It started with “Dein Song”, a German casting show on National TV for teenage songwriters: The year was 2015, the season was spring, and Jason Mann, Janek Vogler and Thies Engel had all reached the final with their respective compositions. When the series was over, they remained in touch and decided to combine their strengths and keep creating music under their own creative control. Jason was a singer and classically trained pianist; Janek had already won various prizes on drums; Thies played bass and classical guitar. All that was still missing was electric guitar, which they found with Andrin Albrecht who accompanied a “Dein Song” finalist in the subsequent year. The match felt perfect: In early 2017 they had their first rehearsal as a complete band, started working up a plethora of original songs and had their first live concerts only a few months later.
While the city of Kassel – where Janek was born and keeps his constantly expanding drum kit – quickly established itself as the band’s headquarters, their roots stretch all across Europe. Jason lives and studies in Hannover and holds British citizenship. Thies moved from Bremen to Frankfurt, and Andrin was born in Wattwil, Switzerland, and now lives in Zürich. From the beginning rehearsals therefore required a great deal of logistics planning as well as time and money spent on train journeys. Yet, if anything, that left the band no choice but to be serious about their music. Commitment was obvious to all four from the start.
The artistic influences they brought with them were as manifold as their geographical locations. They reach from classical music, film music and jazz through modern progressive rock bands like Muse, Radiohead and Porcupine Tree to experimental percussionists, singer-songwriters and contemporary theatre. Coherence came from the traditional instrumentation of vocals, guitar, bass and drums, occasionally complemented by keyboards and vibraphone. Within those confines, anything was possible.
Of course there needed to be a name to go with the band, but that also was found quickly. “TRACK 4” sprung from a personal anecdote by Janek and immediately resonated with them not just for its simplicity and reference to both musical tracks and the train tracks which brought them to and from every weekend-long rehearsal, but also because the four band members, four instruments, four home-towns, and four creative backgrounds coalesced.
TRACK 4’s music is defined by accessibility and experimentation in equal parts. It is intricate without being abstract, catchy without being formulaic. Their repertoire of original songs contains pitch-black ballads and fast paced rock to sing along to, soaring guitars, complex rhythms and filigreed piano tunes – the fast, the heavy, the soft, the ecstatic, the push-and-pull between freedom and despair. This versatility is mirrored in their lyrics which sometimes deal with heartbreak, sometimes with madness, with modern technology, environmental destruction, or with nothing at all.
After an initial phase of songwriting, rehearsing and playing concerts in a number of German cities, TRACK 4 decided in summer 2019 to self-finance the recording of their first 5-song EP “Mockingbird” at Frida Park Studio in Hannover. They took care of production, artwork, the shooting of two music videos in collaboration with filmmaker Claudius Wick and, ultimately, publication. The first single from the EP, “4:00”, came out just after the spring 2020 Covid-19 lockdown and not only expanded on their theme of fours, but also featured a music video that they’d shot independently in four different cities while borders were closed, streets were quiet, and the mood felt almost as apocalyptic as the thoughts that spiral in the protagonist’s head. Two more singles, “Mockingbird” and “Speechless Grief”, subsequently became available on Spotify, Apple Music and every other major streaming service and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. The full EP was released on October 30 2020 and TRACK 4 are dead set on this only just being the start!