VOICE MALCOM MOONEY AND DRUMMER JAKI LIEBEZEIT ON THE DANGERS OF TRENDINESS.
Malcolm Mooney: “Father Cannot Yell was the first piece I remember that we did. Irmin had done a linear A-B-C chart and being an artist, it was easy to follow. The other thing about most of the stuff we did, with a few exceptions, was I invented the words on the recordings as I went along, and then I wrote the lyric after and then made the changes. David Johnson had left, but with the five of us those components made for an interesting mix. Jaki was a big influence on my playing. Mickey [Karoli] was a wonderful guitar player and he was a listener. Most of the things we did were not planned out – we just started playing and a lot of good things came out of it. It became a little bit difficult after we played Switzerland [Can provided the music for Heiner Müller’s play Prometheus at the Zürich Schauspielhaus in September 1969]. I came to rehearsal late at the theatre and they were playing, and I heard them and said to myself, Four-man band. I heard some great stuff. That was the turning point. We didn’t do much recording after that, we did Soul Desert and She Brings The Rain – that song was dedicated to Connie, Mickey Karoli’s sister. We were walking one day and it started to rain and that’s how it came about. I thought she was a fantastic person.
“IT WAS A KIND OF AN ANARCHISTIC GROUP.” Jaki Liebezeit
The thing was, maybe I was getting homesick [for America], and I was worried about my health. I didn’t want to smoke marijuana anymore. I went cold turkey. I felt that I had to go. In a lot of the histories about Can, it’s stated, ’Oh, he had a breakdown and on the advice of his doctor he had to go back to the States.’ After you have run that story 1,000 times, what else is new? Was it all about the publicity of that? Was it helping me? Or the audience to hear it?”
Jaki Liebezeit: “Malcolm is a great singer, his rhythmic ability was fantastic. We were all quite equal, it was a kind of an anarchistic group: one of us had abilities the others did not have, so together we were a good team. It was very bad for us when he left, because we had to have a vocalist. We played for a short time after, just instrumental. Then we met Damo Suzuki in Munich in the street, and immediately he came with us. Monster Movie, I still like it a lot. With groups, the first records are good but then they start repeating themselves or they have no more good ideas. Of course, I am really happy it is still going, the Can material. That proves it was not just a fashion or a trendy thing, made by promotion. It proves the music has a quality which is timeless. Delay ’68, at first we thought, it’s not so good. Like a bottle of wine, you leave it 10 years and it might taste better. There were no commercial ideas. We just had fun to make crazy music.”
Can’s The Singles is out now on Mute; Jaki Liebezeit was speaking in 2011.