Hello magical friends, especially Libby, WZRD’s newest patron, whose support lets me do these interviews. I’m your hostwitch Bess and today I’ve got Pottörhead coming in for a chat! How’s that for a special guest?
Hold on to your party poppers, because we’re kicking this episode off with Totally Knuts and “The Riddle House.”
“The Riddle House” was a special request from WZRD’s wonderful patron Geoff, who wants Lara to know that “our community has been so much better because of your gift. Thanks for sharing it with us. Long live the Weirdos!”
Here’s the interview with Pottörhead!
Welcome to the show Jutze of Pottörhead. I am so happy to have you today.
Jutze: Thank you very much for the invitation. I’m looking forward to our interview.
I think this is gonna be a lot of fun. Now I do always like to start with a little bit of history. How did you get into wizard rock? Is it really big in Germany?
Jutze: Oh, I don’t think it’s really big in Germany. I was browsing online and I came across Hank Green courtesy of the Vlog Brothers, who sang several songs, about Harry Potter. And that was my first contact, really, with wizard rock. I knew there were band, musicians, all around the world, making songs about Harry Potter, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention. And eventually I got around to actually read all the books a couple of years after the final one was out and only then did I become interested and fascinated by wizard rock. And eventually in 2013, we got around to make a band.
How did the band happen? Were the others big Harry Potter fans as well? Big Potterheads?
Jutze: I don’t think they were big Potterheads. I don’t even think they are right now, but they are sympathetic. And in the beginning I was just thinking of “yeah, I can write some songs and—“ this is not a complaint, it’s just my impression at that time—wizard rock seemed to me often, very serious, very much about “what does this character think in this situation? What do they feel?” very close to the books. And I was often wondering, there should be more abstract, fun stuff. Like, what can go wrong with magic spells? What mishaps can happen? And eventually I wrote one or two songs and I went looking for, for a band, tried out a couple of, uh, friends actually and that’s the whole thing. We started playing. We stopped playing. We started again over the years, made a demo with a couple of songs, stopped making songs and just like this on and off stuff until we had like, I don’t know, 22 songs and figured “hey, let’s do an album.” And we did an album in 2017, which came out early 2018 and the name was just “Wizard Rock.” And ever since we… we are dealing with the fallout, uh, of the pandemic. Uh, not a lot of occasions to rehearse, not too many new ideas, but still we keep going. And whenever something interesting happens, we just go for it.
So if the others aren’t big Potterheads, how did the name happen? Where did the name come from?
Jutze: The name is actually a word play on the British rock band, Motörhead or Moterhead or whatever you pronounce it. I’m not so sure myself, uh, how we pronounce our band name. Usually I say “Potterhead” but if someone wants to write it down, I usually have to spell it or send a message or something. And also with the online community, there is no umlaut, or “oo” as we call it in Germany so we just have “Pottörhead .” Uh, it works fine so far. So the, that’s the idea of the band name and it’s… I think the band name was there even before the first song. It was just like “if it’s wizard rock, we can make the rock maybe harder, maybe more heavy and or heavier, and then see what happens.”
Russ from Creevey Crisis always gets excited when there’s new metal, rock type music in the genre. I’m sure he’d be stoked to hear your origin story.
Jutze: Yeah. And of course, um, I mean, we all had our experiences before we became the band Pottörhead. I played drums in a metal band. I did a pop music band with Lupa who also contributed some guest vocals on our album. And our drummer is actually an actor who was also, uh, doing singer-songwriter stuff. So we ended up just like “yeah, this is our band with wizard rock and we play wizard rock.” We don’t have, have any songs about the Hunger Games or about, I don’t know our clubs or our families or whatever. We play wizard rock. Songs about Harry Potter, about wizards, about witches. That’s what we do. We try to rock. Sometimes we are still melodic, but yeah, we try to rock.
So Pottörhead is currently you. Horst the bass player, Lars the kangaroo—
Jutze: Yeah. [laughs]
—and Lupa, the wolf.
Jutze: Lupa is more of a guest musician. I, I never officially considered her a band member, but on the other hand, yeah, we, we live in times and also we are like a hobby band. It’s not like we have our, uh, passports for the band, “Now I’m officially a member.” We just do what we have time to do and what we have fun doing.
So my patrons were curious who from the wizarding world would be the best addition to that lineup? Who would really fit Pottörhead?
Jutze: Oh my goodness. Um, there’s like two or three people or bands that come to my mind. There’s sometimes the melodic side in our music and from the last year’s or, or 2019’s Wizard Rock Sampler, there was a contribution song by a Swedish singer Sara Idani, which I liked a lot. The song just hit a nerve with me and I think it would be interesting to see what could happen with, uh, like melodic pop music, Pottörhead, crossover thing. Also because I have a weak spot for, like, eighties synth pop music stuff… I have no idea if, if anything would come out could be fun.
The second band is the exact opposite. There’s an American band called Elder Wand. Elder Wand who have like one very, very, very short EP, but they have so much fun, I think, playing their short stuff, and we have fun playing their short stuff in the rehearsal room. And I also had the idea, maybe we should do like twenty 20 second songs about one Harry Potter book, just very, very short, get to the point and the song’s over, let’s do the next one, 1, 2, 3, 4 here we go.
And maybe a more reasonable answer to get a better bass player. Maybe we can get the bass player from Percy and the Prefects. That should be fun. But of course we don’t have the money to fly him over from the U.S. So we’ll just keep Horst Talmut as our bass player.
You know, I do think Percy and the Prefects was practicing and recording separately. So you work something out.
Jutze: We’ll see. We’ll see. I mean, that’s the weird thing… At first I… it was all about writing songs and right now we are doing this interview and I learned to appreciate the community and sometimes I’m hesitant to approach people, but I always think like “once we get to do a second album, let’s invite people, let’s have guests, let’s collaborate as far as that’s possible” and, and just, yeah. Roll with it and get out of our little cave here in Germany.
I think that sounds fabulous. I hope you do crossovers with everyone.
Jutze: And that’s the other thing it’s usually, if you have a very strict plan, like “I have to get this singer and this guitar player and this mixer,” something goes wrong. The timeframe falls apart or the technical part doesn’t work. And I learned to… to not overthink it and to, to not be disappointed because it should be fun for us. We hope it’s fun for you as a listener and it’s not about, yeah. Uh, what’s the word? Perfectionism. It’s whatever happens.
Now I do think my patron meant from the books and movies, who would you have joined the band?
Jutze: Oh my goodness.
But I love your answers. They’re they’re brilliant.
Jutze: Um, to be honest, I, I don’t think there’s like a musical answer to this question, because as far as I remember, there’s very little music in the books. I mean, there’s not like the big Rehearsal Room of Requirement, or there’s not like the big band contest at the end of the school year. There’s always a wizard war happening here or there. So I have no idea. Severus Snape would be my first idea. And frankly, I would go for like the elder wizards, because as I said earlier, one of our influences is Motorhead, like, old man playing simple music very, very loud. Um, I think something like, like that. At least I imagine the visuals, these people on stage with guitars grooving along should be fun.
I do think Severus Snape with a guitar or a keyboard up on stage would be a sight to see for sure.
Jutze: And the other thing is, again, I’m a bit concerned about visuals, I don’t know why. Fred and George should be fun. I mean, they’re, they’re the ones who are not always serious. They’re the ones who aim to have fun, who try things out who are audacious and maybe that would, would be a kick for our music.
Yeah. I was thinking they have a, a similar sense of humor in book one when they’re singing the Hogwarts school song and they decide to sing it to a funeral dirge.
I think the humor would, would mesh well. So we touched a little bit on it earlier, but what is the wrock scene like in Germany? Are there other wizard rock bands, do you perform at all?
Jutze: Right now we do not perform due to the pandemic and restrictions and so on. Actually, we don’t have any real contact with local bands who play wizard rock. Occasionally we are friends with a lot of other bands who, uh, make things happen, who also played, like, guitar solos on album or stuff like that. There’s a band from Marburg, uh, called Quickspell who play a lot of melodic songs focused on Harry Potter. They have very great songs. Uh, I think Quickspell.BandCamp.com would be their address.
Which way did they spell it? Are they K-W-I-K or
Jutze: Yeah. Something like that. So that’s the German scene as far as I know it. Uh, we had never played any Yule Balls in the past or other Harry Potter centered events, but we’re fine with that.
Let’s pause here for some music. First up is The Birthdaiy Plan and “The Goblet of Fire.”
Now back to the interview with Jutze of Pottörhead.
You have a lot of songs that make, me at least, smile when I hear them. The Happy Dementor, The… something Drummer Enchantment, anything involving Bielfeld, the city? Which one is the most fun to perform?
Jutze: The most fun song to perform is for me, um, “Wizards Are Strange (From A Muggle’s Point of View). It’s one of our first songs so I know it very well, I don’t have to think, I don’t have to worry what goes wrong. We usually play it towards the end of the show so everybody is either gone, has left the room or is really into the music and the chorus is just fun to sing. And also it’s one of the few songs that’s really focused on the muggle perspective. Most songs have wizards and maybe it’s just easier to relate to the bizarre view, like “they can fly, they can mend glasses, they can do everything, why don’t they go to Mars?” Of course, Candle Wix did this great song on the last Sampler, like Wizards on Mars. I was very happy to see that.
Cause I always thought like “the moon isn’t far enough, we have to go farther than wizards in space.” So that’s just the idea behind that. Of course there are other songs that are fun to play. Like, I don’t know, “The Bielefeld School of Wizardry” is a song I never thought would work, a song I always thought “it’s too simple, too many syllables, I have no idea how this should work.” And every time we play it, it works so I’m just happy with that one. And also “Simple Drummer Enchantment” is a song that’s just always ‘working’ for a lack of a better word. So that’s just fun to sing, fun to play. I always make up the two verses, even though they, it, it’s only two verses with like four lines each, but that’s the way it goes.
You also have a thread of songs that critique the wizarding world. Like you mentioned, the “Wizards Are Weird,” um, “Vanessa the Vegan Witch” and the, uh, organic butterbeer song. Is this just… your perspective on it or thinking about things sideways?
Jutze: I think that’s our perspective. I have my moral compass, my ideas. Not everybody in the band in the band is a vegan. Actually, nobody in the band is a vegan. And actually I don’t drink beer. I’m very sorry. Our drummer and our bass player, they, they drink whatever beer you send to me. I, I give it to them and they are very happy to drink it. So that’s the other thing. It’s not the autobiographical thing. Like, I was never a witch in, uh, a wizard in Hogwarts. So it’s, it’s it’s fiction sort of.
What is the song you would like to cover from another wizard rocker? You mentioned you’ve been doing covers a lot lately, what’s, what’s an ambitious one.
Jutze: Usually we first see what we can play and then we cover it. And if you find out that there’s a song that’s either too difficult for us to play, uh, then we just don’t play it or—more important thing is—some songs are just really, really good and I don’t think we can improve on, on them and I don’t even think we can turn them into something different that’s worth listening. Of course, uh, one or two songs we just play for the fun of it.
I can just, I think list some of the songs we tried out and had fun with so it’s not a hypothetical answer, but actually, which songs are fun to play. Like “Deathly Hallows” by Elder Wand is a great short song that’s always like “we don’t know what to do. Let’s play the 20 second song.” Uh, the first cover we did was Hank Green’s song “Dead Boy’s Girlfriend,” which was a lot of fun, playing it as a rock version.
Um, we had “Expecto my Fist” by, uh, Rubeus and the Hagrid—and or Rubeus or I, I, I never get the direction, but that was one of the bands who are heavier than we are, which makes me envious. Anyhow. So these are fun songs just to play them and to see where do they go. And of course, one of our favorite artists, um, How Airplanes Fly, the newest stuff is very, very good. You had Avery on your show, I think. And I don’t think we could do anything but destroy the new songs. We did “Luna. I Believe in You,” which has more of a rock feel. And that’s also a fun song. I love the bridge, “da, da, da-da-da-da-da,” and so on. Those are fun songs. And usually, as you can imagine, we don’t play them with acoustic guitar at the campfire, very slow, but we just rock through the songs and see what ha—if you make it to the end.
That sounds like so much fun. Let’s say there’s someone out there, in Germany or America or wherever, that really loves Pottörhead, loves the energy, loves the lyrics and wants to follow in your footsteps. What advice would you give them?
Jutze: Don’t hesitate. Be open for positive feedback, be open for positive energy. Try as much as you can to have fun. Drop something if it’s not fun. If you get stuck, pick it up later. Do not hesitate to make a fool of yourself. Um, you don’t have to make everything you public. We collected songs for a long time before we decided to do something with them in the public eye. But still I figured out there were a couple of songs I did not like, and they just sort of disappeared after a while and there were a couple of songs where I was like “yeah, that’s what I want to do.” I sort of couldn’t wait, what other people would say to these songs. But I also knew like there’s no guarantee you get any feedback so maybe try to have a little bit of a plan once you make an album or do a show or something.
This is a bit contradicting, like, “do everything right now and wait until you have enough.” I think the key point is don’t be disappointed if anything goes wrong. Don’t be disappointed if anyone on the internet writes “you’re singing is terrible” or “the idea for your song, there is a band who had the same idea three years earlier.” Stuff like this happens. Another thing that’s usually happening is I have a great song idea. I write a, a great title for the song and I figure out a day later, “oh, that’s not my song. That was number one last year. It’s just like a song I…” yeah, wrote again, but it’s not my song. That happens. No worries. And that’s one thing Pottörhead and the wizard rock community gave me that’s different from everything else I did in the past with my music.
I don’t care if anyone doesn’t like it. Nobody’s forced to listen to it. If somebody makes a mean comment, I just ignore it. And whenever someone enjoys it, or as you say it makes it makes you smile, then that’s great. That’s awesome. That’s… that, that gives me the energy to continue writing songs and that gives us the pleasure to put them out there. We look at the downloads and it’s not like we get like a hundred or a thousand dollars each week to, to make our music. No, we are not famous, we are not successful in terms of money. That’s not the plan. Of course you can make plans like that. Feel free to do that, but for us—and that’s my advice—go for it, have fun with it. Also be open to get in touch with other people, submit something to the Wizard Rock Sampler when it comes around, write people an email if you feel like it. Be polite, be friendly, keep it short, but don’t worry. People won’t answer, maybe. That’s that. Feel free to obsess about it, like, “I have to get a better guitar tone” or “I have to get a better melody.” Yeah. That’s the fun. You don’t have to like everything you do. Don’t worry about the, the critics, don’t expect fame or money, and whenever something comes around, like laughter, like money, like a concert. Yeah, go for it. No regrets.
I like that. No regrets. So what are you working on? Anything coming up or coming out?
Jutze: I don’t think so. There are no, uh, plans for the immediate future. We have a couple of songs in the pipeline, uh, demos or ideas that will see the light of days someday. Um, I still have the, the urge to do another album. So I sort of hope we get like two or three more years, um, have a lot of demos and then spend a month or so to rerecording everything, do a proper… yeah. Release. And then you’ll hear the songs. No idea if this is to happen because as I said, there are like two finished songs, two or three ideas that are sort of finished. There’s the Swedish song we have, song with Swedish lyrics about, um, translation charm that goes wrong. That should be fun, the problem is I don’t have any idea, uh, about Swed—about the Swedish language so I just used, uh, Google translate. That… those are the songs that are on the pipeline and we are working not a lot right now. And as I mentioned earlier, we, we spend most of the pandemic rehearsal time doing cover songs because we never knew when is the next time we gonna rehearse? Are we recording anything? What do we do? And… yeah. That’s what we do right now.
The Swedish one sounds like you could do a really great crossover with one of our Swedish bands.
Jutze: Yeah. Maybe. We’ll see we’ll see. We have a recording of it. Um, “Babelfisk Förbannelse” I think was the Swedish title, like “Babelfish Curse” or something.
Jutze: That that’s the weirdest thing. Of course I thought of, of doing it. And I still have the idea: we use the song as it is and in the end we’ll have a Swedish native speaker just saying like “oh, those stupid Germans, they have no idea what they’re doing there.” And maybe use a couple of curses for, uh, in Swedish. I have no idea what they mean, but we’ll see what, what happens there.
Time for a music break! Here’s The Weirdos are Out and “Hit the Ground Running.”
Where can WZRD listeners find you online?
Jutze: At Pottorhead.BandCamp.com. That’s where all the music is, which can be downloaded for free, uh, name your price. You can put in zero, get everything. You can also check out facebook.com/Pottorhead. Um, those are the main points where we are active. Um, we have a Tumblr side that’s updated even less frequently than Facebook, uh, at the moment. But as I said, we do not have that many updates right now. And we try very, very hard to keep it focused on wizard rock and you won’t find any updates on what I have for breakfast or what place Lars, uh, what other place Lars is actually playing in this moment. That’s not what we have there. We play wizard rock and we try to turn it as loud as possible. Sort of.
Confession: I play with earplugs.
End of confession.
Congratulations to Ash, the first listener to guess the last episode’s theme of “Ron and Hermione!” Swish & Flick is still giving out their cds at rewards for the next couple themes, so keep your ears open next episode.
Did you hear your new favorite song? Head to the transcript at WZRDRadioPod.com to pick up a copy for yourself. Then tell all your friends how awesome it is. You’ve got to support your favorite wrockers because without them, we wouldn’t be here.
Remember how your hostwitch released WZRD shirts to celebrate WZRD’s second birthday? Well it turns out I can make other things too, so now you can also pick up a WZRD tote bag! The Slytherspouse says it’s awesome, so get yours at Shop.WZRDRadioPod.com.
As always, you can get in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. There’s also leaving a comment on the transcript or emailing me at WZRDRadioPod@gmail.com. Tell me what you thought of this interview, what else I should try screen printing on, or who you want me to interview in the future.
And now, here’s Pottörhead!
Jutze: All right. Uh, the next song you’ll hear is an Irish or, or yeah, Celtic, uh, traditional song, uh, that got, that got Potterified by Chasitherin. The song is very difficult to sing without actually suffocating. We try to do it and you’ll hear how it sounds. I hope you have fun with it. I had very, I had a lot of fun listening to the song when I first heard it, in the original version, which was just acoustic guitars and vocals and we just cranked up the amps and that’s what, what happened.