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On Random Hold

Q. The legend goes that you and David Ferguson saw a particular band perform and were unhappy with the result, which inspired the two of you to start making music together. Did you have a specific vision of what you wanted the band to be?

A. Not really, it was more a matter of what we didn't want to be. We weren't at all keen on American music. We wanted what we did to be strongly European. David most probably had a vision, probably more than one. He tends to have a lot more opinions than I do. We always wanted the music to be emotional. That was the crux of it.

Q. When Random Hold toured the United States with Peter Gabriel, you were the lead singer as well as playing. I would imagine that was a very different experience from performing with PG or the other work you've done. Care to comment?

A. I'd only recorded with Peter at the time so I only had experience of performing with RH. I'd become the singer by default, as there was no one else going to do it. I ended up enjoying it, though I didn't enjoy having to talk on stage or do interviews. I preferred it if Bill or David did that kind of thing. I never felt as though the opinions I had about things were worthy of being in print or on the radio. I felt that the music should speak for itself. I still feel that way.

Q. Is it true that when you started with Manscheinen/Random Hold you could barely play the guitar?

A. I'd played a bit as a teenager, but then stopped almost completely between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, when first rugby, and then art dominated my interests. I only really started to play seriously when I left art school. Even then my approach was more to do with noise making than anything else. When I started to work for Peter, I had to improve, but I'm still relatively inept technically. I can't remember how many guitar players Berklee spews out every year, but I would suggest that they're all superior technicians to me.

Q. Many think that RH was one of the first New Wave bands -- were you consciously trying to break new ground?

A. We hoped that we were doing something fresh. In reality we didn't push hard or fast enough, so that we were left to one side as the New Wave bands broke through. We were perhaps a bit too heavy and possibly not bold enough. Then I left, so that was that, as far as I was concerned.

Q. How do you feel about Random Hold all these years later?

A. Better than I used to. I haven't listened since the CD was released, but I felt then that Bill's (MacCormick) playing sounded a lot stronger than I remembered it. The live tracks, I enjoyed; good and edgy.

Q. Do you feel you ever got close to what you wanted?

A. Yes at times. I wish we'd been more able, but perhaps the simplicity of the music was its strength.

Q. Can you share a little about some specific Random Hold songs? 'Dolphin Logic'?

A. The title was the name of a band in South London, who became Friendly Rifles, and later The Camberwell Now. It's an odd song. The opening chords were originally in a Manscheinen piece, which was meant to be about a Giacometti sculpture of four small figures, which he described as four women walking across a large marble floor. The line about discipline and desire, was taken from the title of a sculpture that I can't recall. It summed up a feeling that I still have, that one is constantly torn between what one knows to be correct and proper behaviour, and the devil nagging away on your shoulder. It was fun to play and sing.

Q. 'Today is as Good as Any Other'?

A. The Medals Of Dishonour were some medallions that the sculptor David Smith produced. That was the starting point. I can't find the book I have about him, but I would think he made them back in the fifties. He was a major influence on the way metal was used to create sculpture, on a larger scale than anyone else had attempted before.

Q. 'Wallpaper Song'?

A. Bill came along with the music for this, and I wrote the lyrics, which are about the impossibility of escaping yourself. I enjoyed performing it. It was quite hard work...a lot of words to blurt out.

Q. 'The Ballad'?

A. This was a very early song. We liked the idea that it was a waltz. I can't remember any of the lyrics, so I can't really comment on those. The guitar part in the middle is delightfully simplistic. It was our first (only?) song to be played on the radio. I waited in to hear it in the evening, and felt disappointed that it didn't feel wonderful to hear something I'd helped make being played to loads of people.

Q. 'Passive Camera'?

A. This was very good to perform, the opening section especially, banging straight in. Again I don't remember the lyrics. I seem to remember looking at war photography at the time, Don McCullin and also thinking of Greek and Roman warfare. Is it about the awfulness of just being an observer? I think so. It is terrible not to be active.

Q. 'Precarious Timbers'?

A. This was one of the first RH tunes to be written, along with Montgomery Clift. The title is a play on 'timbres'. I used to enjoy reading John Cage, and it wouldn't surprise me if I nicked the idea from him. The chorus chord sequence is still one I play sometimes. It has a pleasing chugging quality to it, along with its seeming circularity.

Q. When Random Hold toured the United States with Peter Gabriel, you were the lead singer as well as playing. How did this differ from your previous experience?

A. I'd only recorded with Peter at the time so I only had experience of performing with RH. I'd become the singer by default, as there was no one else going to do it. I ended up enjoying it, though I didn't enjoy having to talk on stage or do interviews. I preferred it if Bill or David did that kind of thing. I never felt as though the opinions I had about things were worthy of being in print or on the radio. I felt that the music should speak for itself. I still feel that way.

On Various and Sundry Projects

Q. How did you come to work with Akira Inoue on "Snowflake" and "Head Hands & Feet"?

A. Akira was making some recordings in London years ago (mid-eighties?), and the engineer had suggested I come in to play. When I arrived and set up the engineer came smugly over, and handed me the manuscript for the piece I was to work on, telling me that it was in 13/8, and facetiously wishing me luck. I really needed it. My main problem being that I don't read music. I decided the only way to deal with the situation was with bravado, so I turned the sheet of music upside down and told them to play the track and that I'd find my way. I must have done okay as I still see, and work with Akira.

"Snowflake" was Akira's aunt's idea. The thought was that it would be good to make a story album, with songs that were not only aimed at children, but that a parent and child could enjoy together. The story was read in both English and Japanese. I think Akira's aunt had made the translation into Japanese. About four years ago we performed "Snowflake" in a theatre just outside Tokyo, with Akira's eighty year old aunt reading. It was a very gentle, reflective and enjoyable evening.

The other record has some good things and some bad on it. Akira had wanted to make a record that combined rock/pop elements with the traditional sound of the koto. Some tunes worked well, others not so successfully. We've performed material from that a couple of times in Japan.

Q. What is one of your favorite past projects (not including working with PG)?

A. I would think that the Scott Walker record "Tilt", has to rank as one of my favourite projects. I only worked on it for a few days, but it was challenging and fun, and the results are wonderfully strange.

Q. You worked with Paul McCartney on "Flowers in the Dirt". How did the two of you connect?

A. The producer Mitchell Froom, was working with McCartney, and he asked me to play on a couple of songs. I'm not sure that Paul was too fussed about what I did, as only work for one tune made it to the album. It was a slightly odd experience as Paul and Mitchell had a minor falling out during the time I was working.

Q. You've written music for Graham Dean's installations. Could you tell a little about how that came about and what the music was like?

A. I've done music to a couple of Graham's films over the years. He's an old friend, and as you may know it was he who suggested PG come and see the band all those years ago (1979). The music to his film, which is about his use of watercolour, is really like a washing line, endeavouring to help hold the film together. Really just giving it an aural as thread. There's a simple groove, with a guitar noises/parts highlighting the visuals.

Q. You appeared on the cover of "Rites of Passage" by Vitamin Z. What was the nature of your collaboration with them -- did you write with them as well as play?

A. I was employed as a player on the album, and as things went along, they felt that they wanted me to be more involved...that meant getting my picture on the back cover! [It was the front cover - ed.] Nick and Geoff wrote the record, and there was another member who I think bailed out, but I'm not sure about that. They were very pleasant, and most of the recording was done at Abbey Road, which was fun. Ross Cullum, the producer, is very funny and interesting. I last saw Geoff maybe eleven years ago. I guess their project fizzled out, as so many do.

Q. Any tales to tell about working with Talk Talk?

A. The Talk Talk work was always challenging. I seem to remember one of the first things I did for them was “Life's What You Make It”. They were looking for some little guitar interludes. I remember Mark suggesting that I play like Acker Bilk. (Acker Bilk is a schmaltzy clarinet player). I nodded, and carried on. It worked. Soon after that they asked me to do a show in France with them. I learned the material, and then had two afternoons rehearsal with the band. That worked out as four times through the show. Mark came in for the last run through. The next day we traveled to France for a festival date, maybe thirty thousand people. I expected to be tucked up at the back of the stage where I'd be able to check on my notes and keep my head down That was not to be. I was stage right, down at the front; trial by fire. Soon after that they asked me to tour with them round Europe, so I must have done okay.

Q. You produced and played on T-Bone Burnett's album, "Talking Animals". Any particular memories of that experience?

A. T-Bone is quite a character. Unfortunately I haven't worked with or for him since. I have fond memories of that record. It was the first time that I met and worked with Tchad Blake (the engineer and now producer), who is still a good friend. If I remember rightly ‘Monkey Dance’ had some nice guitar things in it. The whole record was quite wacky, which of course came from the material, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that T-Bone's fans thought it was too straight. Strange. 'The Story of Frank Cash' was especially odd, and funny. At the time T-Bone was just getting into playing poker at the weekends. I'm not sure if he was ever into the horses. He suggested I read some Flannery O'Connor which I did. I should re-read some of those stories.

Q. You played on the album "Mystery Girl" with Roy Orbison - what was that like?

A. I never met him. T-Bone was producing, and I'd flown into LA a day early by mistake. I hadn't read my ticket properly so I showed up at the airport a day early in London and had it pointed out to me that my flight was for the following day. Fortunately I could change my flight to leave that same day, as I didn't want to go back home.

I arrived in LA, and met up with T-Bone in the evening just after I'd checked into the hotel, and he asked me if I'd play on the Elvis Costello song that was written for Orbison. (I gather Ry Cooder had declined to play on the track after he'd seen the chord chart, which was a tad complicated.)

So the next day I went and played on it. T-Bone didn't show up, but that was okay as I just worked with the engineer. (I never did get paid for that job.)

Q. Since you don't read music, how do you know what to play when you come in to do session work? Do you just play what you think sounds good?

A. You just have to listen and respond. Often people have fixed ideas of what they want which is fine. Occasionally people have asked me to play things that I simply can't, so you have to suggest that they might be better off with someone else.

Q. If you "listen and respond" to determine what you play, aren't you essentially writing your own guitar parts?

A. Sometimes I'm given free rein, and at others something specific may be asked for. Often one enters an area of workable compromise where something is suggested, and you try to take it to another stage. Artists and managers are generally reluctant to accept that a player has contributed more than just the ability to play. Hence the offer of a share in publishing is never forthcoming.

Q. What happened to your 'upcoming' solo album which was mentioned in the liner notes of "Plus From Us"?
A. There was never a complete album, though there were a number of songs, and there still are, and quite by chance I listened to them the other day. There are ten or eleven songs, but as with all these things as soon as you go back to them you find large chunks that are perhaps not as good as you once felt they were. In fact there are bits I actively dislike. There are maybe three or four that still stand up.

Q. What else have you been working on?

A. Two projects I spent a long time on were the music for a game, Atlantis 3, and also the animated feature "La Gabbianella Et Il Gatto", an Italian film, which I scored and wrote the songs for. Sadly it was never distributed in its English version, though I gather it is shown occasionally on the Disney channel, titled "Lucky and Zorba" [Also available on video in its English version – ed.]. It was released throughout Europe in different language versions. It's an animated feature, for children, containing five songs, with a guitarry soundtrack. The story is about a cat that raises a seagull and teaches it to fly. Whilst their enemy, the sewer rats try to rise up and take over the city. It's good fun. There is a follow up due within the next two or three years. Animation is a long winded process.

Q. How did Midge Ure get involved with "Lucky and Zorba"?

A. Midge lives not too far away from Real World, so we occasionally meet up at social events. I asked him to sing a couple of parts on the soundtrack. The part of one of the cats, and to join in the chorus of the rats. Midge was a better cat than rat. Peter Hammill helped out too.

Q. You said previously that you're still writing...do you have a 'process'? Music first? Lyrics first? Can you sit down and decide to write, or do you wait for inspiration?

A. It's all a bit haphazard right now. It tends to be that I have some guitar ideas knocking about that I work on a little, then discard, hence the lack of progress.

Q. Aside from an early tour with David Sylvain (Japan), and touring extensively with Peter Gabriel, who else have you toured with?

A. I toured a few times with Blancmange - Europe and the States. Talk Talk in Europe. Battiato in Italy. Tim Finn, mostly shows in the States. France Gall, in France.

On Personal Preferences

Q. Do you prefer playing guitar and being a supporting player, or do you enjoy taking center stage as a vocalist as well?

A. I enjoy singing a lot, and I should do more. I also love playing, and I should do more of that too!

Q. What types of music do you enjoy?

A. Today I was listening to Nick Drake, "Pink Moon", and "Axis" the Hendrix album. Also 'Hurt', and 'Wichita Lineman', by Johnny Cash. Other things I put on at the moment are, Arvo Part's "Tabula Rasa", a couple of Bill Frisell albums, and Glen Gould.

Q. What types of books do you enjoy?

A. I really enjoyed the Phillip Pullman trilogy, "The Amber Spyglass", (which I think has a different title in the U.S.). [Known in the States as "His Dark Materials" - ed.] I read that at the end of last year. I'm currently reading, "Bright Earth", which is a history of colour in painting, and a travel book, "Cathedrals Of The Flesh", which is about bathing. In the past, I've gone through periods of reading classic authors. I'm now less of a literary snob and tend to read purely for pleasure, rather than self improvement...

Q. You majored in Fine Art in school, specifically in sculpture. Do you still sculpt?

A. Unfortunately I don't make sculpture any more, though I'm quite happy making things out of wood around the house as needs be. I constructed a privy in the garden, and also a tree house. So I'm happy working with my hands.

Q. PG often introduces you as an avid gardener...

A. The garden does give me pleasure and I spend quite a lot of time on it. I look after just under an acre, which is a mixture of some smallish flower beds, a veg patch, some grassy areas and an orchard area that's left pretty rough.

Q. Do you enjoy playing acoustic guitar as well as electric?

A. I'm only capable of strumming. Finger picking is not something I've ever even tried. I enjoy listening to acoustic players, particularly Ralph Towner, but it doesn't suit me. It is too pure. I like the fact that the sound of the electric guitar can be treated with so many effects, that you don't necessarily know what it is.

Q. When you listen to music, do you listen as a fan or as a musician?

A. Generally both. I suppose it is almost impossible for a musician not to start analysing music when they hear it. My analysis never runs too deep!

Q. Do you think of things you might have done differently if you were playing a particular piece, or can you enjoy it passively?

A. Sometimes I'll hear something, and wish that I'd come up with that idea or sound, and wonder how it was achieved, but I don't fret over it. Hendrix is my favourite guitar player to listen to, and I never bother trying to figure out what's going on. The fluidity and violence are mind boggling.

Q. Is there anyone making music now who you haven't worked with, but would like to?

A. I've always imagined that working for [David] Bowie would be good, though really I'm perhaps not rock and roll enough for his band.

Q. Do you have a dream project that you haven't been able to do? If so, what would it be?

A. I'd like to make a very loud record. I'd also like to make a record of small simple songs. The other thing I'd really like would be to work on big soundtracks. The combination of picture and music can create very strong emotions.

Q. Do you still have the studio behind your house?

A. The shed [I] used to work in has had the studio element dismantled, so I don't play in there any more.

Q. Do you prefer studio work to playing live or vice versa, and why?

A. They are two very different disciplines. Recording, you're always trying to serve the song, but also push things as far as you can...if you're allowed. Performing a show is really about consistency, and making sure that the singer is completely comfortable with the songs. You're also having to make sure the sound man is happy and confident, and also that you're working with the lighting department. You have to be comfortable with yourself; not always so easy.

Q. What is the best part of being a professional musician, and what is the worst part?

A. The worst part is not knowing what you're going to be doing from day to day, and consequently how the mortgage payments will be met. The best part is the privilege of making a living, however precarious, doing something that is creative and that you love to do.

On Working With Peter Gabriel Through The Years

Q. Any recollections of the first time you stepped into the recording studio with PG?

A. The first time was when Peter invited the Randoms to try playing through some material. We arrived at his barn studio late one morning and he appeared from round the back of the building, wet and covered in mud. There had been small flood of the barn, which was really just a rehearsal room at the time. He and his two roadies were digging a ditch to try and divert the rainwater from the building. All the old carpets were soaking inside, so it stank, and stayed that way for the three or four days we were working there. It was from that time that I was then asked to play on PG3.

Going into the same barn some months later was much more daunting. At least the first time I had been with my friends. This time Peter had a mobile studio there, with the producer, engineer, and musicians Jerry Marotta and John Giblin. I felt most inept when we started up, as the standard of playing was so high, but Peter was kind and supportive, and really helped me to get through it. He was very patient with me, for which I am most grateful.

Q. Can you share any memories of the first Amnesty Tour?

A. I remember feeling quite out of place a lot of the time.
I was reading Anna Karenina.
I saw a tornado from my room in Denver.
Joan Baez's manager was very attractive and amusing.
I watched U2 every night.
Bryan Adams was a lot less of star. I didn't even know who he was when I sat next to him on the first airport bus we took.
The last show was, I think, at Giants Stadium, and televised. I was very emotional after hearing so many people join in with 'Biko', that I dashed off to have a teary shower.
'Sledgehammer' went number one the following week.

Q. Any specific recollections associated with the second Amnesty Tour (in 1988)?

A. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.
Playing to an all coloured audience on The Ivory Coast.
Seeing the Chilean mothers of the disappeared in Mendoza.
Meeting Bill Graham.
Noticing how rock stars are very reluctant to let down their guard, and be normal. (Peter can manage that.)
Going to the Gandhi museum in New Delhi.
Seeing the towers of people in the stadium in Barcelona.
Learning to think nothing of a ten hour flight.
Hoping that you've done something that helps with the awareness of injustice that occurs throughout the world.

Q. Did the staging in PG's shows develop naturally, or did you all work with a choreographer?

A. Years ago, Peter had some choreography advice, and Tony and I would be invited to join in. We were never very good at dancing so things never went to plan, as you've most probably noticed. With the current shows [Growing Up Live], Robert Lepage suggested some of the movements, and directed Peter, and the whole show. However once things are up and running they change and are refined, and hopefully improved.

Q. You've worn costumes, makeup, and done countless dance routines helping Peter bring his songs to life - what stands out as the strangest thing you have done onstage?

A. I would think it was Peter's idea of walking into each other during ‘John Has A Headache’. Perhaps not one of his finest moments of songwriting or of his choreography.

Q. Does any tour (or any single performance) stand out in your mind as a favorite?

A. I remember the old band of Jerry, Tony, Larry and myself as having a kind of brutishness, which I wish I'd been better able to appreciate at the time. I used to be quite tense in those days, so I maybe missed some of what was going on.

The current Growing Up tour is fun, though Secret World ended up as an exciting lean show, which I would think of as the most exciting. That's also because it sold very well everywhere, so the crowds were very good and excitable.

The most exciting shows were most probably the first time we played in Mexico City in the early nineties. The audience were fantastic. Barcelona was always great too, and Paris has always been special.

Q. You characterized Secret World Live as a "lean" show. Most people wouldn't consider a show involving two stages, four lifts and a moving runway to be lean. Not to mention the enormous screen spinning over your heads!

A. I think it ended up lean musically. It felt like a tight band by the end of the tour, where now things are perhaps more complex. (There was more scope for things to change or go wrong, which I enjoyed.) Though with Ged [Lynch] rather than Manu [Katché] the approach is now more direct rhythmically.

I've only seen the screen spinning once, by mistake. I walked in on a showing of the concert film (many years ago) to some journalists and I thought it looked great. I've never watched the whole show.

Q. You looked like you had a great time interacting with Paula Cole during those shows. That tour was the first time there were women touring as part of the band. How did that change the dynamics of the show?

A. It was good to have some feminine energy on the stage. She was much more attractive than Peter. In fact she came along after Joy Askew had played and sung with the band. It made a big difference having a female voice in the sound, whether that was a great improvement I don't actually know.

Q. When you say "complex" (in connection with the Growing Up tour), are you referring to click tracks? It's widely accepted that PG now uses many pre-recorded tracks in concert (if nothing else, the end of 'Signal to Noise' leaves no doubt). Although, thinking back, the same was assumed of the SWL tour.

A. A Pro-Tools system is running, which carries a lot of information, and on many tunes we're completely tied into it. There is no room for manoeuvre should you make an error, or particularly if Peter should forget where he is. This happens less than it used to as there is a screen with a map of the song on for him to follow. Tony and I don't use the screens.

SW was much simpler, with just some rhythm loops and triggered sounds, so that if things went wrong we all had to listen and work together to bring them back into focus. There's little or no room for improvisation, which is really the nature of a big show like Peter's. The real improvisation and experimenting occurs in the studio during the writing phase.

Q. How is playing with Ged Lynch different than playing with Manu Katché?

A. Ged is less flashy, so it leaves more space to add little moments, and he tends to play bang on the beat whereas Manu has a tendency to push the beat more.

Q. On the Growing Up Tour, you're using many more guitars than ever before...

A. Obviously different guitars have different sounds, and play differently. Some are better suited to different parts, or styles of song. For example I use a detuned [DADGAD tuning - ed.] Les Paul for ‘Secret World’. In fact the main reason for changing guitars so often during the show is because there are a number of different tunings that I use. Two of the guitars that I use were made for me in the last couple of years, by an Italian maker called Frudua. They are delightfully simple instruments, one has only a single pick-up, and the other two. However neither has any other controls, so that the sound is just pure guitar, with no electronics getting in the way. Then I screw up that sound with all the pedals I use.

Q. Among other instruments, you’re now playing an unusual looking metal Trussart guitar. Can you share a little about it?

A. [Trussart] leaves the metal in small acid baths [and] there are no sharp edges, so it's perfectly safe. The sound and the look are good. It has some strange overtones, because of the body, which are quite different to a wooden instrument.

Q. Is it especially heavy?

A. It's not as light as some of the other instruments I use, and I'm not sure I'd enjoy working with it for a whole show. I would guess it's not quite as heavy as a regular Les Paul.

Q. Is your Steinberger an original and what do you like about it?

A. Yes. The one I use now is a twelve string. I asked Ned Steinberger to investigate making the twelve, which he did. Even though it looks of its time, which I'm not so keen on, it holds its tuning, which is often poor on twelve string guitars.

Q. The tours are booked with dates very close together, how does one keep a semblance of normal life when a tour is booked so heavily?

A. Actually our schedules are always quite light, especially now that Peter doesn't like to sing more than two nights in a row. In many ways I thought it was better to do three shows on the trot, then have a night off, as it meant you had more of a flow to the performances, and could more easily tighten up areas that perhaps didn't work so well.

Q. How was the Big Room Concert in November 2003?

A. It was a very relaxed show, with of course no staging. It felt a little odd as everyone just sat and watched and listened, but it all went happily enough. Some of the audience choices for songs were interesting, in that being hardcore fans they didn't choose the most obvious tunes when asked.

Q. The 46664 concert (December 2003) was quite moving to watch. 'Biko' seemed to be very emotional.

A. It was very special to perform 'Biko' down there. There are obviously huge problems with the population being ravaged by HIV, so it was good to help bring attention to those, and also refer back to the troubled times that have been overcome.

Q. It seems as if you, Tony and Peter really enjoy performing together, even though you all have very different presences onstage. Did the three of you mesh easily or are we seeing the benefit of years of familiarity?

A. It's always fun, and always has been. I think we all enjoy showing off, to varying degrees, and we're all quite shameless. I suppose through years of working together we don't really bother thinking about it too much. If we have any staging problems or thoughts we share them, and try to make things work as best we can. The staging of Peter's shows has always been a hybrid of seriousness and playfulness.

Q. Peter gives you a great deal of credit in interviews for keeping him "grounded" onstage -- do you get nervous before shows?

A. I used to be edgy before a show, but now not so. Peter sometimes gets distracted by things and forgets what's going on. Now as he has a computer on stage it's not such a problem, but years ago the band would have to push and pull to ensure he had a happy landing when he came back to us.

Q. Do you have a favorite song to play live?

A. Probably 'Secret World'. I derive great pleasure from playing the riff at the end, actually the whole song. 'Digging In the Dirt' is always fun. 'In Your Eyes' was always magical with Youssou, and 'Biko' is always moving.

Q. What's the funniest/oddest thing you've had happen onstage?

A. There are quite a few of these.
Seeing Peter on his arse after missing the monkey bars that he used to swing from, at the beginning of 'Shock the Monkey'.
Seeing Peter return in just his underpants having been stripped during 'Lay Your Hands On Me', as he was passed over the heads of the audience.
In Budapest, seeing him caught by the crowd during the same song, being stood on his feet, and having his hand shaken.
All the band being locked outside a theatre in our stage gear in the middle of winter, waiting to walk through the audience with marching drums, but not able to get in the door that had been chosen for our grand entry.

Q. What's the most unusual place you've played?

A. I suppose the strangest place we've played is a town square in Sardinia, near to where Peter owns a hotel. The act originally booked for the evening cried off at the last minute, so Peter offered his services, as we were rehearsing at the time for the Growing Up tour.

We played for a few hundred people, most of whom had never heard of Peter. It was a feast day, with simple free food, market stalls, and families ambling through the streets, and sitting in cafes. We went on after a religious procession had made its way round the streets and through the square.

Peter was later made a freeman of the town, and we each received a commemorative medal for our efforts.

Q. What's the closest you have come to missing a show and why?

A. When we were in Holland for the Secret World tour, I decided that I would cycle from Amsterdam to Den Haag. It's not a great distance, so I set off after lunch, my plan being to head west and then follow the coastal path. All well and good but when I reached the coast there was a strong head wind and the progress I made was slow. I generally pride myself in not being late for anything when I'm on the road, as a courtesy to fellow travelers. This time however it was soundcheck time and I was still miles away. I was on a fairly slow knobbly tyred bike. I eventually arrived in Den Haag, and of course, had no idea where the venue was, so I asked a lady on her bike which direction I should travel in, and explained why I wanted to be there quickly. She very kindly cycled out of her way, to show me exactly where to go. She declined the offer of tickets for the show, obviously having something better to do for the evening. I arrived to much relief on my part, and on the tour manager's part, a little worse for wear.

Q. Any particularly embarrassing moments onstage?

A. Falling off the stage when I was performing with RH supporting PG at the Brighton Centre, or could it be starting 'Sledghammer' in the wrong key, or going for the loud section of 'Digging In The Dirt' eight bars too early, or...

Q. What's touring like? Do you have time to enjoy the places you're visiting, or is all of your time taken with travel, soundcheck, rehearsal, etc.? What do you do to fill any spare time you have?

A. Touring is great fun. You're being paid to do something that you love and all the travel is free. Time off is spent wandering looking for lunch and dinner. I also enjoy going to galleries and jogging. Going for a run is a good way of exploring a place. The most lost I've ever been was in Cleveland.

The luckiest I've been was when I went for an evening run before a show in Pittsburgh. I headed off and had been running for some time, when I noticed that the houses were becoming a little run down, nothing terrible, but maybe the district wasn't the best. At the time I had long hair and I was bouncing along minding my own business. As I was running, a car pulled up and a coloured man leaned out of the window and said, "Hey boy, you runnin' the wrong way." I carried on for about fifty yards as he drove off, turned and ran out of the neighbourhood fast. He was very kind. My guess is that I could have got myself into allsorts of trouble.

Interview conducted via email March 2004 - May 2004.

Many thanks to David for his patience and generosity.


Copyright 2004-2012 Stacey Drucker & David Rhodes