An Inkeys interview with Tony Duhig

This interview was recorded in 1984, and was originally published as part of issue #8 of Inkeys, a magazine-on-cassette-tape which focused on progressive and electronic music of that era. The interview is posted here with the kind permission of the folks at Inkeys (Jeanette and Dennis Emsley, and Andy Garibaldi). My thanks to them for permission to reprint the interview, and to Loren Nerell for sending me a copy of the tape. In the transcript below, "JE" is Jeanette Emsley, "DE" is Dennis Emsley, and "TD" is Tony Duhig.

JE: Hello again, and welcome to Inkeys number 8. We've stacks of new releases for you this issue. But first, our interview, with Tony Duhig of Jade Warrior.

DE: Tony Duhig, welcome to Inkeys. Jade Warrior was formed in 1971. Was it just you and Jon Field that made up the band?

TD: In those days, no. Glyn Havard joined us at the same time. We asked Glyn to join us - he's a vocalist. The music for Jade Warrior, before 1971, evolved from some dance dramas that Jon and I did for... I can never think of her name... a dance drama school in Guilford. We did two long dance dramas - one was called "Phoenix and the Dove", which lasted 8-9 minutes, and the second one we did was called "Jade Warrior", from which we later took the name for the band. I played a lot to Glyn some years later... we abstracted some of the tunes and ideas from those dance dramas, put Glyn's voice with them, and that made up the first two or three albums, really. So, all the Vertigo albums were myself, Glyn, and Jon.

DE: And then, of course, you moved on to Island Records, and now you went to Lawrence's Pulse label. What is Jade Warrior now?

TD: Jade Warrior now, with the exception of this album I've just done... it's the first album since 1971 I've done in which Jon Field was absent. He's always been my partner - I've known and worked with Jon for 22 years, I think. But, this album was done without him, for various reasons. So Jade Warrior now is in fact, from this moment on, still Jon Field and myself, and from now on we'll be working together again. This album is an exceptional one, which I did entirely on my own.

DE: Now, with "Horizen", your new album, you start with the "Vision of Dune". Is it based on the book "Dune"?

TD: Yes. Some years ago, I read the first one, the thick one, "Dune", and liked that very much. Consequently, I went on to read the sequels. Yeah, the imagery involved in that book was... I like science fiction, I get binges when I read, I read for six months, and then I go off it for a long while, and then borrow some books and read again. But "Dune"... I didn't actually start and think "I know, I'll do some music that reminds me of some of the images of Dune". I did that first intro without actually any thought of Dune. But, as so often happens with me, once I've done something, I think "What does that remind me of?" It starts saying to me, it starts reminding me of something I've already sort of thought of. It's as if I've got a great well of ideas up in my mind here, and I may actually physically realize them on a piece of tape one day without realizing necessarily what instigated that one thing coming into being. Thereafter, it often happens with me (as in "Images of Dune") that the light-bulb goes on and I think "I know what I was thinking of - it's that bit in the book where blah-de-blah." So, that came somewhat in reverse order, that first theme, that first bit on the album that I call "Prescient Dawn". That was written without realizing that I was thinking about Dune. Once I caught on that that's what I was thinking about, the rest followed, and they were deliberately written about images of Dune.

[music from "Images of Dune"]

DE: That's a very powerful track, and the majority of the rest of the album (at least, all the B side) is very laid-back. The one track that, in my mind, seems totally different from the rest of the album is "Carribean Wave". It's a totally different style, Carribean style of music... what was going on there?

TD: Whenever I decide to do an album, or whenever an album comes up, I start drawing on a great stack of ideas I've got. I like Latin American music very much - it's great stuff to play, you see. "Images of Dune" is, in a way, to make that up, it's stuff to think about in the first instance. I find Latin American is the first thing I want to play when I turn a guitar on. Within whatever range of scope I've got, it's almost that there's thinking music and then there's physical music. I like Latin American music so much that, in the first instants, when I think of doing an album, the first seven or eight things I make up are Latin American. The thought process then is "Wait, I don't want to do a whole Latin American album", because if I did I'd want to do it with a whole almost-live band. To do some of the stuff I want to do, I think I have to put the brakes on and think "I'm not doing a whole Latin American album", but that's what comes naturally to me, in the physical process of making music to start with.

DE: How much of this album is actually what you play, what do you play on the album? I know you're first and foremost a guitarist...

TD: What do I play? Let me think now. On "Images of Dune", a whole lot of that... I played everything. My friend Gowan Turnbull helped me a lot with some flute, but I don't know how much of him survived on the actual record.

DE: Is he the flautist on "East Wind"?

TD: That's right, yeah, Gowan. He definitely played the flutes on "East Wind". In other places, like on "Images of Dune", there are flute sounds, but I put those on. I'm a guitarist, and Jon's a flute player and a conga player, but in the time we've been making records we've... I've socked and kicked everything in sight and gotten noise out of it, really, and overdubbed it, and used whatever's around, or hired instruments that we like but we can't actually play, like harps. Being able to use my fingers to play on a guitar, it's not too difficult to grab a harp or any other stringed instrument and get a limited thing from it that you actually want, without necessarily hiring a harp player. Actually, wee have hired harp players in the past, to do the thdrillle-dum thdriddle-dum, all the Mrs. Dale's Diary stuff that takes years of technique to actually do.

DE: How about the transition to keyboards - you use a lot of keyboard instruments?

TD: Well, I don't actually like physically playing keyboards - I don't like the action of press-the-key-and-out-the-note-comes. After guitar, I find that particularly unrewarding, especially with synthesizers. You can either put your finger on a note, and it will sound as it sounds, or you can put your sandwiches on the same note, and it will generally sound the same! After guitar playing, that's... well, I like guitar playing because it's so bleeding difficult. I find it so, anyway. Synthesizers, that approach, I don't like keys for that reason. So, my transfer to keyboards is quite comical, really. When I use the Emulator, anything more than a two-note chord and I have to put little X's on the keys. (Laughter) I'm not joking - bits of paper and X's on the keys, and I stick my hand to them, and that sort of stuff. I don't mind doing that, because what you get in the end is what's important. What I get in the end, is the cords from that gadget that I actually want. Whether I've got any technique or not doesn't matter a bag of beans, y'know. That doesn't matter to me - I don't mind having X's on the keys. If I play it long enough, I'll soon be able to do without the bits of sticky paper.

DE: Remember where they go...

TD: Right. One does learn in the end, despite how much you don't want it.

DE: We've mentioned "East Wind", which is the opening track on the B side. After that you've "Red Mountain and Gray Lake", which is also a very laid-back track.

TD: Can I just put that right - it should be "Gray Lake, Red Mountain".

DE: It should?

TD: Yep.

DE: All right...

TD: That's what it is on the album - I don't know how it got..

DE: That was Dave Lawrence - he wrote that.

TD: Yes, that was a misdemeanor. [laughter]

[music - "Gray Lake, Red Mountain"]

DE: The final track is "Long Way to Mount Lee". That's more oriental than the others, it sounds to me.

TD: Yeah, that's another thing that we... I'm not using the royal "We", I'm speaking collectively, Jon and myself... not "inherited", but we started with the name "Jade Warrior". We started that second ballet that I mentioned, about a Japanese warrior. Before we were ever in a band, we acquired a liking for things Oriental - in particular, Japanese. And, probably moreso in the earlier albums, but insofar as when I ever start an album I think of Latin American stuff, I also think of Oriental things, because I'm very interested in medieval Japan and some of the philosophy pertaining to that era and beyond. It comes very natural to me to do my version of Oriental stuff - got reams of it to do, reams of it I do do, and it'd be very strange to me if I ever did an album and something that didn't slip onto it.

DE: Where do you get the voices from - is that the Emulator choir?

TD: On "Mount Lee", I got nine actual real singers from the Pro Musica of London, via Nick, a friend of mine, and simply overdubbed them. So that, I suppose that in the end there's about ninety voices singing there. They're actually real voices. Whereas, on "Images of Dune" that's the Emulator choir, which I hope no one can hear but I'm sure everyone can. I had them nice and far back...

DE: It sounds good.

TD: Yeah. I think that's the best thing to do with the Emulator, in nearly all instances, is to have them... that's when it works its best, because that's when it shows up its faults least, is to have them back amongst...

DE: This record is available now. What are your plans for the immediate future?

TD: The immediate future - I would like to change the situation from one in which TV companies use our records, quite a lot, for background music in their TV programs. Especially Yorkshire television, they've used everything we've ever done, loads of times, which is very nice. I want to move from that position, to special commissions. Because, our albums, most people seem to agree on this, sound like film music right from the word "Go". Not because I want to make it sound like film music, but as I said earlier they nearly all are counterparts of visual images I've got in my head already, and that's probably why it comes out like that. So, I think the time is right for me to do music for films. That's when the film and the music, when it comes together properly, is most powerful. I think it would be very natural for me to do that.

DE: How about live performances? Have you been thinking about doing that at all?

TD: Yes, very much so. Because, the last live performance we did was in America, and that was something like 12 years ago. I want to play live, because I've done so many years of overdubbing. I still like recording, but I've just got the itch to work with actual people and do that. I was put off, ten years ago - my memory's of huge PA's and being ballsed up by the other band. In America, we were touring with Dave Mason, supporting him. He was with Traffic at the time, they were very big at the time. We'd go on, and there'd be nothing but feedback and squeals, you couldn't hear the monitors... Dave Mason would come on, and it'd be perfect. That sort of approach just makes me... "Oh, sod this, where's the music in all this?". All that crap. So, that soured me for a lot of years. Probably... I don't know if things are any different these days... maybe it's not. For the moment, I've sort of temporarily forgotten about that, and my enthusiasm for playing is beginning to overrule that bad taste that I left in my mouth. And, we'll see.

DE: We hope that we can see you in concert, and that your record does well. Tony Duhig, thank you very much!

TD: All right - thank you!

[music - "Long Way to Mount Lee"]

Editor's note concerning the band's name

Glyn Havard is on record as disagreeing with Tony's Duhig's account of how the band name originated. He remembers a discussion with Tony Duhig and Jon Field, in which the three of them agreed that they wanted a name which reflected both the subtle and artistic, and the strong and dynamic influences underlying the band's music. They went down a list of adjectives and nouns, trying various combinations, and ended up agreeing on "Jade Warrior".

There seems to be general agreement among the people I've interviewed that "Phoenix and the Dove" was the name of one of the two original dance dramas, but the true name of the other isn't known for certain. Tony Duhig said it was "Jade Warrior" but there seems to be no independent confirmation of this.

The contents of this interview transcription is Copyright © Dave Platt, 2000. The interview itself is Copyright © Inkey Magazine, 1984. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. This interview may not be reproduced for any commercial purpose without express written permission from Inkey Magazine.

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