Interview: Holger Czukay (Can, solo)

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HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: June 2011. We had the great honour to talk with a legendary musician: Holger Czukay. He was the bassist and the leader of CAN, a highly influential German band from the ‘70s. He just released “Hit Hit Flop Flop/Hey Baba Rebop” single. Read below the very interesting things he told us:


You just released “Hit Hit Flop Flop/Hey Baba Rebop” single. Why did you choose to release it in a very limited edition?

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I love these pieces and I think some of my fans will like them too. Pretty sure though that this is no mass food.


Which are the other music projects you’re currently involved in?

My partner Ursa Major is releasing several special projects on vinyl like the single you have mentioned and they became very successful. I have more and more doubts in re-releasing music just by copying.


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Have you quitted touring? How possible is to do a Europe tour soon?

Impossible, dear. My present circumstances don’t allow me to move away from the Inner Space Studio. Wish I could.


“Can DVD” had some very historic footage that pleased all fans. Is there any unreleased live footage from Can concerts? Is it possible a next DVD?

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Even if there is some material of the old times (I still have some footage left on film) I cannot imagine a new Can DVD.


How did you take the decision to take lessons by Karlheinz Stockhausen? How important was the period with him to your later music career?

Most important even. He helped me like a father to spring over a high wall without seeing where I will land. He had done the same and became what he became. I did the same and I became something different. Actually I followed him when he was very young and me even 10 years younger. At that time he said that he didn’t need any money made through his music because he had married a rich wife. I tried the same introducing myself as a music teacher in the most expensive private schools for girls for example where Sophia from Greece was learning. The girls didn’t bring me luck, but one student did: Michael Karoli (ed: Can guitarist, died in 2001). We both left the school, he as a pupil and me as a teacher and we both started founding an experimental band later named CAN.


You were the mastermind of Can. Do you think that the improvisations and the extended editing made your records very different compared to the bands from the same period?

Well, I suppose so as the music which comes out sounds different. We all know that music is more than only sound or rhythm. It is the result of the summary of all made decisions, made on behalf of music.


With Can you gave concerts in universities and the band was politically concerned. How was the atmosphere in the ‘70s German universities and in general with the youth riots and the action of R.A.F?

Sometimes when we made sessions in a university it became obvious that those activists were unable to listen. That’s why we tried playing as much as possible without listening what the others were doing.


The “Tago Mago” title and the title of “Aumgn” are influenced by Aleister Crowley. Who in the band was most interested in occult? Do you think that someone can find “power” by practicing with these things?

Maybe Irmin Schmidt (Can keyboardist) in “Aumgn”. The sound circumstances when recording had been optimal for Irmin. “Tago Mago” belongs more to drummer Jaki Liebezeit. Before he climbed up the Tago Mago rock in the south of Ibiza every day in order to make suicide he was playing with Chet Baker in Barcelona.


Your music after so many years is still very challenging and innovative. Did you realise at that time (in the ‘70s) that you created history or you treated to your music as something “normal”?

How can you believe that you could become a part of history when you can’t play one note perfectly? That was my situation I was in before and also after CAN. Nevertheless, I was convinced that I could beat the best guitar hero with my “2 left hands” as long as nobody listens. That’s why I love to have my own studio. Even my wife is not allowed to listen when I’m recording.


Do you hear the Can influence in newer bands? Do you like Radiohead (they have covered “Thief” too)?

Yes, sometimes I’m aware of Radiohead. But I didn’t know that they covered “Thief”. One of my favorite CAN pieces ever.


Have you ever been to Greece? Send a message to your Greek fans.

My dear Greek fans. I wish you all the best in life and without politicians. During my hardest school time I had to learn old Greek language. It was very hard for me and I changed over to music. Panta rei (everything flows).


Special thanks to Mr Holger Czukay.

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