Faust’s krautrock originals Zappi and Jean-Hervé Peron tell their story of experimental sonics, breakups, and cult status.
One of the original krautrock groups, Faust first came together in 1971 in Wümme, a village in the North of Germany. Although the band was essentially unknown, it secured a sizable recording contract from Polydor, which was hoping to find a Beatles-esque cash cow and therefore indulged Faust by allowing the group to spend nearly a year recording its self-titled debut album. Upon its release, the LP sold poorly, yet the record garnered a fair amount of critical acclaim, particularly in the UK. The band’s sophomore LP So Far fared similarly, prompting Polydor to cut the cord, opening the door for Richard Branson’s then-fledgling Virgin Records to step in. Seeking to introduce the group to a larger audience than ever before, Virgin put together The Faust Tapes, a cut-and-paste collection of spliced-together recordings from Faust’s archives, and subsequently priced the release at 48 pence – the going rate for a single – leading to reported sales of more than 100,000 copies. 1973’s Faust IV followed shortly thereafter, and although the record is now hailed as one of the group’s quintessential efforts, its performance at the time did little to overshadow the band’s eccentric (and often inventive) antics, both onstage and in the studio. As such, Virgin rejected Faust’s fifth album and dropped the band from its roster, and while the members who hadn’t already quit briefly attempted to continue recording, the band ultimately broke up and largely disappeared until 1990. At that point, a reformed group (with a slightly different lineup) began performing and releasing new music, beginning with 1994’s Rien. Numerous albums and reissues followed, but the reformed group eventually split into two separate entities, sometimes labeled Faust Nord and Faust Süd, both containing original members. It’s an unusual path that Faust has taken, although it’s fair to say that the group was never really conventional in the first place.