Amon Duul II has been a staple of German psychedelic rock for over thirty years with many changes in personnel and style but retaining a strong international following that has thrived over the
years. Guitarist John Weinzierl has been there through it all as the group prepares to enter the studio for a new set of recordings in 2006. Close to the Edge caught up with the founding member
just prior to entering the studio for new recording sessions spring 2006.
Jeff Melton: As a founder member of the group, how difficult has it
been in your opinion to keep the band together and why?
Weinzierl: The band started as a commune, living together in one
place like a family. It is the better way of living together, still, and especially today in our Babylonian times of capital fascism,
cause human affairs are not so neglected as they are in "normal
life", where we really appear as rather "bad human beings", when we take an honest look at ourselves. Of course we had
difficult times as well, but - even being a virtual commune now - we have no difficulty in keeping the band together. Quite
the contrary, we feel an intimate unique togetherness even when we're not together.
Melton: What are your most memorable live gigs in the first years of the band and why are they important to you?
Weinzierl: In the first years we used to play at Teach Inīs and Sit Inīs in the German academies and universities.
After that the underground sessions in the Underground Clubs where the meeting point of people interested in a "better way of life". The communication between different
groups of society and to find out, we're not alone, was the obvious importance.
Melton: As a guitarist who are the most important players who have influenced you and why?
Weinzierl: I don't know whether I'm really influenced, but Jeff Beck and Pete Townsend are my favourite guitarists.
Melton: What are the most important defining moments in the band by song for you personally?
Weinzierl: All are sound paintings that we've made.
Melton: How much room do you have to jam and play solos? It seems many of the band's best songs are built from long extended jams.
Weinzierl: Though we still take our bit, nowadays there is not so much room for jams and solos during live performances
as there was in earlier days. But in music there is a time for arrangement and a time for free playing. Both are important to
us. I personally indulge in playing with a trio called JHM, where we improvise only. Its great music, and we recorded tons of music, but I'm hesitant to give this to a wider audience yet.
Melton: please describe your working relationship with Chris Karrer? Are you long term friends? How has your band relationship evolved over the years?
Weinzierl: I have a very close relationship with Chris. We share many things inside and outside.
We have worked together most closely in the band and we've written many good songs together, as we do now, working for the new material and album.
Melton: Do you believe the band has gotten due recognition for being one of the pioneers of Kraut Rock?
Weinzierl: The expression "Kraut Rock" is still an insult, invented by an English journalist in my eyes. I don't like the
expression at all, other members don't care. When more and more German bands came to England, after we had opened
the track to foreign countries for other German groups, the English journalists (I can't remember who it was specifically) called the invasion "Krautrock".
Melton: Regarding reissues of your back catalogue: are you and the other band members involved in the reissues with
bonus tracks? What do you think of the new sound of the older recordings such as Yeti?
Weinzierl: We authorized SPV only to release the old catalogue. Old albums were forty minutes long. As there is more
space available on CDs, the record company wanted more music for the CD releases. We decided not to use old outtakes
and unfinished material, but went to the studio and recorded new material to fit the old albums. This way the true Amon
Duul lover gets more! He can see and hear, the band is alive and still making music, and is getting more than just old leftovers.
Melton: What do you feel are yours and the band's best songs and why?
Weinzierl: What is your favourite child? The best songs will always be the new upcoming ones.
Melton: Please tell me about your memory of recording "Wolf City"? Were you aware that it would be one of the band's finest recordings and if so why?
Weinzierl: No I was not aware, it would be one of the finest recordings, but it was a great time and I enjoyed making it very much.
Melton: Please tell me about the DVD for the release of the 'Playing of Phallus Dei". Was it a surprise to see this footage again for you?
Weinzierl: The DVD "Phallus Dei, The Film" is an unauthorized release by Repertoire.
We are not pleased of the release of unfinished productions like that just for the sake of sales.
It reminds us of a lot of memories to see this material, but we would have wished to give it a proper finish and manufacture it properly for our fans.
Melton: What are the band's current plans for recording and playing live?
Weinzierl: Before Easter we played in Portugal and it was great! We'll play a festival in Dortmund Aug.17th, there are also
gigs offered for September15th, 16th, 17th in Bremerhaven, Essen and Wolfsburg. There are negotiations with Italy, France
and America and a tour of the UK in autumn. There are a few other things that I'd have to look up now. We just finished
producing 90 minutes of bonus tracks and we started producing and recording for the new album now. As it looks, we'll spend all summer on it and it will be the best album ever.
Melton: How did the most recent sessions come off in the studio?
Weinzierl: The new sessions were as pleasant and interesting as last year's sessions. This year it was Chris Karrer,
Renate Knaup, Lothar Meid, Jan Kahlert and myself recording, this means Peter Peopold who was still playing last year,
could not join the sessions anymore due to health problems. The sessions will be used as bonus tracks on the new
releases of the original AD II albums on SPV in May or June 2006. The sessions are mixed and finished. Now we are busy
writing and recording the long awaited brand new Amon Duul album. We hope to finalize it during summer. The sounds of
both the bonus tracks and the new album are absolutely mind boggling. It is up to date sound and music with the unique
Amon Duul touch and odor in mystic and sound painting of the finest art. We have great fun working together and it will be the best we've ever made.