Category Archives: Steve Hillage

Via Nocturna Interview with Steve Hillage

Interview: The Steve Hillage Band

Born in London, Steve Hillage was a member of the Charismatic Gong. In one of the meetings of the members of the legendary band, called Gong Unconvention, took the opportunity to record a Septemberwith his band which was released for the first time in 2009 and now republished in 2012. Via Nocturna was to know a little about this enigmatic guitarist who wanders from rock to dance music and electronics in the most uncompromising possible.

Hello Steve! Thanks for despenderes some of your time for answering the Via Nocturna. This your new album was recorded live in 2006 but only now seeing the light of day …
Actually he was released in 2009 by Voiceprint. But it was a relatively small scale and now that Voiceprint is no longer operational, we decided to re-launch it this year on a larger scale.

Can you talk a bit in what consists the Gong Unconvention festival?
A series of Unconventions was initially organized by fans of Gong as an annual get-together. We were in the 2005 edition of the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms and played a September with Mirror System and the System 7. Daevid not been there, but most of the other original members of Gong were last night and decided to make a jam – it sounded fantastic and made ​​me feel! Then we all decided to do it the following year, on a larger scale with everyone there. And that’s how the Unconvention 2006 at Melkweg was born.

In this festival and music touched your own original songs of the seventies, right? What memories guards these days?
The 70’s were a roller coaster ride wild and intense for me, Khan, Kevin Ayers, for Gong and finally to The Steve Hillage Band. By then wrote and recorded several albums and played hundreds of shows. I have great memories. In the early 80s I was a bit bored and tried to do other things.

After you have completed the album with some themes of your file. How do you feel, after so many years, to play your songs again this time?
They are great songs – love them. And have stood the test of time.

Apart from your banda is also in System 7. When it began your interest in electronic music / dance music ?
My interest in electronic music / dance music began already in the 70s. We follow the development of Kraftwerk since its inception as an acoustic band to be fully electronic. I have strong memories of being in a nightclub in 1978, when the DJ started playing Kraftwerk and everyone danced. At that moment I had a flash – have seen the future! Also in the 70’s developed a strong connection to the funk and we were big fans of Tonto’s Expanding Headband , which led to our work with Malcolm Cecil on the album Motivation Radio . I often think in Ether Shipss Green album as the first track of System 7.

Either way you have always been an experimentalist in music. How do you see the current experimental music scene?
I see him quite varied – some parts and exciting parts of something boring. Sometimes I just want to say “Fuck art – let’s dance.”

In the years 2009/2010 witnessed some of the dates Gong. How is the project now?
We did 70 shows with Gong in 2009 and 20 in 2010. In about 20 of them had the Steve Hillage Band as The Uncon in, but with some different songs as Hurdy Gurdy Man andSearching For The Spark . This all was afollow-through and the Uncon event was generated great energy. Now in 2012 the Gong will be in a new cycle and Daevid Allen took a direction I can not follow. There will be a tour of Gong in the autumn, but this time I will not touch.

The shows are very theatrical Gong, right? How do the management of music and the whole spectacle surrounding?
In tours of 2009 and 2010 had the Daevid elaborate costume changes, but the most important were the video projections, many of them based on drawings Daevid own.We rehearsed the sets in order to maximize the theatrical effect. This year I think it will be much simpler.

According realized is programming more album-oriented rock of Steve Hillage Band for next year …
I would not say that is entirely programmed because we have a lot of other projects in the pipeline, but I wrote a couple of good new themes and style Steve Hillage Band and I intend to take my guitar with me to Asia for a creative pause that will in November -December. Let’s see what comes out of it. We are also making an interesting hybrid of album rock and electronics with Japanese Rovo banda calledPhoenix Rising , which will be recorded in Japan in September.

Finally, you want to add something else to our readers and Portuguese fans?
I’d love to go and do a tour in Portugal and meet you all! Maybe if we make it happen this new album from Steve Hillage Band. I’m so involved with contemporary music that I have no desire to make a tour of the inheritances play only old material. I also need some new songs.
Posted by Pedro Carvalho at 21:14

Translated from Portuguese

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Music-Illuminati Interview with Steve Hillage

Steve Hillage is best-known for his amazing guitar playing with Gong during its classic Radio Gnome Trilogy phase (1973-75), and for his subsequent solo career which included the albums Fish Rising (1975), L (1976), Motivation Radio (1977), Green (1978), and Rainbow Dome Musick (1979). He also played with the prog rock band Khan which released their only album Space Shanty in 1972, with Kevin Ayers on the album Bananamour (1973), and on the live performances of Tubular Bells at Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1973 and for the BBC in 1974.

In the 1980′s, Hillage worked as a producer for artists including Simple Minds, Cock Robin, and Robyn Hitchcock. Then, after meeting Dr. Alex Paterson, he co-wrote, co-produced, and recorded songs with The Orb, including the British hit song “Blue Room”. Hillage and Miquette Giraudy also formed the still-active ambient dance band System 7, which has collaborated with Paterson, Derrick May, and others.

This interview was done by phone on 7/25/12.

Jeff Moehlis: I’ve been enjoying your new release The Steve Hillage Band Live, recorded in 2006. What made that the right time to return to live performance of your 1970′s solo work?

Steve Hillage: Well, we had an opportunity. The Unconventions were a series of events that started just with the Gong fans in the early parts of last decade. And then they gradually progressed, and in the 2005 one we came and we played a set with our dance project, System 7. And various other Gong members were there. This was in Glastonbury, in the U.K. This was the year before the one in Amsterdam. Quite a lot of Gong members were there, original Gong members. Not Daevid Allen, but Gilli [Smyth] was there, and Didier Malherbe, and Tim Blake, and Mike Howlett. At the end of it we said, “Oh, let’s have a jam!” And so we had jam, and it was fantastic. So we decided we’d go for broke and do a really big Unconvention event in Amsterdam the following year.

Then I thought, well, because Mike Howlett played on Fish Rising, and the drummer of Gong, Chris Taylor, expressed an interest in doing some Steve Hillage tracks, we thought, let’s do a show of Steve Hillage Band sets as well. And this is the one that has been recorded and released on the DVD [and CD]. We just had an opportunity to do it. And it was interesting to do.

Then we did some further Steve Hillage Band sets as a support act for a Gong tour we did in 2009, a follow-through from the Unconvention event. But I will say that for these sets the Steve Hillage Band was basically connected umbilically to Gong, because we had Mike Howlett, the bass player of Gong, and Chris Taylor, the drummer of Gong, playing with myself and Miquette [Giraudy] and a couple of other guests.

If we do it again in the next year or two, it will be a different thing. It will be what we call a “stand-alone” Steve Hillage Band. So that’s an even more major enterprise that we’re considering possibly doing next year or in 2014.

JM: I know it’s premature, but do you think that would involve touring the U.S.?

SH: If someone wants to book us, yeah [laughs]. If no one books us, no. It’s as simple as that. I mean, if we decide to tour, we’ll play anywhere that we can put on a viable show. But someone’s got to book us. We can’t create concerts out of thin air.

JM: Your solo work has held up extremely well. What were your goals as back in the ’70′s as a solo artist, and do you think you achieved them?

SH: Well, I think the main goal was to create a sort of second-generation of psychedelic rock, you know, after the ’60′s which was when I grew up. That all went a bit pear shaped in ’69, ’70, with Altamont and everything, and then the death of [Jimi] Hendrix, who is my number one musical influence.

I was in a younger generation. We saw ourselves as a sort of second wave of psychedelic rock music. Gong was part of that as well. That was the main goal, I suppose – modern psychedelic rock music with a kind of tinge of spiritual philosophy idealism.

So, yeah, we definitely achieved all of that. In fact, we achieved it so much that by the time we got to 1980, we felt we’d kind of done it, you know?

JM: That was one of my questions. Why did you stop touring at the end of the ’70′s?

SH: Because we felt we’d sort of done what we had to do, and said what we wanted to say. We wanted to sort of find new areas of expressing ourselves – this is myself and my partner Miquette – musically. We were really tired of the rock band format, and we were aware of new developments in electronic sounds. We just watched the whole thing develop in the ’80′s while I was working extensively as a record producer.

In the ’80′s it was very different in the U.K. from America. In America you had the Deadhead scene that carried the whole psychedelic scene all right through into the ’90′s. In the U.K. in the ’80′s, psychedelic rock music kind of died out, more or less, and psychedelic culture, which was still there in terms of writing and poetry and art and general vibe, it actually sort of moved into the electronic music sphere in the mid-80′s, before the explosion of dance music. Dance music and psychedelic culture were wedded together in the ’80′s in the U.K., and it was a very obvious place for us to find ourselves.

This may be happening now [in America], you’ve got things like the Disco Biscuits, and the Camp Bisco Festival. But in the ’80′s this definitely wasn’t happening. A lot of people who liked psychedelic and progressive rock music, they hated techno and disco with a vengeance. Probably still do, actually.

JM: Is it fair to say that you see dance music as an evolution of psychedelic music, or is it a whole different beast?

SH: Since the 80′s, there’s been a psychedelic element in dance. But dance music has many things fused together to make it what it is – you know, funk, reggae, German music, all kinds of stuff.

JM: You had mentioned that in the ’80′s you got into production. Going back to your solo albums, L – which I think is my favorite of your solo albums, incidentally – was produced by Todd Rundgren, and Green was co-produced by Nick Mason. What did you learn from them that you then could then apply to your own producing?

SH: A lot, actually, and I was aware at the time that it was a very useful experience to be produced by these illustrious gentlemen. Yeah, it was very useful for me. It gave me a unique set of experience.

Obviously when I’m on the other side of the glass, as they say, I can empathize with the musicians in a particular way.

JM: Going way back, before your solo career, I think your first recording was Khan’s Space Shanty.

SH: Yeah, that was my first release as a professional musician. I would say that, in a way, it was almost like my first solo album. Because Fish Rising, in some respects, was like the second Khan album that never was. Some of that material, actually, I was working on before I joined Gong in 1972, ’73. I continued to work on it while I was in Gong. Interestingly enough, on the CD of the live recording that we’re releasing now, one of the bonus tracks is an early version of a Fish Rising track called Solar Musick Suite, actually performed with Gong in 1974. That’s what happened to Khan [laughs], it eventually became Fish Rising.

JM: To my ears Khan has a bit more of a progressive rock feel, on the Space Shanty album, that is. Whereas your later music was more Space Rock, or psychedelic.

SH: Yeah, that’s true. The Khan album I put together when I was in Canterbury, in Kent. I was in an environment of a music scene. I was working with people like Henry Cow and Caravan. Yeah, that was one of my musical roots. I did go more psychedelic [later]. Obviously the Gong influence was indelible, and remains so to this day.

JM: You also recorded with Kevin Ayers. It seems that Ayers is a huge talent who never quite got his due, never got the album sales that someone with his talent should’ve gotten. What is your take on Kevin Ayers?

SH: Well, I know Kevin very well. He’s another of the original Soft Machine members like Daevid Allen. He helped a lot in the early formation of Gong. He was part of the Gong family.

There’s maybe elements of his personal life that didn’t help him following through on his unique singing talent and his songwriting. But I enjoyed working with him. I’d known him since I’d been in Canterbury. In 1972, I was still just 21, I felt having my own project Khan had gotten to be a bit much for me. I thought it was too much pressure, and I wanted to play with other people. So I kind of put Khan on hold, before we got to recording the second album. And I also had an approach from this new record company, Virgin Records, to do a solo deal. That’s how eventually I got to do Fish Rising. This all happened before I joined Gong, actually. Gong was in fact one of the first Virgin Records signings, as was Mike Oldfield.

Now, Mike Oldfield was in in Kevin Ayers’ band. It was called Kevin Ayers and The Whole World, and he’d left the band because he wanted to do his solo projects, which started with his very successful Tubular Bells. So Kevin Ayers had no guitarist, and he said, “Would you like to work with me for a bit?”, you know, and I said, “Yeah.” And that gave me an opportunity to work with someone else. I recorded some tracks on his album Bananamour, and then we did about six weeks of touring. And that’s how I eventually ended up in France, and ended up moving from Kevin’s band to Gong.

JM: You mentioned Mike Oldfield, and you played on the live performances of Tubular Bells with Mike Oldfield. How did that come about, and what was that experience like?

SH: When we were doing the Flying Teapot album with Gong at the Manor Studio, Richard Branson’s studio, we were sharing the studio with Mike, who was finishing Tubular Bells. When we were asleep he would come in and he’d work, and when he was asleep we’d go in and work. It was a 24/7 situation. So I got to know him then. And then later he invited me to play on his launch concert… I mean, we had no idea this was going to be so massive, you know? The launch concert was great. It was after the launch concert, we had the feeling it was going to do really well. I enjoyed working with Mike.

In fact, he had a bit of a sort of kind of breakdown a couple of years later, and he had a lot of concert orchestral gigs booked. He pulled out of them with short notice. Various other guitarists stepped in to deputize for him, and I deputized for him at a few concerts. The other guitarist who deputized for him was Andy Summers, later of The Police. Andy in fact has a connection with the Soft Machine. He played with the Soft Machine for a while. We’re one big family, you know? [laughs]

JM: I’m a huge fan of Gong’s Radio Gnome triology, and Flying Teapot [Volume 1 of the trilogy] is one of my favorite albums of all time. How would you describe the magic chemistry that came together to make those albums so good?

SH: Oh, it was absolutely an unforgettable, brilliant, but chaotic roller coaster ride. It was a brilliant combination of people we had at that time in Gong. Strong personalities – that’s why the thing was inherently unstable – with the unique talents of Daevid and Gilli, as the sort of founding members, plus craziness of the Gong mythology.

It was really like the ultimate psychedelic band. I mean, it was fantastic. I have great memories of that time.

JM: Obviously the musicianship is great, but the songwriting as well. It just came together.

SH: I can’t think of any other psychedelic rock band from the ’70′s that had quite the same level of funk and jazz musicianship, as well as all the space, and the craziness, and the humor, and the poetry – all these elements all mixed together – and the artwork. It was a total package.

We were conscious of it at the time. We felt we were doing something really pretty amazing, you know? We were digging it. It was exhilarating. But, as I said, like many good things, it was not to last.

JM: I understand there was a bit of turmoil. Are you willing to share some of the good and the bad times of that era?

SH: Well, you’ll find a lot of it in Daevid Allen’s books. He’s got these two books, one called Gong Dreaming 1 and Gong Dreaming 2. They’re the reference works. I can’t really say that much apart from the fact that it was chaotic and exhilarating.

It was a great pleasure to get back with most people again at the Uncon, and then on the tour we did in 2009 and 2010. I mean, that’s kind of run its course now. I’m not so involved with Gong right now, but it was great to get back together again. It was a very pure moment. Unfortunately we couldn’t share it with everybody because some key members, notably Pierre Moerlen, the drummer, was no longer with us, unfortunately.

JM: So you don’t have any plans yourself to be involved with Gong, either an album or a tour?

SH: Well, we did the Uncon, we did the 2032 album that came out in 2009, a new album. We did the big tour in 2009, smaller tour in 2010. But this year Daevid’s taken Gong in a different direction, and its not a direction I can really follow. But they are touring. There’s a Gong tour this autumn in Europe, a big one.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

SH: There’s the great advice that actually Jimi Hendrix told Daevid Allen in the toilet of a club once in 1967. And he said, “Stay with your thing, man!” Basically, you’ve just got to stay with your thing. You’ve got to find a way of manifesting your individuality and your personality in what you do. Stick with it, and just develop your skills. That’s the essence of the whole thing. “Stay with your thing, man!” [laughs]

JM: You’ve touched on this a little bit already, but what are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future?

SH: We’re doing more System 7 material. We’ve just got a new EP coming out called Passion, on our label A-Wave, which is connected to the label that we used to release the Steve Hillage Band thing, which is G-Wave.

We’ve also got a very interesting project with a Japanese band, because we work a lot in Japan with System 7. They’re a Japanese live rock / psychedelic jam band called Rovo. They’re quite big in Japan. We’ve known these guys, particularly their electric violinist, for about ten years. And we ended up doing a tour last year where we did a collaboration set where they did some live band versions of some System 7 material, and we did System 7 versions, with a techno beat, of some of their material, and then we morphed from one to the other. It was very interesting. I don’t quite know any other project that so completely fused live band and techno music. It was very interesting to me because in one project it combined my work as a techno producer and as a lead guitar player. The project’s called Phoenix Rising. It had a particular resonance in Japan, because the phoenix is an important image in Japanese mythology. They’ve got the Asian equivalent of the phoenix. And, of course, after all the problems in Japan with the earthquake, the tsunami, and of course the terrible ongoing nuclear disaster, there’s a great need for Japan to get a grip and revive its morale. Phoenix Rising was a good symbol for that. The tour we did was very successful – it was last November. So we decided to do an album. Now we’re going to do a Phoenix Rising album to be released in Japan and the rest of the world. We will release the rest-of-the-world version on our label G-Wave. We’re going there in September to record the Phoenix Rising album, and then we’re hoping to do a major tour with this, second half of 2013. That would be something that we’d love to come to America and do. It’s a very interesting project.

JM: That’d be great. I’m based in California. I’d be very happy to see you in any incarnation.

SH: Yeah, we’d love to. Get your local promoter to send us an email. We’ll try to work something out – that’s all I can say.

JM: Do you want to set the record straight on anything regarding your music, your career, some misconception floating around?

SH: There are a couple of misconceptions. I’ll talk of two. There’s many, but I’ll talk of two.

One, there was a reformed Gong for one concert, a live show in 1977. That was released on an album called Gong Est Mort, in French – it was in Paris. Gong Est Mort, Gong Is Dead. On the cover on that, my face is whited out, and some people think it’s because I had some apocalyptic falling out with Daevid Allen and the rest of the guys. That’s not true. That is not true. It was just purely because of a contractual dispute between Virgin Records, to which I was signed, and a French record label which Gong was originally signed to, which wanted to put out this live recording. I insisted on doing the show. Richard Branson didn’t want me to do the show, and I said I had to do the show. There were some personal reasons why I had to do it, because we owed some money to a guy in France who had had a lot of problems, and this concert was a way of paying him back. I had a personal debt to this guy. I felt absolutely honor-bound to do the concert, and I enjoyed it. So I did it whole-heartedly. But unfortunately they whited my face out purely for record company bullshit contractual reasons. That’s one misconception.

Secondly, some people think our System 7 project in America was called 777 for a while because we had a dispute with Apple about their operating system. That is not true. The reason we couldn’t call ourselves System 7 for a few years – because there was another band called System 7. It was resolved later, in the 90′s, and now we’re System 7 universally. Although we didn’t mind people thinking that Apple was the reason [laughs], we thought it was kind of cool, kind of interesting. We actually thought of the name System 7 before Apple came up with Operating Sytem Version 7. It’s a coincidence. A nice coincidence, because we’re fans of Apple, so that’s OK.

JM: Where am I reaching you at?

SH: Notting Hill, London. Where I’m trying to hide from the Olympic Games.

JM: Are you looking forward to the Olympics?

SH: No, because it’s going to cause chaos and confusion. I mean, where they made the Olympic Stadium and Olympic Park is quite near where I grew up, and it was a very, very poor area. So I think there will be a lot of long-term economic benefits from the games. So it’s OK, but I don’t like all the patriotism, I don’t like all the people screaming about medals, and I don’t like the rather paranoid atmosphere with lots of soldiers on the streets. They’re all worried about terror attacks. And also, they’ve blocked a lot of the roads off so only Olympic traffic can use it, so there’s traffic chaos. We call them the ZiL lanes. Like they had these roads in Communist Russia where only the party leaders could use them. They’ve got the ZiL lanes in London.

I’m reminded of a very funny, a very special Woody Allen quote. He said, “It’s not that I’m scared of death. I just don’t want to be around when it happens.” And I say, “I don’t really mind the Olympics, I just don’t want to be around when they happen.” Unfortunately I have to be around, because I’ve got some work to do in the city. I’ll be hiding in the studio. [laughs]

Actually it’s OK, because where we are in Notting Hill is West London, and the Olympic Games are in East London. All the action’s in East London. It’s quite quiet over here in West London, apart from the road to the airport, which is a nightmare. But if you keep away from that, it’s not too bad.

JM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. And enjoy the Olympics, or enjoy avoiding the Olympics.

SH: Yeah, sure.


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Hit Channel Interview with Steve Hillage

We had the great luck to talk to a great psychedelic rock guitarist, a successful producer and ambient techno cult hero: Steve Hillage. He’s very busy with his ambient techno band, System 7 and has also recorded with Gong, Khan (with Egg’s Dave Stewart), Mike Oldfield, Soft Machine’s Kevin Ayers, The Orb, Ozric Tentacles and Hawkwind’s Nik Turner. His solo albums were produced by rock giants like Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Todd Rundgren. During ‘80s he produced records for Simple Minds, It Bites, Murray Head, Nash The Slash and Robyn Hitchcock among many. Read below the very interesting things he told us:

Are you satisfied with the feedback you got so far from fans and press for “UP” album?

I’m very happy with it. I’m very satisfied with “UP”. It’s a very good follow-up of the previous System 7 album, “Phoenix”.

Is there any particular concept that connects the songs of “UP”?

Well, the main thing is that we spent a lot of time in Berlin, and do quite a lot of work and some songs for this album with A Guy Called Gerald. He was one of the beginners of acid house here in UK and now lives in Berlin. He’s a well-known figure in UK dance music. We spent a lot of time with him and we wrote some tracks with him. One thing I found very nice about the Berlin thing, is that its music is very happy and joyful. It’s not like the ‘90s when techno was very dark and moody. He wanted it more joyful and he experienced it when he went in psychedelic trance area. I found in Berlin a joy that I was missing, that’s why I called the album “UP”. It’s UP-lifting. Not like cliché trance music. More on the techno side of things.

Did you try anything for the first time during the recordings of “UP”?

We worked with A Guy Called Gerald for the first time. We wrote tracks in Berlin, we had never done that before. But technically, it’s just a sort of learning new little tricks and trying some little things. We did remixes, which is a progression. No hugely great forward, technically.

Did you enjoy the making of Gong’s “2032” album (2009)?

Yes, very much! It was a very-very enjoyable experience. In a way, it was a follow-through from the Uncon Festival in Melkweg, Amsterdam in November 2006, which was a very wonderful event, very joyful.

Are you proud of Gong’s “Radio Gnome Invisible” trilogy (“Flying Teapot”, “Angels Egg”, “You” albums)?

Yes, I played on “Flying Teapot” and I did some part of the writing on “Angels Egg” and “You”.

Do you still like these albums? These are classic ones.

Yes, classic Gong albums. I do like them. These are wonderful albums. I’m very proud of them.

Do you remember any funny/unknown/unexpected story or trivia from the sessions of Kevin Ayers’ “Bananamour” album?

Oh, that was very long time ago!! We had a great time. The most important event that happened in my period with Kevin, was meeting through Kevin’s band, Gong. We had a jam session, Kevin and I, with band members of Gong, including (ed: saxophonist and flautist) Didier Malherbe in December 1972. And the jam went so well, that I kind of changed bands because if this gig.

Do you consider as one of the highlights of your career the live-in-the-studio performance of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” album for BBC?

I think it’s a high point. One of many. I enjoyed working with Mike. We were sharing the studio with him when we did “Flying Teapot” album for Gong. We were working on “Flying Teapot” and he was working on “Tubular Bells”. The story started from the beginning in 1973.

How difficult was to have Todd Rundgren and Nick Mason (Pink Floyd drummer) as producers in your “L” and “Green” albums?

How did we get them doing? They expressed some interest in working with me and arranged this to be made. We had a contact with Nick from the last Gong album I was involved, “Shamal” (1975). He co-produced that. The Gong album after Daevid Allen left. I had also a small involvement in “Shamal” because that happened when I was leaving Gong myself.

Do you miss your Ladbroke Grove days?

This is the area where I’m speaking to you now. I live in this area since 1972.

Can you describe us these UK Underground days (International Times newspaper, The Deviants, Hawkwind)? You did some albums with Nik Turner from Hawkwind, too.

Notting Hill was quite important in UK psychedelic underground. But also we had a strong West Indian presence, which now we are celebrating in Notting Hill Carnival. But it was also a big place for punk. The Clash came from Notting Hill. Killing Joke were based here. They are good friends of mine. I had a partnership with Youth, one of the members of Killing Joke (ed: and great producer too). Notting Hill is an important part of London.

How adventurous was the transition from a psychedelic/progressive rock guitarist into an ambient techno musician?

For me, it was a very obvious transition. The ‘70s progressive rock musicians don’t understand it, I don’t know why. For me, it was completely normal in nature. From the ‘80s the psychedelic rock almost died out and the psychedelic art scene from the mid ‘80s moved towards electronic scene. Even from the early ‘80s. So, I went then with the flow. Along with a few other people, but not that many. I’m constantly surprised about how few other psychedelic rock musicians who were active in the ‘70s, made that transition, and I don’t understand that. It is the way it is. I do it from my heart and I love it.

Do you think Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” studio album (1969) is one of the first ambient records in music history?

To a certain extent. It’s quite rocking as well. It’s a great-great psychedelic album. I love it! I’m really into «Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict». That’s ambient, he-he (mad laughs) !!!!!!

Are you happy with the triumphant return of LP format?

Obviously, I don’t believe there is a vinyl revival in dance music, because vinyl was always used in clubs for mixes by the DJs . When we did Gong’s “2032” album, we made a deluxe vinyl version on 180-gram vinyl. I did a very interesting comparison in the studio: I set up a vinyl deck really well and I compared the vinyl test pressing with the absolutely digital first generation technology. It sounded different, but it sounded better. In some ways, I really liked it in some tracks. I think vinyl is an unusual format these days. I didn’t like it for (ed: his solo) “Rainbow Dome Musick” ambient record from 1979. I think it sucked on vinyl. I hate it on vinyl. Because of its scratch, I couldn’t hear it. But I enjoyed “Rainbow Dome Musick” when I got it on CD. For music with drums and beat, I think it wasn’t that good thing.

Would you like to do an album with Brian Eno?
I know Brian Eno, I know him quite well. I worked with him, with an Algerian artist called Rachid Taha, on several tracks (ed: for Rachid Taha’s “Tékitoi” album, 2004). I did some gigs with him. I ‘m not sure if we can make an album together. I don’t think that could work very well making an ambient album together. We had a slightly different approach. But when we come together we have a shared love for Arab music.

Is there anyone you’d like to work with and hasn’t happened yet?

I ‘d love to do a track with Jeff Mills, the Detroit techno legend. Many years ago, I wanted to work with Peter Gabriel (Genesis), but I think now he’s very slow. It seems to take about 10 years to make a track. It’s frustrating that he’s bored.

Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Peter Gabriel producer) told me that “in Peter’s world things can take a very, very long time”.

(Mad Laughs) I love him, I love Peter Gabriel, but I don’t know if I could work with him!! He’s too slow.

Have you ever rejected an offer and then regretted it?

Nothing major.

Do you think rock’n’roll is dead and everything now is about managers, contracts and percentages?

That’s a good question! In ‘60s and ‘70s was all about managers and contracts. I think now, despite all the problems with free downloading and the music on the Internet and the value of music declining, it’s actually easier now for an artist to take control and running a career without being extorted by managers and agents. So, I think in some ways, things look better now than they were. Nearly everybody in ‘60s and ‘70s was exploited on cloudy contracts. We were. All these contracts in Virgin Records were terrible. Now, that we release our stuff through our own label, it’s fantastic. We release System 7 and Mirror System on A-Wave. We release Gong’s “2032” album on an exceptional A-Wave label, called G-Wave. This is the first Gong album that all the consisting members were paid royalties. Everyone was paid royalties. We made a profit. Now we have the “Steve Hillage Band live at Gong Uncon event”, which now we are re-releasing it. It came out first on first printing in 2009, now we are giving it a full release on G-Wave. We release it on 10th September and it’s on our label. We are in control and it’s great.

Do you think you should have received more recognition for your work all these years?

I don’t know, because I didn’t really play the rock ’n’ roll guitar hero game. I didn’t like it. Because I didn’t play that game, I was very free. I’m happy about that really. That is one of the reasons I moved into the electronic sphere.

You are in the music industry all these years. Do you think money and fame change a person? You know Sting for years, too.

I always found him a nice guy. I haven’t seen him for a few years. If you had an astonishing amount of money, obviously that could change your perspective of life. Because you don’t have the need to work tomorrow. That would change anyone’s perspective, as if you would win 100 millions on a lottery. The best way is to keep working on something you enjoy doing. To keep out your creativity working without being told what to do. I’m happy to do that for more than 40 years. That’s worth for me more than money..

Who are your influences as a producer?

George Martin (The Beatles producer) and Trevor Horn (Yes, Paul McCartney). From the persons who produced my albums, I learned a lot from Malcolm Cecil and Nick Mason. I think music is far beyond producing. My number one hero is Jimi Hendrix. All levels.

What kind of music are you listening to this period?

I’m listening mostly dance music. There is a great new record that is coming out by The Orb with Lee “Scratch” Perry, the legend of dub reggae. It’s fantastic. Alex (ed: Paterson, The Orb) played me some tracks last week and sounded fantastic.

Is there any cover you’d like to do?

In the next Steve Hillage album I wish to do some more covers. I ‘d like to do “Love My Way” from The Psychedelic Furs. Todd Rundgren was their producer.

You’re really into ‘80s music.

Yes, some good thing happened during the ‘80s. I didn’t produce many albums for my own, I produced many records for other artists: Simple Minds, It Bites, Murray Head, Robyn Hitchcock. I put up a lot of new musical knowledge in the ‘80s. For some people, wasn’t a good period, for me it was great the ‘80s.

Do you like Depeche Mode?

I do. I respect them. It’s a very important band.

I don’t like them. I think Depeche Mode and U2 are overrated bands.

No, no, no. I don’t think so. “Everything Counts (In Large Amounts)” (ed: Depeche Mode song) is brilliant.

U2 had always great producers. I don’t think they could do an album with the budget of a System 7 record.

Totally different things.

How possible is to play soon in Greece?

We need a Greek promoter to book us. I’m working on various projects. I would love to come with System 7. We are going to do another Steve Hillage Band tour in one year or two, if anyone is interested in booking us. There is another project I want to mention to you, called Phoenix Rising. It’s a collaboration between System 7 and a Japanese psychedelic rock band called ROVO. We play a mix of techno versions of ROVO tracks and ROVO live versions of System 7 tracks. It’s very interesting. We are going to write a new album in September. We are going to release the album next year and do a tour. Hope to come to Greece. System 7: Miquette (ed: Giraudy, the other half of System 7) and myself, and the ROVO band: two drummers, bass player, another guitarist, a really good keyboard player and an electric violin player, Yuji Katsui. He played on a few tracks on the last System 7 album and on Gong’s “2032” album. It’s very interesting the sound of his electric violin and my electric lead guitar, it’s a little bit like Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin. Like a psychedelic electronic Mahavishnu Orchestra. You’ll hear about the project Phoenix Rising during next year.

A huge “THANK YOU” to Steve Hillage for his time and to Billy James for his valuable help.

Please check http://www.a-wave.com/system7

Source


Guitar Legend Steve Hillage To Re-Release ‘Live in Amsterdam 2006 at the Gong Family Unconvention’ CD and DVD – September 10, 2012

For Immediate Release

Guitar Legend Steve Hillage To Re-Release ‘Live in Amsterdam 2006 at the Gong Family Unconvention’ CD and DVD – September 10, 2012

The first live performance of The Steve Hillage Band in 25 years!

June 14, 2012 – London, UK – The Gong Family Unconvention at the Melkweg club in Amsterdam in November 2006 was a unique 3 day event in which all the original members of the legendary psychedelic band Gong came together and performed their own individual sets. Guitar legend Steve Hillage, who was a prominent part of the “classic” Gong line-up of 1973-75 felt it was a great opportunity perform again some of the songs from his 1970s solo albums. Steve Hillage is widely considered a guitar innovator, and is associated with the Canterbury scene, working in experimental domains since the late 1960s. Besides his critically acclaimed solo recordings, along with Gong, Steve has been a member of the ensembles Khan and System 7.

Steve’s live set at the Gong Family Unconvention in 2006 provoked a rush of excitement and emotion at the event, and this was beautifully captured on film and recording – and is now available on this DVD and CD.

Performing with Steve were his long-time musical partner Miquette Giraudy on synthesisers, Gong bass player Mike Howlett who played on Steve’s ‘Fish Rising’ album from 1975, and Gong drummer Chris Taylor who started playing with the band in the 1990s. Also guesting was Basil Brooks on synthesiser, who played in Steve’s band in the ’70s.

Tracks played were as follows:

1. Hello Dawn (from the album ‘Motivation Radio’)
2. It’s All Too Much (the Beatles cover – from the album ‘L’)
3. Aftaglid (from the album ‘Fish Rising’)
4. Solar Musick Suite (from ‘Fish Rising’)
5. The Salmon Song (from ‘Fish Rising’)
6. These Uncharted Lands (from the album ‘For To Next’ and never before played live)

In addition the audio CD has 4 exclusive bonus tracks from Steve’s 1970’s archive.

Tracks recorded live at Amsterdam’s Sonesta Koepelkerk on Dec 14th 1979 just a few days before the the 1970’s Steve Hillage Band stopped touring are:

7. Palm Trees
8. Unzipping the Zype
9. Healing Feeling

And finally an interesting early version of one of Steve’s ‘Fish Rising’ classics performed before it was recorded with the band Gong:

10. Solar Music Suite (early version)

The DVD has bonus material in the form of a substantial interview with Steve and Miquette, and background clips from around the Gong Melkweg event.

The audio for the CD and DVD was mixed by Steve in his A-Wave Studio and has a rich, warm sound. The video DVD was edited and authored by long time friend and Gong family member Harry Williamson in his Spring Studio in Melbourne Australia.

The artwork was put together by Z3 who do the artwork for Steve and Miquette’s dance music project System 7.

If indeed Steve does create some more music in the psychedelic rock sphere this powerful and unique live recording can be seen as a launch pad. Steve currently sees his System 7, Mirror System, and Steve Hillage Band entities as operating in parallel and has been writing some new rock-based material for a possible Steve Hillage Band album for release in 2013/14.

For more information: http://www.facebook.com/stevehillageband
http://www.g-wave.co.uk

To pre-order Steve Hillage – ‘Live in Amsterdam 2006 at the Gong Family Unconvention’ CD & DVD:
http://www.planetgong.co.uk

Watch YouTube video of “Aftaglid” (from ‘Live in Amsterdam 2006 at the Gong Family Unconvention’ DVD) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSxk4YLRd-c

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@cs.com
Steve Hillage is available for interviews – please contact Glass Onyon PR

Released on G-Wave AAGWDVD002 (DVD) and AAGWCD002 (CD) distributed by SRD