The following telephone interview with Glyn Havard was recorded on 30 April 2000.
DP: Let's see... you have given me a world of very useful historical information in your letters... at least an hour's worth of chat... so I won't drag you back through all that recitation. What I'd like to do, if it's OK with you, is... I have a few specific questions, and then give you a chance to do any reminiscing you want to do over the past times, or talking about the present or future.
GH: Sounds good.
DP: OK, let's see. I've gotten a fair bit of background on the group through Jon, and David talked a good deal about the early days, and the U.S. tour and so forth. The thing I'm most interested in finding out from you is the lyrics - your influences, your background, and what led you to write in certain ways for certain songs.
GH: All right - anything specific?
DP: Well, the one I'm most personally curious about, as to where the song game from, is the "House of Dreams" selection from Eclipse - one of the "unpublished" ones. I first heard that when I ran across a copy of the Reflections compilation, and for me personally that's the most haunting tune Jade Warrior has ever written.
GH: Wow - well, you know, you've really got me there, because of all the albums I've got, I don't have the Eclipse album. Well, I do have it, but it's on an album, and I haven't had it transferred down to tape or disc yet. Clue me in on the "House of Dreams" bit?
DP: That's the one that... as with a lot of the Jade Warrior tunes it has a lot of oriental influence... it seems to be about a collection of three artifacts. A dragon - the face of a dragon on a parchment scroll, a statue of a young woman, in jade, and a painted silkscreen.
GH: Oh, right - I've got you - OK. Well, that came about from the music, to a great extent. Jon and Tony would play me a tune... bearing in mind their influences which were, not claustrophibically so, but Japanese and African influences. I would just let the music suggest a theme to me. I can't really be more specific than that, on the "House of Dreams", other than... what was I reading at the time? I tend to pick up ideas from books, as well. Let me see... jeez. I think I may have been reading "The Idiot" at the time... don't ask me why I know that. Have you heard of that?
DP: Is that a Kafka?
DP: I've heard of it, but not read it.
GH: That wouldn't have had any direct bearing on the kind of meaning through the lyrics, but might have influenced it emotionally. I was also reading Ray Bradbury, whom I like a lot...
DP: Something that shows both in the lyrics of the Jade Warrior songs you wrote, and the letters you wrote me, is that clearly you're a very well-read individual. Very literate... not the sort of vocabulary one expects to find in a rock song, for example.
GH: Oh, right - I guess, yeah. I like reading. I used to read quite a bit of poetry when I was in school, and afterwards as well. Lyrics have always fascinated me, in that you can transmit so much emotion in so few lines. And poetry, of course. You can read a book, and it can take several chapters before you get the full "Wow! Yeah, that's right." The lyric poem is more instantaneous - it's a shortcut, if you like. It's graphic enough... it can grab you enough to wring an emotion out of you. I think the emotion comes first, before the intellectual analysis of what you've read. I think that was pretty important to me - somebody should be struck by something emotionally, without having it explained to them how they should understand it. Do you follow me there?
DP: I do, I think. Perhaps the Japanese Haiku style of poetry is the quintessence of that - boiling the most transfer of image and emotion down into the fewest words.
GH: That's right - that's it - and that's what grabs me about lyrics. I'm an absolute beginner compared to the Japanese guys - I wouldn't put myself in that area - but I always thought... and the other thing I like as well, about lyrics and poetry, especially if lyrics are slightly oblique, is that people can read into them how they feel emotionally. They might come at it at a different angle than another person. I was always fond of leaving an area that a listener could interpret on his own terms, rather than have myself dictate a definite storyline and a definite, rigid framework of how you have to listen to this. You see?
DP: I do. I think that may be one of the things that was most characteristic of Jade Warrior's lyrics - there's a complexity to them. It's not the sort of thing you find in most popular music, where the meaning is beating you over the head, with the same meaning in every stanza, and you're told exactly what it means.
GH: That's right.
DP: It's the sort of music you have to think about, you have to experience, you have to feel it.
GH: That's great - I'm glad you said that. That's the first piece of feedback I've had in that respect, and it's more or less exactly how I wanted it to be.
DP: I noticed something that struck me fairly strongly, when I was doing the work of transcribing those three Vertigo albums and cleaning them up, and that's the degree of complexity and depth to them... both lyrically and musically as well. The composition, and the way that even on the first album the layering of instrumental use, with the themes popping in and out... a little bit of flute here, a subtle guitar-strum there. It's not simple music, and it's not obvious music.
GH: Yeah. It amazed me, when I listened back to it. It's like anything else - when you're personally involved in it, it's very hard to see it objectively. The number of years since I last listened to those albums, and now... I heard them freshly, and I thought "Wow!". I don't remember any conscious effort of orchestration on Jon and Tony's part. There obviously was some... but those guys had been together for such a long time before I knew them, and seemed to have such a musical rapport, that they just seemed to know when to phrase, and when not to. The orchestration seemed to come naturally to them. There were a few things that they might have gotten together and said "Well, we need to put a flute section here..." and that was all it would have been. Tony wouldn't have suggested a line to Jon, and Jon wouldn't have suggested a line to Tony... they'd just say "Well, maybe a guitar here" and Tony would have picked up a guitar and put it in, and it just seemed to fit.
DP: It's an interesting meld of musics and talents there. Jon tells me that they used to get into some rather ferocious fights, over what should go in at various points. He may have been talking about the later times - he was talking about the Island albums at the time.
GH: Well, the thing was... it was no longer... how can I say it? When there were three people involved, the triangle thing or call it what you will... I've always liked working with three people, because you tend to get an even distribution of opinion, because there's always someone who will act as a mediator between two opposing forces.
GH: I sometimes found myself in that position, with Jon and Tony. Jon sometimes found himself in that position, between me and Tony. I don't think Tony often played the mediator - he might have, once or twice. Jon and I would argue mostly on the business side of things - never on the music side of things - whereas Tony and I might have some sort of conflict over where I'd put a bass line or this and that and the other. The trio thing balanced them out. When they were on their own - when it was just Jon and Tony, after I'd left the band - after they're re-formed and got the Island deal - they were stuck with confrontation. Who would they turn to?
DP: Right. There's be no disinterested, or mediating party to be there to help, to put a bit of a less personal perspective on it.
GH: Yeah, that's it exactly. I think they might have had a little bit of trouble with that. I was busy trying to do my own things at that time. I saw them occasionally, from time to time, but I never really... I can remember they had one major falling out, during the Island thing. Tony told me it almost got physical, it was so intense, which really surprised me - those guys had known each other for so long, they'd been such good friends. They were good friends to the exclusion of a lot of people - they were almost like a clique on their own. It was very hard to break into Jon and Tony. Once you'd worked with them, once you'd been involved in creating with them, then that seemed to lower barriers with them - they were quite willing to talk then. Otherwise, very difficult... they had their own sense of humor, they had their own in-jokes... that kind of thing.
DP: Jon has described to me the fact that they had a sort of shared world-view, or shared image of the world that the music was trying to portray, that they'd never found in anyone else. That made things difficult, and hard for people to see into it from the outside, although they tried to portray musically what their vision was.
GH: Well, I think that was the case, yeah. They did have an idea, and it wasn't an easily-explained idea, because it was more of a feeling... it was more of a... oh, how can I put this? It's very difficult. Looking back at it, Jon and Tony did often think the same things at the same time - they did share a world-view, I'd agree with that. But people grow older, they grow apart, they develop different interests. That will happen to anyone - you'll get cracks in any relationship, no matter how well it's formed. Gee... Jon and Tony's world-view. I only got glimpses of it... what I tried to do was see it through their music... there was no way they could have explained it. I just heard what they played, and said "Yeah, I agree!". You see what I mean?
DP: I think so. Jon has expressed some sorrow that he doesn't think they were ever actually able to point the way directly to what it was they were trying to show, or what they saw... it just looks in from different angles.
GH: I agree, but... I hope Jon will pardon me for saying this, but this was something he was really stuck on. Jon was very keen to state what the music meant. I really didn't give a damn about that - as I said, I thought it was far more important that each person who listened to it made their own personal interpretation, without being told. If you look on the sleeve notes of Last Autumn's Dream there are some directives which Jon included beneath some track listings that got onto the cover without my knowledge. I usually organized the text but Jon had added these explanations of what the tracks were supposed to be about.
DP: Ah! Those appear on the original English version of the LP, and on the CD that LINE did, but I don't believe they're present on the U.S. version of the album. Maybe that says when the timing of that change took place, perhaps.
GH: Could well be, yes! That disappointed me - I was really sad about it. I thought "Wow - why does he want to underline it?" I never thought the music should have been underlined in any way. I keep repeating myself here... but as I say, I thought it was down to the listener. You make a suggestion - it's all kinds of suggestions - and people can pick up whatever they want to out of that. Tony might have been more inclined in that way, but I can't say that for sure. But Jon... Jon always seemed to want to explain things. Maybe he did want to pass something on. I thought we were doing that anyway... that the music could speak for itself, without having anything explained about it.
DP: I think that to the greatest extent, it does speak for itself. The imagery... it's interesting, there was a question which came up on the on-line mailing list last week. A fellow played two different versions of the "Way of the Sun" CD from the Island era, and noting the differences in the sound because two different people did the remastering. I said I though that the one Jon had remastered might be more true to the artistic intent, and I described the images that I thought the track we were talking about was trying to convey. Another guy came back and said "My God, that's exactly the same imagery I have when I play the track - can it really be that Jade Warrior's music is so cinematically powerful that it can convey the whole scene just by the music?" I think it can have that kind of power to it, at its best... it conveys it!
GH: Yeah, sure! I think it stems from when they used to do these... I think Jon has doubtless told you about the dance drama pieces... when they used to write for a small ballet company. It was always a visual aspect, and they seemed to carry that along when they were just recording the albums - there was always a powerful visual thing to it. I was always surprised that they never broke into the movie business, because I could see it happening. They never seemed to go down that road. But, Tony once told me that their initial interest in music was, not triggered, but enhanced by what they'd seen in the cinema when they were kids. Like, "Saunders of the River" for the African drums, and the old black and white Humphrey Bogart films like "The African Queen". I'm probably naming the wrong ones, but definitely Hollywood! That's where they were at. They were both impressed by Hollywood interpretation of ethnic music.
DP: It brought a complexity and a flavor to Jade Warrior's music which I don't think was anywhere near usual for popular music at the time. It's better-known now, because "world music" has opened up a lot of barriers and people are more used to it. But, 20 years ago? Close to 30 years ago, now? No... it was kind of out there. I think it's a shame, because Jade Warrior's music is, and has been a very powerful thing, and yet it's so little known, because it didn't fit the categories.
GH: That's right. We were so out of fashion. That's what it was - we were up against the fashionable ways. When I was with the band, we were starting an upswing, with the third album and the tours, just at the time that "glam rock" was getting underway. I guess you have to think in terms of record company mentality as well. They're not really interested in anything that's... well, maybe I'm not being fair, some companies do have an eye towards artistic value, I guess. But, overall, it's "Will it sell?" - that's the question.
DP: It's a business.
GH: They see what else will sell, and they'll say "Well, it's not the same thing... why should we promote it? It doesn't mean anything to us in terms of money."
DP: "It's not what we're telling the public they want, at the moment."
GH: That's right - exactly.
DP: I was struck by looking at Jade Warrior's history, at how... I don't think that any label that Jade Warrior has ever worked with, has really "gotten" it.
GH: No! That's true!
DP: It's been consistent.
GH: Vertigo was just totally bemused. Bemused to the point where they just shoved us in a filing cabinet and said "Well, if we just do a three-album deal, they'll just go away after the third year."
DP: It's such a shame!
GH: It is.
DP: I was really intrigued when you mentioned that it was due to a connection with Assagai that Jade Warrior got the deal in the first place. I'd been doing some research on Assagai on my own, trying to chase down some information. Do you know, did Assagai record only two albums, or was there a third at any point?
GH: I couldn't tell you. I think it was probably two, because I think they broke up. They didn't go more than a year with Vertigo, I'm sure of that. It was probably shorter than that - probably about seven or eight months. They never took off - Osibisa had kind of of milked that market dry - Assagai was just being carried along on their shirt-tails. You know they covered "Telephone Girl", of course?
DP: Yes. I have their first album here on CD - it was re-released a few years ago - and I have a second one here I'm rather curious about. The version I have came out under the name of Afro-Rock, and I think it was actually a reissue of what I've always heard under the name Zimbabwe, the second one they were supposed to have done. There's no performer list on Afro-Rock, and the thing I find most interesting about it is that it a cover of Jade Warrior "Barazinbar", and it also has a version of "Sanga" which appeared on one of Jade Warrior's recently-released albums.
GH: Yes. God - they covered "Barazinbar" as well?? I didn't know that!
DP: Yes, they did. It's got a marvelously sloppy horn section - slightly off-pitch at moments.
GH: Well, they were drunk.
DP: Aaah! That makes sense! (laughter)
GH: I can remember that they drank an awful lot of whiskey when they recorded. We went in to see them record once, and I thought "Wow - how do you do that, guys?" I guess it must be because you rehearse when you're drunk, as well... there you go. I mean, when they were hot, they were hot!... but whoo, man, they had some mood swings!
DP: It's fun to hear - to hear their version of a song Jade Warrior did, like "Sanga", which was only recently out. Now, you three guys performed on a few of the tracks on this one, I think?
GH: On Assagai?
GH: I don't recall performing on Assagai... whoa, wait a second, hang on... I do remember performing with a bunch of guys from Assagai, but they weren't being called Assagai for that session. It was being produced by a guy called Shel Talmy, who had done some work with (possibly) The Move and The Small Faces - '60's bands from Britain. He was still reasonably a name, when we went in and recorded with him. We did a few things... we even did a cover of "Louie Louie" with them.
DP: Oh my! (laughter)
GH: I don't think that ever saw the light of day.
DP: I've never heard of that before, so I don't think it got past the demo tapes... but that would be a wonderful thing to have, if a copy still existed somewhere!
GH: Yeah, gosh... but that's very hazy. We were only in there for the day, and I can't really remember what we did... I'm not even sure whether we would have played "Sanga". Possibly, yes... I think Jon played congas. We had a guy called Louie Moholo who played drums... very good drummer. Fred Coker playing guitar... Dudu Pukwana playing saxophone. Some other guy on pocket trumpet, and a few other people... there were so many people in there you didn't know who played what... just partying.
DP: I'm pretty sure that I can hear Tony's guitar and Jon's flute on a couple of tracks on that one... so I'm pretty sure that actually is a version of "Zimbabwe" album, reissued.
GH: I wouldn't be surprised. I am surprised that they actually used the sessions, but there you go... I wouldn't be surprised if they... that's so funny! There's something else that we did, that I don't know if you know about. Jon and Tony and I were featured on an album which was recorded by a character named Patrick Campbell Lyons. Pat Campbell Lyons was part of a duo called (funny enough) "Nirvana". This album came out on Vertigo. It was by Nirvana (not the new Nirvana - the old Nirvana) and was recorded at Island Studios in the Portobello Road, circa 1970. Did Jon tell you about that one?
DP: He didn't tell me about it... I think that David mentioned it at some point.
GH: Yeah, David was on it too!
DP: I think you mentioned it in one of your letters, I believe. So, that's another piece of research I can see if I can chase down. David said that Jade Warrior was filmed, in one set that one of the management groups put together.
GH: That's right. It was at the Marquee Club. Gaff Masters management had the bright idea of video'ing all of their acts, on different nights of the week, at the Marquee. They did one of everybody... it wasn't the entire set, it was just one number. I can't recall which number we did - maybe David will be up on that one, I'm not sure.
DP: I think he told me what he thought it was - I'm not sure I remember it. I'll look it up. That's another bit of memorabilia I'll be looking to see if anybody on the planet has a copy any more.
GH: Funny! God, OK. If you find one, let me know. I've got one piece of information you might be interested in... I remembered it last week when I was playing the album. You know the track "Prenormal Day at Brighton", on the first album?
GH: You know the track "Minnamoto's Dream", on Released?
GH: Well, it's the same track - but "Minnamoto's Dream" is "Prenormal Day at Brighton" played backwards.
DP: (roars with laughter)
GH: You like that, or what? (laughter)
DP: (laughing) I like that! I hadn't caught that - I'll have to give that a listen! Is it a tape played backwards, or did you...
GH: I'll tell you what happened. Myself and Alan Price... Alan had just joined the band 'round about the Released album, and he was anxious to get to grips with Jon's tabla techniques and conga techniques. We had a reel-to-reel tape of the first album, and Alan threaded it up.. but he must have twisted it, because when the track played it came out backwards. Well, we were kind of laughing about it, and... whatever... listened to it, and suddenly "Prenormal Day" came on, and the riff was intense! We looked at each other, and said "Wow, what a good riff!" So, we took it along to Jon and Tony and said "Listen to this!" They were laughing about it - they thought it was great. So, we did it!
DP: (laughter) That's wonderful!
GH: Isn't it?
DP: I guess there are two other pieces that have seen sort of a double life. One was the one originally intended for the Eclipse set, which finally came out on Fifth Element, which is now entitled "On the Mountain of Fruit", which then became "Mountain of Fruit and Flowers" on the first Island album. Jon had, last I talked with him... he was almost in hysterical laughter about way the image that was supposed to convey... "Mountain of Fruit and Flowers" is one thing, and that always comes to me as a tropical mountain covered with flowers... while "On the Mountain of Fruit" comes across as something else entirely... a giant hill of fruit-cup, I suppose (laughter)
GH: Sure... funny, yeah... he laughed and laughed when he told me about that over the phone, as well. I can see his point...
DP: The other one that I ran across was "Too Many Heroes"
GH: Oh, yes! That was in the film, as well, under a different name.
DP: Different lyrics, and a little bit different pace to it.
GH: That's right.
DP: The first time I heard it on the CD, I said "Hold it! I've heard that before!" (laughter)
GH: (laughter) Yeah, I know. God, "Bad Man's River" keeps cropping up in my life. I still get the odd royalty check for it. I can't believe they're still showing it. Have you ever seen the movie?
DP: Yeah, I got a tape of it a few years ago. Fun stuff.
GH: Aw, it's a stinker! (laughter)
DP: (laughter) Well, B-movie westerns are an American staple. We grew up on 'em.
GH: I suppose so.
DP: I began to play it, and the main movie intro theme came in, and I thought "Did these guys slip me the wrong movie?" But then, partway through, the chase scene comes in, and I hear the guitar, and I think "OK, that's different - that's much better."
GH: Oh, dear... that's so funny. Going back to the Released album, I have to say this: we had nothing off anybody about the first album. Vertigo had been criminally neglectful. No promotion - nothing. We were fairly depressed, as it had done nothing in Britain. They told us we had no news from America at that point. We had been rehearsing with this sax player, whose name escapes me - the Australian guy. Anyway, we'd been rehearsing with him, to try to get something together for the second album, and playing live trying to promote the first album. And so, consequently, when it came time to do the second album, we were a little short of material. As you know now, "Minnamoto's Dream" came from "Prenormal Day at Brighton", and also "Barazinbar" was the result of a frantic jam we had in Jon's living room. That came out of nowhere, so we thought "Yeah, we'll do that". "Yellow Eyes" was another filler - I'd had that knocking around for ages, and we were just a little bit short time-wise, so we just stuck it in at the end. So, out of all of them, Released was the most unprepared album we ever did, really. The songs on the first side are fairly well rehearsed, but compared to the others... I mean, the first album, we had the material for that for about a year before we got the deal. We were well-versed on that. We worked hard on the third one, too. The fourth and the fifth... OK... they never got released, but they were kinda planned. But the second one - wow!
DP: That was just a "Kazow!", put it together, get it out there quickly?
GH: That's just it! I'm glad I told that to somebody...
DP: (laughter) I had the sense that the second album was a little less even, a little less together than the first and the third, thematically. It's interesting to hear that that's how it came together.
GH: It just kinda fell together. We were in a state of upheaval. But, of course, once we finished that one, and we were kind of halfway through doing the third, that's when we got the news that Mercury was pleased with sales in America, wanted us to tour, and they'd arranged for Billy Gaff to manage us. Billy Gaff - we did one gig for him, I think - yes, the Marquee gig - we did the gig at the Marquee, Billy Gaff waved the papers at us and said "Sign here!" and we did. The guy who managed us in America, at Mercury Records - has Jon told you his name?
GH: Very nice guy - Robby McBride. If ever you run into him - I don't know how old he is, late 50s? - really nice guy. He was in charge of A&R - he came over to see us as well. Mercury was based in Chicago, as I recall.
DP: I gather that on that tour you played Philadelpha. It's a bit of a shame - I hadn't quite discovered Jade Warrior yet, but if I had I'd have certainly made it down to the stadium.
GH: Yeah, we did play Philadelphia. I'm trying to think with who... was it with the guy out of Traffic, Dave Mason?
GH: We also did a gig in St. Louis... no, we didn't do the gig in St. Louis, our work permits hadn't come through, we were just sort of waiting to hop onto the tour. We were due to do it with... who was Jim Dandy in, Black Oak Arkansas?
DP: Umm... not sure. I know you did at least one gig with John Baldry.
GH: Yes, we did one with John Baldry. We also did one with REO Speedwagon. That was in Illinois. That was a funny gig, man - it was on a huge series of tennis courts - they'd just taken all the nets down, herded all the audience in, and there was a stage set up. The thing was that once they got all the people in there - about halfway through REO Speedwagon's set - the police closed the gates and busted the entire audience. It was fantastic!
DP: What!?! (laughter)
GH: They did! There were baggies everywhere - the place was littered with all kinds of drugs. That's what they were doing. They locked the gates, and as people were coming out they were searching them. It was unbelievable.
DP: I believe the 60's term for that would be "Bad scene!"
GH: (laughter) Terribly bad scene, yeah! We also did the Whiskey-a-go-go with Sparks - do you remember Sparks?
DP: I do remember Sparks. David had said that you also played with Earthquake at the -a-go-go?
GH: Possibly, yes... I don't remember the Earthquake guys... do I? He's very possibly right... yes, he is right, actually. Sparks were finishing up their stint there, when we were there - we went in and saw them. David is right.
DP: Sparks was fairly well known here in the U.S. about that time, I believe. Not a band I ever saw, though. Any specific memories from that gig, or from the tour in the U.S. that come to mind?
GH: Well... let me see. Only, like, I was very impressed with America, for all kinds of reasons, philosophically, all kinds of stuff... I like the way you do things. I also like your food portions - they're incredible. But... no, I just remember enjoying myself. The whole thing was like being let loose in a giant fun-faire, without having to pay for it - it was great! I was touring the States, I was 23, what more could I ask? The only thing that did disappoint me is that because Camilla, Tony's wife, was pregnant we had to cut two gigs out, and one of them was Vancouver. I was quite looking forward to seeing Vancouver - I know it's not in the States, but...
DP: I've heard it's a beautiful city.
GH: That's what I'd heard - I'd heard so many tales, I thought I'd like to see it. But, we had to cut it, because Tony had to go home.
GH: You know how the band broke up, of course?
DP: I gather that Vertigo cancelled the contract before the fourth and fifth albums were released. I haven't heard details about what was going on within the band at that point.
GH: It was six of one, half a dozen of the other. Vertigo did cancel the contract, but they cancelled it mainly because... no, you're right, yeah, but Gaff was still managing us. We went to Holland, to tour Holland, and it was a fiasco. We were totally unrehearsed. About that time, I don't know what it was - various personalities breaking down within the band, or whatever - I was changing, I know Jon and Tony were not happy with the way things were going. I was living in Brighton at the time - about 60 miles outside of London. I'd make it to rehearsal on time, whereas Jon and maybe some days Tony would come in an hour, an hour and a half late. Man, I was pissed about that. They had their own reasons - I think, mainly, they did't want to go on, and they forced themselves to go through with it. Consequently, we did the Dutch tour, and it was terrible. I think we did only two gigs over there, out of a string of ten, and then we broke up and came home. Billy Gaff tore up the contract. I think, 'round about the same time, we got the heave-ho from Vertigo. I think we'd already recorded the last two albums for Vertigo then, and we were due to do another one, but they reneged and they said no. So, there you are.
DP: Turbulent times.
GH: Oh, yeah. It's always the same. Any band I've ever been in... well, that's not true for the smallest... almost all of the bands I've been in, when you spend so much time together, it becomes like group therapy. The smallest thing about somebody can start rubbing you up the wrong way. Tony wasn't particularly a man of great tolerance in that respect. If something irked him, then he wouldn't suffer it gladly - he would have to have it out. Whereas Jon was more of a diplomat - more inclined to work around that. Tony was a head-on character - a brilliant musician. To a great extent, I think that it was his tuning, and the interpretation he put on the guitar, that was very much the root of Jade Warrior's character. No, I can't say that, that's not being fair to Jon... Jon also had this... there you are, it's the "dreadful duo" again. They were just the core, I guess. Yeah. I don't know what else to say about that. Maybe I'll write you a letter.
DP: Well, from what I've heard of the music business - I've never been part of it myself - I gather that it's an incredibly stressful business. Somebody commented that the reason that when musicians really make it big and make it into the top bracket, they have a tendency to expect to be treated like kings and want everything their way - is that up until that time, they've customarily been treated like pigs!
GH: Yeah, that's true, I suppose. It's egos, there's no doubt about it. I guess you have to have something of an ego to want to get on stage and perform in the first place. When that gets fed - when people begin going to you, buying your material - I guess they inflate, and bump into one another. I remember reading an article about the guy from Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter. Ian Hunter and his new guitarist would come off the stage with bruises, because they would battle for who would get center position half the time!
DP: Hipping each other out of the way?
GH: Yeah. "This is mine. This stand-up part is mine!" They were physically banging into each other.
DP: Oh, man.
GH: I'm not sure whether I'd want to repeat that sort of thing. I'm not sure whether I could repeat that sort of thing, actually - would I have the stamina? No, definitely not. You see a lot of these old men making a comeback...
DP: To some extent it's a young folks' game, to have that...
GH: Definitely - for sure. I was surprised - Nash and Young are gearing up again - I couldn't believe that. But then again... do you have any favorites among the younger bands out today?
DP: Well, my listening habits are rather strange by today's standards. Not much of what's going on in popular music is of any great interest to me. I'm not into techno at all, very little of the modern rock - a lot of it seems very repetitious. My collection is a mix of some of the more progressive rock from the 70s and 80s, and world music of various sorts - Jorge Reyes from Mexico, doing his pre-Hispanic- influenced music. Gosh, all kinds of stuff. It's just a very strange mixture. My wife Gwen refers to a lot of it as "crazed gleef" music... the image being of small guitar-bearing gerbils dashing around the room at full speed.
DP: There's a lot of it I don't play when she's around - she finds it too distracting. She's more into female vocalists, some classic rock... she was a folk musician herself for quite a few years, before I met her. Earned her living as an active singer/songwriter down in Los Angeles. As you can probably guess, the late 70's and 80's were not a good time for folkies down in Los Angeles, so she finally had to give that up.
GH: For sure, yeah. I love Joni Mitchell - she really did it for me at one time. I look back at it now, and I can reevaluate how I felt about it then... but I like a lot of her stuff. Joni Mitchell. Jack Bruce... he was cool. King Crimson. The Doors, of course - Jim Morrison, wow, I love his voice. The other thing was... yeah, I've got to tell you this, just a parting shot. The one disadvantage I found to being in Jade Warrior, was that I could never get a song which was ideally in the right key. Everything had to be based around whatever made Tony's guitar sound good. You see, because he had such a big sound, there were certain chords that he'd play that could only be played partly on fingered strings, and partly with strings ringing open. And, they did sound really good. But consequently, whatever key that happened to be, I was stuck performing a melody line in it. So, I never really got to have a full fling at the vocals.
DP: You were always sort of constrained.
GH: Yeah, that's right - just a touch. We worked around that, but at the same time it was always something that glitched me a little.
DP: They never wrote a song specifically in support of the lyrics, I guess?
GH: No. Absolutely not. The lyrics never came first - the lyrics would always come later. That's the way we used to run it.
DP: It was a process that's produced some very intriguing music over the years. Something I've noticed in talking with other fans of the band over the years is that there don't seem to be many people who know Jade Warrior - it took me 10 or 15 years after I started listening to the band before I ever heard of anybody who'd ever even heard of the band before.
GH: We were an incredibly well-kept secret, that's for sure.
DP: The flip side is that, of those who know Jade Warrior, and who knew their music 'way back when, there seems to be a very strong long-term interest and loyalty to the band's music. Every couple of months, somebody sends me e-mail saying "My gosh, I just found your web site, I thought I was the only person out here who knew about Jade Warrior, this is great, I've been listening to them for 20 years, it's great to find that there are actually other people out there who appreciate this music!"
GH: Great! Well, I'm pleasantly surprised, I really am. I would more or less have shared that last guy's point of view - I'm surprised that you heard of us, I'm surprised that anybody's heard of us. It always makes me smile when somebody comes along... I was surprised when the drummer I'm working with, Dave Watkins... the guy you've been e-mailing... I was amazed when he said he's got a copy of one of our albums. Really surprised. I was even more amazed when he said "Wow, what a good album!" As I said, I was so used to being in the wrong place at the wrong time with Jade Warrior, that I kind of took it for granted that... well.. that's it!
DP: well, the albums in their original form - the original LPs - from what I've been told are absolutely collectors' items, and if you can find them on the collectors' circuit you're likely to pay $100 or more for a copy.
GH: Wow, really?
DP: The four-disk collection that Island did a few years ago - Elements - they listed that about $30, and it was typically selling for about $25. It's been out of print for about two years now, and copies are auctioning off on the Internet for $60-$70 a copy.
GH: That's great!
DP: Jade Warrior's music is seen, by those who appreciate it, as a real treasure.
GH: Well, I'm so pleased! That's great - I'm very happy about that. Ah, yeah! Maybe I should get ahold of Jon, and say "What's happening?"
DP: Well, if any further music comes out of you guys, I'm sure there will be people who will really enjoy hearing it. Whether or not it's the "true Jade Warrior", it's still work from some talented musicians who brought something to the game that not many other people have. So...
GH: Well, it's awfully nice to hear you say that, Dave. It's nice to be appreciated - good God almighty! Thanks for the comments.
DP: Well, they're from the heart. (end of tape 1) (lost a bit of discussion here before I noticed that I needed to switch tapes. We were talking about Jon and Tony's early association...)
GH: ... that comes from, again, understanding each other very well - it was mirrored in their music. They met while driving forklift trucks, and I don't think they ever turned back.
DP: They must have been, what, 18 or so when that happened?
GH: I think that's right. They went on to form July then... or was it The Tomcats? It might have been The Tomcats, and then July.
DP: From what I've been able to figure out, they had one before that - The Thoughts, or The Second Thoughts. Then they went on to do Tomcats, and toured Spain, and then did July after that.
GH: That's right...
DP: I did recently get a copy of the reissue of The Tomcats' album, and when I mentioned it to Jon he just about curled up and died.
GH: You did? Where did you get that? That's incredible!
DP: It was reissued on vinyl three or four years ago by the same label that did Eclipse - Gary Ramon's outfit, Acme.
GH: Oh, right. The Tom Newman connection - Gary knows Tom.
DP: It's a hoot to hear them doing covers of Rolling Stones tunes, and Beatles bits...
GH: I can imagine!
DP: I'd love to see all of Jade Warrior's albums back in print in some form or another.
GH: That's be great, but I don't know who would do it. You see, I'm still relatively surprised that there's this much interest, and this much re-releasing going on. It's only because of guys like yourself, and from what Jon has told me and David, guys like Gary Ramon that there's still a market for bands which were running around thirty years ago. Maybe it's a turn-of-the-century thing - maybe the 20th century has become an archive sort of thing.
DP: That's part of it - I think people have time to look back, and look past some of the really popular stuff that was saturating the market, and say "Well, what else was out there? What is there that should have been heard, and really wasn't?"
GH: Yeah, 'cause it was a very fruitful period. I can remember a number of bands... OK, they were partially successful but not as big as you'd throught they'd be... there was a band called Van der Graff Generator I recall, which was very very good. They think made waves, but they just disappeared again. If I had the time, I could probably think of half-a-dozen similar. Yeah, it's pleasant. There were a lot of good things happening then - there were a lot of good ideas around. I don't know what it was. There was a kind of freedom in peoples' thinking which resulted in... good art, I guess you could call it. I mean, it wasn't as manufactured as it is today. It seems to me that the music industry today has never forgiven the late 70's - the punk-rock thing - for actually causing so much trouble. They've nailed the lid down tight. I think these days, the tendency is for the record companies to dictate, and artists are more or less seen as being employed by them.
DP: In effect, yeah. In the mainstream, I think that's true. The really interesting thing is going to be seeing what effect the Internet, and non-traditional music distribution does to the industry.
GH: I'm looking forward to that. Somebody should kick the hell out of them - they need shaking up.
DP: They're scared to death.
GH: You think so?
DP: Oh, yeah. What they're realizing now is that the combination of inexpensive digital music production - the fact that you can do all the mixing, and so forth, on a decent personal computer - that you can manufacture your music digitally and distribute it directly over the Internet - means that the whole music business could be affected the same way that publishing was 10 or 15 years ago when inexpensive laser printers came out. It used to be you couldn't publish unless you were a big company, or paid a big company to do it for you - and then suddenly anybody could do decent-looking artwork and produce decent-looking material.
GH: That's great!
DP: It may not have the same professional polish you'd get if you throw big bucks and a big facility at it, but you can bypass the traditional channels.
GH: It's like a new cottage industry.
DP: Yup. And, as with any new cottage industry, there will probably be a lot of stuff come out which is just terrible... not worth much... but it can open up channels for people to do thing in a nontraditional way.
GH: I like the sound of that. It sounds like a revolution. Bring it on!
DP: A point you made about Jon and Tony's music was that they had a way of dealing with size that you hadn't heard elsewhere.
GH: That's what they did. They didn't use much bass... well, they didn't use any bass on their dance-drama stuff... it was just Tony's guitar. Occasionally Jon might use a cello to emphasise a bass outline. But, there was this space - there was no drum kit, no cymbals - the moment you get cymbals or a regular drum rhythm you begin closing the space down. They never used that - they used congas. And that stool Jon used - he must have told you about that?
DP: On stage, using a chunk of wood and hitting it for percussion?
GH: Yeah - hitting it with two square pieces of wood, WHAP, to get a flam off of it. It was a stool with a vinyl top...
DP: Oh, so that's the characteristic "thwap" on some of the tracks - that's the stool?
GH: That's the thwap! You've got it, yeah.
DP: I've never heard like that anywhere else. (laughter)
GH: (laughter) I know! Well, the funny thing is that when first we did our showcase for Vertigo, we rolled Alan Price in - we knew him at the time - to do the thwap! Really unfair to the guy - he sat there with a kitchen stool in front of him, and two pieces of wood, and played the thwap! whenever he needed to, while Jon played the congas. It was wonderful! I think that's what got him the gig, in the end!
DP: Ah! He does a really neat thwap! (laughter)
GH: Without batting an eyelid. Brilliant!
DP: The other characteristic of Jade Warrior's music was the very dynamic range of it. It would go from very quiet and subtle, all the way up to peeling-your-scalp-off, in a hundredth of a second!
GH: Good God, they used to scare me sometimes - they'd bring these things in! It's like... there's a movie out, new to me but probably old to you, called "Deep Blue Sea".
DP: I've seen the ads but haven't seen the movie.
GH: Well, there's a part where this guy is explaining to the gang of survivors from the killer sharks that they've gotta stick together... and you're really convinced by this time in the film that this is the guy who's going to lead them out of the mess... and as he's in the middle of his speech, this f*cking huge shark leaps out of a pool next to him and gobbles him up whole. It's so quick... it's like a Jade Warrior piece where they bring in something!
GH: I dunno, I think they missed their vocation - they could have written for films, no sweat.
DP: There's a musician, Mark Isham, who has made a sort of similar transition from doing his own music, to being very very popular for doing movie soundtracks and TV-special soundtracks. I think... maybe they could have done it, maybe because they were so interested in their own vision they might have found it very difficult to take direction or influences from anybody about the way the director wanted to convey the scene.
GH: I guess you're right there, I hadn't thought of that - there are other people involved. Again, Jon and Tony, because of their - dare I say it - insularity, were very mistrustful... not mistrustful, what's the right word I'm looking for?
DP: Sceptical, about other peoples' opinions?
GH: They would always back their own instincts, rather than anyone else - that's kind of what made them tick.
DP: Jon said once that if someone suggested doing something in their music, it was as though not only couldn't they take the suggestion, but they almost had to avoid taking it or doing anything like it, because it came from outside, and not from their own vision.
GH: That's perfect - I couldn't have said it any better than that. That's probably how it was.
DP: It's interesting to get a look into the music, into that world that they saw, from outside and a perspective of quite a few years. I don't think I could ever describe it in words - not even as well as they could...
GH: I guess not. From what you tell me about what Jon's told you, he's obviously done a lot of analysis on his and Tony's relationship - much more than I could. He knows the roots, he knows where they came from - I've only got second-hand information on that. The other interesting thing was, as I said, because we were a three-piece and there would always be a mediator for the two opposing parties... sometimes we'd come out of a rehearsal, and I'd head for the tube with Jon if it was at Tony's house, and we'd inevitably end up bitching about Tony's attitude, OK? Then, we'd rehearse at Jon's house, and I'd come out and head for the tube along with Tony, and we'd inevitably end up bitching about Jon! (laughter) That's just the way it went. They probably bitched about me too.
GH: It kind of "earthed" things - got things out of the way, and then it was forgotten about and everything was all right.
DP: It's sort of like wearing a copper ground strap on your ankle, to drain away the tensions and the disagreements, and then just move on.
GH: That's it exactly, yeah! As I said, I think that when it got to be just the two of them, they didn't have that luxury. There wasn't anybody that ws close to them, that they could turn to and say "Well, sh*t, what did you think of that?" Jon once described a rehearsal we had with Tony as "Like walking through treacle!" because Tony, if he didn't like the way a song was going, he wouldn't say "No, that's awful, I'm not going to do it." He'd just take a long time to play it... trying out other things he thought he might prefer... until eventually, he'd come out and he'd settle for what Jon might have originally suggested. It was strange - he had a way of slowing time down - you'd be at that rehearsal, and before you knew where you were, it was due to end, and you hadn't gotten any further with it! Jon could never do that - Tony did it really well - I don't know where he learned it from (laughter). Jon was a much speedier guy altogether.
DP: "Let's get to it!"
GH: Right... while Tony was very laid-back. He'd put the brakes right on it. The other thing was the age difference - when I joined the band I was about 23, I think. Jon and Tony were over 30 - 32, 33 maybe. They had ten years on me - they were my seniors. My superiors in a way, because they'd been through things I hadn't been through. I kind of looked up to them in many ways - I admired them for what they'd done, the grasp they had on their music, and the vision that they had. I just wanted to chip in and make a contribution to that, because it was something that was up. It was up and running already, and I had a chance to get on board. It was great!
DP: Sounds like interesting times. I've never been part of the music business myself, but it's fascinating to observe it at a distance. To leap subjects a bit - something I don't know about you is family! What's your family background, and do you have a family now?
GH: Well, I have a boy and a girl, aged 7 and 8 respectively - Rosie, and James. I got married in 1990, after coming back to Wales. I quit the music business ostensibly then. Actually, I came back to Wales in 1980, after a stint in the New Wave kind of thing. I told you about that...
DP: Yes. It sounds like it was pretty high-energy.
GH: Oh, it was high energy. It was great fun - I met a lot of interesting people. My mother was dying of cancer, and there was nowhere for her to go except into a home, unless I came back. So, I came back and took care of her for a couple of years, until she died. By that time, I'd become so accustomed to a rural life - it's pretty countryside where I live - I tried going back to London, but I only lasted a year. I didn't have the edge anymore for it. You have to have a certain kind of attitude to get by in a big city with any degree of success. I wasn't really interested in adopting that kind of persona any more. So, I came back to Wales and settled here - eventually met my wife, got married, had two kids. I actually learned a trade - how about that?
DP: Ha! What are you doing these days?
GH: Well, I can't say I'm a stonemason... but I build with stone. That taught me a great deal about patience, and the value of the artisan. It's very enjoyable. I like building walls - wow, I get a buzz out of them. The bigger the better!
DP: That's one thing, unfortunately, that the technological culture doesn't seem to respect any more - the individual craftsman and artisan. It's all mass-production.
GH: It is, for sure - the quicker you can get it up, the better. There's a lot of substitutes being used. We had a thing brought out over here, called "stone cladding". Jesus, you should have seen it - it's horrifying - looked very artificial. It looked like somebody stuck boils all over your house.
GH: Wrong shape, wrong everything. But, it was cheap, and people went for it. A lot of people had their houses stone-clad... this was about 12, 13 years ago. A lot of them, since then, have taken it off, because... some of them must have walked down the street and said "Did I really do that to my house? I've got to rescue it somehow!"
DP: "It looks terrible!"
GH: Yeah. Have you read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"?
DP: Robert Pirsig - yes.
GH: I really liked that - I was very interested in that book, and have read it several times. There was one point where he mentions this wall he saw in China, and the significance of the wall. He can't figure out what the significance of the wall is, but there was something about the wall which really got him. I've come across it myself - you see some buildings, and they're so right! I don't know what else to tell you - they look right, they're in the right place, they're built right, you approach them from the right angle. You could sit down and just look at the building, or look at the structure, and it's just perfect. I'm still trying to build that wall.
DP: Uh huh! Well, it may be one of those things in which the pursuit of it is as important as getting there.
GH: I would have thought so - that's right. And that's what you get in the end... you get the kind of... I agree!
DP: I've had a little bit of experience with something a bit like that... not in the artistic area, but just something practical. I spent about a year designing, and assembling, and painting and finishing a set of loudspeakers for our new home. After my wife and I figured out what would fit into our decor I found I couldn't buy what we needed, so I had to build it myself. They fit in well, they sound great, and there's a real sense of accomplishment about it.
GH: I know exactly what you mean. They work, they look ok! I don't know if Jon ever told you... no, he wouldn't, probably. He is one of the few people I know who has a talent for looking at something - even if he's never done it before - he'll look at something, and he'll give you a replica, or a version which is just as good. I can remember when David first joined the band - he only had an amp, he didn't have speakers, his guitar was a cheap copy, and he didn't have a decent pair of boots. So, Jon got him a pair of boots - they were my old snakeskin boots, practically falling to bits - Jon repaired them, and they looked great! Jon became a cobbler. He built him a pair of speakers to go with his amp, and they sounded excellent! Ok, it was just regular old wood, this and that and the other - but Jon put them together and they sounded great. David had a brilliant sound. Tony used to envy David's sound, when he first joined the band - with these terrible speakers Jon had built, this old amp, and this old guitar that I can't even remember the name of it - I don't know what it was. He also does that with painting - his artwork's good. Jon is a very talented guy in that respect.
DP: I'm looking forward to seeing the artwork he did - he's doing the illustration for a book on airplanes now. He said he got the first one back from the publisher and is pretty happy with it. It's not perfect - the printing process can't quite bring across the artwork quality - but he seemed to be satisfied with it.
GH: Oh, that's good. He did mention that it's not exactly right. Then again, I can remember when Jon and Tony saw the cover for the first album. They were appalled. Jon didn't do that one - I don't know who did it. It went on to win an award in the world of record covers, but Jon and Tony were absolutely appalled. They didn't like it at all.
DP: I got curious about the design - the Chinese calligraphy written on the sail of the boat floating above the desert. I asked a Chinese woman I worked with, what it means. She said it's not easy to translate, because it's in the classical Chinese mode of saying a lot with very few words - more is implied than is stated. But, it turned out to be a poem that tied into the images being shown on the cover, in a poetic sense. I'll send you the translation.
GH: That's incredible - I had no idea. I mean, I like to look at the thing, but Chinese is 'way beyond me, and I had no idea it actually meant anything. That's amazing.
DP: So, the artist apparently snuck that in somehow. I don't think Jon had known what it meant, either.
GH: No, he never mentioned it to me, I'm sure. The one thing that he and Tony were both convinced of, was that it was Alan Price in the boat, playing the guitar.
GH: (laughter) They ripped him for ages about that. "How did you do it, Alan? How did you get her to paint you into the boat?" (laughter) 'Cause it did look like him - the guy had red hair, and hunched over like Alan used to do sometimes.
DP: Hah! (laughter) Fun stuff!
GH: Oh, yeah.
DP: Well, I'm about out of specific questions at this point.
GH: I think I'm about remembered-out. Oh, you know we recorded "Demon Trucker" in New York, of course?
DP: I think that was mentioned in one of the liner notes. Did you do it while you were actually on tour, or did you come over for a separate session?
GH: While we were on tour - we took a couple of days off to do it. I think we did it kind of illegally - we weren't supposed to be recording in America at the time. Were there any rules in America at the time? I'm not sure - it seemed kind of complex. Robby McBride, the guy I told you about from Mercury, got us in there and we did it anyway. On the album cover it said it was "remastered" or "remixed" in New York - it was actually recorded there.
DP: Ah - and they didn't want to admit that for legal reasons.
GH: That's right. Well...
DP: Well, thank you! I'm glad you made that chance phone call to Jon!
GH: I hadn't run Jon for ages. It just happened that Dave Watkins, the drummer, had given me a copy of Last Autumn's Dream. I looked at it and thought "What am I doing - I should be calling this guy." We were very close at one time, and I hadn't rung him for three years. He didn't know where I was, because I'd moved. So, I gave him a bell, and all this happened - most fortuitous.
DP: Yes indeed! I'm glad it happened. One of what will probably be my long-term regrets in life is that I didn't actually get in touch with anybody in the band to say "Thanks" until after I'd learned that Tony had passed away.
GH: Ah, yeah, well, that came as a tremendous shock. Tony was one of the healthiest individuals I'd ever met in my life. He didn't smoke, he didn't drink... he didn't like fish, I don't know what that had to do with it. It must have been the stress. I know he was under a great degree of financial pressure at the time - that's probably what tipped him over. I was incredibly saddened. The unfortunate thing for me is that Tony and I didn't exactly end up on the best terms, for various reasons. We never got a chance to make it up. David says that some time before he died, Tony said something along the lines of "Well, I wouldn't mind seeing Glyn again - bygones by bygones, and all that kind of thing." Of course I didn't know this, because I was out of touch with everybody, as per normal. Yeah, I'm sad I didn't get ahold of him before he went. I would have liked to at least shook his hand and said "Well, you know, man, let's let sleeping dogs lie." But, there you go - these things happen, eh?
DP: They do - so, we move on and we do whatever we can.
GH: That's right, yeah. One thing about it - I don't think we'll see his likes again.
DP: From what hear, he was unique. Not anyone like him.
GH: He was, yeah. I gather David has gotten back into playing again - he told you?
DP: Yeah - and he had a very close call too, it seems.
GH: Yeah, that amazed me as well - David Duhig with TB! That's making a big comeback over here - I don't know what it's like in the States.
DP: There is some of it over here. It hasn't hit in the mainstream yet - most of the people affected by it here have immigrated here from elsewhere. Among people here who have HIV, TB is an additional problem - their immune systems can't handle it.
GH: What David had appears to be that new strain which is extra-resistant to antibiotics.
DP: It sounds as if he had a pretty rough time of it.
GH: So he tells me. David's a very optimistic kind of guy - he can tell you he had a rough time of it, while still sounding quite cheerful. We had a long conversation the other night - again, I hadn't seen David for ages, until I made the call to Jon, then Jon happened to get in touch with David, and David got in touch with me. We're all, kind of communicating again.
DP: Well, it's good to hear.
GH: Yes, it is. Maybe - I don't know - maybe something will come of it. Who can tell what the future will bring?
DP: Nobody... well, I hope whatever you do is something which brings you reward and satisfaction!
GH: I do too.
DP: Ok - well, again, very nice talking to you - thanks for taking the time - and please stay in touch!
GH: Thank you, Dave - I will. Take care of yourself, and love to Gwen!
DP: I shall - thanks!
GH: All of that... bye!