So with a new live Tunnels CD out, have you gotten many requests to do interviews?
Warren Murchie in Switzerland who has this website called Bass Inside was supposed to do an interview after a recent gig in Zurich, but didn't... he says he's going to do it via email...
This is an online magazine?
What about Bass Player, or any one of the big-name newsstand magazines?
No - I sent Chris Jisi an email to make sure he got the CD, he wrote back and said that he had gotten it, and that he was going to review it in Bass Player.
So he's your main contact at Bass Player? I've read some of his reviews, he's good.
Yeah, he's very supportive of the music and he's really well informed... he knows what people have done, and what they've contributed historically. I don't think there's any interest in an interview though.
[looking at three Ibanez basses]
These are your old basses here....
Yeah, this is the new one.
I notice the action is really high.
One thing with low action is that you get that growl of the string sort of gently bouncing on the board... but if its a good bass, it should have an inherently good tone even with high action. People sometimes ask why I use such a high action, but you know, its just my personal preference. I like the dynamic range that you can get with a high action.
This wood looks like its solid, all the way through...
Yeah, its solid mahogany, mahogany is a good wood because its dense. The Wal basses had Mahogany centers also.
That makes it heavier though?
Yeah. Although this one is comfortable, its not excessively heavy. The fingerboard is very comfortable, it has a nice shape, the taper and camber make it very comfortable to play.
What's the radius of the neck?
It's curved, cambered slightly, I don't know what the radius is specifically, but its comfortable.
I'm kind of curious about the first basses you played, we were talking recently about that Gretsch bass you had, where you filed the frets down - what was the first real fretless bass you played?
Fender Precision, fretless... I bought it in London, in '74, second hand. I had just gotten a publishing advance for Brand X of 200 quid. I was looking in the Melody Maker, and I saw an ad in the back for instruments and gear and stuff, and it said "sunburst Fender fretless Precision, excellent condition." So I went up to North London to this guy's house, I think he was an Irish guy. He opened the case..... the bass looked like it had a couple of Guinness stains on it but was in good nick.... I looked it over and I bought it.
How much did you pay for it?
I think it was close to 200 quid, most of my advance. John Goodsall bought a fur coat.
With his advance?
Right. So the first rehearsal after we'd gotten the advance, I showed up with a new bass, Robin Lumley had bought some keyboard stuff, Goodsall walks in with this full length fur coat.
So yeah, that was the first fretless, so I immediately started playing it... I bought it about 6 or 8 weeks before we did Unorthodox Behaviour, so I made a determination that I was going to use it on that record, so I just worked really hard at it.
Who else had you seen even playing a fretless at that time?
I'm trying to think of anybody that I saw live.... The guy in Canned Heat, remember Canned Heat? I think he played a fretless didn't he? You know I cant think of anybody else... I'm talking about 1974...
So you weren't really influenced by any other fretless players, because you hadn't heard any?
No... but I'd listened to a lot of upright players, and I was definitely influenced by a lot of those guys...
Oh yeah, a lot by him. And I sort of thought well, a fretless might be interesting because you've got sort of an upright characteristic, but you've got the volume of an electric bass, it's sort of like a hybrid approach. So I was thinking theoretically... I should try a fretless bass. When the opportunity came up to get one I just jumped on it. I was lucky really that I had the money when the ad popped up that same week.
I wonder what Unorthodox Behaviour would sound like with a fretted bass.... completely different.
I used a fretted bass on one track, "Running on Three." That was that old Gretsch with some filed down frets. That thing was a monster to play, I don't have it anymore, it got destroyed in a flood. It had an extra long scale, and a big hollow body, and there was a spike that you could stick in the end, so you could play it upright if you wanted to. So it was obviously designed for upright players who were going over to electric. But being semi-acoustic, and a long scale... it took a lot of effort to play the thing.
Did you file the frets down yourself?
Were they filed all the way down?
No, just filed at the ends, under the top string, under the G string. It was sort of a... semi-fretless I suppose. If you did a slide on the top string, you'd hear a fairly smooth slide.
Is this what you played with the Liverpool Scene?
Yes, actually my first bass was an old Vox Clubman, my mother bought for me for 10 quid.
What was that like?
Terrible, it was a cheap, bright red thing.... with plastic machine heads that used to break off... so in the end I bought some brass keys for winding up old clocks, and soldered them on.
How old were you when you got your first bass?
14 or 15, I think.
[Percy picks up a CD off the bed... "The Viceroys" is printed on the cover]
This old friend in Wales put this CD together, this was the first band I ever played in. He, Keith Church, was the guitar player.
You're kidding? It's from a live gig?
Yeah. It's not a great recording. He just gave it to me a couple of months ago when we met up in Wales.
What's it like? Can you hear your bass playing on it?
It's R&B stuff, it's in mono for one thing, done on an old reel to reel machine with one mic.... I mean this was 1965... at a gig at Glasbury Village Hall. He put this together himself, its not on any label... it's kind of nice to have, because it sort of makes my collection complete, in a weird way...
The only really old recordings I've heard of you are the Liverpool Scene records, and then it seems there was nothing until Brand X... you didn't do much session work during that time?
Between Liverpool Scene and Brand X I wasn't doing much playing at all. I played with Scaffold, but didn't do any recording.
Scaffold, so what was that band like?
It was strange, it was actually a poetry, satire and music band. There were these three guys, Mike McGear - that's Paul McCartney's younger brother; Roger McGough, whose actually an excellent poet, very well known in England, and John Gorman, who's sort of a comedian. They used to go on the road with a band, so their stuff was a mixture of poetry readings, satire, and songs.
What was the satire like?
They had this fictitious character, called "PC Plod", a policeman.... and they'd make up these bizarre situations and sort of act them out, with a set and everything on the back of the stage. There's a funny story about that, we used to drive to gigs in a van - we used to drive separately from them. We were driving to a gig in South Wales from Liverpool, we were going down the motorway south of Liverpool, and we had these painted sets tied on the top of the van. We're driving along, and I just happened to look out the back window, and I saw this big piece of plywood flying in the air, and it lands right in the middle of the motorway, and then I see this big truck drive over it. So I said to the driver, "It's come off, we have to stop....", so he pulled onto the hard shoulder and backed up, and we got next to it. It's right in the middle of the motorway, so we had to run out and grab it.... and it was still in one piece, with this big tire mark on it. So that night, they do the PC Plod thing, and there's this painted set of street lights etc, sort of a night urban setting, with this big tire mark going right across it.
Yeah, their stuff was sort of along those lines. It's funny you mention that because Python used to come on TV, I cant remember if it was a Tuesday night or Thursday night, at 7:30 or 8:00. If we were playing a university on that night, we'd take a break... we'd split the set up and take a break so that all the kids could go and watch Python on TV in the TV lounge. So it just shows you how popular that was with students.
So you guys played a lot of colleges at that time?
Yeah, but it was short, it was only like a couple of months, it didn't last long. There wasn't much outlet for bass playing anyway.
So Scaffold never recorded, only gigged?
No, not while I was playing with them. They had a big hit in the 60's called "Lily The Pink", which I believe Jack Bruce played on, which probably a lot of people don't know. I think it was like... I don't know if it was #1 in the charts, but it was high up for a few weeks, sort of a one hit wonder. So musically it wasn't a period of development for me, it was just a job that came along. And after that I was working on a construction site for a while, I wasn't playing at all. I moved from Liverpool to London in '71 or '72, and got this job on a construction site, and was doing that for a year or so, not playing much at all. I kept practicing, but didn't have much sense of direction, I was kind of lost as to what I really wanted to do... When I was doing construction work I started hearing stuff coming from this country, like Miles Davis, and the stuff he was doing.... 'electric-jazz' I suppose.
That's what I was about to ask; what were you listening to at that time?
I mean there was nothing interesting on the radio at that time. I was listening to jazz, I was listening to Mingus records, and Coltrane, and all that stuff... and when I was doing construction work, I met Keith Tippet who was a neighbour, and his wife Julie Driscoll. I used to hang out with them a lot, and they had a huge record collection. So I'd go over there sometimes in the evenings and listen to music. They had a lot of stuff that I'd never heard before, so they turned me onto some really good music.
And then, the sort of electric stuff, jazz, was starting up over here, and when I heard that I thought I'd really like to do something like this.
What else besides Miles was catching your ear?
Well Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, people like that....you know, jazzers playing electric keyboards.
Zawinul and Weather Report maybe?
Oh yeah, Weather Report. In fact I saw them at Ronnie Scott's, the original lineup. I walked into Scott's one night, I didnt know who was playing, I think I was in Soho for something and I just walked in there. These guys came out, and I recognized Zawinul and Shorter... didn't know who anybody else was. They started playing and it was like.... wow, this is new stuff.
That was obviously with Miroslav on bass...
Yeah, and it was swinging - Miroslav and Eric Gravatt. And there was a guy playing percussion ....
Dom um Romao...
Yeah that's right. It was excellent. I sat there for the whole set just riveted by what they were doing. It was very organic sounding, it seemed like.... there were a lot of cues going on, you'd see an eyebrow going up, and the whole band would shift. It was that nice balance between looseness and coherency.
It's funny, I always thought that early Brand X reminded me of early Weather Report in some ways... with the balance between looseness and tightness; live I mean, because I know Brand X would really stretch out their songs, like Weather Report would do.
Yeah, the songs had a framework, but within that, sections could be open ended and could go on for as long as you wanted, depending on the night. And there would always be a cue or something, to get everybody back into what's coming next.... so there were a lot of nods and winks going on. It's funny you mention that comparison, because Brand X played at Ronnie Scott's a few years later, and I overheard a guy walking downstairs to the bathrooms, complaining about us... he said something like, "I didn't come here to hear a fucking third rate Weather Report!"
Were you listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return to Forever?
Oh yeah, I forgot about those two. "Bird's of Fire," which was their first one wasn't it? It made a big impression on British musicians, at least the ones that were into experimenting.
Were you familiar with McLaughlin at that time? He was fairly well known...
Yeah, I'd seen him..... there was a band I was in briefly, I forgot to mention this, when I left Liverpool Scene.... Myself and Mike Evans, the saxophonist, we both left at the same time, and briefly we started this fusion band called "Highly Inflammable" in Liverpool, which didn't last long. But we once did a gig in Liverpool opening for Lifetime, that included Tony Williams, McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, and Larry Young. I had seen McLaughlin play before that in London in the 60's, with Pete Brown - you know Pete Brown who wrote the lyrics for Cream? He's a poet actually, from Liverpool originally. I went to see one of his gigs at Ronnie Scott's old place, when it was on Gerard Street, years ago before it moved to Frith Street, and he had McLaughlin and....... I think it was Danny Thompson on bass and Terry Cox on drums, they were later in Pentangle, don't know if you remember them. They were doing poetry and music. It was really sort of out-there....... abstract.
Did you notice McLaughlin at that time?
Yeah, and.... sort of didn't make a huge impression. And then later when I saw him with Lifetime, I thought... wow, can't believe it's the same person. And Tony Williams was well... ridiculously good. So by then of course I knew who he was, and what he could do, and then he started doing that stuff with Miles, which was quite groundbreaking. That way of playing the guitar was quite different, I mean apart from his chops; his concepts, for example, his way of inverting chords, was very interesting.
What about Return to Forever, Chick Corea's band with Stanley Clarke on bass...
Yeah, I saw Stanley Clarke, also at Ronnie's, before Return to Forever, he was playing with Chuck Mangione. It was quite startling, hearing him play... he was unusually good. The music was heavily Latin flavored... he had a lot of chops, all the bass players in the place were listening. He must've been quite young then, he looked very young, just out of school or something.
Any other progressive type bands you were checking out back then?
I liked Magma, a French group. Very good drummer, Christian Vander. In fact, they opened for Return to Forever at a gig in London once, that's where I first heard them. And I saw them later at the Roundhouse in London as well, I was impressed with them. Very dark, heavy....
Jazzy at all?
Yeah, but more jazz-rock ... they were doing it before there was really a term jazz-rock. There was also like a classical thing in there, very, kind of scary.... Very strong drummer, in fact they played at Near Fest last year. I didn't see the whole set, I caught a couple of tunes, it sounded good.
Do you remember your first hearing of Allan Holdsworth? He was fairly well known by the mid-seventies.
Yeah... we used to cross paths with him, on the college circuit in England.
Do you remember any bands he played in?
I know he played with Gong for a while.... I remember doing a gig somewhere, I think it was with Brand X at a college or university and Allan was playing in a room downstairs that same night. It wasn't with Gong, I can't remember who the band was.
He played with Tony Williams for a little while during that time....
And Soft Machine.... there's a funny story about that, because I played with them after he played with them. John Marshall told me he apparently just left, but didn't tell them he was leaving. He called them up from LA, said "I'm over here playing with Tony Williams, could you send my stuff over for me," or something like that....
And then they got John Etheridge who played with them when you did...
Yeah, he's very good , reminiscent somewhat of Django... not to compare, but... sort of a similar thing as Reinhardt.
How long did you play with Soft Machine?
Only about two months.
Did you play in America with them?
No. We did a lot of gigs on the continent, in Europe - Scandinavia, and then Germany....maybe Holland as well. Opening for Shakti... did a whole bunch of gigs with them. And then we did one gig in England, at the very end, at Newcastle University, which was televised on TV.
I'll have to keep my eyes out for that one...
They actually offered me the gig, but Brand X was starting up again, because this was a period when Brand X hadn't been doing anything, so I turned it down.
They didn't do too much after that point, Soft Machine...
No... I replaced Roy Babbington, because I think he left sort of unexpectedly or something, and they were stuck for somebody. Apparently John Marshall and Karl Jenkins came to Ronnie's when Brand X was playing there. So they asked if I'd do the tour.
Were you familiar with Soft Machine, had you heard their earlier records?
Vaguely, I'd heard them years before in the sixties, when Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers were playing them. Liverpool Scene did a couple of gigs with them; I remember one that was either at Oxford or Cambridge University... one of those all night things, where students had just gotten their exam results, so they were all pissing it up, screwing on the lawn... some interesting social behavior stuff going on, I couldn't believe it, I mean this was the intellectual backbone of England.
Those were the days....
Those were the days....
That doesn't happen at Tunnels gigs?
No! Tunnels gigs are boring compared to that.
So that was the first time I saw them - that must've been the original, or close to the original lineup. By the time I played with them, I don't think any of the original guys were in it. It was John Marshall, Karl Jenkins, John Etheridge, and a violin player - Ric Sanders, who was quite young at the time; I remember his Mom brought him to the airport. So we took a flight to Copenhagen and promptly went out to watch a porn film. (laughs) I think it was John Marshall's idea, he has a degree in psychology or something I think. I think Rick played with Fairport Convention later on.....
I admit I'm not too familiar with the Soft Machine history...
I'm not either... I don't have any of their records...
I'm familiar with the one with Holdsworth on it which came out in '75, and you guys must've played some of that material on the later tour...
I know we did a tune called "Tales of Taliesin"... one of the records they gave me to listen to was "Bundles."
Yeah, that's the one I'm talking about.
For that tour they did one rehearsal, and I was still pretty loose on the stuff, and they just said that's okay, see you at the airport, 10 o'clock or whatever...
I'm looking at your discography right now, so going down the list... tell me about this record by Eddie Howell: "The Gramophone Record." That featured the core of Brand X playing on it.
Eddie Howell was, I guess a singer-songwriter type guy, I think he played guitar and keyboards and sang. And Robin Lumley, at that time was starting to do a lot of production jobs at Trident Studios. So he got to produce Eddie's record, and I guess talked him into using us as a band. It was pretty much the whole band, Phil, me and John, and Robin.
And this was pre-Brand X...
I can't remember the exact date, but it must've been around the time we were getting ready to do Unorthodox. We'd been playing together on and off for a while before that record came out. The band started out as just for fun... a weekly jam, for fun, nobody ever thought it would go anywhere.
How did you hook up with all those guys in the first place? Did you know one of them... ?
I knew Lumley, because I lived in Beckenham, South London, and he was a neighbour, he lived very close by. So we used to have these jams at his place, then he told me there was this jam session every Wednesday night up in Clapham I think, and would I like to come along.... so I went up there and played, and there was Goodsall, and some other guys... and we played, and it was fun. So we started doing it every week. One week somebody came in and said, "I've hooked up an audition with Island Records", and we all laughed.... The following week we did an audition for these A&R guys at Island, Richard Williams and Danny Wilding. We'd been drinking and smoking.... (laughs) we were smashed you know.... We didn't have any "songs", per se, just structures. We'd worked out a couple of "structures", and we were playing, I was bowing the bass with a wah-wah pedal, and really not taking it very seriously, but they liked it. We got signed. So we were with Island for about 10 minutes.
And you recorded a record before Unorthodox, for Island that didn't get released...
Yeah, it's a long story, but to try and make it more concise... we recorded this record for them. It had vocals on it.... it sort of sounded like a below-Average White Band, that's the best way to describe it. I mean it was OK, but it wasn't particularly original. But Island were quite happy with it, they were going to put it out.
Who sang on it?
Phil Spinelli, and the drummer was John Dillon. This was before Phil [Collins] came into the picture. So it was Lumley, Goodsall, me, Phil Spinelli, John Dillon, and another guitar player Pete Bonus. You might know him from "Wilding/ Bonus." So Goodsall, Lumley and myself, we didn't really care for it, you know, this is when I really wanted to do electric-jazz, loosely speaking. So we had a meeting with Chris Blackwell, and asked him could we please do another record, all instrumental. So he said yeah and then the band got reshuffled, John Dillon, Pete Bonus and Phil Spinelli left, and we started trying out drummers... we offered the gig to Bill Bruford, he turned it down because he was playing with Gong at the time.
But you rehearsed with Bruford....
He did a couple of rehearsals and decided he didn't want to get into it. Then Danny Wilding recommended Phil. I knew who Genesis was, but I didn't know who was in Genesis. So Phil came down, we were impressed with him, and he liked it, he decided he'd get into it. So we did this new record, all instrumental with Phil, and Island turned it down, kicked us out. So that was the end of Island. So then - and this is probably because Phil was in the band - Charisma picked it up. So that was kind of fortunate, because I think if Phil hadn't been in the band we would've just died right there and then.
So for the first record (the below-Average White Band), you didn't have your fretless then... ?
No, I didn't, so the first record was done with the Gretsch, and the second one was all fretless except for one tune with the Gretsch. We found out later that Charisma never payed Island for the original tapes. We were doing a gig, I think it was at the Lyceum several years later, we were in the dressing room tuning up when this official looking guy walks in wearing a blazer and a badge, and carrying some papers. He gives one to me, gives another one to Goodsall... and it's a subpoena, to appear in court, for.... 20,000 pounds or something.
For the cost of the record. Goodsall's got his guitar on, he's tuning up, he goes "What the fuck's this?" So this official looking guy hands us these papers and leaves, and someone from management said "oh don't worry about that" and grabs the papers. We're like, "what, whats going on??" Apparently Charisma took the tapes, mastered them, put it out, but didn't pay Chris Blackwell... because Island had originally paid the recording costs.
So they figured they'd go right to the band for their money....
Yeah, the guy just walks in - it was bizarre, right in the dressing room - you know, average gig, tuning up, a guy walks in and gives you a subpoena. It was pretty weird. A bit scary actually.
So how did that get resolved?
I dunno, I guess it did. This woman from our management just grabbed the papers and said "don't worry about it, just go out and play," which we did. So they must've settled it. Just shows you how ridiculous the music business can get.
And I guess around that same time you did the "Marscape" record with Lumley, I guess a similar type situation as the Eddie Howell record...
Similar, but that was actually Lumley and Jack Lancaster's project. For Eddie Howell, Lumley was working as a producer for that... and just talked Eddie into using us as a band. Marscape was Lumley and Jack's project, like a concept album I suppose you could call it.
And it sounds a little more like Brand X...
The stuff we got to play on that... we could express ourselves a lot more, so it obviously would sound more like Brand X. Eddie's stuff was much more commercial, so you couldn't really get too abstract with that.
He also had Freddie Mercury and Brian May from Queen playing on some of those Eddie Howell tracks.
Oh that's right. I wasn't there when they recorded their stuff.
It's interesting because that record has become really collectible, for Queen fans.
That's what I've heard. Some people seemed to like it... I hear people mentioning it a bit. It's funny, a stint we pulled on Eddie - speaking of Eddie Howell... Trident studios , late at night could get kind of spooky.... I don't know if anything was going on there but at 3 or 4 in the morning, on the top floor you'd get this sort of ... that feeling that someone watching you in the room... Eddie was doing some vocal overdubs, in the early hours of the morning. So I sneaked into the reverb plate room, I put my head in there and went "Eddieeeeeeeeee" (laughter) and he's got his headphones on downstairs, and he hears this.... we had wound him up beforehand about the place being haunted, he was bugging out, it was funny.
I wonder what ever happened to Eddie Howell?
I don't know. No idea. I used to run into him quite a bit, soon after we did the record, then he just sort of vanished, no idea what he does now. Then there was also "Peter and The Wolf," another concept record that Jack and Lumley did.
A lot of well known musicians on that one.
Yeah, John Hiseman, Gary Moore... Cozy Powell, who died in a few years later in a car crash... Bruford... and Eno. In fact that's where I sort of got introduced to Eno, because he heard the rhythm section on "Peter & The Wolf," and that's what apparently persuaded him to use us on his stuff. Soon after that we did those Eno records...
Yeah, "Before and After Science"...
And "Another Green World," "Music For Films"....
Were those mostly you doing overdubs in the studio, or were you playing with other musicians when you recorded that stuff?
It was mostly playing with other musicians, in real-time. It was a very abstract way of working, I'd never really experienced working like that. Usually it was a rhythm section, Phil Collins and myself... Fred Frith was in on it... in fact quite often it would be pretty much just a rhythm section.
Frith's an interesting player, I really like him.
Yeah. And the approach would be really open, I remember for one starting point, Eno went to the piano and played an A ... and he just went "dum dum, dum dum, dum dum"... and he said "Just play off of that." So we started off with that, "dum dum, da da dum [scat sings a line]" and we'd take it from there, and play it through some changes. And it went onto tape... then we went onto some other stuff....
So it was heavily improvised, with you guys coming up with alot of it.
Yeah, but when the record came out, he'd edited it, did some overdubs and made it into a really great piece of music, I think it was called "Over Fire Island" or "Skysaw", one of those two. On "Another Green World." But the starting point was very very open, I mean it could've gone like a million different ways, he just did that "dum dum... dum dum..." and I just took it from there. So it was really improvising to a big degree. I've got great memories of that stuff, it was some of the most creative stuff I've played on. I'm sorry he didn't do more actually, sort of in that same direction. He is showing some interest in doing some more stuff...
So you're still in touch with him?
Yeah - well I was out of touch with him for a long long time, and then Joyce [Percy's wife], who makes jewelry, made a bracelet for his wife. So we sort of got back in touch that way, and he expressed that he'd like to do some more recording.
I don't really follow his career, but I know he's very active....
Yeah, well he produces U2, and I think he still does his own thing. Some ideas didn't work as well... One of them - quite funny - he had everybody write on a piece of paper numbers 1 to 100 or something, and he gave everybody a list like, 1: F#, 2: B flat, and so on, and gave different notes to some of the other people - I forget who else was playing on that - and started a count... and it's like [counts] 1, 2, 3, 4.... and you're playing these notes against the count. It got up to about 36 and then it started to really fall apart, and people were like "where was I, 37, 38??"....
Then I see this beer can flying across the studio and hitting the spokes of a bicycle on the other side of the room, I think it was Collins, throwing beer cans trying to hit the bike, trying to hit it in time you know, and it just got stupid, so I think Eno just went "Oh, forget it, okay...." You'd walk into the control room and there'd be a tape loop going all the way around the room, there'd be pencils jammed in the corners, to guide the tape, there was tape going all the way around, in a big loop, so you'd walk in there and you'd have to duck...
Oh yeah, working with him was immensely interesting. You'd be deep into something, really intense, and then he'd say "Let's have some cake." He'd go under the table, pull out a cake, cut everybody a slice a cake... everybody's sitting there eating cake... then he's say "Ok, let's do something else." Very creative in an unusual way. I've never seen music, or experienced music being constructed like that before... usually it was some guy would would have a chord sequence worked out or, you know, more of a traditional approach. What was interesting too with him, was he was doing that stuff in the analog days, there were no digital recorders, I mean everything was analog so all of the editing was with a razor blade. We had Mellotrons, you know... there were maybe, bucket brigade delay lines, but they weren't digital.
Space Echo was another one.
Yeah, Roland.... Goodsall used to have one of those.
Did you ever play through anything like that, with your bass rig?
No, I've got some old effects, they're kind of dilapidated now.... some home made stuff...
[At this point he starts digging around through stuff in his closet... he pulls out an old piece of gear]
Wow, this is a delay unit?
What was this... yeah, this was an analog delay line, which obviously doesn't work anymore. It was all made on Veroboard.
This used to be part of your rig?
Yeah, this used to be a flanger, believe it or not, I know it looks huge.
Surely they made pedals back then that did similar things?
No, not when I made this, because I bought one of the first analog charge coupled shift registers. Made by Fairchild, and it was $140 for the chip, now you can get them for 8 bucks or something.
Did you use this on any recordings?
Yeah, this was used on "Masques," some of the Brand X stuff....
So this is what gave you the flanging sound.
Yeah. And also in there, there's an old voltage controlled filter.... It was very noisy. It was kind of crazy, that shift register was temperature sensitive, so as it warmed up, the dynamic range would drop and it would start to clip. So I called this guy at Fairchild, he said you just have to keep it cool, you have to refrigerate it.... So then I bought a Peltier cooler, which is essentially an electronic refrigerator, and I had to put a fan on the top to remove heat from the cooler, so it got really ridiculous, all the stuff you had to go through to get some flanging. In those days, if you did flanging in the studio, you did it with tape, and an eccentric weight on the reel....
I guess the chip is gone... the board with the chip on it is gone... I don't know why I keep this stuff. Even the power supply is huge... these are the regulators. There was another heat sink on the top which is gone... It was ridiculous. But it could do stuff like, make the delay time proportional to pitch, so there'd be a pitch to voltage converter, which would approximately figure out the fundamental frequency, and then make the delay time inversely proportional to frequency, so if you hit a high note you'd get a slight increase in delay, if you hit a low note, like an open E, the delay would go up to around 30 milliseconds. The voltage controlled filter... [looks around] don't know what I did with that... it had an envelope generator that would remember the peak value of the note that you hit, and then you could adjust the attack, but that attack envelope would always go up to the peak of the note, even though the note had decayed by then. So it makes a huge difference to how musical it sounded.
So they probably don't make anything like that in pedal form... or do they?
No, usually a pedal has an LFO, a sinewave that just sweeps it, or a rudimentary envelope generator... I'm finding a lot of effects now, especially the digital ones, just sound generic. Same with plug-ins, just kind of generic in a lot of cases...
You don't play through any pedals, do you?
Not now, no, I'm thinking of getting back into it. One thing I'm looking into is feeding energy back into the bass. I bought these two seat shakers... [looks around] I don't know what I did with them...
Yeah, you were telling me about that, I can't remember how you were implementing it though. You attached it to the bass somehow...
Yeah, well I hooked it up to one side of the stereo, and I was just holding it against the side of the bass, and the sound is kind of cool.
To get alot of sustain out of it... I thought they made a pickup that could do something similar to that?
There is the Ebow, which is a magnetic thing, you hold it over the strings, but they don't work very well with bass, especially with heavy strings which I use; There's just not enough energy to get the strings going quickly enough.
[At this point he's trying to find a recording that demonstrates the use of the seat-shaker device he's talking about.....]
So what's this a recording of?
To get those Tunnels gigs happening in Japan last year, the deal was I had to do some tracks for Bass Player magazine over there and they would promote the gigs, which they didn't...
[if you bought the magazine a free CD with short tracks came with it]
Here's one, but this is not the seat-shaker tune.... it's really short....
"Open Groove" clip
Ok, this is the one.
"Acoustic Feedback" clip
"Noddy Goes to Sweden Groove" clip
Is this "Noddy"?
It's a version I did, yeah. It's an instructional thing, demonstrating open and closed grooves.
[thumbing through the magazine now...]
Looks like they put alot of money into producing these magazines.... so you're featured in this one?
Yeah a little bit. I used to get quite a bit of coverage from them, but apparently now they've been taken over by somebody else, and they're accommodating more of a younger crowd, younger players. It's good quality, good pictures and stuff.
And they include transcriptions of this stuff?
Yeah... [laughs] I can't read it, so I have no way of checking it... I don't know how the hell they can write that stuff out.
Do you read tab?
Nope. I think Frank [Katz] looked at one of them, and he said it was completely wrong.
[At this point I hand him a copy of a Japanese release of the Brand X CD "XCommunication"]
I bought this because I thought it was supposed to have some extra tracks on it.... open it and take a look at the CD...
[Percy opens the CD case, and on the CD it says: "BLAND X"]
(laughter) Ha! I gotta show this to Joyce....
The name takes on a whole new meaning....
"Fletless bass"... There's no "R" in the language, they can't even say R.... like when they say Kirin, the beer, it's like "Keedin"...
Yeah, they pronounce it like a D.
Bland, yeah, I thought that was pretty funny. I don't know how they could put a misprint on the CD though.... surely they know the correct spelling. Other than that, it's exactly the same as the US release.
[Percy digs out a CD-R....]
This guy in Baltimore, a Japanese guy, gave me this bootleg the other day... I don't know what's on that...
Oh yeah, I know this one. Stockholm, '78. I used to make big efforts to collect rare Brand X things... this is off the radio, it should sound decent. There's actually quite a few FM radio broadcasts of old Brand X.
Yeah, we did alot with WNEW...
Yeah there's a couple from the Bottom Line, and some from Rochester, NY.... Madison....
There's one from from Chicago, "Beginnings"...
Schaumberg, yeah. That was going to come out on a record years ago, but Hit & Run got wind of it and threatened to sue. [incidentally it was released as a rare vinyl bootleg called "X Squared"]
Eventually you ended up putting that out on "Trilogy." [on Buckyball Records]
Well Hit & Run stopped bothering us now, I reckon they probably think that if they do, they might open a can of worms, so maybe they think it's just better to keep quiet.
Who exactly is Hit & Run?
Well, it's our former management, who also managed Genesis, Peter Gabriel, and us....
Did they manage any other popular bands?
I think it was just the three of us... But they never paid us any royalties.
So did you just make money on gigs, when you were playing with Brand X?
Minimal.... when I was on the road, I used to get a salary of 200 bucks a week, plus 20 dollars a day per diem [cash], for eating on the road, and the rest of the time, I supported myself, from session work and stuff. So I didn't see much from it. They claim that we owe them money... but they won't account for it, you know. But it's not an unusual story...
When did you move to New York? Must've been in the early 80's?
And who did you start playing with here, at first?
Hmmm.... Noise 'R Us, which later became Paranoise, because of "Toys 'R Us." I was in a supermarket in Brooklyn buying some carrots, this guy Lloyd Fonoroff came up to me and said "Are you Percy"... I said yeah... and he said "we've got this band, do you want to come down and jam." So I went down.... and played. I subsequently started playing with them fairly regularly.
So you were open to playing with anybody I guess.
Yeah, if I liked it, yeah. I thought their stuff was interesting. We never got anywhere, but it was fun, we used to play at CBGB's quite often, and... it was fun playing with a brass section. I like Jim Matus's writing and arranging. Mickey Ortiz, the singer, died several years ago now, and I think after that they packed it up. But I just recently did some stuff with Jim Matus - he got the rights to some Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan vocals, and I played on these two tunes... he's written stuff around the vocals. He had a DAT tape, I think, with a vocal on one side, and a cheesey drum machine/ synth on the other, and he got permission from the estate to use the vocal. So he just took the vocal track and wrote a whole other arrangement around it. I haven't heard the final mix, but he sent me an email to say it sounds really good, so I hope he gets a deal. I guess that's the next step.
So you just played on two tracks...
It's two tracks with Nusrat's vocals, and there's other stuff, that doesn't have vocals. It's a records worth of stuff. He's got a studio in Connecticut, he uses ADAT, so we did it up there. I think he recently said he's got somebody that's helping him, he thinks he might get a deal.... it might actually come out. Because these days you know, you play on a lot of stuff that never sees the light of day.
Also, you started playing with Stone Tiger in the early 80's. [with Bill Frisell, Mike Clarke]
Oh yeah, that's right, almost forgot. We used to play clubs in Manhattan, and Long Island, and we'd get about 10 people.... really into it, but 10 people. Couldn't get anybody interested in recording it, I mean absolutely no interest at all.
Was Bill Frisell popular at that time? Now he's very popular...
I think it was Mike Clarke who originally told me about him... I seem to remember Mike saying he had done a gig in Boston with this guy Bill Frisell, and that he was really interesting, so that's how I was introduced to him. I think at that time Bill was doing a lot of gigs in Boston, he was back and forth on a weekly basis. Yeah, it was a good band, but there was absolutely no interest, and we just couldn't sustain it.
So that just lasted a couple of years.
If that, yeah, at the most. Now, a lot of people ask me about it, ask if there's tapes...
Yeah, I've heard them.
What's it sound like?
Really interesting, I liked it. Maybe it was just ahead of it's time.
Yeah, people liked it, there just wasn't enough of them. Tunnels suffers from that to a degree - not as severe as with Stone Tiger, but you get like 35 people that are totally into it, but you just wish there were more. 35 is better than 5.
That's better than the recent gig in High Point, NC.
Oh yeah... when there's nobody there, the whole exercise is kind of pointless.
That reminds me of the first time I met you, when I came up to Baltimore in '93 to see Brand X play, and the next night you had a gig in Washington, DC, and it was the same thing, like 2 people showed up....
Oh yeah... There we didn't play.... I remember that, the sound man wanted us to play a song just for him. Everybody was just so bummed... nobody felt like playing anything.
But the night before in Baltimore was a decent turnout as I remember, not huge, but decent.
It's hard to figure out you know.... we thought Washington would be a good place to play, based on the early days.... but almost nobody, or as you say, 2 people showed up...
I can only guess that it was because there was no promotion at all.
Yeah, I don't know. I suspect that's what was going on at High Point. Usually if there's promotion you see a poster... at least in the club, you see a poster stuck up or something. But we didn't see anything... and it was like a sports bar.
With a real stage, and sound system?
Yeah, the sound system was quite good, and this kid doing sound was very together, knew what he was doing. They had these big TV screens, with football going on.
Maybe there was a big game that night, that's why no one came.
Could be.... and it was a Sunday, that's a weird night too... anyways, water under the bridge.
I'm trying to think of who else you played with in the early 80's - Elliott Sharp, you started playing with him around that time.
Right. Actually I did one gig with him not long after I moved here. He called me to do a gig with him and... what's the drummers' name, Phillip Wilson... I've forgotten the name of the club, it was in Manhattan, it's not there anymore.
I think that's the gig he released...
Yeah, there's an entry in the discography, called "Moving Info," which I've never heard... I first saw it on a discography of his, and it was a cassette only release, on his own label, which was a very limited release, and I don't think he's put it out again. Was it interesting? I'm assuming it was largely improvised stuff you guys were playing.
Yeah, I can't remember how good a gig it was, it was so long ago. Just a one-off thing. But then I played with him again later, with this band called Scanners, and that was at the Knitting Factory. That came out on one of those Knitting Factory records, a track called "Ironcide," I think it was called.
I saw you with Elliott in the mid 90's, it was you, Elliott, and a drummer named Marc Edwards, which I think was also just a one-off... this was in the Knitting Factory mainspace, it was really loose.
Oh yeah..... right.... I had a hard time at that gig... because I couldn't hear where the time was. I was rather lost, I didn't know what to do. I'm not very good at avant-garde music anyway, you know, I like time. If the whole set is sort of abstract like that, I just don't know how to apply myself really. It's just a taste and direction thing. But I had forgotten all about that gig. And I also played with Elliott in Europe - what was the name of that band - it was with Bobby Previte and Tim Berne...
Yeah, one of those gigs was released too.
Yeah, in fact you gave me a tape of it. "The Bang" or something... it was from a gig in southern Italy, outdoors.
You guys also played in Saalfelden, Austria, I have a tape of that one, that's where Elliott sat in, and I remember the Led Zeppelin tune....
Yeah, "Dazed and Confused".
And you guys also did "Kat Food", at that gig, a King Crimson tune.
Did we? I don't remember that.
Oh - someone just sent me a gig with you and Previte and a keyboard player, a gig from the old Knitting Factory...
Oh yeah, I've forgotten his name as well...a French-Canadian guy...
Steve Gabourey, is what's written on here. I used to try and collect all the live gigs I could find with you on it, and I feel like I've got 'em all, but just like a week ago a guy came up with this recording.
What's it like?
I don't know, I haven't heard it yet, you can put it in if you want....
It was a pretty loose gig, from what I remember....
Remember that place, the old Knitting Factory...
Yeah I much preferred it to the new one. Now you can't even get a gig there.
Yeah, they sold out. The old one was really small and intimate.
Yeah I used to play there a lot, I enjoyed it. We're trying to get some gigs in California, around LA at the end of January, we're having a hard time - someone suggested that the Knitting Factory there is a good place to play. Apparently it's a lot better than the one here.
Here, I don't even think they have jazz anymore, just corporate rock.
That's amazing... considering they used to have people like Cecil Taylor playing there.
Oh yeah, John Zorn used to play there all the time.... There's a newer club here called Tonic, have you ever been there?
Yeah.... we can't get a gig there. Though I did a gig there once with Chris Haskett.
I got a call from Dave Torn a couple of years back, he was supposed to play there but his mother was sick, and he had to go see her, so he asked if I wanted to do it instead, and I said yeah. I called them up, and they were pretty wishy-washy for a few days, and then they said "Oh, no, we're going to get a DJ to do it". I guess Dave thought that... I might be an appropriate replacement, but they were just totally uninterested.
[We're listening to the Previte "Trio B" gig on the stereo....]
Do you remember any of this?
No. (laughs) I remember Steve being a very good keyboard player.
Which bass were you playing here?
This was the Wal. Not much bottom on this is there.
Nah, the recording sounds pretty thin. So when did you start playing the Wal?
I played the Fender on "Unorthodox Behaviour," and "Morrocon Roll," the first two Brand X records, on "Livestock" I used the Fender as well I think. Then we did "Masques," that's when Wal gave me their first bass. This was funny, because I remember putting it on, and it sounded and felt really good, but if you let go of the neck, it would just drop... it was neck heavy. So I said to them, it sounds very good except it's out of balance. So they took it away, came back like the following week with a perfectly balanced bass and I started playing it again. They left it with me, and just after they left it just cut out, it went dead. I opened it up and saw that the chip had fallen out of it's socket - the op amp, in the preamp, one of those 8 pin chips. So there was a sort of back and forth thing, and in the end they had some really good instruments.
So they were new back then, and you were one of the first players using them?
I don't follow the bass instrument scene, but are they popular anymore? Are they still around?
I don't know, because Wal died suddenly, at least ten years ago. That was really really strange. Joyce and I were sitting in here one Sunday night at the table in there, and all the sudden she went like this ---- I said "what's the matter", and she said "I just had this vision of Wal....." I was wondering why she had a vision of him, since he lived in England and she had only met him once. She had this vision of Wal being like sucked up as if into a straw.... and I just thought, that's strange, then I forgot about it. The following afternoon a student came in for a lesson - this is when I was still teaching - and he said, "I've got some bad news for you... Wal has died." He had a massive heart attack. Apparently Wal's partner had lost my phone number, but they had my student's number, since he'd bought a bass from them, so Wal's partner called him and told him to tell me. I don't know what that was all about but it was really very strange...
Is she psychic? Does she have visions like that often?
Yeah. But no, not often. But for it to be a coincidence, of all the people that we know... So anyways, he died, ten years ago at least, and his partner Pete Stevens kept the company going. So as far as I know they're still going. They don't sell large numbers, since they're all hand made. They sell small quantities but the quality is really high.
The only other bassist I know that plays them, or used to - do you know Jonas Hellborg?
I think he had a double-neck Wal.
That's right. And Laurence Cottle, another Welsh player. Geddy Lee, I think had one, Bill Laswell had one, because they shipped it to me and his manager came and picked it up, so I know he had one, whether he plays it or not, I don't know.
So throughout the 80's the Wal was your main bass, until the Ibanez's.
Yeah, from "Masques" right through until .........
Do you remember what you used on "XCommunication"?
No..(laughs) I'm trying to remember........ that was a Wal. But then on "Manifest Destiny" it was the Ibanez. And also the first Tunnels record.
Going back to the discography... Do you remember the Nova record? [Italian progressive-rock band]
"Vimana", yeah. That was fun. Lumley produced that, again. Lumley was virtually living in Trident studios, he was producing so much stuff, bringing them a lot of business. It was a good studio. So he produced "Vimana", and they had some problem with their original rhythm section who were from Italy. So they called me to do it, along with Narada Michael Walden. So we went in and just learned the songs right there, and then would try and do a take. I thought that was a good record, I liked their stuff. They were good writers and good musicians.
So you tracked that stuff live in the studio with Narada?
Do you remember Zakir Hussain being there? He's on a track or two I think.
Wow, I didn't know that. He wasn't there when I was there, he must've overdubbed. On their subsequent record, they used another bass player, I think it was Buster Cherry Jones.... I know that after that, they moved to Colorado. They did another record, they were gigging, and I know drummer Rick Parnell [of Spinal Tap] was playing with them, then they seemed to drop out of sight. He's a good friend of Goodsall's. His father was a big band leader in England in like the 40's and 50's, Jack Parnell.
How about the record with the Big Jim Sullivan Band. Remember that one? That's a guy I had never even heard of, until that CD was released.
He was well known in England, because he played with Tom Jones. Tom Jones used to do these TV shows back in the 70's, with a big band, and Big Jim was the guitar player, he'd stand up and take a solo on every TV show. In England he was a well known session player, before Jimmy Page or any of those people. He's probably on hundreds of records.
He got some great musicians for that record, also Simon Phillips is on it.
Yeah, and theres a couple of good singers too, Nicky and Les. And Jim is huge, that's why they call him Big Jim - he makes the guitar look like a toy.
So you remember playing with Simon, did you notice him? He's got a pretty big name now.
Oh yeah, he was pretty well known even then. In fact we did one gig, at the Reading Festival with him. It was kind of disastrous. Before we went on, we were waiting for Simon, because he had gone off in his car somewhere, and it's time to play and the promoter is giving us a really hard time. So we looked out across the fields and we could see Simon's sports car parked, and a copper booking him. He had been speeding and got booked. So we sent a roadie running across the fields to tell the cop to let him go so we could do the gig, otherwise there'd be trouble with the Reading Festival. So they did, and Simon got there, and we started playing. I didn't know the material very well, and I had all sorts of changes scribbled on this single piece of paper. It was a calm day, then suddenly this gust of wind came out of nowhere and the paper just vanished. Then I'm like totally fucked, you know. But I liked the record, and I enjoyed playing with Big Jim. The sad thing was, the record was for EMI, we recorded it, mixed it, finished the whole thing, then EMI wouldn't put it out.
So that was never released until the Ozone records CD?
Yeah. I told Gil Amarilio about it, and he somehow got the masters from somewhere, and released it.
And probably didn't give any money to Big Jim.
Probably not.... and if Big Jim ever gets his hands on him, I'd hate to think.... like he's a very nice guy, but I wouldn't want to upset him.
How about this record, which I haven't heard: "Bullinamingvase" by Roy Harper? I don't think its been released on CD, it might be hard to find.
Oh - that's from... I can't remember which year, it's been a long time, late 70's I guess. It was a little difficult actually, because he's a folk musician, and he's a real stickler for playing in tune. You know, everything has to be very consonant, he doesn't like jazz.
So why were you there?
Well, that's a good question. Andy Roberts I think had recommended me. Andy was the guitarist in the Liverpool Scene and he worked with Roy a lot, I think he recommended me for this record. We did it at this farmhouse in...... it was not far from the Welsh border, a really old rustic farmhouse, he had a studio built in, or maybe it was a mobile studio, I can't remember. So we did it all there and... It was challenging. Everything had to be really.... the notes, right on the money... no quarter notes, or passing notes, or... stuff that I usually like to do (laughs). I don't know if I've still got that record, I haven't listened to it since it was done. I think it was good for me,..... when someone puts you on the spot for intonation... it's a challenge, you know.
So you didn't think about using a fretted bass?
No... I could never go back to a fretted bass.
So have you ever played a fretted bass, since you started playing a fretless?
No. I haven't touched one. Actually I did try and play one somewhere, and it was so bad.... because I was getting so much fret buzz, and I just wasn't comfortable.
How about this record, another one I haven't heard, but I know you played on it: The Intergalactic Touring Band.
Oh God, that was awful. The only people I can remember on it, was somebody from the Strawbs, and it was the brainchild of Marty Scott, who had this label in New Jersey called Passport records, they were the first people to put out Brand X records in the US, they licensed it from Charisma. So he had this idea for this "Intergalactic Touring band." I went out there to the House of Music, a studio in Orange, NJ, and it was a bloody disaster. The first night, the 24 track machine broke down, so we sat there for hours waiting for them to fix it. We eventually tracked the stuff, came back home, I lived in Brooklyn then. And then he calls up and says "you have to do it all over again, because the sound is wrong because of your preamp"... I had a preamp built into the Precision that ran off of three watch batteries. It was just a unity gain, impedance buffer. It wasn't doing any EQ, or level change, just lowering the impedance, so as to drive a long cord and not loose any high end due to cable capacitance, and it just sounded better. Anyway, he said that because of that preamp that the sound wasn't right. He wanted me to take the preamp out and go back and retrack everything, which I did, and he gave me 200 bucks. I bought this watch with it.
And it still works?
So it wasn't a total loss. It sounds like this was a hodge-podge of musicians just thrown together?
Yeah... Larry Fast was involved in it, and there were some potentially good people on it, but just the way it was done - it's as if, if you get these guys together, it's automatically going to be great, but things just don't work like that. And the direction.... just corny....
So I won't go out of my way to find that record.
No, don't waste your energy on that. Definitely the bottom of the pile.
You've played with some Japanese musicians, you're on a couple of Ippu-Do records, and you played with the guitarist Masami Tsuchiya, "Rice Music". How did you get involved with these guys?
I went to Japan in the winter of '81 with [drummer] Dougie Bowne, to play with this band called The Plastics, in Tokyo. The Plastics were Chica, who was a model, I think she was dating Dougie at the time, and a guy called Toshi. They both sang, and wrote the material. And they got this guy Masami Tsuchiya, as a guitar player and arranger. So the band was these two singers, The Plastics, and then Masami and Dougie and I. So we did several gigs around Tokyo, over Christmas of '81. While I was there, Masami was doing a solo record, so I went into the studio and played on quite a few tracks on his solo record, and that was "Rice Music". One of the tunes on it was a big hit, can you believe this? A big hit in Japan, I forget what it was called but it was played all over the place. Then two years later Masami called and said he had this big tour of Japan, and asked if I'd play. He had gotten Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen in the band, and we did this long 3 month tour all over Japan. And that band was called Ippu-Do. We did two records, "Live and Zen", and "Night Mirage".
The music sure was different....
Yeah, it was pop... It was very weird for me, I had to wear a suit, a purple suit, with a tie, and white shoes.... I had to stand right on this X on the stage, and the bass would always be perfectly tuned by a guy who would come and tune the bass. It lasted 3 months and I got paid extremely well, and that was the end of it. It was the only time I've played in sort of a pop situation. I really couldn't have done it much longer than that... because you had to religiously play lines. They weren't too happy if you deviated too much.
I don't know if that's Masami on the cover of that "Rice Music" CD, or a woman...
It's him. Very androgynous looking in that picture.
Did he speak English?
Yeah, not too bad. During recording he would mark the charts with red ink for loud passages and green for soft. Apparently he's been living in London for sometime, producing stuff, but I haven't seen him since '83. I heard from Richard recently saying he is going to be playing with him again soon.
In looking at the guestbook entries, you can see what peoples favorite recordings of you are. Some people like the Nova stuff, or Ippu-Do, although it's mostly obviously Brand X. But some people really dig your playing on stuff like Ippu-Do, which I can't really relate too, but other people do.
Well "Rice Music" I liked. The Ippu-Do stuff..... I could argue that I was the wrong guy for a gig like that, I never really understood why they asked me to play on it, but they did, and I took it. But you could argue that somebody else might've done it better.
And there might be a few other examples like that, for instance the Shankar record you played on. [The Epidemics]
Yeah that's another example.
It's very different from most other things you've played on. I was expecting something maybe a little Eastern sounding.
Well that's what I was expecting. He kept saying that he was going to be doing some Indian music, and maybe doing some gigs in India, and I was really up for that, because I love Indian music and it would've been a good chance to learn. But it never happened, it just continued in this sort of Western pop format, and that never went anywhere.
Interesting musicians on that record, he had Steve Vai....
Steve Vai played on the record but another guy did all the gigs. It was an unusual record for ECM I thought. I haven't heard anything else on ECM even approaching that. I was disappointed that I never got to do any Indian stuff with him.
So how did you first hook up with Shankar?
I met him when he was playing with Shakti, remember when Soft Machine was opening for Shakti, that's where I first met him. I guess he remembered me.
Brand X also opened for the One Truth Band, which was after the Shakti tour I guess.
There were a few gigs where Brand X opened for them, one in Central Park, one in New Jersey, and I think one somewhere else. I met McLaughlin more recently at the Bottom Line after a gig he did there, a few years ago, I was there with Chris Jisi.
Was this the band with Matt Garrison, and Dennis Chambers?
"The Heart of Things."
Right. So I went backstage afterwards to say hello, and he didn't remember me. And I said, "Soft Machine....?" He remembered Soft Machine, and he said "John Marshall," so he remembered John Marshall, but still didn't remember me. Then I mentioned Brand X, and he said, "What, brain dead?" (laughter) He didn't remember anything about Brand X. Chris Jisi is standing there like... [surprised]. He even offered me a gig once, McLaughlin, with One Truth Band. And I turned it down at the time because I thought Brand X was going to be working, and that was my priority. As it happened Brand X broke up... I called him back to say I could do it, but he'd gotten Fernando Saunders in the band. But when I met him at the Bottom Line he had no recollection of any of this.
Wow .... I know people can forget things, but....
It was a bit surprising that he could not remember Brand X, because we opened for him 2 or 3 times.
He's still doing very well for himself, he's still got the Shakti group going, although without Shankar, but he's got this great mandolin player, Srinivas, who kind of takes Shankar's role.
I've got tremendous respect for him as a musician.
You sure you don't want some tea or something?
No thanks, unless you're having some.
I'm gonna make a cup.
Ok then, sure.
END Part 1..................
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