The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Getting Hypnotised: John Robb Finds The Funk In Unusual Places
Julian Marszalek , July 12th, 2017 08:35

How did it take us nearly a decade to ask Brother John Robb for his Baker's Dozen choices? The Membranes frontman sits down with Julian Marszalek to discuss 13 favourite records where over the years he's dug out the most funk


Kraftwerk – 'The Model'
There's something really interesting about Kraftwerk. When they came out with that classic Kraftwerk sound in the mid 70s, they were seen as futuristic and cold and machine-like and that's one of the reasons people loved them. My first experience of Kraftwerk was seeing them on [BBC 1 science programme] Tomorrow's World. Everyone goes on about David Bowie doing 'Starman' on Top Of The Pops but Kraftwerk on Tomorrow's World was a far bigger moment.

You were first pulled in by the fact that they didn't look like a band; they really did look like robots. They were all stood there, there's no drummer and it was all mind blowing. Bands then were singers, guitars and drums and this was so asexual. They looked amazing and then they started playing the music and there is a funk there.

That's one of the interesting things about Kraftwerk – they found the funk in their machines. The idea is that even if you're listening to a monotonous piece of machinery, you're going to hear the funk there. You had all those 70s clichés that Germans were very militaristic and regimented, but what Kraftwerk did on the sly was to introduce the funk into the band and their machines. It was a revolutionary moment in art and culture and music. And when their sounds got picked up on in the Bronx in New York, it kick-started electro. The kids there picked up on the futuristic funk that Kraftwerk were doing.

If you listen to it, it's there and it also manages to capture the warmth and humanity of funk. To me, that's the real genius of Kraftwerk. And given their legacy, they're easily in the top five of the most influential bands of all time.