Koffer

by Ian Fisher

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about

Ian Fisher is always writing and always traveling. With over a thousand songs under his belt and hundreds of concerts behind him, his new album Koffer highlights the diversity of his songwriting and captures some of the electric energy of his live performance. Koffer, which is the German word for “suitcase”, is Fisher’s most uptempo record yet with a one-of-a-kind mixture of Viennese flirtatiousness, Berliner grit, and Midwestern Country longing that only a farm-raised American boy living in Europe for the last decade can pull off. It is a collection of singles written over the last ten years and recorded over the last five. As Ian says, “A song that I can’t share feels like dead weight. Like a bag you carry around but never unpack.” Koffer will finally be “unpacked” on November 18th in corporation with Snowstar Records in Benelux, Popup Records in Germany, Earcandy in Austria, and Rocketta in Italy. Read more about each individual song of the album in the artist’s own humorous words below…

1. If You Wanna Stay
- I spend a lot of time in the Alps. The folks up there have perfected the art of drunken flirtation. After a night of a little cultural exchange, I wrote this song about that timeless tradition of theirs. I stumbled down the mountain when the hangover finally wore off and took the song to Berlin to share it with my friends Simon Bauer and Daniel Schröteler, who both play with the German experimental songwriter Hans Unstern and occasionally with José González in the Göteborg String Theory. We started playing and recording the song live in Simon’s studio. I came up with the idea to double all the drums, guitars, and bass and pan them to the far left and right sides of the mix. Simon doubled the bass line with contra bass and electric bass guitar in classic Lou Reed style and the song was finished quicker than a bottle of Tyrollean schnapps.

2. Candles For Elvis
- I wrote this song ten years ago, recorded half a dozen versions of it, and played it at nearly all of my thousand or so shows in the last decade. I just can’t shake the damned thing. I guess it’s because it’s a bit of a timeless and borderless theme. A guy grows disillusioned with the world and further away from society, turns to idol worship, and prepares for the apocalypse. When I wrote it, that guy was a Vietnam War veteran in my hometown in Missouri and that idol was Elvis on the thirtieth anniversary of his death. Nowadays when I sing it I imagine that guy could be just about any scared, hateful, rightwing, conservative person anywhere and that idol could be Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Hoffer, Le Pen, Wilders, or any other psychopath, wannabe demagogue. I wrote this song as an attempt to understand them. That’s the only real way to defeat them or get them to change their minds. I recorded it on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, Missouri, with one of my oldest friends and musical partners, Ben Majchrzak, at Native Sound Studio. Ollie Samland, otherwise known as the best pedal steel guitarist in Germany, was there and he played piano. I played electric guitar so loud that my ears are still ringing.

3. Koffer
- I like old Austro-Pop and a few classic German divas. I suppose that puts me in a lucky group of about four and a half Americans who even know who the hell Helmut Qualtinger was. The way I see it is who needs Rosetta Stone or any of that shit when you have Wolfgang Ambros and Hildegard Knef teaching you vocabulary? I usually start thinking my poor German is pretty great when I’m back in the US and don’t have to talk to anybody in “Deutsch”. That’s where I wrote my first and, so far, only song in the language of the countries I’ve been living in for the last eight years. I was in my shower in my cabin on my farm thinking of Marlene Dietrich nostalgically singing about how she still has a suitcase in Berlin. “Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin… blah blah blah something in German blah blah…” I myself had the misfortune of living in that city for about five years and every time I had to go back I looked forward to it just about as much as going to the dentist. There in my shower in my cabin on my farm I thought to myself, “I still have a suitcase in Berlin like Marlene, but that’s about all I have”. “Ich hab NUR einen Koffer in Berlin”. I dried off and wrote the song in a few minutes. Oh, I thought I was pretty damned clever. I went back to Munich a few weeks later and showed it to my friend Rosalie Eberle, who happens to be one of my favorite German lyricists, and, with a grin, she helped make sense of my babble. Danke Rosalie. From Munich I took my experiment up to Berlin and Simon Bauer and Daniel Schröteler turned it into a rock song. I screamed my lungs out and we ran my guitar through a doctored old East German radio while Hans Unstern sat in the mixing room with Simon engineering the song. Hans said that it would be a hit. I think he was joking, but Hans Unstern can say whatever he wants. He’s a fucking musical genius and a big inspiration behind this song. Danke Simon, Daniel, und Hans.

4. Thinkin’ About It
- Originally intended for the “Nero” album, this song was written on a hotel bed one afternoon between a soundcheck and a concert in some shitty little town somewhere in the Netherlands. I was feeling sorry for myself and a little in love with a girl in Amsterdam. I was in the middle of a hardcore Townes van Zandt and Jason Molina binge, thinking I was going to turn into an alcoholic and die alone sooner or later. Fabian Kalker produced the “Nero” album and forms the bedrock of this song with a simple and beautiful bass line on an old Hofner like the Beatles. We recorded the vocals on an old Neumann microphone from the sixties like the Beatles. My friend Cedric Muyres from Snowstar Records in Utrecht told me that the Beatles wrote some songs in the Netherlands too, so I guess I did that like the Beatles. I’m trying to think of other things about this song that would be like the Beatles, but nothing is coming to mind. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make it on to the first album and only made it on the second one with a collection of singles and a song or two in German… like the Beatles.

5. The Way To Go
- I never intend to confuse my audience, but I’m just so damned good at it. A few years ago I had the bright idea of forming three different bands (Ian Fisher & The Past, Ian Fisher & The Present, and, you guessed it, Ian Fisher & The Future) to denote the three different groups of musicians I often played with. Nobody ever understood it. Hell, I barely even understand it myself. Back in 2011 we recorded an entire album as Ian Fisher & The Past, but never released it. I put out a few of the songs on a 7” vinyl. If you’re among the seven people who bought that vinyl, then thanks. The other 493 copies are still in my basement where I’ve built with them a shrine to thank the creators of Spotify for their merciful €0.003 a song play. “Thank you kind sirs. Thank you.” (Insert Oliver Twist accent.) I digress… This song was supposed to be on the Ian Fisher & The Past album, it was on the 7” vinyl, and now it’s on the “Koffer” album. Recycling is a beautiful thing. Ryan Thomas Carpenter is a genius on piano and that’s what he usually plays with me now, but he played the second acoustic guitar line on this song. I don’t think he ever really liked playing guitar, but after that recording session with The Past we formed an acoustic guitar duo called The Present and he had to play guitar with me for the next three years. We ended that project though, Ryan’s back on piano where he belongs, and we’re back to my four syllable, googleable name.

6. Seriously Who
- I met the Reverend John DeLore at a flashmob music festival on a subway to Coney Island when I was living in New York City. We decided to release split 7” vinyls together that would be named after our favorite bartender, The Canadian Patriot Waitress. It’s a long story. Anyway, this song will be on one of those split singles one of these days. It’s more or less about the reoccurring existential crisis that follows concerts to audiences that don’t seem to give a shit. We recorded it in New York at Rubber Tracks Studio. It’s some studio that Converse shoes owns. They let us record for free and gave us shoes. Pretty good deal. Tim Neuhaus, who plays drums in the Blue Man Group in Berlin and with the German pop-star Clueso, is one of the nicest guys on earth… and an awesome drummer. He was on tour with me in the US when we recorded this and he is the backbone of the song. The horn section is a nice touch too.

7. Settlin’ In
- A friend’s ex-girlfriend lent me her banjo a few years ago. I looked up a couple chords online and started playing around with it on my bed in my cabin on my farm. I started singing along to the chords and something that sounded like a godless church song came out. I got out my phone and recorded the idea. This is the godless church song idea phone recording.

8. Whole Lotta Room
- Back when the album “Koffer” wasn’t even a spark in her father’s eye, the album “Nero” was released. I spent about two and a half years working on “Nero”. I spent about two and a half weeks on “Koffer”, but who’s counting? This song was intended for the “Nero” album. Then I decided to blow all my money on printing the album as vinyl records and not just CD’s. Aside from being expensive, fragile, and a pain in the ass to transport, another one of vinyl records fantastic qualities is that they’re only able to fit about forty minutes of music. Due to that fact, I had to cut three songs (“Whole Lotta Room”, “Thinkin’ About It”, and “Settlin’ In”) from the “Nero” record. I was so invested in the album that leaving those songs behind felt a little like sacrificing my first born. One of my main reasons to release this new record is to finally put out the unreleased “Nero” material. I love this song. It was written after my last relationship fell apart. Alexia Peniguel’s backing vocals capture the feeling behind it better than words could ever do.

9. Hail Mary
- Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, is a midwestern American farm town with a population of about 4,410 the last time I checked. Highway 61 runs through it. Bob Dylan wrote about that. The Mississippi River runs through it. Mark Twain wrote about that. And this girl named Mary used to run through it. Really. She was on the high school track team. I wrote about that.

10. Koffer (Acoustic Demo)
- I already told you all about the background of this song, so I don’t have to say anything more about that. The reason I added the demo version of this song to the tail end of this record is because I think it’s reckless and beautiful somehow. The whole thing was recorded live with a little ZOOM recorder in Ollie Samland’s apartment in Hamburg. Ollie had never heard the song before when he sat down and improvised that beautiful pedal steel guitar part that you hear. The song also wasn’t really finished yet. It’s filled with grammatical mistakes and I even improvised some lyrics at the end. To all you German speakers out there, I know some of the things I sing sound ridiculous. I know. I know. All that being said, it just feels young and fragile to me, which is the opposite of the other version of this song on this record and which is probably why I think it’s beautiful. The spontaneity behind this song and the entire album, for that matter, is probably why I’m releasing the thing.

11. Nothing
- Back in the US people really love their Jesus stuff. A friend of mine told me about a book in the Old Testament that he thought even a heathen like me could appreciate. I took his word for it because apparently Pete Seeger had written the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” after reading it. If it was good enough for Pete Seeger, then I thought it’d be good enough for me. He was right. The Book of Ecclesiastes was really inspiring in a non-traditional Christian way. It inspired me to write this song. I’ve performed it with several of the ninety three bands I’ve played with in the last few years. I played it with The Nowhere Train and with the Tour of Tours. We usually used it as the show closer. What better way to end a concert than with a song about death and rebirth. You got to tell the people the show is ending, but could go on if you ask nicely for an encore. That’s the basic gist of the Bible too, right?

credits

released November 18, 2016

Ian Fisher - Koffer - Album Credits

1. If You Wanna Stay
Simon Bauer - Bass / Engineer
Daniel Schröteler - Drums
Ben Majchrzak @ Native Sound Studio
- Mix / Organ / Backing Vocals

2. Candles For Elvis
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar / Piano / Organ
Kevin Bachman - Bass
Ben Majchrzak @ Native Sound Studios
- Engineer / Mix / Drums / Backing Vocals

3. Koffer
Simon Bauer - Bass / Engineer
Daniel Schröteler - Drums
Ben Majchrzak @ Native Sound Studio - Mix

4. Thinkin’ About It
Ryan Thomas Carpenter - Piano
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar
Fabian Kalker - Bass / Engineer
Hannes Bieger - Mix

5. The Way To Go
Ryan Thomas Carpenter - Guitar / Backing Vocals
Rike Scheffler - Backing Vocals
Simon Bauer - Bass
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar
Andreas Laudwein - Electric Guitar
Max Andrzejewski - Drums
Roy Knauf - Engineer
Hannes Bieger - Mix

6. Seriously Who
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar
Tim Neuhaus - Drums
Reverend John DeLore - Backing Vocals
Ryan Thomas Carpenter - Organ
Curtis Brewer - Guitar
Jordan Scannella - Bass
Dan Brantigan - Trumpet
Stefan Zeniuk - Saxophone
Bryan Pugh @ Rubber Tracks Studio - Engineer
Ben Majchrzak @ Native Sound Studio - Mix

7. Settlin’ In
Hannes Bieger - Mix

8. Whole Lotta Room
Ryan Thomas Carpenter - Piano / Guitar
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar
Fabian Kalker - Bass / Engineer
Alexia Peniguel - Backing Vocals
Tim Neuhaus - Backing Vocals
Hannes Bieger - Mix

9. Hail Mary
Ryan Thomas Carpenter - Guitar / Wurlitzer
Simon Bauer - Bass
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar
Andreas Laudwein - Electric Guitar
Max Andrzejewski - Drums
Roy Knauf - Engineer
Hannes Bieger - Mix

10. Koffer (Acoustic Demo)
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar / Engineer

11. Nothing
Ryan Thomas Carpenter - Guitar / Wurlitzer
Simon Bauer - Bass
Ollie Samland - Pedal Steel Guitar
Andreas Laudwein - Electric Guitar
Max Andrzejewski - Drums
Roy Knauf - Engineer
Ben Majchrzak - Mix

Ian Fisher - All Lyrics / All Vocals / Guitar / Banjo

Tammo Kersbergen - Mastering on Tracks Expect 5 & 9
Calyx Mastering - Mastering on Tracks 5 & 9

Photos by Katharina Rabl
Logo by Anna Kohlweis
Layout by Brent Stolzer

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Ian Fisher Berlin, Germany

A prolific songwriter and touring musician, raised on a farm in the US, living in Europe, with over 1000 songs and just as many concerts behind him.

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Track Name: If You Wanna Stay
my senses have been numbed and my tongue’s been slowed all the beers are gone and the lights are low so if you wanna stay i would not say no if you wanna go away i’d let you go i would - but tonight is all we got and the nights are all i know and your face in the pale light looks like an angel’s in the snow where everything’s white and i barely even know where your body stops and mine starts to be alone so if you wanna stay i would not say no if you wanna go away i’d let you go but i’m too proud to beg i just hope you know that if you wanna stay i would not say no - i would- i would not - i would - you say that freedom’s what you want well freedom’s all i know but freedom only comes when you start to let go and you know it takes two to have and hold and right now i want you i don’t care about tomorrow and if you wanna stay i would not say no if you wanna go away i’d let you go but i’m too proud to beg i just hope you know that if you wanna stay i would not say no i would- i would not - i would - not
Track Name: Candles For Elvis
i lit a candle for elvis wax pouring down my cheeks i know he’s still alive and i just can’t wait to meet him - when i go down to graceland i’m going down to graceland and i’ll buy that fat man a drink and talk like it’s the 70’s in my sequined suit and grey sideburns - i saw candles for children on my tv set from some kind of earthquake but i don’t give a shit - cause i’m going down to graceland i’m going down to graceland and i’ll buy myself a drink and i’ll talk like it’s the 70’s in my sequined suit and grey sideburns - so if the end is coming then where are the horsemen? i don't think I'd mind it at least it's seven days of something i don't have a first-born and I don't mind the frogs and I've seen rivers of blood in my dreams since Vietnam so come on jesus or come on allah i hope you have my number cause I've been waiting for your call - last night I lit a candle when my power died and of my youth it did remind i compared my youthful dreams to my modern life and I realized if I were a child again myself I wouldn't recognize - cause I'm going down to graceland i'm going down to graceland and I will drown my dreams in drinks and settle on my things like my sequined suit and grey sideburns
Track Name: Koffer
Du, Du bist keine Stadt, Du bist gar nichts. Doch bekannt. Aber wo, wo ist der Rest, Du machst mich leer, aber Du hältst mich fest. Warum kannst Du mich nicht verlassen, ich hab die Buchstaben von meinen Namen gekotzt auf Deine Straßen. Und du hast die nicht gelesen unter Touristen Schuhe sind die gekommen und jetzt die gehen. - Da gibts keine Wand, da gibts keine Wand in diesem Zimmer, wo ich bin. Ich hab nur ein, ich hab nur einen Koffer in Berlin. - Die sagen, Du warst reif. Du warst jung. Wie leere Seiten. In ein offenes Buch ohne Worte, offen zu schreiben, etwas wertvolles. Aber was, was ist passiert? Du bist lahm geworden, gentrifiziert. Und jetzt, Du bist nur eine alte Hure, zu teuer, für einen Jungen. - Da gibt´s keine Wand, da gibt´s keine Wand in diesem Zimmer wo ich bin. Ich hab nur ein, Ich hab nur einen Koffer in Berlin. - Aber ich will kein Ami sein, ich will kein Deutscher sein. Ich will gar nichts sein, außer was ich bin. Aber alles was ich hab passt in einen Koffer in Berlin. Einen Koffer in Berlin. Einen Koffer in Berlin. Uh. Aber einen Koffer in Berlin ist besser, als nix.
Track Name: Thinkin' About It
lately i’ve been thinking about settling down and settling up my accounts i’ve been taking out never paying um back barely thinking about um cause i got the road on my mind singin’ so cliche like some cowboy line but it’s true at least some of the time and when i’m in it it’s all I think about - when I find someone who takes my mind away from the places I don’t plan to stay i think of all the lines that I could say to make us forget that all we have is today - if i loved you it’d bring me down it’d take you up put you on a plane make you travel around make us go insane but I can’t say i’m not thinking about it if you loved me i’d let you down like the one before and the one before that and the one before and the one before that so come kiss me now lets forget about it - when i find someone I want more than a night i start planning like i’m running out of time cursing this homeless way of life ain’t saying i’m changing but i might ain’t saying i’m changing but one day
Track Name: The Way To Go
i’ve been dreaming about a different life that fills my days more than my nights and i’ve been cooking up a magic spell that makes a man rhyme words like heaven with words like hell - i’ve been thinking about you a lot it makes me aware of what i’ve got to lose and what I’m not ready to be - take me for a ride like i’ve been taking you challenge me to love you make me change my mind about what i planned to do push yourself away from me so i can reach out and grab you - i’ve been dreaming in my head while i’ve been sleeping in your bed if you could see those dreams i know you’d rhyme words like stay with words like go - i’ve been stepping on your feet while you’ve been following me down empty streets that i do not know - i do not know the way to go… take me for a ride like i’ve been taking you challenge me to love you make me change my mind about what i planned to do push yourself away from me so i can reach out and grab you
Track Name: Seriously Who
after a long night of drinking i was looking at myself in a broken hotel mirror in a broken little town thinking to myself how did i end up here so I picked up a pen wrote something down and those words are what you hear - but nothing at all came out least nothing worth writing about and is it strange for me to doubt that anyone cares how i feel i mean seriously who? - i had this stirring in my gut and a shaking in my hands like every country song like every book i read romanticizing traveling, girls, and drinks so i picked up a guitar and i strummed the strings i opened up my mouth and i tried to sing - but nothing at all came out least nothing worth writing about and is it strange for me to doubt that anyone cares how i feel i mean seriously do you? - but i’ll use you for an ear least a wedge to hammer between here and there i don’t get paid enough to lie but you use me just like i use you a mirror we see each other through alone together and trying to deny
Track Name: Settlin' In
I’m settling in to a new life. I’m settling in tomorrow. Cause I gotta leave my old life of begging, stealing, and borrowing.
Track Name: Whole Lotta Room
i don’t mind calling it a night if we gotta call it something time we can blame it on the time how it went by and how it is beyond me - i tried waiting on a sign just another line but the right one to write bye well we could say good bye but good would be a lie cause the good would be beyond me - there oh there is a whole lot of room to move where there are things that you can choose - we i say we as if it’s only me as if i forgot the meaning me sometimes i’m all that i can see not the forest through the trees not even you until you’re leaving - there oh there is a whole lot of room to move where there are things that you can choose
Track Name: Hail Mary
hail mary full of grace how i want to be with you but i don’t know how to be - holy mary mother of no one how long to be someone leave me be - hail mary i’m chained to you waiting on you praying on you - holy mary become my lover lets forget the others and i’ll marry you - another virgin dream based on everything except reality so come on let us see if i can love anybody - hail mary now that i won you now that i don’t want you leave me be - holy eyes holy lips only lies i gave for this
Track Name: Koffer (Acoustic Demo)
you’re no city you’re nothing other than popular, but where’s the rest, you make me hollow but you hold me tight - why can’t you let me go, i threw up the letters of my name on your streets, you came in stuck to the bottom of tourists’ shoes and now you’re leaving - there’s no wall there’s no wall in this room that i’m in, i only have, i only have a suitcase in berlin - they say that you were ripe, you were young, like empty pages in an open book without words ready for something meaningful to be written in - but what happened, you got lame, gentrified, and now you’re just an old whore too expensive for a boy - there’s no wall there’s no wall in this room that i’m in, i only have, i only have a suitcase in berlin - but i don’t want to be an american, i don’t want to be a german, i don’t want to be anything other than what i am - but everything that i have fits in a suitcase in berlin, a suitcase in berlin, a suitcase in berlin, uh, but a suitcase in berlin is better than nothing
Track Name: Nothing
CHORUS: “from nothing to dust and from dust to stone and from stone to plant then man and from man to plant and from plant to stone then back to dust again” - from where did nothing come where will nothing go and where will i fit in to a circle around me a circle through me and a life that starts and ends CHORUS sons and daughters killers lovers mothers fathers friends born with nothing dying with nothing living lives think they possess CHORUS skin and bones do come from those who’ve come before and these skin and bones will one day die and be born into another form CHORUS what I can not see in you and me has no name or place it’s neither here nor there nor anywhere but is yet in everything CHORUS we can look we can search with eyes made of earth for things we can’t hold in our hands but that one thing we name and that one thing we claim ist genau was man nie verstehen kann CHORUS