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An interview with Manuel Göttsching (2001)

"I do not feel like a guitarist of the 70s"

Black Moon, "Rock Progresivo" (Chile) September 2001

Q: What do you think about "Krautrock", a term which was given to the music of ASH RA TEMPEL, Tangerine Dream, Can, Agitation Free, Faust and other German bands in the 70?

MG: The word "Krautrock" is an English invention. During the World Wars Germans were called "Krauts" and this word was then used for German musicians of the 70s, but no longer in a negative way as it was during the wars. It was just a reminiscence of those times. Therefore the denomination "Krautrock" just means that this music comes from Germany. Concerning my music I am minimalist composer and a musician with roots in blues and rock'n'roll. "Cosmic" and "Trance" were just definitions others gave later to some of my musical directions. And the electronic technology that appeared at the time gave me the chance to explore other musical possibilities. That was what interested me.

Q: Do this word fit your music or do you prefer definitions like "Cosmic Music", "Electronic Music" or "Trance Music?"

MG: I consider myself first of a a composer, maybe a minimal composer with roots in blues and rock'n'roll. The terms "Cosmic Music", "Trance Music" were given by the time when they were "in" while "Electronic Music" happened to help me to experiment and gave me the possibility to expore other directions and developments.

Q: Concerning "Cosmic Music": Was there one direction or were there many styles or was it more expressing an ideology?

MG: "Cosmic Music" was also an ideology, created by OHR producer Rolf Ulrich Kaiser, who invited musicians for sessions with Timothy Leary (album Seven Up) to be followed by Sergius Golowin and Tarot as well as sessions with the Kosmische Kuriere (albums Cosmic Jokers, Galactic Supermarket etc.) It was a special way of performing and of being together.

Q: Having a contract with OHR were you free in your work?

MG: Yes, I was absolutly free in my work. The times were different and the pression by the label to produce "hits for money" were not as they are today.

Q: The basis for the work of ASH RA TEMPEL was Berlin. But in the 70s there were also music movement in Düsseldorf, Munich, Cologne. Were you in touch with those musicians?

MG: I had contact with Florian Fricke from Popol Vuh in Munich, but never performed with him. And I also had contact with Can. I visited them in their studio near Cologne and made a session with them 1976. I stayed at Michael Karoli's. We liked each other and talked a lot (as far as one can say that I talk a lot...). We also performed with Can during the same shows, but never played together a common concert: They performed as Can, we as ASH RA TEMPEL.

Q: You have studied classic guitar. Has this fact influenced the music of ASH RA TEMPEL? How has your classical guitar training contributed to your work?

MG: My classical studies of the guitar meant discipline and training, are very important and help a lot even now.

Q: I have heard that you have been influenced by The Beatles, The Small Faces, Fleetwood Mac, The Who and The Yardbirds. Have you also listened to the music of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix? Do you think that their music has influenced the German music of the 70s?

MG: I must correct you here - I was never fond of The Beatles, or of The Who or Pink Floyd, even if I found some of the Pink Floyd music interesting. And their band certainly influenced the German music of the 70s. Of course I loved The Rolling Stones, but to be honest, who doesn't love their music! Apart from them, I liked The Small Faces for a while and maybe The Yardbirds. I liked Fleetwood Mac much more. But who really influenced me and who I really loved for a long time were Jimi Hendrix and Cream.

Q: What was the importance of Thomas Kessler for your carrier?

MG: Thomas Kessler was very important for me as a teacher. I really learned a lot from him. Yes, and of course OHR gave me absolute freedom to make my music. Those were very different times to today...

Q: Is it true that Hartmut Enke, with Klaus Schulze the co-founder of ASH RA TEMPEL has never studied music?

MG: Hartmut Enke also studied classical guitar like me, but not as long as I did. And of course he participated in our compositions.

Q: What is your relationship with Schulze? Do you prefer him as a drummer or musician?

MG: I prefer Klaus Schulze as a musician.

Q: Is it true that you composed and recorded a guitar part to Klaus Schulze's album Moondawn?

MG: It is true indeed. When Schulze released Moondawn in 1976 he had sent an MC copy to me. The track Floating, where also Harald Grosskopf played drums, inspired me spontaneously, and I added a guitar and returned the tape the very next day. Schulze was nicely surprised, but, of course, it was only for fun, as a kind of musical talk between us, and never released.

Q: What was Timothy Leary's participation in the album Seven Up and Schwingungen? Tell us about your collaboration on those albums albums.

MG: Seven Up was based on Timothy's conception and the lyrics were by him. He also sang on this album. But he had nothing to do with Schwingungen.

Q: The fifth album is called Starring Rosi. What was Rosi's role in the music of ASH RA TEMPEL?

MG: Rosi was my girlfriend. After Schulze and Hartmut left I wanted to continue as a "band" not as a solist. So Rosi joined me only for this album.

Q: Inventions for Electric Guitar is one of your most important compositions. Can you tell something about how it was created?

MG: Inventions for Electric Guitar was my first solo album and I produced it myself. As everybody tried to convince me not to do it, I did it. I wanted to do something with the guitar which nobody has repeated to this day. It is in a way unique. Günther Schickert tried to go the same way but not in such an extreme and perfectionist way as I did. This composition is really one of my most important works.

Q: Which motive interests you in the funky rhythm which one can hear in your later albums?

MG: I was influenced by the Isley Brothers, old Temptation albums and by the James Brown Band. In some reviews you can read that ASH RA TEMPEL sounds like the James Brown Band on acid...

Q: Why have you started to use more keyboards than guitars on New Age of Earth and Blackouts?

MG: With Inventions for Electric Guitar I had experienced every possibility which a guitar could offer me. But as I wanted to continue with making music, I had to experience something new, to try other instruments, so I moved on to keyboards and machines. New Age of Earth (which by the way has nothing to do with New Age Music!) belongs also to the most important of my works.

Q: And the Cosmic Jokers were part of this tendency?

MG: No, not al all. The Cosmic Jokers were the producer's experiment. He invited us for sessions and let us play what we wanted to play. The motto was: Let's see what will happen.

Q: What was the role of drugs in the sessions of the Berlin music at those times?

MG: Drugs belonged to that period, not only in Berlin as you can imagine. They were part of the "Zeitgeist".

Q: Have the compositions by Steve Reich and Terry Riley influenced your work?

MG: Steve Reich's 6 Pianos and Music for 18 Musicians influenced me a lot, but his 2 Marimbas even more so. And Terry Riley's Rainbow in a curved Air influenced me in a way too. But Terry's music is more difficult to understand. It has a different atmosphere than "normal" 12-tone music. It sounds in a way like its out of tune. He is a very nice man and I like him. His way of working is also more similar to mine: he is a soloist working all alone. Steve composes for orchestra. But Steve influenced me much more.

Q: Recently you have got back together with Klaus Schulze as ASH RA TEMPEL...

MG: About the one time reunion of ASH RA TEMPEL please check with our FAQ section. There you have the explanation as to how the collaboration happened.

Q: And what does the future hold?

MG: In 2001 I created my own label. The first releases were two videos: Live At The Open Air Festival Herzberg 1997 and my solo project Die Mulde to the Installation of 34 mirrors by Berlin artist Mercedes Engelhardt (1997). As a German TV station filmed it and we have received the material we wanted to start in a different way. But there will of course be albums to follow: The first one will be The Making of (Correlations) - a 3 CD set with unreleased themes from the rehearsals to Correlations, followed by the Vol. 2 of the Japan Live Concert 1997 (Vol. 1 was called @shra, the following will be @shra Vol. 2; both have been released now!) and for the 20th anniversary of my most famous and influential album E2-E4 we plan a special editon with all the most important samples of it as a double CD. This tribute album will be released in spring 2002. And of course there will be also some new music as well...

Q: Thanks! And the last question: You have often been called the most influential guitarist of the seventies...

MG: Most influential guitarist of the 70s? It's up to the audience to decide. But I do not feel like a guitarist of the 70s. I am still creating music and I am first and foremost a musician and composer.

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