With bass player Daniel taking a nap and drummer Ira nowhere to find, it was singer Matthew’s turn to represent Nada Surf during this early afternoon shoot in April. „I know it doesn’t seem early, but it is early for me“, he says smilingly while rubbing his eyes. After a few lines of „Weightless“, Matthew is warmed up and ready to start into a beautiful cover version of The Go-Betweens’ „Love Goes On“. From his improvised seat on top of a canopy, the guitar chords and Matthew’s amazingly clear voice sound through the sun-drenched, almost picturesque WUK courtyard. Nada Surf play a sold-out show at this venue that night and have just released their cover-album „If I Had A Hi-Fi“, including songs by the likes of Depeche Mode, Kate Bush or Spoon. When we meet Matthew, there seems to be one cover song that is really stuck in his head, although it’s not on the record – „Freight Train“ by Elizabeth Cotten. He suggests to have it documented in the video (and we happily do so) and plays some verses as an intro to the Nada Surf classic „Blizzard of ’77“.
Wuk is short for Werkstätten- und Kulturhaus (Workshop and Culture House) – is not only a venue for concerts. The brick building with its charmingly sleazy cobbled courtyard hosts 130 groups and initiatives, which produce all kinds of non-mainstream-art. The cultural center is subsidised by the City of Vienna, but the groups work autonomously and self-governed. Apart from the concert hall, studios and workshops there is also a café with a nice outdoor area in the WUK courtyard and a self-help bicycle repair shop. The 19th century building was originally used as a factory for train engines. In 1884, the Technologisches Gewerbemuseum (Technologic Trade Museum) moved into today’s WUK and turned it into a place of science, education and exhibitions with the purpose to keep the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy up-to-date in questions of technological development. The monarchy was more than half a century gone when there were still engineers trained in Währinger Straße 59. In 1981, the building was handed over to an association of alternative Viennese artist, teachers, students and other activists.