As Esoteric release definitive editions of two great Tangerine Dream works, MFF talks to founder and leading light Edgar Froese
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED SINCE THE 'ZEIT' DAYS WHEN YOU WERE TRULY ELECTRONIC PIONEERS?
EDGAR FROESE: In the early days, because of the given instruments which could not store anything or be pre-programmed much, you had to improvise; there was no other choice, Today, working out of computer platforms working out of lots and Iots of software possibilities you've got the freedom to do what you want.
HOW HAVE YOU KEPT THE DREAM ALIVE OVER SO MANY YEARS AND SO MANY PERSONNEL CHANGES?
EF: If you founded a band and you had an overview, a vision or of what you want to do, through the years that vision becomes stronger and stronger. Simply said, thereare a few people who could follow (for) a year; some others could follow four or five years, some even a bit longer but once in a while you have to make decisions and very often you have to break up the band to follow whatever your very subjective path is. You cannot take care too much about individuals or whatever their views are; the main view is the music and the rest has to follow.
WHAT WAS YOUR AIM WHEN THE GROUP FOUNDED AND HOW HAS IT CHANGED?
EF:We started in 1967 as a band and released the first long-player in 1970. Since then, one has to say we came out of a very chaotic situation, it was chaos, you know and the idea was as long as possible as long as we can do it as a band to develop things technically and of course mentally you have to develop your personality and your entire consciousness. So to move from a more or Iess chaotic situation into perfectionism and having all the computer stuff now we are light years away from what we started out to be. That's okay, that's good.
WERE YOU ALWAYS CONFIDENT YOU'D TAKE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH YOU?
EF: If you sit down and make one test after the other, what will the audience like, what they wanted to hear or what would they dislike, you definitely get lost, you lose your direction. So we worked the other way round; we did not take care so much about whatever taste the audience had and whatever they wanted us to do, We more or less had to progress in our own individual way Very often people didn't understand it and very often they didn't like it, but as we always said you can't make your decision on a ticket count or in a record store. If you want to buy a record or not, everybody is free to do what he likes.
HOW HAVE ADVANCES IN MUSIC TECHNOLOGY AFFECTED YOUR MUSIC?
EF: There have been three to four big jumps. When we started out, whatever we used onstage could not be called a real instrument: there was other physical departments where measurements were taken and tone generators and effect units through which sound have been sent, that kind of stuff.
There were no real instruments until we bought ourselves the first big Moog synthesizer when you had levered pitch stuff and voltage control, melody lines and sequences and so on.
So that was what we call the analogue age, and we stepped into the digital age where things became smaller and things were more comfortable to handle and to work with. Finally, and the area still goes on, we are in the computer age where you have ton and tons of data stored into a small device and you've been very fast by composing your things. You could compose for the first time like a classical composer on a huge sheet, you know and that's the three big steps. All of them have influenced us very much and all have supported, more or less, whatever our ideas and music have been.
When we finished with Vlrgin Records in Britain in 1982 that was the same time when the analogue age stopped, not stopped but switched over to the first digtal instruments like the Yamaha DX7 that sort of thing. The next step was right at the end of the Eighties when the computer platform was so strongly invented that without any problem you could use it on stage. What we didn't do before because it was too dangerous.
DO YOU CONSIDER WHAT YOU DO ROCK?
EF: Sure I do, I've grown up with rock. When I first heard 'Burning Of The Midnight Lamp' or 'All Around The Watchtower' by Hendrix I gave up playing my guitar for three and a half years! [exaggeration solidifies the point?, Jacob] For three and a half years I didn't touch my guitar and Jim Morrison is still to me, together with Van Morrison, together with a couple of other people, Dylan and so on, the greatest rock lyric writers of all time. These are the roots for all and everything, and even if you work out of hi-tech stuff today there is an emotional side, there is an atmospheric side, there is a kind of experimental side, a heritage of different views. They are all combined and related to rock music out of the Seventies. To me. Some other people may view it differently...
CHERRY RED RECORDS – MY FAVOURITE FLAVOUR, ISSUE 21 – 2011.