On the 27th March, legendary composer and guitarist, Manuel Göttsching performed his first ever concert in Denmark. The event took place at Jazzhouse in Copenhagen, and I was extremely privileged to meet him for an exclusive interview.
When you performed a concert
in Munich, at the end of January, you had just received the news of
Edgar Froese's death. You made a little speech and dedicated a track
for him. Can you tell us what you said on that night, and about your
- Of course I knew Tangerine
Dream. Nearly from the beginning. Edgar was eight years older than
me. We worked in a small studio in Berlin, run by avantgarde composer
Thomas Kessler. It was a rehearsal room for us, but also a studio,
were the composer worked. We studied a little improvisation. In this
studio all those musicians from the time met. There was Tangerine
Dream, there was this other, famous band in Berlin, Agitation Free.
Very young people, but very famous in Berlin at that time. Later Ash
Ra Tempel, where we of course met Klaus Schulze. We had discussions,
we met and we talked, and so on. It was an interesting place for
Berlin musicians. That was were I saw Tangerine Dream rehearse. I saw
them in concerts in 1968 and 1969. Then in 1970, we had our first
album (Ash Ra Tempel), we had
the same record company. We started playing concerts together. We
performed in Berlin. In 1973 we had the first concert in Paris at
Théâtre de l'Ouest. Of course, I knew the other musicians. I knew
Christoph Franke. He was the former drummer of the Berlin band,
Agitation Free. I remember Steve Schroyder, he was our keyboard
player on the album Seven Up
(1973). I was not a close friend of Edgar, but we met at all those
concerts, and we met during all these sessions, at the studio in
Cologne, the Cosmic Courrier sessions. I visited him a few times,
when he wanted to leave the company Ohr. He asked me about my
opinion, and what I thought, and if I wanted to stay with the
company. He wanted to quit this company and to go on somewhere else.
Later we lost contact...
- The story I told, is that
he used a particular piece of metal, when he played experimental
songs, when I first saw him in the sixties. It was originally a piece
of metal, he used for a Hawaiian steel guitar. He misused it in a
way, that he had made it a little rough, and made string sounds. I
was really fascinated with it, so I thought, I'd try this as well.
And that's the story I told in Munich. It's a reminiscence to Edgar:
"thank you very much, good idea!" I played the title "Die
Mulde", the first, very quiet part. That was one thing, how to
make interesting, creative sounds with normal electric guitar,
without any synthesizer, without any effect unit.
interviewsOprettet af Jacob Pertou man, april 07, 2014 22:30 - I haven't got any of those answers, says Edgar Froese, with a glimpse in his eye.
Edgar and Bianca has just arrived from the soundcheck in Tivoli. Tommy Jacobsen, Peter Ravn (who took the photos) and myself have been
extremely priviliged meet the man behind our favourite music ensemble, Tangerine Dream, for a very exclusive interview on Jacobs
Tangerine Dream Blog.
Fortunately, Edgar does have some very interesting, well reflected and honest replies to the questions.
Before we start, Edgar explains why he speaks with a lower voice, than usual.
- I'm in recovery, because I broke my
jaw bone, while jogging with my dog, and the dog was dragging me, so I fell over. For about two or three months, I couldn't talk, I
couldn't do anything. The jaw was broken too much, and for a year I wasn't talking much. In the mean time in the hospital, I was
composing GTA files.
No rest for the wicked...
- It's true.
No one thought Tangerine Dream would
ever come to Denmark. Why did it take so long?
- I thought I would never come to Scandinavia. We came because
Sorcerer, with our soundtrack for Hollywood, became a Blu-Ray format, and now the director is travelling around the world, in
order to promote the Blu-Ray. The film academy here invited us to perform the entire score. That's why we're here.
you will perform Sorcerer, with previously unheard material. How was it to do the research, and why do you keep the old sheet music, when
you prefer to look forward, instead of backwards?
- At the time Sorcerer was composed in 1976, we had about ninety minutes
on tape and another sixty minutes written down on sheet paper, notes and whatever. Out of the entire material we made a re-recording of
the old stuff, and we recorded the material which wasn't used in the movie or never had been recorded before.
What lead to
the decision of only releasing one LP, when there was material enough for two, maybe even more?
- Now there are two CDs and
you can buy them tonight!
I sure will! In 1977 or 78 you completely said goodbye to drugs, tobacco, meat and most important,
alcohol. What gave you strength?
- I didn't like kidding myself. I was working with friends in the music business that
passed away, because of that. In 1977, after I went through the disaster with Bowie in Berlin, I said no, that shouldn't be my ending. So
I stopped, within a week, smoking, drinking, became a vegetarian. Everything within a week.
That's very impressive, I really
admire that. Since the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, there seems to have been a broader interest in the music of Tangerine
Dream, which culminated in the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto 5. Can you tell me a little bit what other projects, GTA has led to?
- Together with different collegues within TD, I worked for about sixteen years, and that was both very sophisticated,
very open-minded and terrible at the same time. After sixteen years, I started making a pause. Now, by getting approached by Rockstar in
New York, I went to the head guy, said "I hate videogames, never done one", and I've refused huge offers. By talking to him, I found out
what the philosophy was: Working against the establishment. So it's a social game. Lots of people didn't understand the philosophy of the
game. I said "what do you wanna do, you blow up the establishment"? He said "Yeah", I said "I'm in for that".
In this day and age, musicians are only sure to make an income, if they tour
extensively. You always put a lot of energy in few concerts per year, with spectacular sights and sounds. Why haven't you downsized, and
toured more, and is it really economically sensible to retire from touring?
- Well...Income, money, retirement - that's
work. I never thought about anything. During the concert in Moscow, I will turn seventy, but I don't know why. When I turned thirty, I
thought excactly the same. Why? The only thing is, from time to time, you run into a situation, where you have to slow down, because of
some physical condition. Back in 2008, I was truly overweight, and that was quite dangerous, so I realized, OK, I need to get it done. I
started jogging like a mad man, and finally with my operation, I lost the last few pounds. Now I'm in the right
You're looking good! In 2005 you released an album called Jeanne d'Arc, where you were three composers, and you
had a kind of Three Musketeers mentality. Have you thought about including a third composer again?
- It was a compromise,
because the idea was originally, maybe to form a band, between my son, Thorsten and myself. It didn't work at all, because Thorsten and
Jerome were like... [clenches fists together]. We gave up the idea, and I personally don't like the album at all. No. Not my
Do you have favourites?
- No. The point what fans never understood is the creative composer. You
don't care about work you've done. I never listen to any of this stuff, and sometime it is painful to sit on stage, and listen to some
music you have done three or four years before. I'll tell you why. The process of composing is very different from what people think. In
about twenty, thirty percent within the piece, I start getting into it. All of a sudden, the rule of creativity changes. you are not the
composer any more. The piece is becoming more and more hungry. It is eating you. Now you have to do that and that and that. When I, for
instance, did the Japanese series about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, I remember one day, I came in and was looking for a sound for five hours.
I gave up, I couldn't find it. I didn't find it. I stopped for about four days, and then I got just like [snaps fingers], because the
sound of a composition which is hitting you through the speaker system is telling you, wait a moment, I need that. It's a very
magical moment, finishing a piece of music, because you are the only one to say, that's it. That's now my dream time. By the way, it is a
hard piece of work, and when you listen to it again, in about a year, you remember the pain, and that's not very
Bianca: I have to tell you a little anecdote. Sometimes he comes into my office, while I'm listening to
his music, and he comes in and says "Oh, how beautful, who is it?" I say "Edgar! It is your music!" - [deep voice]: "Can't remember!"
- I know precisely what I'm doing in the moment I'm doing it. I'm very well trained, I write down my music, I know the most
high-end computer systems possible, but don't ask me about my music one year later. I don't remember.
Are there any bands or musicians, you think that carries your the spirit or philosophy into
- No. Definitely not. That's not arrogant, that's because it's who I am. There are other musicians ten times better than
[Unfortunately there's a drop-out in the recording here]
- How much mail did I get about certain aspects of
music, as far as life, death future plans whatever concerned? Three, in the last thirty years. How many questions did I get about the
secrets behind Kafka? None. And I got thousands of fans.
Bianca: It's always about equipment.
not really interested in equipment.
- Why don't you use analog equipment? [Edgar makes a grimace]
But you do,
you said it in an interview!
- I'm not interested in talking about analog.
I think it was you who once said
there are no advantages with analog equipment over digital?
- I mean, we are travelling around the world with lots of equipment,
which is complete stupidity. I don't need it. All this music in data form, in the sound system you've never heard. What people would
think, if I were on stage and used a new storage system no-one knew anything about, and a new way of controlling audio data, not with a
keyboard anymore, but an electro magnetic field sampler. If I were on stage doing that, what do you think the fans would say? Some would
say, oh, the old man has gotten crazy? Some others would say, is the tape rolling somewhere? Like they did for fourty-five years. So what
should I do? We're carrying around with all these cases, completely stupid and senseless. There is no difference of analog or digital.
There is no difference of anything. They are data, and data within certain waveforms of molecular atoms. It goes too far beyond anything
which is commercial. In '68 I was talking to Bob Moog who said, Look, I know I'm twenty years ahead of my time, but what can I do"?
I said, "You have no chance". And that's the same today. We don't have a chance, because people are so much used to old
There's a romantic aspect to it? Irrational?
- Yeah, irrational. I call it stupidity. It's there, but
the human being doesn't make use of it. I explained what happened on the second part of Chandra, maybe I won't get any letter
about it again. But hey, as long as people are killing animals to feed themselves, as long as they are producing weapons to defend
themselves, as long as they are burning warheads to explore space, which is total stupidity, what should you tell these people?
It's a long struggle.
- I know the place where Albert Einstein had the greatest thoughts, and that place is a
little village close to Potsdam, near Berlin...anyway, Einstein said, when someone asked him at Princeton University, "You know about
theoretical, average human being relatives, you must know how the third world war would happen? He said "No, I have no idea, but I can
tell you the fourth world war will happen with sticks and stones again". And that's the way it is. People are so incredibly stupid, I
can't believe it.
And you can always be surprised by stupidity!
- The point is, if you decide to have kids,
you can not say, why the kid is not explaining the world like Aristotle. No way, it's a kid, but it is unexplainable why intelligent
people are doing what they are doing. That's what I call stupidity. They know better. The first thing I would do, if I had the power,
which I fortunately don't have, I would close Wall Street. For ever! That's were ninety percent, of all the trouble in the world comes
from. Money is something which has a certain value, it's only money against money, and it doesn't work. The problem is not that people
are betraying people, the problem is that all mankind will have to pay for them. Anyway, do you have more important questions?
Yes, one final question, will you record this concert tonight?
- We did
that already. We have a little cinema near Vienna, where we do little live shows, for a certain amount of people, where we are performing
unreleased music. From time to time we release products out of it. We did a pre-recording of the concert tonight. It's a double CD, which
will be released tonight. No one knows it, you are the first to know!
We won't tell anyone!
- I'm asked about
the term "tangentization", in the fan community-hood. There are some comments: "Why are you re-recording things, which are so much better
in its original form?" Yes, it's true. Tangentized is bullshit, re-recording is terrible, and never ever in my life would I touch an
original piece of music. Never, ever! But I had to do something, working against Virgin Records, or even Universal. We could spend
millions on getting my masters back, or I could do re-recording. Tangentizing means, if you change an original mix a certain degree, by
adding or changing effects on the piece, it's not the original master anymore, it's a new master, and you can release it to your own
Bianca: We want to give it back to the fans again. That's the only reason.
tangentization really works.
Bianca: I agree.
- When I started working on the old analog tapes,
the tuning was terrible, the timing was terrible. There was a click track, which was "out of click", so I had to try and find a way of
getting it into the right rhythm again. Absolutely stupid, but there was no other way. I tried once to go the true American way with
somebody. And... I won. I won the court case. There was an incredible sum of money involved. Do you know how much money I got out of it?
- Three hundred and thirty six dollars! The rest went into three lawyers, some of the best in the
country, flights from Europe to USA again and again. One of the lawyers were flying from Germany across the pond. Hey, I'm the winner,
but I lost the money. That's ridiculous. Therefore we don't need to have a conflict with a big company anymore. We don't have a
management. Everything we do on our own. We are selling much less than before, but it's OUR money. If we want to release five records a
year, or ten or seven or any record, then fine.
Bianca: The autonomy has the biggest value.
- And I've
met so many people through the years who started crying; they were banned from their own creativity, because their record company did not
allow them to produce a new record, because the old one is still selling! Anyway, gentlemen, have a nice day!
That's the end of the interview. Edgar has been really generous with his
time and his words of insight. We talk a bit about the evening. Bianca tells that Edgar wasn't happy with the arrangers, signing Michael
Rother and Dieter Moebius after Eastgate signed the contract. In hindsight I can see why. Although I really admire the other two
musicians, on the same level as Edgar Froese, there were too many disinterested with Tangerine Dream, and an overshadowing focus on NEU!
(not Michael Rother as such) and krautrock in the Danish media.
Tangerine Dream really deserved the stage for themselves.