East River Pipe’s Nontrivial Things: Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express”

Stoutly refusing to record his passionate songs under anything less than his own terms (in his New Jersey home on a TASCAM MiniStudio), F.M. Cornog, under the name East River Pipe, has released seven albums since 1994 that can stand toe-to-toe with anything by your favorite indie rockers over the past 20 years. Although working full-time at the local Home Depot and raising a daughter with his wife may have curtailed Cornog’s recording time somewhat, the quality of the finished product remains unchanged. ERP’s latest, We Live In Rented Rooms (Merge), is further testimony to a man who refuses to play the rock-star game (form a band, tour, do photo shoots, etc.) and has come out the other side with a brilliant body of work—and with his soul intact. Cornog will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Cornog: In high school, I hung out with the burn-outs. One of those burn-out guys had a German sister who had given him a copy of Kraftwerk‘s Trans-Europe Express for his birthday. We used to smoke pot and listen to it. We thought it was fuckin’ hilarious. Some guy with a German accent saying, “The young man stepped into the hall of mirrors/Where he discovered a reflection of himself.” The drum machine sounded like a prison guard’s shoes slowing pacing down the hallway of a gigantic, abandoned government building. “We step out and take a walk through the city/We are showroom dummies/We are showroom dummies.” This was my punk. No big-rock guitars. No sing-along anthems. After Kraftwerk, old-school rock was pretty much dead to me.