February 1996 A4 40 pages
photocopy reprint (last 6 copies)
Manuel Göttsching is a name every Krautrock, cosmic, synth, and psychedelic fan should know of. As, really, he's one of the most important key figures in new music over the last 2½ decades, with Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra, as an innovative guitarist, and much more. Amongst aficionados of the genre his reputation is no less than legendary. If you don't know about Manuel Göttsching, you're certainly missing out! I suggest you check out the Ash Ra Tempel article in Audion #20.
In recent years, new work of Manuel and Ashra has been somewhat scarce. So, whilst we were in Berlin last summer, naturally we wanted to meet Manuel and have a good chat about what he's been up to. But now, back to Manuel, and an interview in his very spacious apartment on a sunny July afternoon. This took place a couple of days after the big techno event "The Love Parade" (of which Klaus Schulze was an honorary guest) in Berlin, and somehow the conversation started there...
Alan: You were saying about "The Love Parade", yet it's interesting that your E2-E4 is often quoted as an influence behind techno music!
Manuel: But, that's the inventor of this "Love Parade" a DJ, and he's a fan of this record. I read it in a paper, years ago, when he chose his top 10 all-time favourites, E2-E4 and NEW AGE OF EARTH where amongst these records! It's crazy, because I never intended this, I never composed it as a type of dance music. I never thought of that, because it was in 1981, and in 1981 there was no techno music!
Alan: The closest was the Kraftwerk type techno-pop.
Manuel: Yes, but that was different, as the relied on lyrics, whereas modern techno is instrumental.
Steve: No songs.
Manuel: As E2-E4. But, I've always wondered why that record was so influential. I thought, maybe because it's very long, with not very much changing, and so it's easy to mix it with other records.
Steve: So, that's how the Sueno Latino record happened?
Manuel: Yes. They made different mixes, and it was a hit. It's incredible! It was released in many many countries and was a huge success. But, of course, techno is not a style of music you prefer?
Alan: No! Anyway, we were wondering what we could ask you that we haven't already featured in past Audion's? I suppose we should concentrate on your work as a soloist.
Alan: Your first solo: INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR was really original. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Manuel: Well, I was without a band, and I wondered what to
Steve: You made much use of a Revox?
Manuel: Well, I had a 4-Track, and then mixed it to a 2-Track. It wasn't much equipment, but it meant I could do it all on my own, and do what I want.
Steve: It's similar, to how Günter Schickert made SAMTVOGEL.
Manuel: And around the same time. And I was surprised when I first met Günter Schickert, that we did it the same way. But, his music was a little different. More rock and songs in it.
Steve: His style is more dark, with tracks like Kreigmaschine.
Manuel: Yes. I was more influenced by electronic music. I had been to the Metamusik Festival, that was run by Walter Bachauer (who was later known as Clara Mondshine) he was actually a journalist at this time at a Berlin radio station. He organised these festivals in 1974, 1976 and 1978. At these festivals it was if something was good or not, it was if you tried something different! And, so I wanted to do every album different.
Alan: There's been no concrete answer given as to why you changed name from Ash Ra Tempel to Ashra...
Manuel: Basically it was thought too long. The original concept of Ash Ra Tempel was by Klaus Schulze. It was a name that made no sense. Though Hartmut tried to explain it, like Ash as in "hash", Ra as the God, and we insisted on using the German spelling of temple as Tempel. But then Klaus left, we had other drummers, had guest musicians on SCHWINGUNGEN, and enlarged the group on SEVEN UP, and so on. And then we chose to play with Klaus again on JOIN INN, then Hartmut was out of it, and for a while I worked with my friend Rosi, but she didn't want to become a singer, so...
Steve: Did she do a solo album?
Manuel: No, that was a different Rosi. But, eventually, I thought "Tempel" meant more than one person, and I was on my own, I liked the name so I shortened it to Ashra.
Steve: But, then why was NEW AGE OF EARTH originally released in France as by Ash Ra Tempel on Isadora?
Manuel: The French label, said Ash Ra Tempel is more known than your own name. So we put on Ash Ra Tempel, then my name as we did on INVENTIONS. Gabriel Ibos, he was my manager at that time, he made the connection with Virgin Records. But they didn't like the French cover, they wanted to release it world-wide.
Alan: So they gave it a cover that was symbolic!
Manuel: So, I said "Why not?". And, I didn't mind shortening the name, 'cause a lot of people when the talked about the band didn't say the whole name, they'd say Ashra. Like, people don't say Tangerine Dream, they say "Tangerine" or "TD". And another reason was that the "Tempel" would cause confusion, would sound too religious, too mystical. Though Ashra's probably even worse, an abbreviation of an Indian Ashram!! I've even been asked if it's got something to do with Indian philosophy! No!!! It's a crazy story (laughs) but it worked. With Lutz and Harald came the real Ashra.
Steve: Harald first worked in Ash Ra Tempel on STARRING ROSI.
Manuel: But, I didn't know him very well then, we'd worked together on the Cosmic Couriers albums. I asked the producer Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser for a drummer. He said "Why not Harald?". I said "Harald's okay". Rolf liked Harald and used him as a studio musician.
Steve: Like Dieter Dierks.
Manuel: Yes. And I like very much this album. I think the idea of shorter titles and songs was interesting.
Article by Alan & Steve Freeman
To read the complete article - buy the magazine! There are also additional selected page images on Bookogs.