Who: Vicky Leandros Where: Café Grosz, Berlin When I ask…
Who: H.P. Baxxter, Frontman of Scooter
Where: Berlin, Germany
He has been mixing up the Techno scene like no one else for 25 years: H.P. Baxxter and his band Scooter. When the native East Friesian, who in real life is called Hans Peter Geerdes, enters the stage and roars “Hyper, Hyper” and “How much is the fish”, there is nothing stopping him. Then the crowd rages and 13,000 fans of all ages in the sold-out Berlin concert hall “Velodrom” get into happy frenzy. Who gets to know him, is sometimes surprised: H.P. Baxxter, who has invented shouting for his hits, is rather cautiously quiet and very polite in private. Meet me for Tea with the hydrogen-peroxide-blonde successful musician and a strong East Frisian mix in the cup.
MyStylery: Does the East Friesian make East Friesian jokes all the time?
H.P. Baxxter (laughs): The East Friesian drinks tea, however making the jokes is not true.
MS: You are an enthusiastic tea drinker since childhood. What brought you to the taste?
HPB: As long as I can remember, we had tea after lunch. I thought that was the case all over the world. In the morning for breakfast black tea, in the afternoon also with friends a cup and then for dinner. Black tea never prevented me from falling asleep either.
MS: So tea is strongly linked to your childhood memories …
HPB: Exactly. As a child, I liked to have a sleepover at my grandma’s. I was allowed to stay up late there. And it was our tradition to sit in the kitchen just before going to bed and drink black East Friesian tea, but with lots of candy and cream.
MS: This reminds of English tea drinking habits …
HPB: I also like to take PJ Tips tea bags from England. Especially when we are in the studio and the leisure is missing. At least there are tea mugs with the likeness of the Queen and Prince Charles (laughs). At home I especially like to drink the mixture “Bünting Privat Ostfriesentee”. This is a very high quality tea, which is important in the rather moderate, very calcareous water quality of Hamburg. In East Frisia, the water is much softer. I drink coffee very rarely, for example on Sunday afternoon with the cheese-cake.
MS: Does anyone still call you Hans-Peter?
HPB: Yes, my mother. Mostly. Sometimes she says HP. The name Hans-Peter was a problem for me as a child. I was so glad when my chemistry teacher in the 11th grade came up with the idea of calling me “HP”. I suspect the idea came to him through the TV series Dallas and the villain JR. (Laughs)
MS: Are you checking in at the hotel under the name Geerdes or Baxxter?
HPB: When I’m officially with the band, always under Baxxter. In such a moment I get angry, when it says Hans-Peter Geerdes. This is private and is used when I order a craftsman for home. Although at first I always had to laugh when my manager at the front desk asked if the suite for Mr Baxxter was ready. In the restaurant I get the better table, if I order under the name Baxxter.
MS: Does your popularity sometimes annoy you?
HPB: When I’m stressed out, arriving the airport last minute and just then get into a bachelor party, where I’m asked for selfies and autographs, then that’s exhausting. On the other hand, of course, an indicator that you are still on the radar.
MS: Scooter has been Germany’s most successful band since 1993. This year you have the 25th anniversary. You are still the only founding member. Actually, you could sit back and relax now.
HPB: Music has always been my life, which I have never considered work, but always a great pleasure and a lot of fun.
MS: You always have to come up with something new …
HPB: Like the co-operations with Vicky Leandros or Status Quo, which are mostly spontaneous. We used to go back to the studio immediately after each tour and continue to work. Sure, there were phases when we could not think of anything. We then took nine month-break. A creative break, so to speak. Why didn’t we do that more often? I wonder.
MS: With the end of the “Love Parade”, some also saw the end of the Techno era. Is Techno still up to date?
HPB: Techno has changed a lot, but is still a matter. And this since more than 30 years now. There are different currents like Minimal or Electro House. In the clubs in Ibiza like the Pacha exactly these beats are played again. The sound of the gigantic open-air festivals eventually has its roots in Techno.
MS: How do you explain the great success of Scooter abroad, of all things in Scandinavia or Russia?
HPB: In Russia with the political circumstances and the euphoria caused by the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Wall. Our sound was and is the connection between East and West. The Russian fans are also very loyal. They have heard us in their youth and still do today. And younger ones come after.
MS: Children want to become locomotive drivers or astronauts. You dreamed of a career as a musician.
HPB: I was totally fascinated by the glam rock era of the 70s, by bands like Sweet and T. Rex. The highlight of the week for me was when the shows like Beat Club or Disco with Ilja Richter came on German TV. At 14, I had my first student band. There was no one in my hometown of Leer who took this as seriously as I did. Some lacked the discipline to rehearse three times a week. For many it was just hobby-like rumbling. There I sometimes stood alone with my guitar.
MS: Can you actually sing properly? You have never been in the church- or school choir, right?
HPB: No. I always refused. My singing, the shouting, was the inspiration of a spontaneous idea. I actually saw myself as a great guitarist. When I became interested in electronic music and New Wave, like Depeche Mode or Simple Minds, I could not do anything with my guitar. So I switched to singing, although I had never sung at the time. The advantage of the 80s was that everyone had sung wrong. Expression and stage presence were crucial. So I became a frontman and a little later we founded Scooter.
MS: Many musicians take drugs. How do you manage to keep your hands off?
HPB: I’m watching the Narcos series on Netflix right now. Insanity, if you imagine how many tons of coke alone the Pablo Escobar clan has shipped and to what extent the people have always been taking it. For me, that was never an issue, even if I sometimes felt like the stupid, clueless redneck. Sometimes I regret that I’ve never been so Rock’n’Roll, not someone who just blew up all conventions. I do not have this self-destructive gene of an Amy Winehouse. I’m just too conservative for that.
MS: And you live that way too. Have you always been so Anglophile?
HPB: As a child I loved English series, “Captain Weasel”, “ Upstairs, Downstairs“, “All Creatures Great and Small“. I have always liked the dignified English way of life. Rock musicians like Mick Jagger then lived like English landlords, drove Rolls Royce and were simply cool. At the age of 16, I was in England for the first time, where I made a bike tour to London with a buddy. That blew me away.
MS: Some interpret this as a petit-bourgeois way of life. ‘HP and his stuffy antelopes’ was the title of an article about you.
HPB: Many have this pigeonholing. Does a musician always have to live in a minimalist industrial loft? I like to break with conventions. I do not consider gnu, tiger or zebra as hunting trophies, with which I adorn myself, but as part of my furnishing concept. I love this bizarre.
MS: And you find that in Hamburg-Duvenstedt? Why do you not live in Berlin?
HPB: I need the rural as compensation. I’m rarely home enough. Last year I was on the road for months straight. I really enjoy sitting around the fireplace for five evenings in a row, watching shows and drinking my tea!
MS: Your career is interesting: You were a law student in Hannover …
HPB: That was the only way to get out of the small town. After all, I was in college for three weeks. (laughs) Then I decided on a commercial apprenticeship, two and a half years in a dental wholesaler. I would recommend anyone an apprenticeship as a professional basis.
MS: Did you ever think that you would also be a member of the TV casting shows DSDS and X-Factor jury, as well as having guest appearances in some German TV series?
HPB: No and I will certainly not start as an actor. These were not character roles. (laughs) Rather short appearances where I say, “How much is the fish”. But it’s fun to get involved in something new.
MS: You were married twice. Will there be a third time?
HPB: Three times is “East Frisian right”, is a saying in East Frisia. I would not bar it. I also believe in fate and do not do anything compulsively.
MS: You are a family man with close contact to your mother and the children of your sister. Do you regret not having your own children?
HPB: It just didn’t come about. Sometimes I find it a pity not to have a son with whom I could do pub tours today.
MS: Do you feel a bit alone in your big house? You do not even have pets, you just hang around with those stuffed things.
HPB: Yes, that’s the way it is. Sometimes I have to talk to my gnu. (laughs) In my time as a single, there was one or the other lonely moment. But I am in a new relationship since a year and a half.
MS: Your girlfriend is 26 years younger than you. Not just a slight age difference…
HPB: It makes a difference whether your partner is 18 or 28. A certain life experience is certainly not a disadvantage. My previous partner was the same age as I, and I thought, she knew about life with her maturity. Everything would be relaxed, I thought. The opposite was the case. I need a woman by my side, who also has power, likes to go out and has a certain independence.
MS: How important is the encounter at eye level through similar experiences? You can look back on moments, where your girlfriend was not even born.
HPB: Yes, I agree with you. But after three years you do not talk about it anymore. Common interests are much more important to me.
MS: Speaking of planning for the future: Scooter and no end in sight?
HPB: I do it for as long as it’s really fun, full house, people are having fun and everything feels good. It was a long way to be able to perform at major mainstream festivals like Highfield. Traipse round discos with my hits that I played 30 years ago would not be my world. I think I’ll just fall dead on stage someday. BvH
Info H.P. Baxxter and Scooter:
No German band ever had as many top ten hits as Scooter. With 30 million records sold in over 50 countries, Scooter is the most successful German band – consisting of H.P. Baxxter, Michael Simon and Phil Speiser – at all.
Dates for the anniversary tour „100% Scooter – 25 Years Wild & Wicked Tour“:
Fri 08/17/2018 Hamburg (Trabrennbahn Bahrenfeld)
Sa 08/18/2018 Dresden (Elbufer)
Sa 08/25/2018 Beverungen (Weserufer)
The interview series “Meet me for Tea” is sponsored by KPM – Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur Berlin.
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