I had the awesome opportunity of sitting with Jannis, Hannes, and Thomi to have a chat about their band and the history behind RYL. The Berlin-based, garage rock band has intense energy with a good sound influenced by bands such as FIDLAR and Bass Drum of Death. With the recent release of their album, Cape Carnage, the RYL guys have been racking up numbers in the garage rock community. 

The RYL guys gave harbor great and enthusiastic energy that is genuine to each member’s core. We got to discuss previous gigs that included fighting off neo-nazis to the origin of what came to be RYL. Consisting of laughs, high energy, and goofy expressions, here is RYL up close:

 

So what does RYL stand for? How did you guys come up with the name?

Jannis: “It has various legends [laughs] about the origin. It doesn’t mean anything, we just wanted to pick the name. I guess the most plausible explanation is that we had another guy playing the second guitar from Denmark and when we started off, we were playing at a little festival here in this small youth club. They made a flyer and we needed a name to put on that so someone, I have no idea who it was, put The Royal Electric but without the vowels. It was ‘The’ and then royal was “RYL” and “electric” was something else. We had no idea who put it! I think I knew that we were this band and he didn’t know. He was just like ‘Who the fuck is The Ryl Electric’ [laughs] At that moment, it was very funny. But now that I tell it, I realize it’s not funny at all. [laughs] Like one of those stories that when you tell it it’s really not that funny.’

Thomi: “Yeah, we’re always super lazy about names. We were all just sitting together trying to come up with a band name and we were just like ‘Fair enough. Yeah. It’s cool.’ [laughs] I remember the moment when we were looking for a name for the first EP. We were sitting together and I was like ‘Hey let’s call it hot doggy!’ they were like ‘Hot doggy?! what the fuck is this’ and I was like ‘Well, I heard it in a song’ and then we looked up hot doggy on google. [laughs] We decided to [laughs] not do it…”

 

Where is each one of you from?

Jannis: “Well Hannes is the only one from around here actually.” 

Hannes: “I was born in Berlin but I grew up basically in the suburbs of Berlin.”

Jannis: “I’m from Boveria and Thomi is from Northern Germany.”

 

How did RYL find its sound in the music industry? What influenced RYL to be garage rock?

Jannis: “We always say that our genre is garage rock. If you’re into garage rock, you’re like ‘Oh yeah. Cool. Garage rock.’ If you’re not though, most of the people don’t know what it is. It’s 60s inspired hunky punky stuff [laughs] and we started off doing some totally different music like indie/indie rock. [laughs] It was really cringy. Then we threw all of that away after like six months and started over because this other guy, the second guitarist, loved all of that Ty Segall kind of stuff. Basically, garage rock. He showed Thomi and me and we basically started playing that stuff. For me, the first band was Bass Drum of Death that really got me into it all.” 

Hannes: “Well we went to their concert. The only concert that they played in Berlin. Now, they do pretty shitty stuff. They are pretty shitty now. But they played their garage stuff and we all went to that show. We were like ‘Fuck what is this?! It’s so fucking good!’ and we also were like ‘Ok we have to play stuff like that’ We all went out of the show and bought the same record which was Bass Drum of Death’s second record. It was the most influential sound.”

Jannis: “I read a review on Visions about us and they compared us to Arctic Monkeys. Then I listened to their stuff and could see what they meant. 

Hannes: “No”

Thomi: “What?! It’s totally different!”

All three: [laugh]

Jannis: “Ok yea so Thomi and I are really into this garage stuff but Hannes is like… he likes it but I guess you’re not like that into it?”

Hannes: “No! I mean some bands we all love like FIDLAR”

All three: “FIDLAR!” [laugh]

Hannes: “All three of us saw FIDLAR live and they were a disappointment really because they only played for 15 minutes. Not even. First, they were out high as fuck so after 15 minutes they just left the stage. But yeah, we all like different styles of music. For example, Thomi and I are a little bit more into punk rock. 

 

What year did RYL form? What brought you guys together?

Jannis: “2014″

Thomi: “Yeah in the winter of 2013/2014. We had our first gig in 2014”

Jannis: “We actually formed right here in Mellow park and that was before you Hannes!”

Hannes: “Oh, fuck you” 

Jannis: [laugh] “I met Thomi on the very first day of the winter and we were really into the same music. We were just jamming together. Then I met Hannes at some point and got to know that he played drums. I asked him to jam as well. The other guy? I met him the same way but Thomi met him at some point in France a year before which was really weird. He joined as well and we just started doing this indie kind of stuff. Then we had 7 or 8 songs as an indie band and at some point, we were just like ‘Ah this is shit’ We threw it away and started all over again. That was around 2015 maybe. Then around 2016, the Danish guy left cuz he left Berlin, and then we just continued to do what we do now which has been going on for two years.”

 

I saw that you guys had a release show Friday, how was that? Did the fans react well to Cape Carnage?

Jannis: “It was amazing actually! We did this with Father Midnight who’s a really cool band and this guy Lafayette who is running Rood Woof Records. He has good music, good shirts, and is a real cool dude. Anyways, at some point, he was calling us and he was like ‘Oh yeah guys so Cantina Berghain is booked’ We were like ‘What the fuck man!’ We were really happy with this other show he booked were like 80+ people were going to come but then 200 ended up coming to Schokoladen here in Berlin. But yeah, Cantina was a nice surprise.”

Thomi: “He’s a crazy amazing dude. He’s done a lot of stuff with his label, which is where we released our EP. He started the label at 19 years and now he is 21 years old booking shows at Cantina Berghain” 

Jannis: “It’s so funny because whenever you meet someone in the garage scene and you say ‘Oh yeah we’re with Lafayette! The guy with long blonde hair?’ and they just go ‘Yea Laffy of course!’ Everyone just knows him. He puts on such cool shows and stuff.

Thomi: “He’s just making friends everywhere!”

Hannes: “In general, he’s super optimistic. Just booking Cantina Berghain was like ‘Are you crazy? That’s super huge!’”

 

You guys just came back from a road trip right? How was that?

Jannis: “Yeah we went to Hamburg the day after we played Cantina. It was really nice and cool! We played at a cool bar. Really small, around 30 people or so came. It was really punky. Lafayette played as well with his band that Thomi plays in. It was really nice.”

Thomi: “It’s just incest bands you know”

All three: [laugh]

Jannis: “Yeah it was just a nice group of people. Everyone was just playing in all three bands.”

 

Are you working on any new projects, albums, or songs?

Jannis: “Actually we didn’t really plan on uh…” 

All three: [laugh] 

Jannis: “We’re not… planning on doing anything! Not really releasing anything.”

Hannes: “Yeah, we just do new songs and play old ones for now.”

Jannis: “But I play in another band and Thomi is playing in another band as well. We are just playing and having fun but there’s also a video coming up with a song that we just released so there’s that as well.”

 

What’s the weirdest/funniest gig you guys have had?

Jannis: “There is a lot of weird related stuff but that didn’t happen on stage.”

All three: [laugh]

Jannis: “The weirdest one was probably Ollie. The gig itself.”

Thomi: “It was the first time we played at Magnet club, so it was a bigger location that we played in. I was super happy because this was my favorite club in Berlin. I was super excited. The next day, we played somewhere in the north of Germany in a small town.” 

Jannis: “Smallest, tiniest town.”

Hannes: “Yes and we arrived at an industrial complex and everything was closed. We stood in front of the location that said ‘Closed. Shut down for use’ when some guy appeared and locked up the location. We were like ‘Uh .. are there really like concerts and stuff here?’ and he was like “Yeah you see? You are playing in the small room over there.’ By the way, this place had no windows and it was just this small room next to this like, really fucked up, cringy village disco room. You know? Like the shitty ones that are for under 16 years of age parties and the village, techno is just terrible. Anyways, he then said ‘Yeah, sometimes when there are strip tees here we have visitors from everywhere.’ We were like ‘Uh okay cool’ There was like an over 25 party going on in the main room and we just played in this small room in front of seven people. [laughs] Meanwhile, next door there were like 100 or so people and I think 90% of them were nazis like really proper nazis.”

Jannis: “There was a guy that had what looked like a Germany football shirt on or something like that. On the back, it said “Germany for the Germans” or something but basically he could have worn a fucking swastika!”

Hannes: “Everyone had incredibly short hair and when we came out of the gig everyone was looking at us like ‘Fucking gypsies’.

Jannis: “The thing was that we were playing with another band from Berlin and they had one of those Volkswagen T3 with loads of colors on there. Like, a real hippie van. We brought our gear to the van and from somewhere in the parking lot someone yells ‘Look at the fucking refugees with their fucking refugee bus!’’

Hannes: “And when we were loading the bus there were also these four really ugly women … sorry they aren’t really ugly. [laughs] It’s just when we got in to the car their first thing to say, and why they pissed me off, is that the first comment was ‘Oh look, the refugee bus is leaving’ we were like ‘What the fuck!’”

Jannis: “The thing was that the guy who set up the gig there was super chill. Such a great person. He didn’t make any money but he paid us 50 bucks each and said ‘Look guys, I really wanted to buy you some beers but this is the last of my bit.’”

Hannes: “He even had to ask his father for gas money for the car.”

Jannis: “He was driving us to the train station the next day. Talking to a friend. He was already planning a festival that he wanted to put on. We talked to him and we were like ‘How are you doing this? like why did you choose…this’ and he was like ‘Just can’t give up. Because there is nothing out there. Especially when you grow up here. You can’t go to the neo-nazi concerts. There has to be something else. You can’t surrender to this. There’s gotta be someone fighting them.’” 

Thomi: “That got our biggest respect for putting some kind of alternative culture in spots where there is not a space for alternative culture. Everyone is there. At disco techs with shitty techno and terrible people. Basically, neo-nazis. People like him have to be way stronger than anyone in Berlin.”

Jannis: “Everyone in Berlin is really alternative. Going to demonstrations and marches…ok so looking back this isn’t a funny story.” 

All three: [laugh] 

Thomi: “It was a really weird story!”

Hannes: “But funny in a way because he was like ‘So yeah but uh I don’t have any beer to offer but I have 40 sausages to be grilled later in my garden and some fish! And then for breakfast tomorrow, I have bread, I have honey, and I have Nutella and uh I have fish!’” 

All three: [laugh]

Jannis: “We were like ‘Ah yeah man ok sounds cool’” [laughs]

Thomi: “These little small gigs are where you get to meet the crazy people but also impressive people. Where you think ‘Oh my God! We live in Berlin where you can go anywhere and fight anything you want’ so it’s pretty easy to consume culture here. But if you go to those types of small places, you get to experience how hard it can be to put up such shows or events. That, itself, is really impressive.”

 

Below are a few links to the bands mentioned within the article as well as RYL’s label.

First EP Skeletons (Tape, Rood Woof Records) is here:

https://ryl-music.bandcamp.com/album/skeletons

 

Two Videos off this record:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf9x48Yrqkw

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd6nnMPE_hU

 

Second EP Cape carnage (Vinyl, Rood Woof Records):

https://ryl-music.bandcamp.com/album/cape-carnage-2

The band Father Midnight, we shared the vinyl with (also Rood Woof Records of course):

https://www.facebook.com/fathermidnight/?fref=mentions

 

Lafayette’s Rood Woof Records:

http://roodwoof.com

 

Laffy and Thomi’s band called People of Pän, which they’ve been to Hamburg with:

https://www.facebook.com/peopleofpan/

 

Jannis and Joachim (former People of Pän member)’s band:

Oatmeal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCf98Zp5k-I&frags=pl%2Cwn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awnfCfOIy0w&frags=pl%2Cwn

 

*This interview has been modified and edited to better format the article while adhering to the tone and/or voice of the interviewee(s). If you would like an original copy of the transcribed interview, please contact the author.