TNT Interview 2013


Conversationfrom September 16th 2013; Restaurant Bahnhof Wiedikon, Zürich


Interview:Stascha Bader (B)



SaraSchär, voc

DanielGrässle, guitar

AndréGross, bass

PhilRust, drums


B:Hey, are you actually aware that you formed the band on this day 35 years ago?You realise that, don’t you?


André:No idea.


Sara:No, that's pure coincidence that we’re meeting together, today on September 13th2013 at 6.35 pm.


Dani:We’ve only sent around twenty e-mails to make it happen on this specific day,couldn’t be otherwise, of course, we knew.


André:I didn’t know about it.


B:How old were you back then? Sara, you were 14-18 years old, that was your TNTperiod.


André:22-26 years.


Dani:19-23 years.


Phil:22-26 years.


André:Gianni [drummer prior to Phil] was also considerably younger.


Sara:Didn't he turn fifty last year?


André:No, the year before last.


Phil:Gianni’s that young? I didn’t know that.


Dani:He’s much younger than I am, well you as well but...


Sara:Yes, it’s known about me.


Dani:I still experienced the Fifties...


Phil:In that case Gianni was 17 when TNT was formed... so young.


André:I think he was 18.



B:Now, 35 years is a pretty long time, but what interests me is, when lookingback: was TNT some kind of comet that shot through space or was it fireworks?Can you remember how long TNT existed and why you actually split up?




Dani:A longish silence...


B:How long did you exist for and why did you even break up?


Dani:I think André only left because of me.


André:No idea.


Dani:No, I think I know why. I had a slightly experimental phase with the guitar andat some point that got on your nerves and then you split.


B:And how long did the band exist?


Sara:Four years, I believe from ‘78 until 1982.


Dani:I would say, Spring of 1982. And, the last recording that we have is “MackieMesser”, have you heard it, Sara?


Sara:Yes, it’s awesome!


Dani:That’s where a bit of the experimental stuff is also to be found.


Sara:Exactly, but sadly we have to cut that.


[Dand S laugh]


Dani:Why? No way! But it kind of still rocks, but I believe it was the lastrecording that we made and I think that was in Spring of 1982.



B:And, once you had left the band, André, wasn’t it a possibility simplyreplacing you?


André:That’s what we actually did.


Sara:No, we didn't change the bass player.


Dani:[joking] Yes, we made two bands, I had a band and we had a band together....


Phil:No, there was a period when Dani sort of was gone and then Thomi Bickel joinedus from SPERMA.


Sara:And you (Phil) at some point were gone, as well.


Phil:I once was half a year in London and others filled in for me.


Dani:Yes, Thomas Wydler und Schlatti [Beat Schlatter of LILIPUT].


Phil:Yes, and you (Dani) were in Berlin, at some point.


Dani:Yes, essentially it was the case that there were just substitutes.


Sara:Everybody always came back to the band. Clearly, we were this band.


André:Yeah, that was a cracker when we had to search for a new guitar player.


Sara:Aaaaah ouch!


Dani:What was that? A: It was hell when we had to look for a new guitar playerbecause Dani had left.


Sara:An impossibility.


André:One candidate with the appearance of Sid Vicious, looks like a Punk but playslike crap.


Sara.It was ghastly.




B:“Mackie Messer”. Is “Mackie Messer” now on the new album?


Dani:It should be on there... if they don't cut out the parts, otherwise, it won'tbe on it.




Sara:Always trouble with Dani.


André:What actually was experimental about the guitar playing?


Dani:I sometime crossed the strings and then did chchch chchcch – then the wholething was not so melodic any longer.


Sara:You jingled on the bridge.


Dani:No, I already crossed them at the front.


André:Ah yes, that’s right.


Dani:I already crossed them on the neck and that had a very special sound.


André:It was somehow rather jazzy.


Dani.No, it wasn't jazzy at all...


Phil:Have you just dug it up now?


Dani:I didn’t have a Revox machine anymore and Ursli [at Powerplay Studio] lent me aRevox A700 so that I could find the recordings from Club Hey. Then Iadditionally found lots of other stuff and I thought “Mackie Messer” is also acracker.



B:But why didn't anybody ever try to send you to a band therapy so you couldultimately find each other? Weren't you sorry that TNT suddenly was to be nomore? Or did everybody fancy a solo career so that you didn't need it anymore?


Dani:What kind of solo career?




Sex,drugs and rock'n'roll, yes.


Sara:For me it was like I only ever existed through this band. I couldn't imagineanything else.


B:Why didn't you fight for this band to continue?


Sara:It all sort of fell apart, including the environment that actually made us big.The whole Punk scene didn't exist any longer.


B:There are people saying that Punk didn't exist anymore after 1980, afterwardscame Postpunk and New Wave and everything that followed supposedly was retroand nostalgia. There are people that actually say that. Maybe Punk was trulyonly around for a short time, 1976 to 1980.


All:Yes, yes, that was the case, at most, the latest.


B:And you were Punk and as such were over.


Sara:Yes and no, of course we were a Punk band, but in my opinion we had progressedmuch further musically – albeit, away from our audience based on my impression.During the SAUS UND BRAUS festival at the Volkshaus, it was our last gig, manyopinions voiced went like: “TNT are getting way too poppy“ or “Not a Punk bandanymore“. So we and the audience had grown apart somewhat.


Phil:Yes, the hard songs were the best, that's absolutely clear and in retrospectalso undeniably the case. And then we went a bit in the direction of... well,what shall I say, SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES.


Dani:You think so?


Phil:Actually, yes.


Sara:But, “Hinterhalt“clearly is an awesome tune.


André:Yet, when Bickel played with us, we also played rock songs, for example,“Bomber” by MOTÖRHEAD, where we forced you to play double bass drum and wasquite rocking it. As for “Pop” – I would have puked from the term “Pop” - atleast back then.


Sara:But we were melodic, thus, in that sense, poppy.


Phil:I believe we had a few pop songs.


Sara:Melodic songs, yes.


Phil:Let's look at “Krokodil“ and “Popstars“,as examples.


Dani:But “Popstars“ is awesome.


André:Yes, but the guitars were still really buzzing...


Sara:Even though it was poppy, it still had drive.


André:Yes, exactly that's what I mean. These days there is of course a finedescription, Melodic Hardcore. [Laughs]


Wewere the predecessors for that. CIRCLE JERKS were contemporaneous and I thoughtthey were great as well.


Sara:Sorry, if Pop is such a loaded term nowadays.


Phl:You can now say what you want; we progressed as a Punk Rock band and moved awayfrom Punk. It was also obvious that this style would eventually run its courseat some point. Also, THE CLASH, for example, progressed with “Sandinista” andstuff...


André:… completely moved away, not unnoticed by us.


Phil:Generally, it was the case that most tried to release themselves and to trysomething new. For example, the concert at Achmed's wedding with Voco on bass –where André wasn't present.


[Everybodyhas to laugh loudly]


Ph:There we sounded a bit like SIOUXSIE.


Dani:No, you (Sara) at the time had... what did you call it? Salsa-Disco? You hadbeen on holiday somewhere...


Sara:In London! KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS were the rage right then.


André:Yeah, great!


Dani:And then the cow bell came into it.


Sara:The Influences just come along....


André:… and all those weird bands that are not around anymore nowadays.


All:Yes, exactly, exactly!!!!


André:Luckily, they don’t exist anymore.



B:How much prior music experience did you actually have and is it possible thatyou already could play your instruments too well to play truly raw Punk? Overtime, a certain degree of professionalism and skills does tend to creep in.


Dani:I see that slightly different. I started playing the guitar in 1972 and I don'tthink it really depends on playing the right note exactly, but much rather itdepends on what kind of power you put into that note. You can play a wrong noteand it can sound totally great. When it comes at the right place, then it'stotally awesome.


B:You can also play a right note in the right place – that’s also possible?


Dani:Yeah, I could do that sometimes as well.




No,it's truly the case, it all depends how you play a note.


André:No Dani, you don't have to sell yourself short – of course he could play guitarreally, really well.


Sara:Yes, he was the chief.


André:We couldn't find a successor who could have played that, we struggled toreplace him.


Dani:The first time I hear that, i think that’s nice.






Sara:You knew that for sure.


Phil:Good guitarists are an exception in Zürich, that's always been the case.


André:That’s really no longer the case these days. Thommy Vetterli of CORONER, forexample.


Sara:Good drummers were also a challenge.


Phil:Yes, okay, of course with Metal there are a few. But especially in Punk therewere virtually no guitarists that had a level of power. Actually, nobody exceptDani. That was a slight problem for our competition: the other bands didn'thave this drive.


Sara:But Phil also ensured that the band made a giant leap forward. Without Phil wewould have never made it that far.


Dani:Yes, absolutely. The constructive criticism that came from Phil duringrehearsals and after the gigs, hahaha!


Sara:And of course, Phil's technical proficiency. We would have never ever got tothat point.


Dani:The skills he had as a drummer – he was on an entirely different level than theprevious drummer, as well as some of the temporary ones. Alright, Thomas Wydlerwas of course excellent.


Phil:Yes, Thomas Wydler is a thoroughbred musician; he has just made a new album. Heputs out solo CDs, the third now or so, good stuff.


Sara:And André always played the bass exceptionally well and very unique.


Dani:Your solo in “Splash” is undoubtedly one of the best things played on a bass.




B:Looking back at the time when Punk came to bloom and the withering thereafter,did that also reflect the Zeitgeist? If you compare Zürich back then withpresent-day Zürich – what kind of Zürich was it where this sapling could growand had to break out?


Dani:At the time it was a completely puritanical,boring Zürich. Bourgeois, the town of Zwingli. There were no clubs. Where didwe hang? At the Antares, the Schlüsselloch, the Ugly and then there was alsothe Entertainer and what do I know where else you (André) used to go. Therewere a few small clubs. Gigs? You went to the Volkshaus to see MOTT THE HOOPLE– at the worst. There was a need for something new. I mean all this glittermusic... you just couldn't listen to it anymore. Punk came just at the righttime. I savoured it greatly...



B:What do you say about this, was it some sort of Cultural Revolution that Zürichneeded and of which you were a part? And once Zürich got the initial push andstarted to move, you weren't required any longer?!




Sara:It needed others. The political movement began to develop and there were otherpeople that in turn provided the soundtrack. From within their ranks. We didn’treally belong to that anymore.


Phil:A new generation of people came along. We were a new generation, as well.Before us there was a bunker, there was the ’68 movement.


Dani:You experienced that, didn't you?


Phil:I was still very young then but I did actually witness it. After school, wewent to the bunker.


Sara:I also experienced that as a little girl.


Phil:Exactly, there always were certain thrusts in Zürich. As of the 80’s, the heartof it relocated to the Rote Fabrik.


André:But beforehand, there was the AJZ [autonomous youth centre]! Shall we say thatduring the autumn of this band, the AJZ was already long operational and everyday bands would play; new bands.


Dani:For example, FDP and the likes. And it was more chaotic then and we tried toprogress and to explore new avenues, also let's say to become moreprofessional, while the new bands brought anarchy and introduced somethingcompletely diverging. We sought something entirely different. Albeit, Iimmersed myself in it one more time and most definitely – no pun intendedregarding the Definitiv Sampler album - before I returned to TNT.


Sara:Yes, we did progress musically. In the 80’s pretty much everyone made music.There was hardly anyone that didn't make music. But it was another way ofmaking music. The word stood in the forefront, no longer the music as much. Weactually really liked playing good music, reason why we practiced nigh to everyday and thereby pushed our music forward.


B:But you also wrote lyrics.


Sara:Yes, of course.


André:Sara wrote the lyrics.


Phil:Not all of them.


Dani:André also wrote.


Phil:I believe that beginning with the 80’s there were a lot more people in Zürichthat made music in a much more serious fashion, maybe with greater ambitions.For us, fun and energy stood in the forefront. Later, with the Rote Fabrikscene, there were people that made music with a much greater focus on art.


Sara:That was yet another totally different scene.


André:The one with the Fischli/Weiss record covers [mostfamously KLEENEX], you mean?


Phil:Exactly, yes, but not only them, also acts like PLATZA, FDP, who had an artambition. That we didn't have.


André:We wanted to make more Rock'n'Roll, the fun of playing, not performance as artbut performance as fun.


Yes,to have fun together with the audience.


Sara:Yes, but you can only have fun when you play good music, when your energy alsocomes across. When only crap comes from the stage, it's also no fun. Then nobuzz develops. One has to deliver something, in order for something to comeback in return.


B:Can I hear in abbreviated terms what you have done over the last 35 years? So,who still made music and for how long, or who is still making music? What areyour other professions or vocations, to where you were drawn?


Phil:Barring a few breaks, I have always made music, except at this point not for thelast five years. Prior to TNT, I had already occupied myself heavily withmusic, not just with Rock but also with Jazz and Avantgarde. Akin to Dani. Wehad a very broad spectrum, from Country to Freejazz.


Dani:I didn’t listen to Country.


Phil:Of course, you did.


Dani:No, I didn’t. I listened to a kind of 50’s sound, I had Jazz, and I hadClassical music.


Phil:No, sorry, I saw Country at your place.


Dani:Ah! COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH. Now that's not exactly Country, much ratherWoodstock!


B:You said, that up to five years ago you still made music, but that was withdifferent styles and in varying roles? As drummer or composer or soundengineer?


Phil:Yes, exactly all of them. After TNT, I drummed for HERTZ. And with Fönse andStephan Wittwer I had THE KILLER PLANETS, a Surf band. We played Surf classicsfrom the 60’s with a Punk feel to it. Together with Stephi I also made GabiDelgado’s [singer for DEUTSCH-AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT] Solo album, which werecorded with Conny Planck. From the 90s onwards, I was in the USA, inparticular NYC. There I had my own Hip Hop-label called Marcion Records, forwhich I did all the beats and productions, as well as all the promotion,distribution etc. That was in the 90s. Back then I learnt a lot, additionally,regarding computers and music production and stuff. After that, back here inZürich again, I would say I made kind of experimental Electronica CDs.


B:What did you do aside from music?


Phil:Worked, normal jobs like at Ringier (printmedia publishing company) and whatnot.


B:Delivering newspapers or sitting in the main editorial office?




Phil:No, Marketing. In the USA, music journalism on the side.


Dani:What was the question?


B:What came for you after TNT?


Dani:Well, for a long time I still made music, until 1987, had various line-ups,among others with Stöff from FDP. We played various gigs, also in theNetherlands, at Paradiso in Amsterdam, for example.


B:With FDP, then?


Dani:No, no. I additionally had made a different band with him, also with Alfa, Idon't know if anyone still remembers him, he worked at the Ziegel [Restaurant at the Rote Fabrik] andplayed drums with us.


B:A black guy?


Dani:No, no, he was white as chalk, trust me.


Sara:That’s true, he still is.


B:And what kind of style was that?


Dani:Well, something kind of between Experimental and full improvisation, but withvocals. I now don’t know what to call it. I had some good songs but the line-updidn't exist for long, maybe three months. Mates of FDP that lived up there[the Netherlands] organised a few concerts and we drove up for a week or twoand had fun together.


B:In the first TNT interview I asked you back then if you would like to live fromyour music. From what did you actually live during the last 35 years?


Dani:From smoking, from drinking and hand to mouth.


André:In other words, he works for a bank.




Dani:No, no, later on I made THE KICK with Sara. We went on tour, put out records.ESSEN UND TRINKEN with Voco on bass was still before that, Phil has mentionedit. That was Achmed's wedding. Thereafter, always some sort of projects. I onceworked for the “Comedy am Theater”, for Medea.


B:In that case, creative to-date?


Dani:No, no, that was until 1987. Now come the next, remaining years. I’ve always,also during TNT, occupied myself with mathematics, it simply interested me to agreat extent and at some point it got increasingly stronger. For 31 years now Idevelop Software and, currently, I work for the bank. I'm making multi parallelsystems with 24 processors per server and so on, just really awesome stuff thatchallenges my brain a bit.


B:And then you make scores like a composer or such?


Dani:Yes, there are 24 of them, naturally two octaves.


B:For the last 35 years, musical and non-musical pursuits?


André:Prior to TNT I played the piano and guitar and then bass in TNT. Then I had theSurf band THE KILLER PLANTS together with Phil.


Dani:They were awesome!


André:Then I buried the music project a bit and dedicated myself to my private life.I've got a dear wife with three kids around me, who dutifully all play musicand I'm playing the piano and the guitar again. I probably own the most effectpedals of all the people here. For example, I bought a MXR Carbon Copy from aGreek Metalhead last Saturday, one of those ingenious analogue delays by JimDunlop. I’m driving my neighbours insane with it. And I'm designing websitesfor a company.


B:Phil, also underway family wise?




Dani:Divorced, one child, son of 15.


B:And yours already have grown?


André:Different sizes yes, I'm not really sure about their exact lengths but maybe125, 165 and one a bit shorter. No: 9, 14 and 16.



B:Cool, Sara I already knew you when you were a little kid since I grew up inSeebach and knew your parents, who used to be very active culturally at thelocal leisure facility. That’s why I was also at your home – and suddenly youwere on stage, little cheeky girl, screaming and singing and, naturally, our jawsdropped.


Andwe totally admired that, but it was also somewhat a natural consequence: Thefamily from which you came was so cool that for sure a really amazing daughterwould have to come of it. But otherwise I don't really know much about you,what all went on, also after the time with TNT, musically or non-musically andfamily- and nonfamily-wise, either way?


Sara:After TNT, I was 20 and in 1984 I travelled around Central America for half ayear. And then, when I came back, I met Dani again. Together we formed THE KICK. THEKICK went until 1987, or just about?


Dani:Yes, started in 1985, you came back at the end of 1984 and then we went intothe studio for a day – I had a little studio at the time. We rehearsed a littlebit and after about an hour we had a song, which was “Black”.


Sara:Yes, that was an awesome tune!


Dani:Thenwe figured, now we make a band and so we made a band. 1986 we went on tour inGermany, Austria and so on. It was just a small European tour but it was a lotof fun and some really decent stuff come of it. Just recently a vinyl recordcame out by Iffi from STATIC SHOCK.Lurker organized it and such.


Sara:Then, yes then THE KICK also broke upat some point. With some other people I formed a new band called SOULDAWN. Thiswas with Martin Stricker from CELTIC FROST (bass) and Jan Graber (guitar) andfor a short time in the beginning Hannibal from CRAZY took part as the drummer.Martin then returned to CELTIC FROST and we had various line-up changes on bassand drums. SOULDAWN existed for quite some time, something like 1986 to 1996.


Dani:THE KICK didn’t split up until 1987.


Sara:In that case, it was 1989 to 1996.


André:That's almost like with EXCRUCIATION... they have also been around for almost30 years.


Sara:In any case, SOULDAWN existed for a relatively long time, we did tours, maderecords, well made one CD, and in 1996 SOULDAWN dissolved. We didn't survivethe Techno movement.


Dani:Jan played with my guitar amp.


Sara:Yes, exactly. We were close to a record deal with Sony but it wasn’t quiteenough and then the whole thing petered out. I still continued to engage inprojects, amongst others an AC/DC cover band called JAILBREAK, only Bon Scottcovers and that was fun. Since 1996 I haven’t had a permanent Band anymore, butI have always done something in-between. The last thing was with Rudolph Dietrich who re-worked his materialand put out a Double-CD.


B:And outside of music?


Sara:I have always tried to ensure that I get through, always worked, did acommercial apprenticeship and still work in my profession to-date.


B:And what about, what was it again? Karate?


Sara:Ah, yes! Of course. With 16.... André, am I allowed to say that? You and Istarted Karate at the same time when everybody was doing Karate in town.


Phil:Even I, half a year!


Sara:You, as well?


Dani:Me too once for three months.


Sara:Wow! Yes, exactly.


B:Where did you learn it from?


Sara:We started at the Saalsporthalle with 120 people in the beginner's class. Therewas a real Karate boom at the time, partly because of the demonstrations;obviously, everybody wanted to be able to defend themselves. I'm stillpracticing and teaching in my husband's Karate school.


B:And children-wise?


Sara:One child, 11, male, also does Karate.


B:Yes, now we’ll talk about the album. A vinyl record will be released. With howmany songs and with what songs will it come out, if you would have to explainthat to your audience right now? What can one expect?


A:Since this is just for collectors anyway, we can say, hey this is really rareshit.


[Everybodycheerfully agreeing and laughing]


It’scompletely irrelevant what's on it but it's rare.


Sara:You can't say it any better, it will simply be good.


Dani:There will be a few unreleased recordings on it that are absolutely awesome,“Hinterhalt”, for example. That's one of the last compositions that we did as aband. Sara sings in German. It’s fast, Pogo-style, it's awesome, it has guitarsand it truly rocks. I didn't recall anymore that this song existed.


B:Where did you find this song?


Dani:On Revox tapes in my basement. “Mackie Messer” is also on it.


B:These are stereo recordings from your rehearsal room?




B:And it’s definitely all recorded live without overdubs or such?


Dani:Yes, everything is recorded live, everything is recorded this way, with aTwo-Track recording device with two microphones and then we listened to it andsaid that’s “crap”, let’s play it again, then we recorded it again and on andon.


Sara:The song is quiet with feelings, starting off with a tütütütütütü and whereAndré thrashes around on the bass like crazy, and then there are variousversions of Phil's drums. But of “Hinterhalt” there’s only one version.


B:Thus, these are kind of re-discoveries, what else will additionally be on thealbum?


Phil:There will be the Mini-Album “Eine kleine Machtmusik” as whole or in parts onit. We discovered Eight-Track tapes of this and were mixing them new.


Sara:In any case, the singles will certainly also all be on there, maybe differentmixes because Dani found some tapes with rough mixes of “Remember”, “Fight” andan early mix of “They Robbed Us”, where the phaser/flanger wanking stuff isn’ton it.


B:So, there will be different characteristics in the songs? Or will there be thesame sound quality on all of it?


André:Definitely not, that’s impossible to achieve, because the foundations aredifferent. There will be different qualities, different mixes, more like acompilation.


Dani:Some stuff was after all recorded in the rehearsal room.


Sara:I made many recordings in the rehearsal room using a Walkman. Unfortunately,all of these recordings have disappeared.


B:So, new discoveries, partly the Mini-Album remixed, possibly, all the singles.


Sara:Maybe also the song “Stupid boy” from the Remember/Fight session that was onthe Japan album.


André:Did we ever play in Japan?




Sara:Don't you remember anymore?


Dani:Did Botox mess your brain up, or what?


B:After all, they say “If you remember the 80s, you weren't there!”


Sara:Yes, there’s something to that, exactly.




TNT – Züri brännt – The Singles And More

Nine Songs from the most famous Swiss Punk band TNT are finally (end of June 2008) available on a limited CD of 1000 ex.

On June 5, 1979, the label Voxpop released TNT’s first single "Züri Brännt" (Zurich is burning). This track was originally written by The Dogbodys, including the b-side "Subway Scene". The third on the record, "131" (consisting of that number of words in the song), is a true TNT offering though. "Züri brännt" is still the best known Punk song to originate from Switzerland and it ultimately became the band’s trademark. During the early 1980’s, this track quite unintentionally emerged as the main anthem for the violent "80’s youth movement of Switzerland".

TNT's second single was released in April 1980 on the classic Swiss Punk record label, Off Course. The two tracks "Fight" and "Remember" are punchy and sound very much like the English Punk Rock of that time period. Yet, a third track called "Stupid Boy" was also recorded, but not included on the 7" and then completely forgotten about. It surfaced during the research for the book "Hot Love" which chronicles the Swiss Punk and Wave scene from 1976 to 1980. So, nearly 30 years later, "Stupid Boy" will be released for the first time on this CD.

Alec von Tavel’s label Disctrade then released TNT's third single „Razzia" and „They robbed us "in 1981. "Razzia", next to "Züri brännt", actually became the most popular TNT song. The bonussong

„Splash" came from their Live performance on November 8,1980 at the Hotel Eintracht in Wolfenschiessen, NW.

1. Züri brännt 0:44
2. 131 1:42
3. Subwayscene 2:29
4. Remember 2:36
5. Fight 3:02
6. They Robbed Us 2:02
7. Razzia 2:13
8. Stupid Boy (previously unreleased) 2:10
9. Splash (live) 3:54

All songs by TNT

Sara – vocals, Dani – guitars, Smudi – bass, Phil – drums