6. The Mellotron, has become an icon..a pseudonym in progmusic circuits. Whats your thought on that and the particular instrument?
Well it's a classic sound isn't it? It stands alongside the Piano, Hammond, Mini Moog, and the Fender Rhodes in terms of its significance amongst keyboard players, especially for this genre of music. It has become synonymous with a lot of progressive music, but of course, just adding Mellotron strings to a track doesn't mean the music becomes Progressive! The sounds are deeply nostalgic and I wished I had one – although I just don't have the room or the budget for servicing!
I managed to get hold of some samples of various Mellotron patches for my Kurzweil K2600 and I used them in anger for the 1st time on the Journey of the Yak (JOTY) album – specifically strings, flutes, choirs and the Hammond samples.
I think most people tend to associate the Mellotron with the strings and possibly the flutes, but of course a whole range of instrument samples are available – I had no idea there were Mellotron Hammond samples available for instance and I like these a lot!
7. If the ultimate choice were given to you, which comes first, live performances or studio work? I realise that is 2 sides to one story, but please do tell...elaborate!?
Well whilst I have played live in many bands over the years, so far YAK has been a recording project with aspirations to play live at some point.. watch this space... I do like studio work – I guess I enjoy the creative process of building a track up and getting a result that excites me. The live stuff is a different buzz – it depends on the reception of course – I have played some dire gigs in my time ! The worst was when I was 20, I joined a band called "Master Class" on a Friday and they had a gig on the Saturday and no-one knew the same songs. We frantically learned some MOR standards and arrived at the gig, an Irish pub in Tottenham, the next night to see they had a sign up "Master Class – Country and Western Specialists" – I could have died. In fact we did – some serious heckling went on. We had played the only Country song we could faff our way through (tie a yellow ribbon) and the landlord asked us in the interval when we were going to start playing the Country stuff ? Embarrassing or what – Amazingly we survived and still got paid.
I hate that sort of thing though, I am a bit of a perfectionist and so when we do play Yak live, it will need to be right – so I'll need a few more musicians on stage as I only have 2 hands and as you are aware the music features multi-layered keyboards.
When the music is being appreciated, playing live is excellent. Packing up however is less fun!
8. In many interviews Beatles comes up as as the ultimate forerunners of prog!? In other words...without Beatles, no progscene as we see it today! Do you concur? Please elaborate!
I think that the problem in trying to pin point a band or musician you decide was the first to do this or that, you will invariably find someone who can point to an earlier band or musician who exhibited the same or a 'similar' thing to whatever the this or that was you were referring to... and so on...back to the likes of Hildegard Von Bingham in the twelth century ...and there was probably someone doing similar to what she did earlier than her, but wasn't as rich and didn't get any air time eheh – but I think its a serious point – in the early days of Prog, it would have been very difficult to promote yourself & as a consequence the few bands that had "made it through" were were listened to by a lot of people – if you like, the listeners choice was mostly limited to the bands that had cracked record deals etc – whereas today and as Rick Wakeman said in last months Classic Rock Presents Prog Magazine, albums are being recorded by almost anyone and as he put it – "even in toilets these days"...(?) – the listeners choice is overwhelming. However I think this is a good thing, but appreciate Rick's point that it must be a nightmare for the A & R people - it does mean you may have to spend a much longer time sifting through material to find the artists you like, but conversely means that good music that may have laid hidden for ever has at least some chance of being found.
I think that much like in the way that every particle influences in some small way the particle immediately next to it allowing you perhaps extropolate the entire universe from say one small piece of fairy cake, every band or musician has probably influenced the musicians who have heard or worked with them in a small sometimes more signifiant way - clearly every now & then someone will do something radically different - like when you hit a raison in that fairy cake.. although that would make it more of a scone...;o)
Clearly the Beatles were on the scene during the critical years that Prog was evolving – the time that the generally accepted first Prog type bands started to appear at the end of the sixties – Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Soft Machine, Yes etc and certainly some of their music does exhibit progressive characteristics. I imagine they would have been acutely aware what each other were doing, recording in the same studios probably and will have been undoubtedly been influenced by each other. I do think however that their music raised the bar and inspired many that followed, however I don't think that without them the Prog scene would be radically different than it is today – although perhaps everything might be a semitone lower ;0)