Spring 1997 A4 44 pages
original (last 98 copies)
Example article extract
Admittedly, we were both a mite dubious about meeting Chris Karrer at first when we were in Munich last July. Why? Well, neither of us were too enamoured with the recent version of Amon Düül II. But, having seen Chris play with Embryo we had to have a chat. It seemed Chris wasn't bothered that we didn't like what Amon Düül II were doing, he knew Christian didn't like it either, no that didn't seem to matter. Especially, this was because he knew what our attitude was, and that we were not your normal music journalists.
I always knew Chris was an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist, but (especially considering it was a totally acoustic concert) what he did that night at the Gallerie Lea was amazing, even the way he played a tambourine! After the concert, we found we had much to talk about. We asked Chris about whether he was going to make playing with Embryo a regular thing again, to which he said something like "No, though that was a great gig, I haven't had a buzz like for ages. You see, with Amon Düül we have to do songs and things people know. With Embryo anything goes!" Chris proved to such a jovial character, that we decided to meet at Chris's flat the next day.
By the time Chris had made a coffee, had a smoke and got relaxed, we'd already moved from discussing Chris's paintings and curious Eastern artefacts, and somehow the conversation had moved elsewhere. We'd been talking about art and film and surrealism, and I think it was with regard to "The Chasmin Soundtrack" which lead us onto a subject not much discussed in Amon Düül II's history, and that was their work in film soundtracks.
Alan: You were saying about films that Amon Düül II did music to?
Chris: In the 70's there was a lot of interest from the so-called "Jung Filmer", as in those days it was a trend to get a German underground rock band to compose soundtrack music. And bands got prizes for that, you know Can, and we got prizes. Nowadays many of these are very established you know. There was an agreement with many of the bands on how much it would cost, except Can, who said "we'll make everything half price".
laughter all round
Chris: So everyone hated Can because they got the most film music! But, at least this was something you could live from, because once a year you'd get the money. But nowadays there's very few people, like Roman Bunka, who can live from making film music.
Steve: We know Eberhard Weber has...
Chris: Sure, Eberhard Weber, he's done a lot. Yeah, he used to be a jazz bass-player, but now he's got older he does these TV things. But, I'd have to say, at that time (the 70's) they'd just came to us and took some of the music, and put it together like they wanted. They didn't say "You have see the film and measure everything" they were so excited about everything we did. Even if we did something in the toilet. Of course we did some special things, like a tango with the violin. But all this changed of course. Today it's not possible. I can make some money with my paintings, but always it has to be that it's always as good as before. So you can't always do that, and you have to appease your soul and your mind.
Alan: Times change.
Chris: It's a problem for Amon Düül. Well, not for us a problem, but for the management, for the fans, or whatever. You know, Christian Burchard, he made it as the leader of Embryo, because all the others left. And, he can make his own music. Our bass player Lothar Meid was an original Embryo member. And far as I know, Embryo were started in kind of competition with Amon Düül, in the South here as another alternative thing, but more like jazz-rock avant-garde, whereas we were psychedelic free-rock. There was no jazz in our sound, because we came from jazz...
Steve: But you'd rejected it?
Chris: At that time we hated jazz. Got rid of all the records.
Steve: Christian says you burnt them.
Chris: Yes. And lots of my paintings. I made a big pile and set fire to it. At that time it wasn't painting that was in, it was posters, photos and being psychedelic.
Steve: Christian mentioned you were all mad about Hapshash And The Coloured Coat.
Chris: This was one of my favourite covers too. I really got into the pop art too. But all these stylistic intellectual things were out, and really in our community you were expected to do something symbolic, so I made the excuse that it was cold, piled all my things up and set fire to them.
Steve: In England we call this "burning your bridges".
Chris: Not looking back - yes. At this time there was all this negative-ism, and all this flowed into the hippy thing, new ways...
Steve: Did you like bands like Pink Floyd?
Chris: Sure, we met them once on an aeroplane, and we played some festival together in the South of France, and also in Germany. I like them until they went and made "Dark Side Of The Moon" which wasn't for me. Until then I was a big fan. Though my favourite was "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" and then the second two or three albums. But, though I'm not a nostalgic, I also went to other shows, like with the pig, and "The Wall" and was quite impressed ... everything was double, you know, with two guitars, two basses... It's a dream to be able to make this sort of thing on stage. I always admire these kind of people, like Alice Cooper...
Alan: Did Amon Düül ever do any theatrics on stage?
Chris: Yes, we were known for doing this, not just light shows. There was a special place in Munich called the PM Club, and we played there every Monday, as normally almost nobody came to this place on a Monday. But after three months it was so completely packed, and even the weekend was not that packed. You see, we didn't only do improvisations or jams with the people who were around, we also asked artists to come and performers. So that every Monday there was a different kind of happening going on. The people were taking acid, coke, and I don't know, whatever. And, it was magical. I remember there was often a naked woman on stage, and there was...
Chris goes into a gestured description of a stage act that's impossible to put into words!
Chris: ...all these strange things happening, but nobody cared about it. There was no Police coming or anyone complaining. No, (laughs) everything was allowed! But, as things went on, it became more like normal concerts. To do all these things, we simply couldn't afford it.
Alan: And, now?
Chris: Well, I think it's possible again. Like before, what America did with jazz, it's culture now. The Europeans could do the same thing with the subculture that came out of the 60's.
Chris had been playing the tape of his forthcoming album whilst we were chatting. At this point it finished.
Chris: What did you think of that?
Alan: There's lots of different influences. I noticed the Flamenco element. Christian was telling us that you were really into Lole E Manuel (an adventurous duo who've often broken tradition) and other things he also likes.
Chris: All music is more open now, there's also a Japanese dancer, Gypsies from Patagonia, it's all sorts of things. In Japan you know, Flamenco is really big there. I could easily live in Japan by just playing Flamenco. It was funny, that when I was in Egypt they also liked Flamenco. It comes from the 20's.
Back to what we were talking about before..
Chris: With Amon Düül, we played in Japan, in England, America, then maybe we will play in France and Italy. The maybe we can play in Germany again!
Steve: Didn't you play in Berlin last year.
Chris: No, it (Amon Düül II) was announced. Some asshole's, they just hang posters and then do nothing. We did just one festival last year in Germany. There are always people like this, they expect something from you, but they don't even book the places. I can't understand this, these people in Germany. I tell them the price. They don't accept it. They want to do it for half, and so on. I talk to the band and say "What do we do?" and so... It's different with Embryo, they still do small gigs. And, I like it very much, because it's like an institution, where the members play for a minimum.
Steve: Well, last night's concert was small, only about 20 people.
Chris: Christian just got a hundred Marks you know, a hundred for the whole band! I didn't expect any money, cause I don't live from Embryo. To live from this it's very very hard. But, now I paint, I sold many paintings since I start again in '86. Then I've done other projects, like in Italy with Blaine Reininger from Tuxedomoon, and in England too with Robert Calvert before he died. If you just do one thing, I found out, it's not enough. Like, when I met Blixa Bargeld, this guy from Einsturzende Neubauten, we are quite good friends cause he likes Renate our singer very much, he said "A modern man has to try and do seven things at the same time" - otherwise you've no chance.
Alan: What about your experiences with Embryo?
Chris: With Embryo you have to work much more. There was one time when they had a big bus, a roadie, a P.A., there were gigs with the Goethe Institute, and in all different countries. When I joined the band in '82, it was a nice life. It was not a cruel life. There was this 50 years old bus...
Article by Alan & Steve Freeman
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