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Faust interview with Jean-Hervé Peron


Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. Faust was one of the first bands that is world wide known from the movement that was going on in late 60's and early 70's in Germany.....

Well, we started officially in 1970. Our first record " Faust Clear" was spectacular through the transparent cover and transparent LP, also spectacular through the content, the music... But we did not "make it"  internationally. :)) Groups like Can, or Amon Düül, or Tangerine Dreams etc. were much more successful. Faust was, and still are, more "insider star ", "cult band", one of the famous unknowns. :))

Tell me what were some of your strongest influences? You probably had very different influences than other bands that came from USA and England. You were much more for experimentation...

The  question about "influences" is difficult for me in a way because I fear that I have no answer that would satisfy you and your readers. My influences are the songs and sounds I heard when I was inside my mother, the songs and sounds I heard all my life on the radio, around me, during all the fiestas we go through like weddings, parties, communions, birthdays, etc. and everyone sings and all the songs and  sounds I heard when I was a teenager, and of course also the songs and sounds I heard when I was a  young man. Obviously they varied as well as my consciousness about sound and music developed, also they varied because the environmental sounds change with the development of cities, cars, machines... etc. I could write pages about influences.
So, I will not tell you that I was more influenced by Mr. Zimmermann or Mr. Davis more than I was influenced by Edith Piaf or Georges Guetary...

Were you or other band members of Faust in any other bands before forming Faust? Perhaps any 45's releases from that?

I traveled the roads of Europe and USA in 1968/69 and sang everywhere as the travelling minstrels did in the old days. :)  But I made no releases. I presume it is the same with the other Faust members but I can only speak for myself.

Rudolf, Gunther and me, we met in Hamburg and played a lot of music together and made soundtracks for films but it was all "underground" and absolutly "lowtec", so there are almost no traces of that. I do have a few tapes, but they are not released yet.

You formed band called Faust in 1971. What can you tell me about the beginning of the group? How did you meet and where did you practice?

We all met in Hamburg. I wanted to meet again a beautiful young German woman who I had met in France. She lived in a  commune where Gunther and Rudolph also lived. We moved flats very often. In those days, it was a normal situation. Eventually we all landed in a place called "Toulouse Lautrec Institute" and it was the absolute artists and bohemian place, where young musicians, young  filmers, students, revolutionaries or dreamers all met; the rest is history. We met Uwe Nettelbeckour future producer and we had to find the rest of Faust in the persons of Zappi and Jochen.

Why the name Faust?

It is German for "fist" which is a symbol for revolution which is what we thought we were part of and maybe we were too :). Also it is the name of  a work by Goethe where a man sells his soul to obtain what he longs for. This was what we were doing; selling our souls to the music industry in order to do the music we wanted to.

Shortly after you started recording your first album called Faust. It was released by Polydor in 1971. The album was absolutely amazing. Probably the most innovating piece of music from that period. I would like to know what are some of your strongest memories from recording and producing this LP.

My memories of this time is the immense joy we felt when we moved into Wuemme, an old school and we received a fully equipped recording studio and a sound engineer at our disposal. Then the life there with our dogs, cut off  from the outside  world... Some  visits  from young women and the orgies that followed... the loneliness sometimes... the long walks in this very, very flat  countryside... all the drugs we took.. making music night and day... the moments of inspiration... the long breakfasts.. the moments of despair when you feel lost on a long road leading nowhere...the  extasy  when the first record was actually in our hands!!! Ah, so many intense memories...

 I would also like to know if you can share a few words about Why Don't You Eat Carrots, Meadow Meal and Miss Fortune. How did you get inspired to wrote this fabulous tracks?

You want me to take you and your readers on a trip inside my time-machine ? :)  All three pieces were partly improvised, partly sketches that we had made before. They all were the results of a common  work between Uwe, our producer and friend Kurt, our sound engineer and a friend and all of us plus the intervention of friends here and there. A puzzle of love, inspiration, revolution, techniques and luck.

If I'm not wrong the first album was on coloured vinyl?

WRONG! :) It was all transparent! No colour at all!

That was not very usual in that time, how did you decide to do that?

I think we were the first ones to do that. It was difficult to force the manufacturers to do so as they kept on saying: "No, we  don't do that because it will be bad quality"  and they were wrong: it is possible!

I would also like to know how many copies were made, I know the first LP didn't sell very good, am I right?

Sorry, I have no memories about this because I did not care one bit about the commercial aspect of the  whole business.

Your second album was called So far and it was released in 1972 by Polydor. The album is more song-based as your first, but it's the middle part of the album you really get off the deep-end. What can you tell me about this legendary album? How did you like it and what do you remember from recording studio?

Personally, I like "So Far" because I like songs. Maybe because I am a French man and the French people like chansons? Anyways, Polydor as not pleased with the first "Clear" record and  they put pressure on us to make more "§accessible" music. It was for us an interesting experiment to try and make "normal" music. At the end it turned out to be bizarre music anyway. :)) I enjoy everything in life so I cannot tell you what I specifically enjoyed about "So Far" as it is all the same for me.

Maybe the children choir was great fun for "I've got my car and my TV" but you see, we were young, we  were enthusiasts, so everything was fun and exciting!

Before we get to your third release, I would like to ask you about touring. When did you start touring and where did you toured. Also if you have an interesting experience from gigs, please share them with me.

Our first gig was in Hamburg were we introduced quadrophonic as the very first, even before Pink Floyd  did it, but we were too stoned to get the cables properly wired and it all turned out as a huge happening where nothing worked, the audience was on stage, the press was pissed and we made a scandal at the after show party... great  fun all that!  Then we went to France and ate a lot of garlic in the tour van!  We met very strange people everywhere, played in almost empty venues,...
Then we went to the UK and it was the real beginning of Faust! People there liked us a lot and it was challenging. We owe a lot to the English  audience. They gave us enormous positive feedback and motivated us to go on. The UK is still the place were I feel best on stage.

Faust IV is probably your most well known album...

t's such masterpiece. I think, it isn't so experimental, that your previous albums...I would really like if you could tell me a little bit more about this album, how were you satisfied with it.

We recorded "Faust IV" at the Manor Studio in the UK at the same time as Mike Oldfield was recording Tubular Bells. It was a beautiful feeling there with good equipment, very friendly people, and a big dog called "Bootleg". It was an Irish wolfhound.

We recorded pieces like "Sad Skinhead" and  "Krautrock"  which are more or less the  superhits  of Faust together with "Rainy day " of  course...

10. Your next and last album from that period was called The Faust Tapes.

 ...See  above :))

Was a cut - and - paste album which spliced together a large number of bits and pieces from their extensive collection of private recordings, not originally intended for release. Virgin issued it at the then price of a single, 48 UK pence. The Faust Tapes reportedly sold over 100,000 copies but its low price tag rendered it ineligible for a chart placing. 

Yes this is correct. The "Faust Tapes" are a genius  business trick  as well as an extremely innovative piece of music.

I would like to know what happened in 1975. You broke up in 1975 after Virgin had rejected your fifth album. What exactly happened?

Same procedure as with Polydor. Richard Branson wanted us to be popular and we did not.

What happened next? What did you do between 1975 and 1990?

This is a secret and will remain a secret :) We brethed and moved our bowels like everyone else and did a few other things too, but it is a secret.

In 1992 you reunited for performances. In 1994, Faust toured the United States for the first time with members of Sonic Youth as an opening act. How was it to play again?

To be exact; it was only Zappi and me, who toured the USA in 1994. It was very exciting and we were scared because it was just the two of us. But we met a wonderful musician Steve Lobdell  and the tour was a success after all leading to the next recording "Rien" with Jim O'Rourke. We played the East coast  and the West coast, always inviting guests artists to perform with us. The best show was in San Francisco!

Few albums followed in the 90's. Rien, Untitled, Faust Wakes Nosferatu, You Know Faust and then in the 2000's The Land of Ukko & Rauni, Freispiel, In Autumn...What can you tell me about the difference from recording and living in the 70's and doing this in the present being.

The main differences are: first the digital techniques of editing a record and the fact that we did not live together anymore. Both of those changes and influenced on the music in a positive way. It was easy to make very difficult collage and easy to do overdubs and the fact that we all lived different lives brought new inspirations, new strengths.

We had families by the time and our psychos were changing.This also lead to the separation of Faust into two separate groups, both called Faust, both respecting each other...
But not communicating anymore.

I'll be glad if you also can tell me few words about this releases.

"Rien" is an extra-ordinary recording for Faust and represents  for me the new start of Faust. FROM THEN ON; Faust  will collaborate more and more  with other artists....

"You know Faust"  is for me the  equivalent of "Clear" as it was made with the same spirit. It is also the last recording of the original Faust. Shortly  after the release of this album and a tour that  followed, Faust split up and will never come back together. I love all the tracks on this  album. I have no comments to make on the other albums  you mentioned as I did not play on them.


In 2009 you released an amazing album C'est com... com... compliqué. After all this years you can still make such different record.

Thank you. But it was very easy to be totally different because we recorded with Amaury Cambuzat who is a fantastic musician and a wonderful person. We had worked hard with him before to perform a tour in  2005 / 2006 and we were loaded with positive energy. So we made these recordings in Hamburg to celebrate our adventure.

In 2010 Faust Is Last was recorded. It was recorded by Jochen Irmler, Lars Paukstat, Steven W. Lobdell, Michael Stoll and Jan Fride. Faust now exists in two completely different incarnations, both active and each reflecting different aspects of the original group. Why this two incarnations and what can you tell me about both of them?

We had to separate because our personalities clashed and our attitudes towards art diverged. So now, we have 2 Fausts.  :))  Isn't better than just  1 ?? :))

2011, Faust with founding members Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi W. Diermaier and the British artists Geraldine Swayne and James Johnston recorded a new studio album, Something Dirty. What can you tell me about this new releases you did?

It is a similar situation as with "C est  compliqué". Geraldine and James have been working with us since 2006 and so we decided to record something together in order to celebrate our common efforts and joys. We recorded again in Hamburg but in a different studio this time. We had here also a great time and spent very creative days together.

What are some of your  future plans?

I have a solo project called "Art-Errorist", where I am deeply involved with concrete-mixers. I also plan to further collaborate with different artists: at the moment I will perform  with the members of NWW (Nurse With Wound)  and  artists from Poland. And of course, I am organising every year a festival of experimental art Three days of Utopia as Chris Cutler puts it.  :))

How do you feel about the fact, that young people from other parts of the world listen to your music (I'm only 21)?

It makes me extremely happy to see that our music finds an audience. It makes me proud also that after so many years, we can reach the ears of younger generation.

It is very motivating. Faust music will never make me rich financially, but it has given me always a huge satisfaction and a serious reason to live.

Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. I’m really happy for this. Would you like to share with us anything else about the band or yourself, that I perhaps didn't ask?

Check the site and make sure  you come! :))

Thank you for your interest in our music. Amities

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright 2011


Anonymous said...

:DD !! Excellent Klem, congratulations for the work.

Heavypsychmanblog said...

Interesting band

Klemen said...

Mara thanks a lot :))

Em: they sure are!!!