Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany


Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany

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-This programme contains some strong language.

-Germany, 1945. Year zero.

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Everything from cities to culture lies in ruins.

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It was time to rebuild.

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This is the story of a generation of musicians

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born into post-war rubble

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who would forge a new musical identity for Germany.

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Between 1968 and 1977,

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bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk

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would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original

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and uncompromising music ever heard.

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They shared one common goal -

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a forward-looking desire to transcend Germany's past.

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But that didn't stop the music press in war-obsessed Britain

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from labelling them Krautrock.

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Meine Damen und Herren, ladies and gentlemen,

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willkommen to the sound of Krautrock.

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This programme contains some strong language.

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In the last '60s, this was what German pop music looked like.

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# Dondelo

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# Wir sind verliebt, wir sind froh, sag mir,

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# was kann denn schoener sein, Dondelo

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# Wir tauschen nichts dafur ein... #

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It was known as Schlager.

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Inoffensive, lightweight pop.

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A world away from what was happening on the streets of West Germany.

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SONG: "All Along The Watchtower"

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1968.

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The year of a global youthful revolution.

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And West Berlin was no exception.

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# There must be some kind of way outta here

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# Said the joker to the thief... #

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Like their brothers in the US and the UK,

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these kids were sick of "The Man",

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but in Germany, the establishment had more to answer for.

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# Businessmen, they drink my wine... #

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Following the German surrender in 1945,

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the country had been divvied up by the victors.

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In West Germany, the programme of foreign aid

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had kickstarted the Wirtschaftswunder,

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an economic miracle that saw the country prosper

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in the '50s and '60s.

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But the people running this shiny new Germany

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were the very same people who had been in power during the war.

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Nowhere was this more so than in Bavaria,

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the Alpine heart of southern Germany,

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an area with strong historical ties to National Socialism.

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Hitler had chosen to start his revolution in Munich

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and when not waging Blitzkrieg,

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the Fuhrer could be found relaxing high up in the Bavarian mountains.

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For Amon Duul,

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a group of commune-dwelling musicians from Munich,

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the past seemed all too present in 1968.

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After the war, you couldn't just, erm...

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erase all people or get rid of all people,

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especially judges, teaches,

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if they were Nazis, they had to take them,

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because you can't just kick 'em out and have no teachers at all.

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It was all still there,

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but it wasn't as loud any more.

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Nobody dared to say Hitler or something like that.

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The word "Jew" was...

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it wasn't there in German language.

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Our parents didn't really talk about Hitler, you see,

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and about the Jews and what this was all about.

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They were just in true silence.

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Nobody would really talk about it.

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If I asked my father,

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he would never say, "I was a Nazi."

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If you go to Dachau, which is 30km away from here,

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talk to the people there.

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"We didn't know anything about it."

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In those days, there were bloody Nazis around, all over the place.

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There was rebellion against them.

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We had these big revolutionary things in the '60s.

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All Munich was on the street fighting against police,

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against politics, against all of that.

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We didn't have guns or the tools to chase them away,

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but we could make music

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and we could draw audience, we could draw people

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with the same understanding, the same desires.

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Amon Duul would seek to make acid-drenched apocolyptic music

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that soundtracked their vision of a brave new world.

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Of course we didn't want to make English music or American music,

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and we didn't want to make German Schlager music

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so we had to come up with something new.

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The only thing we could hold on is classical music or the folk.

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Everything else was from...

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England or America.

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We wanted to be international.

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We tried very hard not to be Anglophonic

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and not to be German.

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So, space is one solution.

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THEY VOCALISE TO ACCOMPANYING MUSIC

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When you hear Phallus Dei

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I wasn't really singing, I was into...

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a voice-like an instrument, you see.

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Or doing crazy stuff.

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Some people get very angry about it.

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Like my dad did too. He said, "Well, it's not music!"

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THEY HUM AND WAIL

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Amon Duul's commune was the locum of radical left-wing politics and music in Munich.

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Among those who followed Amon Duul were the founders

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of the Baader-Meinhof gang,

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Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin

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and Ulrike Meinhof.

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They thought Amon Duul weren't going far enough.

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One day, Andreas and Ulrike started...

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they're not really listening to us and they're not doing the right thing.

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We actually have to make something drastic,

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like...burn something down

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or blast something.

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They burnt down this warehouse

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and got busted of course

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and went to jail.

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When they got out of jail and they were released,

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they thought, "Let's go to our mates, Amon Duul."

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Once out of prison, Baader and Meinhof

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would orchestrate a killing spree

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that made them Germany's most wanted terrorists.

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We were on tour and came back home to Herrsching...

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I went into my room.

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And there was Ensslin and Baader.

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And upstairs was Meinhof in Chris's room.

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And I said, "What the fuck are you doing here?

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"You go out immediately. Immediately."

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It was heavy. I didn't like it at all.

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It wasn't just the worlds of radical politics and music

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that collided in the late '60s.

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One of the cameramen capturing this experimental Amon Duul

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performance was a certain Wim Wenders.

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Wenders was part of radical generation of directors

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reinventing German cinema.

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The most political of these directors

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was Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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seen here making a cameo in Die Niklashauser Fahrt,

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a film that also featured Amon Duul.

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But the most famous young director to emerge was from Munich.

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Werner Herzog would make films exploring the extremes

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of the human condition.

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The soundtracks to his films were written by Popol Vuh,

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a Munich-based band with close ties to Amon Duul.

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They were led by the late talismanic Florian Fricke.

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Let me see. Was heisst denn Menschenswuerde?

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Das ist es. Dignity!

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In those days, he also had the first work

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for Aguirre with Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog.

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The reason why they could get together so good,

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Werner and Florian,

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they had been friends.

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They know each other from the schooldays and, you know.

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Aguirre, Zorn Gottes,

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I give you the fact why it sounds so tremendous.

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And...the choral... that sounds like the voices.

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There is a machine that came from Vienna

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that was just by accident, they found it.

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It was really helpful.

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It has nothing to do with metronome.

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It has nothing to do with playing on the click.

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We just... Our heart, our emotion was the timing, you know.

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Beautiful.

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Of course, the real German music, it was the electronic music.

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At a time when most of the West was rocking out to guitar gods,

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something very different was brewing in Germany.

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Electronic music was virgin.

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Neither tainted by the past nor an Anglo-American import.

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In 1968, it was being nurtured in Berlin,

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a city like no other.

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First of all, you have to remember

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that Berlin was kind of an isolated place.

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So, you couldn't compare Berlin to any other city in the world.

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There was a huge wall around it.

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In the old days of West Berlin, this was the end of the world.

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On the other side was Siberia. Or at least East Germany.

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What looks now like a very quiet and peaceful place

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was the border.

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And...was closely guarded.

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In case you wonder on which side of the old border you are,

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these hostel ships are named Eastern Comfort

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and Western Comfort.

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It was a community which had to control more or less

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themself.

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So, culture and underground whatever you want to call it

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was kind of a very, very specific melting pot.

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That was the signature of the city at the end of the '60s.

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The key underground venue in Berlin was the Zodiak Free Arts Lab

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founded in 1967.

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It was a magnet for musicians

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who wanted to experiment.

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Ah, haven't been here in a long time.

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This is what's left.

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A normal cafe.

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This was quite different 40 years ago.

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In the evenings, they opened the door.

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And we rehearsed on certain way

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but it was also a concept,

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because the audience was there.

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This was kind of a...

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kind of a centre...of all music, the Zodiak Club.

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The owner, they said more or less that...

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"Do what you like here, you can leave even your instruments.

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"We lock the door in the night." We were playing there every day.

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The idea came from a John Cage concert

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given in an arts school in Berlin

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where he was running about 35 tape recorders

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and different sounds and music all over the place.

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We thought what a nice idea to have in Berlin

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a place where you can see that day by day, 24 hours.

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It was like the ICA.

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New York, it was The Factory. The same kind of spirit.

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SOUNDTRACK DROWNS SPEECH

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The Zodiak was co-founded by experimental artist Hans-Joachim Roedelius.

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Older than most Krautrockers,

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Roedelius's vision drew from his war experience.

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I think all my art is based on living

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not on doing art.

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On experiencing life in many, many different aspects.

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The young part of the Hitler Youth,

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it was called "Pimpfe".

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And what did you do in that...?

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We had to do this...

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and all these shit.

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And to try to make us

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discipline of following Adolf.

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I had to wear this Panzerfaust.

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But I didn't shoot it, they just did try that to make us soldiers.

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But fortunately the war ended in the right time.

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Roedelius formed Cluster.

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They pioneered ambient electronica.

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We bought simple tone generators.

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And keyboard.

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And I had a...cello as well.

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Just to fiddle around with the sound.

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I was not able to play the cello at all.

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Of course, Joachim is more or less...

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the guy who makes little melodies.

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And I'm the guy who makes more the rhythm and sound things.

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A good example for music made by non-musicians.

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They had a vision of...

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creating some sort of

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sonic utopia,

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a different world with different sounds.

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This is sort of a promise

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that there is a way out of the surroundings, society.

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The...majority of Germans,

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they listened to classic of course

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and Schlager.

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# Dieses Maedchen aus unserer Strasse hab' ich noch immer lieb

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# Und es gibt dann ein Grund dafuer... #

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Der Schlager is stupid texts,

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stupid melody and everybody loves it.

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In way, American hits

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are also Schlager.

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Elvis Presley,

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he was a Schlager singer really.

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On the surface, Schlager isn't political at all.

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But that's what make it political.

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# Dieses Maedchen aus unserer Strasse... #

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During the war,

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the propaganda ministerium, Joseph Goebbels,

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who was a very modern fascist,

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he invested lots of money

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into creating a music industry to his lies.

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# Sie schaut mich immer wieder an... #

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The amount of Schlager broadcast in the radio programme

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increased dramatically.

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Danke schoen. Das war...

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There were not too many ways for a German...

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..let's say, rock musician,

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you know, to perform music,

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to develop music,

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even to think about the theoretical development of music,

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because there was no heritage.

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And the Germans...were in a...

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..in a very bad situation.

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You couldn't forget that.

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I mean, they were so stupid and guilty for it...

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..to start two wars.

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And losing them.

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As horrific as it was,

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it had one, forgive me to say that, one positive point.

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There was nothing else to lose.

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They lost everything.

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And so, when we thought about

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doing music in a different form,

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there was only the free form, the abstract form.

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Tangerine Dream's electronic symphonies

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conjured up a different world far removed from Germany's past.

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They, and other Zodiak acts, like Klaus Schulze,

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were among the first to utilise the newly-invented synthesizer.

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ELECTRONIC MUSIC WARBLES

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When I started to do my electronic music,

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the first question was, "What is a synthesizer?"

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You can imagine today, nobody would even care,

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they'd just see hundreds of them.

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But at this time, "What is a synthesizer?"

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Then you try to explain it, you know.

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It was so brand new.

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Then we thought, "That's great, let's try something with it."

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That was at the point that we actually...

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..like kids.

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We were turning knobs without knowing what comes out,

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but at least it sounds great.

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WARBLING AND BEEPING

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And as far as they are all connected to each other,

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every knob you move, something is happening, you know.

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So... But don't ask me, I hear this noise more than 30 years.

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I could never create tomorrow exactly the same sound.

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Munich and Berlin weren't the only centres of experimentation.

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The real heart of the European electronic tradition

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was to be found in Cologne,

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where leading avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen was based.

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Cologne was at the beginning of the '60s

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the centre of modern music worldwide, you can say.

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And Stockhausen was one of the composers

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who was here.

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And he gave some lectures, and I said to him,

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"Mr Stockhausen, I can't do anything.

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"All examinations, I've failed."

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And he said, "What do you want to become?"

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I said, "Composer of course."

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And then he looked at me...

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"Your story sounds good, I take you."

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I heard from an undertaker

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that in the basement, he was doing a side business

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with the thrown out studio equipment from the radio station.

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And so I entered his shop.

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The coffins were there.

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"Come with me to my catacombs," he said.

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And I found...

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..generators Stockhausen had used for the first time.

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And these failed us.

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I remember them so well how he was working with it.

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Stockhausen had married a rich woman.

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And I thought, "I do exactly the same."

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And was succeeding, actually.

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I was going to Switzerland

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to become teacher.

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Whatever it was, it does not matter.

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And suddenly, I was, erm...

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I was engaged,

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but instead of taking too much care for the rich girls,

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there was a guitar player, he wanted to have some lessons from me.

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I could see how talented he was.

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So, he finished his school and we together founded Can.

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As I said, better a small bird in the hand

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than a pigeon on the roof.

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Five brilliant individuals, Can combined

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the influences of the European avant-garde, jazz and minimalism.

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Can was founded in '68.

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That was the year of the kind of

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student revolutions in Germany.

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A mental revolution happened at that time.

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The war was definitely finished

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and the old way of thinkings had to be...

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destroyed.

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We did not try to play rock and roll.

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Because we knew it is not the thing we are born with.

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We have to find our own way.

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Key to Can's driving sound

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was the drumming of Jaki Liebezeit

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who had been Germany's top jazz drummer

0:25:000:25:02

until he had an epiphany.

0:25:020:25:04

A guy came to me and said, "You must play monotonous."

0:25:050:25:11

He said it with a voice and with an expression

0:25:120:25:16

so I was quite impressed.

0:25:160:25:19

I don't know if he was a kind of freak.

0:25:190:25:23

Maybe he had taken LSD trip or something. He was completely... strange.

0:25:230:25:30

I started thinking about it...

0:25:320:25:35

to play monotonous - what did he mean, monotonous?

0:25:360:25:40

So I started to repeat things.

0:25:400:25:45

We played live in Munich -

0:25:520:25:56

we had a concert there, which was a sold-out concert.

0:25:560:26:00

And I was sitting, in the afternoon, with Jaki Liebezeit, with the drummer in a cafe.

0:26:000:26:05

And suddenly I saw someone coming up the street, in the middle of the street,

0:26:070:26:13

and they were praying to God and getting down to the street and behaving very strange.

0:26:130:26:20

And I said to Jaki, "Jaki, we have our new singer."

0:26:200:26:25

Damo Suzuki.

0:26:280:26:29

I'm the nomad.

0:26:310:26:34

Nomad in the 21st century.

0:26:340:26:37

Traveller...

0:26:370:26:39

Hippy, but not really hippy.

0:26:400:26:42

Metaphysical transporter.

0:26:430:26:45

Human being.

0:26:470:26:49

I went to Damo and said, "What are you doing tonight?"

0:26:510:26:55

He said, "Oh, nothing, I don't have anything to do."

0:26:550:26:58

"Do you want to become singer in a concert? It's sold out."

0:26:580:27:02

"Yes, and when do we make a rehearsal?"

0:27:020:27:07

"No rehearsal. No, you go on stage and then you sing. Don't worry."

0:27:070:27:12

Damo was first like a Samurai, but a very peaceful one.

0:27:120:27:18

When, suddenly, out of nothing, he broke out in an eruption like a volcano...

0:27:180:27:26

# Hey you... #

0:27:260:27:27

'And the people got so aggressive.'

0:27:270:27:30

# You're losing, you're losing, you're losing, you're losing your vitamin C... #

0:27:300:27:36

'I would say about 30 people were left, and one of them was David Niven.'

0:27:380:27:42

# You're losing... #

0:27:420:27:43

And they asked him, "Mr Niven, what do you think about this music?"

0:27:430:27:50

and he said, "It was great, but I didn't know it was music."

0:27:500:27:54

Actually, I don't have so much memories because at the time I was quite stoned.

0:28:030:28:08

And...that's it.

0:28:080:28:11

30km north of Cologne, on the Autobahn, lies Dusseldorf -

0:28:160:28:22

the Liverpool to Cologne's Manchester

0:28:220:28:25

Dusseldorf would give the world Germany's greatest act.

0:28:270:28:31

But, in 1970, you might not have recognised them.

0:28:310:28:35

This is Kraftwerk's first televised performance.

0:28:460:28:51

It features Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter -

0:28:510:28:53

two classical music students

0:28:530:28:55

who formed the creative nucleus of the band.

0:28:550:28:58

Kraftwerk, then, were a Krautrock band, who also experimented with electronics,

0:29:050:29:10

and shared the same vision of German music as their peers.

0:29:100:29:14

HE SPEAKS GERMAN:

0:29:150:29:18

Ralph and Florian would employ what they would later call "Musikarbeiter" - music workers.

0:29:350:29:41

At that time, I was 20 and I was working in a psychiatrist hospital.

0:29:440:29:51

And there was another guy working the same job,

0:29:510:29:56

and he was invited to join a band called Kraftwerk in the studio.

0:29:560:30:01

He asked me, "Would you like to join me?"

0:30:010:30:05

I didn't know the band, and I didn't have anything better going on, so I said, "OK, I join you."

0:30:050:30:11

When I jammed with Ralf Hutter it was so apparent that we both had the same idea for melody and harmony,

0:30:130:30:19

which was definitely not American, not blues.

0:30:190:30:23

It was a European music.

0:30:230:30:28

There's a German expression called "Stunde null" - hour zero.

0:30:290:30:34

And that was more or less my situation, so I was really fortunate to meet those guys at that time.

0:30:340:30:40

Rother, and Kraftwerk drummer Klaus Dinger,

0:30:430:30:46

would leave Ralf and Florian to form their own project in 1971, called Neu!

0:30:460:30:53

The basic idea of this fast-forward movement

0:30:530:30:58

was already with us when we performed as Kraftwerk,

0:30:580:31:02

but when Klaus and I started recording the first Neu! album, we just had this basic vision.

0:31:020:31:10

I always lived near water.

0:31:120:31:14

I lived near water in Hamburg, where I was born.

0:31:140:31:18

In Munich, right next to the river - Isar.

0:31:180:31:22

In Wilmslow, on the Bollin.

0:31:220:31:24

HE LAUGHS

0:31:240:31:26

River Bollin.

0:31:260:31:27

And in Pakistan, at the seaside, and Dusseldorf at the Rhine.

0:31:270:31:32

And I feel very comfortable in water and with water and...

0:31:320:31:36

It has... It has some... Some... An effect I can't really explain.

0:31:380:31:44

It's like time, something to do with time, the passage of time.

0:31:580:32:04

And, in a way, it's also a picture like music -

0:32:060:32:09

moving along...

0:32:090:32:11

Like the music, it's... There are some parallels.

0:32:130:32:17

Boy, to put Neu! into words...

0:32:190:32:22

The drummer was playing in a...

0:32:220:32:27

..a way that, when you listen to it...

0:32:290:32:33

allowed your thoughts to flow.

0:32:330:32:37

Allowed emotions to...come from within,

0:32:370:32:42

and occupy the active parts of your mind, I thought.

0:32:420:32:46

It allowed beauty to get there...

0:32:460:32:51

The guy has somehow found a way to free himself from the tyranny of stupid...

0:32:520:32:59

blues, rock...of all conventions that I'd ever heard.

0:32:590:33:04

Some sort of a...

0:33:050:33:06

..pastoral psychedelicism.

0:33:080:33:11

I mean, at that time it was still a period of leaving the German history behind.

0:33:140:33:22

That was also part of the story, the...

0:33:220:33:25

the conservative remains of post-war Germany, Nazi times, was still to be found everywhere.

0:33:250:33:32

I admired Willy Brandt, for instance.

0:33:380:33:41

That was a figure I really looked up to.

0:33:410:33:45

Neu! once played for Willy Brandt. He was for reconciliation of Germany with the eastern countries.

0:33:450:33:51

Kneeling down in Warsaw, asking for forgiveness in the name of Germany.

0:33:520:33:58

That was something that really appealed to my thinking.

0:33:580:34:02

Despite combining a spirit of sonic adventure with a desire to transcend Germany's past,

0:34:050:34:10

none of these bands could catch a cold in their homeland in the early '70s.

0:34:100:34:15

Germans, who liked progressive rock, simply bought records by British and American bands.

0:34:170:34:22

Since the mid-'60s, German record companies had been searching for their own Beatles...

0:34:270:34:33

without success.

0:34:330:34:34

But, in 1969, Uwe Nettelbeck - a sort of teutonic tony Wilson -

0:34:360:34:41

was tasked, by Polydor, to find the Electronic Beatles.

0:34:410:34:46

This is what he came up with.

0:34:460:34:47

SQUEAK

0:34:470:34:48

CRASH

0:34:480:34:49

SQUEAK

0:34:490:34:51

CRASH

0:34:530:34:54

Faust formed in 1971. They came from Wumme, near Hamburg.

0:34:540:35:00

CRASH

0:35:020:35:04

Yes, Uwe was interested in revolutionary ideas,

0:35:050:35:09

and he took this opportunity and...

0:35:090:35:13

sold us, maybe, as the new Beatles.

0:35:130:35:15

But that's where it ends.

0:35:150:35:16

He was well aware, and everybody except Polydor was well aware that we were doing experimental stuff.

0:35:160:35:24

And they gave us a studio, which was great, with a day-and-night sound engineer at our disposition

0:35:240:35:31

which was great, we were very privileged.

0:35:310:35:33

Because of the social situation in the '60s, '70s,

0:35:360:35:42

there was lots of revolutionary thoughts in the air, on all levels

0:35:420:35:47

so I guess artists usually are just a mirror of what's happening.

0:35:470:35:53

And rock'n'roll was not enough to reflect all the facets of what was happening.

0:35:530:36:00

We are very influenced by whatever is around us.

0:36:100:36:14

So anything that sounds good, looks good to us, we would use it.

0:36:140:36:20

And so it's left to chance.

0:36:200:36:25

Cement mixer - I like it, so I will play it and I will try to go a bit deeper into that.

0:36:270:36:34

You know, living is art, art is living, life is art.

0:36:340:36:38

HE SINGS INTO THE MIXER

0:36:390:36:41

In the village, funny enough, after they had known us,

0:36:460:36:51

they realised we were quite OK.

0:36:510:36:54

We had visit from the local... What you call it?

0:36:540:37:00

Somebody who is simple in the mind? The village idiot.

0:37:000:37:03

When we would play our music, it would soothe his mind.

0:37:050:37:09

While Faust's unusual sounds weren't quite what German Polydor had in mind...

0:37:270:37:33

..they and the other German bands were coming to the attention of foreign ears.

0:37:340:37:39

# Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler

0:37:410:37:46

# If you think we're on the run... #

0:37:460:37:49

Britain in the '70s was still obsessed by the war.

0:37:490:37:53

We won, they were still the enemy, and German jokes were part of our everyday culture.

0:37:530:37:59

And the British music press were not immune.

0:37:590:38:02

They grouped all the experimental German groups going under the label, "Krautrock."

0:38:020:38:08

It was good to be called Krautrock. We even made a song like this.

0:38:100:38:13

I remember that, from my father,

0:38:160:38:20

that the Krauts are coming. That was the word they said, cos of Sauerkraut.

0:38:200:38:26

# Deutschland, Deutschland uber... #

0:38:260:38:29

LAUGHTER

0:38:300:38:32

Krautrock, actually... I don't like it so much

0:38:320:38:36

because it's a kind of insult.

0:38:360:38:39

Here, watch. Who's this, then?

0:38:390:38:41

HE IMITATES HITLER

0:38:410:38:45

I'll do the funny walk!

0:38:450:38:47

But, really, it makes me laugh because I don't feel like making Krautrock

0:38:470:38:52

but, of course, it could also say it's a terrible name.

0:38:520:38:56

It's like if the French would say "Boschrock," something like that.

0:38:560:39:00

Damn it! I'm trying to cheer her up, you stupid Kraut!

0:39:000:39:04

And, furthermore, there was no real Krautrock scene.

0:39:060:39:09

The bands came from all over Germany, and were not even aware of each other.

0:39:090:39:13

Perhaps the only personal link between them was Conny Plank,

0:39:130:39:16

a visionary producer who worked with Cluster, Can, Kraftwerk and Neu!

0:39:160:39:23

It wasn't ALL bad, though. The interest in Britain translated into foreign record sales.

0:39:230:39:28

The early-to-mid '70s was the height of prog rock in the UK,

0:39:280:39:33

and the Krautrock bands fit in nicely.

0:39:330:39:36

The UK's number one prog label, Virgin, signed nearly all the Krautrockers.

0:39:360:39:41

And, in one case, bit off more than they could chew.

0:39:410:39:44

Richard Branson was...gambling.

0:39:450:39:51

So he gambled, he say, "Let's go to Germany, I gamble on those."

0:39:510:39:57

It didn't work with Faust, because we still had the same attitude -

0:39:570:40:03

no compromise.

0:40:030:40:05

And then he lost interest in us.

0:40:050:40:08

Or I think we made trouble, but I can't remember. We smoked too much.

0:40:080:40:13

HE SPEAKS GERMAN:

0:40:350:40:37

Yes. Yes.

0:40:390:40:41

-THEY LAUGH

-Ja.

0:40:420:40:43

Yes.

0:40:430:40:44

-What was the problem?

-The food.

0:40:440:40:46

HE SPEAKS GERMAN:

0:40:460:40:48

Other Virgin bands were more successful.

0:41:050:41:09

Tangerine Dream became hugely popular in the UK in 1974,

0:41:090:41:14

after they were invited to play at Reims Cathedral in France.

0:41:140:41:18

The beginning of a concert, 6,000 people were in this cathedral,

0:41:210:41:24

where just 2,000 had a chance, even to stand -

0:41:240:41:30

not to sit, to stand. You can imagine how the church looked

0:41:300:41:34

when all the crowd went out.

0:41:340:41:36

So, that was a...such as disaster

0:41:360:41:40

and then, I got a letter from the Vatican,

0:41:410:41:46

saying, because of this, we are not allowed to play in a Catholic church again.

0:41:460:41:52

Then, about three weeks later, I got a letter from the Dean of the Liverpool Cathedral in England.

0:41:530:42:01

He heard about it and said, "OK. If they don't allow you to play in any of their cathedrals,

0:42:020:42:08

"we invite you to all of our cathedrals, worldwide." So...

0:42:080:42:12

The country was great. You know, we...

0:42:160:42:19

We stood in our hotel in Coventry.

0:42:200:42:22

I went out in the morning of the concert.

0:42:220:42:25

At the lobby, there was a news stand and I saw a picture of myself.

0:42:260:42:32

So I read the line.

0:42:320:42:34

"40 Years back, they came to bomb the place, today they come on synthesisers."

0:42:340:42:41

Eins, zwei, drei, vier...

0:42:490:42:51

SYNTHESISER PLAYS

0:42:510:42:53

But the band who would truly break through were Kraftwerk.

0:43:010:43:06

By 1974, Ralf and Florian had gone totally electronic,

0:43:090:43:13

ditching the guitar and drums and hiring other Musikarbeiter, to work in their famous Kling Klang Studio.

0:43:130:43:19

This is famous Mintropstrasse here, where we are right now.

0:43:230:43:27

At the moment, this is not so interesting for normal people,

0:43:270:43:31

but for electronic music people, they know what Mintropstrasse is because the Kling Klang Studio was there.

0:43:310:43:36

You can't see much here.

0:43:500:43:52

It's just some steps. That was the way up to that door.

0:43:540:43:59

And then to the left was the main entrance to the Kling Klang Studio

0:43:590:44:03

which is only these two windows.

0:44:030:44:06

HE SPEAKS GERMAN:

0:44:210:44:24

Germany developed more and more after the war.

0:44:340:44:37

Everything had to be rebuilt, neu Autobahn.

0:44:370:44:40

As they build more Autobahns and more Autobahns,

0:44:400:44:42

and we could drive longer Autobahns and longer and faster and faster.

0:44:420:44:48

And the engines became stronger and the cars more and more beautiful.

0:44:480:44:52

Young men, which we were, could afford to buy such cars

0:44:560:45:02

and we took a car and went, just for fun, on the Autobahn.

0:45:020:45:07

120, 140, 150, that was fun.

0:45:070:45:10

We opened the window and we heard, "pft, pft, pft, nyaaaaaoooow-ow-ow!"

0:45:100:45:18

Or we had the wind, "pf-pf-pf."

0:45:180:45:20

And we made all of these things...music.

0:45:200:45:24

In combining a progressive technological vision of Germany,

0:45:280:45:31

with electronic music, humour and romanticism, Kraftwerk had transcended Krautrock.

0:45:310:45:37

They didn't even look like scruffy Krautrockers anymore.

0:45:370:45:41

Ralph and Florian came from very elegant and rich houses.

0:45:420:45:46

They could afford to have handmade shoes.

0:45:460:45:50

And Ralph and Florian rubbed their noses on the windows of shoe shops

0:45:500:45:57

where they made, for 1,000 Deutsche Marks, handmade shoes.

0:45:570:46:01

We wanted to be so different from England, from America,

0:46:030:46:07

this was why we had our hair short, we wore elegant suits,

0:46:070:46:13

which were made for us, you know.

0:46:130:46:16

The big one for me was Radio-Activity.

0:46:250:46:28

I would go to sleep at night listening to a Geiger counter.

0:46:290:46:34

All it is, is...

0:46:340:46:35

HE MAKES AN IRREGULAR PULSING NOISE

0:46:350:46:38

..as they manipulate the wand closer and father from a piece of radioactive material.

0:46:400:46:46

# Radio-activity

0:46:470:46:51

# Is in the air for you and me... #

0:46:540:46:59

I went shopping once for asparagus with Florian Schneider.

0:46:590:47:06

I met the two of them and he suggested...

0:47:060:47:09

-IN DEEP GERMAN VOICE:

-"Well, if you like, it is the asparagus season,

0:47:090:47:13

"I am going to the market to select some asparagus.

0:47:130:47:18

"Would you like to come along?" I said, "Yes, I would."

0:47:180:47:21

And we had a very nice time doing that!

0:47:210:47:25

# Tune into the melody... #

0:47:260:47:30

TRANSLATION:

0:47:300:47:32

TRANSLATION:

0:47:570:47:59

I never felt like a Mensch Maschine, you know, I was not a music worker

0:48:100:48:14

as Ralph always liked and used to explain.

0:48:140:48:18

I always corrected him afterwards.

0:48:180:48:21

"I'm not, Ralph! I don't feel..." "Don't tell that anymore!", you know.

0:48:210:48:26

"I'm not a music worker."

0:48:260:48:28

# Radio-activity... #

0:48:290:48:34

It was always fun, until the end, you know.

0:48:340:48:36

But the end is always not so fun.

0:48:370:48:40

Cos it's the end, you know? It stops.

0:48:410:48:44

Kraftwerk's complete artistic vision transformed them

0:48:510:48:54

into the one truly global German band.

0:48:540:48:56

The same could not be said of their electronic peers

0:49:010:49:04

such as the equally pioneering Cluster who by the early '70s

0:49:040:49:08

decided it was time to leave Berlin and get back to the country.

0:49:080:49:13

Roedelius and Moebius took up residence in a 16th-century hamlet in Forst in Lower Saxony

0:49:150:49:22

where they were joined by Neu! guitarist Michael Rother

0:49:220:49:26

to form Harmonia.

0:49:260:49:27

The first Harmonia album was recorded right here.

0:49:470:49:51

You see the room on that...

0:49:520:49:56

On that photo, hanging on the wall, it's the inside of the first Harmonia album.

0:49:560:50:02

And you see that oven?

0:50:020:50:04

That was the only way we could heat the studio in winter.

0:50:040:50:09

HE LAUGHS

0:50:090:50:12

You can imagine the cold fingers and cold feet!

0:50:120:50:14

It's so special to have this view.

0:50:160:50:19

You look for miles and you don't see any human structure.

0:50:200:50:24

In 1974, Harmonia's ambient electronica came to the attention

0:50:270:50:31

of a British rock star in search of a new direction.

0:50:310:50:35

I first liked Roxy Music without knowing Brian,

0:50:350:50:41

and I thought to myself,

0:50:410:50:44

"What a stupid, extravagant guy that must be."

0:50:440:50:48

Just from the picture.

0:50:480:50:51

He came to a concert of Harmonia in Hamburg in '74,

0:50:550:50:59

he was very nice,

0:50:590:51:01

and we said to him, "Come to our place and let's do some real music."

0:51:010:51:05

Another two years passed before he rang and said, "Can I come and see you?"

0:51:050:51:11

And that's what he did.

0:51:110:51:13

Brian came to our house to learn from us

0:51:170:51:21

and we didn't go to him to learn from him,

0:51:210:51:27

he didn't know what to do, really, I think in this moment.

0:51:270:51:31

He was at a dead end of a street.

0:51:310:51:33

There was not the idea to record an album.

0:51:360:51:38

We just exchanged ideas, took walks and played ping-pong,

0:51:380:51:45

and stuff like that. It was a very pleasant stay.

0:51:450:51:50

And at the end we had I think three tapes full of music which Brian took with him and -

0:51:500:51:56

he brought those blank tapes with him, we were poor,

0:51:560:52:00

and we didn't have blank tapes...

0:52:000:52:02

It did really change a lot in our life.

0:52:040:52:08

But he said to me once in the studio, "Don't worry, Moeby, you will be rich as well one day."

0:52:080:52:14

But he still is not right!

0:52:150:52:17

He left Forst and the idea was to continue working together

0:52:190:52:24

but that didn't happen. He left to record - I think it was - Low with David Bowie...

0:52:240:52:31

In 1976, David Bowie started a new career in a new town.

0:52:330:52:38

Bowie was famous for being in the right place at the right time,

0:52:430:52:47

and in '76 he knew Berlin was the place to be.

0:52:470:52:50

Accompanied by Brian Eno, Bowie would record his albums Low and Heroes

0:52:530:52:57

in Berlin's magnificent Hansa Studio.

0:52:570:53:00

My memories are that this room has a nice acoustic, maybe you can listen to it.

0:53:140:53:21

You can hear this little echo behind my claps.

0:53:240:53:28

And I think that was what David Bowie liked very much with this big hall by the wall.

0:53:290:53:35

The studio's control room, now a bar, looked out upon a watchtower on the Berlin Wall.

0:53:420:53:48

I am quite sure they knew what was going on here.

0:54:000:54:03

When we sat in front of this console with a few lamps on top,

0:54:030:54:11

I just directed one of the lamplights to the policeman, and David and Tony

0:54:110:54:18

just jumped down under the console and said, "Don't do that!"

0:54:180:54:22

And I said, "It's funny, it's a joke. They would never hurt us anyway."

0:54:240:54:30

Bowie would assimilate some of the Krautrock vibe on both albums.

0:54:310:54:36

Side two of Low would showcase Eno's Cluster influences.

0:54:360:54:40

And Bowie originally intended to record Heroes with Krautrock musicians.

0:54:400:54:45

# I...

0:54:450:54:46

# I wish I could swim

0:54:480:54:49

# Like the dolphins

0:54:520:54:54

# Like dolphins can swim... #

0:54:560:54:58

David Bowie called me in '77 and that would have been interesting to record

0:54:580:55:04

with Brian Eno and David Bowie in Berlin but something went wrong.

0:55:040:55:09

# We can beat them

0:55:100:55:11

# For ever and ever... #

0:55:130:55:15

He said that those two tracks of Neu! '75 were his favourite tracks -

0:55:170:55:24

Hero and After Eight.

0:55:240:55:26

It's anybody's guess where the name for that album came from.

0:55:260:55:33

Released in '77, Heroes was a big hit for David Bowie.

0:55:350:55:39

But the real heroes were the Krautrockers.

0:55:400:55:43

# Ich...

0:55:440:55:46

# Ich bin dann Konig

0:55:470:55:50

# Und du...

0:55:530:55:55

# Du Konigen

0:55:560:55:58

# Obwohl sie

0:56:010:56:03

# Unschlagbar scheinen

0:56:040:56:06

# Werden wir Helden

0:56:090:56:11

# Fur einen Tag. #

0:56:130:56:15

The funny thing is...

0:56:150:56:17

they're doing something they call Krautrock again.

0:56:180:56:22

So I have to decide, shall I go there?

0:56:260:56:30

What I fear is that it's only related to the word Krautrock

0:56:300:56:37

and not to the music, and even if it's related to the music,

0:56:370:56:41

it misses the more important part, being Krautrock as part of a social movement.

0:56:410:56:47

And you can play the records again, but this won't come back.

0:56:470:56:52

Krautrock may be over but theirs is not an unhappy ending.

0:57:040:57:08

Today these artists remain as gloriously uncompromising as they ever were.

0:57:110:57:16

Unlike many of their Anglo-American peers,

0:57:180:57:21

they have refused to be drawn into becoming establishment figures.

0:57:210:57:25

There are no Knights of the Realm here,

0:57:300:57:32

just happy experimental musicians.

0:57:320:57:36

Subtitled by Red Bee Media

0:58:150:58:17

Email [email protected]

0:58:170:58:20

Documentary which looks at how a radical generation of musicians created a new German musical identity out of the cultural ruins of war.

Between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard. They shared one common goal - a forward-looking desire to transcend Germany's gruesome past - but that didn't stop the music press in war-obsessed Britain from calling them Krautrock.


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