Michael Rother

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Michael Rother


Michael Rother, one-time member of Kraftwerk, and protagonist in legendary Krautrock bands Neu! and Harmonia, disputes that there was a ‘community’ as such of like-minded artists. “In Germany there was a very big spirit of change, and we knew there were film makers who were also feeling this change.  For me, it was important to find out who I was. It was an individual approach, not a collective feeling.  We were all a bunch of adventurers,” Rother says.

Rother was born five years after the end of the war; like many other Germans born around that time, Rother grew up with the spectre of war looming over recent history, complicated by the post-war division of Germany into two ideologically opposed nation states. His mother was a classically trained musician and he spent a small portion of his young life in Pakistan where he found the music “fascinating”.

By the end of the ’60s, Rother was working in a psychiatric hospital, having decided to take that option in lieu of the compulsory military service required for all young German men. It was around this time that Rother met the other members of Kraftwerk, Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter and Klaus Dinger.  Rother would stay with Kraftwerk for only a short time, before he and Dinger left to form Neu!  Rother’s relationship with the enigmatic Dinger, who died in 2008, was as tumultuous as it was artistically productive.  Neu! released three albums before imploding in the aftermath of the release of Neu! ’75.  

Rother and Dinger reunited in the mid ’80s, only to leave the band’s fourth record unreleased for another 25 years. Despite his well publicised differences with Dinger, Rother says he and Dinger worked well together. “It wasn’t struggling about music that made our relationship difficult,” Rother says. “It was everything outside the studio that was the problem with Klaus.  We were two very different personalities, but whenever we made music we always agreed,” he says.

Rother concedes, however, that he was “dissatisfied” with Neu! after the band’s second album, Neu! 2. That dissatisfaction led to Rother teaming up with Dieter Moebius (who had been a founding member of Krautrock band Cluster) and Hans-Joachim Roedelius in the short-lived Harmonia project.  Harmonia would go on to release two albums, Musik Von Harmonia and Deluxe before folding, principally because of a lack of commercial and popular success.

This month sees Rother returning to Australia for the first time since he reunited with Roedelius and Moebius in Harmonia at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in early 2009.  For this tour, Rother is reunited with Moebius and Hans Lampe, the latter who tour and played with Neu! in the mid ’70s.   While Rother will be playing music from the Neu! and Harmonia catalogue, it won’t be a simple reproduction of those bands’ recorded music. “The idea is of combining the sounds of Dieter, Hans and myself with my idea of fast forward music,” Rother says.  “It’s still an adventurous path. It’s not looking back – it’s looking ahead.”