Vladimir Harkonnen sounds like a finnish romanian soloartist but it is a high octane rock n roll band from Germany, here have Philipp Wolter answered a lot of questions from me in april 2020.

Please tell me a little bit history of the group? 

Philipp: Hi Peter, thanx for this opportunity!

We started out in 2006. When my former band BONEHOUSE split up I received a phonecall if I would be interested in joining forces with guys from a punkband called 2ND ENGINE. They broke up too in 2006. I was excited, cause I knew the drummer Eric and the guitarist Zarc since the eighties. They are brothers and they played in a lot of good bands in our area in Northern Germany like NUCLEAR TERROR (Thrash Metal), GAINSAY (Hardcore/Punk), SPRAWL (Hardcore/Punk) and 2ND ENGINE (Punkrock). So that was the perfect timing to finally start something together. 2ND ENGINE had a second guitarist, Nils, and so the three of them and I formed a new band. We played our first show in 2006 without having decided for a bandname. And we lacked a bassplayer. But on that night Andi was already interested, a bassplayer from a cool band we liked named NUISANCE OF MAJORITY (still active – without Andi though). He joined and after this we found our name VLADIMIR HARKONNEN. Eric, Zarc, Andi and me are together in VLADIMIR HARKONNEN for 14 years now. I mentioned a second guitar – after Nils left the band, we had a good run with Tobi on second guitar for 3,5 years. But he had to leave due to limited time so we played with only one guitarist, Zarc, which is a hell of a guitarplayer. After three years we were lucky to get Nico on second guitar, who joined in 2019.


Please tell me a little about every member in the group right now, age, family, work, interests and something bad about everyone? Earlier bands? Other bands on the side?

Philipp: Let’s start with Nico: He plays not only guitar, but drums and bassguitar too! Fucker’s a total music maniac, he is working In a music store and aside from hearing music, making music and selling instruments he is a total straight edge guy who doesn’t drink. And like me has no smartphone and no car! He is with Andi in a crustband called MØRDER. Very good band, very good! In MØRDER he plays drums, while in VLADIMIR HARKONNEN he plays guitar (in case you forgot). Okay, let me think about Andi’s dark secrets… Okay, here it is: He played in a bikerrock band called HIGHLANDER once. They forced him to wear a KILT on stage (to look more Scottish). Andi is working as a cooling technican, Eric as a social worker/educator, Zarc as an hydro-company worker / linesman and I am a highschool teacher (with subjects History and German Language). the only with a kid right now is Zarc, who is married and has a daughter. And Andi and his girlfriend are going to be married next month!

Okay, Eric and Zarc are brothers. That’s a good thing to have in a band. They are playing together in bands since 35 years (!), so they are really very fucking tight. Zarc is our musical brain, cause he writes most of the songs. Often it starts with first ideas that Zarc works out with Eric. I mentioned their earlier band above. Eric played in the German punkband RASTA KNAST for some years.

I had my first band in 1986 – A.L.D.I. (Deutschpunk), then I was in BONEHOUSE for 13 years (five albums and some other stuff). This was a wild Hardcore/Punk-ride. From 1994 to 1999 I was in a Thrash Metal band called WALLCRAWLER, which released a demo and an album.


I described that you have a little of the same style as GBH but with another singer? What about that? Favorites from the past? 

Philipp: At first I was surprised, cause you are the first to mention GBH. But of course they are a band all uf us listened to. And there ARE some similarities: They are fast, they play sharp riffs in a heavy and aggressive way. And they have catchy hooks that stick in your ears. I think GBH and VLADIMIR HARKONNEN might have in common, that there is a lot going on in the music without being overly complex. Of course the vocal style is totally different. I am enjoying listening to GBH and they still kick ass on stage as well.


Vladmir Harkonnen sounds like a finnish-romanian soloartist …are you satisfied with the name? How did it came up? You weren’t afraid that some other band would be named like this? Which is the best bandname you know? 

Philipp: Haha, you might think this, a finnish skijumper or something like that… But in fact it is a fictional character created by Frank Herbert for his book “Dune”. It is an evil guy, very ugly too. When you think of it, there are many bands named after fictional characters – like AUDREY HORNE, COHEED & CAMBRIA, AHAB, URIAH HEEP, BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, VERUCA SALT, GOGOL BORDELLO, THE BOO RADLEYS and so on…

Yeah, we’re satisfied. It might not be easy to remember when someone yells it to ya while sitting in a bar. But in these shitty times of the internet that doesn’t matter. We like it cause we can play around with it like in the title of our newest album “Vlad Smash!” or in songtitles like “Reign In Vlad”. Actually there WAS a russian EBM-guy named himself VLADIMIR HARKONNEN too a few years ago, but it seems he disappeared by now.

By the way I just heard that there will be a new movie called “Dune” directed by Denis Villeneuve coming to theaters this year (due to Corona maybe later).

And the best bandname is of course SLAYER. Or wait, maybe DEAD KENNEDYS!


What´s the best thing with playing live?

Philipp: Free drinks.

But to be serious: I love playing live and there are several reasons for this. First thing is that you’ll never know what happens. You can be as good organized as you want, but you can’t predict everything. The monitorsound can be very bad so you have to play “blind”, people can be going wild or just staring at you (there can be no monitorsound and no people at all too…) And I’m loving it! It’s not like going to a stupid job where each day is the same. It’s exciting and sometimes even dangerous (I was hospitalized at least three times for doing dumb moves on stage). Second thing is the energy of course. The power you get back from a frenzy crowd. And I like it when people are yelling words between songs at us or at me. Last year there was a punk suddenly yelling “Do you have a song against the police?” (He said “Bullenschwein” to be exact.) Our answer: “Every song  from us is against the police!” It’s these situations I live for, to exchange with people.


And where is best to play? And the worst place?

Philipp: That’s hard to answer. Gimme a stage, I will play. But I can say that I like the smaller venues, the squats and D.I.Y.-clubs. It can be nice to open for a huge band in a bigger venue from time to time, but it’s not really our world. A really bad feeling I had when we played in a prison for women. In advance we thought that this might be a good thing. But it was a terrible experience.


How is to play this sort of music in Germany right now?  Which types of bands do you have concerts together with?

Philipp: We share the stage with totally different bands. Right now we should have been on tour with a Thrash/Hardcore/Punk band from Hamburg called THRASHING PUMGUNS and a finnish Thrashband called SLEDGE. So sometimes it’s more Punk, sometimes it’s more in the Metal direction. And to the first part of the question: For underground bands it’s always the same, nothing has changed. It’s great to play and get beer and food and meeting freaks. You have to like sleeping on the floor and getting up with no sleep.

But of course a lot of things may have changed when the pandemic is over. I fear the worst for smaller venues and smaller agencies. They will be eaten up by the bigger ones. On the other hand the Punk/D.I.Y.-squats will surely survive, cause (or if) they are not doing shows for a living.


How would you describe your music in three words?

Philipp: Thrash Flavoured HardcorePunk.


What does punk mean to you, is it only a word or is it a lifestyle?

Philipp: For me it is a way to see things in a critical point-of-view. Especially my understanding of the term “Hardcore/Punk” is not a “no future” way of thinking but a way of trying to create a better future. There may be limits for this, but everyone can try do a little bit good in this shitty world. On the other hand there are aspects in our lives that some might not consider a “punk lifestyle” like going to work. Or to face the fact that our band is not a professional 24/7 thing. But maybe that’s a good way of staying independent and to do things our own way.


Which song/album or group was it who took you into punk/hardcore?

Philipp: For me it was the German punkband SLIME with their album “Alle gegen Alle” (-> “Everyone against everyone”). This band had a tough message with lyrics against police terror, social injustice and other topics. And their music hit me hard, cause it was rough but yet melodic, aggressive but well-played in a tight rocking way. Still loving this record (heard it yesterday).  


What shall a young guy do today to shock their parents as the way we did when we were young? They have already seen everything ;-)?

Philipp: Very good question. All forms of protest are already been done. Or at least we thought. But since Greta and “Fridays For Future” there is new movement that gives hope. It might be the most important thing to do to achieve a change in climate politics for the better. But it maybe is not really “shocking” for parents… Some kids might do stupid things to shock ‘em like spraying swastikas on walls or stuff like that. One can only hope these kids get out of this.


How is it to live in Germany right now? Politically?   Fascists? 

Philipp: The frightening development is that we have a right-wing to far-right political party called AfD (=Alternative for Germany) which secured representation in nearly every German state parliament. They are the largest opposition party in our Bundestag. Just in march this year the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the far-right nationalistic faction “der Flügel” (-> “the wing”) as "a right-wing extremist endeavor against the free democratic basic order" and as "not compatible with the Basic Law" and therefore placed it under intelligence surveillance. It is frustrating to see that this party does still exist even if there are means to shut them down.

So this is one huge enemy for the punk movement. And of course there are other disturbing facts like the one that Germany is one of the biggest exporteurs in weapons. There are more than 30 states getting weapons from Germany. That’s just fucked-up!

So the whole capitalist bullshit is the same as everywhere…


Is there any good bands from Germany right now?  Is the punkscene/metalscene/hardcorescene big? How is it in your hometown?

Philipp: Yeah, I can recommend a lot of new bands like BAD AFFAIR, MAKINA, THE PINPRICKS, TOT, HOTEL KEMPAUSKI, MOMS DEMAND ACTION, ANGORA CLUB, KRAKEN, NO SUGAR, GRAVEHAMMER, NECK CEMETARY, SPIKER, WOLFSUIT, GRENDEL’S SYSTER, GEWALTBEREIT, SCHAISZE, SKARDUS, NOWAR, KNUD VOSS… These are very different bands from Punk to Hardcore and Black Metal, a lot of them are out of my hometown Kiel or out of this area. So you can say that there is still a big scene though regarding punk and hardcore it definitely was bigger ten years ago. The metalscene seems to grow more right now with a lot of young people attracted to it. But as we all know that can change very soon.


What do you know about Sweden?  Have you been here sometime?

Philipp: We know from DIE ÄRZTE: “Schweden ist das beste Land der Welt!” So there must be something to it.

It seems crazy how many bands your little country is pouring out! And so many of them are really good. Of course there is the factor that Sweden is supporting young musicians, but I am still in awe about this huge load of great punk and metal albums coming from Sweden. And all these young musicians seem to have class. It’s as if you got a subject in school teaches young people how to rock. And how to dress properly!

Yes, I’ve been to Stockholm with my band BONEHOUSE. We’ve recorded an album called “Steamroller” at Sunlight Studio from December 29th 1998 to January 8th 1999. (Produced by Jocke Petterson. Mixed by Thomas Skogsberg and Jocke Petterson. Mastered by Thomas Skogsberg at Polar Studio.) Freezing cold winter it was. We didn’t know the regular fuel would freeze so our bus went dead suddenly. So we took the subway to the studio and after coming back from the studio at night we discovered the bus was broken and our liquor was stolen. Good times though!


Have you heard any good bands from Sweden?

Philipp: Oooh, yes, my friend, I’ve got a lot of Swedish albums in my collection, let’s have look. BLACK UNIFORMS, SVART FRAMTID, SHITLICKERS, ANTI CIMEX, TOTALITÄR, WOLFPACK/WOLFBRIGADE, DISFEAR, DRILLER KILLER, UNCURBED, AVSKUM, MOB 47, TOTÄLICKERS, RIISTETYT, ASTA KASK (played with ASTA KASK just last year). And so many good metalbands, I better don’t start…


Your lyrics, who does them and what influences you?  Not in any other than english?

Philipp: Most of the lyrics are done by me. It’s the best way cause as the singer I can express my feelings and thoughts and that might make a small difference to lyrics coming from other persons. They deal with political topics, some take a stand against fascism („13 Minutes“ is dedicated to Georg Elser), some against dictators („Butcher Of Petrograd“ describes the bloody defeat of the Kronstadt Rebellion by the Red Army in 1921), some against transfigurers of the past („In The Good Old Days It Used To Be …Worse“), some against colonialism („White Ghosts“) and other against Flat-Earth-Society alu hat conspiracy believers („Flatties“). Yeah, we use English lyrics, maybe cause we grew up with records from bands singing in English as well.


Is there any subject that you never will write anything about? Or is it OK to write about everything?

Philipp: Hmm, maybe not about monsters or gore stuff. It’s not that I think it’s not okay – I like a lot of Death Metal albums – but this stuff is just not my cup of tea. I am more inspired by books about history.


Politic and music, does it goes hand in hand?  Which is your most political song?  Is it important to get out your opinions in music?

Philipp: For sure it does. It’s the roots of Rock’n’Roll to protest against oppression. Of course this can be done in just singing about playing Rock’n’Roll and hiding an explicit content. But in our time and our society I feel it is right to protest against fascism and dictatorshit. It’s not easy to say what might be our MOST political song. We have a song like ”Blue Hell” which deals about the plastic pollution in the water. Is this less political than singing about killing fascists?


Best political band/artist?

Philipp: This is tough to decide. I say: Jello Biafra and THE DEAD KENNEDYS. All of his stuff is great! Very cynical and right to the point. When he ran for mayor of San Francisco, his portfolio said that administrators would wear clown costumes if elected. Great!


Do you think that music(lyrics and so on) can change anyones life, I mean people who listens to music? Give me an example if you have some?

Philipp: The easy way out of this question might be to just say that many people are inspired by music to form an own band and that could be a major change in their life… But I guess you are thinking more in a way of political activity. It don’t have to be a grindcoreband to get you in politics, it could also happen from reading Karl Marx. But I remember a friend who was into IGNITE and they had these informations about SeaWatch in one of their albums. And she really was interested, got into it and joined SeaWatch. So it is possible.


Your favorite recordcover alltime?  Who does your recordcovers?  And do you have any good recordstores in your hometown?

Philipp: I love “Feel The Darkness” from POISON IDEA. Also everything from Pushead! On our first two albums the covers were done by Fritte. He did the cover for a POISON IDEA-Tributealbum on which my former band BONEHOUSE participated. Great guy. I tell him our ideas and lyrics and then his imagination goes wild. Loving his art! We will ask him again in the future. The new album “Vlad Smash!” has a cover done by Jeff Gaither. Really sick art, perfect for punkrock!

Unfortunately our best record store for Punk, Metal & Indie BLITZ RECORDS closed last year. Their old lease contract was ending and new conditions would have been bad. So they called it quits. A very sad day for our hometown. We even did a liveshow there a few years ago. Right now there is just one store where you can buy new records, several good second hand stores though. 


Is it important to get out physical records of your stuff? Why or why not? Vinyl, CD, cassette, what do you prefer if you could choose whatever ? Is JanML a good company? You have other too?

Philipp: I love hearing records. I think vinyl is the best medium for music. It just offers the best quality. Streaming – that’s something I can’t relate to. And it can be erased with just a click. Maybe tomorrow all these streaming services are gone. So we wanna put out physical records, yes. Cassettes and CDs are good too. I am collecting Vinyl, CDs and cassettes since 35 years now. My home is looking like a fucking record store.

Yes, JANML RECORDS / MAJA VON LOBECK is a good company. They offer a good variety from Hardrock to Punkrock. I can rely on their taste – if they put something out – I’ll just buy it without even listening in. You can trust JAN ML RECORDS.

Yeah, the repress of “Into Dreadnought Fever” is put out by a collaboration of labels, aside from JANML RECORDS / MAJA VON LOBECK there are POWER IT UP, FRONTCORE and TOANOL RECORDS.

“Vlad Smash!” is on vinyl by POWER IT UP, on CD by WANKER RECORDS and on cassette from CARDIOPHONIC RECORDS.


Please tell me a funny thing which have happened during your career and under some gig?

Philipp: We were playing with BONEHOUSE at a place in France called “Le Hangar”. It was a huge place, hundreds of raging punks. The show was very intense. Suddenly I was feeling a mighty BANG. Something has clashed right in my face above my eyes. Might have been spikes from someone jumping up while I was moving down. There really was blood everywhere. But it was not a bad or serious wound. So we went on with the set and the people got even more excited. After the show I was driven to a hospital to get some stitches. It seemed like an endless procedure. I got back to the place hours later - it was dawning already. But to my surprise there still were more than 300 people partying and raging to some music. So we took part of the party with me looking like a mummy.


How does your audience look like? Which people do you miss on your concerts? Have any fan did something really funny like a tattoo with your bandname etc? Which is the biggest band you ever have played together with?

Philipp: There are punks, metalheads and Rock’n’Roll freaks, sometimes some skinheads (used to be more skinheads, of couse no right-wing idiots, I’m talking about the real original skinheads). I’m not missing anyone, I think. There are some people with tattoos from BONEHOUSE and VLADIMIR HARKONNEN, not the bandnames as far as I know, but things from our covers.

We played with CANNIBAL COPRSE last year, maybe that was the biggest band. Nice!


Please rank your five favoriterecords, five favoriteconcerts and five most important things in life?

Philipp: Okay, here we go:


- SLIME – “Alle gegen alle”

- POISON IDEA – „Feel The Darkness“

- SLAYER – “Show No Mercy”

- MOTÖRHEAD – “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith”

- GBH – “City Baby Attacked By Rats”


- SLAYER – Hamburg “Reign In Blood”-Tour 1987

- WOLFPACK & DISFEAR – Berlin 1998

- RAMONES – Hamburg 1991

- AC/DC & OZZY – Monsters Of Rock 1984

- BLACK SABBATH – Dortmund 2013

Most important things in life

- Punkrock

- Heavy Metal

- Noise

- Destruction

- Darkness


First, last and most expensive record ever bought? And the record that you´re most ashamed of?

Philipp: Hmm, first might be THE BEATLES – “Revolution” 7” (I still have it), last (for now) is THE HEX DISPENSERS – “III” and the most expensive was an original pressing of WARNING – “Watching From A Distance”.

I can’t think of a record I am ashamed of. Maybe that “Arschlecken Rasur” 7”…


Is it boring with interviews? Is it much interviews? What do you prefer via mail, telephone, live?

Philipp: No, I like to communicate with people! For a little band like us it is not much, so it’s always a pleasure. I like it this way via mail, but via telephone and live is good too. It can be very funny while sitting in a bar and later the printed result is somewhat surprising.


Do you care about reviews? Which is the most peculiar you ever had, with this band or any other band you have been to?

Philipp: I try to read every review. It is always interesting to hear other people’s opinion. I am not angry when someone isn’t into our music. We are not here to please everybody. But it is fascinating to hear people describe our music and their feelings towards our music. I just was surprised by a review which compared us to GANG GREEN.


Which bands do people compare you to, is it boring that people compare you to other bands or is it understandable? Have anyone said GBH before?

Philipp: It is funny – people compare us very seldom to other bands. Could be a good sign. I think you are the first with GBH.


If you could choose five bands from the past and the history and nowadays and both dead and living bands to have a concert together with your band. Which five have you been chosen?

Philipp: I smell a great festival! Image a billing with RAMONES, ELVIS PRESLEY, MISFITS (original line-up with young DANZIG), SEX PISTOLS, PRINCE and VLADIMIR HARKONNEN…


Is music a good way to get out frustration and become a nicer person outside the music??

Philipp: It must be. I scream a lot and everyone says I’m nice.


Which is the most odd question you ever have got in an interview?

Philipp: Someone asked me which tea I like most.


Which is the question you want to have but you never get. Please ask it and answer it?

Philipp: Which is the question you want to have but you never get. Please ask it and answer it?

Which is the question you want to have but you never get. Please ask it and answer it?


Futureplans for the band?

Philipp: Yeah, it’s not easy to plan right now but we try do our tour next year. There are some clubs asking for earlier concerts but I doubt that can happen in 2020. So now we are releasing our new album and we will write new songs right away.


For yourself?

Philipp: I miss going to concerts, but I can do Home-Schooling. I think schools will open sooner than other areas in our lives. I will try to support other bands by buying their records and merch. And to support the clubs I love.





Something to add?

Philipp: Thanx for this interview, Peter! It was a pleasure! Hope we’ll meet up someday.