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2002 - Guastalla: Interview/Chat with David Jackson

Nov 23, 2002 - 17:30 (GMT+1.00h)

David interviewed by Pietro Poggi (PH-VDGG Study Group)

The audiochat was done by PH&VdGG Study Group in Nov 23 17.30 (GMT+1h) into the "Antica Casa dei Pontieri sul Po" - Ostello della Gioventù di Guastalla.

DJ with Tony Pagliuca So, we are still waiting for David. This is the first official meeting of the (Italian) PH & VdGG Study Group.
We have organized the David Jackson gig tonight (November 23rd in Guastalla) and also the last sets that Jackson gave in the last 2 days, which were attended by about 100 specialists in music therapy for disabled children.
Hi I am Pietro from Guastalla, and Emilio is here and he is working hard to organize all. I am talking to you to check that the audio is ok and we are waiting to start the interview with David.

They tell us that David is arriving. The audio signal is about 10-20 minutes delay.

Q: David, would you say hello to internet
DJ: Oh, The Internet? My God! Hi on the web. Whose web site am I on? Hello world! Calling from Moscow profundo...

Q: Ok so there is an internet chat and so people can say hello to you, and they can hear us.
DJ: My God...

Q: There is Jim Arizona from America.
DJ: Hello Jim!

Q: and Sergei Petrushanko from Russia...
DJ: No! Hello Sergei!

Q: and others, and others.
DJ: and many others, ciao! .... amazing.

Q: The Russians are greeting you (on the chat)
DJ: The Russians? I haven't my bifocals....

Q: OK, they say: Hello from all your Russian fans, we want to see you in Russia as some years ago.
DJ: I am ready to come back Russia! I am always ready , I have good van! How many hours please?

Q: The van with VdGG?
DJ: Yes.... (Laughter)

DJ: I am here to learn from you... if you could explain that to everybody. I know as much about VdGG as anybody does, this is the problem! Don't hope for too many answers!

Q: Sorry David, there is a lot of questions from Russia, they say: In the VdGG era, did you know there
are many fan of you not only in the UK and Italy but also in Russia?

DJ: No not at the time. We can't know in the 70's, at all. There was no information.

Q: You knew you had fans in Russia several years later...
DJ: The first time, was when I went to Russia with Peter in 1998 or was it 1996? Peter went to Russia with Stuart, me and Manny for two weeks. It was unbelievable!
(actually, it was in 1995)

Q: You had no idea what to expect there?
DJ: No idea at all. There was hundreds of fans there, we could not believe it!

(Speaking to someone else)
David Jackson mentions he has made or played in a film for some National Institute, he says he is one
of the many presenters in this film and the subject has to do with pop music. It is very hard to hear over
the talking of the Study Group...

Q: We have a lot of questions now so, Sean from Canada asks: What was the songwriting like when you were in VdGG, did you actively participate or mostly fill in spaces?
DJ: Sometimes, writing songs with Peter was electrical. I would have an idea, I would play the idea on the piano. Peter would say 'Get out of the way' and he would finish his idea. Then I would say 'Get out of the way' the idea is this and we would sometimes write music. Scorched Earth was written without talking!

Q: Without talking? Just changing....?
DJ: (a little inaudible) Hang on no!... and then we did all the music and then Peter said 'And now write the words'. And so sometimes it was creation together. Sometimes it was I have a piece and it was like a jigsaw.

Q: There is another question...
DJ: The other example was of putting like a jigsaw, but....but, the first idea was always the end! The end was the beginning, I wrote the music for the end...

Q: You started from the end..
DJ: Yes, I presented this tune, Peter started working and then everybody would throw in this and this. So it was a different way, it was not at the same time, it was over 'some' time. Understand? Yes, so there is two methods the jigsaw and the electrical, and sometimes even the spontaneously improvisations.... three main ways.

Q: The other question is if there was some child that you've worked with that has some special talents that you always keep in your mind?
DJ: This boy, he is on the web site. He is called Akmhed Elsoudenay, he is a boy from Egypt. Akmhed has learned everything from Egypt. He can play, he's a genius… plays sambi, he plays switches and now he sits? He is very very (dyslexic?).
This boy is 15, but he is really like a father. He has had a very big delay but he has very nice ear. Cerebral Palsy, very bad, pretty much damage, but he has the biggest heart.

Q: So can he express himself through music...
DJ: He has great motion and he knows everybody. He knows who everybody is, everybody's names. He would have made… he would have been a vital part of (...) he is just wonderful. He is on the web site, he is the boy on the website. He is my favorite...

Q: There is another question, if you still have the same instruments, saxes and flutes you played in VdGG time and if play on them still?
DJ: Yes, exactly the same. Flutes and saxes are exactly the same.

Q: The ones you will use tonight?
DJ: Yes, but something special, something extra. My saxophones, last year, were completely taken apart and overhauled. There was a problem, very bad damage and it cost me a great deal of money. But I will thank everybody, the money to pay for all the repairs, for flute, the alto soprano, was paid for by The Box.

Q: From the selling of the VdGG...
DJ: Yes, from the royalties of The Box paid for the same saxophones but new. They are now 'as new'.

Q; You preferred to repair them than to buy new ones?
DJ: Oh yes, very important, because they have special modifications.

Q: To have special keying, to be able to play with single hand?
DJ: Yes, yes. If you want me to buy new saxophones, you must buy many more Boxes, many Boxes. I await your decision, ok? Good question.

Q: One guy asks: So how did you feel when rock music was getting popular in the 60's and you saw musicians destroying their instruments?
DJ: The only people I saw destroying their instruments was The Who and it was very exciting but it was also frightening. In 1998 I was with Peter and I saw Iggy Pop destroying instruments and it made me feel very... unhappy. Because it's crazy, there was a feeling of madness. Instruments are important and there was danger to equipment, there was also danger to people. There was danger to the audience, there was danger to the musicians and this was crazy. And I had to... just go away. So The Who was ok, but Iggy Pop is dangerous.
(This was on August 17th 1996 in Budapest at the Diak Sziget Obudai Island Festival)

Q: Wasn't it dangerous with The Who? Maybe it was one of the first times and now it isn't so significant?
DJ: Yes... The Who were very brilliant. It was the first time. It's important, so it was not routine. When it becomes routine, it's crazy. But it was routine for The Who eventually, you know, they eventually had to do it every night! But it makes no sense, for me, makes no sense.

Q: Now there is a question: Any special tricks you've picked up from other sax players and have you ever seen the film 'Young man with a horn'?
DJ: No, don't know the film 'Young man with a horn'. Tips from other saxophone players, you have..

Q: Oh sorry and also: Why did you have the idea of playing two saxes at once?
DJ: Roland Kirk. Rahsaan Roland Kirk. An American black saxophone player playing three saxophones...

Q: He had a very large mouth?
DJ: He was very big! He was a very big man with a big stomach and a big mouth!

Q: They ask, similar to the previous question: Who was sax influences and which albums influenced you?
DJ: There was a big hit when I was at school called Take Five... alto player, Dave Brubeck, Roland Kirk, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane very important, maybe Sonny Rollins the most important. But different times, different people.

Q: Mainly from Jazz.
DJ: Yes, but there was one very good rock saxophone player called Ian Underwood who played for Frank Zappa. Very important, very brilliant man.

Q: And they ask: If Scorched Earth is your favorite VdGG song?
DJ: No. I like it, but it's not my favorite.

Q: So do you have a favorite?
DJ: Yeah, I know, but I think my favorite at the moment is Childlike Faith in Childhood's End. This is a piece I find very moving every time. It's something I cannot listen to often, when at the right time it's incredible powerful.

Q: I have five questions...
DJ: Only five?

Q: They ask: Do you play jazz today?
DJ: Not really, no. I play, now I play my own music. I don't play with other jazz musicians, I just play my own music so…

Q: Then I don't know if it was already asked, but someone asked again: Roland Kirk (influenced) you playing several instruments?
DJ: If he influenced me? Oh totally! Because he had a very big record, like a hit with a song called 'We Three Kings'. And he played this on three saxophones. It was incredible. It was a hit, when I was 15 years old, I wanted to be a pop star. The saxophone was the way!

Q: They ask: Who in VdGG really pushed the things on, they mean for example who screamed at everybody when things didn't work?
DJ: We took it in turns to scream. Everybody was screaming some of the time.

Q: And what VdGG song annoys you the most today?
DJ: (Long pause) I think, White Hammer is very... uh.. scary. I work with children and I am worried sometimes that this song is very scary.

Q: Ok, but I think, maybe you don't like?
DJ: I don't have a problem with something, you know, I don't like. It wouldn't exist if we didn't like it, if we didn't love it. We wouldn't have done it.

Q: So there is another question, I take no responsibility for this one: Have you met anyone more inventive than Peter Hammill.
DJ: No... no.

Q: So...
DJ: A genius with his music, his ideas, what he's thinking about. He's a great mind. So, I don't think I have, no. Except my wife, I had to say that! Ok?

(Prior to this statement I asked if David was wearing his signature hat, and this seemed to be his reply. I was later told that he wasn't by Guastalla on the chat)
DJ: (snicker)... This is confidential!

(Pause for dinner)

DJ: Sorry I am ready. The World Wide Web I am ready!

Q: So David is ready for your questions. So how do you feel about playing music by yourself as opposed to other do. And where do you get your ideas from? Is it difficult....
DJ: Good God! Big! Uhm, it would be nice to work with brilliant musicians, but this is very difficult. Very expensive and unrealistic.
By myself I have created a world of machines, ok? and I get my inspiration... just ... I don't know. Sometimes ideas come, sometimes I have to do projects. People ask me to do projects, and the ideas just come. I've had a very big work called Anvil Rings and the inspiration was the millennium. Just the time of two thousand years was the inspiration and thinking about that, but I also get inspiration from the technology. I would get inspiration from the saxophone, from the piano, but I would also now get inspiration from my soundbeams and my switches and the problems that the technology presents. Sometimes the solution is so creative and original that it leads to new paths. Is that ok? Big question.

Q: There is more questions, they ask: What (When) was the last time you played "Crowborough Tennis" and how did this game come about? (My question BTW)

DJ: (Cackling laughter)...

Q: Can you explain 'cause I don't understand?
DJ: The best question so far! This was a game we played in the garden when we were rehearsing and writing the music for Pawn Hearts.
The photograph with the salute and the shirts was because I wrote a piece of music in Latin, about people with black shirts. It's a very complicated song but everybody in the band knew this piece and this was a reference to my composition. Because Pawn Hearts was going to be a double album and my track Agamemnon Agnostic which was the anthem of the people with the black shirts. It was not about fascism, it was a very complicated song against fascism.

Q: Was it ever recorded?
DJ: Yes but lost. It was not finished, it was recorded but not finished and then lost. No one knows. The game has not been played again.

Q: So they ask: At the VdGG times what influenced your fashion and because this guy thinks you were the best dressed man in the 60's and 70's!
DJ: It's true! My fashion was often the influence of my girlfriends. Once I wore a suit, which was little Bo Peep. It was about a nursery rhyme for babies and it had little lambs and little flowers. This was the best suit of my career, one piece with flares and my leather hat. A sensation in fashion. Good question.

Q: They say that also: Peter Hammill says he doesn't believe in God, what do you think?
DJ: About Peter Hammill or me?

Q: I think about religion...
DJ: Oh God... I had, my childhood was all about religion because I sang as a choirboy until I was 17 and a half, with a big problem.
I sang on and on and on and on, I sang in all the best cathedrals, so the church and religion was my whole life. One life, the other life was playing the saxophone. So I was completely schizophrenic... I love churches, I love religious music, but I do not go to church. That I do not know, but religion is very interesting, very powerful, one day I might know.

Q: We have still two questions, One man says you seemed to be the frontman maybe in VdGG and if this did create some friction?
DJ: I think maybe it did. Um... but it was only for a short period, but I was the only person in the band standing up! And I stood and I ran around and I was crazy. So I got a lot of attention, and I think if there was a problem, it was the success of Theme One an instrumental, when this was not representative, not representing the work of VdGG.

Q: Strange, in Italy it still very popular...
DJ: I know! It's amazing. It was only a joke! We recorded it for a joke because the record company said you must record it, we said 'naaa.. ok'.
We used it to bring Peter Hammill on stage. It was just an anthem to bring on the 'great Peter Hammill', but it became popular. We have to blame Italy! Italy is the problem not... not.. um.. whatever.

Q: We have one last question: What was the worst moment on stage, in terms of bad mood or bad keys or bad night? If you remember some particular...
DJ: Yeah I do remember, when I went to Italy in 1972, I discovered JB Whiskey and I have never ever drunk, but there was a big problem in the band with stress and nobody talking and depression. I did a concert once and I drank a lot of whiskey and it was hell because I was out of control but the other men in the band were always out of control. I thought it was better for me to join them but I only did it once and it was terrifying.

Q: For the audience or the band or both?
DJ: God knows! For me! I don't know, maybe the rest of the band thought I was good? I don't know but I thought I was terrible, many mistakes.
Crazy. Unprofessional. This was in Redding, England after a VdGG tour of Italy. I remember we were very exhausted, and strange because of the pressure.

Q: Thank you...
DJ: What is this technology? What is happening?

Q: This is connected with a normal modem as a user on a chat. The server is somewhere.. the chat line, there is an audio stream, they can hear but not talk. They can write. Yes they can hear..
DJ: But can they save it? or just listen to it live?

Q: It is live but I think they are saving all...
DJ: Oh my God... no!!! Please erase everything... (laughter).... press the erase button, everything must be destroyed!

Q: I think also in Russia...
DJ: Well in Russia they will need many days to explain and translate! They questions have been fantastic. Keep them coming. I am ready.

(end of questions and answers)

(Theme One playing in background)

Q: Hello to all

DJ: Yes, a long hello world wide, we will meet again...


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