Interview with Galahad's Stuart Nicholson
This interview has been published in the German magazine Jester's News.
We'd like to thank Eric Gorissen for sending us the original text.
Your latest studio album, ‘Following Ghosts’, was released these days. What about the reactions and general feedback so far?
The general reaction so far has been very positive both from within the realms of Prog rock publications, radio and fans etc and even from more mainstream publications. One journalist who is not a fan of 'Progressive Rock' by any stretch of the imagination was raving about FG, amazing as he was not too keen on previous releases. So I think with FG we have proved
that you can cross over to a wider audience and still retain Prog Roots.
General fan reaction has been fantastic judging by some of the very positive letters we have received. There certainly seems to be much more passion about FG from fans of the band than there was for Sleepers.
Unfortunately, Roy Keyworth, your guitarist and band member since the very beginnings, has left Galahad just after the release of ‘FG’. What was the reason?
Actually, we are all still not quite sure why Roy left the fold as he keeps his cards very close to his chest and has not really given us a proper explanation. I think he realised that he no longer had the enthusiasm and ideas that he used to have and could not devote enough time and energy to the band. People change and Roy no longer regarded Galahad as a priority, which I personally could not accept. In the end he did the decent thing and offered to leave.
Ironically I think that some of his best playing can be heard on FG. However most of the ideas for the guitar parts on FG came from Dean, Neil and myself and not from Roy; indeed sometimes I actually had to remind Roy what guitar parts were supposed to go on which songs and what effects, sounds and even guitars he was supposed to be using on which tracks!! This tended to sound a few alarm bells as to how seriously Roy was taking the project. It is very ironic too that Roy should leave after having had such an easy and straightforward time recording this album compared to the Sleepers saga which was a complete nightmare. How we held the band together during those dark days is still a deep mystery to me.
Ultimately though, I and the rest of the band still have the drive and determination to carry on writing, recording and playing. I know it's a cliche but the band is almost a part of me; I cannot imagine not being a part of it, we are permanently intertwined!! I suppose it will come to an end one day but not for a long time yet. As long as we enjoy it we will carry on indefinately.
To find a worthy replacement for him really isn't an easy task. Did you already start searching?
After interviewing and auditioning SIX guitarists we have finally found a replacement who we think will last the course and become a full band member. His name is Craig Wilson and he comes from our locality. He has previously been in several locally based Bournemouth bands, but nobody well known.
In fact from first impressions, and it still is early days, Craig appears to be a more versatile guitarist than Roy is/was. His influences are slightly different from Roys, Craig is a bit of a Dave Gilmour fan and also highly regards Alex Lifeson from Rush whereas Roy was more your Hackett/Howe type guitarist, although he did have a slight Lifeson influence. But Craig is also influenced by a few more modern acts and not just by all the old Prog dinosaurs! Which hopefully will be a positive thing in terms of developing the band's overall sound in the future. The way things are progressing at the moment it looks though Craig will probably become a permanent member of Galahad.
There are several songs on ‘FG’ where you kinda explore new ground, e.g. ‘Bug Eye’ or ‘Ocean Blue’ where we are confronted with a trance-like sound with a lot of drum and bass sequencers which sounds very experimental. Progressive in the true sense of the word! Is it (partly?) thanks to Dean Baker, the new man on the keys?
Partly, however Neil wrote all the music for Ocean Blue and I wrote the lyrics. Dean had nothing to do at all with 'Ocean Blue', in fact it was written before Dean had joined the band as was 'Myopia'. Neil is more in to the dance, drum'n'bass side of music than the rest of us, thus it has rubbed off on some of the songs on FG, which I think is a good thing, it certainly helps to add more diversity to the music that we are writing these days.
'Ocean Blue' was an experiment using repetitive drum loops/breakbeats etc backed with mellow sounds and a melodic vocal line, which, personally, I think works very well. Obviously in the scheme of things and as far as the music scene in general is concerned it may not be groundbreaking as many dance orientated acts have probably written similar, better songs. But from our point of view it is groundbreaking as we have never been involved in the writing of that kind of song before and therefore, for us, it was an interesting and valid exercise.
As far as the fans are concerned, well it's up to them to make up their own minds as to whether they like it or not. I think most people who are reasonably broadminded will understand and appreciate why we have tried incorporating different ideas, sounds and rhythms within our songs on FG. The last thing I want is for Galahad just to write the same old formularised rubbish album after album, like some bands tend to, that certainly is not 'Progressive', not in my book at any rate!!
Whereas I do feel that in terms of moving forward and the bands evolution FG is very progressive, probably more so than any other album that we have released whilst ironically being more accessible in many ways to the broader music buying public. Musically, FG is probably one of our least complicated albums, not that we have ever been part of the 'lets see how many notes and weird chord changes we can fit in to the next two minutes' school of prog.
'Bug Eye' was written by Dean and myself with a few small contributions from Neil and Roy. It was actually my idea to incorporate break beats and drum loops on Bug Eye. I tended to sing the words and melody ideas to Dean who then translated them in to music. This in turn inspired Dean to come with a few of his own ideas, and Bug Eye gradually evolved in to the fourteen minute epic that it became.
In fact a few of the other band members were worried that some of the ideas on FG were too far removed from traditional Prog and that we might alienate ourselves from the diehard proggies. When in fact, so far the opposite appears to have been the case. People, especially those with open minds, have realised that we are experimenting to a certain degree and that we have to move on and try new ideas and directions. I think on the whole it has worked very, very well. It's just a case of having faith and believing in what you do, which I do vehemently!
Although Bug Eye is a long piece of music there is still a song in there complete with a chorus and the odd recurring theme, so the whole thing as with the other long epic 'Shine' is structured, thought out and not just thrown together, like so much so called 'Prog' appears to be these days.
We are always very aware of the need for a decent tune, a melody that listeners can latch on to. I think far too many bands tend to forget about such criteria, which is why so much 'Prog' these days is so unmemorable. Some musicians are more intent on showing off, seeing hom any obsure chords they can fit in to one piece of music in as short a period of time as possible. As I have already said we have never been a part of that school of prog thinking. I think that, overall, we have always managed to write good songs with memorable melodies. Perhaps one reason for this is the fact many of the ideas are mine and I am the singer and not a musician as such, therefore I have to be able to sing over the music which has to be relatively simple as I'm afraid I cannot cope with anything too complicated!!
Additionally to ‘FG’ you're planning to release an extra CD entitled ‘De-Constructing Ghosts’, which is said to be even more experimental?!
Yes, indeed. Hopefully this project will see the light of day in a few months time once we have received and compiled all the various tracks, finances permitting of course. The idea of 'De-Constructing Ghosts' as the title suggests is for various other DJ's, musicians etc to take samples of all the vocals plus guitars, keys, flute, clarinet and some bass from the original 'Following Ghosts' 'Mother' album tapes and re-construct new tracks from scratch, not necessarily remixing whole songs but actually creating new ones from samples, melodies etc from several different original tracks.
The resulting tracks could be any kind of music, not necessarily just 'dance' re-mixes. It's quite an ambitious project which I hope will come off, we have already heard about four newly re-construceted tracks which are very different from the originals. I find the idea of this project very exciting and one which I think will be quite unique in many ways. What appeals to me is the fact that we just do not know how the new tracks will sound, the idea of the unknown is actually quite a scary but very interesting prospect. Whereas, with 'Following Ghosts' proper we always had a pretty good idea how the final album was going to sound so there were not so many surprises.
It may sound a bizarre project and it might work, it might not, I certainly do not expect that most straight 'Prog' fans will necessarily enjoy the results, although some of a more open minded persuasion might, it's really aimed at a different market, if there is one!! Yes, you could also say that it is very self indulgent, but then isn't that what making music is all about? It's all part of an ongoing creative process. At least we can't be accused of resting on our laurels and taking the easy, safe route! As long as we are always looking for alternatives and new ways to write and create music then I think the modern music scene in general will stay healthy. From a personal point of view, as soon as I feel that we are just treading old ground and that the music being created is not very interesting anymore, then I think that is the time to seriously consider giving up!! But that won't happen for a long time yet.
Once talking about experimental things: The direction you chose with the ‘Galahad Acoustic Quintet’ in 1995 was IMHO highly inspired, really unique stuff. How did this project come into being?
GAQ came about as I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the whole Sleepers project which was taking so long, we were often doing nothing in the studio for weeks on end waiting for a call from Tony Arnold to go to his studio to carry on recording. When we started recording 'Not All There' we had already been involved with the Sleepers project for almost three years!! This was a totally unacceptable situation, thus I felt that we had to do something to keep us active and also we felt we had to release something that would keep fans happy and maintain our profile, which we felt was rapidly diminishing due to our enforced inactivity, at the hands of Mr Arnold. I think to this day we have never quite recovered from that dark period and still feel the effects of our enforced silence, though 'Following Ghosts', I hope, will go a long way towards rectifying the situation.
I felt that the project had to be separate to Galahad, especially as the music would not sound like typical Galahad hence the slightly different band name. Tony Arnold knew nothing about the project, not that it was any business of his anyway, if he'd have found out he would probably have tried to prevent us carrying on with it, that's the kind of guy he can be! Also, I'd always wanted to do something a bit more organic and stripped down, perhaps with a few folky overtones, less mainstream prog . It was also an ambition of mine to get Roy to dust of the acoustic guitar and go back to basics and write a few tunes on the acoustic as I love the sound of 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars. This may seem a minor point but getting Roy to play an acoustic was no easy task as he seemed permanently attached to his beloved Gibson Les Paul and would never even play the acoustic at a live gig!
I then managed to get hold of Sarah Quilter, an old school friend who plays flute, Sax and clarinet, roped in Mark Andrews, one of our previous keyboard players (Karl was too busy and wasn't really interested in the project). Neil Pepper helped out engineering the album as well as playing on a couple of tracks. Roy, Spence and myself completed the line up. The album was written and recorded very quickly using ADATs at a new local studio which were quite new technology at the time and which kept breaking down as they would not synchronise together very well, but we persevered and finally came up with the goods.
For the project we also recorded a few very old Galahad songs which we knew would probably never be recorded by the main band. These included 'Through the Looking Glass' an old favourite of mine, 'All of Nothing', 'Looking up at the Appletrees' (Roy's one and only venture in lyric writing!) and 'Mother Mercy'. All the other songs were new except for 'Sir Galahad' which used Tennysons words to our, slightly traditional folk orientated backing music.
Ironically there is a bit of experimentation with modern technology, percussion etc on the album, which on the face of it does seems at odds with the original intention for the music on the album, the track in question being 'Legless in Gaza' which was written around a manually played loop by Spencer incorporating various percussive sounds generated from electronic 'Octopads', complete with myself wailing over the top giving an eastern feel to the whole thing. A sign of things to come perhaps?
The whole thing was recorded pretty much live in Summer of 1994 with just a few keyboard and vocal overdubs and released shortly after. It must have been one of quickest projects we have ever done. It was great fun and in general, I think went down very well.
Can we expect a successor of ‘Not All There...’ sometime in the future?
I really couldn't say. I'm still in touch with everybody involved on the first one, so I guess it could happen, it's really just a question of having time to fit it in with everything else that is going on. Personally, I would like to do another one, we'll just have to wait and see.
So far, you've been very rare guests here in Germany. I once had the pleasure to see you live in Niederkassel way back in 1995... How about your future tour plans (as well outside Germany)?
Obviously, we want to gig, but only when we feel that the band is ready. As soon as we are tight enough and feel totally comfortable with each other then we will set about the task of organising some gigs. It would be great to tour in Europe again, perhaps next Spring, around Easter would be an ideal time. So if anybody out there wants to organise a Galagig, then give me a call!!
Seriously though, gigging is what it's all about. It's the main reason why the band was formed in the first place. There is nothing quite like the buzz of a good gig and positive audience feed back.
So yes, as soon as we are ready we'll be out there in the fray once again!
Way back in December 1988 you auditioned for Marillion, following the departure of Fish. How do you think about that today? Did you really intent to join them in case you'd have got the chance? What would've become of Galahad...?
To be honest it was more of a publicity exercise for Galahad, which worked very well as a matter of fact as it resulted in us getting our first gig in London as well quite a lot of local and national publicity! At the time I really didn't think I would get the job although I knew and still know now that I would have given it 100% if given the opportunity and I know I would have done a good job. But the actual audition was great fun, Pete and Steve were very friendly and supportive, Ian was friendly but quiet but Mark Kelly seemed to be in a very odd mood at the time. But I guess that after auditioning so many singers it must become quite frustrating, when it comes to auditioning new members, I know exactly what it's like as we have seem to have done quite a bit of it in the last couple of years!! At that point I don't think Hogarth was actually in the frame. I was lucky to get the audition as at that point Galahad did not have any good quality recorded studio material to present to the Marillion lads and I certainly did not have any management or third party representation, which seems to be a pre-requisite these days.
However at the time I thought, naively perhaps, that I could carry on with Galahad on a part time basis if the Marillion thing came off. As it happened it didn't and it was a long time ago now, ten years ago in fact!! Things have changed, we have all moved on. Unlike in 1988 Galahad has now become far more established than I ever imagined we would and to be honest I am glad to have stuck with my own project rather than joining sonmeone elses.
I still bump in to various members of Marillion every now and then and they always say 'hello' and ask how things are going, yeah they always seem friendly enough. I've even bumped in to Fish a few times. I think I mentioned to him once that I had gone for his old job and if I remember rightly he just dismissed it and said, with a wry twinkle in his eye, that it wasn't worth bothering about!!!
Ironically, out of all the Marillion band members I've never met Steve Hogarth, perhaps he doesn't go out in public, who knows!!?? It's ironic that he got the job as a few years before I obtained a freebee single from my local record shop containing tracks by 'The Europeans', 'Acid Rain' I think it was called. When I first heard about his appointment as the new Marillion front man, I thought I recognised him straight away from the sleeve of that particular 'Europeans' single, and blow me down with a feather, it was indeed the same Steve Hogarth, which at the time seemed a bit odd, as the Europeans came across as a kind of new wave/slightly gothy band and here was their singer joining Marillion - definately a prog rock band at the time whichever way you look at it? Yes it did seem strange!
Do you listen to both Marillion and Fish nowadays? What music do you listen to else?
Not really, I haven't bought the last couple of Marillion albums, although I heard that they have released a re-mix dance orientated version of 'This Strange Engine' which sounds quite interesting, I'll have to get a copy at some point!! I can quite understand the fact that they have evolved and changed over the years much, possibly to some of the diehards disdain. However, for me, 'Clutching at Straws' remains their best album. 'White Russian' is a fantastic slab of prime prog, complete with some fantastic emotion drenched guitar from Steve Rothery and great heartfelt, at times vitriolic sounding vocals from Fish.
As far as Hogarth era Marillion goes, 'Easter' is easily my favourite by a mile, great video too!!
As far as Fish goes I heard some of the songs from his last album 'Sunsets on Empire' that he wrote with Steve Wilson. In my humble opinion they far were better than most of those on 'Suits', which ironically was released with the help of Rob Ayling, a good friend of mine, who runs Voiceprint who handle the pressing and distribution of our releases. In fact it was me that put Rob in touch with Fish and even Tets Maruo at Pony Canyon in order for Fish to obtain his Japanese deal with Pony Canyon, a fact that Fish never actually acknowledged! Rob actually worked very hard on Fishes behalf, especially on the 'Suits' album.
I hear that Fish is working with Mickey Simmonds again on his new album which could be a good thing, as I think Mickey Simmonds is a great musician and songwriter. For me though 'Vigil' is still his strongest album, his performance on that album, I thought was exemplary he showed such spirit and emotion throughout, perhaps it was all down the problems that he had been through with EMI and his old band that made him push just that little harder!! I don't know, but personally I thought it was a great album, prog or otherwise.
Lately I've been listening to 'The Wall' by Pink Floyd again. I never tire of that album, it's a classic, there are so many different moods and atmospheres that it evokes, Gilmour's guitar playing is out of this world. It's never that complicated but the sounds he manages to get just ooze emotion and feeling!
The Steve Hackett Tokyo tapes album has been in the old CD player a lot recently, that too is a great album. I think John Wetton does a great job on vocals. I hate to say it but I think he would be more suited to Genesis than Ray Wilson, not that he's probably interested. John does a great job on 'Watcher of the Skies'.
Of the newer prog bands Spock’s Beard has to be the best for me. They seem to be a kind of mish mash of all your favourite Prog bands with bits of Yes, Genesis, Beatles, ELO, Kansas, Crimson, Gentle Giant, ELP all thrown in to the pot creating this kind of incessant prog overload music!! But unlike so many bands it really is very well done. They are all excellent players and deserve to do well. If any band deserves to claw their way out of cult obscurity to mainstream success then they do. I also have a couple of albums by Anglagard which I think are also very good, soaked in mellotron, it's all good stuff!
As far as other bands go lately I have been listening to The Seahorses, Verve, Radiohead, Kula Shaker (prog band in there somewhere trying to get out!!), Embrace, Space, Suede, Ozrics, The Police, Superstar, Waterboys, Led Zeppelin, Spice Girls (only joking!), Supergrass, Goldie, Bjork, Blur, Carole King, Faith No More, Rainbow, Killing Joke, Kate Bush, Black Sabbath, Silver Sun (complete with Rush cover of Xanadu) Greenslade, Genesis Boxed Set (Terrific Lamb recording, even if Peter has redone some of the vocals!) at the moment.
As you can see I listen to a lot of music. I probably spend more money on CD's than anything else other than food and beer!!
Is there a general concept to ‘FG’?
No, FG is not a concept album or at least it was not planned as such. Although the way it has turned out means that there are several links and recurring themes throughout the album that may give the 'Concept' impression, which initially were quite unintentional, but perhaps in my subconscious were supposed to be there all along, who knows!!?? In general, the lyrics are actually far more personal on FG than any of those which I have written before. For some reason the older I get the easier I find it to write with passion about the way I really feel about people, situations, friends and family etc from the heart. Perhaps it's a case of not being so bothered about what people think of you and your ideas as you get older. Saying it as you feel that it is, I guess!!
FG is very much an album about life, death and everything else in-between, cliched I know but something which affects us all and something which anyone can identify with, which perhaps ties in with the fact that, in some ways, FG is a very accessible album, even to non-proggies! For example, 'Bug Eye' is about the very conception of life within the womb before birth whereas at the other end of the scale there is 'Reflections I & II' which is about remembering the good times my brother and I had when my Nan and Aunt were still alive.
Other songs, for example, are really observations on human behaviour and attitudes, such as 'Easier Said than Done' which is about those people who always know better than you, even if they've never had the same experiences and patently do not know what they are talking about.
'Perfection Personified' is in a similar vein being about someone who has always done everything that you have only on a larger, bigger more spectacular scale, no matter what it is, and who could not give a toss about your opinions and is only interested in what he has to say and getting it across as forcefully as possible not taking in to consideration any opinion or anything that anyone else has to say. 'Imago' is a kind of self-analysis, considering where we come from and how much of each of our individual 'selves' is truly unique and how much is influenced by genes etc carried down from previous generations of our respective ancestors. So now you know!
'Myopia' has a slight Political bent to it, which I think is quite self-explanatory once you have heard the song or read the words; again, a kind of tirade against the way many politicians or indeed many people in positions of high power are so patronising to their 'subjects' actually convincing themselves somehow that they are superior and actually believing that we 'the proletariat' are ignorant and cannot see just how corrupt, two-faced and bigotted so many of them are! So begs the question, just who is fooling who?
The closer 'Shine' is a song about human spirit and a determination to succeed at having a life worth living against all the odds. Specifically it is about someone that I know who was a beautiful and bright young girl who was struck down with Rheumatoid Arthritis when still a teenager and now is struggling on valiantly to live a normal a life as possible despite all her problems. I think that when the human spirit does kick in it is amazing what you can achieve with plenty of grit and determination. Thus this is another very 'humanistic' song. I guess in some ways you could say that lyrically, the majority of the songs on FG are exploring a whole gamut of human feelings, tendencies and emotions. Probably the most thoughtful and considered lyrics I have yet put to paper.
Often, I find writing an education in itself in that as you are coming up with ideas, your thought processes go in to overload and you end up pondering on all sorts of things that you would never normally even consider thinking about. Sometimes I look back at the words and think 'did I really think of that?' or on the odd occasion 'Why on earth did I write that?'.
So there you have it. It's all rather good happy stuff! However there is, of course, at the other end of the lyrical scale the words to 'Ocean Blue' which are almost a kind of escape valve to the rather more serious nature of most of the other songs on FG. Though nothing so flippant and silly as the 'Dentist Song' appears on this album!!
As far as the title 'Following Ghosts' is concerned initially, I just liked the atmosphere that the name suggested to me, somewhat otherworldy and ethereal with a nod towards the past. But it also works in the context of laying to rest old ghosts as far Galahad is concerned now that Dean and a new guitarist have joined the Galahad fold, thus in many ways we are starting afresh. Obviously, 'Following Ghosts' also contains many new sounds and ideas which go some way towards shaking off past labels with which we have been lumbered with, often I feel, unfairly, such the awful neo-prog tag which I cannot stand and do not agree with as I think we are much more than just another Neo-prog band!! Certainly on 'Following Ghosts' we have much more to offer musically, if only in terms of sheer diversity of material. I think there is something for everyone on 'Following Ghosts'.
In a nut-shell we are looking towards the future trying to get away from some of the more negative ghosts of our past.
The title also ties in more literally with the lyrical content of several of the more personal songs on the album whose ideas explore where we all come from, nod towards past memories and generally deal with all things to do with human spirit, thoughts and feelings etc
Galahad has been around for not less than 13 years. How do you feel looking back, are there experiences you like to recall every now and then (e.g. funny things), or even those you don't like to think of any more?
We have had some great times and experiences, but as I said before, the gigs are what makes it all worthwhile at the end of the day. Gigs are so spontaneous, you never quite know what is going to happen. There have been too many good night's to mention any one in particular. The gigs at Whitchurch in Hampshire were fantastic as were the London Marquee gigs. A couple of German and Dutch gigs were also fantastic, the audiences on the European mainland are so responsive, when they join in singing your lyrics, wow, it's such a buzz. I think some fans probably know my words better than I do!! Even some of the bad times we can look upon with affection and wry smiles, it's all part of the learning process and the rich tapestry of life. I like to think that I am an eternal optimist. You have to be in this business, otherwise you wouldn't last five minutes. Thirteen years without massive success and I'm still not bitter..... though there's still time.
A question that has been on my mind since 1991, when I first listened to ‘Nothing is Written’, your first regular CD: What is the ‘Room 801’ whose door is being protected by high security and may not be opened whatsoever happens? Do I guess right that it has to do with extraterrestrials...?
'Room 801' was, supposedly, a room in a hotel in London which was taken over by the UK 'Defence Ministry' in the 1950's in order to store records and information relating to all the various UFO sightings and mysteries that British military intelligence had managed to obtain. The song 'Room 801' was inspired by a book that I read about UFO's called 'Above Top Secret' by Tim Goode, who has written several books on the subject, one which I find fascinating.
Coming back to the song ‘Perfection Personified’ on 'FG'. May I ask to whom it is dedicated? A person who doesn't lie, doesn't lose, who's never wrong, doesn't make mistakes - not just what I would call ingratiating lyrics...
Correct, as mentioned before 'PP' was inspired by a particular person, but I cannot say who for fear of reprisals, what a coward I am!!?? However, 'PP' is really about a certain type of person, blinkered, self obsessed, arrogant etc..as is made clear, I think, from the lyrics!!
What about the songwriting: Are your songs co-productions of all band members?
The songs are all composed in several different ways. There isn't one definate way in which we write, which I think is healthy as it means different songs have different feelings and atmospheres about them. For example I might have a lyrical idea or even perhaps a full set of lyrics and a title for a certain track, which I will then sing complete with my idea for a melody to either Dean or Roy, or sometimes to all of them!! They will then work out the notes and relevant chords and thus the music will take shape around my initial lyrical/melody idea. Or else they might say that its rubbish and we'll start all over again on another idea!!
Some songs are initially worked out on the piano or acoustic guitar, though many of the newer songs have been written and recorded straight on to Cubase which is a relatively new way of writing for me, but one which both Dean and I find very exciting and rewarding as you can literally write and record a song at the same time, gradually building it up layer by layer, rather like painting a picture or building a house. At the end of it you have a virtually complete song with only Guitar and Drums to add, plus maybe a bit of woodwind or electric bass, for example. Also using sequencing software such as Cubase it doesn't matter if you forget the song or the idea as it will still be there on your computer the next time you want to work on it, plus, of course, it allows you to change sounds and arrangements until you are happy with what you have written. It's also great for when we are in the studio recording an album as you can literally record your sequenced part straight on to tape with a minimum of fuss because, hopefully, all the arrangements and sounds have been worked out beforehand at home. This in turn saves valuable time and money, hopefully reducing studio recording costs, which are not cheap!
But other songs will still come together as a result of the whole band jamming during a rehearsal, there still is nothing like writing with a live band for a great buzz!!
With some songs the music comes first and I will sift through my considerably large file of lyrics to see if anything fits the mood of the music that the band, Dean or Roy (or whoever the guitarist will be!??) is playing to me. If I cannot find anything I will then listen to a recording of the musical idea time and time and time again until I get inspiration and write a complete new set of words. Sometimes the music is very inspiring and I will think of something straight away, other times it can take weeks before I can come up with something. Every now and then I give up and we either scrap the idea, change it around or perhaps even work it out instrumentally in to another track.
I have always written all the lyrics. It seems a bit bogus having to sing someone elses words as, in my opinion, it is much more difficult to put energy and feeling in to something especially when you do not always know what it is about. Everything I write about is generally an expression of my feelings or an observation about a certain subject, situation or being, obviously very subjective and thus very personal. Therefore I feel that I can generally put 100% heart and soul in to my singing, especially live.
In general, I guess we must write songs in pretty much the same way as most other bands do.
Is there any time for you and the other band members for any jobs in ‘real’ life? Is it true that you are a qualified accountant?
Yes it’s true, I am actually a company accountant for a paint manufacturer in the town where I live!!
Although if I could afford to I would concentrate on music full time. But it became obvious from very early on that unless we achieved considerable success there was just no way that the band could be self supporting for five musicians and their families!! But you never know one day things might take off on a bigger scale, we can all dream. God knows we've put enough effort in over the years.
All the other members have full time jobs. Spencer is a postman, Neil has recently set up a commercial recording studio in Salisbury, Dean is a photographer and runs a photo developing business, Craig works for a charity specialising in the rehabilitation of people with head injuries, his job also includes music therapy plus he teaches guitar. Roy as far as we know is also still a postman and actually offered to be a driver and a roadie for the band the last time I spoke to him!
There's been a number of different releases during the last time apart from ‘FG’: The ‘Decade’ compilation, ‘Other Crimes & Misdemeanours II’ and, of course, the ‘Classic Rock’ Live CD. What about a live video next time? Any plans on that?
A video is a great idea and we have often thought of releasing one. In fact we have a considerable amount of video footage from gigs, rehearsals, even proper (all be it budget!!) videos. But as ever it is a case of finding someone who has the expertise and patience to compile a releasable video of some sort that is not going to cost us an arm and a leg. Time and money are the main factors as to why it hasn't happened as yet, but perhaps one day it will.
Obviously, writing and recording are main priorities, followed closely by gigging, a video at this stage would be great but it is more of an expensive luxury which we cannot afford at the moment.