Saturday, September 10, 2011
8:42 AM Christian Lamitschka No comments
Interview with Country Music Icon Tom Astor
Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
Tom Astor: Contemporary music influenced by Country.
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?
Tom Astor: The last year has been successful as all the years before. I did a lot of touring and had appearances in quite big TV-Shows. There was a CD-Box that was advertised in TV and I played in front of 40,000 people.
Lamitschka: What is your latest CD and how's it doing?
Tom Astor: The last studio album “Leben Pur” is from 2010. The newest release is called “Seine größten Hits”, a best of album. The album is doing fine; all the persons that are involved are satisfied.
Lamitschka: How did you choose the title for the CD? Is there a story behind the name?
Tom Astor: It is a Best of album titled “Seine größten Hits”.
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
Tom Astor: About 90 percent of the songs I write myself. Usually I choose the last 10 percent from songs other songwriters offer me.
Lamitschka: Please tell us about the songs on your album (influences, etc).
Tom Astor: The songs are about real-life stories: critical, funny, ironical and sometimes serious. Either I experienced the stories myself or others did.
Lamitschka: What is the difference between your last CD and your current one?
Tom Astor: My last CD was a studio album. The current one is a “Best of” album with three new songs.
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to hear it?
Tom Astor: I think the melody is easy to keep in mind and the song animates to sing along. The lyrics are ironical and funny.
Lamitschka: What will your next single be?
Tom Astor: That’s something I decide together with my record company in the forthcoming weeks.
Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record the most?
Tom Astor: Emotional ballads.
Lamitschka: You did a duet with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, John Denver. How did that happen to come about?
Tom Astor: In total I’ve recorded more than 40 duets. To tell you all the stories behind I’d need a lot of pages in your magazine. 18 of my duets you can hear on my 2007 album “Tom Astor & friends: Duette”. Each duet has its own long story. From the first idea many years passed by until the recording was realized. From time to time I met a colleague who went with me into the studio to record a song together.
Lamitschka: What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?
Tom Astor: I’ve recorded more than 700 songs by now. To choose one is difficult. If you had more children you would love each of it the same way. Naturally my most successful songs belong to those I like most: Young Eagle, Hello, Good Morning Germany, to name just a few.
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have over your music?
Tom Astor: Very much. But in business you have to consult partners like your record company.
Lamitschka: There's a lot of work that goes into a number one hit. What did it take to make it in your case?
Tom Astor: I did the right decision at the right time.
Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?
Tom Astor: Those are the emotional stories I hear from my fans. I’ve heard stories from fans who received new power in difficult times with the help of my music. Furthermore fans told me they’ve plucked up courage from my music to cope a serious illness.
Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?
Tom Astor: My musical roots are in Rock’n Roll, Jazz, Blues and Country Music.
Lamitschka: What do you think about today's music scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?
Tom Astor: Music has split into many categories. Today’s customers are not as tolerant as people were in the 1950’s or 1960’s. Back then the hits were loved from everyone, never mind the style. In my opinion every musical style has both its positive and negative aspects.
Lamitschka: What do you think about today's music industry?
Tom Astor: Today’s music industry has to face several difficulties. The turnovers of physical recording mediums have been lowering since the 1990’s and some day in the future they won’t be existing any more.
Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Tom Astor: I would love to support artists I had confidence in on a long-term basis without giving them up just because their next two albums might fail.
Lamitschka: As an artist, you do many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?
Tom Astor: I like the creative work most: to write songs and then go into the studio and record them with great musicians. Working in the studio means the most fun to me. The highlights of my work are live concerts where I can present these songs to my audience.
Lamitschka: Are you doing anything to take music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?
Tom Astor: I’m always looking for new influences and I’m continually developing my music. The audience has to decide if I’m breaking through any borders.
Lamitschka: What was your big break that got you into the music business?
Tom Astor: That was when I started doing what I like and what I’m good in: Music influenced mainly by country.
Lamitschka: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?
Tom Astor: First my parents and my brothers and sisters were skeptical. But my wife and my children have supported me as best they could.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become an artist?
Tom Astor: The colorful world of music.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a songwriter?
Tom Astor: When I was young I had written a song just for fun and realized I was pretty good at it. The support I received from people in music business encouraged me to move on.
Lamitschka: What drives you?
Tom Astor: Every single small and big success in my career as well as my enjoyment of music.
Lamitschka: What does it take to be a music icon?
Tom Astor: You need your own style, a natural charisma and a unique recognition effect.
Lamitschka: What's unique about you that will differentiate you from other artists?
Tom Astor: That’s a question you rather should ask others.
Lamitschka: What has been your greatest challenge in music business?
Tom Astor: When I was a young musician I tried to get a deal with a major label. Now I have had it for more than 20 years. My goal has always been not to become a nine-day wonder, but somehow remain in music business for many years.
Lamitschka: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?
Tom Astor: My performance with The Highwaymen and my concert in the Grand Ole Opry are highlights of my career as well as the duets with several American colleagues. Not forgetting to mention my golden LP’s of course.
Lamitschka: Any thoughts of retirement ahead?
Tom Astor: No way – I’m doing like Willie Nelson.
Lamitschka: Who is your biggest critic, yourself or others?
Tom Astor: My wife, my children and myself too.
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?
Tom Astor: I relax with hiking, swimming and I also relax when I give my daughter a lift to the stable where I take care for the horses.
Lamitschka: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?
Tom Astor: Once I wrote a song called “Viel erreicht und viel vergeigt”, which means “I have achieved a lot, but I have messed up a lot too”. I think it’s no use talking about what you would or could have done differently. You can’t help it anyway.
Lamitschka: What hopes and desires do you have?
Tom Astor: Health for my family is the most important thing. Furthermore living in our world should become fairer.
Lamitschka: What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?
Tom Astor: I’m satisfied with my life including all the disappointments I’ve gone through.
Lamitschka: Many European fans travel to the United States to attend the several of the music festivals for the opportunity to see so many of their favorite artists, bands and celebrities. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?
Tom Astor: There’s nothing concrete planned I could tell you about.
Lamitschka: Is there any place you haven't played that you would like to?
Tom Astor: I’d love playing East-Asia, namely Japan or China. There are lots of requests for autograph-cards coming from there.
Lamitschka: What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?
Tom Astor: Fans can expect a two hour lasting concert with six great musicians. We also include some songs played unplugged. You’ll hear my old and new songs as well as international hits.
Lamitschka: When you're on tour, do you have time to play tourist?
Tom Astor: No, unfortunately I don’t have the time to play tourist.
Lamitschka: Do fans mob you everywhere you go or do they respect your privacy?
Tom Astor: Sometimes they respect my privacy, some don’t.
Lamitschka: Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
Tom Astor: Of course I have my own website (www.tom-astor.de). We’re always trying to keep it up to date. You can find there news, concert dates and information about my CD’s.
Lamitschka: Tell us about the fan club and how people can join it.
Tom Astor: You can find information about my biggest fan club on www.tom-astor-fanclub.de.
Lamitschka: What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?
Tom Astor: The greatest compliment are my fans.
Lamitschka: What's your favorite song that you wish you could have recorded?
Tom Astor: “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is a song I would love to have recorded myself.
Lamitschka: What message would you like to send your European fans?
Tom Astor: European fans could help to work on the image of country music here.
Lamitschka: How do you feel about winning awards? What has it done for your career?
Tom Astor: Awards always mirror success. I have always regarded them as motivation to move on and to try out something creatively new.
Tom Astor: There are a lot of road stories around. But unfortunately I have none ready now.
Lamitschka: Describe what a perfect day is like for you.
Tom Astor: Getting up well rested early in the morning and getting done what has to be done without rushing myself. Then, having a relaxed night later on.
Lamitschka: Most careers don't last as long as yours. What's given your career the staying power?
Tom Astor: I’ve always tried my songs to be time spirit, to adapt my music to modern sound solutions. However, I think it’s my fans that have made me be successful for so long.
Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )
Posted in: Interview in English
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