Mondo Sonora Interview

Jochen Irmler

Mondo Sonora, Nov 2002

Mondo: What can you tell me about the release of this compilation and how many time did you expend to find all the pieces of the whole album?

Jochen: I spent years listening to the old tapes, since there are so many of them. So you could really say that this album is the harvest of years of hard listening-work...

Mondo: Which were the principal interests in order to select the songs?

Jochen: Whether we liked them or not and if they represented Faust as they once were and as they now are.

Mondo: What can you find with this compilation, to actualize your situation, to have a little repercusion in the actual music fans?

Jochen: Well, it is designed to give both groups something new. The fact that Staubgold, which is a label which releases almost exclusively lie in the field of what you call 'electronica' shows that Faust's music is also (and still) interesting for 'new' listeners, who come to this music with a different arroach from those listeners we aimed our music at in the 1970s. At the same time, a large part of the album is derived from old tapes, which were recorded in the spirit of those early days. So what we wanted to produce was a hybryd of sorts to form a bridge between now and then, between faust 1971 and faust 2002. And I think we succeeded in this.

Mondo: How many unreleased songs have you that finally cannot be in this compilation?... why they are not here?

Jochen: Do you want that figure in minutes or in meters? Apart from the fact that Faust never recorded 'songs' (as seperate pieces of music devided by an empty grove on a record were called in the old days), but more something like 'tracks' (as this thing is now called in electronic music and by which I understand that what you get does not have a definite ending, but is more like an excerpt from a larger portion of music which often has neither beginning nor end), I cannot name you any figure. And concerning meters and minutes: there is no figure that can name that! Which is why it was such hard work compiling this album - basically, it took me years of listening to the old tapes. But I have always been able to rely on chance to help me...

Mondo: Can we expect new outtakes compilations?

Jochen: Not in the near future. And anyway, it is best never to except anything from Faust. Even I cannot except anything from them!

Mondo: How can you understand your situation like "cult band" for actual musicians?

Jochen: That's something you'd better ask them them. But since you interview me... the way I see it is that music today is more intrigued with sounds, whereas when faust started, it was still intrigued with writing songs. So we were, if you want to call it like that, pioneers (I blush when using that word) for the emancipation of sound, to free sounds out of it's enslavement to given structures, i.e. songs. And that's what we still do today - looking for new sounds. And that's what I think many of the so called electronic bands and musicians do nowadays - looking for new sounds. Like, I know what a guitar sounds like and what an organ sounds like if I just put a microphone in front of them. But let's see what this electronic drill sounds like if I feed the microphone's singnal through a 50's echo-unit and then turn the speed down...

Mondo: Can you see your real influence in actual bands?...

Jochen: I don't listen too much to modern music. To detect Faust's influence in modern bands is a job I leave up to you, i.e. the music journalists!

Mondo: Do you think you apport anything different to the rock music in relationship with aspects brought by bands like Can, Neu!....?

Jochen: I never thought of all these German bands as a unit. When we recorded in Wümme, it was part of the experiment not to listen to other bands. So I didn't know about those bands, I only found out afterwards.

Mondo: Most people told you are a kraut rock band... are you agree?... If your answer is positive, please tell me what common points had you with the other artists?...

Jochen: The way I see it, the term 'Krautrock' was invented by British music journalists to get a sort of label for rock music that came out of Germany at that time. Later, this term was given another perspective by the writings of people like Julian Cope and the like, who seemed to see something mystic in Krautrock. The single unifying factor I see in most of these bands is that they/we wanted to get away from overcome ways of making music, that we were looking for a new form of music ... like the sudents in and after 1968 were looking for new forms to live and organize society and politics... I think what united us is that were were bored and pissed off with those old ways of making music like the generation before us (with which we had our problems, and due to the war, to a much greater extent that any other generation that is disgusted with what the older generations have done wrong - for us, the generation gap was an abyss).

Mondo: It was positive for you?... to be involved into krautrock scene...

Jochen: As I said before, there never was such a thing as a 'Krautrock scene', at least not to my knowledge. I was only involved with Faust and their/our way of making music.

Mondo: How can people in 2002 understand your music? Is the concept still valid or you can be involved into the "post-" bands or something like that....

Jochen: The concept of faust's music is still valid to me, otherwise I wouldn't bother persuing it! If people in 2002 can still understand our music is up to them entirely. If you want an explanation from me, I can only repeat what I've stated before: I think that musicians and audiences pay more attention to sound nowadays... and the that's probably why they still listen to Faust. I gather this is also a driving force behind the so-called 'Post-Rock'-scene (and ask them if they like to be called that...) - from what I heard (or rather overheard) from bands like Tortoise and the like, I reckon that they are more involved in producing sounds than in filling old moulds, i.e. songs. But I might be mistaken, since I do not know too much about them.

Mondo: What do you think about your own music: can we write about "rock" or about "avant-garde" or....?

Jochen: Like it was said in Shakespeare's times: Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. And I say: Genre lies in the ear of the listener. For people who listen to avantgarde (whatever that may be today), it might sound like rock. For rock listeners, it will probably sound like avantgarde (or like some crowd of freaked-out Germans let loose).

Mondo: My oppinion is one of the most interesting thing in Faust music and Faust world is that you had something like a "concept" behind your sound...

Jochen: If our concept of sound was the 're-invention of sound itself', I would agree. But I have always found that concepts are bound to annihilate themselves if they are not flexible enough to adapt to new surroundings and situations. It may be that the first thing that we found when we tried to put our concept of Faust's music into action in the first months at W�mme was that we had to abolish that concept, otherwise it would have stifled the music. There was always an idea behind our music, we knew about some hazy goal we wanted to achieve, but concepts to me have always proven to be to rigid to pres music into them. The way I see it, the best concepts are those, that establish themselves AFTER the creative work is done!

Jochen Irmler, "Mondo Sonora Interview", Mondo Sonora 2002