Six blokes, a dozen arms, legs and musical instruments, and more than 140 years of Oktoberfest experience between them – is there anything these boys can’t play, blow, strum, stomp, slap, wiggle, flap, fly or swim?
“Possibly the tuba,” says one, “but that’s only because the airlines won’t allow one in our checked-in luggage.” Pardon? “Airlines” and “luggage” …? “Ja, each year many of us are playing all around the Oktoberfest in Munich, and then we get on a plane and come straight out to get together at Oktberfest Brisbane – for almost a week, that trip is the only 24 hours when we’re not making music (and people happy)!”
Wow! That shows some real, um, passion and commitment. “We’ve developed long and great friendships in Brisbane over the years, and it’s wonderful to see how Oktoberfest Brisbane grows – each year the visitors return and love hearing us play. The atmosphere is incredible and it’s always so much fun to play to a tent full of people.”
How many? “The highlights for us are the Saturdays when we have had around 9,000 visitors.” You mean – Brisbane? “Ja, ja! That’s comparable to – and even a bit more than – an average Oktoberfest Munich tent, which holds around 7,000 people. Each of us who have been coming to Brisbane since 2008 are amazed at the increase in visitors we experience each year – I think the total in 2013 was more than 36,000 visitors over the two weekends of the Brisbane festival.”
Pretty impressive figures there – you would have some of your own? “Well, with almost 50 years’ experience at Oktoberfest Munich between us, to that you can add another 30 years of German folk festivals we have played – and another 60 years of making German music for audiences elsewhere.”
That’s not all in Germany? “We have played on every continent of the world, except South America and Antarctica.” You’re kidding! “No, no, nein – wirklich! – as well as the three largest festivals in Germany (that’s Munich, Stuttgart and Hamburg), we have played in some amazing places, from France and Spain to Taiwan and Thailand. Even Angola and Siberia! One of the few times we are all together as a band is each year when we come to Brisbane.”
Phew. But they can’t all have been return performances, year after year – why Brisbane, and how does ours compare with the original and best?
“Well, if you look at the Oktoberfest Brisbane tent and what’s happening inside, then that’s actually pretty close to the real Munich experience. Sure, Munich has a much bigger carnival outside, but then, you have had your ‘Ekka’ on the same Showgrounds only some weeks before. What has really impressed us – and is one of the other reasons why we love returning each year – is the management and organisation of your festival: really personal and very friendly, and yet totally professional and very authentic in the experience it delivers.”