Hafensaengers – When Corona is only half the trouble
Songs are written, studio is booked and nothing works. Corona paralyzed almost everything, including the plans of the Hamburg punk rockers Hafensaengers. And as if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, an even more dramatic event followed. Singer and guitarist Thomas suffered kidney failure. Corona, emergency surgery and dialysis determined his everyday life for a long time.
Patrick, Rockaholic Magazine – Thomas, thank you for your time and your trust in us. This interview is not an easy one, so I’m pleased that you agreed to do it.
Thomas, Hafensaengers – Thank you very much for your invitation, I’m looking forward to your questions.
Patrick, RM – For you there was a shock news in 2020. Kidney failure. How did it first manifest itself?
Thomas, H – I have to say, I didn’t really notice it at first, I just felt increasingly weaker and weaker. First I just blamed it on the stress at work and the excessive practice of my sport (competitive bodybuilding). Just like the motto: “You’re just exhausted from the long diets, you just need a break, then you’ll be fine.” I’m not the type to run to the doctor for every little thing… So I put it off for now. After some time the symptoms looked more and more like a flu. I went to the doctor and he did a blood count. A few days later he called me: “Ah good, you’re still alive!” I had a creatinine value of 22 – normal is between 0.6 and 1.4. So I had to go on dialysis as soon as possible. I was on dialysis for the first time when I was 23, and at 25 I got a kidney donated by my mother.
After the call, my health went abruptly down. So much that my fiancée lay next to me at night making sure I didn’t stop breathing. It all culminated in an ambulance ride to an emergency surgery where a dialysis line had to be placed in my chest. From then on, it was dialysis every two days for five hours each time.
Patrick, RM – When it became clear that you needed a donor kidney, what were your fears and anxieties?
Thomas, H – First of all, it has to be said that there are unfortunately only two options. One is a donor organ from a deceased person, for which you have to wait about ten years in Germany. The other option is to remain on dialysis until you die after a few years from the consequential damage there. The organ donation situation in Germany is a disaster. Disappointingly, nothing has improved in the 13 years since my first donation.
My fears were foremost financial. How do I pay the rent? How do I buy food when I can’t work? My fiancée and I had just opened our own tattoo studio five months earlier and are both self-employed. Now, of course, there was a lack of income for the time being. Insurance doesn’t come up as in this case with self-employed people. I was pre-sick and therefore too big risk. So after the first week of dialysis I went straight back to work. Normally, permanent patients take six months off work in such a case. Unfortunately, that was not possible in our case.
In addition, it was not at all clear at that time whether I would ever be able to play music again. That made me feel even worse.
Patrick, RM – Who or what gave you the strength to keep fighting?
Thomas, H – My fiancée Elise! Without her, I would probably not be here anymore.
She encouraged me to consider donating her kidney, which I didn’t want to do at first. I did not want to make two sick people out of one sick person. Today, however, I know that a life with only one kidney does not affect her at all and that we both feel much better physically and mentally after the transplant.
Music also played a big role. During dialysis, I listened to all the bands I love so much. That gave me an incredible amount of strength. And so it was on dialysis that I started writing the lyrics for our album. Dunkelfarben, for example, was written there.
Patrick, RM – With your single Dunkelfarben a profound number is released. What is the song about, what were your thoughts about it?
Thomas, H – The song describes the youthful feeling of wanting to reach for the stars and possibly making it. The feeling of being invincible, until you slowly realize more and more that you can’t reach the stars, no matter how hard you stretch.
Patrick, RM – You spoke lovingly of Max, your bandmate, in the press text. How did the studio sessions go?
Thomas, H – Max had already hammered all the drum tracks at home in elaborate detail work and made them ready for the studio. This saved us an incredible amount of time in the studio, because if there was one thing I didn’t have, it was time.
Patrick, RM – Do you want to continue as a duo in the future or do you plan to reinforce?
Thomas, H – We are now officially only a duo and it will probably stay that way for the time being.
But at the live shows there will always be someone from our old team on bass.
Patrick, RM – After plans were thwarted several times, are there still plans for the studio album?
Thomas, H – The album is already finished. But we don’t know yet how and when we will release it. First of all we will release some singles now.
Patrick, RM – Would you like to give your fans and our readers some motivating words?
Thomas, H – I know how it feels to be at the bottom and not see any sense anymore. But I think, if you hold out long enough, the sense will come. Because if you’re already at the bottom, the only direction you can go is back up.
Patrick, RM – Thanks a lot to you, good luck with the new single and hopefully see you soon on the live stage.
Thomas, H – I hope so too! Thank you for the interview!
I had a creatinine value of 22 - Thomas, Hafensaengers