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Music

Sizarr - new sounds from German wine country

The three musicians in Sizarr came together as an inexperienced student band in 2009. These days, the trio is all over German summer festival line-ups. They were a hit with their show at c/o pop.

Sizarr on stage in Cologne Copyright: Simon Fessler

Sizarr

Sizarr's June 2013 performance marked their third appearance at Cologne's c/o pop festival, for years a fixture in Germany's summer music circuit.

"For us, it has always been great in Cologne because it's such a great venue," said Philipp Hülsenbeck ahead of his band's performance in Cologne's Millowitsch Theater. The Millowitsch is a local legend that typically draws a very different crowd: men and women in evening dress, ready to enjoy comedic theater sketches delivered in local dialect.

But fans were dressed down for Sizarr's performance in the 400-seat theater on the fourth day of the festival. Philipp, stage name P Monaee, is the keyboardist. The group from Landau also includes his friend and drummer Marc Übel, alias Gora Sou. The two started playing punk together as teenagers. Their first chance to take the stage was at a regional wine festival.

In 2009, singer and guitarist Fabian Altstötter, who goes by the name of Deaf Sty, joined up with the duo to round out the group.

Sizarr on stage in Cologne Copyright: Simon Fessler

Sizarr at their June 21, 2013 show in Cologne, Germany

Coming from the same place

The group is not likely to expand. The trio says they've found the perfect formation that gives the band it's chemistry.

"We've known each other forever. We all grew up in the same village, and we went to the same elementary school. We always thought that we couldn't take on a fourth band member from outside because he wouldn't have the same background and wouldn't be able to understand us as well," explained Philipp Hülsenbeck.

Adds singer Fabian Altstötter, "It's really important to us because we spend so much time together in small spaces - on the road or in hotels when we're on tour for two weeks. It's important to know the people you're with and be able to size them up."

Sizarr on stage in Cologne Copyright: Simon Fessler

P Monaee plays keyboards and does vocals for the group

Success story

While still in Landau, Sizarr posted a couple of demo songs online, and that's all it took for things to get rolling for the band. Soon followed their first big show in Heidelberg, then appearances at the Melt! Festival near Berlin, Hamburg's Dockville festival and the Berlin Festival.

Audiences quickly got into the band's fresh sound, and the big labels took notice, leading to a contract for the trio.

Their debut album, "Psycho Boy Happy," came out in 2012, featuring a mix of afrobeats, synthesizer sounds, world music and techno. The album quickly scaled the German charts, and the three boys from the countryside found themselves in the limelight.

"It all went really fast, and it just kept building up," singer-guitarist Fabian Altstötter said.

The three members of Sizarr (c) Sizarr

Fabian, Philipp and Marc - friends and bandmates

A chance for newcomers

Another album by Sizarr is in the works, and they've got no shortage of concert dates lined up this summer. But playing at c/o pop represented an early highlight, said Altstötter: "Because it includes a lot of newcomer bands and not so many big names. There's never one huge headliner that draws all the people. Instead it's a festival where you can discover new things. Like how it was for us," he explained.

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