INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Age MARCH 16, 2012 - by Andrew Drever
AN ENDLESS JOURNEY
"Krautrock" has inspired scores of musicians - everyone from Iggy Pop, Joy Division and Radiohead to Franz Ferdinand, Devo and David Bowie. Its single-chord drone and rhythmic propulsion foresaw punk, post-punk and alternative, while also preempting synth-pop and techno.
One of the chief architects and founding fathers of krautrock's Motorik sound was sixty-one-year-old guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Michael Rother. Initially part of an early Kraftwerk, he later co-founded seminal krautrock acts Neu! (with drummer Klaus Dinger) and Harmonia (with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius). Rother describes the aesthetic behind the repetitive, propulsive sound of these two bands and his later solo Work in visual terms - of "looking straight ahead to the horizon"' or like "an endless journey". "It's something that has roots in when I lived in Pakistan for a few years as a child," he says from his home in Hamburg. "At the time, Indian and Pakistani music really hit me when I heard bands playing in the streets. The music seemed to just go on forever and I've always been fascinated and never-ending stories, and this is still true."
Recording three seminal albums with Neu! between 1971 and 1975 (a fourth, Neu! '86, was released in 2010), two albums with Harmonia between 1973 and 1976 (their third, Tracks And Traces, which was originally recorded with producer Brian Eno in 1976, was released in 1997) and nine solo albums, Rother has also collaborated with Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, legendary German producer Connie Plank and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarists past (John Frusciante) and present (Josh Klinghoffer).
Frusciante and Klinghoffer have also sometimes served as part of his live band, the multi-talented Klinghoffer as drummer. "We are very good friends and I love his drumming style," Rother says of Klinghoffer. "I like him even better on drums than guitar. Of course he will be busy with the Chili Peppers now for the next - I don't know - one hundred years, but he already said that if there's ever a gap in the tour and if I needed a drummer, he'd be there".
The legendary Neu! was a musically rich but personally acrimonious band, Dinger and Rother breaking much musical ground together. After their initial split in 1976, the duo spent three decades trying to broker a relationship that could produce more music, until Dinger passed away of heart failure in 2008. Rother says there was difficulty in dealing with the eccentric Dinger, who openly boasted of his use of LSD.
"We spent several years trying to find an agreement to record a new Neu! album," Rother says sadly.
Michael Rother, accompanied by Dieter Moebius (of Harmonia and Cluster) and Hans Lampe (La Düsseldorf), will play the Corner Hotel on Monday.