I caught up with Clemens Rehbin, the lead singer of the German duo “Milky Chance”. Their first single “Stolen Dance” went number one on charts in multiple countries in Europe. Since then they’ve been on the road to becoming international superstars; gaining more American success by the day since playing mega-festivals like Bonaroo, Coachella, and Music Midtown. The group just kicked off another world tour, where I saw them kill it at the Joy Theatre in New Orleans. Before the show, we talked everything from where the band name came from to fatherhood.
Q: Congrats on kicking off a world tour, it looks like you’ll be going pretty non-stop from January to May. How do you guys prepare for tour; physically, mentally, musically?
A: Umm, well, we try to keep healthy while on tour. Besides that, we just got back from some time off at home with our families. So that’s also a very important part. That’s pretty much how we prepare, take some time to recharge.
Q: Most stops on your tour are city to city every night. Do you guys ever get time to explore these new places between shows?
A: Uh yeah, I mean sometimes we can take a break and get something to eat, but on tour it’s not like we’re traveling. But it’s still very nice you get to catch a little bit of each city.
Q: Being on the road together, you obviously get close, but I can tell you two are great friends. I read you met in school and were in a jazz quartet together. Did you two ever imagine you’d go from the quartet in Kassel (Germany) to playing in New Orleans?
A: Uh no, not at all. Back in the days you were talking about, it was really fun, those were nice times, being in high school it was just fun being in a band. It’s always been a passion, but we didn’t have any real responsibilities at the time. Being in a band in high school is very different. We started working on projects but now we’re here… It’s good, it’s fun, but yeah, we’re very grateful for it.
Q: I love the band name, where did “Milky Chance” come from? What made you choose an English name as opposed to German?
A: Umm, it actually came from out of my head (laughs). I came up with the name kind of around the same time of being in high school. Just doing music, I was starting to write songs at my parent’s house, dreaming of having a band or being in a band someday. I created a band name for each song, and Milky Chance was just one of those names. It’s very funny that it’s our name now, and we’re touring with this band name.
Q: You have such a unique sound for many writers it’s even hard to label. I’ve seen Milky Chance referred to as everything from alternative to folk pop. Is it possible to fit your sound into one of these “boxes”? How would you label it for someone unfamiliar?
A: Um, yeah, I mean, were not the kind of people who like to put things in boxes but, I like to describe it as dancehall melancholy. There’s a lot of influence of blues, rock, and jazz. I like to describe music not only in words or genres but more as in emotions. It is dancehall music but there is a lot of melancholy in there. Like a mixture of upbeat happy vibes but also something sad in there.
Q: I got the feeling from listening to the lyrics off your new album (Blossom), especially “Blossom” “Ego” and “Doing Good” that spiritual growth was a major theme behind this record. Was there a change in the three years between albums?
A: Um yeah, I mean there has been a lot of change. I think when we were starting recording all the songs for our second album Blossom, we were just at the end of a year three and a half year rollercoaster. You know, a lot of touring, we were just thrown into that music business as well as becoming fathers. So that was a big change for us, and we experienced a lot together. Our personal lives went through a lot of big changes, we have families now.
Q: Are you writing while on the road, or do you take time off to create and record? What themes can fans expect from you next?
A: We would love to take some time off to create but there isn’t much time with the touring schedule, so we are working on the road. I do write songs constantly here. We have microphones and other equipment we keep so we can set up anywhere we are and start recording. We’re working on it.