Interview with Jochen

Andy Wilson

The Faust Pages, 19 Oct 1998

Here Jochen talks about Julian Cope's Krautrocksampler

AW: Julian Cope's book has the story of Faust..

JI: I think some points are not following the correct history, but...

AW: .. he says that Uwe (Nettlebeck - early Faust producer) got an advance from Polydor to form a Krautrock supergroup, that Faust were the creation of Polydor.

JI: It was opposite. Uwe was not a slave of Polydor. That's what makes me a little unhappy. Uwe was very close to myself and a group of friends, and in this early Jochenperiod we were thinking how to get into these things. We thought there's no way to do it right because you know, there's not really - we didn't know any very important person, nothing, you know, so we thought there would be a man or a woman who knows a lot of people who's into us that could do that. That would be for sure ...

AW: Were you already playing concerts?

JI: Not really. We jammed a lot and Zappi met a girlfriend of Jean's, and that is how these two groups came together and we all just jammed a few times but then we said 'that sounds good', because it was a good mixture you know, the other half of the group really were into songs and Zappi and me were very involved in sound.

AW: Another thing about the Julian Cope book, one of the things he says is that Krautrock was really all about being far out, a lot of people taking acid, which is probably partly true. What he never mentions is 1968 and the student movement. The Faust manifesto refers to that, and says there was a kind of "moment of freedom" opened up in the late 60's and that Faust music is partly about that, it's a political thing as well. I wanted to know what you thought of that. Also, on the website there's been a big argument about whether there was such a thing at all as a German 'scene'. Was Faust about this 'German thing' or did it have other references, like the Velvet Underground?

JI: I think you can't make music without being political. Always in what you're doing you have to remember that it is a political act that you're doing. So for sure we lived in a special, shall we say 'gang'. These people were really interested in politics but not too heavily involved in it. Basically in Hamburg some of us went there to study and you couldn't stay away from what happened on the street, and so for sure it's influenced by what happened all over the world and what was happening in Europe - it's a small world.

AW: There's this Faust mythology. I started buying Faust records 20 years ago and it's only recently that I worked out who anybody was in the group, or even that that came Zappiforward. Part of the myth concerns Faust's politics, that Uwe had worked with Ulrika Meinhoff on a Social Democratic newspaper, and this is somehow part of the group's roots. Is that true, about these connections?

JI: Yes, we were all connected. Some of us refused to know and meanwhile we had other things to do. We became very busy with the dogs - that sounds like a joke! We were shaped by things, but we were not a really political group. There had been a German called ??? who were really great in a political way, but I for myself refused to go that way. The politics influenced much more the lyrics and the poems, not the music, and I was much more into music.

AW: I have to ask about Jean Péron. He's not in Faust now. The last time I saw Faust he was. A lot of people said that Faust are playing again, but an important part of a Faust gig was always his poems and readings, the whole theatrical thing. What's the situation? Has he definitely left? We also heard that he may be coming back.

JI: It doesn't look like it. It was his own decision to leave mostly it happened for musical differences.

AW: You said that even really early on there was a side of the group that was lyrical while another side way really interested in music. And you can see that in the concerts, so people worried what they would be like without Jean.

JI: Well, you know Faust should be a group, the way he moved us was much more to a cult, you know, which was no good for me anymore because there should not be a leader or anything like that. So, I would say no, Jean is definitely not coming back.

AW: In Hamburg Jean he said he was just taking a break...

JI: Okay, lets just say something like that. You know it's not wrong or anything like that. In the 70's we said it was possible to stay away. Sometimes you could really find yourself alone. But I don't know really what's the matter. It's hard to say it but i think it's like it is now, you have to accept it. It's ok.

AW: I've been reading all the old reviews of Faust while putting them on the website, and all the early reviews, it's like they're reviewing a circus. That's the way they describe it - they hardly mention the music. They're describing a freak show.

JI: Yes, yes.

AW: That must have changed a lot because the way that people listen to music has changed so much over the last 20 years. Do you notice a big difference in the way that ZappiFaust are heard? There are tracks on the early Faust albums that sound like what other people were only beginning to do 10 or 15 years later...

JI: Yes, that was the problem for us, being first. At the beginning it was like 'ok, maybe it will last for about half a year, then they will understand'. Then I thought 'let's wait two years' (laughs)... and then it was about 5 years, something like that. I began to think 'what's the matter with you?'

AW: It's a big difference. The last two times I saw Faust I bought lots of tickets, and gave them to friends, saying they ought to come along and see this group, Faust. And everybody, both times, they really enjoyed it a lot.

JI: That's good. For us this is important. In my early days, when i was 20, I didn't like to perform, I liked to stay in the studio. Now, I like it. I can't do it very often because it's too heavy. But now I can face people, I'm able to draw on the audiences reaction. I like that very much.

Andy Wilson, "Interview with Jochen", The Faust Pages 1998