"Most stereotypes about Germany are true. We eat Black Forest gateau at every rehearsal. And in our new video we're all wearing moustaches."
Bass guitarist Christian ‘Rombini’ Rombach from German pop/rock group Der Joshi und Seine Crew doesn't always take interviews seriously. The four-piece band - Joshi, Rombini, Mag and Tomtom - are playing a special gig at the All Saints Centre this month. They're from Waldshut-Tiengen, which is twinned with Lewes, and will be performing with local musicians The Ouse Valley Collective on Fri 4. They’ve also been involved in the WTpur multimedia show that’ll present a cinematic look around Lewes and its German sibling on the following night.
But Rombini becomes much more earnest when he starts to describe his home. "It's a beautiful little town in the very south of Germany", he tells me. "There's no Autobahn and you have to drive really slowly through the Black Forest". While we have Harveys beer, he sings the praises of the nearby Rothaus brewery and Schwarzwälder Schnäpse (think 'fruit brandy' and you won't be far wrong). And although there's nothing quite like Bonfire Night, locals enjoy a festival known as Chilbi in the old city of Waldshut during August and another called Schwyzertag in the Tiengen area during July. "Both celebrate not being destroyed by the Swiss in medieval times" is my brief history lesson from Rombini.
Having talked about German delights, I wondered what Rombini expected from English cuisine. "Well, I googled 'Englisches Essen' and the first article was about English food being greasy and boring. That sounded great because it reminded me of our band."
Ah yes, the band - which is far from greasy or boring in reality, as various online videos demonstrate. They've been together since 2008, which makes this a 5th anniversary tour. The account of their initial meeting (according to Rombini) is prosaic to the point of unbelievability. "Der Joshi is a guy from Waldshut-Tiengen who was wandering around with his guitar and his really big nose. He was playing solo and found himself a new backing band for every gig... but got tired of looking for musicians and now he's stuck with us. Or we're stuck with him." I imagine Joshi tells a very different story.
On the subject of talking, I can't help but notice Rombini has a considerably better grasp of English than my command of his native language. "I learned English at school and try to improve it by watching movies and TV series in English", he explains. So if you want to return the favour by brushing up on your German or simply fancy dancing the night away, I can suggest no better opportunity than Friday evening with Joshi and his Crew. Alles klar?
Der Joshi und Seine Crew and The Ouse Valley Collective, All Saints Centre, Fri 4, 7.30pm. facebook.com/djusc
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 85 October 2013.