Quatermass II - Nick Simper
David Lee, 1998
Nick Simper is one of the earliest architects of heavy metal though, that
was certainly never his intention. Playing hard, exciting, blues based rock
and roll was about all that the young "Nicky" had in mind when he turned
pro thirty-four years ago. In those years he has been a part of more rock
and roll history than the combined total of all the artists on the current top
ten. From his work with the legendary Mark I version of DEEP PURPLE
through the incredibly underappreciated WARHORSE to his current
standing in QUATERMASS II, Nick Simper has consistently maintained the
highest of rock and roll standards.
"LONG ROAD" is a brilliant piece of modern rock that stands atop an
immovable foundation in which Simper and former GILLAN drummer, Mick
Underwood, are the mortar and newcomers Gary Davis and Bart Foley the
framework. With keyboards provided by Don Airey this release has all the
makings of a classic, or would, if only it could be heard by more than a
handful of classic rock aficionados. And that is the mission, to spread the
good word about QUATERMASS II. Yes, there is a colorful history here but
the real story is to be told in the future of this group. We phoned Nick up at
his home in London and he was gracious enough to tell us a bit about his
past, present but mostly about his future.
DAVID LEE Let's start off with what you have going on today with
QUATERMASS II. The disc is very impressive and I have enjoyed listening
to it very much.
NICK SIMPER Well, I am glad that you like it.
DL I do, very much. It is something that you liked obviously.
NS Yeah! I mean, we enjoyed making it and we made it under, kinda, old
fashioned conditions which made it even more enjoyable. We did it like we
used to do back in the ‘60's with the big, old, fat tape machine going and
everything, more or less, live to get that kind of feel to it. Obviously, there
were quite a few overdubs but opposed to the modern way of putting things
together track by track. We enjoyed doing it.
DL So there were no computers involved?
NS Well, he has got a computer there but we did it all basically. I like to
record that way anyway, otherwise it becomes a bit clinical, this modern
way of recording. I used to like it in the old days when you only had about
four tracks or eight tracks because you knew if anybody made a
mistake!(laughs) Everybody had to start all over again. We didn't go quite
that far. Everybody made a few mistakes that got repaired afterwards but it
is nice to record in the basic style. When you start getting involved with
thirty-six tracks, where does it all end?
DL I can just imagine how it was back then, though after having worked in a
modern studio I would almost think that it was easier to record back in the
days of two tracks with the band on one and the singer on the other.
NS Yeah, yeah I have recorded like that. I mean, I've been out there since
1964 and we recorded like that. There was a terrific kind of urgency to it
and an immediacy where you knew that if anybody blew a note you had to
go back to the beginning!(laughs) Sometimes if you got other musicians in
there, I mean, when we were young sometimes you were augmented
maybe by some string players or something like that and they were
usually, what we thought, were "old guys" then.(laughs) You would be
kinda drumming your fingers if he couldn't get it right. Quite a few
embarrassing times but, yeah I remember recording that way. The biggest
frustration, really when you are short of tracks is having to share a track. In
the four track and eight track days, not so much in the eight track days
but, the bass player always had to share a track with the drummer and
then you would say to the producer "I can't hear the bass." And he would
say "Well you can't come up any louder otherwise the drums would have to
come up with it." There were problems like that but I think that the reason
that a lot of those records in the fifties and sixties are so good is because
of the conditions that they were made under. You don't get records today
that have that feel to it no matter how good they are or how well produced.
There is something about those old records that, I don't know, a little bit of
DL Right. I would say a lot of magic.
NS Yeah, yeah.
DL I saw someone mix a live record recently and there were sixty-four
tracks to play with and as they kept doing overdubs I began to wonder how
much of the record would actually be live when everything was done.
NS Oh yeah. I did a live album with a guy called SCREAMING LORD
SUCH, have you ever heard of him?
NS I did a live album with him and he overdubed so much stuff that it just
wasn't a live album anymore.
DL Was that the record where no one knew that there was going to be a
live recording and...
NS That's right, that's right. It was actually a gig and when we got there all
the tapes and all the machinery was there and we didn't know until we got
there. Oh, that was a long time ago!(laughs)
DL Is he even around anymore?
NS Oh yeah. I saw him about six weeks ago. He can still perform and do
his act. His a bit of an institution in England. He has been around forever.
He is the longest running politician that we have got, you know? The
longest running party leader and still trying to win votes in the elections and
things like that.
DL Does he have much success?
NS No, no he doesn't have any success!(laughs) But he kinda livens up the
political thing. Whenever there is an election or if an MP dies or something
like that they have to have what they call a bi-election to find someone to
take his place and Such would always go and stand. You have to put up
money for a deposit and he always loses it because if you don't get elected
you lose your deposit money. There is quite a lot of that on the British
scene now. You get the general sort of run of looney parties and they have
no credibility but they get mentioned in the count and they are always on
the television. They come up with all sorts of names and hey it gives it a bit
of fun, a bit of color.
DL That, and if you can get it to coincide with the release of a record or a
movie it is great publicity!
NS Oh yeah. It keeps his career alive because Such based his whole thing
on having the best musicians with him and doing a kind of a live
spectacular act. In this country there are not many places to play and the
circuit has kind of disappeared whereas coming up in the sixties or even in
the seventies, there were so many venues where people could play and
learn there trade. There were always bands needed because there were so
many places and they were cheep to get in. The promoters never used to
charge much and they were always packed out. This is before kids became
really blasy and got blitzed with videos and computers and stuff. Everyone
would turn out to see a live show wether it was good, bad or indifferent. All
those places, there would be sort of medium sized halls form 500 people to
5000 people, have all disappeared. They have all become kinda snooker
clubs and bingo halls and there is not a circuit anymore so, you are either
at the top of the tree playing Wembley Stadium or something like that or
you are right on the bottom playing bars and pubs. This is the difficulty
QUATERMASS have had, trying to find some decent venues where you can
earn some money. There is an audience out there for us but there are so
few places to play now, it is not easy. I am sure it is the same to some
extent in the States, isn't it?
DL Yes, it is unfortunately.
NS Yeah. A lot of the places, they figure that there is no profit in it anymore
or a lot of places won't put bands on anymore, they will have karaoke
machines. Thousands of punters will come in and all get drunk and want to
hear themselves sing and people seem to be entertained by things like
that. Or the venues will only pay enough money that duos will come in and
guys start using drum machines and stuff like that. I just hate that sort or
situation. If I can't play with a real drummer, I won't play!(laughs)
DL Its so unlifely and mechanical.
NS Yeah, deadly. So, Yeah, We are quite pleased with this album. I
attitude is that if I make something it is put away and forgotten about and I
am thinking about the next one but I have played this one quite a bit more
than I have played the others. Probably because I am not too involved in a
lot of the songs. Most of them have been written by the vocalist so, I tend
to get board witless by the other ones. You tend to get so involved with
them. You hear them so much when you are creating something like that
and you are writing them from scratch. You tend to be a little bit sick of it
by the time you come to record it but when other people have got such an
input into the writing it sounds fresher for longer, if that makes any sense.
DL It absolutely does.
NS I have always wanted to work with Mick Underwood as well so that
makes it sort of doubly exciting for me. We have known each other for
years and kind of met at gigs and been at gigs with different bands and it
wasn't until a couple of years ago that we sort of said t each other "Why
don't we do something?" "Why don't we do an album, just for the crack?"
DL This version of QUATERMASS II that is on the cd is a bit different from
the one that came together int he beginning of your and Mick's
NS Oh, yeah. We had a few changes of personnel you see. Mick and I
bumped into each other at a record company Christmas party a couple of
years ago and we are sitting there with these kind of old timers and
producers and people that we have known for years and they were all
talking about different people from our kind of time and our age group and
what hey were doing. I looked at Mick and said "Why don't we do
something?" And he said "What should we do?" I said "Let's find some
guys and do an album." One of the guys there got quite excited about the
prospect, this record producer who didn't have anything to do with it in the
end, but he got quite excited after having a few beers too many and he said
"Why don't you call it QUATERMASS II for a working title?" Mick had this
band called QUATERMASS in the seventies so QUATERMASS II seemed
like a good working title while we thought of a good name but we never got
around to thinking of a good name and everybody kept talking about
QUATERMASS II. There were a few buzzes that got into the music press
and we kinda got to live with that so, that is why it is QUATERMASS II. The
first band QUATERMASS, which was Mickey's band from the seventies,
they were a really cult band. There records used to be very hard to find and
very collectible but they have since been re-released and have sold quite
well. So, it is not an unknown name.
DL It certainly lends some assistance to what would otherwise have been a
pretty much unknown quantity.
NS Yes. Are familiar with the film "QUATERMASS?"
NS It was a big horror series on the television here in the sixties and it was
one of those things that nobody missed on a Saturday night. Everybody
went home to watch "QUARTERMASS." There were two of them, the other
one was called "QUARTERMASS and the PIT." They were kind of like
sci-fi/horror stories and that is where he got the name from. But like I say,
we met at this party and we said "Who are we going to get?" And "Who is
a really heavy guitarist?" Mick said Bernie, the guy who was with him in
GILLAN. So, Bernie Torme came along for a blow and we had a go at it.
We had a go at it with Peter Taylor as well. It really took off and we thought
"This is great." Then when it came down to brass tacks and actually doing
some recording, Bernie was so far away from the rest of us. We all lived in
London and he lived out near the Coast and it was sort of difficult to get to
his place. We used to go over there and rehearse and put stuff down in his
studio but his wife also had a photography business that took her all around
the world and he used to go with her. It actual got really difficult to get
together because there were so many commitments so in the end Bernie
said that he had to go off to America for a couple of months and we said we
were just going to have to do something else. So, there was this guy called
Gary Davis that had been around for quite a while, locally, and had knocked
everybody sideways and we got him in for a blow and he fit in just perfect.
We liked the way he played and he is a nice guy. Unfortunately, it didn't
work out in the studio with Peter Taylor. We wrote some stuff and put down
some back tracks but every time it came to putting the vocals on it just
didn't happen. No disrespect to the guy. Perhaps we weren't putting down
what he wanted to hear or what he got off on but whatever happened the
chemistry just wasn't right. It was O.K. having a knock about blow but when
it actually came down to actually creating something to put on vinyl, or cd I
should say, it just didn't work. We said to Gary Davis "Do you know
anybody that is any good?" and he said "Well, there is this guy Bart Foley
that I have seen a few times..." And he knocked us out! He is a good
songwriter and it saved us a lot of trouble sitting down and racking our
brains about songs because everybody has lots of things to do. Everybody
has got lots of priorities and things that take up a lot of time and we knew
that it was going to be an uphill struggle to actually get enough stuff
together to record the album. Bart came along with sort of a fist full of
songs and we thought that they were pretty damn good! Plus Bernie Torme
is a good writer and we had a whole catalogue from Bernie that we could
have used and we picked one of his. Then there is a guy called Johnny
Gustofson, who was in the original QUATERMASS. He was the original
vocalist and bass player in the seventies and he sent us quite a few songs.
We did one of his and found that we had quite a lot of material so, that is
how we did it!
DL The record that I have is actually the third printing, right?
NS Yeah, it has been out in Japan on Pony Canyon and has sold
reasonably well. It's come out here on RPM. I mean, I haven't got the sales
figures yet but it seems to be doing well. We don't expect to set the world
DL So it is not enough to retire on yet?
NS Not quite yet! As I say it is very hard in this country because there are
very few venues to actually do your stuff in. It is like a vicious circle. You
need to be on top to tour and show your stuff off but we have done some
nice gigs and it is surprising how many young guys have pitched up to see
us. I am talking like teenagers. Mick and myself have been around for a few
years and they seem to know everything that we have done. I was quite
surprised because I was expecting people to say "What is an old guy like
you still doing treading the boards?" They have come out and been quite
complimentary and we have had quite a lot of the older people come up and
say "Christ, we are glad to see you out there because we are getting sick
of the young metal bands!" They say that they can't play like the old guys!
Hey, we weren't always old! Once we were the young guys and we couldn't
play any better than these guys can!(laughs) It is quite flattering when
people show up and compliment you on what you do so, we are pretty
grateful for that. It is nice that people do remember you.
DL Has it given you enough encouragement that there will be another
QUATERMASS II record?
NS Oh yeah! That is definitely in the cards. We have to kick some material
around and we are just generally taking it as it comes. There is no hard and
fast game plan because everybody is doing other things. Bart has done his
own album and Gary works with other people and everybody gets the odd
session and gig with different people. There is not so much for bass and
drums now because not many people seems to use them for recording.
There is a lot of computer stuff with the modern bands but Bart is demand
particularly he has got pretty good pitch. He can just go into a session and
hear a song and in five minutes he is singing the harmonies and
background vocals perfect and guys like that are gold dust. They are
always in demand. And any guy who can play guitar like Gary Davis is
always in demand.
DL How did you bring Don Airey into the whole QUATERMASS mix?
NS We just fancied a keyboard on it. You listen to the back tacks and you
think "Well, I don't know, we could use something on this." And Don is just
one of the best keyboard players around. I didn't know him personally but
Mick knew him and he seemed to be the guy that everyone was using and
he is obviously just one of those experienced session men that can just
slide in with anybody. He heard our stuff and he genuinely seemed to like
what we were doing. He was quite complimentary about the material and he
liked the bass parts and everything else. We said "Well, do you want to do
it?" And he said "Sure!" I think that he had just come back the day before
from South America or something like that with THE ELECTRIC LIGHT
ORCHESTRA. He just played what was necessary and what was wanted. It
was perfect. You know, guys like that, you don't have to tell them. Even if
you have never played with a guy like that before, once you start working
with him it is like you have played with him all of your life. There is a certain
core of people that have that effect on you.
DL He does a great job on the record.
NS Yeah, he is great. He is not over the top and he is not too understated.
He just does a perfect job and he just knows exactly what to do.
DL O.K. we'll move from QUATERMASS II back in time a bit to DEEP
DL I know it was only eighteen months...
NS I have done a lot of things since DEEP PURPLE.
DL But when people think Nick Simper or Nicky...
NS Yeah, I was Nicky in those days.(laughs)
DL DEEP PURPLE is what people think of. Is that a weight around your
neck or something that you are still very proud of?
NS Sure I am proud of what I did but,...I don't know, it is funny because
everybody asks about it and it would be a lie if I said that I didn't get a bit
board talking about that so much because I have done things since then
that I figure, I mean, no disrespect to those guys but I have played with
musicians just as good and I dare say, even better. People always tend to
think of the things that are a bit more of a commercial success. The thing
that annoys me about DEEP PURPLE is that no one ever seems to give
the first lineup the credit that it deserves. We were the guys that were the
pioneers. We blazed the trail for them all. I know that hey have had about
six or seven lineups since I was with them but a lot of people don't realize
that we spent about six months touring the States and people in Europe
and England thought that we were American! Everywhere that we used to
turn up on the continent, in France or Denmark or something like that, they
were expecting an American group. And people talk about "Hush" all the
time but we had five singles on the charts for the Tetragramatton label. All
of them charted and, I think, that two or three of those were top 10. Nobody
ever talks about that, I mean, we were featured on the international page of
Cashbox. I think that we got hits in nearly every part of the world, apart from
England, with "Hush" and "Kentucky Woman" but nobody ever mentions
that. They think that we were sort of a little pop band that had one record
and that was it. We had three gold albums and those albums are still
selling now. They are still coming out. They just re-released them in a box
set and there is yet another box set coming out in the new year and I
mean, this stuff that we recorded still turns over zillions of records. Yeah, I
am proud of it. The first album was recorded in 18 hours. Can you imagine
that? You wouldn't even put down a drum track of a single in 18 hours
today! We did the whole album in 18 hours. We had a bit more time to do
the second two but we worked on very tight schedules. My main complaint
about DEEP PURPLE is that when we did get some success, which was
very, very, quickly after we started, we were just worked to death by the
management and the record company. We were just the products and they
were going to milk us as much as they could until we died. That wouldn't
happen today. Bands today wouldn't let that happen. No artist would let
that happen, what happened to us. In that six months we were jammed in
the studio and we had to come up with a couple of albums and a couple of
singles. We had to just get in there and deliver because the record
company , I mean, people wanted product. We had more product out in a
year than most bands had out in ten years. You can't really deliver world
class stuff under those circumstances. I am quite amazed when I listen to
the old stuff we did that it still stands up so well. There was a hell of a lot of
pressure on all the time and people say "Well, you recorded other peoples
songs and you didn't write much of your own stuff." We never had time! If
we weren't on the road we were in the studio. We never had time to do
anything. Apart from that, it was great. We played a lot of 25,000 seat
stadiums and places. We supported a lot of big acts and without trying to
sound big headed, we blew them away! I mean, we worked with CREAM
and CREDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY and
SANTANA. I am not saying that we are any better than those bands but we
certainly nicked the audience from them and a lot of people didn't like
that!(laughs) They didn't like this new, upstart, unknown band coming out of
nowhere. The one thing that we did have going for us was that we had got a
bit of a track record on the British rock and roll circuit so, we were not
unknown in the business. The whole idea when it was all put together,
according to the publishers that we had, they said that we were the first
real supergroup. Not because we had really famous names but because we
could play and we knew how to deliver. Yeah, I am pretty pleased with what
we put down at the time. There are a lot of detractors that say that the
follow up lineup sounded much better but don't realize that the Mark II
lineup would spend more time on a single than we would spend on a couple
of albums. So, it was bound to sound better.
DL Personally, I do like the subsequent lineups and, as you say, there have
been many but I do think that it is telling of the quality of the original groups
material that each show that DEEP PURPLE has played for the last five or
six years begins with "Hush".
NS Yeah, they were all a bit different. I am amazed that hey are still going
really, I am surprised that they haven't done other things. But, there you go,
they are making a buck and it keeps the Mark I stuff alive because it is still
turning over a lot of copies. Somebody out there is buying it. We have been
doing that with QUATERMASS as well. The whole style of that, it is just
quite a unique number. I am quite pleased with that one. There is a group, a
young group, over here that have covered it and got it on the charts
recently. KULA SHAKER or something like that.
DL Yes. Almost a note for note knock off of your version of the song.
NS Yeah, yeah, they obviously copied it from ours so it is a compliment
really, isn't it?
DL Rod Evens seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, do you have
any idea of what happened to him?
NS No idea at all. Somebody told me, not long ago, that he was dead and
then somebody told me that he wasn't dead. I have got no idea where he is.
The last I heard he was living in LA and he had got married and settled
down. He was with CAPTAIN BEYOND and after that I don't know what he
did. He has just disappeared completely.
DL I think his last reported sighting was when someone hired him to front a
band that they called DEEP PURPLE back in 1980.
NS Yeah, that's right.
DL That was something that you were never involved with though, right?
NS He contacted me about it but I didn't want to know about it. No, I was
not involved with that in any way at all. I think that they got the lawyers onto
him and he got into a lot of trouble over that. I never knew all about it until a
couple of years after it all happened. Somebody told me that he went out
with a bunch of look-a-likes or something silly like that and he, apparently,
sold out a stadium somewhere next to the Mexican border or something
like that. Apparently, he sold that out and when the lights went up
everybody realized that it was a bunch of look a likes and the only one that
had been involved with DEEP PURPLE was him and there was a riot there.
They had to run for it! No, I never had anything to do with that. It was printed
in a book once that I was part of it and I have been meaning to sue those
guys for it ever since.
DL After your stint with DEEP PURPLE you moved onto other things,
WARHORSE comes to mind first.
NS Yeah, WARHORSE was my baby.
DL That is a group that you have resurrected from time to time isn't it?
NS No, I have never resurrected it. The stuff has been re-released in
different forms and different packages and then recently I found a load of
unreleased material. We had a problem with one label that ripped us off for
the money but we have kept the stuff alive. We got together recently just to
see how it sounded because we hadn't actually played together since the
band folded in 1974 and we had a get together for fun really. It sounded so
good and we thought "Why don't we do some more stuff?" We have kicked
some stuff around and we brought a mobile unit down to the rehearsal room
but we had a lot of problems with it and most of the stuff that we put down
wasn't recorded well enough to use. It was unfortunate because it wasted a
lot of time. All those guys have a lot of commitments as well and it is a
case of we will do some more when we can next get together. It is still
open and, as I say, the stuff has recently been re-released with bonus
tracks. That should be coming out on the American and Canadien market
in the new year as well on Angel Air as well. We did have a deal with
Capitol in the begining when we first started the band but Capitol, I think,
they sort of over streched themselves witht he acts that they signed and
they decided to get rid of a lot of acts that htey had signed and we were
amongst them. That was a great outfit. They were my favorite and we
toured hard for four years, working every night all around the continent. The
band was really big in Europe and it was really record deal problems that
set in. You know what it is like when somebody signs to a label and then
the head of A+R leaves the label a week after you have signed and the new
guy isn't really interested in what the last guy signed. We did two albums
and were actually on the verge of doing a new deal when the band split.
That was basically because the drummer and singer had been working with
Rick Wakeman and he offered them a tour and they decided to break the
band up to go on the tour. That was the end of it and a move that they have
regretted ever since!(laughs)
DL That was in ‘74?
NS Yeah, that was in 1974.
DL So that was when Rick Wakeman was embarking on his solo career
NS Yeah, Rick was the original keyboard player with WARHORSE. I sort of
discovered Rick. Nobody had heard of him yet.
DL I didn't know that!
NS Oh, yes. He didn't record with us but he was in the original lineup, in
fact, he approached me and wanted to work with me. We started to work
together and there was a lot of friction with Rick which would take a lot
more time to tell you!(laughs) But we ended up parting company. Rick is
his own man and he has done well but when there is five of you together
you have to pull together and compromise a bit and he wasn't the right type
of guy for that so, it didn't happen but good luck to him.
DL What came after WARHORSE?
NS When WARHORSE folded I had another band called FANDANGO,
actually, I first had a band called NICK SIMPER's DYNAMITE which was
quite good and we did well in far flung territories like Italy. We had troubles
with management and troubles with record companies and the usual stories
that you have heard a million times over and it ended up collapsing but it
did resurrect itself as FANDANGO. I was pleased with FANDANGO but the
punk situation was coming in then and not to many people were interested
in signing a metal or rock type group. Everybody wanted the punk groups
because they were young and they were new and everybody was queuing
up to sign them. We signed to a German label and, in the end, and English
label. Germans, you know, they love rock music. We went over and
recorded two albums in Germany and the original recordings should fetch a
ridiculous amount of money now the same as the WARHORSE ones do.
The FANDANGO stuff has been repackaged as well and that has sold
steadily. That has come out as a double cd and hopefully that will also
come out on Angel Air sometime in the future when the original contract
expires. I like to think of all this material as my pension, you
DL It makes me wonder, you have been kicking around for a while and I
would think that you would be getting some residuals from all of the
projects that you have done.
NS Yeah, you get bits and pieces. It keeps you going and keeps the
wolves from the door!(laughs)
DL I know that you spent a bit of time writing for other artist or have I got
NS Yeah, well that was a bit of a difficult situation. The guy who writes with
me, Peter Parks, we wrote a song that was covered in America by a band
called MARIAH. We didn't even know that it had been covered. They got a
hold of the song and they ended up changing the name and the title and we
wouldn't have been any the wiser if a friend of ours hadn't been on tour with
Eric Clapton. He happened to be on tour and he phoned us up and said
"That song of yours is in the American top 100 but they have changed the
name and it hasn't got your name on the record as the writer!" So, we spent
money on lawyers and it was all a big loss but we got the song back in the
end but we got ripped off for the money. We have had a couple of near
misses with some stuff that we wrote for Kenny Rodgers but that didn't
come off so primarily, we are writing for ourselves. It is not so easy to write
for other artists because there are so many good songwriters out there and
so many of them are better than me too! So, it is not an easy game to
make a living at.(laughs)
DL Is it better than being an accountant?
NS (Laughs) Oh, sure! All we want is the accountants wages! They are the
guys who seem to make the bucks.(laughs) It wouldn't do for me because I
am not too good with figures. I will just stick to playing the bass.
DL I think that you have to follow what you love to d and it is obvious that
you love music. Some people do get tired of it and enter the business end
of it all, has that ever been an option for you?
NS I have come pretty close to that a few times but I didn't feel right
wearing a suit.(laughs) I got involved in a bit of record production for some
companies and things like that but it just didn't suit me. I often found that
some of these guys were so young that communication was quite difficult. I
think that they thought that I was too old to be doing it!(laughs) It's gone full
circle now and a lot of the younger guys are getting off on what we were
playing years ago. You listen to a lot of these bands and their covers are
getting on the charts and you think to yourself "Geeze, we were doing that
in 1960!" So, it is quite complimentary. I think that a lot of them are finding
out that a lot of good music came out of them days. That is not to say that
hey are not doing good things now but I think that was a special period for
DL I know that growing up in the seventies and eighties left me feeling like I
missed something very special. There was nothing so creatively explosive
as the fifties and sixties. Everything since that time has been some form of
copy from that period.
NS Yeah, I know what you mean. I suppose everyone has their time. My
mom and dad used to say "Yeah, the stuff that you are doing is alright but
you should have heard some of the stuff that was going down in the forties."
When you listen to that stuff you have to agree, those guys were great
musicians. There has always been good stuff about. Good music will
always come out won't it?
DL Absolutely and good music has come out and you have been a part of
thirty years of it.
NS Yeah, thirty four years since I first went professional. And I still play live
on weekends. There are a bunch of ex-pros that go out and play in bars for
just kicks really. You get a lot of kids that come along and ask for tips and
things or come to see the guitarist and that is nice. People sit in and it is
good. We have Richard Hudson who is with THE STRAWBS and guys of
that caliber. There is a pool of about ten musicians that we all get together.
It's called THE GOOD OLD BOYS(laughs), we named it that after the
BLUES BROTHERS movie and of course we are all old!(laughs) We just go
out and play a few things of our own but mostly covers. Everything from
Garth Brooks to heavy metal, we play our own way. Sometimes we have
sax players with us and whoever pitches up and it is always a good fun
night. That is what you need at this stage of the game. You don't want to
be too serious. It is a serious business when you are dealing with
accountancy and record label and management and you are counting every
penny and signing contracts but it is a good antidote to go out there and
just have a bit of fun and to try and remember why you originally got into it.
It was to have fun regardless wether you got paid or not!(laughs) That is the
name of the game really.
DL Is that what you see yourself doing for the foreseeable future or can you
see a day when you say to yourself "O.K. It's time to put the bass back in
NS No! I'll never put it in the case!(laughs) I've got a ‘61 Fender that is worth
its weight in gold now and I still get that one out. I get kinda frightened to
take that one out of the house but I creep out to certain venues just to stop
it from drying out. I have got a couple of Fender basses and they both play
good but putting it away? I don't know. The STONES are still rolling aren't
they? I don't think you ever can really. Chuck Berry and Little Richard and
some of these old guys, Jerry Lee is still alive. These are the guys that I
grew up on and they are still doing it and they are still valid so I don't see
any reason to put it away. Most musicians seem to get better when they
get older. You learn things all the time like when you go to see some kid
that is eighteen and you see him do something and you think "How did he
do that?"(laughs) They haven't got the road and the circuit to learn their
trade on but they have certainly got other things because the standard of
musicianship in that age group compared with how we were in the sixties, I
mean, they are light years ahead of us. I see bass players that absolutely
frighten me to death! The only thing to me is that with all of these funky
bass players why don't they play guitar because they are good enough to.
It is not my scene at all, I like a bass to be felt rather than heard but you
have to admire the musicianship of some of these guys. They get younger
and younger and better and better.(laughs) There is no reason why the old
guys can't keep going. We just keep boogieing away we do our thing and
nobody thinks that they have anything to prove. We've done our bit as best
as we could do it and hopefully there is a bit more life left in us yet! I'll tell
you, Mickey Underwood plays a kit like an eighteen year old. He is just
frightening! He did a drum solo not long ago that absolutely turned the place
on its side. I don't know where he got the energy from and to see it was
absolutely phenomenal. That guy has got to be the loudest drummer in the
world. I think that given the right circumstances, the right situation, the right
audience in the right venue we could all do a bit of that. There is nothing to
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