First of all, thanx Martin for taking the time to do this interview!
1. Did you have classical training and or are you selftaught?
A bit of both really. Playing the piano was alwayssomething that I could do, and when my parents bought a piano when I was eight years old, I pretty much knew what to do with it right away.
I did have lessons with the old lady that played the church organ in our village, but as she was a bit of an old hippy (before hippies existed!) the lessons would often go off at a tangent. So I generally spent more time working on my own music than playing other people's even then. At school I didn't get on too well with classical - type tuition, and I was never considered good enough to go to music school or to have any specialist training. So I spent most of my school years playing the flute because no-one thought my keyboard playing was any good.
2. Where did that interest in music come from? Do you recall when you actually realised, this is my call, I wanna play music?!
My parents used to have an old Russ Conway record (he was a popular British honky-tonk-style pianist) that they used to play to me when I was very young. I guess that did it
3. What, if any, music genre inspired you the most, to make just that choice?
I'm not really allied to any one genre really - I just do my own thing. I only got mixed up in the prog rock thing because some of it was similar to the material I was already writing. But I missed the whole 70's prog rock phenomenon completely - I just wasn't aware it was happening.
4. I guess all our readers know, that you are one of the founder members of the fabulous IQ! But you also were one of the creators of (IMHO) the superb album The Lens : " A World In Your Eyes" . Not only that, you also participated on many Jadis albums and last but not least, you brought your considerable keyboard talent (aiding friends) to albums by such great names as: King Crimson, Asia & John Wetton. So here´s the question (about time too): How on earth did you manage to keep up that spirit, that originality, that spice, that vigour on every track, on every recording, even regarding the time span??
Actually in 30 years I haven't done that many albums, and that's a deliberate choice. There's a lot of music being made and a lot of it really isn't very good in my opinion, so I've tried to pick and choose the best projects rather than just releasing an album because it's 'x' number of years since the last one. I'm glad you like The Lens album by the way, because that's one of my favourites too. Although the (very few) surviving recordings of The Lens are dreadful quality, the album we released in the late 90s is a pretty good re-creation of what that band sounded like.
5. Are you (a nice follow up the the former question) a workoholic?
No, but once I get started on something, I like to see it through.
6. I Think your latest album (and sadly the last) "The Old Road" is brilliant!
When you create/compose music like that, which to me and I think many of our readers are superb, which comes first, the music or the lyrics?
And or..is it important to you, which comes first?
The music generally comes first, and I don't usually place too much importance on lyrics. But this time, because there are quite a lot of things going on in the world that I seriously object to, the lyrics assumed greater importance because there was quite a lot I wanted to say. It seems to me that the two things you are not supposed to criticise in the 21st century are religion and the Internet, so I made sure I was extremely scathing about both. Strangely enough the chorus to "The Old Road" itself pre-dates the song by about 10 years and it came to me while I was walking a stretch of old railway line in the New Forest which was known as the Old Road.
7. With a new album or a new release, band or solo artist, do you find the cover art important? Please elaborate.
I'm not at all artistic myself, so again I generally don't place much importance on cover art. But I had a few photos of my own which I sent to Tony Lythgoe (who designs most of the covers for GEP releases) and he really liked the one of the bridge. I think it works well, and it ties in with the disused railway theme which kicked the whole thing off originally.
8. Now that you have announced quitting the music business alltogether, looking back, what do you feel were your proudest moment?
I realise that this is an open question, please feel free to name several!
There were several proud moments over the years, but playing Parkpop (in Holland) with John Wetton was a big thrill because it was such a huge festival. Also with John we did a gig in a village hall once with Steve Hackett on guest guitar and (the now legendary) Thomas Lang on drums. I'd say that was a pretty good band. IQ did their share of festivals too and the "Out In The Green"series in Germany and Switzerland in the mid 80s was particularly memorable.
9. On the topic of totally quitting music alltogether, you and I have talked about that and I deeply respect your meaning/opinion. But please tell (I guess you´we told it many times) again, for the readers to understand, WHY, do you stop !!
You may not want to hear this, but in order for music to survive it needs money to fund it. Yes, I've heard all the arguments about "this is art, it's not about money", but unfortunately it is. Studios (yes even home studios!) cost money, as do musical instruments, and good session musicians rightly expect to be paid.
But since the Internet started to be abused by people who arrogantly think that all music should be freely shared, the money supply needed to make new albums has simply dried up. I have nothing but the utmost contempt for the new breed of music fans and their "give me everything for nothing" culture. They are no better than a bunch of thieving scumbags, and I am truly ashamed to share a planet with them.Like most musicians I am not well off, and if I ask my
partner to take £7,000 - £8,000 out of our household budget for me to record an album, without any chance of ever seeing that money again, you can guess what the answer would be!
Making free music for the Internet generation is all very well for rich kids with large disposable incomes who just want a little bit of fame, but it rules out people like me who have to pay the bills and make ends meet. I can't afford to do it anymore so I won't be doing it anymore. Hopefully many more musicians will get out too and the Internet scumbags will be left listening to the crap they deserve.
10. If you were to tell which progressive band, right here right now, are your favourite?!
Appendix, what do you in fact listen to, on an ordinairy day in the Orford household?
I hardly ever listen to music; I'm not really a music consumer and I never have been. I suppose I live in a bit of a bubble really, and I'd rather write something myself than listen to what other people are doing. If that sounds insular then that's just how I am.
11. Keyboardplayers often (like any other musician) have favourite artists/ Icons.
Which would you name, as a favourite/ inspirational keyboard player?
I don't really have a favourite keyboard player, thought there are several around who I think are very good. But to tie in with the previous question, because I've never been a "fanboy" I don't really have any keyboard icons or heroes. If anything I'm more interested in what guitarists do, because it's a much more expressive instrument.
12. On a personel level, what are your plans for the future (if you dont mind my asking)?
I plan to spend a lot of time on my local steam railway http://www.watercressline.co.uk/ helping to operate their magnificent fleet of steam engines.
13. On a professional level, what are your plans for the future?
To get a job that doesn't in any way involve music or the Internet
14. On the topic of internet piracy and the free music culture, what do you propose can be done? Do you see this culture/piracy as an increasing threat to the music industry?
It's an irrefutable fact that the music industry is dying. Just before Christmas, the main independent distributors in the UK (Pinnacle Entertainment) went out of business, quickly followed by the Zavvi shop chain (formerly the Virgin megastore). How much more proof do people need?
In terms of how to deal with piracy; it's simple. Governments need to force ISPs to monitor the content that's being illegally shared on their servers, and it if they can't do it then they should just close them down. The world really was a much better place pre-Internet and if it simply disappeared, then all the pathetic nerds who are so addicted to it would have to find something worthwhile to do instead of sitting on their fat arses looking at a computer screen all day. Who knows, it might even prolong and enhance their lives!
15. As a keyboard wizard, how are your thoughts on: Mellotron, the sound, the instrument ?
Dreadful old things that hardly ever worked properly. But the recordings used on the tape sets were genius and have never been bettered. So the smart thing to do is to use a modern re-creation (there are plenty of good software plug-ins that do the job) to access those supreb and atmospheric sounds.
16. Ive always hated the term NEO PROG, what´s your opinion on that term?
It's a totally fake term invented by Americans about
For those of us who WERE there, it was called the New Wave of British Progressive Rock at the time, but all these years later I don't see why everything can't all go under the Progressive or Prog banner. The musicians from the various ages of prog rock don't acknowledge the difference, so why should anyone else?
17. On a final note, I and many with me (in progcircuits) I suspect, are sad to learn that your input, both keyboard and composition wise, will no longer feed our hungry progheart´s with excellent music and audio experiences!!
....and no doubt my various adversaries on the
Internet will be pleased to get rid of me!
18. Please feel free to state your final (not meant to be that dramatic) words??!
To music fans in general: "You used to be such nice people; what happened"?