If you ask me, there are two things lacking major presence in the modern music scene: Frenzied, powerful flute rock, and kick ass front-women. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to discover Wucan, who possess both of these attributes and heavy jams to boot. Hailing from Dresden Germany, the group is made up of guitarist/flute & theramin wielder/vocalist Francis, Tim on guitar, and Patrik on bass. They describe their sound as “Kraut-fueled Heavy Flute Rock”.
Wucan’s full length debut, Sow the Wind, was released September 25th (the vinyl has already old out). The album begins with “Father Storm”, showcasing the band’s signature throwback proto-metal vibe , the soulful but fierce pipes of Francis, and the flitting flute that appears throughout the work. Another highlight is “King Korea”, which opens on solemn note vaguely reminiscent of a dark misty night spent casting spells. The pace eventually breaks into a fiery headbanger. There are even elements of funk and blues, evidenced on “Looking in the Past”, which escalates into a full on groovy getdown. While there is definitely a vintage disposition reflected in the album, subtle kraut tempos and a bit of stoner-rock sludge, combined with Francis’s unique voice and flute-work, keep this group interesting and separate from generational imitators.
I was granted the chance to ask lead singer Francis a few questions about the band’s new album and headlining tour. I discovered her deep connection to songwriting, and her take on the journey of the Wandersmann.
Can you tell us the story of the band’s origins, and the process of recording your first EP Vikarma?
4 years ago, in late 2011 I moved from my hometown to Dresden to start my studies. I wanted to have a band again, as I did not see any chance in my hometown to get a band together. I decided to make an advertisement in the local newspaper that said “Blues Brothers Wanted”. That’s how it started.
In 2012 I made some cover videos of songs from Kadavar and Pentagram and put them on YouTube, so I got in touch with these guys. Kadavar encouraged us to record some demos. That’s what we did, and soon we had some attention on our side, so we could take it a step further.
For our EP Vikarma we went to the Berlin landslide and recorded it in an old sort of mansion. Eloy’s Michael Gerlach recorded and mixed it. These were beautiful days. Wonderful memories, indeed.
What was different that inspired you for your full length debut, Sow the Wind?
Well, it was our live shows, I guess. We had to face the fact, that our recordings from Vikarma were sounding ‘polished’, nice and too modern for our taste, while our live shows started getting more rough, powerful and more ‘heavy metal’, if you want.
In the end, we thought this record does not represent us at all. That was due to some unfortunate circumstances and that’s nobody’s fault, but we knew that we needed a change for the album.
We wanted to get this sound and that certain energy from our shows for our LP. That’s why we decided to record live. I don’t think we will ever do it any other way again, because the outcome was exactly what we were looking for.
“Wandersmann” is a 15 minute epic closing to the new album. It is also the only song in German. Can you translate to us non-German speakers the themes in this jam?
Sure. The Wandersmann, as you English speaking folks might deduce, is a wandering man. The song is about a king, who actually has everything. A kingdom of a trememdous size, money, women… but he still isn’t happy. In fact, there is this little voice telling him, that all the consumption and excess is preventing him from being happy.
After this little ‘psychedelic’ journey in the middle of the song and the reading from the book Bhagavat Gita , he finds himself breaking his crown (as a symbolic act against his wealth and earthly possessions) and becoming the Wandersmann.
I think, some kind of Wandersmann lives in each and everyone of us. Most people in the western civilization have everything they need and even more than that- and still they are missing something in their lives. Happiness and bliss.
I would even take it a step further and say this song is against capitalism as it affects our private lives. I think many (spiritual) people agree with me when I say that bliss cannot be achieved by the massive consumption, workload and excess the western world drives us into.
But on the other hand: how can you really escape?!
You are about to embark on the second half of your Sow the Wind tour. Congrats on your sold out show in Berlin! What have been some of the highlights for you so far?
Thank you. In fact, the venue we played was rather small, so it was nothing supernatural that it got sold out, but it is nice to see we have some friends and fans in Berlin.
Oh, there were quite some highlights already. Our signing with MIG Records was probably the biggest. Manfred Schütz, the owner, has been working with many famous acts like Motörhead and Metallica, Skid Row and many many more. That someone like him believes in us, is a gigantic honor. In general: having a professional set up of management, booking agency, promotion agency and label is a huge highlight for us. We love to work with the people we have around us.
Also having the appreciation of members of other bands like Saint Vitus and Earth and Pentagram is a huge honor. The love of our fans has always been the fuel for us. We are very happy we could start our career like this.
That might sound cheesy, but every tour, every gig, every city we play is a highlight. Seeing places we haven’t been before is awesome! I wouldn’t have dreamed of this two years ago!
Francis, you have an incredible voice, and you also play several instruments. Did you explore your talents at a young age?
Thank you very much. I feel flattered, haha.
Well, I wouldn’t call it talent, but I discovered the power of music at a very very very young age. There was this one song, “Fade to Grey” by Visage, that made me cry when I was two years old. I couldn’t sleep at night, when this song was on the radio! From that point on I knew that music could do something to my emotional state.
However, I started singing and acting in preschool. I think I was looking for a way to ‘conserve’ tunes, too. I remember, when I was 7 years old I had this rad tune on my mind. And I did not want to forget it, so I took a piece of paper and tried to draw a pattern on it, so I could remember the tune later on. That was my kind of notation system. Did not work, of course! When I picked up the paper again I could not unravel the mystical pattern I drew and the tune was gone!
From today’s perspective, this situation was very important. I think I had been a ‘songwriter’ back then already. I think this was the real fuel for my musical ‘skills’. I wanted to write songs.
My parents did not allow me to play an instrument at first, so I kept on singing for myself. But I wanted to write songs (like… it was in me- how can you fight that?!) and that’s how the guitar came in. I taught myself how to play it. In between I had 2 years of classical flute lessons (it took weeks of begging my mom!). But I lost interest when I was 15 and focused on playing guitar.
I first discovered that I wasn’t a bad singer, when I was 17 or 18 and I had to sing in front of my music class in school and my classmates got goose bumps. They told me I was good and that gave me confidence to take it further.
Let’s put it this way: I discovered that I wanted to make music at a very young age, but I didn’t realize I was actually good in this until I was in my late teens.
In the studio, you teamed up with Richard Behrens who has also worked with Kadaver. “Sow the Wind” still reflects the raw energy and authentic feel of the band, but also sounds very slick and polished. What were your ideas surrounding recording/crafting that sound?
Like I said: We wanted to capture this rough live energy, that I think we have on stage. Richard’s records have special sound to them and we liked that. We picked him, because he is a good friend of mine and I trust him a lot in this matter. He is one of the [few people] who I think can relate to the sounds that inspired us. He is none of the ‘retro rock’ nerds who would lay a telephone filter on the drums and say: ‘Yap, this is cool. This is what everyone does. That’s hip at the moment.’, but he wants to get an authentic, organic feel to the music. He experimented a lot with us to capture the spirit of each song. I know our compositions and the variety in our material struggled [with] him a bit, as he had to provide a new set up of gear for each song. But it was worth the effort.
What will 2016 bring for Wucan?
I have no idea, to be honest. I hope lots of good stuff!
I hope we will manage to find our new drummer. Our drummer Leo will focus on his main project The White Dukes again and therefore leave the band in January.
We also have many festival gigs all over Europe confirmed so far.
I really wish to write new songs, so we can go into the studio in late 2016. I also hope there’s a chance for a bigger support tour for us next year.
Thanks so much for the Q&A Francis! Sow the Wind is available for digital download. Wucan is currently finishing up their first headlining tour, keep an eye out next year to catch them at various European festivals!