planet gong archives

daevid allen

Matthias Wagner, Kulturnews DE 2014-08-ish

1. Mr. Allen, in almost five decades we saw a lot of incarnations of the band Gong. Which one was the real deal?

Real deal=right now! Each of these bands when touring was the real deal. Currently the real deal is Gong 2014 and as you can tell from the album, the current Gong is very very real and has one helluva kick right now.

2. You're a born Australian, but in 1967 you lived in England. After a tour in France with Soft Machine you were refused to reentry the United Kingdom. What went wrong?

Actually I moved to the UK in 1960 when, as an Australian, I had equal rights with the English. But being penniless, I paid my dues pretty thoroughly until Soft Machine was born in1966. But during this time the immigration laws changed for us so called colonials. I didn't notice until I came back to the UK in 1967 as a member of Soft Machine which had gained a bad reputation for turning on a couple of high profile London debutantes with LSD. The all too influential English Establishment were looking for a good excuse to keep me out and the immigration law, though discretional, was a perfect way to block my re-entry.

3. Without that incident Gong would never have existed - because you stayed in France and started the band. Do you believe in destiny …?

Yes, and destiny works in many surprising ways. It would appear I was very lucky and I am grateful for that. Although if magic can be defined as a perfect blend of imagination and willpower, my disillusionment with the trajectory of Soft Machine at that time and my desire to do something more fulfilling may have also been an activating force.

4. Despite the huge number of musicians who joined and then left the band, Steve Hillage once said: "Nobody ever leaves Gong." What did he mean?

Gong is not just a band but a community of bands and thus an even larger community of thoughtful artists and beyond that an enormous world wide audience of all ages. 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 guitarist 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 Gong drummer and vocalist, and there is no greater thrill than to play on tour with your own talented son.

BTW Orlando was originally mentored by Pierre Moerlen.

From time to time we hold an event called THE GONG UNCONVENTION. It is a festival of Gong and associated bands and satellites to which everyone who has ever joined Gong is invited. It is a magnet for Gong freaks who travel from everywhere but is not widely publicized in the outer world. The last one was in 2006 at Amsterdam's MILKWEG club and ran from Friday to Monday. There is talk of another one next year. When you attend one of these you are reminded that nobody ever leaves Gong.

5. New album tracks like the hectic and nervous "Occupy" are closing a circle back to the agitated political era of 1968 when Gong was founded. If you were asked: What should make the youth of today go to the barricades?

Clearly, with the invention of the internet, a new form of politics is being created. It is unlike any movement that has come before and is thoroughly unpredictable, working basically as scale free networks can.

The youth of today is in part a creation of this continuously mutating process which can either transform or dispense with the nineteenth century systems still embraced by the status quo.

There are many interesting thinkers surfacing such as Thomas Pickety and Slavoj &Zcirc;i&zcirc;ek and in many ways music is still and has been an indicative precurser to the social change approaching us, but the visionary thinker has not yet emerged that can inspire a huge international movement.

6. In one track on the new album you say that the next revolution will not happen on the streets but inside of us. That reminds me of Karl Marx whose materialistic philosophy turned the idealistic Hegel upside down. Do you now turn Marx upside down with your prediction? ;)

Again, some of us are still waiting for the new upside-down or inside-out Karl Marx but perhaps the new processor of political advancement will be a think tank. A circle of equals. A feminine zero instead of a masculine one.

7. You are the Godfather of the genre - who of the young generation of fusion do you think is destined to have a great future?

Ah. There is con-fusion here. I virtually live in a tea-house on a beach so that in my mind, the fusion in which my god fatherly influence has perhaps dissolved, has become an infusion. The body (of music) and the tea bag are one, not zero.

Therefore the past and the future are indistinguishable. :-{!

Thanks for the interview, Matthias. I enjoyed your questions.