Damo Suzuki, the legendary singer of Can, Dunkelziffer, Damo Suzuki Band and Damo Suzuki’s Network, is the subject of the upcoming documentary Energy. Director Michelle Heighway’s Indiegogo campaign to finish the movie runs through June 20. I never imagined I would speak to Damo Suzuki, and I leapt at the chance to call him by long-distance videophone, Los Angeles to Cologne, earlier this week.
When he said authority was against God’s will, I thought of the English Peasants’ Revolt, and John Ball’s sermon at Blackheath on June 13, 1381:
In the beginning all men were created equal; servitude of man to man was introduced by the unjust dealings of the wicked, and is contrary to God’s will. For, if God had intended some to be serfs and others lords, He would have made a distinction between them at the beginning.
I understand if you’re tired of talking about your health, but if you can just briefly tell us what’s been going on with you over the last few years…
It was end of August until last year, March. But I’m not still 100 percent good condition. I had really heavy-duty during that time—I had cancer. After the cancer, they made some mistakes, and things like this, so that’s why I have to stay so long. And still not that good. Maybe two hours after I wake up it’s not such really good condition, I must take medicine. Then this effect comes, maybe, after two hours, then I feel okay. I can live quite normal. But many things are handicapped, because I cannot carry stuff. More than 20 kilograms, maybe less, I cannot carry. So my work is quite limited. So it’s not sort of really like Californian sun [laughter].
It must be frustrating for you, because you’ve traveled so much and you play music all the time. Has it been hard for you to tour?
No no no, it’s not so bad like I thought. Actually, it’s good, because it’s kind of a therapy that [gives] me a little bit of motivation and enjoyable moment that I’m together with the audience, and I make things which I really like to make. So that way I feel really comfortable. So that’s my answer, not so bad to have this time.
But actually it’s not me traveling. Everybody’s traveling, you too, you are traveling too, every day, in a way. My thing is both sides: geographically and also spiritual way, so I am traveling quite hard. But it’s okay; I survived it already twice. I had once, also, in the middle of the Eighties, I had same sickness, and I survive after that 30 years. So now I survived, maybe I can live for another 30 years.
Mainly I perform in England, UK, and I have quite a young audience. Some of them is really teenagers. So I can perform another 40, 50 years, until they get old. [laughter] Maybe they can find their grandkids, you know, things like that, will come to my concert. So it’s really a nice thing, because I don’t have any kind of a special epoch, you know? I’m always quite into the times. I like it, because I just improvise music, so you cannot say, “This is old, but this is new”—actually, these are not the things that people like to hear in improvised music. They like to hear just what Damo Suzuki is doing, is all. It’s not a matter of “30 years before” or “30 years later,” the main thing is that I’m doing something, because I’m not singing every day the same songs 300 or 400 times. That I cannot make. Like everybody else, I’m doing things which are, for me, easier to make. So life is as simple as possible this way. What I’m doing for myself is the best way. Then I don’t get so much stress.
Much more after the jump…