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10/04/2012 JUDGE SMITH: Greek Interview

Date Published: 10-04-2012

1. You are a founder member of Van der Graaf Generator. So, how easy is to work with Peter Hammill?
I’ve never had a problem. He’s a hyper-intelligent guy with a very determined artistic vision, and he doesn’t ‘suffer fools gladly’ (Do you have this phrase in Greek? It means to be unwilling to turn a smiling face to stupidity). Some of his work is touched with a very great genius, so you treat him with respect, but if he wants to work with you, then he’s easy and fun to be around, and he works really hard.

2. What are your best memories from Van der Graaf Generator?
My memories are all very early ones, because I left the band so early on. Maybe Peter and me knocking on John Peel’s door and singing our stuff to him sitting on his floor, while Mark Bolan glared at us. Or Graham Bond taking us to visit a black magic cult he was interested in. Or hanging out with Reperata and the Delrons at the Playboy Club.

3. You have collaborated with a wide variety of artists with different music styles, from classical music – to the punk rockers Chaos UK. Any special experience by all those asymmetric collaborations?
Collaboration is the key to continued creativity. New people; new instruments; new musical styles, they can all give you fresh creative energy, as long as you can maintain your own personal creative vision and don’t allow it to be diluted. I am currently collaborating on a new album with the American arranger and producer David Minnick. It’s a wonderful experience. The key is to give away just the right amount of control to other people; not too much and not too little.

4. I can read in your biography about composing music for theatre and writing a book. Would you like to talk us about these activities?
I spent several years, maybe from 1975 to 1980, writing stage shows for theatres; different kinds of musical theatre, but I eventually became disillusioned because I was always working in low budget productions, and doing musical theatre properly is a very expensive business. Singing actors are hard to find, or they were thirty-five years ago, and my vision for the shows I was writing sometimes did not accord with the vision of the theatre directors. The one book I have written is a very large work on paranormal and spiritual subjects. It has never been published, and I would have do a lot more work to split it into about three shorter books to make it acceptable to publishers. I wrote it while I was recovering from the seven years continuous work it took to write and record ‘Curly’s Airships’, and while I was building a new studio, and once the studio was complete, I wanted to do music again!

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