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martes, 12 de junio de 2012

STRAIGHT TO MY HEART, Interview with Colin Bass

What were your beginnings as a musician? We referring about your relationship and love with the music.
When I was about 4 years old my father brought home a record player he had bought second-hand. It came with a big pile of 78 records that were all different styles. Although the ones I loved the most were the rock’n’roll things – especially Elvis Presley – I really listened to everything and loved it all, whether it was classical music, light opera, Frank Sinatra or country & western. Of course as you grow up it becomes more important to identify yourself with one particular style of music, to identify yourself socially. And so I stopped listening to classical or country & western or anything that wasn’t hip at the time through the 60s. Fortunately now I can listen to anything again without worrying whether it’s hip or if it fits into a category that I think I prefer. 

Why did you choose the bass guitar as an instrument?
 I think I was always fascinated by the inspirational thump of the bass and drums in the rock'n'roll coming out of the family record player, as well as the deep tones of the bass instruments in a classical orchestra. I did start as a guitarist however but switched to bass to get a job with the Velvet Opera (in 1970) and I just really enjoyed it. It's a good feeling to be in control of those powerful low frequencies!

What is your opinión about the actual prog rock? Do you find some differences or similarities with other times?
I have to admit that I’m not up-to-date with the latest developments in prog rock, or any other kind of music. There’s not enough time to listen to everything. In the late 60s and 70s I was into a lot of what today is called progressive rock though. I was at the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park concert where King Crimson also played. I was a big fan of the Crimson King album. The band I was in at the time – I was guitarist in a band called The Krisis - did a lot of gigs at the time and occasionally we found ourselves supporting the big bands of the day, like The Who, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and lots of others. I also used to go to the famous Marquee club in Wardour Street. I saw the early line-up of Yes there (with Peter Banks and Tony Kaye) several times and I saw Jimi Hendrix and Cream play live – yes, I am old! There was a lot of great live music being played in small clubs in those days but you had to know about it, it wasn’t mainstream stuff.
But today technology has enabled us to have access to so much music and information that we end up drowning in it. My listening is usually in connection with any other artists that I might be producing or for pleasure while cooking and eating in the evening when at home. Then I might listen to some old favourites or try something new that I’ve picked up or that someone has sent me. But any other time I get to myself is spent making my own music in my studio. When I was younger I spent a lot of time listening to music but now I feel I could do more with the time I have left to live. For that reason I also do not own a television. That’s the biggest time-waster ever invented and when I occasionally switch it on in a hotel room I’m always shocked at how people allow themselves to be brainwashed by the relentless barrage of mind-numbing triviality that oozes forth from it. The slime from the video, as Zappa described it years ago.

What are your favorite records and musicians? Why?
Ah, there are so many!

We know you worked with Steve Hillage, how do you know him?
I joined the Steve Hillage Band in 1976. It was just a lucky chance. Steve had a surprise UK album chart success with “L” and had to get a band together quickly. His manager knew that Clancy had just split up so he gave me a call. I went to meet Steve in his flat in Notting Hill Gate and we had a jam and I got the job

How did you join to Camel? What it ´s your opinion about the Camel´s records through the years?
Well, I got that job through their tour manager and my friend until today, Laurie Small. He had also been the tour manager on some of the Steve Hillage tours and he recommended me. Camel were rehearsing without a bass player and auditioning lots of bassists. I don’t know why but I think Andy liked my tone and I was always pretty good at picking things up quickly and they were in a hurry to record the album too! But to be honest, I didn’t really know too much about them before then. But I’m very proud of my involvement with the band and I really think the albums of the late period – from Dust and Dreams onwards – are great pieces of work.

In 2001, you played with Camel in Argentina. What (musical) memories or anecdotes do you have of that time?
It was so great to play in Argentina. The audiences were fantastic. I don’t really remember any specific anecdotes, sorry! But I enjoyed seeing Buenos Aries of which I got a special tour from my friend Andrés Valle. Certainly I would love to go there again.

You also play in “An Outcast of the Islands” with Andrew Latimer, Dave Stewart and a number of Polish musicians. Could you please tell us about that experience?
That was a great time. The project came together with the help of my friend Witold Andree, who suggested I record in his hometown of Poznan in Poland. He introduced me to a number of great Polish musicians and we recorded the album over five weeks. In the middle of that period I took the 24-track tapes (remember those? Very heavy!) on a plane to Andy. He was living in California at the time and we had a fun week putting his guitar on the album.

What were the musicians that influence you most?
Oh oh – so many!! Want to know? Ok: Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Jaco Pastorious, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Blue Nile, Willie Weeks, Donny Hathaway, James Jameson, Stevie Wonder, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sandy Denny, Viv Stanshall, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Otis Redding, The Who, Pink Floyd, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Blind Willie Johnson, Charles Mingus, Andy Latimer, Jim Cuomo, Miles Davis, Rolling Stones, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, Little Feat, The Band, Van Morrison, Bukka White, Jacques Brel, Carlos Gardel…I could go on…. J

 Do you listen some new band you like in recent year? Which ones? And Why do you like or dislike?
Right now I’m really enjoying the new album “Mid Air” by the former Blue Nile singer and songwriter Paul Buchanan. I like him because he puts his heart on his sleeve and just does what he likes to do. It’s a very mellow album but intense at the same time. Not for the broken-hearted!

You are a recognised expert on Indonesian Pop Music, what do you like most of this?
I just got drawn into it when I first went to Bali in 1988. I heard some music from West Java and just had to go back there and visit the place. It was just so beautiful. Melancholic, soulful music. And I accidentally wrote a hit song and made many friends there. I am still working occasionally with my friends from Bandung, the fabulous Sambasunda group. (It’s not samba music they play, by the way – Sunda is the name they give to the region of West Java and samba in the Sundanese language means moving). I’ve recorded three albums in Indonesia under the name of Sabah Habas Mustapha – a name I had when I was part of the wonderful 3 Mustaphas 3 group in the 80s. I’m very proud of them and urge all people to search them out and buy them!

You are a very huge fan of reading, what books and authors do you like?
Well, who isn’t a big fan of reading? Ah yes, I forgot, lots of people. Well at the moment I am reading an anthology of poems by Pablo Neruda – such breathtaking imagery in his work – the biography of the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki called Crooked Cucumber and I just reread 1984 by George Orwell, a book that is even more chillingly relevant today in this advanced age of media manipulation and growing state control machineries all over the world. Everyone should read it!

What is your opinion about the actual rock situation? We mean about the record industry and web albums download.
It will change the way that music is produced as it is not so easy to make a living out of recording music these days. And people are getting used to making their own music, getting used to listening to inferior quality mp3s. Music is more immediate. I’m not saying that’s bad, it’s just going to change things. 

You were producer of many musicians, could you please tell a few words about that?
 I really enjoy producing other artists in the studio and I have taken time to learn about studio technology and have become fascinated with the mixing process. In the last years I’ve been working with some great artists from different parts of the world: The Krar Collective from Ethiopia, Etran Finatawa from Niger, Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird from the USA, Sambasunda Quartet from Java and this year I’ve been compiling and mixing three albums by my friend Prince Robinson, who died in Berlin last December after a long fight against cancer. He was a truly remarkable guitarist and a unique character. I played with him on an album called Almost From Sunrise, a collection of Blues classics which he arranged in a wonderfully fresh style, and we toured together in his band and also as the trio RBC together with Denis Clement. In the last years of his life he was recording lots of material in his home studio. Symphonic, fusion pieces, sometimes with poems by Edgar Allen Poe or Charles Bukowski on them, which he recited in his deep, rich voice; classical pieces, for example Bach choral work which he arranged for multi-tracked guitars or early English pieces by John Dowland up to Brückner masses and more. And I just finished a collection of Jazz standards, called “Some Other Time” which I think is one of the most beautiful albums I’ve worked on. All these albums will shortly be available for download on all the main sites. Open-minded music lovers will be highly interested, I’m sure.

How was the to record “In The Meantime”
Difficult. I call it my miserable album. It’s was influenced by the breakup of a relationship.

How do you think your solo albums?
They’re great. Buy them.

Why you decided to live in Berlin?
It’s a long story. Great city.

What projects do you have in near future? Please tell us about them.
I’m currently working on a pan-Southeast Asian project for a festival concert on July 21st in London as part of the Olympic Games Cultural Events. The festival is called the BT River of Music and my project is called the Bamboo Pearl Orchestra. It brings together artists from Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei. Here’s a link for it:

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2 comentarios :

papayeti dijo...

Muchas gracias desde Francia. Intervista muy instructiva, y en dos lenguas: gracias porque leo mejor ingles que espanol.

Un abrazo!

Secuencia Inicial dijo...

Gracias por tu lectura papayeti! Un abrazo grande!