“I’m still looking forward to write the song of my life, I think this is what keeps every songwriter motivated.”
I lean back and grab my ambrosial homemade cucumber mint drink. While refreshing myself, I try to collect my thoughts. To describe music is always something quite difficult. At least for me. Right now the new EP “Tools of no use” by Maddes is playing in the background. And lets my meager room appear like a colorful fuzzy place. Almost like love. Warm and cheerful. Sunny and tender.
We talked with the man behind the project Maddes, German singer and producer Matthias Roos, about the advantages of home-recording, the 80/90s era and his future plans.
Tell us, how did your first get involved in making music? Is it something that developed in your childhood already with the help of family?
Yes, music played a role in my family. My dad plays guitar and someday he bought a used drumset. Before that time my sister and me learned to play electric organ, which was the instrument I wrote my first songs on. I recorded a lot on cassettes together with friends (fun songs, comedy sketches etc.). We also did private “mini playback shows” as kids, which was a quite popular tv format at that time. My parents never took learning instruments too seriously, they just gave us the opportunity to try out different things (not only music), which I’m very thankful for.
“I’m a nostalgic guy sometimes and I try to keep some of these things and embrace today’s awesome possibilities.”
What was the first band/song where you could sing along the lyrics as a young person?
I guess it was “Look who’s talking” by Dr. Alban, I’m a 90s kid :-D My parents listened a lot to Leonard Cohen and Dire Straits at home, I can likely sing along to some of their songs.
What´s the meaning of the title: „Tools Of No Use“?
It’s a metaphor for human habits and skills, which can stand in your way sometimes. A kind of contradiction.
“I love the musical originality of the 80/90s. Many hits have been written in that time, many new styles and genres have been created out of nothing.”
The sound has a 80/90s touch. What do you like so much about this era, music wise or also in general, that is inspires you for your music?
I love the musical originality of that era. Many hits have been written in that time, many new styles and genres have been created out of nothing. Some songs will last forever, because they are so catchy, well written or they just have an original sound/production you can recognise instantly. As I get older I realise more and more what influential songs have been written in that time. In general I love to think back to this era because it reminds me of my childhood and I have the feeling that time moved slowly back then. I remember going to a store, buying myself a long-awaited record, listening to it several times in a row on my Hifi at home, then recording it to tape to have it with me on my Walkman. I’m a nostalgic guy sometimes and I try to keep some of these things and embrace today’s awesome possibilities.
What do you like to write about in your lyrics – personal things, about love, about social issues? Or just made-up poetic stories?
It depends on my mood when I’m writing a song. I often wrap up personal things in a metaphorical way to leave the listener some room for interpretation. Music can be a kind of therapy for me, I write about emotional things and love like many other artists. For my recent songs I tried out some fictional stories as well and I really liked this approach. I think I will be doing more of this in the future because it reveals new playgrounds for me.
Was the choice to do a lot of home-recording related to a small budget or a conscious choice for other reasons?
I always enjoyed recording at home alone where I feel most comfortable and I can sing freely. Writing and recording/producing goes hand in hand for me. I would feel stressed having to cope with a deadline for a recording session in the studio. I also think there are few affordable studios with a nice and natural atmosphere. That’s why I rather invest my money into professional gear than into studio time. At a certain point – when I’m broke (haha) – I have the essential gear I need and I start saving money in the end, because I think I keep on making records for a long time.
“I always enjoyed recording at home alone where I feel most comfortable and I can sing freely.”
Your favourite or most personal title on the album and the story behind it?
I think it’s the opener “Light Breeze”. Its fundament is a crazy, energetic “one take” drum idea and it has very personal lyrics with a driving atmosphere of departure. I also love the bass line and guitar overdubs, which my co-producer Filippo Gaetani added. In the beginning I actually had withdrawn the drum idea and produced a downtempo, relaxed and more electronic version of the song. Filippo encouraged me to stick with the initial idea and tempo, so I trashed all other recordings and rebuilt the song from scratch. When I listened to the mastered version of the song for the first time, I was dancing in the kitchen to it and I knew all decisions were right.
How different was the work on this EP compared to your debut album in 2014? In terms of easiness to create it and emotions that you had while doing it?
The EP was way easier to create, compared to my debut album. It came out very naturally and it was a lot of fun. During the production of my debut album I had some hard phases where I thought that it will take forever to finish it. In addition I was slightly unsure about how people/friends will react on the album. However I learned a lot during that time so that now I’m more efficient and confident in realizing what I have in my head.
Despite probably a successful album release, what are your wishes for the near future for your life?
I would love to continue collaborating with other musicians and engineers, broaden my horizon, put out more music and maybe produce and mix other artists. I’m still looking forward to write the song of my life, I think this is what keeps every songwriter motivated. I also play drums in two bands in my home town and I hope we can play some nice shows in the following years. We all have our day jobs, we run our DIY record label and music projects in our spare time. So it’s always about finding a compromise of all other important aspects of life (love, health, family, friends, work), which are very important to me. I don’t want the music to take over me, which can quickly happen…it’s a weird dilemma sometimes.
Is there any choice in your life where you regret that you took it, or regret that you didn´t take it?
Not really, I think about choices a lot before I do something. I often think too much, that can be frustrating and sometimes I waste time with it or miss opportunities. I’m constantly refining myself to become more spontaneous, confident and relaxed.