportunities.
Marius Bernhardt: To play in a sold out soccer stadium…
Benno Bernhardt: Going up, and up and further up.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Karl Schaier: I think these days internet and all the social media websites are very important for a band and their career. Internet-marketing is more important than in the last 20-30 years. Everything works with internet and social media, but it is also dangerous, because these days people download the songs illegally or pay just 1 euro for a song! 20 years ago is was normal to buy the or CDs from your favorite bands.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: If you have real talent you will emerge, with or without social websites. I can upload a selfie of me with Obama and the likes will not give me more skills as a musician. Limp Bizkit paid a radio station to play a song for a week in order to become famous and then performed at Woodstock. But afterwards the band hit a stacking point and that’s the end of the story. Social media can help you, but definitely it is not the last option. Networking, contacts, your nose and a bit of luck can help either. That’s the difference between a single hit band and a real band.
Marius Bernhardt: I think today…social media is very important to every artist in the world, but you need to be careful to keep your own style.
Benno Bernhardt: No, I think internet and social media is a chance for those who don’t have the money or contacts. I know a lot of brilliant artists that became famous because of those possibilities. It is more a rebellion against the dictatorship of the big record labels.
- Is the music you produced on your latest release exactly how you expect your sound to be right now? Or in retrospect, would you change anything on, or about the recording in anyway?
Karl Schaier: No, it isn’t, but I think it is normal. There are so many things where a band can improve. So it is normal if there are some aces you want to change or improve.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: You will never be totally satisfied with the last version, or with the time goes by you think that some part could be better or will be better if we recorded that in a different way. This is totally normal. The point is that the things you did are done and the feedback is important and then to look forward. I just make a stop to fill the tank, thinking while I make pi and I continue the ride.
Marius Bernhardt: There will be a big difference between our last release and our next one… The last one contained college rock and English vocals… The next release will contain more pop and indie influences and the vocals will be in German.
Benno Bernhardt: No, I wouldn’t change anything. This record became amazing considering the limitied funds. I think everybody did a great job. But our style changed a bit and so we could define us more as a band, so I am very much looking forward to our next record.
- What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie Germany-based pop band, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider-spread success?
Karl Schaier: You will never know if people like your sound you do at this point. If the sound you do is trend-setting, you have good chances to be successful.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: A lot of people think they have the last word and the omnipotent wisdom to say if something is good or bad. I have the luck coming to another continent and now have the chance to feed myself with an enormous musical spectrum. This let’s you grow and even bad music is worth listening to, because you learn the things you definitely won’t do.
Marius Bernhardt: The main problem, in my opinion, is that the band members are all students and still need to finish studying to save the future – because of that we are not able to practice enough. If we were able to practice three or four times a week I think that would be huge step into the right direction.
Benno Bernhardt: Us. We are. We need to isolate us from other indie bands, so everybody can recognize us without knowing it is us.
- Let’s imagine for one moment that ANFOL doesn’t exist and you were given the opportunity to be in any word-famous band of your choice, who would that band be, and why?
Karl Schaier: There isn’t just one band. There are many different bands from different genres. The bands would be Foo Fighters, Muse, Biffy Clyro, RHCP, and many others. I would play in any of these bands, because all of them have an awesome own style.
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: I’d like to be with the Rolling Stones, because if God lets me, I would still be on stage when I my ears hang down to my knees and I have spots on my hands and my butt.
Marius Bernhardt: Marius and Band. Just kidding. [laughing] Blink 182. They are playing great music, but never forgot the fun.
Benno Bernhardt: I would found a band with the name ANFOL, together with Marius, Karl, and Carlos.
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT ever willing or prepared to do, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
Karl Schaier: Nothing… I guess [laughing]
Carlos Eduardo Alarcon: Killing someone, and for the rest there are lawyers.
Marius Bernhardt: I would never hurt or lie to a family member.
Benno Bernhardt: Being dishonest.