Eclipsed Magazine DE
daevid allen, 2014-08-ish
This is Joe Asmodo writing to you on behalf of German music magazine eclipsed.
Hi Joe, Nice to connect with you!
Following a couple of questions I would like you to answer. But first of all let me bring you the best wishes for your recovery from the entire editorial department. Please get well soon. We keep our fingers crossed for that.
Thank you and everybody there. But i am not alone. many many people have suffered from cancer world wide. Everyone knows somebody who has had it. My best wishes to all my fellow sufferers.
Here we go:
Where are you right now as you receive this questions? How are you meanwhile and what is the state of things regarding your medical treatment?
I am currently in my studio in my rented home by the Pacific Ocean in Australia. It's a beautiful spot and a great place to heal myself. I will very soon start radiation treatment nearbye for six weeks after which i have a good chance of complete recovery.
Let's talk about the new album. Who is the "I" in the title? Is it Mr. Allen or an other entity? Is there a special subject the album deals with?
To begin with -on the first level- the "i" is the singer. As the singer here, I feel a huge empathy with anyone who listens to this album and I want to make it clear immediately. I feel equal, neither inferior or superior. Just happy for the connection. It is a playful light hearted gesture.
On the second level, one can ask: Who is seeing through my eyes? Is it me, or you... or another entity... or even a group intelligence? Is it safe or unsafe? This is to be thought about.
The full experience available in this song is obtained by trusting that the singer and the listener are one at heart and if the experience is to be completed then this assumption needs to be fulfilled in good faith.
"I See You" could be understood as a kind of esoteric statement (as the cover artwork suggests) but also as an allusion to all this insane things round NSA and Edward Snowden…
This is "seeing you" as an act of intrusion and it is difficult to trust an invisible presence. In this respect I am suggesting that we are smart enough to see that we are being seen.
The same with "This Revolution". Where does this revolution come from and who/what are its enemies or aims?
This revolution can be born from the so-called free scale networking of the internet. It suggests that energy for constant change is magnetized by ideas which create a universal buzz and attract the greatest number of hits. Its external enemies are the old school capitalists whose life's ambition has shrunken to protecting their capital resources at any expense.
Its internal enemies are those minds who are addicted to the superficially sensational buzz of temporary fame.
This is only one avenue that "this revolution " may take but it is an interesting possibility.
"When God And The Devil Shake Hands" reminds me of the Gong period when you had not been involved: the "Shamal"/"Gazeuse" period. Did you want to prove something with this jazzy note? In any case this song could have made it onto one of the before mentioned albums, right?
Yes. This was written by our new guitarist Kavus Torabi whose own band is called "Knifeworld". His own work is thick with millions of wicked riffs like these. He is a British-Iranian phenomenon. In Gong his riffs are stretched and oxygenated by Orlando and Dave's delicious drum and bass grooves.
Kavus is also responsible for the guitar solos at the start and the end of "the eternal wheel spins". I recommend you check out Kavus and "Knifeworld" who have a new album out called "The Unravelling" on insideout.de.
My son Orlando who produced this album and is the drummer (and singer on "The Eternal Wheel Spins"), was mentored by Pierre Moerlen and is keen to include the influence of the Moerlen years in the Gong repertoire.
The Gong line-up for the new album has changed completely (except for you, of course). What's the reason for it?
A new generation of excellent younger musicians appeared who were keen to contribute their music to the history of Gong.
Whatever it is, if it is still alive, will always change.
I am very very happy that Gong is alive and a continuing tradition that has a powerful contribution to make and I am sure my presence is no longer needed for it to succeed.
How do you manage it that Gong nevertheless sound always like Gong? Do you pull at all strings? Or do always people apply for to play in your band who know and love its music already and therefore bring with a certain amount of understanding for it?
Actually it isn't really just me. I don't think I pull any strings. I see myself as a caretaker not a controller. I interfere as little as I can.
For example it was Gong horn player Theo Travis who approached our latest horn player Ian East because Theo was unable to fulfill certain dates only to find that Ian could play Oily Way faster than he could! Now Theo is with Soft machine and Stephen Wilson.
Mike Howlett was unable to continue on bass due to his academic commitments so Dave Sturt was recruited from the Bill Nelson band by Steve Hillage I think.
Fabio Golfetti in my opinion is both the best glissando guitar player I know and also a quality soloist and we have been friends since the early nineties when his band Violeta de Outono was huge in Brazil.
I met Kavus Torabi at a radio interview on UK snooker champion and music lover Steve Davis's show and we connected immediately.
His guitar playing on this album is as spectacular as his composition: "When God shakes hands with the devil".
Orlando's time has been long in coming due to his commitments to his career as Producer in Australia but he is here now as drummer and vocalist, and there is no greater thrill than to play with your own son.
You succeed as one of few to sound always like Gong without ignoring stylistic developments in music and society. In other words: you always include new sounds and styles and sound nevertheless always like Gong. How do you manage this? What is the recipe or secret?
It is easy to make me responsible for all this but one should remember that Gong after all this time carries a certain musical momentum which is the product of many great musicians and suggests particular compositional extensions on what is already being heard.
On the other hand, sometimes musicians arrive like Makoto Kawabata who are revolutionaries and freak everybody out with their orgasmic iconoclasms.
Somehow it all becomes absorbed and leads on to new directions with deeper dimensions.
It is a profound study of group energy that might provide clues for social movements in the future.
How do you recruit them? What must they have, what must they not have?
I don't recruit them or go looking for them. They just appear at the right moment. Pierre Moerlen famously walked up to Mike Howlett at a gig in Lyons in the seventies and declared: "I am your new drummer!" Nobody told me for a week.
If it is me, then it is very much an intuitive rather than a logical process. When it is I who find them, it is very much a kind of instant recognition that happens between us. A spark.
But they arrive from all angles and only some of them stay. The ones that do always seem to be the right ones.
I think "I See You" is one of your finest works to date: diverse, tricky, rash, highly musical and virtuosic but also full of enjoyment of playing and humour. Where do you see it in the order of all your works?
It makes for a great place to step out of the arena. To leave the building.
The only problem is I have been around so long everybody thinks I am alone responsible for everything.
I guess you think like me in this point, don't you? So isn't it a pity that you cannot promote especially this work with your presence on stage?
Sorry but you are wrong there. I see it as a clear signal that it is time to stop touring as if I was half my age. I have no regrets. I have done it before so I know how it feels. :-)
If people get seriously ill they often think about the reason and ask themselves for what the illness could be good. Do you also ask yourself this question? Have you got an answer?
My recent near death experience has been paradoxically a wake-up call! It has been a huge benefit to me in my inner spiritual life and I am grateful for that.
It is honourable that you say that the band will convince everybody also without you. But maybe there are guys out there who come to a Gong show just to see you. What would you say to them?
I See you in your dreams…
In your press statement regarding the concerts you promised also some old stuff. Can you reveal us a bit more?
You need to ask the band this question.
75 is an age where one can make some reflections about life, right? Looking back: What was the best thing you have ever done and what was the silliest? Is there anything you regret. (You can answer relating to music. But it would be fine if you could give us also a more private insight…)
The best thing: meeting Gilli Smyth.
The silliest thing: forming the University of Errors which was silliness incarnate.
The thing I most regret: "je regrete rien…"
And looking forward: You have travelled the whole world. Is there any place left you want to see?
Actually no… mmmmaybe Tibet…??
And is there a thing you haven't done before but want to in any case?
Again no. I have had an enormously fulfilling life.
Do you believe in reincarnation? Who or what do you want to be in your next life?
Since i cannot prove that reincarnation does NOT exist, I would be quite happy if I have finally earned the right not to return to this crazy planet.
Thank you for your time and again all best wishes for a quick recovery.
I saw Gong several times in the late 70s and early 80s. Unfortunately, I never saw Gong with you. I would like to make up for this ;-)
My apologies Joe. but there is always you-tube!
Thanks for this very thorough interview. It was a good work out!