KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words


Del [Palmer, kate's demos engineer, mixer, bass player and boyfriend], you played bass in the original k.t. Bush band. The guitarist brian bath was once telling me how one day in the mid-70s, paddy asked him to sit in and play with his kid sister and he was so overwhelmed, he just couldn't believe what he was hearing...

Del: Yeah, and he wasn't the only one. I'd heard about kate from paddy 'cause I'd known him for some time. And brian had told me he'd heard some of her songs and they were really great, and I trusted his opinion. But I just had this impression that she must be older and more mature. Then at our first rehearsal - kate, brian and me, and a fellow called vic king on drums - I felt a little nervous because, you know, I felt a particular emotional involvement coming on right from the word go. But I also just thought: This girl's like just eighteen, whereas I'd been struggling for years on my bass. And I knew I just had to get involved some way because this was going to be mega. it was a phenomenon because it was so completely different from what anyone else was doing. And I've never had any desire to work with anyone else since. It wouldn't be anywhere near so adventurous and demanding. It's no good you sitting there laughing, kate, it's true! The songs always started off in a way I found instantly... Well, familiar. But then suddenly they'd leap off somewhere completely different, and I'd think, how could you possible think of going to there from what you were in originally? I would never have thought of doing that, and yet it always works! And that's the case even moreso nowadays. For me, a great musical artist is someone who can always keep surprising you with what they do, and there's very few people who can do that for me, very few. I've got very limited musical tastes...

When you first met kate, was she herself aware of her own musical precocity, or was she totally naive about it all?

Del: I'm not sure if I can answer that one. I think maybe she kind of underrated how much of a talent she actually was, if you see what I mean.

Is that still true, kate?

I don't know! This is all very interesting for me, it's almost like I'm a fly on the wall.

Del: No, but I think you do underestimate yourself a lot. And I think you're not the only one who does. I think there's a lot of people in the music business and the press who underestimate what you're doing and what you're capable of. (1985, Musician)


Some friends of my brother were putting a band together and wanted a lead singer, and I thought it was just a perfect opportunity to get some experience and see what it was like. It was a lot of fun, but as I said, we only did it for about three or four months and then I was in to make the first album. We did clubs and just any places we could get gigs in the area. It was very good and it was lots of fun! (????,TWS)

Del: Anyone can set up their gear and sit down at a piano and sing for an hour. But not everybody can put on a whole integrated show. And as soon as we got our little band together years ago, right from the word go it was theatrics and show. We were only playing little pubs on tiny little stages like at the rose of lee, but we had a whole light show, we used dry ice, and all that. (1985, Musician)


The first time you sang in public, do you remember that?

That was about two years ago in a pub in Lewisham. [Laughs] And I was so scared, I really was. But, once you're up there it's different, you know you just forget all about it because they're there to see you and you have to give it to them.

Was it a good reception?

Yes, it was. I mean, considering it was a pub and we were totally unknown. They were very good, very respectful. It was good, yeah.

Have you had bad experiences?

Yeah, a couple in the pubs, actually, because sometimes you get audiences that you can't predict. And one particular night we were in Putney on the eve of the football match between Scotland and England and all these Scottish boys were in there and they were mad, they were just mad. They had flags waving everywhere, and no-one could see the stage because all the guys were getting up on the stage and putting their arms around you, and it was a bit hard to keep singing when everyone was, like, getting up on stage and poking sticks in your eye. But they were good, they were good people. (1979, Kate Bush On Tour)


Paddy: Kt bush band performances in '77. They were really quite interesting. They all took place in a pub in lewisham. The idea was to give kate a little bit a practice of preforming. She had a contract with emi and it was pretty obvious that the album was going to come out at some time. And it was [??? Inaudible] be an experience of directly singing to a group of people. And so she thought maybe it would be interesting to [??? Impression] there was this place in lewisham, it was called the rose of lee, it doesn't exist anymore. The first night that we turned up, there were four people there. And it really hotted out about ten thirty, another two people came in [Laughter] - jay and my father. [More laughter] really, really marvelous. And then the next week it was a bit better, it was about... About twelve people there. The songs being sung were, they were mainly standards, actually. ``tracks of my tears", [??? Inaudible] but then in about three weeks [??? Inaudible] the word started getting around and the club became more and more and more packed. And I think maybe about the fifth or six week [??? Inaudible] you couldn't get in. And this was all pre-... Before the album was released or anybody knew anything about kate, it was just the name of a group. [Laughter] I think about the fifth or six performance [??? Inaudible] that night... The night she first did ``james and the cold gun'' ..

John: Yeah.

Paddy: ... In fact, that was really good. I working the lights [Laughter] and lisa [??? Invented ] fantasicly. We were hoping to get these huge blocks of dry ice which we were going to try out in the night. They [Just said... Stringing in the dust bin ???] pore some hot water on it and watch what happens. And we did and it was phenomenal! [Laughter] six foot of [Thrown ???] ice over here. Kate said ["What are you laughing about'' ???] [Laughter] yeah, that was very, very impressive. I felt, I felt `` james and the cold gun'' had a very phenomenal effect on the audience and if anything was maybe the truest sort of insight into the way it was going to go. And maybe the nearest thing there was to anything like the tour before the tour started.

John: Yeah, certainly... Particularly that song was the [??? End of it] for the performances that came out of the tour. (1985, kate bush con. Paddy and jay interview)


Did the kt bush band ever play at the king's head or the half moon in putney?


I, uh, think we played at the Half Moon...


And... Well if you know why're you asking? [Laughing] Now that's a long time ago, too. And that was a lot of fun, that was actually my first performance ever, really, apart from a school play...

[Laughter, perhaps because some fans even know the details of the school play, through unofficial biographies.]

It was wonderful. We used to do all these cover versions of things like ``Honky Tonk Woman'' and ``Heard it Through the Grapevine'' And I used to... [Turning to del and paddy] What was the song? The um, the song that was the instrumental... that [??? Name inaudible] used to play - the free track? 'Stee'--no, that - ``Steeler''

And I used to go up into this dance routine about how many people [??? Inaudible] into the audience, like this-- [Waves her arms in parody of kate bush dance movements. Laughter from audience] - doing all these things. And one night I met a friend of mine. And she said, ``Oh, hello, Kate!'' And it was right in the middle of [Waves her arms again, more laughter from audience] And I was [Laughs] I was so ashamed of being such a poser, you know, that I - I stopped to have a chat with her.


And I suddenly realized it was time for me to get back on stage, so I had to say to her, ``oh, bye, then!'' and [Waves her arms again]... (1990 Kate Bush Con)

And what's the kt bush band?

It was a three piece that consisted of Del Palmer on bass, Brian Bath on guitar, and Vic Smith who was our drummer.

And where did you tour? Around london?

Yes, we did clubs and pubs in the London area. But this, I mean, was three months? No longer than that...

So how did you feel about doing that at the time, cos obviously it was the first time you actually played an audience.

I really enjoyed it, it was just the experience I wanted at that point. I was looking for things that would take me further into where I wanted to go, which was the music business and I'd been training as a dancer and this felt like the perfect stage, really, to go into a live situation. (1985, Profile 6)


It's something that I've done very little of, live work. I mean really, the main place I did it was in pubs a couple of years ago. And I mean that was great, but it was on a very different level.

What were you doing then?

Standards, ``Honky Tonk Woman", all that sort of thing.

Just standing up in a pub and letting it rip.

Oh, yeah. I had a little band, it was great. (1979, Swap Shop)


Is there a special thing about the recording of the first album?

Yes, I think there would be with anyone who was recording their first album, if they had be waiting for it for years, which I had. I'd been... That was the one thing I wanted to do, it meant everything. To record an album was just like, God, you know, oh yeah! (1980, Profiles In Rock)


I was so involved with all my artistic frustrations that I never thought of having a hit. I was thinking of all the things that I wanted to be there musically that weren't and vice versa.

The battle is with yourself because there's your expression going down there, and there's no way you can change it. It's there forever. It is very frustrating to see something that you have been keeping transient for years just suddenly become solid. It's a little disconcerting . . . but exciting. (1978, March, Melody Maker)


How did you manage, right from the word go, to find such a great bunch of musicians, all of them so terribly articulate and tasteful, yet none of them so stylized that he might detract from your own musical identity by imposing something inapropiately idiomatic?

Well, in all fairness, the first album was all down to the producer, Andrew Powell, and the engineer, Jon Kelly. As far as I know, it was mainly Andrew Powell who chose the musicians, he'd worked with them before and they were all sort of tied in with Alan Parsons. There was Stuart Elliot on drums, Ian Bairnson on guitar, David Paton on bass, and Duncan Mackay on electric keyboards. And, on that first album, I had no say, so I was very lucky really to be given such good musicians to start with. And they were lovely, 'cause they were all very concerned about what I thought of the treatment of each of the songs. And if I was unhappy with anything, they were more than willing to re-do their parts. So they were very concerned about what I thought, which was very nice. And they were really nice guys, eager to know what the songs were about and all that sort of thing. I don't honestly see how anyone can play with feeling unless you know what the song is about. You know, you might be feeling this really positive vibe, yet the song might be something weird and heavy and sad. So I think that's always been very important for me, to sit down and tell the musicians what the song is about. (1985, Musician)


It felt like a mission. Even before I'd had a record out I had a tremendous sense of conviction that my instincts were right. You know: ``This is it": There could be no other way.

I remember so well sitting in an office at EMI with some very important people who were saying that `` James and the Cold Gun'' should be the first single. For me this was just totally wrong. How could it possibly be anything other than `` Wuthering Heights?'' But they were going: ``Definitely not! Look, you don't understand the market.'' So we went on saying the same things to one another for a few more minutes. I was being politely insistent. I usually am in an argument, I'm not good at expressing anger, that's still hard for me.

Then a guy called Terry Walker, another executive, came in with some papers in his hands and put them on the desk. He looked around, saw me and said, ``Oh hi Kate! Loved the album! `` Wuthering Heights'' definitely the first single, eh?'' And he walked out again. If he hadn't come in at that moment, well, I don't know what would have happened. It was so well-timed it was almost as if I'd paid the guy to do it. They obviously thought of me as just a strong-willed girl, but they trusted his opinion. (1989, Q)


I felt that to actually get your name anywhere, you've got to do something that is unusual because there's so much good music around and it's all in a similar vein. It was musically for me one of my strongest songs. It had the high pitch and it also had a very English story-line which everyone would know because it was a classic book. (1978, July, Melody Maker)


I don't know if I'm aggressive about my business, but I do a lot of the time feel strongly about what I want or how I want to see it presented. It is an expression of me at some point and it seems wrong that as soon as it goes out into the world it should leave me and my expression behind. `` Wuthering Heights'' I felt was a much more interesting single then perhaps some that were being suggested at that time. And um, I just felt it was a good idea at the time to hang [Slurs words ???- out with it ??]. I did feel strongly about it, [Makes cute kate confused face], Yes.

It certainly paid off, number one record in the u.k.

It would seem so, yeah. (1985, MuchMusic)


In many ways I was at my strongest then. I was at the beginning of something and I had a tremendous desire to make an album. That was all I'd wanted to do for a long time. (1989, Q)


Originally it was to be released last autumn but it kept getting delayed. I'm glad we waited until 1978 though. It kind of signifies it all starting with the new year for me. (1978, Record Mirror)


Gaffaweb / Cloudbusting / Story / 1977