Damo Suzuki's cancer recovery brought him back to music
Local musicians invite the ex-Can singer to their city for improvised sets
‘I was with Can for three years,’ says Damo Suzuki simply, ‘and after that, I had many experiences in my life. I don’t like to compare with that time. I was a hippy then, I just liked smoking big joints and making the music happy. But since 30, 40 years I’ve learned many things in my life, and now I must make music in a different way.’ This is all the Japanese singer says on the subject of Can, the iconic and hugely influential Krautrock pioneers from Cologne who he provided vocals for between 1970 and 1973, but his legacy will always be tied up with theirs.
He seems philosophical enough about that, on the phone from his home in the city, but then Suzuki has had more to concern himself with since then. Quitting music when he met his future wife in 1974, he had cancer diagnosed in 1983 and an operation to remove the growth shortly after. ‘It was a very bad time,’ he says gravely, ‘but the day after it was gone was wonderful. The doctor told my wife I had six, seven years – I’ve lived a lot longer since.’ The experience, though, brought him back to music and vice versa.
Now he plays with his Network; actually any local musicians who want to invite him to their city and improvise with him, which is a useful system for a self-managed artist. ‘Not so much improvising,’ he says, ‘but creating. We don’t know each other, the audience don’t know us, so we communicate with music, we create an energy of the moment between us.’ Used to be a hippy, you say?