16 Years bar Rhiz / Interview with Herbert Molin

We could say music in Vienna owes Rhiz a lot. We would not be lying. If you are slightly interested in independent music, and you live in Vienna, we can bet our little fingers you have been in Rhiz. We are also connected to it. We celebrated our last Pavlov´s dogs event there. So that is why this interview we bring you today is something very unique and special. It is a pulse check of the local scene, a lesson in recent history, and an optimistic look at the future of music in this city. And speaking of Rhiz is speaking of the main man behind it, Herbert Molin.
He was a part of the legendary Viennese club Blue Box as well, and played in bands like Viele Bunte Autos and The Thorns. Herbie has seen the alternative music scene develop and bloom, and he is here with us to share his experience.

PD: Hello Herbie, before we discuss the history of Rhiz, we would like to go further back in time. In the beginning of the 80’s when Blue Box opened doors in Vienna. Could you tell us more about it? Because in the following 10-20 years, it came to be one of the most important place in the music scene and nightlife in Vienna and you were involved there as well.

Herbie: Blue Box was founded in December 1983 and I was one of 3 owners. Most of the waiters were musicians, involved in bands like Karl Gott, Viele Bunte Autos, Passepartout. Some bands were founded during the years like Astaron, The Thorns, Rröslein Tott etc. In the first years we changed one of the 2 rooms completely every 3 months. We had a hydraulic bus door, airplane seats, viedo installation by Kurt Heflin, a video artist who worked in Danceteria, we had a roman room and a fountain and some weird installations by Viennese artists. And we had a cassette label called “Empty Wien” which released cassettes by Rröslein Tott, Astaron, Viele Bunte Autos, Thorns etc.
Blue Box was first a club with music from cassettes, then after 2-3 years we started to have djs. The music style in the beginning was kind of new wave, neue deutsche welle, but there was place for prong, motorhead etc…after the first yeas. In the nineties more stuff like house (legendary happy started at blue box), techno, downbeat and after all electronic experimental music in club Duchamps, hosted by Peter Rehberg of Mego fame. I left Blue Box after 20 years in 2003.

PD: Why, what happened back then? Did the concept of the club change direction, or was something else the reason?

Herbie: We had trouble with neighbors because of loudness. And I had the feeling, that I did everything I could do in that club. At this time i was involved in Rhiz and b72, so 3 clubs were too much for me. I had not the time to care about blue box as much as would have been necessary. So I sold my part to some friends who sold their part some years later…..

PD: Whose idea was it to start Rhiz? How did you get involved in the process?

Herbie: It was the idea of Peter Rantasa and Christof Kurzmann, the guys who made the first phonoTAKTIK and Hyperstrings festivals. I was responsible for the gastronomy part. Later we organized “Picknick mit Herrmann”, an open air event with numerous Austrian electronic acts during 4 Sundays in the summer of 1997. So Christof and Peter asked me to participate, because I was the only one who had an idea of gastronomy. The plan was to have a room for organizing acts who played at phonoTAKTIK etc…in a situation offside a festival, a small cozy room.

PD: And the name Rhiz? What can you tell us about it? Where did it come from?
Herbie: The name comes from “rhizome” and the Deleuze’s theory of networking + the name ritz of the legendary hotel/bar.

PD: In May 2014 Rhiz is celebrating its 16th birthday. How would you describe the club´s impact in the musical scene of the city?

Bernhard Fleischmann and Sir Tralala played their first concerts in rhiz, Sunn(((0))) played their first concert in vienna in Rhiz as well, Final Fantasy too. We had acts like Autechre, Blurt, Spectre, Fennesz, Fuckhead, Sensational, Der Nino aus Wien, Wipeout, Bulbul with the great “fitzte fatze” club-night series, The Striggles, Moon duo, Soap and Skin, Gustav, Otto von Schirach, Pita, Maschek. Video works by Karin Fisselthaler, Siegfried A. Fruhauf, Michaela Schwentner, Thomas Ballhausen/Michel Goldgruber, djs like Patrick Pulsinger, Marcelle, Electric Indigo, Erdem Tunakan and so many more…..great time till now and for sure in the future.

Fuckhead@Rhiz, 2008 (Picture by David Murobi)

PD: What changes did you perceive since the opening? In terms of audience, and in the way you run the club?

Herbie: We have much more live acts than in the beginning. In the first years we had like 5-8 concerts in a month, now there are 15 – 25! We’re very open minded, so we have improvised music and performances in a club night like “der blöde 3. Mittwoch”, new austropop in clubs like “der gemütlich problembär auszucker abend”, techno with “tanzmodul” and “tanzmatratze”, gameboy music club and textstrom poetry slam. It’s diverse, but it always has good quality. Audience changes in such a long time, younger people come and some of the old ones stay…..

PD: After so many years in Blue Box and Rhiz, do you still go and see the shows?

Herbie: I’m still 3-4 times in the week in rhiz and love to listen to and look at concerts…

PD: What are your most treasured concert memories from Rhiz and in Blue Box?

Herbie: Autechre, Fennesz, Soap and Skin, Gustav, Astaron, Blurt, Wipeout, Fuckhead….there are too many, I give up…

PD: And last question. Do you plan any changes in the near future in the way Rhiz works?
Herbie: Changes happen, you can’t control…..

Text: Svetlomir Slavchev/Miguel Figuerola