Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Following the success of Tokio Hotel’s 2005 debut album, Schrei, twins Bill and Tom Kaulitz—along with bassist Georg Listing and drummer Gustav Schafer—became the most successful German rock band of the last 20 years.
Tokio Hotel have built a huge fan base and sold more than 7 million albums worldwide.
But in 2009, after years of relentless recording and touring, the band decided to take a break and relocated to Los Angeles to find new inspiration. The result is the band’s third album, Kings of Suburbia.
From the propulsive and sensual “Love Who Loves You Back” to the catchy, guitar-driven “Girl Got a Gun," Kings Of Suburbia combines songwriting maturity with polished production.
I recently spoke with guitarist Tom Kaulitz about Kings of Suburbia, his musical upbringing and more.
GUITAR WORLD: A few years ago, the band made the move to Los Angeles. What was the reason behind it?
We recorded our last record in 2009 and afterwards decided we needed to take a little bit of a break. We wanted to go to a different city to find inspiration and also start a little bit of a private life. We had been on the road since we were 15, putting out records constantly and being out on the road touring. So we decided to go to LA and produce the new record there.
How would you describe Kings of Suburbia?
It's a little more electronic than the albums before. We played a lot with new sounds and programming, which was something we had never done.
Our whole songwriting process changed a little bit when we started to write for this record. For the first time in our career, we really had the time to do things the way we wanted. It was a development for us. We built a home studio and I started to program and lay down some riffs. Then we met up with a few producers and songwriters and said, "OK, let's see where this goes." It turned out amazing. We're really proud of this record.
You mentioned the songwriting process. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?
It changes all the time. In In the past we would usually take our acoustic guitars, sit together and jam and then take it from there. For this record, we really wrote on track. Most of the time I would have a demo that was pretty far along and the others would then come up with melodies.
Do you have plans to tour in support of the new album?
Yes. We're already planning on touring most of next year. We'll start out in Europe and then we're going to play the U.S. We already have a few dates set for early next year and the summer. We'll be playing all over the Asia, South America and Europe.
What can you tell me about your musical upbringing?
We grew up in a small town in East Germany and always had music around us. From the time I was able to play three chords on guitar, we went on stage right away to present it. We've always knew that we wanted to do it professionally but grew up in an area where there was no real music scene. So we went to school with the idea of possibly taking on a different job, but things just took off. We've been doing this now for 14 years, and it’s been amazing.
Who were some of your musical influences?
I was always a huge fan of Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. The first record I got from Aerosmith was Big Ones, and I remember listening to it all day, every day! [laughs]. My stepfather was also into music and played guitar and introduced us to AC/DC. AC/DC and Aerosmith were the bands we grew up with and loved. We recently met them [Tyler and Perry] at a concert, and it was a dream come true.
What excites you the most about this next stage of your career?
I'm most excited about touring next year. Music has changed so much over the years. Today, it's all about touring. We love being up on stage and are looking forward to playing. We've been pretty much everywhere in the world except Australia. So we're hoping to get chance to play there as well. Touring is the thing that keeps us going!
For more about Tokio Hotel, visit tokiohotel.com.
Tokio Hotel's Bill Kaulitz blogs exclusively for SheKnows about love, labels and his sexuality.
So, here I am. Sitting in my bed and writing about love. Next to me is my English bulldog, Pumba — the big love in my life. When I was asked to write something about love, I said yes right away, but now I'm thinking… what the f*** do I know about love?!
I guess I wanted to do it because ever since I can remember, I have believed in it. I believe in love and nothing but love. The big kind of love, the overwhelming, the completely out of control and over the top, the "I'd do anything for you" kind of love.
Why do I believe in it? I don't know, I have no idea. All I know is that I do.
From the time I was a little boy sitting in my room in my parents' house in a tiny little village with 800 souls called Loitsche in East Germany, where I grew up, I was consumed thinking about big cities, singing, being on stage and finding my big love. My twin bother, Tom, never understood that part. He didn't give a shit about that.
My friends sometimes make fun of me and almost everyone I know thinks I have a fairy tale idea about love and they always tell me it's not like how it is in the movies — that I'm way too romantic and that all of this is just my fantasy. They say, "In real life, love works way different!"
People think I'm so naive because I've never been hurt and all I think is that they probably got hurt too much. That's why they say stuff like that. That someone broke their heart or maybe they never really loved someone enough and that's why they can't relate to what I'm talking about.
The funny thing is that I'm probably the one who got hurt the most out of all these people put together. Heartbroken, completely destroyed, the worst kind of heartbreak you can imagine. Worse than I ever thought could happen to me. Betrayed, cheated on, taken advantage of. I'm saying this without telling the whole story, of course, but I want people to know that things like this happen to me, too — to the ones who seem to be "covered in gold."
Although I'm still trying to heal, I feel like I still believe — which is a good thing. I still believe in the magic, in the big once-in-a-lifetime love. Is it gonna happen to me? I don't know. I thought I had already found it once, so maybe not… but I'm hoping, because hope is what keeps all of us going and I truly believe that love is all we are here for! No other reason. Only love!
People like to categorize and label everything. That's less dangerous; it feels safer. Especially in the industry that I'm in. I feel like it drives people nuts not to know if there is a woman or a man in my bed. That's why I've been getting the ''gay question'' ever since I turned 13, when I started giving interviews. I always wondered… why does that even matter? I thought I was here to sing and perform for people?
I never felt like I owed any answers to anyone about it and it amuses me that they made such a big deal out of it. In my world, it's not that black and white and I think that the real question should be: Why are we asking this? Why does it matter? Why do we need labels? Can we not just live?
No one knows what's gonna happen in the next minute, the next second. Who knows who I may run into? Maybe I'm just about to meet someone who changes my life forever and, if that happens, does it really matter what gender they are? What I do know is that love is the one beautiful thing we can't control. We have no power over it. We don't know where it comes from and we never know when it's gonna hit us and that's the beauty of it.
So, I guess I'll wait and see… I hope I find the magic, the type that heals what's been broken and gives me wings.
My only advice is: Love who you want to love and love who loves you back. Life is way too short.
But, then again, what the f*** do I know?