Troy Donockley Title Image

DPRP's Geoff Feakes speaks with
Troy Donockley
about his latest album "The Madness of Crowds"
and his work with Iona, Nightwish and
The Bad Shepherds!

Troy On a fine sunny evening earlier this year I drove to the home of Troy Donockley situated in the East Yorkshire countryside to discuss his latest album The Madness Of Crowds. Even if youíre unacquainted with his solo work, Troy should be a familiar name through his association with Iona, Mostly Autumn, Magenta and countless others. A versatile musician, he is in much demand for his abilities as a Uilleann pipes player and is also adept with whistles, guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, keyboards, percussion and occasional vocals. Although he is now an honorary Yorkshireman, Troyís distinctive accent gives away his Cumbrian roots. And despite being inflicted with a head cold his enthusiasm and humour was clearly evident as he talked about the new album, his musical heritage, the various collaborations and progressive rock albums in general. The interview was conducted prior to Troyís recent announcement that he was leaving Iona, the band he had been an important part of for nearly 20 years. During our discussions I touched on current activities with the band and it was clear from Troyís frank comments that all was not well in the Iona camp.

Interview

GEOFF: Troy, I would like to start by asking you about the latest album "The Madness Of Crowds". How would you say it compares with your two previous solo outings The Unseen Stream and The Pursuit of Illusion?

TROY: I would say itís more orchestral although it shares a lot of similarities with ĎThe Unseen Streamí I think. There was a piece on ĎThe Unseen Streamí called ĎThe Yearlí and thereís a piece on the new album thatís a sequel to ĎThe Yearlí. But itís the same as what I always do, meld orchestral with traditional music and thereís some fine female vocalists that Iíve got on there.

GEOFF: Yes I noticed that Joanne (Hogg of Iona) is on there.

TROY: She is and I think its one of her best performances ever. I usually do say that whenever I record her but sheís surpassed herself this time, itís truly sublime what she did. Thereís also Barbara Dickson singing on there and Heather Findlay from Mostly Autumn so thereís three big top divas on the album which is nice.

GEOFF: And youíve got quite a few guest musicians on there as you did on the previous albums.

TROY: There are. Thereís Frank Van Essen whoís the drummer and percussionist from Iona and heís a fantastic violin player and a beautiful viola player. So I multi tracked Frank to get nice authentic string tones and blended him with samples and various synths and strings and things like that. And that came out sounding fantastic and I got Nick Holland whose a vocalist who Iíve work with for quite a long time with Maddy Prior. Heís a keyboardist and a fine vocalist and Brad Lang whoís a fantastic double bass and fretless bass player. He worked a lot with Judy Tzuke and Wishbone Ash in the 70ís, and (pondering) who else have I got on there? Iíve got a fabulous cellist from the Northern Sinfonia called Rosie Biss and sheís fabulous and a woodwind section and me doing all my bits and pieces so its quite a wide palette for 55 minutes. Itís quite a trip and a friend of mine from Nightwish (Tuomas Holopainen) is involved as well and he recites part of the Walt Whitman poem ĎSong of Myselfí. Iím a big Walt Whitman fan and so is he so it made sense to get him involved. So yes it took me six years on and off to produce the album and now itís ready to wander around in the world.

GEOFF: Excellent. You mentioned your ďbits and piecesĒ and youíve got a reputation as a multi-instrumentalist, whatever that meansÖ

TROY: Yeah (laughs).

GEOFF: Öand I guess thatís you on there playing the guitar and keyboards.

TROY: Yes. Uilleann pipes, keyboards, woodwinds, electric and acoustic guitars and some vocals as well, Iíve multilayered some of my voice. I think itís the most colourful album to date. I mean the previous two were pretty varied but I think this oneís my favourite, this is the best work Iíve done I think. But you know what, thatís a completely subjective thing but for me personally itís the closes to the message that I want to get through using music. More than the other two but that doesnít smear the other two Iím extremely fond of those two albums.

GEOFF: You mentioned there the Uilleann pipes which of course youíre very famous for.

TROY: Yeah the Uilleann pipes, I suppose I am famous for playing those because over the years for what ever reason Iíve ended up breaking out of the traditional music scene and being involved in all types of genres from classical to fusion to progressive rock. So Iíve ended up taking the pipes into areas that they wouldnít generally go into because theyíre seen as a traditional instrument but the Uilleann pipes are so versatile. Their very structure musically makes them the most versatile kind of bagpipe in the world. As an electric guitarist as well I tend to play the two instruments, for me the expressions the same. I play the electric guitar or the Uilleann pipes and try to play them in a similar fashion itís the same voice. So I think thatís why the way I play the Uilleann pipes has been in demand in rock music and has moved easily into different styles of music much more than people would expect. Iíve been lucky in that respect in that Iíve kind of cornered the market and itís enabled me to have some fabulous adventures with all kinds of people all over the world playing different styles of music.

Troy Donockley

GEOFF: Thatís interesting because youíve led into my next question. As youíre so well known for playing the Uilleann pipes you must be in big demand as a session musician.

TROY: Yeah, itís got to the point now where I just havenít got the time to do a lot of sessions. I do make the time if itís a project of interest to me, I will make the time. But a lot of the time I do get asked to play on very clichťd types of projects and I just havenít got the time to do that. But I do have some great sessions on the way especially in the world of progressive rock with Karnataka and more stuff with Magenta. While I was out on tour with Nightwish I got an email from Rob (Reed) wanting me to do more stuff on their next album which is just a matter of time but I will do that.

GEOFF: Thatís excellent. Playing the pipes has obviously turned out to be a very good commercial venture but what really attracted you to the pipes in the first place?

TROY: Well it was the opposite of a commercial venture at the time because they seemed to be so obscure. When I started playing the pipes they were very much an underground instrument. They were only heard or seen in traditional music so it was something I felt compelled to do. Since I was a kid I was fascinated by the sound of the Uilleann pipes and I think somewhere in my mid teens I decided I had to play them, there was no choice for me. Luckily for me my dad lent me some money and I got a second hand set and tortured my parents for a couple of months trying to get the things to work. Because of their obscurity there were no teachers around and I had to literally teach myself through listening to lots of pipe music which is kind of a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. A good thing in that it completely tuned my ears into the way the pipes should sound but a bad thing in that I didnít have anyone to help me or give me support. That was difficult but then I just ran away with them. It didnít take me long at all to learn to play them and once Iíd done that I was also playing low whistles at the time which are also a speciality for me. I do get asked to play whistles a lot with other people and on other projects. So I spent years playing nothing but the whistles and the pipes and luckily for me I suppose I was the only piper who came from a background of diverse musical tastes. Through my dad I was listening to Pink Floyd in darkened rooms at the age of 11 and then listening to Planxty or The Chieftains or other traditional music as well as classical and country music. I had everything flowing through me at the time so it always felt natural that I should take the pipes outside of the tradition and do something fun with them and different.

GEOFF: I suppose the only other person that springs to mind, and Iím reminded of this because I was watching him on video just last weekend, and thatís Davey Spillane who also plays the Uilleann pipes and low whistles.

TROY: Yeah Davey Spillane, he did a lot of sessions as well. He definitely took the pipes outside of the traditional world and played with Van Morrison and Kate Bush, things like that on certain albums. But I donít think he took them into (prog) rock music, I donít think he did that. He definitely did a lot to expand awareness of the Uilleann pipes and heís a fine player.

GEOFF: I think some of the things you do on your solo albums are close to some of the things Iíve heard him do.

TROY: Well again I think itís that atmospheric, ethereal side of Celtic music that kind of started with Clannad in the early 80ís. Itís a very romantic idea thatís not really based in anything itís a modern invention Celtic music. But it can be traced back to Clannad I think to ĎHarryís Gameí big expansive atmospheric ethereal washes of keyboards all that kind of thing. Then if you stick a traditional instrument in there it gives it a certain strange magical quality. So I think thatís where that came from, it started with Clannad. But actually I was working with Clannad and over dinner one night it kind of came out that the sound they had with ĎHarryís Gameí was very influenced by 10CCís ĎIím Not In Loveí and if you listen to the big mellotron washes and voices you can see where Clannad went with that. Actually you can probably trace all modern Celtic music back to 10CC (laughs).

GEOFF: So 10CC have got a lot to answer for.

TROY: Maybe, but thatís just my theory.

GEOFF: And I was going to blame it all on Riverdance.

TROY: (Laughing) Yeah.

GEOFF: You mentioned earlier Nightwish. How did a lad from Yorkshire get involved with a bunch of Finnish prog metalers?

TROY: Well Iíve got a friend called Pip Williams whoís a producer and Iíve know him for years. Heís famous for producing a lot of Status Quo stuff, he produced a lot of their albums in the 70ís and 80ís and I think he did some Moody Blues as well, stuff like that. But heís also a fantastic orchestral arranger and he was doing the orchestrations for Nightwish for the new album but he also did their previous album as well. And one of the guys in Nightwish Tuomas (Holopainen) was after some kind of Celtic vibe to go into the band and Pip said I know the very man. So I was whisked down to Abbey Road for a couple of days and did some recording there with them. I hit it off with them big time ending up doing more than I was supposed to. And since then weíve become close friends and the band asked me to join them on their British tour last year just to play on the two tracks that I played on the new album. That went so well that Iíve kind of become a sixth member of the band now and they invited me to do the European tour which Iíve just finished and that involved me starting the show with ĎFinlandiaí on the pipes which is one of my calling cards now. Iíve played ĎFinlandiaí millions of times in different permutations from Maddy Prior to my own version on ĎThe Unseen Streamí. With Nightwish being Finns I thought it would be a splendid opening to the show for me to play my version of ĎFinlandiaí and then Nightwish-it up a bit hence weíve got some distorted electric guitar in there and the band kind of joins in and its wonderful and it went down a storm. So Iím going out to America to do the American dates and Iíll have quite a lot more involvement in the next studio album which my friend Tuomas is writing at the moment. So Iíll have a lot more to do with Nightwish, the journey hasnít ended for me there with them. But theyíre a fantastic band and I think theyíre an amazing live act and its an absolute pleasure to play with them and again its highly unusual to be sat playing the Uilleann pipes with kids pointing devil horns at me is not something I ever expected to see (laughs). So itís fantastic, I love it.

Photograph credited to Ville Juurikkala

GEOFF: You said there that youíre off on tour with them in the States is that something youíre looking forward to?

TROY: Really looking forward to that, itís going to be terrible when it ends because we have such a good time together. I am doing a couple of festival in Europe with them in the Summer and their final show in Helsinki Iím going to be joining them for that as well. But itís a wonderful, wonderful band and great music.

GEOFF: And within a day of returning from the States youíre off touring with The Bad Shepherds.

TROY: I am and we start rehearsals. The Bad Shepherds is a nice counterpoint to my own work in that my own workís deadly serious and The Bad Shepherds is the opposite. We get to play songs from the new wave and punk era in a traditional style, a folk style and its just top fun and we love doing it. It started as an experiment. Ade gave me a call and asked if I fancied putting a band together doing punk and new wave stuff in a folky styleÖ

Copyright The Bad Shepherds

GEOFF: Thatís Ade Edmondson?

TROY: Yeah Ade Edmondson, and I thought that sounds pretty out there but I was intrigued so I said yeah lets give it a go. But it was just me and Ade so I called up my friend Maartin Allcock whoís a long time friend of mine and he said yeah it sounds great so lets do that so we ended up rehearsing in St Lucia in the Caribbean for a week trying to knock a set together which is a bizarre place to go for a rehearsal of that kind of thing. And then we got back and the fiddle player left the band, the management went strange and berserk and it looked like we were going down the pan but we salvaged a whole bunch of shows, went out and it was a roaring success and we then knew that it was a thing worth doing. So now weíve literally got dozens of festivals booked for the summer from Cropredy and Cambridge to ones on the continent and its just brilliant fun. You donít have to think about it you just get on there enjoy yourself and rattle through these songs, its great fun.

GEOFF: And is that just a live venture at the moment?

TROY: No, we recorded an album in two days and that just involved us sitting playing what we did live basically. I think thatís coming out in the next couple of weeks. Itís called ĎYan, Tan, Tethera, Metheraí which is Cumbrian which is where Iím from. Itís old Celtic Cumbrian for one, two, three, four and it was Adeís idea if the Ramones were hill farmers from Cumbria they would have shouted ĎYan, Tan, Tethera, Metheraí before everything (laughs). So I think itís a great title for the album.

GEOFF: (Laughing) something to look forward to there.

TROY: Yeah.

Copyright Bad Shepherds

GEOFF: And different again I suppose and someone else youíve toured with quite a lot recently I think and thatís Barbara Dickson who as you mentioned earlier is on your latest album.

TROY: She is. Iíve known Barbara since í93, I was invited to play on her album back then which was an album of traditional songs. I didnít realise that Barbara Dickson was legendary as a folk singer in the 60ís, early 70ís before she became a star. She was well known as a traditional singer and sheís got a fantastic repertoire of wonderful songs and because of my love of traditional music we hit it off big time. Then I ended up playing guitar with her in her band and a bit of pipes and whistles every now and again and our relationship strengthened over the years. And it got to the point where she changed management and I arranged and produced an album of traditional songs with her called ĎFull Circleí. We toured that and that was a big success. She had big success with that album then we did a follow up to that which was obscure Beatles songs done quite acoustically and that was really good fun to do. And that led onto the latest album which is called ĎTime and Tideí and that I think is the best of the lot and it really showcases how brilliant she is and managed to get choirs and all kind of stuff involved in that and toured that again. Yeah we intend to make another album, well if Iíve got the time, towards the end of the year Iíll do another album with Barbara. But its not looking like Iím going to have the time at the moment but weíll definitely work on an album together again though.

GEOFF: Something else to look forward to.

TROY: Yeah.

GEOFF: And a band that weíve not even mentioned yet but I guess itís the one youíre most closely associated with and thatís Iona.

TROY: Yeah.

GEOFF: And I think it was three years ago when The Circling Hour CDÖ

TROY: Was it three years ago?

GEOFF: Öand four years ago the Live In London DVD appearedÖ

TROY: Wow!

Iona - The Circling HourIona - Live In London DVD

GEOFF: ÖHow are things in the Iona camp at the moment.

TROY: Well thereís nothing, the camps deserted (laughs loudly), completely deserted.

GEOFF: The tents are down and everyoneís gone home (laughs).

TROY: Yeah the tents are down thereĎre tumbleweeds and tolling bells in the distance. So thatís it, thereís nothing happening with Iona at the moment which is a shame because I personally thought that ĎThe Circling Hourí was our best album and we didnít get a chance to promote it. We didnít go out and tour it so it just kind of sent itself into limbo which is a terrible shame. But we are going to do a few shows at the end of the year I think in Holland nearer Christmas so I think thatís going to be the next Iona activity but as far as recording goes and any appearances anywhere else thereís just nothing planned and nothing likely to be. Weíve had three extended sabbaticals now and this oneís been the longest and I suppose the most terminal in that Jo (Joanne Hogg) made it clear that she didnít want to tour or do any concerts because of her family life which is totally understandable so that was kind of it. But me and my mate Dave (Bainbridge) from the band we decided to try to keep the flame burning a bit by going out as a duo which we did in Japan doing a week in Tokyo. We did a few shows in the UK and we also did some improvisational music in Lincoln Cathedral. So me and Dave have kept in touch musically with those kinds of things but again that must have been a couple of years ago when we did that. So yeah thereís nothing happening with Iona at the moment which is a tragedy, itís a killer of a band live and we have such a great time but maybe as Joís kids get a bit bigger weíll go out again but by that time weíll probably be way too old.

GEOFF: Youíre never too old to prog (laughs).

TROY: Absolutely yeah, maybe in another 20 years we might go out and tour, weíll see.

GEOFF: So fans will have to remain satisfied with the Live In London DVD which I think has also just been released on CD.

TROY: Your right yeah, it has just come out on CD. But if Yes and bands like that can continue into their 60ís Iím sure weíll be able to, yeah.

GEOFF: So look out for the Iona reunion sometime in the future.

TROY: Yeah I hope so.

GEOFF: Actually you mentioned those concerts. Theyíre in September in Germany I think.

TROY: Well I canít do those unfortunately. Thereís two shows in Germany and one in Belgium but Iím unavailable to do those shows. Because they were contracted we had all kinds of political problems with our European agent that there was no way we could shift those gigs. So unfortunately I think Dave, Jo, Phil and Frank are going to do it without me because thereís no other way around it so that should be interesting.

GEOFF: Complete with sampled Uilleann pipes (laughs).

TROY: No (laughs) theyíll have rancid tomatoes thrown at them if they tried that, I donít think thatís going to happen.

Iona

GEOFF: Someone else youíve been associated with over the years and Iím going to mention him because I think he is one of the most misunderstood artists when, as a member of Ultravox, he got labelled as part of the new romantic scene back in the 80ís. Were you involved with his first solo album?

TROY: No I wasnít but funny you should mention it because Iím off to see Ultravox tomorrow night in Sheffield because I never saw them, I was a bit too young I suppose. But yeah Iíve worked a lot with Midge I did quite a few tours with him. Heís a close friend and we did a couple of duo tours as well where there was just me and him just doing acoustic versions of Ultravox songs which was interesting. And I suppose that was good formative ground for The Bad Shepherds doing acoustic versions of Vienna on bouzouki and guitar itís the same kind of area. But yeah we had fantastic fun doing that and Midge is a big lover of traditional music. Heís very much a solo performer these days he performs a lot on his own with his acoustic guitar which is very courageous but splendid heís doing a grand job of it.

GEOFF: Heís not going to entice you onto stage (laughing).

TROY: No definitely not, no. But itíll be interesting Iím looking forward to it actually.

GEOFF: Looking at your website youíve been involved in a lot more projects than I actually realised with different artists and I think I saw on there some mention of film scores, is that something youíve been involved with?

TROY: Iíve been involved with lots of television music, Iíve done quite a few ĎTimewatchí episodes. Iíve been working with Bose in America as of late writing orchestral and fusion music for Bose for their theatres. They have 5.1 surround films that advertise their gear so I got involved in writing music for that. That came about through a guy whose really high up in Bose saw me in America with Maddy Prior and bought ĎThe Unseen Streamí, He freaked out over a track on ĎThe Unseen Streamí called ĎSightsí and used that for a Bose advert and thatís how I made contact with them. He just happened to be a punter at a show bought my album and used ĎSightsí for their advert. So I got a relationship going with them because of that which is just the way things work out. It was a fantastic stroke of luck there that he fell for that album. So Iíve been doing quite a bit of that as well and I still to continue to work with Bose. What else (pondering)? Actually itís worth mentioning the first session I ever did, the first professional paid session I ever did was with The Enid in 1986, possibly 85, and they were a fine band and that was really interesting to do that. I ended up doing their final show at The Dominion in London as their guest which was recorded so I think Iím on two Enid albums. But yeah that was my first proper session.

GEOFF: I remember back in the 70ís Robert John Godfrey brought out a solo album that was just before The Enid and that was excellent.

TROY: Thatís right he did.

GEOFF: And I think they kind of kick started that whole classical influence with The Enid.

TROY: Yeah for sure. I first saw them when I suppose I would have been 16 or 17 and I hadnít heard anything like it. He wears his influences on his sleeve so it was quite something to go there and hear full electric guitar, drums and bass in a Mahlerian backdrop. You know Mahler, references to Tosca, Puccini, Elgar of course it was a really interesting thing. I donít think anybodies ever done it since The Enid and I think theyíre one of the most underrated bands of all time they really are. You hear some prog rock bands and to me a lot of it sounds rehashed. A lot of it does sound too much like its making the effort to sound like its coming from the heyday of prog whereas The Enid were defiantly a foundational band. They did something nobody else had done they didnít try to sound like anything else previous to them. They didnít try to sound like Yes, Genesis or King Crimson. Fair enough they started in 76. They were really unique and I like that. With modern progressive music as well I like to hear stuff thatís unique. Thatís what I really like and thereís some great bands out there. But then there are other prog bands that I suppose wear their influences vividly and it works for me some prog bands sounding like Genesis and Yes. There are a few out there that are really bloody good and unashamed about that, Magenta for instance. Magenta do display their influences but do it in such an honest way that I admire them for that. I think theyíre great at it.

GEOFF: I know when I spoke to Rob Reed last year he was saying that the influences show through because heís an unashamed Yes fan.

TROY: Yeah thatís right and I like the fact that heís honest, heís never denied what it is he likes. Progressive rock at the moment is kind of in vogue so everybodyís going ah yeah we used to love ĎClose To The Edgeí by Yes but five years ago they would have never admitted to liking Yes or Genesis or any of the classic prog bands. They wouldnít have admitted it because its too unfashionable which is totally shallow. Iíve always been proud of my influences. My main influences from when I was a kid was Pink Floyd really, I was a big Pink Floyd fan. The very first album I ever bought was ĎDark Side Of The Mooní when I was 11 and I was a devoted Pink Floyd fan right through until I left school. I was right into that and it was only after school that I started to discover out-there bands like The Enid and Gentle Giant. I do like Gentle Giant but theyíre a bit scary prog though. A lot of progressive fans steer clear of Gentle Giant because theyíre a bit too prog I think (laughs).

GEOFF: Theyíre in vogue again I think, Spockís Beard had a lot to answer for there particularly with the vocal style.

TROY: Yeah thatís right because they were huge Gentle Giant fans werenít they.

GEOFF: Absolutely and Neal Morse in particularly who brought their vocal style back into fashion.

TROY: Yeah itís a fantastic vocal style. But getting back to the original question which was... what was the original question?

GEOFF: I think we were talking about some of the people youíve worked and film scores.

TROY: Oh yeah! Film scores, TV music and Bose and stuff like that. A lot of my music has been used in film and TV but as far as being commissioned to do a score for a film that actually hasnít happened yet, I havenít done that. And again I would have to be really selective about doing that because the fact is I can only do what I do, I canít pastiche stuff. You know if somebody said do a score like ĎRaiders of the Lost Arkí I wouldnít be able to do that because I just wouldnít have the incentive to do it. I havenít got the desire to do anything like that so it has to be on my terms unfortunately. But thankfully for me I do have an audience of people who donít want me to do anything else other than what it is that I do. Which, I donít really know what I do, but whatever it is thatís what I do (laughs).

GEOFF: What prompted the question is that your music conjures up pictures in the imagination which very much lends itself to film music. But rather than writing music to fit a film you can almost imagine a film to fit your music, if that makes sense.

TROY: That makes total sense Geoff and youíre not the first person to have said that. I mean especially even more so with the this new album ĎThe Madness of Crowdsí. Itís very...whatís the best word to describe itÖ its programmatical music in that the music has got an influence centre in each piece. Itís loosely conceptual the album in that itís a move from religious indoctrination and terror and fear to a state of an unconditioned response to the world and to art and music. And in between we go through all kinds of different moods, all kinds of different areas. There are actually notes on this on my site but you need to listen to the music first. There are more than the previous two albums which were very much purely musical. This one does have imagery connected to each piece. So again thatís going to fire a totally subjective response in people and thatís the way I want it. I donít like to talk too much about the essence of the music, the way it is for me and where it came from because I donít want to ruin peopleís internal movie projector which is what you were talking about. So that people do fire their own imagery within their own heads as a response to the music and I think thatís the way all good art should be. I mean my response to a painting is going to be different to yours, again thatís the way it should be. I donít consciously try to conform to anything I donít go for clichťd responses to convey a certain emotion. A lot of people think, oh right itís a mountain, a mountain in Ireland we should have a tin whistle with some pads underneath to make it sound really Irish. Iíve always been anti that, Iíve always been anti doing whatís expected musically you know and Iíve tried to do that with this new album as well with the subject matter that Iíve alluded to with each piece. I tried to avoid any sense of pastiche or clichť. That turns me off, I donít like that. And again I think that influences people when they listen to it, oh that sounds very like Iím standing on a mountain in the Lake District or wherever. I donít want that response from people. I donít want the music to instantly trigger a predictable image in peopleís minds. Do you know what I mean?

GEOFF: Yes, very much so.

Troy Donockley - The Madness Of Crowds 2009

TROY: So in that sense I try to make the music as pure as possible but at the same time Iím not adverse to giving the listener pointers as to the state of mind I was in when I was actually composing the music. So as a result of that my mate Tim (Martindale) who runs my website and designed the album sleeve he said he thought it would be a good idea if I gave a few pointers as to the way I felt when I was writing each piece. So thatís what Iíve done but again Iíve tried to keep it as minimal as I could so that I donít spoil it for people. Itís that experience you mentioned where people can make their own films in their own heads so that people can still do that and not have too much of my influence.

GEOFF: And I think in tune with that youíve gone for something a bit different with the presentation and packaging.

TROY: I most certainly have yeah. Again I think this refers back to my childhood as a record buyer. As a kid I was an avid record buyer and my dad was as well, we had lots of vinyl coming into the house all the time. And to me a new album in that lovely 12Ē sleeve with the big artwork, gate fold sleeve all that kind of stuff it gave the music a story it gave the music a foundation from which you could drift off in your own imagination. The music would enhance the album artwork and visa versa. It would generally start, and this must have happened to you to and everybody in that youíd look at the album sleeve and depending on what it was you would listen to the music and go wow, it was somehow connected you know there was a sense of the artwork being part of the music. That was something I always loved and it got kind of lost with the advent of CDís. With CDís the disc itself is a lot more expendable and the artwork in those crystal cases just seem to be lost. You know it was on a much smaller scale and you just didnít get that wonderful tactile feeling of getting a record out of its paper sleeve within a sleeve and that lovely big cardboardy world you know that vinyl would come in. Iíve missed that for years and recently with digipacks and cardboard packaging Iíve kind of liked that but I wanted to take it even further and do something that harked back to that feel. I think itís happened with this but of course itís too elaborate and sophisticated to have manufactured. I mean I probably could but it would be impossibly expensive so weíve got a little factory going now in our place and weíre building these fantastic sleeves by hand. The response has been phenomenal to the packaging. I mean to the music itís been glorious but people have been really hit by the package and thatís exactly what I wanted to do. So the first 5,000 are this elaborate package and after that were going down the standard CD route. So the first 5,000 are like collectorís editions you know hand built by us in my house (laughs). Its really labour intensive unfortunately and my daughterís been building lots of them, its hard work (laughs).

GEOFF: I had to smile when you were talking about your love of album sleeves because I spoke to Guy Manning last year and he described his love of the old album sleeves in virtually the same way.

TROY: Well Iím obviously not alone in that and nearly everyone I mention it to go oh yeah I really miss vinyl. Not so much vinyl itself because no matter what anybody says its inferior to CDís but that lovely packaging and that world of packagingís disappeared. Its bringing it back a little bit with this new album I think.

GEOFF: A reviewer recently was talking about vinyl albums, CDís and downloading and he said that the vinyl album was all about a sense of ownership where you went out and bought something because you wanted to own it. But now especially with the advent of MP3ís itís become more disposable.

TROY: Thatís a splendid point actually, thatís the big difference because people wanted to own a piece of art for want of a better word. They wanted to do that, now they donít. Again itís a cultural swing and Iím optimistic itíll start to swing back the other way. In fact Iíve heard recently from friends of mine that their kids are getting into collecting vinyl you know, record decks are being sold again. So I think there is a need for it and kids will get sick of just downloading stuff Iím pretty sure. Kids will want something more substantial, thatís what Iím hoping anyway.

GEOFF: Iím glad you said that because Iíve got a huge vinyl collection my wife wants me to get rid of and Iíve told her thereís no market for it.

TROY: Youíve got to get rid of her first before your vinyl (laughs).

GEOFF: (Laughing) Thank you very much for your time Troy.

TROY: Youíre welcome.

Photograph taken by Geoff Feakes

Links
Troy Donockley - Official Website

Troy Donockley - MySpace Page

Iona - Official Website

Nightwish Myspace Page

The Bad Shepherds - Official Website

DPRP Review of "The Madness Of Crowds" 2009

DPRP Review of "The Unseen Stream" 1998/2007

DPRP Review of Iona's "The Circling Hour" 2006

DPRP Review of Iona's "Live In London" DVD 2006

 


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