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Anthony Phillips Interview

You Have A Long Cup Of Tea In The Middle

Interview with Anthony Phillips (24th September 2019)


Anthony Phillips' new studio album Strings Of Light was released in October 2019, so we had a lot to discuss. Andreas Lauer had the chance to talk to Anthony about the new album and some other things.


Anthony Phillips: Guten Abend!

GNC: Guten Abend!

Ant: Right, so here we are!


GNC: Here we are, yeah. How much time have we got?

Ant: I've got about three days – no, no, no … How long do you need? … I've got about forty, forty-five minutes. Is that alright?


GNC: Yes, that'll be fine. First of all, before we start, we would like to ask you for one or two recent photos. Can you send us some?


Ant: Well, there aren't any, it's funny. We keep going onto the record company about this, and they're tearing their hair out, going to sort it out. But I don't have any new ones – blame the record company and not me … But it's going to happen soon. I think they're frightened that my face looks so terrible that the camera might explode now.


GNC: Are you sure? I saw you on the video for La Cura, it wasn't so bad …

Ant: (laughs)


GNC: Let's start with Strings Of Light, your fabulous new album. It was quite a surprise in August, when we heard it would be published and it would be an album full of guitar only, like Twelve and like Field Day. Now I've listened to it a few times – how long was it in the making, can you tell us about that?

Ant: It was a long time … Not as long as Field Day, but Field Day I had to stop and start because of other music. I didn't have to stop and start completely during the making of Strings Of Light. I did have some other work, but not to have to stop completely. So, it probably took about (hesitating) a year, I would think, yes, absolutely over a year to write. I mean, that's not every day. I've certainly always done some other things, but not over a blocked period. No, if I say a year is right, I'm talking nonsense. I mean, it took a year to get it up to performance standard. But the composing – I couldn't tell exactly at what point I had written it all. Some pieces moved quicker than others, so they were ready within a few weeks. But others were more difficult – chipping away, trying to get the form right … There was periods where I'd have some pieces completely finished and I just bounced from here and there … Probably, kind of obviously really, the longer, more complex pieces inevitably you would think they will take longer to do. So some of those probably took maybe six, seven, eight months. The last one, Life Story, took a long time. I mean, I had a lot of different sections, and it's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle to me. It wasn't a question of trying to shoehorn every single section I had – I let some go – but I wanted to try and get the main ones in. And then sometimes the balance was such that you had to let something go. But it's quite difficult when you have got a piece of music with eight or nine minutes to be able to judge the form. You know, it's a bit like, I suppose, for a famous novelist: working out that what you write on page two is going to make perfect sense in a linear way by the time you get to page 600. It is not necessarily easier. It requires great skill. And I was battling around in the dark with a lot of it for some while.


I WAS SITTING ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR, THINKING: I CAN'T DO THIS!


I recorded twenty of the 24 pieces in last December which would have been about fifteen months on. And then I left four pieces which was the really difficult ones till April as I couldn't practise all of them at the same time – because it was destroying my poor body. I'm getting an old man in that respect. When I did Field Day, I had trouble with my left wrist, because doing a lot of television work which is keyboard-based (and you're doing a lot of stuff with one hand) … Anyway, it's very easy to get out of practice. I know Trevor Rabin has talked about the same thing when he was doing all this film work – you can't have two lives going on at the same time. You can't be practising the amount you need to do. His technique is obviously at that other, sharper end, particularly the electric, than mine, but you know that in the eighties, before computers we used to practise and play manually, I think, probably a lot more, certainly composers, but now less so. It took a long time to build up the stamina, build up the physical strength again, and I was going to the physio quite a lot then. When it came to December last year, a few weeks before, I nearly stopped. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor – not quite bursting into tears, but just thinking: I can't do this! And one part of me was thinking: Well, I'm going to give this all up and come back in a couple of months. But then I thought: Why, hang on! Be sensible, man, be sensible! Don't do 'all or nothing'! I mean, I tend to be a bit of an 'all or nothing' person, but I thought: The sensible thing to do (you're not normally a sensible person, but be sensible) is: take the easy ones first, and then you got time to practise! Because practising the difficult ones was having a corrosive effect on the other ones, as the difficult pieces would cause such strain to my left wrist and my shoulder that I was being not able to practise the other ones properly. So sense prevailed, and I left the difficult four until April, starting again on April 1st, April Fools' Day, and finished by Easter. And then we mixed it in May. So, the whole album from start to finish was about eighteen months. A bit longer.


GNC: The four difficult ones – it was not necessarily the longest ones, was it?

Anthony PhillipsAnt: Well, the four most difficult ones, oddly enough technically – you're quite right. Some of them were the twelve string ones. What people don't understand – well I'm sure they do understand if I explain it to them, because they would not understand it from listening – is: The twelve string requires obviously more effort to press down the strings. Now, if you're just strumming easy three note chords, that's fine. But if you're doing more complicated stuff, it really is quite a strain on the left wrist. And we had a big balance between trying to get the action of the guitar low enough which means it's not too hard to press down – but if it's too low, then you get buzzing: so we were always trading off action versus buzzing. And Dale Newman who used to work for Genesis, he now works as my guitar man, I call him my Guitar Tsar.


GNC: Yeah, I read that.

Ant: He was doing a great job faring all the guitars to the different repairers and trying to get everything as easy as possible to play. Because if you are playing one of these pieces you'll be ok, but if you're trying to sustain patches over a lot of them, it's the cumulus of effect on your left shoulder and wrist. The last piece, Life Story, that is a long one. That was technically difficult. Funnily enough, Winter Lights, which is one of the longest ones, that is a brute. That is a brute on the left hand on the twelve string. But that one doesn't sound like one of the most difficult ones. The other one that is very difficult for me, because I don't practise a lot of very fast lead stuff, that's the one called Mouse Trip. That was quite technical for me. And I kept going through a lot of changes. At one point it was going to be even more flamboyant than that, but I kind of reined it back in maybe a little bit more simple. And the other one was the sixteen string.


GNC: The Grand Tour?

Ant: Yeah, I mean, that was really hard! Partly because it's sixteen strings, you know you've got two extra strings on the top, two extra strings on the bottom, so it's a much wider neck. And that was more intricate, I think, that was a question of intricacy. That wasn't a kind of a wrist breaker if you like in terms of pressing down, but it was just so intricate. And it was very, very hard to tune as well, we had a lot of tuning problems with that. So, we were having a lot of different battles, but the thing I did on this album which I had not done since the seventies was: I was able to use an engineer for the entire period of recording! I've principally not been able to financially before, but it did make a hell of a difference. Because it meant that I had somebody who could guide me, somebody who I trusted, somebody who would both say: 'I think that's alright, keep going', but also would sometimes pull me up and say: 'Nice fit, we need to do that again'. My tendency when I'm working by myself recording is: I get what we call bolted down, I get trying down very easily on detail. I keep stopping and starting a piece. And there's a danger if, as I did, you don't get any flow. What my engineer James got me to do was to take quite long runs of the piece and then go back. And if there were bits that weren't right just try and repair little sections. So you get the overall flow and development of the piece. Whereas if you keep stopping and starting, you lose the flow, the thing just doesn't build up organically. He was vital, and he got me a great sound as well.


GNC: Yes, it's magnificent. What was his input furthermore? What was his input into the sound – and, maybe, are there any overdubs? I think at least Sunset Riverbank has an overdub?

Ant: Yes, you're absolutely right. His input was in many ways, apart from the ones I've already talked about. We had two different mike setups. I have a lovely new live room – if you are in London you must come and see it with Helmut and the others – which is a little bit more airy. It has my piano and harpsichord and stuff. It's a bit more airy than the actual studio room where I sometimes record, and so some pieces were better in there. And I've got a fabulous new mike made in a place called Germany – I don't know if you've ever heard of Germany, but … (laughs) – a fabulous new mike, and that just creates this unbelievably warm sound. It's the closest, I think, we've got to it really sounding like the real instrument. So James was really important for the miking, he was also very important for, I think, advising on when we should use effects and when we shouldn't. You remark about the extra guitar on one of them, and we had little links and some cross-fades where there are more guitars. And so I was saying: 'What should I do? Should I have a couple more twelve strings on that bit?' The outro of one of the pieces has about five or six twelve strings all cascading round. So it was really good. And there are cross-fades across different parts of the tracks coming in and out of reverb and he was brilliant to get in the sound for those kind of things. And, you know, I can rely on him and do not have to run upstairs and do it all myself.


NOBODY WANTS TO LISTEN TO 75 MINUTES OF MUSIC IN ONE GO


And also right through to the end, he was helping me with some of the titles, because funnily enough for this album I did struggle with titles. Normally I'm quite good at titles, but I finished and I didn't have a lot of the titles. And also deciding the order together as well was another thing. People said to me: 'How did you get the order?' Well, to be honest, we just guessed! It was a little bit – not quite like where you close your eyes and you put a pin on the track, it wasn't quite as bad as that. But we sort of felt, well, that'll be a good one to start, that'll be a good one to end. And so by the way we just took an important point: We always saw this, quite just at the end of it we realized: this is too long for a single album. We had never timed anything, you see. I hadn't timed the pieces, so we realized that if we kept all the pieces, that we were going to be just a little bit too long. So the choice was then: Do you cut it down, lose two pieces and end up with 75 minutes or something? And we knew it would be too long for people to listen to – nobody wants to listen to 75 minutes of music in one go. It's much better to break this up into two CDs. We saw it more like two sides. Because it is often that people think of double CDs like two lots of hour-plus music. But no, each side is only just over forty, forty-two, forty-three, that kind of thing, so we definitely saw it as side one, side two. And, you know, then you maybe have a long cup of tea in the middle and you have a break. So we got the start of side one if you like, end of side one, a good track to start side two with, and we knew that the last track should end. But then we kind of filled in the middle with … – we got to judge pace versus timbre, not too many classical guitar pieces together, not too many slow ones together, not too many fast ones together, keep the timbre changing. So we actually did a run with it, and we never changed them. It was the first instinct that came into our heads and it seemed to work.


GNC: The overall concept is a bit like Field Day, but pieces are a bit longer, so it's not as many different pieces. I think Field Day was more than 120 minutes – here we have not as much, but there are still a lot of guitars that you present here …

Ant: Yes. I looked back on Field Day, and I think it has some good tracks, but I personally think Field Day was probably too long, there was maybe too much information on it, perhaps. I don't want to do it down, but I like to think of this new album as being a bit tighter and a bit leaner and therefore not as demanding on people's ears. And there are not so many short little tracks as well which there were on Field Day. I'm very lucky to have a lovely collection of guitars now, so I didn't just go round saying: 'This is the best guitar, I must use it.' I was just going through the source of material or lots of it, just rough ideas that I had sketched up over the last two or three years. This is how a lot of composers work, they don't always start with a blank piece of paper. Like an artist you've got sketch books, you got little ideas. Remember I haven't done a guitar album for ages – I've done some guitar library music, but it's a bit different. So I was drawing back on pieces where I was just using the guitars that I jammed around on, really. There were a couple where I felt the guitar that I had written on wasn't good enough, and I was able to call on a guitar which had a much … For instance, the last piece, Life Story: I went doing that on the guitar on which I – believe it or not – I did my teacher's exams in 1973, can you believe? A nice, vibey guitar, but it just doesn't have the depth, it doesn't have anything like the depth. I mean, it cost me 70 pounds in 1973 – that was probably quite a lot of money in 1973. But the guitar I played it on now which is a Francisco Simplicio, from 1929 I think it is or 1930: it is the most beautiful guitar with such warmth and such depth. And if you're going to see a piece that you've got in its best light, then obviously the better the instrument you've got the better the sound is going to be. So, I didn't set off to go in and show off the instruments. I just tried to use the best one I had for each individual piece.


GNC: And I think many of the guitars on Strings Of Light haven't appeared on other albums before? Just the Bell Cittern was on Field Day, of course, and the L'Arrivée?

Ant: Yes … Well, actually, I suppose if you think about it, we're not far of twenty years since the making of Field Day, really – no, not quite that much, but we're sort of getting on that way, fifteen plus. And during that time I've been able to acquire quite a lot of these instruments. I think there are a few twelve strings, a couple of six strings, the Brook six string I've used before … Some of the things aren't very expensive, and the Guitarina which I did Mystery Tale on, that's a little, almost like a toy guitar which cost 100 pounds from a shop (laughs). So, they're not all wonderful and antique instruments. There are some lovely ones, though, there are some really lovely ones. And you can tell, I think, when listening that I'm very privileged to have such a wonderful collection.


GNC: If we look at some tracks – Mouse Trip, you spoke of Mouse Trip as quite a difficult one. It sounds to me as though it was played on the neck of the guitar – was it?

Ant: No – well, I'm moving around a bit. But I see what you mean. Yes, what I was doing: I was dubbing* the strings with my right hand. I was holding it down on the strings to give it a dubbed effect. The same is pizzicato effect, only for strings. And that's the only track really that we used any kind of what I would call a whirl effect. So if we're using little bits of reverb and a bit of shimmer elsewhere – Mouse Trip, however, we wanted to make sound a little bit quirky. We did use a few slight electronic effects. But you're right, the first three rounds I play when it's dubbed, and that's quite difficult on the technique, because holding your right wrist down on the strings, near the bridge, as you're playing, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do (laughs).


GNC: Ok. And another experimental one was Into The Void. Also a very short one, but: How did you do that?

Ant: That's nice of you to ask – no-one's asked that before, actually. Well, that really came from another experiment, actually. The original guitar I tried this effect on was one I didn't use on the album, called the Tuplett. Actually, it's a guitar where you let the – not too hard! – you let the strings, you let the neck and the strings fall onto something wooden, and then it bounces up and down. And as it bounces, the sound gets quicker and quicker and quicker, exponentially, that's spiraling off into the distance. If you think about it – it's sort of going (mimicking) daaam, daam, daam, dam, dam, dam, d-d-d-d-d… and then off to get into the distance. I think it's called an exponential curve. For the mathematical term I'm not ultimately sure. We really liked the effect, because it's a very strange effect. And James put some surround effects on it in the surround version, it seems whizzing around. It moves round quicker as it goes, so – yeah, we quite liked that effect, and then going banging straight into Andean Explorer. So that was good fun. I mean, that was an accident, that was just a happy accident.


GNC: I think I read in another interview that you recently did that Shoreline and Winter Lights are older pieces.

Ant: They are! They're not long after leaving Genesis, funnily enough. They're both 1971. Shoreline was actually part of my … – I haven't had a chance to tell anyone this yet – Shoreline was part of the … – (exclamating) this is exclusive!! – no, Shoreline was part of a guitar quintet that I wrote. The quintet was never performed as it was too rough, to be honest. I did it for guitar – guitar quintet, string quintet and wind quintet. And there were four movements and it all got a bit too much. It was around just after The Geese & The Ghost, when The Geese & The Ghost hadn't come out, and it all got a bit unwilledly. So, when later on the first part came out on … – oh, I can't remember which album it was – I called it Beautiful Conversation, that was the first movement**. And this is the third movement from the original guitar quintet. And so I called it Shoreline. It's got a very slow rolling, slightly sea-like quality. And also Northern …, er, Winter Lights was from the same kind of time, a different piece. But also quite complicated for the time, to be honest. The shapes are not easy on that opening part, and I have to be honest with you, I didn't find them very easy all those many, many years onwards either (laughs).


GNC: Did you have recordings of these pieces or did you have written music?

Ant: Very good question. Very, very good question! Luckily the guitar quintet had a score. Because I couldn't remember some of the figuration of it. It's in a weird tuning, they're both in DADGAD tuning. And I couldn't remember some of the shapes, they were quite strange. And, oh, I actually simplified Shoreline. The score was even more complicated. There were also so funny things – mocking about with harmonics and things, just so complicated, so mad. I think I was roughly 25, 26, and I was so ambitious – maybe a bit younger, actually 23 I think, when I came to actually fully do that one. So I simplified that one a bit.


I WAS ROUGHLY 25, AND I WAS SO AMBITIOUS


But, no you aren't certainly right, what you're implying on, on one of them, because Winter Lights I could only really remember the first couple of sections – the climbing section, then it goes into a minor bit and the descent. I couldn't remember what came after that. My feeling was, if it was good, really good, I would have remembered it. If I could remember the bits, the first few bits from it – you think you won't forget it, you might go in through all the a thousand concepts and stuff and try and find it, and you'll never find it. So, the fact you can't remember it – forget it. So I wrote all the stuff and … – the stuff in the middle is all new. It's a strange marriage – basically, we're talking nearly 50 years apart. It's pretty scary when you think about that (laughs).


GNC: Speaking again of Life Story – when hearing it I thought I've never heard a piece by you with so many ornamentations in it, so many difficult ornamentations. Is that true?

Ant: Yes, thank you, thank you. I wasn't trying to be clever, I must assure you. It's a particular tuning which is one I sort of came to quite late. It's tuned to a major chord, like an open D or an open E, but the second string is tuned up, so it's the minor note in the chord crazily enough, and it creates very much a sort of like a sea-like quality. I wanted to call it something that had 'sea' in it, because I was conjuring up visual images of the sea, you see – of water, of action and stuff. But the others around me didn't agree. Now I always found that as well as it was easy to come up with nice melodies it was quite fun just playing, you know, a bit like on the sitar, because they play nearly with open strings, don't they, and they let all the figuration just on the top string, maybe a little bit on the second. And so a lot of the sections I had on it were like that – just figuration on the top string and ornamentation – and some of them were coming across the strings. And, to be honest, some of them were very difficult, they were really very difficult. I had to simplify some so I could do them (laughs).


GNC: You already mentioned it has many different sections. Would you agree if I call it rhapsodic?

Anthony PhillipsAnt: Yes, I mean … I don't mind what anybody calls it. To be honest, if you want me to be absolutely straight with you, I'm just amazed that it came off. I remember saying to James of the four difficult ones: 'James, if two of these come off I'll be happy. If three work out it'll be amazing. If four work out it'll just be like some kind of miracle.' When I first played that piece through – nobody had heard it, not a soul had heard it in a year and a half – when I first played it through I thought that James was going to say: 'This is a mess. This doesn't work. It doesn't flow.' But he said: 'One moment, this does flow!' You know there's little different sections, and I realized actually that it was a balance between letting it breathe between some of the sections and actually getting a move-on with the rest of it. You know, if you let it all breathe too much then it was going to be ponderous. If you're trying to push it through too much, it is going to sound too racy. So it was a kind of a strange flow. And I can't tell you remotely that I got it alright. But when it seemed to work ok – is it rhapsodic? I mean, I saw it as very kind of a bit like a theme and variations, because there is the main theme at the start and there's loads of variations and loads of … Yeah, I mean, you could call it all sorts of things really, it doesn't have a set form. It doesn't have a set form in a classical sense. It's not really just one theme and variations, because there are other sections to it. But the main thing is that it holds people's interest and tells a sort of story, really. And I was quite pleased with the end. That I was pleased with, because that was difficult.


GNC: Yeah – expiration of life …

Ant: Yeah, well, the last bit was difficult. Probably, the note I put on the cover is probably going to come across as being a bit arrogant. But I really don't mean it like that. Because on the cover it does actually say: 'There are no overdubs on the last piece.' Because I thought people might think that the shimmering effect was recorded separately to the tune. But in fact, I'm doing the shimmering effect with my right hand in the way that in Genesis we used to do the shimmering thing – Mike and I on White Mountain, it's the same effect. The left hand is hammering at the tune notes by itself.


GNC: Wow!

Ant: And it wasn't sort of like 'I'm really clever!' But I just thought, well, it will be nice. You could see by looking at the score that it's possible. And I just want people to know that this is possible, to do both together, that's all.


GNC: Maybe you had somebody's life story in mind when you called this piece Life Story?

Ant: No, no, not really, I'm afraid. No, I would not pretend I did. No, I saw it as a lot of sea episodes to me, as sea episodes. But James, my engineer, he said it sounds like a life tale, a tale of life. And we thought of a tale of life: isn't that something a little bit too much like maybe on a funeral stone or something? So I thought, why not call it Life Story? Because it goes through a lot of changes, a lot of adventures, light and dark. As you know from The Geese & The Ghost and Slow Dance, possibly, I like to come out on the side of the light. I want the good team to win at the end. The only time that doesn't have it is on 1984, well, I guess because 1984 the book doesn't end well. And the way the world's going at the moment is constantly looking as though it's not gonna end well either (laughs). So 1984 was fine to keep that discordant unquestioned. But I like to end things with resolution, so people feel: (as if overwhelmed by relief) 'Oh, yeah, ok, good.'


GNC: At least we have the peaceful Anthem at the end of 1984

Ant: Yeah.


GNC: But I like that chord.

Ant: Thank you.


GNC: Now, thank you for talking about Strings Of Light. Maybe we can talk about some other short questions if possible?

Ant: Oh, yes, yes, go ahead.


GNC: It was seven years ago that your last newly recorded music was published, it was Private Parts & Pieces XI, then. But in the meantime there were, for example, the songs you did with Lettie Maclean …

Ant: Yes. The set I did with Lettie was, strictly speaking, for library purposes. Things are breaking down a bit now. People are beginning to have access to library tracks on Youtube and stuff, and I'm never very happy with that, because the things that we do for library music are tailored around the demands of the library company – we're not free agents doing our own things. So I'm always slightly uncomfortable. I mean, we did decide to release one particular piece, because we thought that it stood by itself. But it's a bit of a tricky cross-over, this.


IT'S NOT THAT INTERESTING TO LISTEN TO – IT CAN'T BE


We are now starting to make a lot of our library music available by streaming. And I'm not really very happy with it, because as you know we occasionally go through the library stuff, and where we think these pieces work independently of picture we put them out onto an album. But a lot of it doesn't, because it's not designed that way. It's designed to be an underpinning thing to a picture and it's not that interesting to listen to – it can't be. So that has been a slight difficulty.


GNC: And then you did these special versions with James Collins, Halcyon Days and Sunshine Upon Your Shoulder?

Ant: Yes. Look, we felt that both songs, actually, deserved more than just being in the library, and so it was really a question of experimentation. But I'll be honest to you with this – there's thousands of female singers around and so many producers! And trying to get the right balance, the right mix you know … – I mean, I'm probably too old for this as well – but trying to get the right balance … I mean it wasn't ultra-commercial stuff but it was quite commercial, and while I think Halcyon Days is quite a pretty one, Sunshine Upon Your Shoulder is more just like a summer sing-along thing in a way. But, yeah, maybe people quite liked those, but it didn't have the kind of magic ability to turn into a big hit.


GNC: So there's no future collaboration planned, except maybe library music?

Ant: I think, possibly, but you never know. Lettie is very talented. So if anything came up again, which might cross over into being a single, obviously we'd have a go. There are a couple of other ones which she did, she's very talented, a really very talented girl.


GNC: Another piece that we had the pleasure to hear was Gemini, played by Martha Argerich and Gabriele Baldocci. How did that come about and did you get feedback from Mrs Argerich herself?

Ant: (laughs) Well, I've known Gabriele Baldocci through a prog band. He is in a prog band called Gift, The Gift …


GNC: Ah, I see!

Ant: … and I know them very well, they're good friends, and Gabriele is a fabulous kind of brilliant, brilliant pianist. He's a concert pianist in his own right. But Martha had taken him under her wing during a competition when he didn't win and she got very angry and thought he should have won. They were doing some duet concerts. And he said to me: 'But why don't you write something for Martha?' And I said: 'You could be joking – for one of the best pianists in the world, the best. I can't write that sort of stuff.' Anyway, I did come up with this slightly kind of angular idea. I just put it forth to him as a very rough idea, and he seemed to quite like it. And then I had this existing section which was the middle one where it gets more happy. And he said: 'But why don't you put that in a little …' – then he actually did the duet part in the middle, I did the duet part at the end. But I never knew till the last minute if Martha was going to do it, because they only had about ten days to rehearse, she's so busy, and she sleeps strange hours. She sleeps till seven in the morning, she's like an old-fashioned hippie in a way. She lives in Brussels, and they didn't rehearse for two or three days, she just didn't feel like it. She's quite old now, but she's still absolutely brilliant. And she's a very, very kind person! Because on the last night they did the performance in Barcelona where it was being filmed she didn't like the performance she had done. So with all the fans outside, she insisted though that the cameras stayed back, and they did two or three more versions until she was happy – which is incredibly generous!


GNC: Great!

Ant: Yeah. I mean, I don't know what my fans think of it. Obviously my fans are more interested in my own music than music I compose, and I completely understand that. But obviously, I'm going to say for me it was a great honour. A huge honour!


GNC: Speaking of leaking library music, I found an album on Amazon called Sport And Leisure, it contains mostly music from Sail The World, but with different titles. And then there's one piece amongst them called The Victors, it's credited to Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips. Do you know about that?

Ant: Yes. Well, that was actually done for a TV programme. Mike's wife did a lot of show jumping, you know, that's horses. They did a horses show jumping highlights programme. So we wrote the title music for that. It was basically a TV scene.


GNC: That was long ago?

Ant: Yeah, that was in the early nineties. And actually, the music that was Sail The World was written for a TV programme, as you know, it was the Whitbread Round The World Yacht Race. And again I wasn't really sure whether to release it on a record, I wasn't really sure. The record company told me it would be a good idea, so we did that – again not sure if that was wise. But a different library company to my normal one were very keen on that, and so they put that out.


GNC: We haven't got much time left, but maybe I can ask about future re-releases – or future releases, new releases?

Ant: Yes. As far as new releases are concerned, I definitely do want to do a new piano album, maybe with some harpsichord as well, because I have a lovely harpsichord. I definitely do plan a … – some say I should try and do an album with songs. But the investment of time in that is obviously going to be, you know, more of a tricky one, complex. So it depends on library music really, because that's where still the bulk of our income comes from. So if I undertake a song album, obviously I will be very forlorn. But I really do want to try and do this.


I WISH I COULD CLONE MYSELF


Again, I'd just like to come back and do a piano album. I'll also try and do some beautiful orchestral music with Andrew Skeet as well, because we got a whole lot more music that we've done, which is like Seventh Heaven music, but I think better! And there are some pieces on that which I'd love people to hear. So, yes, lots of lots of things planned. I just wish I could find more time. I wish I could clone myself.


GNC: Good idea! And re-releases? Are we going to see more re-releases?

Ant: Well, the contract with Cherry Red says that we're supposed to get all the re-releases out during the first period of the contract, and we haven't! So, yes, the rest of them have all got to come out. So we got all the Missing Links to go, we got The Archive Collection to go, there's a few other, smaller ones. But yes, all of those have still got to be re-released. In fact we got a whole bonus CD prepared for Missing Links already.


GNC: Oh, great! Looking forward!

Ant: Jon has done a great job, particularly recently. I think of what he's been doing particularly on Private Parts And Pieces V to VIII and IX to XI. I would say he's come up with stuff there which is … – I mean I don't want to sound arrogant, but I think I can be objective because I didn't remember a lot of the music. But I felt on those that maybe two thirds, perhaps, of the music, certainly a half if not two thirds, was worthy of its own CD, wasn't just like a bonus CD – all the outtakes, mixes and stuff. It was proper, proper stuff that should have been released before. So Jon's done a great job. And we'd like to try and keep up that good standard if we can.


GNC: Alright. Thank you Anthony for …

Ant: Absolute pleasure! I'm going to have to shoot now, but ... – it was very good to talk to you, thank you very much.


GNC: It was a pleasure for me. Thank you very much Anthony!

Ant: Well, take care! Bye-bye.

GNC: Bye-bye.


Interview and transcript: Andreas Lauer


BONUS QUESTION (via e-mail on 21/22 October 2019):

One thing I have wondered for long: Are the lyrics of Credo In Cantus available anywhere?

No … They are prettywords with no meaning!!!!


* Ant's explanation regarding the term 'dubbing' (via e-mail on 22 October 2019):

Guitarists often call it that. String players use the term 'pizzicato' to differentiate from bowing and that's a similar effect but not achieved in the same way. They just use their right hand to pluck the string, whereas guitar 'dubbing' requires resting your wrist near the bridge flat to partly muffle the strings. So the angle of plectrum striking strings has to change … Not easy! Some guitars were equipped with a 'dubbing bar' but usually electric guitars.


** It was both The Living Room Concert and Radio Clyde, and it was in fact called Conversation Piece.


Strings Of Light was released on 25th October 2019 (2CD/DVD Digipak) and is available at amazonUK and CherryRed

The album is also available in digital format on iTunes.

Anthony Phillips


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