After their other bands called it quits or went on hiatus (WE HAD A DEAL, Mahlstrom, Reznik Syndrom and Rêche), Michael (g), Felix (b), Jan (g), Martin (d) and Micha (v) needed an outlet and went on to form SCHÖNLEBEN. The project’s goal was simply to spend time together, to write a few songs and be done with it. Over the course of a few writing seasons they came up with these six songs between posthardcore and emotive 90s-screamo that now form ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVEN DENKEN (“exercises in positive thinking”). The German lyrics deal with different themes, ranging from inspiring an aspirational mindset to lost friendships and coping with the feeling of alienation. Today, we’re giving you a closer look at this exceptional recording, through a special track by track commentary below.
Initially, the group’s intention was to simply document the fun they had writing music together but after listening to the recorded songs the group decided to give ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVE DENKEN a proper release on vinyl. That’s where Through Love Records stepped in. Besides being a great record label with a excellent roster Through Love Records felt right because it had already helped to release records by We Had A Deal as well as Mahlstrom.
The LP is accompanied by a conceptual packaging, containing a screen-printed poster (DinA4), a sticker and a massive booklet (28 pages, DinA5). All artworks were done by our singer Micha (schwarzerrand.wordpress.com). The whole graphic concept is meant to complement the music in any possible way by giving the whole album a gritty look (with a subliminal sense of irony on the cover image). The whole artwork was photographed on Micha’s way to work. Micha also did a videoclip for the record’s first single WEICHENSTÖRUNG and a visual for its second single SPANNUNGSFELDER, both of which you can watch below, in our special first-hand track by track commentary provided by the band.
Comments the band: “We want to express deep gratitude for everyone who made this release possible. It’s surreal that we went from ‘just’ writing songs together to having an actual record released..
All songs were written by the whole band during a handful of writing seasons usually on the weekends. Most of the time that involved a shared meal and hanging out together afterwards. The songs’ lyrics are based on single phrases written down while traveling on trains or buses and then worked into whole song lyrics during writing seasons. This way we wrote the six following songs.
Regardng our plans, there won’t be any live shows and we have no plans on writing more songs. This is more than we ever wanted out of this project. We’re humbled that people can actually listen to our music now and hopefully gain something from our songs. With this release SCHÖNLEBEN has come full circle and we couldn’t be happier with its result. Thanks to IDIOTEQ for the opportunity to present ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVEN DENKEN on this great website. We also want to take the opportunity of thanking everyone who preordered ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVEN DENKEN, your support is amazing.”
Track by track commentary
The opening track starts with the most skramz-ish riff we have on this record. Yet this song ends with the only postrock-part SCHÖNLEBEN has to offer. In a way the song sums up all our different band experiences and combines them. HOCHSEILAKT was the second song we wrote and the first one with a second guitar because the band initially started out as a four piece. The lyrics reflect on some people’s rigid life plans and the blindfolds that come along with them. There is nothing bad about having goals in life or a certain idea of what you want out of it. But in our experience it’s the times your plans go up in flames that build your character.
Although it’s one of our absolute favorite song on ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVEN DENKEN this song took the longest time to write. At first we had no idea how to go on after finishing the first half of it. Now the second half of WEICHENSTÖRUNG became probably one of the most depressed parts on this record. The lyrics are the swan song of taking yourself too seriously and the self-centered attitude that goes along with that. There definitely are times when it’s healthier to be able to laugh about yourself than to drown in self-loathing. At the same time ridiculing the problems of your own or others can’t be the solution rather we could celebrate who we are and all our flaws e.g. by writing these songs.
This was the first song we wrote for SCHÖNLEBEN without a clear vision how this full project will sound like. We added the second guitar later on, after Jan joined SCHÖNLEBEN. The song stands out in some ways. Its musical parts as well as the vocals range from being really quiet to being right in your face. This became kind of a blueprint for the dynamics of the songs that followed. Listening to it now feels like “oh, so this is how we started the whole thing”. The lyrics are (again) about accepting your failures and at least trying to create something meaningful out of them as a possibility to set yourself free.
Musicwise KÜNSTLICHE BEATMUNG is our most hardcore-ish song. Its songwriting is relatively straight forward. From start to finish there are almost no detours until it reaches its climax in the end. The song’s about how rightwing ideology and its representatives let the rules of mass media work for them. By the way media attention is working right now they can navigate the focus of attention e.g. the way we talk about certain topics. This leads to absurd debates about not being able to debate. The lyrics are written around the core-phrase “for they know exactly what they’re doing”.
TASTSINN was the last song we finished before we recorded ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVEN DENKEN. It has a very prominent mellowed down middle-part which serves as the heart of the song. It leads to what might be the heaviest part on this record. It’s almost like this part’s saying “listen, if we could play black metal, we would but since we can’t this is as black metal as it gets”. Disappointment is the lyrics’ main theme. The song reflects on wasting potential for change and about finding yourself unable to maintain a positive mindset about it. So all in all the music and the lyrics of this song are grimmer and harsher than the other tracks on ÜBUNGEN IM POSITIVEN DENKEN.
We wanted to end the record on a strong note. So we chose SPANNUNGSFELDER as closing track because it has this great depressing outro. First of all, this is the only song in our record starting with a single bass-line. What follows is our take on writing a dramatic song. The song is also obviously influenced by one of the few bands all members of SCHÖNLEBEN really like: The Saddest Landscape. Its lyrics center around lost friendships, the inability to say what you really mean and the feeling of being left behind.