Lagerstein: Raise Your Steins

"I beer-bonged an entire bottle of rum and Tabasco sauce"

Ahoy lads, grab your eyeliner and hide your rum because the crew of the S.S. Plunderberg are about to set sail to a port near you with a new album chock full of tales of piracy, drunkenness and German fun times. To find out a bit more, I managed to catch the blunderbuss bassist known as The Immobilizer between drinks on Australia Day of all days where he was nice enough to talk to me about the new album, Visa problems and classic Australian telly.

So, you guys have a new album coming out on Feburary 2nd, All For Rum and Rum For All, can you tell me a bit about the making of that album? “Well this album was a huge feat for us because after our last album, our old singer Ultralord left, and he was a big writing force in the band. So, when it came down to writing this album, we all kind of had to check in and do it together. Now, everyone in the band is quite good at writing, we just haven’t done it as a unit. So with that said, there were a lot of overwrites and revisions and I think it took us about 18 months to get it all done. But we are very, very pleased with the end result and are itching at the sides to show people.”

So as you've mentioned, between this album and your last one, you’ve changed singers. That’s never an easy transition for any band, how did you guys manage it? “We searched high and low for a singer. We had loads of people audition and just stuck it out until we found a perfect match in which we found Captain Gregarrr, and not only that we also added an extra keyboardist, Jacob. So, it took a little transitional time trying to get them up to speed and Gregor wasn’t really used to the whole live show aspect of things even though he’s quite a good singer with a lot of training. But especially after touring the UK with Alestorm, he’s really at the top of his game.”

Was it challenging to incorporate all these personnel changes whilst writing a new album that of course, had to sound like Lagerstein? “I guess the whole reason we started Lagerstein is because we wanted music to drink to. So, it’s pretty easy to maintain the Lagerstein sound when you love drinking as much as we all do. If someone hears us and says ‘oh man, I feel like a rum’ our job is complete.”

On the band's latest album and throughout 2012's Drink Til We Die, I managed to catch some pretty overt references to classic Australian TV shows. “[Laughs] Oh yes. I’m really glad that you picked up on that.” You've had the Ship to Shore theme and a now a nod to Who Dares Wins. Do you think we’ll be seeing any other shows getting a nod in the future? “I don’t think it would be a Lagerstein album without a classic Australian TV reference". Personally, I’d love to see some Pluckaduck stuff show up in an album. “[Laughs] That’s a brilliant idea.”Or maybe some Round The Twist. “Ah, see we were going to do Round The Twist, but another Brisbane metal band had already covered it, so I think we missed out on it.”

You’ve written two songs about it so far, so I have to ask. Is Jungle Juice a real drink? “Most definitely. On the first album, we had Jungle Juice Journey. The amount of people that messaged us, asking for the recipe of jungle juice was just astounding. So many people wanted to know that we decided for the second album we would just flat out sing the recipe.” How did the recipe come about. Did you make it up just because of the song or did it exist before that? “No, it came about when I was a young pup at around 13 and my older brother told me about it. I eventually showed it to all the Lager boys and they all agreed that it was the best drink ever. It’s just such a jolly good time, you just can’t have a bad time drinking jungle juice, it’s impossible.”

Now, obviously you’re known as the Immobilizer and Lagerstein has this reputation for heavy drinking. So I am curious, what is the hardest you’ve ever gone? “Being asked this question many times before I’ve narrowed it down to three situations; my first one is the very first time that Alestorm played in Brisbane, I beer-bonged an entire bottle of rum and Tabasco sauce. That was pretty rough. The second one was in Barcelona; I drank about 40 litres of beer in about 8 hours. I just kinda ruled it by the amount of cheering. If people cheer at you, you’ve got to take the drink. You’re in Europe and in the pub, it just catches on and people buy me drinks and cheer at me. And for the third one I’m suddenly drawing a blank so instead I’ll just say on this last Saturday I was having my birthday party. I drank about two cartons of rum, which was pretty good.”

It seems that you’re pretty close to the guys in Alestorm. You support them whenever they come out here and they’ve even taken you on tour in Europe. How did this pirate alliance come about? “It was very early days, back before I was even in a pirate band. I befriended Chis on MSN or Myspace, I can’t even remember, we just started talking. When they came out here, I met up with them and just sort of grooved from there. It even developed to the point where I went to America on their American tour last year by myself just to hang out.”

I was listening to your podcast with Andy Dowling and you told a story about a bit of trouble you had while trying to get over to Europe. Do you mind regaling us with that story again? “I definitely can. So, this is when we were flying into Heathrow in London. In the months leading up to it, we were wondering if we were sweet for visas because every time you leave the country, you need a performance visa and a working visa, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Anyway we were told that since we were Australian it would be sweet because being part of the Commonwealth it made sense. We arrive at Heathrow after 20 hours of transit and more or less get immediately put in jail for not having visas, get fingerprinted, get questioned, end up getting deported from London back to Dubai. While we were in the air to Dubai, we sourced out some working visas that we had, sweet talked our way from Dubai back to Paris, got to Paris, filled out all the paperwork, took a train from Paris to London, a train from London to Norwich which was where the first gig was and missed the first gig by 15 minutes.”

So, you guys are hitting the road in February to promote the album with an American pirate themed band called Rainbowdragoneyes. How did that come about?  “Well, when we went to the UK with Alestorm, Rainbowdragoneyes was the opening act. He’s actually the drummer for Swashbuckle. He is just unbelieveable, you have to see it to believe it. He makes all of his music on a Gameboy and then just plays it through the p.a. and just stands on stage by himself and sings. It’s incredible.”

After the Australian tour, what has Lagerstein got planned for the rest of the year so far? “We are actually relocating to Budapest in April and basing ourselves out of Europe and trying to do some of the festivals and shows all throughout Europe and the UK and taking it from there.”

You heard it folks, if you’re in Australia and wanting to catch Lagerstein, these next shows may be your last chance for a while. Get on it....