Total Ghost on what snorting astroid dust is like
Every band is, to some degree, essentially a mask of theatrics in which you play a character that is not really yourself. But for Denver's Euro-trash, synth-dance duo, Total Ghost, the act is one hundred percent comedic lies. Chön and Biktor, a pair of rude, vain, indulgent citizens of Berlin (or sometimes the moon), make up the hilarious team of Total Ghost. If you took the German kidnappers from The Big Lebowski, wrapped them inside the aesthetic of Tim and Eric and smothered with the supernatural arrogance of Metalocalypse, you'd have Total Ghost.
In advance of Total Ghost's upcoming album release at Illegal Pete's South Broadway this Saturday, September 14, we caught up with Chön and Biktor (aka Adam Nix and Randy Washington) via phone from their personally financed space station for a chat about a great many things, including music made by toddlers and what snorting asteroid dust is like.
Westword: When did Total Ghost first come together?
Chön: You asking when we first meet, or when we begin making zee perfect music together?
Chön: Well, the first time you hear it in America was in 2008. But we have been making zee music for about 22 years before that.
Twenty-two years? You must have garnered quite a following over there in Europe.
Chön: Of course. I don't even understand why you would ask such a stupid question like this.
Biktor: We are big in Belgium and Austria. Very, very big.
What have been some of your hits over there?
Chön: Our first hit in Belgium was "Pomme Frites Un Sweaty Pants." It was a song about staying up late eating pomme frites and dancing so you get so sweaty you have to take your pants off. We often record in our Villa in the south of France, but to get the best space-sound, you have to record in space. So we often record in our space station.
Who funds this space station?
Biktor: The people of the world are funding this. You buy our album, you send us to space. You buy. You buy, we go to space.
Chön: This is capitalism. Do you not understand capitalism? You are American, right?
Chön: Then you know, you give us money, we use zee money. This is how your country runs, yes?
Yes, and our country recently cut funding to NASA. We can't afford to go to space as often as we'd like; but Total Ghost is big enough afford its own space station?
Biktor: We are good friend with the Elon Musk. Billionaire. He is good friend.
Chön: He is zee man who start Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors.
Biktor: He is making the hyperloop.
A lot of Denver comedy fans really like your music. Are you ever intentionally funny with the songs or videos you make?
Chön: I can answer zat question with thees question: Do you find something funny zabout our music?
Yes, it's hilarious. I crack up when I watch your videos.
Chön: What ees funny about zem?
It appears to me to be a satire of minimalist German pop music and Euro-trash vanity.
Chön: Are you aware of how insult zat is for a German to hear?
The video for "Happy Birthday For You Person" has gained a lot of traction in America. Whenever someone's birthday comes up, I see it shared on their social media pages. What's the story behind that song?
Biktor: We were commissioned by two stupid Americans to make zees video for a friend of theirs. Her name is zee Kimberly Lund. We spent very little time on it, and made a lot of money. It was za footnote. All of America loves it, of course.
Chön: We were paid about five-hundred thousand Euros a piece for that song. And then it blew up on zee YouTube. So America, if you would like us to make zee song for your own, we will do it. But you will definitely pay for it.
Biktor: A lot
With you two being so into finance, I assume you've noticed how Germany was the more stable country during the European debt crisis, and was helping bail out Greece after they'd been so irresponsible. Do you think Germans are better with money than other Europeans?
Chön: Well, you say Germany was bailing out Greece, but I will give you a little of, how you Americans say? "Inside football." It was Total Ghost that was bailing Germany out the entire time. We have a very "personal" relationship with the Queen of Germany. She make it very worth our while, if you know what I mean.
I wasn't aware that Germany had a queen.
Chön: Typical American.
If you've been making music for twenty-two years, I imagine you're much older than your appearance would suggest. How do you maintain that youthful glow?
Biktor: We are not as old as you think. We have been making zee music since we were two years old.
What kind of music does a two-year-old make?
Chön: Amazing music.
Biktor: Very emotional music. A lot about primal urges. Like "I am hungry. Why am I hungry?" and the emotions that go with zat.
Chön: I had a B-side at the time that was zee [sings] "Pick me up! Pick me up! I want to be picked up now!" It went on like that for about four minutes.
That's funny. And I've seen you guys play so many shows alongside comedians. What do you think of the Denver comedy scene?
Biktor: We don't really understand zee comedy. Especially your American comedy.
Chön: I like the big hairy comedians. Like Chris Charpentier. Giant hairy man.
Okay. Moving along, with your previous album you touch on a lot of eclectic themes like the Autobahn, Christmas, blowing money. What have you explored with this new release?
Chön: Well, our first album, Space Lightning, was mostly about partying in space.
Biktor: And with this album, we have been a little less realistic.
Chön: We had an EP that was about eating pizza, because zis is zee best food.
Biktor: That is what we thought EP stood for. Eating Pizza.
Your music is often heavily rooted in electronic beats and synthesizers. Have you experimented at all with acoustic instruments?
Biktor: We sometimes like to play the keyboard unplugged.
What does an average day in the life of Total Ghost look like?
Chön: We share a giant bed together. I get up early, and bathe in a tub of champagne and uncut diamonds. And Biktor, when do our mistresses come over?
Biktor: Uh, I don't know. Time? What eez time? All the time. They're in and out. Ha ha ha.
Chön: Yes, you see what he does there? That is humor. German humor. But then we go out to the disco. There is a disco on the moon where they crush up zee asteroid dust and snort it up, and zis is a high better than anything you have on zee planet earth.