July 27th, 2003
The Guardian sent Alexis Petridis in search of Kraftwerk at work in Düsseldorf. He didn't find them, but the resulting article is all the better for it.
Why go looking for Kraftwerk? Well, there's their enormous influence on just about every genre of popular music created since the late 1970s. And then there are the other reasons:
In addition to their artistic importance, there's certainly plenty to talk about. In lieu of actual publicity, bizarre rumours about Kraftwerk began to abound during the 80s. Ralf Hütter was said to have suffered a minor heart attack, not due to stress – in fairness, overwork was hardly likely to be a factor – but as a result of obsessively drinking coffee. There were also allegations of a kind of cultural Stalinism: after Bartos and fellow percussionist Wolfgang Flür left the band, not only were their names removed from some covers, but their faces were removed as well. Less troublingly, someone once solemnly swore to me that the Düsseldorf accent in which Kraftwerk sing was a Teutonic equivalent of the Brummie drawl, which would certainly add a whole new layer of humour to their deadpan lyrics: "Oi prowgramme me howme compewter, bring meself into the fewcher" etc.
I know it's childish of me, but I'd really like to hear a Brummie cover version of Autobahn.