PETER HAMMILL and STUART GORDON
were interviewed live on Israel Radio GLZ 96.9 by Yoav Kutner 29 March 2001 2-2:30pm local time
Interview lasted 20 minutes including 3 studio tracks.
YK: About two weeks ago, they told us that PH will come here for a live show
before his show tonight that we're broadcasting. WE asked "are you sure?"
They said "sure". We brought equipment, piano and the works.
PH comes, says "I'm not playing at noon, I'm playing this evening". And we
said "but you promised!", and he said "I didn't promise", and we said "well,
someone promised" .
Well, anyway, he's here, in the other studio, and he's going to chat with
us, but there won't be a show live in the studio here. Sorry.
[Israeli song plays]
We'll talk to him a bit, and I apologise for my English.
[PH song playing - "Touch and Go" from the most recent studio cd "None of The Above" May 2000]
YK: This is the opening track of PH's last album None of the Above. Hello Mr. Hammill, How are you?
PH: Hello, very pleased to be here, I have to say.
YK: I'm sorry you can't play now.
PH: Yes, well shall I explain?
YK: Yes, for our listeners, I know now why.
PH: But I think it will be good to explain to everybody. Really the point is
that I am going to play in a few hours and it remains very important to me that; this is the reason that I'm here, to perform tonight and the next
couple of nights. And even at my advanced age of 52 or 53, 52 I am still I think
YK: In the internet you are 53
PH: Well, FINE! everyone's a little bit older or younger on the internet..aren't they?
It's really important for me to direct everything towards that performance and of course I'm a musician and I'm a singer and in theory I can just sit
down at a piano and perform, give a performance but in fact it's really not like that to perform.
From the moment that you get up, in the morning from,
the moment that you wake up even in the darkness you have to be directing everything towards that performance in the evening, and the whole shape of the day, what you eat what you drink whether you go out for a walk what have you, everything has to be directed towards that, and if I were suddenly to sit down now and play a couple of songs it would be a real disturbance on the performance tonight. I do apologize because everybody expected me to play this morning but I DIDN'T KNOW THAT unfortunately...
YK - I'll translate....
YK - Do you have any other crazy habits concering the show? you don't
PH - [several laughs] I'm a completely sober person now....[said tongue in cheek]....
no the real point is that, this is why I still love
performing, it's fantastic to play live it's a privilege to play live, but it does involve going into another world, and involves becoming a different person effectively. At the moment as I speak I'm a comparatively rational human being, but I'm not a rational human being when I'm going to perform...
YK: Still? Even though you've had thousands of shows?
PH: Still, that why it's still exciting for me, and maybe because I don't spend all the year touring, I probably only do two or three months maximum each
year, so that's not that many shows. That's why each show remains special to me, and I forget the show when it's done, and I don't think about the next
show until this one is done, and in my view playing music live, it's my job and my career, it's also a super big part of my life, and I think it's the
responsibily of a musician to really be there for each show and it does involve in the course of a day or
particular and in the last hour before going on stage it involves going through a real mental/spiritual process when you know that you're absolutely going to be there on the planet, in the middle of the music, for that hour and a half, or hour and three quarters, that you're playing..
YK: But you use special technique, meditation?
PH: No no no, not like that, as I say I'm not a rational logical person as I approach the playing, it is more chaotic. I have Stuart here with me as well,
and maybe I can bring him in, but maybe you ought to translate some of this first! [laughter]
YK: I can't ask you what you're gonna play today?
PH : No I was about to say, there are certain rituals, not meditation, but there are rituals and time scales, I don't decide exactly what I'm going to play until
an hour before, so Stuart probably doesn't know until about 45 mins before and then probably without knowing it we all change our clothes at a certain stage, and so you have a kind of countdown to takeoff basically, and there are kind of rituals
YK: And if the audience ask for certain songs during the show you change them?
PH: errrrrrrr. I think the audience are there to LISTEN ......
YK: because you know, among the problems we have in Israel...
[Lots of laughter]
PH: I think among the problems you have in Israel, the choice of which songs
peter hammill is going to play is not number 1!
YK: What I meant to say, it's very hard to get your albums from the '90s, before you were on Virgin, .. so we don't know your recent albums so well.
PH: Right, yes so the way to start hearing the songs is for me to play them. Seriously about taking requests, when I make that decision an hour before,
it's so that there is kind of a map through these songs, and I can't say that I won't be doing songs just
from the last two or three albums. There will be a whole mix of things, If I could bring Stuart in, having almost introduced him a moment ago...
I think it would be interesting to hear his view
YK: [translation].. Hello Stuart.
Your first time in Israel?
SG: Absolutely yes. Having a great time
YK: Peter, this is the 4th time in Israel?
PH: This is the 4th, yeh
YK: So what is your angle to work with him?
SG: It's a great privilege to work with Peter. I've been working with him for I think about 15 years now, off and on. Fiorst starting on the recordings but have worked live with Peter for 10/11 years now. It's fantastic; Every peformance is different as he's just explained, he'll announce about an hour before the show what songs he's going to play and even then that's not tablets of stone. It might change half way through when Peter will just turn to me and say 'let's forget that one and do another' so ...
YK: You know all the songs?
SG: I think I know to play confidently live, about
YK: What about VdGG?
SG: I wasn't part of VdGG.
YK: I know.
SG: I came at a latter date, but I play...
I think I played 2 or 3 VDG songs. I think Cat's Eye is one that I played on, played live with Peter and I can't remember which.....
PH: That's something we've talked about in the last few days...I don't tell Stuart where a song comes from, and specifically if we're learning a song he's told me that I've never allowed him to listen to a song on record. I don't say, 'I'm thinking of doing these songs on tour' have a listen and then we'll rehearse.'
I just play the song as I currently play it, and so he has no idea of what the original thing was.
YK: Some music and then we'll get back to talking.....
PH: OK....[Studio version of Tango For One....played about half...the rest ran underneath this next part]
YK:Do you prefer to perform alone, or with piano or a band?
PH: It's totally different; every way of playing, in fact this is the 4th time in Israel and it's going to
be a 4th different lineup effective.
There's been a band. With Jaxon, and also solo.
know, they sold us the K-Group show as a VDGG show.
PH: Well this is what happens, there is this struggle you have to go through with a history.
For the last 3 or 4 years we've done this particular duo with Stuart. Whatever, again whatever I am doing on a night that I am doing, that is the one show that I'm doing. There's obviously a question with the more musicians you have. Effectively, you have less choice of changing things around because there are some songs that have to be played at the beginning and end of a set. I think that this is a fantastically exciting duo.
In principle it looks like kind of a folk duo or a neo-classical duo, you see piano and violin and acoustic guitar and violin it looks as if it's going to be very sweet and calm and so on....but it's not! It has it's sweet and calm moments but it's not
As I say it's whatever I'm doing in the night. It would be horrible to go on stage for a solo show going 'oh I wish there was a band here tonight'.
YK: You could play that with a computer?
PH: Ah! Never. Never! I've never used any of that stuff. To me that's not the excitement of playing live. Even if we do the same song on two or three consecutive nights, it's never going to be the same. If you use computer or click track it has to be the same. I know this is the modern world...
YK: What you're saying is that people that love your music have to come to all 3 shows?
PH: It's a good marketing ploy. Isn't it? Well the three shows will be entirely different.
YK: How can we get your albums in Israel?
PH: It is possible to get them over the Internet at the official peter hammill site which is www dot sofa sound dot com
YK: Sofa what?
S O F A S O U N D dot com and it's possible to order over the internet and it comes by post. My site...
YK: Why not a peter hammill dot com?
There is a peter hammill dot com which supposedly, eventually is going to be more of an art site. Sofasound for years and years has been the mail order place because not only in Israel it's often been difficult
for people to find records. When I was with major labels it wasn't going to be like Michael Jackson distribution.
So sofa sound has always been the name for ordering my stuff and that carries over into the internet, and there probably will be a peterhammill dot com...if you go to peter hammill dot com you can be directed to sofasound dot come.
YK: We have to finish our little conversation, so
I want to ask you to play one song....
PH: I'm sorry, I'm Sorry......
YK: I know you won't do it. Not here not here...tonight..
PH: Tonight! Ah!....
YK: I only suggest this one...
PH: Which one?
YK: Autumn. And thank you very much Peter
PH: I say it's been great great pleasure.
YK: Thank you also Stuart Gordon,
SG: Thank you
YK: And see you tonight and tomorrow and the day after
Thanks to Asaf for transcribing the first part