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Interview with Oliver Wakeman

interview by: Jan-Jaap de Haan
pictures taken from the Oliver Wakeman web-site

Oliver, probably the most obvious, and boring question is: how nice or difficult is it to be 'a Wakeman' and to be compared to your father and (to a lesser extent) to your brother Adam?

Being a Wakeman can have both advantages and disadvantages - firstly having the name 'Wakeman' does help to make people aware of my work but then people are probable going to compare my work to some of Dad's really well known music and judge it against that. So you have the pressure of having to make sure that the material is: a) very strong and, b) interesting to listen to and lives up to the purchasers expectations.
As with Adam I don't really think people tend to compare us too much as aside from one proggy album with Dad at the beginning of his career he's gone down a different musical route to the one that I have chosen. I do like the music he writes and we are often in touch. We did talk about writing together at one point but do to time constraints and the distance between where we live it looks unlikely - although never say never.

Are you a fan of you father's work?

I am a big fan of Dad's work - I would rate some of his albums along with my favourite albums of all time. My particular favourite of Dad's would probably be 'No Earthly Connection'.

What other music do you like? Can you mention some of your favourite albums, for example...

My other musical loves are Deep Purple's Who do we think we are, Rush with 2112, Hemispheres, Styx, well... anything, It Bites with Eat me in St Louis, The Cruel Sea with Three Legged Dog, Cry of Love, errr... Brother, Tori Amos, again.. all of them, and Mike Oldfield's Songs from Distant Earth and Tubular Bells III, there are loads more but these are my initial thoughts.....

Are you a full-time musician, and if not, what's your day-time job?

I work on music for about 3-4 days a week - writing the albums, writing music for TV & gigging with a R & B band and I work for a bank for the remaining three days to help pay for the mortgage and car!!!

Are you influenced, as a musician, by particular persons?

I would have to say that a couple of keyboard players have helped motivate me - Dad being the obvious one along with Jon Lord of Deep Purple. I have a great admiration for Mike Oldfield and his work as he manages to blend so many different styles and still make it sound like a Mike Oldfield record, although I must confess to have not having got his most recent two yet !!!!.

Together with Clive Nolan you releases Jabberwocky, how did you meet him and were you familiar with his work...?

I originally met Mick Pointer when he came down to North Devon to do an interview on the local radio station's Friday Night Rock Show. I used to sit in on the show and present a 20-30 minute segment on progressive rock. The guy that ran the show phoned me up one day and said, "Mick Pointer, the original Marillion drummer's coming down tonight. Are you going to come in and say hello?" I had a lot of old Marillion records that I thought I could get him to scribble on...
I turned up and we got chatting, he mentioned Clive and invited me to visit. So I took him up on it and visited shortly after. They all got me roaringly drunk and Clive and I spent ages chatting and then we just decided we'd have to do something at some point and three years later Jabberwocky was finished!

Can you tell us anything about the writing of Jabberwocky? How did that start? Are all songs Nolan/Wakeman compositions or did you each bring in your own songs and blended them to one whole?

I try not to mention who wrote what specifically because I think part of the Jabberwocky's charm is that nobody really knows who is doing what. I think Clive and I would even be hard pushed to remember in places!
As for the writing - We both came to the project with different pieces that were pretty much complete and other pieces that were really just musical sketches. We then spent ages deciding on a story - and arranging the music around that and then writing lyrics. Some songs of mine Clive wrote lyrics for and like wise I wrote for some of his pieces. We then put little arrangement ideas on all the pieces and so the album really was a collaboration.

How do you feel about the album and the project?

Very pleased. I do listen to it every now and then we I'm feeling a little down as I think that it is quite a positive album. It makes me feel good after a listen and I don't think there are many 'feelgood' albums out there.

What's the difference to you between writing for your own solo-album and writing for the Nolan/Wakeman project?

I tend to take pieces to a more complete demo if I'm writing for myself whereas I try not to complete too much of a piece when I see Clive. But this doesn't always work when I get carried away with an idea though!
When I write for a solo project I always invite lots of friends round to the studio for a beer and get them to listen to ideas and get their opinion. They all like different types of music and so I can see whether I am appealing to a varied audience or not. One of my friends is a big 80's rock fan, another is quite keen on 80's chart/middle of the road stuff and another works for a mixing desk company and has worked in the studio with me for years and is never afraid to tell me his opinion. I think that this helps me develop my music.

What's the current state of the new Nolan/Wakeman-project "Hounds of Baskerville"? Has the material been written?

Clive and I have had a couple of very productive meetings and the album is beginning to take shape. We are really pleased with the way it is coming together.
We have a lots of material and now we are starting on the arrangements - although this is the part that usually takes a lot of the time! At the moment, it has been put to one side for a few weeks as Clive has been busy promoting Arena's new album 'Immortal' and I have been busy with my new album, tentatively called "The 3 Ages of Magick".

Who's going to be involved this time?

'Hound' will feature a similar cast to Jabberwocky, hopefully along with some new faces. Clive and I have tentatively put together our list of preferred musicians but we want to be sure they are available for the recording before we announce who will be on the album.

When can we expect it?

We don't really have a release date as yet as we are waiting to see how quickly it comes together. We will hopefully do a lot of the recording during the middle part of the year and if all goes well it would be released shortly after. So tentatively, early 2001!

Is there any chance of bringing one of the two projects live?

Yes - hopefully. Clive and I have talked a great deal about this. One of the problems with playing it live is making sure people are available to play on the dates booked and with a cast such as Jabberwocky's that could be quite complicated! Also I think taking both Jabberwocky and Hound on the road together would make better financial sense.
Another problem would be getting Clive's diary and my diary to match for free time. We are both frantically busy and so that might be the biggest problem, but we are very serious about playing the albums live and, providing the demand is there, it should happen.

What other musical goals do you have in the near future?

As said, I'm currently working on a new solo album. This is a instrumental album which I am very pleased with. There are a few exciting developments with this album although I am keeping it quiet at the moment as I don't like to talk too much about a project in case it doesn't happen!!!

Thanks very much for taking the time...



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