Hi Davy, my name is Rick Collins and I am representing the DPRP/ the Dutch Progressive Rock Page.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your career, and about your exciting new lp, “Second Thoughts.”
DPRP: I’d like to begin the interview by asking you what exactly made you want to play guitar for a living? Was there any particular record, musician, or band, who stood out as an early career influence, for you?
Davy: I think that Scotty Moore, James Burton, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix started me on my way, I’d had a lot of influences, in those days.
DPRP: Here in the USA, you are mainly known as the guitarist/vocalist on the Nice’s debut album, “the Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack.” I’ve always looked upon this lp with great affection. Critics have described it as being an important transitional album, bridging the fading psychedelic era and the birth of progressive rock. Did you feel at the time, that you were working on an important album? What are your thoughts on it today?
Davy: It was important to try to do something completely, different. To make an ”evergreen album” that would be good to hear at any time in the future like classical music is. That was our main objective. Touring the material beforehand in; Sweden, Denmark and England, tightened things up making it much easier to record in the studio. At Andrew Oldham’s request I added all sorts of changes to make the finished product more commercial, after all we were with the Rolling Stones label so we had to work hard to make it more commercial. I suppose it was like making Prog sound commercial.
DPRP: In addition to the Nice, you’ve played with such noteworthy bands as the Attack, the Misunderstood, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music and Jet. Do you feel that any of these bands have had a lasting influence on your work?
Davy: Pink Floyd has certainly been an influence on me and still is. Their music is spacious, intricate, varied and commercial. I have thoughts of being the second Pink Floyd, if such a thing could happen.
DPRP: 1997 saw the release of your first solo album, “Flight Of The Eagle” but 18 years elapsed before the arrival of your new album “Second Thoughts”. Did you take a break from music or were still involved, in another capacity?”
Davy: I got a BA Hons. in Fine Art. I was studying painting, drawing, printing, commercial design, film design, and film making, I worked on music for film and developed ideas for future albums that would be connected to film making. Whatever I would do was going to be different. The album cover I designed for ‘Second Thoughts’ is linked to my new Sci-fi TV film series we hope to get into production soon. ‘Second Thoughts’ is filmatic, the tracks have been remixed into instrumentals as background music for TV dramas.
DPRP: Now I’d like to talk with you about your brand new release. When I received the album, I was not sure of what to expect, but you quickly won me over. “Second Thoughts” is a beautifully recorded, throwback, to the formative years of progressive rock. Do you view it as being a continuation, of the spirit of the Nice? If not, then where do you see “Second Thoughts” fitting in with your musical, body of work?
Davy: It is a continuation of my work for ‘The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack’. I decided I had to go back to my routes to my first album, which was very successful and satisfying if I wanted ‘Second Thoughts’ to be as popular and successful. It had to be a fitting sequel to EmerList Davjack. Going through all the ideas I had for the Nice; the organ/guitar battles, classical links, jazz links, special effects and commercial feel of it I had second thoughts how to improve the ideas and production techniques. This made me think that the title of the album had to be ‘Second Thoughts’.
DPRP: Bands/Musicians who are in the “regularly” working process (recording – publishing -touring) surely have a certain routine in catching ideas and working on them. How did you manage to start the work on “Second Thoughts”?
Davy: I took my band out on the road and performed several tracks I wanted to record for the album. I recorded everything live then back in the studio I rearranged it with new lyrics and began mastering ‘Second Thoughts’. I had several older melodies and ideas I had not used and incorporated those too. While I was doing that I was restudying classical music and symphonic form, which I found essential to make this album flow as one piece, like a symphony. As this is 2015 not the 18th century I had to modernise the form, I’m still working on my modernisation for the film music to the ‘Adastra’ film TV series and the next album that is in production.
DPRP: You mentioned filmmaking and music for films, so there has to be the question, if you are in contact in any way with Keith Emerson and exchanged thoughts about that genre?
Davy: I have not exchanged thoughts but I sent him an early mix of the title track ‘Second Thoughts’. I have not spoken about my symphonic ideas since I introduced the subject to him in 1967. The wild scenes of noises, weird fusions and special effects in Rondo, America, Dawn, Ars Longa and others was my idea to make the group more musically filmatic, imagine film action thrillers beating to the music. I wanted the band to be accepted on wider levels to a wider audience. I knew very earlier on I wanted to do film music and produce films of my own. It was a natural curve to go to Film College and then produce movies.
DPRP: One of the most impressive aspects of “Second Thoughts” is the quality of the musicianship. In addition to your distinctive, guitar sound, Andy Tillison was an inspired choice on keyboards. The rhythm section of Paul Brown on bass, and David Wagstaffe on drums, seems to sync nicely with your musical ideas. Are there any plans to take “Second Thoughts” on the road? If so, then I definitely hope that some US dates will be on your agenda.
Davy: I have been working on tour dates and went to meet the agent Jon Patrick from House Of Progression at the Magenta gig at the Borderline in Soho this summer. Jon is now my UK agent and has booked me for The Borderline on Saturday 23rd January. Information about tickets, etc. is on my sites: https://davyolist.wordpress.com/, Twitter, Facebook, House Of Progression and The Borderline. More dates will be announced shortly.
Dave Wagstaffe is definitely on the road with me again, along with Robbie Knight on keyboards and backing vocals, Jordan Brown on bass and Dan Bowies on second guitar and backing vocals. I am lead singer and lead guitarist once again.
DPRP: You are going on the road and you underline your early works and the Floydion influence. Can we expect some surprises on stage?
Davy: Yes; costume, special effects, wide stereo, explosive guitar, unexplored things, stage lighting and film shows. I have a second guitarist and second singer now so we now have three part vocal harmonies, the sound is much bigger and we are able to extend some of the sequences on the album, which is good.
DPRP: In closing Davy, I’d like to thank you once again for your time and for your thoughts. May I wish you the very best of luck with “Second Thoughts.” It is a wonderful slice of prog, and I will definitely be looking forward to hearing more from Davy O’List in the future.
Davy: Thanks for interviewing me Rick and for introducing me to the fabulous and friendly audience of the DPRP.