“Sometimes I feel like I’m 17 on stage”

Hanover. Herr Kraus, new album, new tour. It’s nice that you hit the gas again.

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People need goals in life. I got a little bored during the pandemic. Along with my musicians, I was then considering recording songs that were written before the rock’n’roll era. This is how this album was made and of course you need a tour for that. Well, the train is rolling again. It wasn’t properly planned.

You sound like your regrets are limited.

Well sure. I love my job. It doesn’t work without. Music just has to be.

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How do you relate to swing and jazz?

This is the music of my youth. I’ve always loved these songs from the Great American Songbook, and grew up with them. Like blues, rock’n’roll grew out of momentum. You never sing a swing number the same, never the same. Like jazz, swing is improvisation. On the other hand, hitting is boring because it always follows the same pattern. There is no feeling of happiness when singing.

You work on “Idole” with Annett Louisan, Götz Alsmann, Till Brönner and Helge Schneider. What are your impressions of your colleagues?

I met Annett when we were recording the music video for our song “Blue Bajou”. We didn’t even talk on the phone before. For years I have had a cordial collegiality with Götz Alsmann. We like and appreciate each other, and so is Till Brönner. I have never worked with Helge Schneider before, it was very uncomplicated. We talked on the phone, we liked each other. Now he is going to be my friend.

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Do you really follow current music events?

Yes, at least enough that I can have something to say. But not with enthusiasm.

You announced your departure from the stage in 2014 with the “Best Comes Last” tour. Then came more trips.

On the previous one I said jokingly, “I’m celebrating a great anniversary – my fifth farewell tour.” Now we’re on our sixth tour and the next anniversary will be on our tenth farewell tour.

In retrospect, was it premature flirting at the end of your career?

The truth is, I’m having a little fun with it too. You always have to come up with something and inform the press. This is also not my invention. There are many wonderful colleagues who go on endless farewell tours.

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What is driving you personally?

Music is just my life. As long as I am physically well enough to go out on stage and amaze people, which is amazing, I want to do it. After the pandemic, people are hungry, they want to be happy again, and if I can contribute a little, it’s a dream. And for me, much more interesting than retiring, looking out the window and doing nothing.

How important is fan support to you?

Very important. I am happy when I can make other people happy. Playing live for an audience is the most graceful thing an artist can do.

Do you have a pre-show routine?

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I need a little rest before the concert. I like to spend this time alone, of course I’m already dressed and theoretically I could start right away.

Are you excited before going out?

Ah, it depends. Sometimes yes, but usually no.

when?

The last time I was really nervous about The Masked Singer, precisely because it was something completely different. I was no longer myself, but a character, an animal.

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You’ve been on stage since you were a teenager. Is the basic feeling still the same?

It cannot be compared at all. In my early years, it was a horror movie at times. You had no barriers or anything else, you walked into the locker room and there were already three girls waiting. Likewise in the hotel. I’ve seen the craziest things there. Sometimes they climbed over the balcony to my room. It was a crazy time. But if I had been with two or three bodyguards before, people would say, “He’s crazy.” Then my career would be over. Even the Beatles were still very close to their fans. Also Elvis.

Was it fun to be adored by girls?

Yes, I thought it was fun. However, I was never the type to let my roadie bring the prettiest teenager backstage after a concert. I’ve never done anything like this, I didn’t like it. It never appealed to me. When I was young I had clear goals and I was very disciplined.

“Forever in Jeans”, because this is the title of his 2012 album: Peter Kraus has kept his youthful charm for years.

Have you always been steadfast?

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I have been happily married, faithful husband for 53 years. For me, Ingrid was the most beautiful woman in Vienna at the time – and she is still today. Besides, when I was young I let it go, so it was easy for me to be steadfast later on.

Do you feel like you’re 17 again when you’re on stage?

Sometimes I feel (laughs). I even try to do a few songs exactly like they did back then, it’s always a lot of fun for people. Of course you feel young there. Only when I move, when I dance. Sitting in a slightly old chair would not be an option for me.

On “Idol” you sing the song “Mr. Bojangles”, which became famous in the Sammy Davis Jr. version. What intrigued you most about Davis?

When I was 13 or 14, when I was making my first films, I really adored this man. It’s amazing that a black guy who is not particularly handsome is small and has a glass eye is a world star. I even learned to knock with Sammy.

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You met him in person. How do you remember him?

It was at a charity gala in Monaco. I put 1000 marks on the table, and so did my manager, I even bought a white tuxedo, because then they only dressed in white there. So there he performed, with the band with whom I later recorded the bossa nova big band album. Well, people were constantly eating and talking and hardly paying attention to him. He seemed quite depressed. Then he sat down at the bar at the long table right next to me. I wondered what to say because I felt sorry for him. Then he said to me, “Do you speak English?” And I happily said, “Yes, I do,” and he said, “Great, but I can’t talk to you. I’m completely stoned. ” With these words he placed his head on the table top and fell asleep.

Have you ever stood on stage and singing and no one was listening?

Once.

They have been married for 53 years: Peter and Ingrid Kraus.

They have been married for 53 years: Peter and Ingrid Kraus.

Where was it?

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Franz Beckenbauer invited me to sing at a Bayern Munich party. So I come over there and see: only the players, but not a single woman. They stood there and talked. It was really hard. As a singer you are already shocked when you go out and there are only men there. And only footballers! They completely ignored me.

What are your plans for the future?

I haven’t thought about it yet. My wife and I enjoy what we get as we get older. We have two dream homes, one by the lake and the other in the mountains, we’ve seen enough of the world. But after this trip, I would like to thank my wife with a wonderful journey. Because she said, “If your heart is in it, do it again.”

Helge Schneider’s support

Peter Kraus, born in 1939, has been in show business for almost 70 years. In 1954, the German-Austrian starred in Erich Kästner’s “Flying Class”. Two years later, he recorded his first single: Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” in German. Kraus became one of the teen idols of the 1950s and early 1960s. The musician has recorded many albums. On the latest album “Idole” he interprets – supported, among others, by by Helge Schneider – famous swing pieces by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. or Nat King Cole. The “Meine Hits – Meine Idole” tour is planned for the beginning of 2023.

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