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Not Dead Yet live
Richard Macphail Ma Book Of Genesis

Interview with David Rhodes

October 15, 2009 per e-mail

it: In an earlier interview you mentioned that you are not very confident about your own song material, so there never was an solo album released by you so far. So, what has changed from that situation?

David: I think that as the songs have gathered together, I have become more confident about them, and also more confident about my ability to deliver them. The earlier inteview was some time ago, and maybe I’ve become less precious about the material and also perhaps less concerned about how the material might be received and perceived. Does a certain thickening of the skin occur with age? :

it: How did it come that the album was released by the B&W Society of Sound and what exactly did they do to help you?

David: They funded the project! The studio (Real World), has a relationship with B&W, supplying material for the Society Of Sound. It was suggested that I make the recordings for them. They have a wide range of artists who have made very varied recordings for them, and their members.

it: How did you choose the people that worked with you on Bittersweet?

David: Ged, as you know works for PG, and we are good friends. Charlie Jones, lives in Bath, and has worked with Ged. He plays, thoughtful and unfussy bass. Dean Brodrick, is a great keyboard player, who is also a long-time friend of Richard’s. I’d worked with him on another project many years ago, and we got on well. He is remarkably inventive, and comes at things from all sorts of angles...sometimes all at the same time! The string arranger, Stephen Barber, is a wonderfully talented musician, that I had never managed to work with before. He brought a lot of beautiful harmony to the songs, using a string quartet from Austin, the Tosca Quartet. Richard Evans, co-produced, steering the vessel, keeping us off the rocks.

it: Did you try to get any other people to play on the record which in the end were unable to do so?

David: No one else was invited.

it: How come that Peter Hammill sang backing vocals on the album - which track(s) exactly?

David: It was felt that another voice would be helpful in places. He is also a local friend, so it made sense to ask him. All except for 1,2 and 10, if I remember correctly. Often it is just a line or two per song, really quite subtle. He’s most obvious on Monster, Monster and There’s A Fine Line.

it: Where did the recording take place and how long did it take?

David: The bulk of the recording took place at Real World. We worked on top of some home recordings, for  a frantic four days. There was then some tidying to do, not too much. I have described it as being a snapshot of the material. A different week, or season and it might have turned out quite differently. It was an enjoyable, but intense period.

it: I listened to the interview that we did with you in 1995 where you played to us a tape with some of your demo tracks while the interview went on. Obviously versions of Crazy Jane and Two People already existed in 1995. Can you tell us which songs on Bittersweet are new and which are old?

David: (I grow smaller, but tastier pumpkins now). I think even the bits of things that were old have become different, and I hope better. Versions of songs have developed over time, with chunks being removed and sometimes added. The newest of the songs are Bittersweet, and There’s A Fine Line. I looked at your odd division of influences within the songs. Monster Monster, was originally a demo for an animated film, ‘Momo’, written before PG had penned Darkness.

it: Are there songs on Bittersweet that are based on ideas that are even older than the demos from the early 90’s?

David: No.

it: In my review of the album I tried to figure out from where each song perhaps got some influence. Could you tell us which tracks were influenced by something (if at all)?

David: I would like to think that I have not been consciously influenced by anyone. However, one’s aesthetic is developed over years of work, playing and listening; yet there is a consistent core, that I do not believe is easily changed.

it: Will Bittersweet be released on CD as well?

David: I’m trying to get that organised. It’s not quite as easy as I thought it would be!

it: It took 16 years to get this album released. Do you think your fans will have to wait further 16 years before there will be a follow up to Bittersweet?

David: Seems like I’m a slow developer, doesn’t it? I hope I don’t have to wait that long!

it: You are working closely together with Richard Evans for quite some years now. What makes the difference between doing things like the soundtracks for documentaries and the making of i.e. Bittersweet?

David: We work as The Footnote. We work collaboratively, so it is really very different. With a soundtrack, the director and editor of the film will have some specific thoughts, and demands, that have to be met. There is also the narrative that has to be supported. There are of necessity, areas of compromise. Working on your own material, is much more akin to being sat in front of a blank canvas, and wondering where to place your first mark, and of course when you make the second, you have to review the first...

it: It is a pity that really strong music by you, like the album Head, Hands And Feet or your songs on Snowflake or some of the Lucky And Zorba things in english language are out of stock now or never had a worldwide release. Is there any chance to get this released or made available for download?

David: I haven’t really thought about it. Maybe once Bittersweet is properly out there, attention can be paid to some of that other, older material.

it: How did it come that you worked together with David Ferguson [mit David Rhodes Gründungsmitglied von Random Hold] again some months ago? What can you tell us about the re-release of older Random Hold related material by Voiceprint a brand new album by the band?

David: David had moved down to Bath a few years ago, so we’d been in touch for a while. I don’t know about the releases. I seem to remember playing on one record for him a long time ago, and earlier this year, as you know, I spent time recording for him and his son. I’m not involved in the completion of the songs, so I don’t know what state they’re in, or when they’ll be made available.

it: Who were the other musicians on that new R.H. album - any other original band members?

David: The rhythm section was Martyn Swain (RH mk2), Ged, and myself.

it: What are your plans for the next few months or for 2010? Are there any plans to work or to go on tour with Peter Garbiel or will you concentrate on other things?

David: At the moment PG is finishing his string, covers collection, with which I have had no involvement. I don’t know  what his plans are. There are also a number of programmes for  a National Geographic series, which Richard and I are working on, which need to be completed over the next few months. More excitingly, I hope to be doing some performances of the Bittersweet material. Initially these will be solo outings. I played a test show in a bar at WOMAD this summer ... quite interesting ...

Interview: Helmut Janisch

David Rhodes - Bittersweet - album review
David Rhodes - A Musical Retrospective

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