Hailing from Muenster, Germany, the Goondock Saint is one of the most intriguing and enigmatic acts in the synthwave community. If you delve deeper into his world, you’ll uncover a compound of both tragedy and hope. His music plunges you into the murky depths of a bleak dystopian underworld; a place that both invigorates and threatens. The recent release “Dark” is an emotively cinematic journey that pushes the boundaries of musical storytelling. We’re thrilled to present our interview with Thorsten aka.The Goondock Saint.
Hey Thorsten, welcome to Steel City Synthwave. We want to dig that little bit deeper beneath the surface of your journey in music and life. Let’s start way back when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor? An astronaut? A rock star? Something else?
Rock star – I learnt to play keyboards because of the keyboard player of NENA (99 red balloons), he was such a cool guy.
Well you’ve managed to get pretty close to that childhood dream by becoming a music producer. Does your family support you and take an interest in your music production?
My 8 year old son is into music too… In November I will take him to his first show. It will be Nightwish. He loves Nightwish, Iron Maiden, Metallica… And he likes to watch me creating my music…
Nightwish is gonna be a pretty amazing spectacle for your son, that’s for sure! What’s your background in music production, from your first instrument or software to your latest release? What has been your musical journey?
At the age of 10 or 11 I learnt to play playing keyboards, it was in the mid 80s. A friend of mine played drums at the time so he showed me some basics. At the age of 15 I got my first e-guitar. Since then I played guitars and drums in several metal or alternative bands. When we were in the studio producing demos I got a little bit into Cubase, and now I use REAPER.
Are you a self taught musician or did you take lessons along your journey?
I learnt keyboards and guitar… But I’m self taught on drums.
Describe your studio setup. What instruments do you play and what software and hardware do you use?
DAW: REAPER, a Dell Windows Desktop PC (Intel I5), Kawai K1 (but mostly as Midi controller), a lot of soft synth, Akai MPD218 Midi Controller, Cerwin-Vega Studio-Speakers, Mackie 1202 VLZ, PreSonus Faderport, Steinberg UR22 Interface, 28’ Monitor.
Nice little setup! So do you like to develop your tracks methodically and stick to a plan, or do you prefer to just let things happen organically depending on how you’re feeling?
It’s all about the feeling… I start an idea… Listen to it the next day and throw it in the trash… When an idea survives the next day it’s a good sign that it will become a track.
Do you think there was any particular moment in your life when you realised that music was your passion? What inspired you to form your act?
When I was seven years old (it was 1982) my parents bought me my first seven inch… Ever since then I was into music… As kids we role-played our idols like Depeche Mode and Alphaville (who are from Muenster too)… And I admired the keyboard player from NENA. He was the reason for me to play keyboards…
Which other musical acts and genres have inspired you throughout your life?
Mostly Metal and Gothic… I’ve been listening to metal since I was 15. Influences or musicians I admire:
Kim Ljung (Seigmen/Zeromancer/Ljungblut)
Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish)
Jean Michel Jarre
Martin L. Gore (DM)
Requiem by W.A. Mozart
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost/Vallenvyre)
Danny Cavanagh (Anathema)
Epic List! What about this year? Which release or releases have been your favourites?
I don’t have a favourite release. Hollywood Burns is fun, Carpenter Brut too. But there is no release which blew me away totally.
Those two acts have very clear sounds and identities. How do you define your brand? What is the aim of the act and how did you decide upon your sound, image and aesthetic?
Good question… I think I am still looking for the right image… I am trying to create my unique sound. And I think my Corporate Identity will be something like the cover of my latest EP “Dark”.
You’re quite hard to bracket into existing sub-genres. We’d probably say cinematic. Cinematicwave? Synthematic? It’s something like that! Are there any other sub genres you’d love to try on future projects?
Something more orchestral, church organs, choirs….
Are there any other acts that you’d be excited to work with if you got the chance? What do you think a collaboration between you would look and sound like?
Hans Zimmer would be great 😉 But I really don’t know. If there are some artists out there who like to do a collaboration, I am open for it… But I has to be dark, melancholic…
What is the concept or inspiration behind your current release and the artwork, and your music in general? Do you think you’ve achieved what you set out to do?
The inspiration behind my music is my childhood. I was born in the middle of the 70s. So my childhood took place in the 80s. And I try to recreate my childhood-memories concerning series’, movies and music and mix it up with the musical influences that inspired me (Metal, Gothic, Soundtracks).
Let me put it this way. As someone who creates everything on his own responsibility, you have to set a deadline otherwise you will never finish. Of course, looking back, there are details that I might have changed, but I am very pleased with the result.
The inspiration for the release EP cover artwork was the title… I wanted an image that had a dark theme…
Is there anyone you would you like to dedicate your release to, or any people that you would like to thank for helping you through the process?
I would like to dedic (sorry, my cat just threw up a furball, I have to clean it up first)… Dedicate my release to all the people who like my music…
What can your fans expect next from you then? Do you have any new projects currently in production or planned for the near future that you would like to share with us?
I always try to write more songs… sometimes it works, sometimes not… Nothing serious is planned for the near future, but who knows 😉
If you had just one wish for your musical career, what would you wish for and why?
I would like to get more into composing trailer-music, like Two Steps From Hell, or like the guys from Imascore here in Germany.
Describe the first synthwave gig that you ever went to. Where was it and how did the experience impact you?
Carpenter Brut in October 2016 in Dortmund… It was a blast because he played the tracks without any break so it was breathtaking and intense.
I’ve been to see them twice myself. The first time was actually in Berlin at Berghain. The atmosphere was just incredible, I’ll never forget it! If you could travel to one place in the world to watch a gig, where would it be and why?
Norway to see Seigmen… They created my all-time-favourite album (Radiowaves) and the only chance I had to see them here in Germany I missed them because at that time I didn’t know them (it was end of the 90s). And now they are just playing in Norway.
If you could put together your perfect synthwave concert lineup of 3 acts who would they be?
Carpenter Brut, Perturbator and me, hahahahaha.
Do you have any plans to perform live and what do you think one of your gigs / performances would be like?
No plans, but someday I would like to perform live… In the past I loved playing in front of an audience.
We would love to come and watch you perform live so you need to make it happen! In the meantime, what’s the best place for your fans to access you and your music?
I am on bandcamp, soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes and so on….
Do you have any superfans that you get a lot of love from?
A guy from France just spent “a lot” of money for Dark and N.E.O.N. so I think he is a superfan…
Would you like to send any message to your fans?
Goonies never say die.
80s movies are obviously a big part of the synthwave scene. In your opinion, who is the greatest hero, and who is the greatest villain that has ever appeared on the silver screen?
Hero… Hmmm… There were a lot in my childhood… Cody Allen, Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Remington Steele, The Goonies……… Villain…. Hans Gruber.. And also the Kurgan from Highlander. I first watched it at the end of the 80s, and since then it’s been one of my top 10 movies. I think it’s his voice and sense of humour which make the Kurgan such a great villain.
The Kurgan is one of the all time greats! Sadly Thorsten, it’s time to wrap up the interview now so let’s do a few quickfire questions:
What thing motivates you the most in life?
I think my kid.
Biggest retro celebrity crush when you were growing up?
Molly Ringwald, Stephanie Zimbalist.
Favourite music and movie genres?
Movie: Depends – but I like movies with a lot of pathos in them
Top 3 favourite music acts of all time.
Top 3 synthwave acts of all time.
John Carpenter (for me he is something like the godfather of what we call synthwave).
Top 3 movies of all time.
Once upon a time in the west.
Top 3 games of all time.
The Great Giana Sisters.
I didn’t think anyone else had ever heard of The Great Giana Sisters! I used to play that game so much, the soundtrack was amazing..
So Thorsten, “we had great times” doing this interview with you for Steel City Synthwave. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, it’s been great getting to know you better. I would like to end with just one more question and it’s a big deep and meaningful one…
If you had the chance to read your own obituary, what do you think the writer would say about the kind of person you tried to be in life?
He was vintage, not retro.
Interview conducted by Jonny Farmer, Steel City Synthwave / SYNTHAGEDDON.
Check out our Goondock Saint article and Dark EP review HERE.