Photo of Jan Zscheile with Russian Circles’ Dave Turncrantz
My last concert at Beatpol before leaving Germany was a show for the American band Russian Circles. It was a fantastic concert, and I had a great time hanging out with my old coworkers. One of my coworkers and friends Jan Zscheile was there. I had gotten to know Jan through Beatpol and had grown to respect him a lot. At the show, I bugged him about an article I wanted to post on here about him and his ever-growing drumstick collection. Jan agreed to answer a long list of questions from me about his life in Germany, his involvement with the venue, and his large collection of drumsticks.
Jan Zscheile collects drumsticks. Broken, halved, splintered—he accepts them all. Zscheile, a 25-year-old German who grewup in the town of Pirna outside of Dresden, has been going to shows at Beatpol for eight years, and has more recently become part of the Beatpol staff. He’s been collecting drumsticks for six years now; his collection boasts nearly 400 sticks from around 250 drummers. After shows, Zscheile is known to go up to the drummer and quietly and politely ask for his/her sticks, concurrently asking for a black-inked signature on the sticks as well. With such a large collection, the signatures stand as the only means of drumstick identification.
You live in Pirna. Do you come there, too?
Yes, 25 years ago I was born there and I have lived there since then.
What do you do in Pirna/Dresden?
I grew up in Pirna and I live there with my parents, my 6-year-old brother, and my grandmother. I went to kindergarten and elementary school in the Pirna district Zehista, and then I graduated from German gymnasium (high school) in the center of the city at the Rainer-Fetscher Gymnasium. Since 2004 I study water management at the Technische Universität in Dresden. During this time I met, next to my old school friends, even a lot of great people from Dresden. This came mainly from my growing passion of listening to music and attending concerts…I eventually met the best alternative DJ in the city.
When was your first time in Beatpol? Which concert was it? What was your impression?
I can still remember my first concert there very well. It was on October 15, 2004. Back then Beatpol was called Star Club and on the night I was there, the German alternative band Slut was playing. I was with a couple friends from Pirna who had really introduced me to more alternative music. At the time, I didn’t really know Slut that well…I had only heard a couple songs.
I was really excited because it wasn’t just my first concert at the venue, but it was my first concert ever. After we got lost twice while trying to get there, we eventually found our way and there were a lot of people standing outside. Inside, was even crazier, almost sold out. I was overwhelmed by the venue’s structure, the size of the room and the amazing architecture. The place is still the same today, aside from the venue’s name.
The concert itself was incredible! After my first attempts to dance during the first few songs, I got a little more loose and the mood of the crowd kept getting better. We were dancing without control, stage diving three or four times. What I experience in those two hours was simply just outstanding. I will remember that night for a long, long time.
After the concert I went to the merch stand. Like I said, I didn’t really know the band that well and I didn’t know that they were from Germany (they always sang in English). Of course we wanted to get CDs right away and get them signed. As we approached the guitarist and spoke to him in English, asking for an autograph, we were taken aback when he answered (in German), “Hey guys! Awesome that you liked the show. You know you can gladly speak German with me. We’re from Inglostadt.” How embarassing and funny. [Laughs]
You now work on and off for Beatpol. How did that happen?
As my passion for concert-going grew, my pocketmoney was of course affected as well. To be a student without a job is pretty difficult…it means living off of savings and money from your parents. I asked myself if I could offer working or helping out at Beatpol so that I wouldn’t have to pay so much at shows. About three years ago then, I talked to Carsten directly and asked if I could work there somehow. It ended up going pretty well and I had a lot of fun. With time, I got to know each Beatpol employee better, and slowly as older employees had to leave, I would start to take on some more duties, like loading out equipment or working at the bar.
You collect drumsticks from different musicians…are they all musicians who have played in Dresden at one point? When did you start collecting drumsticks?
I collect drumsticks mainly from the alternative music scene. Through my open music taste and the wide concert opportunities in Dresden, I’ve been able to get drumsticks from bands in a lot of different genres. The majority of the sticks are from bands that have played in Dresden, but I also fondly go to shows in other clubs in cities near Dresden, like in Leipzig, Berlin, or Prague (in the Czech Republic). I started collecting on March 22, 2006, when I got my first drumstick from the band Blackmail who played at Star Club.
How many drumsticks do you have altogether? How many do you think are from Beatpol?
Currently my collection has 380 drumsticks from 245 different drummers from 239 different bands. Approximately 1/3 of those are from bands who played at Beatpol.
Where did you get the idea to collect drumsticks?
It all started on March 22, 2006 at the Blackmail concert Star Club. At that time my buddy Erik and I caught a stick of Mario Matthias. When around two months later in Leipzig at the Volkshaus at a concert from Blackmail (PopUp Festival), the exact same thing happened, and a little competition started between us. At the following concerts we were keen for the drumsticks, we asked the drummer even after the concert, to be better than the respective “competitor.”
Do you have any goal? Or do you just collect until you don’t want to anymore?
As we both had about eight sticks together, Erik flew to Australia for a year. While he had to give up his passion for collecting, I went on cheerfully. After about 15 sticks, I knew that I had to come up with something—how to distinguish the sticks. I started a list with band, date, club, city and drummer to make. In addition, I began to have the musicians sign the sticks. Even from that point on I knew I wanted a large collection, perhaps even into the Guinness Book of Records.
A certain Peter Larvinger—a New Yorker, has collected between 1980 and 2000 an incredible 1,300 drum sticks from a variety of music styles by famous bands and drummers of his time. As I extensively reviewed his website with his record and his history, two things went through my head.
1. An impressive record! The man has been outstanding! A great collection!
2. I want exactly the same thing and one day I want to outdo his world record!
Do you play drums?
No, I do not play drums. I’ve been living in my parents’ house…they probably would have something against the noise. [Laughs]
However, I have an acoustic guitar. During my study time I started playing guitar and took lessons for about a year. When my teacher became very ill, I put more time into school and put the guitar aside. Since then, it rests only in the corner and is only now and then maltreated by myself. [Laughs]
Have you drumsticks from your favorite bands? If so, who are your favorite bands?
Yes I have some drumsticks my favorite bands. As would be for example Blackmail, of which I got my first drumstick at all. Furthermore, “The Mars Volta,” “Portugal. The Man,” and “Trail Of Dead,” are some of my absolute favorites, of which I also have drumsticks. Unfortunately, I don’t have drumsticks from my other favorite bands, like “At The Drive In,” “Thursday,” or “Chiodos” that have been partially quit and I was never been able to have them seen live. But right now is the time for reunions. Maybe there’s still a possibility.
Can you name some famous American bands, of which you have drumsticks?
Yes, sure. I guess about 1/5 of the drumsticks are by American bands. As would be for example Titus Andronicus, Why?, The Melvins, The Mars Volta, Shellac, Xiu Xiu, Russian Circles, Murder By Death, Ringo Deathstarr, Isis, Pelican, Red Sparowes, Earth, Karma To Burn, Acid King, Maps & Atlases, Imaad Wasif, Joan Of Arc, O’Death, Iron & Wine…
Do you have a plan for how you will present your drumsticks at home? Or will they remain in a box?
I’ve already taken some pictures with my drumsticks. Now they are gone back in a box. However, I would like to show the sticks somewhere. I’ve already thought of presenting my collection for this year’s Drum Festival in Dresden. I certainly have a big dream. If I ever break the Guinness world record, I would like to open a drumstick museum.
If you’re visiting this page because you’re looking for more information for shows at Beatpol in Dresden, please visit beatpol.de.
Berlin has been good. It’s been quite a serious change, but it’s been good. I miss Dresden, though.
I will be visiting Dresden the weekend of February 18 and I’ll be at Beatpol that night for the FIREFOX show. Should be fun.
I’ll be posting an interview I did with William Fitzsimmons soon…
Recently posted, von dem TRAIL OF THE DEAD Beatpol Konzert…
So I’ve been in the US since December 22, hanging out in my hometown of State College, Pennsylvania…it’s been an extremely relaxing time here with my family. My dad lives up north in Rhode Island and he came down to PA to visit for a couple days. One of my brothers who lives in Seattle also traversed the country and made it over for Christmas to join my other brother, my mom and I. It was an extremely pleasant time; I feel lucky to be able to fly back and forth a couple times a year. Coming home never fails at positively reminding me of who I am and why I am who I am, and I’m thankful for that.
This afternoon I went on a long run today at Penn State’s Rec Hall. The building has an old indoor track where I’ve been running since I was a teenager. The scent of the building and the stickiness of the rubbery floors against my shoes reminded me of my high school years as an athlete. So of course, I listened to my old high school running playlist! Nostalgia!
Anyway, I missed home. I wish there were a better way to bridge the US and Germany, other than +$500 flights and 24 hours worth of traveling.
I’m flying back to Germany on Sunday.
So because it’s now 2012 (Happy New Year!) and because I’m moving to Berlin and won’t be at Beatpol as much, I wanted to write some sort of a list of noteworthy shows. The list includes shows that have happened since I’ve worked at Beatpol in September of 2010. This is it:
Favorite Show: Future Islands, July 1, 2011. This was the band’s second show at Beatpol. Their set was strong and their audience was really “there” in the moment (the audience was also much larger compared to the band’s first show at Beatpol). The night was full of dancing and jokes…’twas a great time.
Second Favorite Show: Maps & Atlases, October 18, 2010. These guys rocked! They always rock. Unfortunately the crowd was shy and wasn’t too big, but hopefully the next time the band comes through the venue, more people will be ready to greet them!
Third Favorite Show: Sea Wolf, December 3, 2010. I really like Alex Brown Church. When I showed up at Beatpol that night, I hadn’t even realized he was on the bill because the bill was a special three-act show or something. I was so happy; his album White Water, White Bloom, had been a main running soundtrack for me while living in Boston and I had always wanted to see him live.
Most Surprisingly Lovely Show: Black Math Horseman, April 10, 2011. This show rockedddd. Hard, dark music with killer frontwoman, Sera Timms! I spoke with her after the show and I was impressed by her music taste and kindness. The show was surprisingly lovely because when I had listened to the band at another point previously, I thought I didn’t like the music…but I had been mistaken!
Favorite Brit: Tom Morris from Her Name is Calla, June 27, 2011. The man was a delight to have at Beatpol! He played a solo opening set for Dark Dark Dark and really blew me away. The guy’s a powerful songwriter.
Favorite Dresden Act: Claim, September 26, 2010. So good! So together! The band has been in hiding and recording for a good while now…hopefully they will come out and play again soon!
Danciest Band: Metronomy, December 2, 2011. Wooooot!!!! Light shows! Sick bass lines! Tight aesthetics!
Best New Act: GROSS MAGIC from the UK, December 2, 2011! The band’s latest material is so catchy. These guys are headed for the big leagues…
Most complex Band: Capillary Action, May 15, 2011. Listen to their music and you will get what I am talking about!
Cutest Band: Dear Reader, September 17, 2011. Awwwww. But really, the band is good.
Most Impressive Band: Enablers, September 16, 2011. These guys know their stuff. They’ve been in the business a long time and they’re hard workers and hard thinkers. They play music because they love music. Nothing else.
Weirdest Show: Mono Inc., October 15, 2011. These guys were different. Yeah.
Friendliest Crowd: William Fitzsimmons’ crowd, of course! Such loyal fans.
Chillest Band: This Will Destroy You, October 12, 2010 and June 20, 2011. No, they will not destroy their listeners! :) I really enjoyed hanging out with these guys. Laid back, good people. Also, I finally saw the movie MONEYBALL over the holidays…congrats to the band for getting on the soundtrack!
Happiest Show: Caspian, December 10, 2010. What an amazing group of guys to have at the venue—their live show was so captivating! It was also great to hang with people who had also spent some time living in Boston. :)
Best Alternative Act: Wolves In the Throne Room, October 16, 2011. WHOOAA. This show blew me away. Changed my opinion of metal. They are not metal. They transcend metal!
Best German Act: Apparat, November 12, 2011. I Actually didn’t make it to this show…but, from what I’ve heard from my coworkers and friends, this band has earned this spot.
That’s my list! Til soon!
My mom would say William Fitzsimmons is a “character.” I’d describe him as a proud, humorous warrior. I say this because he’s a man who has fought severe depression, and he’s able to write songs, talk, and laugh about it.
The show last night was fantastic. The venue sold out. The crowd was so happy. Every person there was purely there for Fitzsimmons’ music; they all knew to be particularly quiet because impolite chatter during his concerts is one of Fitzsimmons’ biggest pet peeves…
Because I’m moving to Berlin, last night’s show was officially my last concert as a Beatpol employee. I’ll occasionally be coming back on weekends to visit and help out, though.
I plan to do a few more posts on here before I say farewell! Among those posts will be a wrap-up article, a couple more interviews with musicians who have played at Beatpol, and a really special feature on my friend Jan, who works at Beatpol from time to time and has the biggest collection of drumsticks I have ever seen.
Til then, happy holidays!
William Fitzsimmons tonight at Beatpol! The American singer/songwriter is a dark, delicate musician who has been through Dresden and Beatpol before! This is the venue’s last show for December. Doors at 8; show starts at 9.
Last night Discorporate Records presented a show at Veränderbar in Dresden, featuring the New York City band Buke and Gase (formally spelled Buke and Gass). The show was the American duo’s second to last stop in Europe, rounding out a three-week tour.
I’m talking about the show on this blog because Beatpol’s lighting technician, Johannes, is the head of Discorporate Records. I’ve always admired his work and the people he works with. Musically, Johannes is a sort of local kingpin; he’s an affable guy who brilliantly asserts his musical taste among the community, bringing international acts to cozy local venues. Regarding last night, Veränderbar was the perfect space to host the show. The cafe/bar/venue mix was just the right feel to intimately welcome the sold-out, 70-person crowd (which happened to include a handful of Beatpol regulars!).
Buke and Gase is a two-part male/female act that presents music in a new form. Arone Dyer plays the buke (a bass ukulele) while singing and stomping her cymbal-adorned foot. Aron Sanchez plays the gass (a bass guitar with guitar strings and bass strings, each linked to corresponding pickups and amps) while playing the kick drum and covering backup vocals. Together, the duo combines rigid guitar strumming with intricate finger picking and unpredictable verse/chorus change-ups. Sometimes the vocals are loud and strong, sometimes they are cute and tiny, other times they’re nonexistent and the two are just rocking out on their respective guitars while playing percussion simultaneously with their feet. They’re a true act of entertainment; audience members can’t get bored while watching them because there’s so much going on at any given moment.
The most immediate allure of the two’s live performance is the vocals. A lazy writer would compare Dyer’s voice with Regina Spektor’s, only to miss that Dyer’s singing technique is more creative and experimental (for example, during one live song, Dyer sang higher and higher until her throat squeezed out an impressive cat-like cry).
Another highlight is Buke and Gase’s convoluted writing, which tends to mimic the duo’s erratic sound. The lines aren’t easy-to-follow stories that one can dive into without thinking. For example, take the band’s popular track, “Your Face Left Before You”:
Fess-up heart-rate, by default/Honest-er the closer we walk/One day I’ll like the truth/Until then I know you’ll/Heel-toe your way out the back door ‘til there’s no more.
It may not be the right kind of music for first-time listeners who are looking for something aurally easier to grasp, but there is certainly reward in taking the time to get to know the band’s musical depth…their songs are “growers” that fans can enjoy more and more with each listen.
The band’s last show is tonight in Berlin at Festsaal Kreuzberg with Bachelorette!
Check out Buke and Gase at http://www.bukeandgase.com/.
TOMORROOOOWWW at Beatpol! We have a 5-euro show with THE FAST FORWARDS, from Sweden (ooooh)! Doors at 9 / show starts at 10!
Local journalist Andreas Körner wrote up a nice piece in the local newspaper about Beatpol…
Die Welt in Briesnitz: Der Beatpol
Der große Saal im Gebäude mit der Hausnummer Altbriesnitz 2a hat in über 100 Jahren schon einige Bilder und Menschen gesehen. Ab 1896 wurde im Gasthof gegessen und getrunken und getanzt, in den 1930er Jahren begann man - mit dem Popularitätsschub des Genres - Filme zu zeigen. Dustin Hoffman war also auch schon da, mit „Kramer gegen Kramer“ im „Filmeck“. 1981 war das.
Das Kino hat nicht überlebt, wohl aber die Tatsache, dass die Welt nach Briesnitz kommt. Seit Ende 1990, als aus dem auch für Konzerte geradezu ideal bemessenen Raum ein Live-Club wurde. Es schlingerte zunächst, stilistisch und personell. Eine klare Ausrichtung war in den frischen Nachwende-Jahren nicht zu erkennen. Mehrere Initiativen bastelten an mehreren Konzepten, auch für die jugendkulturelle Stadt. Von westwärts kam ein Investor, baute den Tresen und brachte den klangvollen Namen mit: Star Club. Zu hoch gepokert? Das mit Elbe und Hamburg zu eifrig übersetzt? Keinesfalls, doch es lag nicht am Personalimport. Es waren einheimische Kenner, Neugierige, Kundige – Fleißige, die als e.V. dem Star Club nach 1993 Kontur gaben. Hans-Jürgen „Lotte“ Lachotta muss an erster Stelle genannt werden. Ein Tänzer. Ein Manager. Beides durchaus auch im übertragenen Sinne, vereint im Wort vom Stehaufmännchen. Bis heute ist er mit Ein- und Umsicht die Personalsäule vor Ort. Um ihn herum scharten und scharen sich an Veranstaltungsabenden zwei Generationen Mitarbeiter, die wissen, weshalb sie gerade dort ihr spärliches Geld verdienen: Es geht eben nicht ums Geld.
Es geht um Klima und Atmosphäre unter inzwischen freigelegter historischer Decke. Es geht immer auch um die Wurst. Rechtfertigung als Kunstsegment im Reigen der klassisch Etablierten, Kampf um behördliche Akzeptanz, um Werte und auch ums Recht. Am 31.12. 2007 verlor der Club das „Star“ durch juristische Verfügung und nennt sich seitdem Beatpol. Es geschah – nichts. Die Botschaft blieb Wahrhaftigkeit. Der Club wurde noch bekannter, setzte sich vor allem auch beim heranwachsenden Publikum durch. Lokal braucht das in Dresden immer etwas Zeit, international aber gehört der Star Club resp. Beatpol längst zu den ersten gesamtdeutschen Adressen für Rock’n’Roll in wirklich all seinen Facetten. Auch die Nummernschilder der Autos am Abend sind international, im Stadtteil aber blieb der Club ebenso verortet, nicht nur gelitten.
Hier spielt, wer populär ist. Und relevant. Hier ist Platz für das Experiment und die Innovation. Hier darf die Jugend ran und der Alte Meister. Eine in ihrer Nüchternheit geniale Rubrik der Beatpol-Website ist die „Hall Of Fame“. Ein Klick darauf und das aufmerksame Lesen vom A bis Z aller bislang aufgetretenen Musiker sagt mehr als jedes noch so gutgemeinte kommentierende Wort.
Solche Worte finden die Künstler selbst zur Genüge. Sie spüren, dass sie noch betreut werden, nicht abgefertigt, und das nicht nur beim vom Club selbst zubereiteten Abendmahl. Stephano am Einlass, Blitz an den Reglern, Carsten beim Booking, Alex bei den Getränken – es läuft. Und die DNN ist seit Gründungstagen sympathisierend-kritisch und begleitend dabei.
One of my bosses told a good story tonight.
He was backstage at Haldern Festival in Germany this past summer with his friends Denis Adler from Burning Eagle Booking and Christof Ellinghaus from City Slang Records. The three men were watching Canadian musician Dan Mangan’s outstanding set at Haldern, all impressed by the man who had recently signed with Canada’s Arts & Crafts Records. Mangan exited the stage and was mauled by labelheads and agents who all wanted a piece of the buzz artist; during his set, Mangan had said he wasn’t officially signed in Europe yet.
My boss and his friends stood back watching Mangan’s flock of admirers, smiling, for they knew something the flock did not: Mangan had met up with Ellinghaus just hours before showtime and had verbally agreed to releasing his work with City Slang.
And that’s how it happened.
Except, that’s not the whole story. There was a lot more buildup to that moment.
Vancouver’s Dan Mangan has paid his dues. He’s been writing and playing music for over a decade now. For years Mangan was doing all of the background work—booking, promoting, networking—on his own. The musician credits his “naive optimism” and the “Myspace golden years” in helping him learn the ropes and get to where he is now.
And now, Mangan is an internationally signed and acclaimed musician. He just wrapped up his biggest Canadian tour yet, playing in giant sold-out theaters across his homeland. Currently the man’s in Europe for the umteenth time, being greeted by large crowds in places where he’s never even set foot. How does this happen? It all goes back to Mangan’s dedication to the job and how he’s built his career slowly over time.
“This is the band’s first tour since we’ve signed with City Slang. It’s helped things grow…it’s nice to have names like City Slang and Arts & Crafts on our side because people know those names. There was a time when I had to do everything on my own…the beauty in that is that I now know the people I’m working with are doing things right…I also can respect how hard the work is,” explains Mangan.
The most pleasant part of this is that Mangan carries no weight on his back; he’s a modest and fresh character, interested in meeting new people and learning new things. Although he’s toured Europe numerous times, Mangan still enjoys learning German words and stumbling upon unseen countryside villages. It all seems to be part of his “naive optimism” that follows him from show to show.
Regarding the Beatpol show, the night’s crowd adored Mangan and his band, attentively listening to their one and half hour set and embracing the artist’s new work off Oh Fortune. Mangan killed every instrumental break with each band member (Gord Grdina, Kenton Loewen and John Walsh) adding his own complementary style. It’s a powerful thing to see an upright bass player thrashing about with the winding progression of a song.
The night ended with the band joining the audience off stage for its final encore song, ”So Much For Everyone.” Mangan stood atop a chair, belting into the audience as they sang coinciding background harmonies.
Not bad for a musician who never played in Dresden before.
To learn more about Dan Mangan, visit:
Johannes found the Metronomy setlist from Friday night while cleaning up the venue tonight. DRUMROLL»»>
We Broke Free
Back on the Motorway
You Could Easily Have Me
The End of you too
A Thing For Me
Everything Goes My Way
Metronomy! Coming to Beatpol tomorrow night. It is sold out, but maybe you can still find a ticket somehow…