Shari Black Velvet: Your 'Coma Chameleon' album was quoted as being 'the most important and courageous step the band has ever made, not only musically but businesswise as well'. How important is new release 'To Hell With Love' in comparison? It features six songs from that album - what is the purpose of 'To Hell With Love' and what mission do you want to accomplish?
Ingo Donot: Well, both musically and business-wise speaking 'Coma Chameleon' has indeed been the most important step we have made in our career. It's the first album we are releasing on our own label Solitary Man Records after seven years of being signed and licensed to a sub-label of Sony/BMG and Burning Heart Records and getting lawyers involved to get us out of the deal with Sony. We did everything DIY in the first five years of the band so by now it just feels amazing to be in complete control of everything again. Musically speaking we managed to surprise a lot of people including ourselves. 'Coma Chameleon' is most definitely the next level of the Donots Sound. It's very diverse and mature yet it feels like we have just recorded our very first record ever. There's a lot of energy on that album. I guess it is catchy like a flu and songs like 'Stop The Clocks' got us the biggest radio and MTV airplay ever. But everything happened naturally which is a good thing. The songs weren't meant to be radio songs in the first place. Now, 'To Hell With Love' is sort of a mini-album we have compiled with our favorite 'Coma Chameleon' tracks especially for the UK. The Donots have toured your fine country a couple of times already with the likes of Millencolin, Anti-Flag, Hot Water Music, 3 Colours Red and more but we never really had an official release supporting those tours. We have a feeling that the songs on the mini-album could really find us some new friends in the UK and we are just dying to come back and play. Kids in the UK have always been so supportive of our band so we just need to come back and prove that not all German Bands sound like The Scorpions or Rammstein! We really hope that you guys will fall in love with 'To Hell With love'... What a weird sentence...
SBV: You said with 'Coma Chameleon' that it paves the way for another 15 years with Donots. It's been over 15 years since you formed and you're looking forward to another 15 years. What do you want to experience in this second 15 years that you didn't in the first 15 - and what are you most proud of?
ID: The last 15 years have been the most amazing years in our lives. We have experienced so many different things, made countless new friends on some 1000 shows, we got to travel a lot and did a lot of tours in all Europe, Japan and some parts of the US and basically made the most of every moment. It's such a good feeling that we're still family and best friends, that we get to share all this and that we still manage to surprise ourselves and find new inspiration every day. I wouldn't trade all that for anything in the world and I just hope that the next 15 years will be just as exciting. Would be a dream come true if we could play internationally a lot more and basically keep doing what we like best on an wider scale. We are already recording songs for the next album as I write this and I'm proud to say that I'm convinced the best days are yet to come for The Donots.
SBV: What is something that you've never done during your career and something that you do not want to ever do?
ID: I'm really happy that we have never made any business decisions which we couldn't back up personally. Our band has always been a family and friendship thing so business always came second, even now that we are our own record company. We've never taken ourselves too seriously yet our music means the world to us. We will definitely keep it that way because it's healthy, hands down.
SBV: You're from Germany and while researching online I found a bunch of German interviews with you - which maybe many UK/US people and others may not be able to understand. What do you think about the variety of languages in the world? Do you think it would be better if there was just one universal speaking language so everyone could understand everyone else - or do you think it's more special to have different languages in different countries?
ID: I think there's beauty in a lot of languages and their sound and pronunciation and whatnot but at the same time I would love to see the world and every people united. I don't believe in borders, colors, flags or the like. A universal language would help a lot, I guess, but I do understand why people would try and preserve their language to a certain extent. I love the English Language best and I think it is an advantage for a German band to sing in English and thus be understood in many parts of the world.
SBV: What is something you really want to get across to everyone no matter where they live in the world and no matter what language they speak, about the Donots?
ID: It may sound trite and pathetic to say this but our band is willing to sweat blood when playing live. The best way of finding out about our band is by checking out a show of ours. We try to include every single person in the crowd, we communicate a lot and love the flow of energy to and fro. The Donots have always been a live band and we don't care whether we play to five or 50,000 kids. You don't need haircuts, eyeliners, trendy clothes or a choreography to play a punk rock show. Anything and everything can happen and that's what I like about our band. Please tell all your friends and drop by when we're in your neighborhood! Thanks!
SBV: You set up your own label, Solitary Man, after previously being signed to a major label, and have released music by Dropkick Murphys, Beatsteaks, Boy Sets Fire and more. Did working with those bands for your label help you achieve or discover anything new with the Donots? Did you learn things that helped Donots while working with them?
ID: Yeah, of course it did help us. We founded Solitary Man Records in Japan in 2005 already when The Donots had two top 5 albums over there. Our tours and albums went really well in Nippon so we started sort of an intercontinental record label based in both Germany and Tokyo, Japan. We're licensing bands for the Japanese Market which have been available over there as imports only before. We're doing everything from singer/songwriter to punk rock, hardcore, metal or indie. Our latest release has been the new Placebo album 'Battle For The Sun'. So by now we do know both the business and the fun side of things. In Europe we have only been releasing our own band so far which is more than enough work when also being on tour constantly. The Japanese department of Solitary Man was a good start to learn about the structures in the music industry and to find our very own way of promotion and marketing tools. We get to combine creativity and business which is cool.
SBV: One great thing about the Donots is that you respect other beings - whether human or animals. Thinking back to your younger days, when did you realise that being respectful was the way to be?
ID: Everybody in the band has been brought up very peacefully and our parents taught us a lot about respect. I have never believed in that tough guy shit and I'm convinced that freedom is a basic right for EVERY being on this planet. We have always supported organizations and festivals that convey such a peaceful, open minded message. Fuck racism, fascism, sexism and homophobia! Oh yeah, and while you're at it: Go vegetarian!
SBV: Who in the band is vegetarian and how long have you been vegetarian?
ID: Everybody in our band is vegetarian except for Alex. Funny thing is that he is the only one who doesn't drink on the other hand. But when we're on tour he sticks to veggie food a lot more. Guido was vegan for a couple of months. I guess we have all been vegetarian for some 14 years now.
SBV: What urged you to become vegetarian initially and how's life been since being vegetarian?
ID: Actually promoting punk rock/hardcore shows in a youth club in our hometown Ibbenbüren in the mid 90s and playing with a lot of bands opened my eyes to the veggie sight of things. It's been bands like Propagandhi which have changed my mind back in the days and I guess it's been one of the best decisions in my life to become vegetarian. I'm feeling better. I've always been pacifist and I don't see any reason why animals shouldn't be treated with the same amount of respect.
SBV: Have you done any animal rights campaigning in any way?
ID: We're good friends with the folks at PETA2 and work together with them a lot. We do campaigns for them, have their info booths at our shows every now and then, all that kind of stuff. And we're always willing to help people out who support the idea.
SBV: You used some dogs in your video for 'Stop The Clocks'. A lot of people into animal rights are against animals being used for entertainment. When you're running the dog you're holding seems a little uncomfortable in a couple of places (maybe it's just because they are bumping up and down while you're running with them) -especially in the closing clip of the video. Where did you get the dogs from for the video, how were they at the end of the filming - and what are your thoughts of other animals used in entertainment - whether it be monkeys used in adverts on television or elephants used in circuses?
ID: My favourite animals in the whole wide world are dogs. Everybody in the band has had dogs before so our major concern while shooting the video was to make sure the dogs weren't harmed in whatever way. The dog owners were with us all the time and made damn sure everybody at the set treated them right, held them right and all that. They re-assured us often times that everything was cool for the dogs and if there was the slightest moment of doubt we stopped the cameras. The dogs were fine in every minute, before, while and after the video shooting. They even fell asleep in our arms in a bunch of scenes feeling so comfortable and tucked in. I'd be the very first person in the world to cancel such a video shoot if I wasn't 100% sure things were alright. I think as long as animals feel completely comfortable in such situations, it is alright to have them in videos.
SBV: You previously contributed 'Time's Up' to the 'Rock Against Bush Vol. 2' compilation and you've toured with Anti-Flag and Rise Against who are both politically minded. How political are the Donots? Which songs of yours are the most political, lyrically?
ID: All five members of our band pay attention to what's going on in the world and whenever we feel the moment is right or a campaign needs immediate support, we try and do our very best. 'Rock Against Bush' was such a campaign so I met up with Fat Mike on a NoFX Tour and tried to convince him that it'd be a bonus to also include non-american bands to such a compilation as it's not only an American issue. We wrote the song especially for that occasion, he liked it and agreed to have us on the album. It's the least we could do when not being allowed to vote ourselves in the States. Also we have recorded the 'Protest Song' together with our good friends in Anti-Flag when the Iraq Invasion took place. The song was made available on both band websites as a free download so once again we tried to do what we could to spread the awareness against war. I wouldn't say we are a political band in the first place but we do have our views, positions and are willing to help whenever we can.
SBV: Have you ever written or would you ever consider writing an animal rights song?
ID: We had a couple of songs in the early days of the band dealing with that issue and actually I was thinking about exactly that topic again recently. Maybe we will give it another shot on one of the new songs. We'll see...
SBV: On 'To Hell With Love' which song would you most like listeners to get something from (and what, or why)?
ID: We are proud of every single song on the mini album. There's such a lot of variety on it that I'd love for everybody to listen to the whole thing. If you check out neck-breakers like the first single 'Break My Stride', mellow tunes like 'Stop The Clocks' or dancy songs like 'Headphones' then I guess you'll understand what I'm talking about. Thank you so much for checking out our music, folks! Please check out www.donots.com, www.myspace.com/donots and of course 'To Hell With Love'! Merci beaucoup!
SBV: In 'Anything' you sing 'Gimme what I need, something worth dying for'. What do you think is worth dying for?
ID: I'd die for my family, my friends, my band, music. Just about anything that let's me know I am alive. A wasted life with a bunch of shallow moments would be terrible. I want to know that I get to live life to the max. If a 16 ton weight should crush me tomorrow, then I don't want to look back and think about the moments I have missed. I want that Monty Python Moment to be worth it...
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