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Interview with Jochen
KUSF Radio, 26 Oct 1999Interview with Hans-Joachim Irmler by Ira Hankin at KUSF, Radio Goethe, October 26th 1999
Ira Hankin: Welcome.
H.-J. Irmler: Welcome.
Ira Hankin: What do you think of the fog? Isn't it great?
H.-J. Irmler: Oh, it is. I expected a little bit more sunshine but whatever...
Ira Hankin: When I first started to buy Faust records in the early 80s my friends and I didn't know any information about Faust. They were a complete mystery to us. We knew the names of the people in the band, but we didn't know too much where they came from, what they were doing and what they did afterwards. Was this mystery about Faust created on purpose?
H.-J. Irmler: Yes, it was. Because we got the idea that everyone of those individuals is part of a family - our group. That has something to do with the social ideas we had at that time and we still have. And we thought that the musicians shouldn't be named or it is not that important to know what he is doing because all together that creates the music.
Ira Hankin: What were your musical backgrounds? Did you have a formal musical education like the musicians of Can?
H.-J. Irmler: Not in that special way. Some of us had a musical education, but some of us had none. That was not important to us. It was important for us to start at the beginning.
Ira Hankin: So some people in the band had great knowledge and some people just wanted to learn?
H.-J. Irmler: Yes, exactly.
Ira Hankin: Faust were formed out of two bands in 1969. What kind of music were those two bands making before Faust?
H.-J. Irmler: The one I was part of and the drummer who is still with me was called Campylognatus Citelli, which means a dinosaur from the south of Germany. We did music more oriented to sounds, you know, how to find out maybe how to bring out a storm with instruments. And the other one, the name was Nukleus. They became very involved in song structures. And at that time we thought it might be interesting to bring both parties together.
Ira Hankin: You were both playing in a local scene and so you met up?
H.-J. Irmler: We met because of the girlfriend of the drummer Zappi Diermaier. And she did the connection to the other musicians.
Ira Hankin: Faust from there on started recording and they put their first album out. And they were together pretty strongly for four years between 1970 and 1975. I guess people call that a classic Krautrock period because Can becoming known, Neu, Kraftwerk had a big hit in the United States. During that period did Faust work in isolation from those bands like Kraftwerk, Neu, Can, Ammon Düül. Or did you communicate with them, did you correspend with them and share ideas?
H.-J. Irmler: No, we had one law that we should go over to isolation, go away from the city, no connection to any bands and influences. And we lived for the first year really far out. Busy with what was inside of us. We were finding out what we would like to do and what can be the result with all these different ideas all together.
Ira Hankin: I don't know what year it was, but you began working with the band Slapphappy. How did that happen?
H.-J. Irmler: That happened about 1972 when we became stabilised in our feelings about ourselves. We got the idea to find out if there are any musicians which had not the possibility to own an own studio, to let them participate in our studio. At that time we invited Dieter Maier of Yello, he lived several months in Wümme too.
Ira Hankin: I read in a previous interview with you, that Faust music is political. But for me, personally, I have not really found the music to be very openly political. I find Faust music to be more of an artistic expression, like the album covers. The album covers of the first Faust records are works of art.
H.-J. Irmler: Ok, that are two different lines. The special graphics depended on me and Rudolf Sosna, the former gitarrist. We just went to Hamburg studying graphics, that was one of the reasons we were really into graphic art. But coming back to the political idea, I think how we did the music, in a way completly different in those days that was part of a real political statement.
Ira Hankin: A political statement becoming in isolation?
H.-J. Irmler: No, it was more leaded up by the end of the sixties. As you know, there had been a big revolution in France and Germany and even in England by students. And the ideas behind that, let's just say revolution, leaded us to think over things. Nothing against american Rock or Blues or whatever but we thought at that time that it might be a good idea to create a difference to these heavy mainstreams.
Ira Hankin: So that is kind of political by being different. Not like writing... bands like U2 or The Clash that take a political standpoint?
H.-J. Irmler: No, not by the words, only by actions. That was one of the reasons to join the game, because we got the idea that a lot of what music is about became really boring or loosing a way of an idea. That lead us to kind of reform or better to go out from the hidden back to the public.
Ira Hankin: Probably my big question is, what did the members of Faust do between 1975 and the late eigthies?
H.-J. Irmler: You know, when we stopped after the Virgin albums. I really had to stop everything. Because of the money. They wanted a bigger influence in our music. But one of the other big laws of the Faust music was, that nobody should be allowed to say anything about music except only the musicians. And it happened that the president of Virgin Records wanted a little bit influence in the Faust music and he promised us big money. But for me it was not possible to do it. You should know how easy it is to spend a million mark in a few years but after that you are burned out. So for me it was best to say no and I left the UK and retired a bit on the country side in Germany. But after three years I joined Zappi Diermaier and since that time we are practicing but only in really small places. We did some concerts in caves and tunnels. Just for fun. If you are a musician you know that you have to do it.
Ira Hankin: Can you tell us about the new members of the band?
H.-J. Irmler: Ja, there is Steven Wray Lobdell from Portland. He joined us during the '94 US-Tour and he is still on the run with us. And we are quite happy to have him with us because it's like a destiny. Also Michael Stoll, our new man on the bass. He also plays flute and he is perfect on double bass too but unfortunately that was destroyed by an airline we don't want to mention how it happened. We found him in a very extreme selection. It happened just before a big Open-Air, he was able to play without rehearsing before, that's a good man. Then we have Lars Paukstat, he is doing a really important part together with Zappi. He is doing noises on whatever is made out of iron.
Ira Hankin: The central idea to Faust music is the group concept not being individual and taking control. Were the new members treated equal to you and Zappi?
H.-J. Irmler: I hope so.
Ira Hankin:Ravvivando was released on your own label. Do you plan to release any other musicians on your label?
H.-J. Irmler: It could happen, yes, why not?
Ira Hankin: Experimenting with technology and sounds was really important in the early days of Faust. Back then you had to do everything with analog magnetic tape. And I guess it took a lot of time to cut tape and to come up with new ways of creating sound. Nowadays it's easier because you have digital technology, you have computers and samplers, can put stuff into it and instantly can manipulate it. Do you think the new technology is making it easier, making newer music cheaper then say the experimental music was 25 years ago?
H.-J. Irmler: If you listen to that music I would say no. To me it's a difference to make it by hand, because of the fun you're doing it. And it's more a doing together as a group. I would like to work, you have to sweat.Ira Hankin, " ", KUSF Radio 1999, © KUSF