Unsurprisingly, this interview was saved at the excellent Faust Pages website. This is the earliest surviving piece from the old website. I'd just set it up and had nervously e-mailed Jean-Herve Peron to see if he would be kind enough to do an e-mail interview. If I was pleased he granted my request, it was nothing compared to how pleased I was with the resulting response. I was so impressed, I had to publish his entire response completely unedited. In my old job for a what's on guide, I regularly edited down interviews but it would have felt utterly wrong to touch this one at all. Here it is:
Jean-Hervé Peron is a man who should need no introduction.
However, it would be rude and lazy of me not to. It is now 35 years since Faust began their extraordinary transmissions from the studio. We, the world, are still scratching our heads and trying to work out where this music came from. How can we ever nail it down with such crude weapons as words? Listening to the works of Faust makes you crave for more words in the language to try and express what is happening to your ears.
Jean-Hervé Peron is part of the multi-headed beast that is Faust. At the time of writing, he is part of a new line-up of Faust with Zappi and Ulan Bator members Amaury Cambuzat and Olivier Manchion.
This new line-up played at Jean-Hervé's Avante-Garde Fiesta in September 2005 alongside the likes of Uli Trepte (Guru Guru), Ectogram, Chris Cutler (Henry Cow, Art Bears), Charles Hayward (This Heat, Camberwell Now) and a set from Ulan Bator. The festival took place near Hamburg/Lubeck and Jean-Hervé even arranged for festival goers to be collected from the nearby railway station and airport (and cheapo airline Ryanair fly there!), so it shouldn't have hurt the bank too much for anyone.
Next up is the 'Faust in Autumn' tour of the UK and Ireland to come, so it is all go right now!
I e-mailed Jean-Hervé a few questions by e-mail. Here is his response.
Jean-Hervé: Hi Ned. Some among us have had the privilege to be visited by the Sacred Fire, this for no evident reason; as the seed blindly falls here or there, so Inspiration visits him or her without distinction: it just happens. It is even useless to hope for it or to prepare for it.
Nonetheless, the duration and the intensity of this state of soul depends, without a doubt but only to a certain extend, on our personal behavior and on outer circumstances. This fire kissed me, devoured me. I have known love, jubilation, innocence. Within this period Faust was born.
What happened then to this Fire, to Faust, and what will I become?
For the sake of laughing, I shall say that, the fire being eternal, it does not bother about my whereabouts. Faust, being what it will be, remains what it was, with or without me; And as far as I am concerned, dear Ned, although I still do not fear to lose neither my teeth nor my time, it is indeniable that they inexorably abandon me and time seems somehow to bypass me. I must confess I am almost fully responsible for this, as my own philosophy tells me we are, consciously or inconsciously, the own makers of the circumstances around us. Of course, there are still the divine or banal unforeseenables such as... for example... for example...
Ned: What are your current musical projects?
Jean-Hervé: I am ever so glad to say that I have so many projects at the moment, the most actual being an avant garde festival in mid september. My beloved wife Carina and myself organize events regularly and this one is going to be fantastic. Check the line-up! Besides this immediate project, I am preparing the 'Faust in Autumn' UK tour for October and November. The 'machine' is a bit rusty so we are having some problems here and there. But we'll get by with a little help from our friends, like the members of the Faust-Pages or Ankst Records or you.
I am finishing the cd box of Collectif Met(z) it will be a box of three CDs plus a cd-video, the story of our encounters with Ulan Bator in 1995 and then 2005.
I have started my own website Art-Errorist and I am developing my merchandising. That includes the re-productions of past live concerts, very old documents, collaborations with various artists. Oooh that is so exciting, and a lot of work.
It is getting in shape though!
What else? Well we have a big house with a big garden and we have five children and a few grandchildren. Keeps you busy, all this.
Ned: How important is being independent to achieving your maximum creativity as an artist?
Jean-Hervé: "Independent"? You mean financially independent? I am broke man, poorer than the poorest church-mouse as we say in Germany. This financial state is more inspiring than anything else.
Or you mean mentally independent? Yes, I am free in my head. I think it is called inhibited? I have no problem with making a fool of myself, I feel I am the center of the world and I don't feel it's wrong to think this way; I have managed to get over the top after a mighty depression caused by past problems related with Faust. Well I do not know whether I achieve the 'maximum of my creativity' or not but I know it is extremely liberating/fulfilling to create music.
Ned: How exposed are you to popular culture?
Jean-Hervé: I am extroverted and thus I do expose myself quite openly to whatever comes my way, let it be a group of kids shouting or a klezmer band going wild or a pig eating or a concrete-mixer churning peacefully or the radio turned on to any channel according to the hazard of the moment.
Ned: Given the chance, would you allow the mainstream to embrace you? For instance, would you accept a support slot with U2 or allow your music to be used for an iPod commercial?
Jean-Hervé: I have heard that U2 is a very good band but they would never accept to play as a support act for Faust. or do you mean faust supporting U2? It would not be suitable. The audience would not be prepared: no I would not do it.
My music being used as a commercial? Yes. I have done this already. I do not feel bad about it. I would NOT sell my music to a firm that I reject for reasons of ethics. I do not care about money in general.
Ned: How did you first come across Ulan Bator?
Jean-Hervé: Through Olivier Manchion who contacted us 1994 maybe, very quickly a friendship developed between us. We did a gig in Metz, France 1995. They helped us in our tour 1994 when I decided to withdraw from the tour.
Ned: As half of Ulan Bator are now in Faust, will there be a full Ulan Bator show before Faust concerts on this forthcoming tour?
Jean-Hervé: No. Ectogram will be supporting us. I like them very much. They give me strength. They spread vibes of love and dedication. I am glad they accept to support us on this difficult come-back.
Olivier and Amaury and Zappi and myself melt into Faust.
Ned: What was working with Michael Gira (on Ego:Echo) like?
Jean-Hervé: I sat early in the morning at the door of the recording studio. No one around yet, I blew my trumpet. They arrived. I went into the studio. Olivier sat beside me. I played one ton. A long time. Somebody in the mixing room liked it. It was done then. I left. I did not see him.
Ned: Who do you most admire from popular culture?
Jean-Hervé: Edith Piaf
Ned: How do you feel about the strong interest in Kosmische music and it's influence on music's present mainstream?
Jean-Hervé: It is an absolute natural phenomenon: we were avant garde 30 years ago. Now we are simply modern, soon we will be out of date. But I'll be dead before I get old.
C'est le printemps chez les herbivores! Love and respect.