Interview with Clemens Fobianke from MONOPOL, 2016/10/30:

Q: Please tell us about the circumstances which eventually led to the formation of the band MONOPOL. 

A: Nick had been a musician for years and had a lot of music production experience, and I was the nerd, building and dealing with synthesizers since 1975. The German New Wave explosion gave us a signal to try out a minimal project.
We were looking for female singers and started out with two.
Elke made the race – after a long and complicated “catfight”.
We made the right decision with her, but never played the “Marilyn Monroe card as some labels would have liked us to.
No political influence at all, though the lyrics were in an anarchic mood in contrast to many of the lighthearted lyrics of the times.

Q: What made you choose synthesizers and drum machines instead of using a more conventional setup? For the tech-nerds, the wonderful Roland TR-808 drum machine is easily being recognized, but what synths/sequencers did you use? Did you have any major influences from the electronic music scene?

A: My background gave us more or less the impetus to use electronic instruments. The analog equipment at that time was the best and newest what the market could provide. Mini-and PolyMoog – Moog modular system 55 PPG 360 – ArpOdyssey – Roland  – Korg MS Series and Doepfer sequencer and some my self-builds – later on we got the first PPG Wave delivered in Germany. Nick used a guitar for a little more of a “human touch” alongside the static sequenced rhythm.

I was into music from Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Q: The MONOPOL songs are very well crafted and versatile, and have interesting and unusual (not very much commercially exploitable) lyrics. How/where was the album recorded and did anyone of you have recording studio experience (like being an engineer) or a classical musical instrument training?

A: Luckily I had some colleagues with a 16-track studio near Hanover, a good deal for us, 6 weeks to rehearse and record the tracks for the demo tape. The mastering took place at HorusStudios/Hanover after the deal with EMI. We had no classical musical education – autodidactic is the keyword.

Q: MONOPOL released one album "Weltweit", and a single release "Gib Liebe her", in 1982 on the famous German Welt-Rekord label that had signed lots of NDW bands, including pretty successful bands such as Fehlfarben, Grauzone, Profil or Rheingold. How did MONOPOL get signed, what were your expectations from signing to such a big label, how do you recall the relationship and how turned it all out in the end for you, having in mind that no follow-up release happened?

A: At that time all major labels were afraid of missing the next bigNumber One“ act. And keep in mind that TRIOs “dadada“ got rejected/denied 3 times while the German New Wave was at its peak – chart-wise. It was like a dream – labels called me up and offered more and more money for the contract. But soon after we released our record, German New Wave started fading, and the radio stations/media wouldn’t play it anymore. Too bad. We missed out on a 6-month window to have a bigger impact. We had a deal for two records and got a good buy-outWe all had different ideas about our future plans – so we split – halfway decently.

Q: Right after the album recordings did you record more material as MONOPOL or under a different moniker?

A: As far as I know, Elke started a solo career with different producers. Nick and I chose to go different ways – locations and careers changed.

Q: Did you also play live as MONOPOL?

A: No. We had some TV shows (full playback), but never played live. Actually a bit complicated with all that analog equipment on stage.

Q: Did anyone of you proceed in recording music, and is maybe recording to this day?

A: Nick is still doing studio work and has his own synchronization company. I went into computer animation with my company and later into machinimas/virtual worlds – sometimes composing music tracks for them with the latest digital equipment.

Q: How do you feel about the fact that there is still some interest in what you did musically/artistically like 35 years ago, and that the album is seeing a re-release soon (a joint release on Medical Records LLC (USA) and Anna Logue Records (Germany)? Did you ever think of getting back together and record new material?

A: On one hand its very sweet – but it’s also a pretty long time ago – and life changes a lot. Over the years we’ve had contacts regarding the project here and there – but it was more on a blog level. Never thought about getting back together again, but we are really looking forward to the new release.

Q: Do you have any other fond memories you would like to share with us?

A: In general: to be in the right place at the right time always helps.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and best wishes!

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