PENDRAGON (Nick Barrett)
What are you
currently up to?
At the moment we are just about to release a new DVD called Concerto Maximo,
which was recorded in Poland on our last tour we are doing lots of tour dates
and some festivals weíre playing Loreley in the summer weíre playing the Fish
convention also and some other gigs over Europe.
Mainly at the
moment we are still promoting PURE. The reaction from people has really been
incredible for this album so its seems like a good thing to do to really get
behind it and promote it.
Could you take us through the new album e.g., the story behind the songs, the
song writing process etc?
The whole album songwriting process wise came about through the initial riff
that I had with Indigo but also some of the music that I had listened to over
the last couple of years was probably more of a new metal and grungy kind of
music. I'd heard this on a lot of motor cross videos - which my son really
liked - so I got to hear a lot of this new music and, I thought, well actually
this combined with some of what we do which was the older style prog stuff could
make a very interesting combination.
There was a kind
of feeling about getting something youthful again in the music and using some
approaches to the guitar playing that I might have used 15 or 20 years ago, the
trouble is when you get older you tend to move away from experimenting and risk
taking and generally play safe, I really felt I didnít want to do that with
In terms of the concept its all about growing up and the difficulties we have
when we go through teenager-hood trying to make our mark on the world and trying
to find our way through the difficulties we have, fighting, the whole authority
thing we feel from parents, schools, police etc.
Have you been pleased with the reviews for 'Pure' including a good review in
classic rock magazine how does the band go about promoting the CD given that you
donít have the PR that a record label would have?
I am very pleased with the reviews that we have received so far we have just got
another one in classic rock magazine from Geoff Barton which is another 8/10 in
the prog round up which I was very pleased about.
promotion its not that difficult because Iím quite a good networker when it
comes to thinking through who to approach and how to approach them, obviously we
have been going for many years and have built up a huge database of names and
addresses and people who are writing about this sort of music all over the
There are people
all the way from Japan to America who have radio stations or fanzines or
magazines or websites so pretty much we get in touch with them and hope they are
keen to do something on Pendragon.
What were the highlights of the 30th anniversary tour?
The highlights I think were - obviously the gigs, selling out the Boerderij
Holland was quite a landmark but really just getting really fantastic crowds
every night I mean every gig was a cracker there wasnít one single bad gig Ė
which is pretty unusual LOL
Personally for me
my favourite show was Thunder Road in Italy because I find the Mediterranean
type audiences very passionate they really get involved those guys really let
their hair down and always go pretty nuts at a concert so I like that that makes
for a very good night.
How does the band spur each other on creatively given that the band has been
around for so long now and have kept such high standards of musical output?
Thatís a bit of a strange question because the only person who writes in
Pendragon is me, I write the music and the lyrics, so creatively I have to spur
myself on, and I have to find the things that I want to write about and be
creative about, its different when we have to rehearse for tours because we have
got together in rehearsal rooms and pulled songs apart together and creatively
thatís been great for the live stuff and thatís a good way to work.
So Iím not taking
all responsibility for that but in fact on the last album PURE we did actually
work out a lot of the drum stuff before we went in to the studio which was
really good to do because when we went to record we had some idea of what we
were doing, there is quite a good amount of enthusiasm generally in the band,
having new blood having Scott in the band has really helped a lot because he has
a terrific amount of energy and enthusiasm which helps enormously .
Why do you think that progressive rock is so much more popular on mainland
Europe yet many of the greats in pop prog rock- yourselves, Pink Floyd, Genesis,
Marillion, IQ et all have originated in the UK? Why is it so difficult to do a
decent tour in the UK?
Itís a bit of a weird one that, I'm not particularly sure, the bar is set fairly
high in the UK, generally speaking I think quite a lot of the music press over
here is quite tough and hard to get through to but also in Europe donít forget
this is where a lot of classical music came from a lot of very melodic music
came from Europe.
Places like France
are very passionate places creativity, they always have been with the arts, so
places like that are kind open to our more shall we say arty type of music,
think of Britain it is quite hard to get through to the audience because we
donít get the profile and promotion we need over here.
How do you view the current music scene in light of the credit crunch? Have
you seen an upswing in interest over the last couple of years in progressive
We personally have seen an upturn in interest because we brought a new album
out, but we have done it in a very different way.
As with the credit
crunch as has been pointed out when people cant afford holidays and new houses
and cars, they might be able to afford 1 or 2 CDís, so instead of buying
expensive things they are buying lots of little things so maybe that has helped
us, we have kept the album at a reasonable price and put it out through our own
label and through the website and on the tour first before putting it through
the distributors so financially its helped us a lot to survive.
How did you get your first break in the music business? What piece of advice
would you pass on to budding musicians?
Our first decent break was when we met Marillion back in 1982 and got on well
with them because their manager put on a concert with us supporting and then
they asked us to play in London so from there on we really we had a opportunity
to play in front of people which was really a big door open for us.
you have just got to keep trying - Someone said to me once there will always be
a audience for what you do somewhere itís a case of finding them, I think thatís
true it doesnít matter what you do you have to find where your audience is, the
main thing is to persevere.
What do you like to do with your spare time outside of music?
I got back into a few things a few years ago when I wasnít doing so much music
because I got divorced and just after the divorce I wanted a big change in my
life and re-evaluate things, do some of the things I was interested in when I
was 12 and 13.
I spent a lot of
time surfing again which was brilliant, the last few years I've been to Costa
Rica twice and Lanzarote surfing three times so I've enjoyed getting back into
surfing, and itís a great lifestyle that s not that dissimilar to music it has
that same kind of timeless feel about it.
Also I got into
some motor cross and dirt bike riding another thing that I liked very much when
I was younger but could never afford to do, recently I got an enduro bike, I've
ridden in a few enduroís which were very exciting if a little dangerous. And
also I bought a motor cross bike too.
I like camping and
just going out to fields having a fire, playing the guitar, drinking beer after
a day's surfing that to me is absolute bliss.
Message to your fans?
Yes go and buy the album and come and see us when we play live and if you
already have it buy the DVD!
March 2009 Jason Ritchie.
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