[dropcap]Lebanon Hanover[/dropcap] are one of the most heartrending and mournful bands I have seen in quite a long time. The music composed by William Maybelline and Larissa Iceglass mirrors an affliction of grief peering through a dusty veil.
Their latest album ‘Besides the Abyss’ (artful words at play) is in fact their best—showing no fatigue considering their considerable output in just a short period of time. Two of my particular favorites on the record are “The Moor” sung by Larissa, and “Dark Hill” by William; these songs warrant release as singles, or at the very least a remix or two!
In addition the new Lebanon Hanover album, which was released only a mere few months ago, William Maybelline is already debuting his first solo LP, a project called Qual, which comes out on May 28th.
After a bit of effort on my part, I finally managed to correspond with William and Larissa after their Spring European tour regarding the album, the band’s inspirations, and William’s new Project:
William, from just a moments glance, you seem to be a walking anachronism, spliced together from several different periods in time…unstuck like Billy Pilgrim from Slaughterhouse Five. Where were you born, and where might you truly be from?
It’s origins are some how crossed between the UK and Berlin, in the beginning Larissa took a holiday away from Berlin to the north of England—to a place called Sunderland which is where I am from, while Larissa is originally from Switzerland. After consuming quite a bit of Sunderland’s grimness, a couple of weeks later I went to Berlin to make more music with Larissa.
I was at the show at the Lebanon Hanover show at Gretchen Club in Berlin recently, and was blown away by the size and diversity of the crowd. It was a mix of goths, punks, Berghain kids, and your average university students.
I am not sure what it was, but I found myself captivated by the music along with everyone else. Do you think Lebanon Hanover’s appeal is it’s romanticism in an increasingly cynical age?
Thats a very charming thought but the crowd in berlin was perhaps only so huge because the city is a popular shelter for individualists and rejects from all over. I believe there are many people living in Berlin that feel very lonely for that’s how I felt living there back then. The more hopeless we feel the more cynical we get. I understand very well if you can’t find love in a digital world of multi optionality…you would end up rather bitter and cynical.
I saw people kiss though it—but it would be foolish to think its because of our music
‘Besides The Abyss’ is your fourth Lebanon Hanover album? Has a lot changed since the project first began? I can’t help thinking of this album title as a metaphor for an uncertain future…being fearful to lean over and peer into the depths. But it also seems fitting with the theme throughout your music…What also comes to mind, since you are fans of Oscar Wilde, is his letter to Bosie “De Profundis”, which was a cathartic response to human frailty and weakness…
Besides the Abyss is certainly an ode to the deep underground in our hearts. When you find yourself at the very end of despair and hopelessness and how life somehow on the other side is full of ease and pleasure.
It also has a personal note for our paths have been difficult during the works on this album. We both have fallen in love with new darlings and the band is living in different countries for almost two years now. The dualism of abyss and sky are also symbolizing parting and new beginning.
The letter to Bosie I read at the time of “Why not just be Solo”. Wilde’s fragility and sorrow brought me to tears and of course made me want to write more honest ever since and to continue writing even if the of gruesome whole of humanity unites itself against you
When did you start your solo project Qual? To my understanding the word is not just an Xmal Deutschland song, but rather a word for torment. From the tile of the project, and the overall nature of the music, I am starting to believe you are the William that Goethe’s Young Werther wrote to.
During all the travels over the course of last years tour, many ideas hit me for a solo project. Being on the road so much I began having day dreams, and by late June 2014 when I got back to he UK for a few weeks I was able to start recording.
There seems to be a passion for film making in your videos. Are there any directors that inspire your work, or films that you take inspiration from?
I’ve always found pleasure in storytelling and a morbid sense of humour. There are no specific directors that inspired me for a certain video. All my work is usually very intuitive, and a lot of ideas evolved spontaneously at the set—but I always tried to express something tangible and raw. Too many effects or fast cuts have never been my cup of tea and are just distracting.
A wonderful way to display intimacy in film I find for instance in the peep show series or the movies of Roland Klick, Miranda July. Also, not to be missed, my favorite music video of Morrissey – Everyday is like Sunday.
I have always found the greatest gift one can give is a book. Are there any books you find yourself reading over and over…what are you reading at the moment, or what would you recommend to read?
Books are certainly wonderful gifts if they match your taste. At the moment I am reading Max Frisch – Schwarzes Quadrat and I really find myself reading it again and again always discovering something new. I’m generally a huge fan of speeches and essays. Those books seem rather rare though..
But the melodic and radical style of Thomas Bernhard the decadent and rebellious Adolf Loos, or Herta Müllers delicate and desolate way of writing certainly touches me so much that it is impossible to live without.
William, Where can we find Qual music? Are there any upcoming releases and/or tourdates?
My first album will be available here: https://avantrecords.bandcamp.com/ on the 28th of May. I also have a few tracks available here qual.bandcamp.com and the tour poster can be found on my page: facebook.com/qual.death