To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents
(This article was taken from Andrew Marvick's The Garden.)
[This is one of several interviews that have turned up in various bootleg forms over the past few years. This particular interview was recorded in 1982, a little after the release of The Dreaming. The interview was recorded at a meal that Kate and the interviewer were sharing. The recording quality is not particularly high (noticeable tape noise) and there is a lot of restaurant noise in the background.
[The interview is the first of two that can be found on an interview picture-disk CD (catalogue number CBAK 4011, on the Baktabak label), and it is about twenty minutes in length. The interviewer remains unidentified. Originally transcribed by Stephen Thomas and edited by Jeffrey Burka. This edition is by Andrew Marvick.
[Second part transcribed by Ronald Hill. This contains more of the interview then was originally contained in the transcription, probably a different bootleg. In order to get a decent transcription, computer analysis was utilitized.]
"I've just got back from Europe, and I only got back the day before yesterday and I spent yesterday catching up on all the stuff I got behind with when I was in Europe."
What were you doing there?
"TV's and a little bit of radio, but mainly TV's, and we did Italy and Germany."
And was that for the album?
"Yes. It was indirectly for the album because out there The Dreaming -- the single -- is still happening."
It has done better over there, has it?
"Well, it's only just starting to happen, so we're doing TV's to help it, and every show we did, we did The Dreaming." So, you know, been testing to see how it does. But it all helps the album, really, so I was into doing it from that point of view. It's great, it's just very busy, that's all."
I saw the video to the Dreaming -- they eventually did get it on TV --
Very...up to scratch, should I say, you know?
"You liked it?"
Umm! [Possibly affirmative.]
It was similar to the stage set, you know--the dancers, but it had the benefit of all the people in the background. Where was it shot? "We shot it in [unintelligible], which is a video studio in Wandsworth."
Oh, that was a studio? [Surprised.]
"It was a very good set, wasn't it? Incredible set designers."
Where did you get the guys from?
"We actually found those set designers through the director I was using, through their production company."
Who did direct it?
"It was Golden Dawn Productions, a guy called Paul Henry."
And what's going to be the next single that you're working on?
"Well, we've done the video for the next one, which is There Goes a Tenner."
"There Goes a Tenner."
What's that about? Is it about robbery?
What, sort of pickpockets in the East End, et cetera?
"Yeah. It's about amateur robbers who have only done small things, and this is quite a big robbery that they've been planning for months, and when it actually starts happening, they start freaking out. They're really scared, and they're so aware of the fact that something could go wrong that they just freaked out, and paranoid and want to go home."
Really? Is this based on any kind of film?
"No. It's sort of all the films I've seen with robberies in, the crooks have always been incredibly in control and calm, and I always thought that if I ever did a robbery, I'd be really scared, you know, I'd be really worried." So I thought I'm sure that's a much more human point of view."
Yeah. You see I thought it might be based on a film. It was on telly over Christmas. It was about a guy who was blackmailed into doing a robbery and of course he really was scared, the further he got involved in it and he had to carry it out. But he was having the sleepless nights and stuff. [Kate makes noises expressing interest throughout this--it's clear that she has not seen the film.]
"How did he get blackmailed? Because he'd murdered someone?"
He'd been in prison a long time, and therefore when the robbery took place the mafia bosses who were organizing it knew they had a stool pigeon, and so they got him to do it.
"Great! Yeah, a similar sort of thing, isn't it? I'm sure a lot of these young kids, when they actually get into a situation where it is not just a little job, they must be really scared."
Yeah. What made you think about it? I mean, have you run into these East End types before?
"No, no. I think it was much more the thing of watching a lot of films, things like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, you know. There are lots of films where robberies take place and yet they glorify them, they always make the robbery something very heroic and fun, risky and dangerous, but for me it's something incredibly scary, something that has such a potential of going wrong that it's not worth the risk, and I don't think it's something that should be glorified at all. I think it's something that should be made very real, so that people realize it's not worth the effort--it's not something that's fun, it's something that's just not worth the effort. You'll end up in gaol for thirty years!"
And is that the video that you were shooting in the train carriage on the way up to Manchester, or practicing for it?
"That was the one we were practicing for, yes, but only because we didn't have any time, because that show came up at the last minute and we were planning to rehearse all that night, so instead of doing it in the studio, we did it in the back of the train. [Laughs.] I couldn't see anything!"
And how many of there were you in that guard's van?
"There were just the three of us. They cleared it out for us--it was really great of them, actually. Each station we stopped at there'd be various guards who would pull the window down and go 'alright, then?', because they were just checking us out." It was great--they cleared out all the postings, chickens and pigs, and all the other things."
You get some odd things, don't you?
"So it was a completely empty carriage, it was beautiful. The only thing was we could hardly hear the tape recorder, because the noise was so bad, so we were more of less having to, sort of, keep checking, and it was very hard to stay stationary at a hundred and fifty miles an hour!"
And that's how that kind of dance somehow can get incorporated into a film about robbery?
That should be interesting."
"One of the bits in the song is all about waiting, and how the first time they're just waiting for something to go wrong, and the second time they're just waiting for the guy to blow the safe up, because when he blows it up, there is so much that could go wrong. It's a dance routine that's based on waiting. - It's just all these ideas of people waiting. And the rest of the dancers are all acting out what the story says, really. It's not so much a dance at all."
Do you think this one's going to be more successful than the last one?
"I don't know. I don't know what to think about the singles anymore."
Was it your idea for it to be a single?
"What, There Goes a Tenner? Yes. I think I was in full agreement with them. But I think I've reached a stage where, because The Dreaming didn't work, we all felt--especially from an airplay point of view--that in order to get airplay, which you need for a single to work, we should go for one that was more obvious, and there is no doubt that There Goes a Tenner is one of the more obvious songs."
Not that there are a lot on the album that are obvious."
"No, so we're just going for this and seeing what happens."
It's quite a bold move to go in that kind of direction, particularly when you've been out of the limelight for a year or two. How sensible do you think it is, to make? It's easily the least commercial step you've ever done, this album, at a time when perhaps you should have been doing the most."
"Yes. You see, from my point of view, although I've been out of the limelight, from the last album all I was planning to do was make another album as quickly as I could. But as soon as I wrote the songs I realized that it was very different, and all the time I do very much want to change my art, and I do actually think that the direction I'm going in is away from the commercial, well the obvious commercial. But I think from my point of view it wasn't so much because I was out of the limelight that I had to do something more commercial, because at that time I wasn't actually out of the limelight, I was just starting my next album, and I thought it was only going to take me a couple of months, but before I know it the whole thing has become much more involved, the songs are much more involved, and I know that it's going to take me at least six months to a year to get it the way I want. So by the time it's finished, I've been out of the public's eye for maybe...apart from Sat In Your Lap, of course."
Which was a bit of a stopgap.
"Yeah. In fact, it got to number eleven, and most people forget about that, you see, they just forget that that ever happened, so I've been completely out of the public's eye for two years."
Well, it's funny, actually, you should say Sat In Your Lap, because when that came out, and all those drums, I, thought aha! she's trying to cash in on the old Adam Ant tribal drum sound.
"Yeah. You see, again, that was very annoying, because when I'd actually started getting that together, Adam Ant wasn't really happening."
Was Rolf Harris more of an influence even then? Things like Sun Arise?
"Yes, I'd wanted to work with Rolf for two or three years, but when we did the last album, I had an idea for doing a song all about Australia, which would have dijeridus and all this sort of thing."
Really? What, for Never For Ever?
"Yes, but I just didn't have the time to actually sit down and write the song, and the same with Houdini. I had lots of ideas about writing the song for Houdini, but I just couldn't, didn't have the time to do it because I was actually making that album, and already for that album I'd managed...because at that time I hadn't written Army Dreamers yet, but I knew I wanted to write a song about that, and it was during the album that I wrote that song."
What, the 'false romanticism of the military' sort of thing?
"What, the 'Army Dreamers'? Yeah, the whole thing of kids getting caught up in it, yeah. And it was only really 'cause I'd only just managed to pull the song together in time that that got on the last album. I really wanted to make that song a few years ago, but I'm sure If I had have, it wouldn't have sounded anything like it did on this album, so I'm glad that it waited, really. I think a lot of the ideas for the stuff on this album have, in fact, been things I wanted to do for years, but just haven't been ready for it, or haven't had the time. Because the whole tribal and ethnic thing has really been happening--within my family, because of my brother Paddy--for...ten years? He's the one who's been gradually pulling me that way. Even on the first album, there are a lot of unusual instruments, hidden amongst the arrangements, which were very much speaking from my side of things and my brother's, and I think gradually, each time I've done an album, I've got more control, and therefore been able to portray a lot more of what I really mean to get across."
Oh, I see. I mean, it's a wild track, that Houdini. It certainly gets a bit manic.
What's it about?
"It's all about Houdini from Mrs Houdini's point of view."
The Houdini--the escape artist?
"That's right. He was married, and his wife was actually quite involved with his whole life and his work, and she used to help a lot with the tricks. And one of the things, which is what the album cover's about, is before he went off into his tank, when he was all tied up and everything, she would give him a parting kiss, and as she kissed him, she passed him a tiny little key, which he then later used when he was in the water to unlock the chains. And as soon as I heard that imagery, I just thought it was so beautiful, and so extraordinary.
"He tied that into the whole side of his life where he was completely obsessed with exposing mediums as frauds. I don't know if you know anything about that."
"This was another side of him. His mother died, and he was really, really close to her, like really close. And when she died he needed desperately to try and communicate with her through a medium, and he just came across all these people who were basically making money out of the art of pretending to speak to the dead, and when he realized all these people were just basically ruining peoples' lives just to make some money he decided--in a very positive way--to show that they were frauds and tricksters. So he spent years of his life dedicating time to finding any medium that said they were really authentic and proving that they were completely false. So he spent years of his life doing this, and ruining peoples' careers and getting an awful lot of spiritualists uptight. Before he died, he said to his wife, 'I'm going to die before you, and when I do, I am going to try everything I can to try and come back through a real medium. And there'll be one way you know it's me, because all these tricksters are going to jump on the wagon and say that I've come through and I'm going to use words that only you and I know. It's a code, so you'll know that it's me, and no-one else.' So they made this code together, and when he died she went round all the seances waiting for him to come through. It's extraordinary really, because the thing happened on the three levels, because apparently when he first got his stage set together, he was more into magic and the same kind of fraud, and he would do things where he would pretend he was contacting the dead, and he would tell the audience these messages from their dead people, and it was all a trick. Then it happened to him, through his mother, where they were all tricking him because he wanted to contact his mother, and then exactly the same thing happened to his wife after his death, when they were all trying to trick her, that he had come through. And it's just so extraordinary, that, really: the whole thing with him escaping, chains and things, and then trying to escape death, and this weird sort of parallel of contact and frauds. It's just an incredibly extraordinary man and story."
How did you get into all this?
"I just heard about it. I don't even remember how I first heard about the big thing of exposing mediums. I mean, that was what started it, because it was such a strange story, the fact that he should be so obsessed with proving that they weren't real.
"And then I started hearing how his wife was involved, because I hadn't even known he was married; and as soon as there was an emotional contact with that bit--there was some woman who was really in love with him through it all--it became a perfect angle to write from, really. Especially when you thought about how, even when he was dead, she spent all her time trying to be with him. It's very strong stuff, I think. Beautiful."
The credits on the album. There's two mentioned, there's Gordon Farrell. Who's that?
"He was my singing teacher!
"Yeah! Years ago I used to go every week for these lessons, and really it was great, 'cause he gave me loads of confidence in singing, which is what I needed more than anything. I just used to go to him half an hour a week, and by the end of the year I felt a lot more confident in myself as a singer. He worked wonders! And on Houdini, I don't know if you noticed at the end there are these sounds, [like the backing vocal that accompanies the very last 'You and I and Rosabel believe' lyric, just after the strings section]; and that's him."
So you gave him a mention from that point of view?
"Yeah. He sang in it."
And the "Rosabel, believe!" bit?
"Ah, well, that's actually the words that were the code, between him and her."
Between Houdini and his wife?
"Yeah, and they were the words that proved to her that it was him, and only him."
And why do you put Del Palmer's name next to that?
"Because he was the one who actually pretended to be him, in the song. The idea in the song is that it was the voice of Houdini, perhaps from the other side, and in fact it was Del on the telephone."
Oh, I see. Del played that part, he played that, sort of "role"? And Del's also the bass player on quite a few of the tracks?
"Yes, he is, yes."
Because the funny thing is you've got Jimmy Bain, who was in Rainbow, and is in Wild Horses. He seems to play on all the crazier tracks.
"I think, what I enjoyed again about this album was each track has got a very different mood to it, really, or groups of tracks have got different moods, and it was nice to use people, almost specifically, for what they were very good at, and I always think of Jimmy as being a really super rock'n'roll bass player, which isn't meant to be detrimental, because I think it's great, actually. Because what those songs needed that he was on was a very simple, very driving bass that was going to keep the whole thing going, without being distracting, or too full. And Jimmy was just right for that, really. So he worked on the three tracks that I would definitely say are the rockiest, the most up-tempo, perhaps the most aggressive."
And did that have something to do with the fact he, with Wild Horses, had had a contract with EMI?
"Ah, you see I didn't even know he was with EMI. I knew he was with Wild Horses, and I met him when I just bumped into Phil Lynott in a recording studio."
Really, when was that?
"This was at The Townhouse, and I was there to just look over the studio, because that's where I wanted to work, and Phil was actually going to give me a weekend of his time that he wouldn't be using, so I just went in to check out that it would be OK. And he was doing a really far-out vocal at the time..."
"Yeah, it was really beautiful."
For his solo album?
"No, I think it was Thin Lizzy, because the band were there with him, and Jimmy just happened to be there, and I just sat next to him, and we were both going 'Oh, what a great voice!' And I just happened to hear that he'd been involved in a couple of things that I liked, so it was quite a coincidence, and it seemed just sort of right, really, to use him for the rockier tracks. But like, there's a couple of other tracks, right?-- Pull Out the Pin-- where I really wanted a double-bass, so I had to get a double-bass player, and I wanted it to be quite sort of funky without being flippant or jazz rock, you know what I mean? And I knew Danny Thompson, from having seen him work with John Martin, and I really liked it, because with John's voice and his bass it was really very free, and I found it very expressionful, not sort of technical, but very emotional double-bass playing. So I thought he'd be perfect for that track. That happened with quite a few musicians, where although I've more or less the set band, there's really quite a few tracks where perhaps guest people come in for this or that reason. I suppose that in other ways it worried me at the start, because of, perhaps, lack of continuity, but then because the songs were so different from each other, I'm glad now that that's the way it worked. But I did have some worries at the time, because I was using three or four different people. I'm actually quite pleased with the way it came out."
So you've not really got a band, as such, any more, have you?
"No. That's actually quite a depressing thought."
Well, not really."
"Well, no, I suppose not, because it leaves me nice and open."
You see what Kevin Rowland's doing with Dexy's Midnight Runners?
He's got a central nucleus of about three, and the stage show incorporates about eleven, and he can't keep eleven people on wages, so he calls them up when he wants them."
"So he just keeps the three."
And I think that really how rock's going to move. And the people who aren't working with him, when they're not working with him, they've got a reputation from him to go on and do session work."
"You see, I think I'm a bit like that, in that right from the start I definitely carried two people with me all the way, or three I suppose, as Pad has always been with me."
He's your brother, though, isn't he?
"Yes, he is."
Is he a guitarist, or [does he] play accordion?
"No, he plays a lot of different instruments. Again, he really is the one who's allowed me to use unusual instruments because he happens to be able to play them, so it's great because Pad's got this real knack of being able to pick up nearly any instrument that's unusual and just have a feel for it."
Is he some kind of influence behind the dijeridu, for example?
"Yes, I do think Pad actually started the initial interest in me in unusual ethnic instruments, because for years he's been interested in them, and building them. Like you'll find an instrument that hasn't been made for hundreds of years, and he'll build one. That's very stimulating."
How old is Pad? Is he younger or older than you?
"No, he's older than me, yes, but I think he definitely has been a strong stimulus in that area. Especially with the instruments, because he's really brought to my notice a lot of instruments that I'd never heard of before, but he makes them familiar to me. I get to know the sound of them, and then maybe one day when I'm writing a song, I think 'Oh yeah, that sound that Pad had, that'd be great in there.'"
[Second part of the bootleg interview]
Are you doing some practice...?
"We're working for things , but we're not actually together as a unit. But the last thing about Del and Brian is that we've been together since the rock band that we had in the pubs, which is like, what, five years ago."
I'm sorry, which one is that?
"The KT Bush band, which is when we were going around the pubs."
And you've been with which one of the guys?
"With Brian Bath and Del Palmer, they've both been with me ever since. And they've maybe never played on all the albums, but they've been on each album for two or three tracks, and they were on the tour. And it's lovely because I feel that I would still want to use them in the future, which is great because in a way they are my traveling nucleus, just those three. But I would love to have a band, like a secure band, because I think that's a very good feeling. And even though you have a little personality problems, um, at least you're together... and they learn what you want. So eventually it must be so easy to communicate with them."
So Del's been with you, what, since post-Gilmour, EMI contract days or something.
"Yes, and so's Brian. Because before I actually started recording the album, the years when EMI was just sorta not doing anything, and I was more or less just doing things so that my time would be full, we got little three piece band together."
During you're sorta when...
"Before the album was made. But I'd already been signed"
But...when...since they'd signed it when you were sixteen or something?
"Yes, that's right. I was about eighteen. And it was just for the few months before I'd started my first album. And that was when we got this band together. And, um, we formed very strong links between us all. And I think, I would still love to work with them. Cause I think what's nice about them is they're very... I would call them much more emotional player than technical player, not that they're in any way technically bad"
Like Dave Gilmour himself actually.
"Yes, I would say so too. Because I think Dave's a fantastic guitarist because he doesn't go for these blinding arpeggios, it's real emotional, it kinda simple. I mean, I think that's what music is really about. I think technique has become a big distraction."
Oh, I think everybody is realizing that now actually...
"Yes, I think so."
...cause the emotion, the song, the tune. I think it seems to do, the social, economic climate. I think when it comes down to it, real relationships become more important.
Visa ve, the difficulties of the outside world. In other words, everybodies got all the cards on the table.
"Yes, I would agree with you. And I think also what that seems to be doing is making people grab more as well. So there you're getting people being more emotionally open. I think you're also getting people that are really, they're just grabbing" [Laughs] "They're really getting into looking people up in a bigger way I suppose. I think you've got your two things..."
So where's the tie-up as far as you're concerned?
The tie up. You know, you got to be more careful yourself?
"Yes, everyone has to be more careful, which perhaps in itself makes people realize their few good friends more. I mean I think generally everyone is being much more wary, and careful, and insular. And yet at the same time I think there's a much bigger need in people to communicate and share. So that's like a awful conflict between people and I think there's so many big contradictions with the locals that we're living under, where nobody has any money and no job and it doesn't really matter. But at the same time, the whole of society is built on money, which you can only get from jobs. So it's becoming a big catch-22 situation for so many people. Because I think a lot of people are seeing now that it's not detrimental to not have a job, it's one of the facts of this society."
Yes, one it seven out of the population, etc.
"Yes, and it's not something that should make you feel insecure or inferior because it's just the way it is. But at the same time, they can't even relax in that situation because they've got to have money to survive. It just seems... And all the silly things that are being created for leisure time are so expensive that most people can't afford them, it's just so contradictory isn't it, really. Um, I think it's terribly hard for people."
So, I mean, do you see there being any kind of solution?
"Um, I think perhaps..."
In regards to the music and stuff, you know.
"But I think the great thing about music is that whenever people come into hard times, music always flourishes. During the wars... I think music has always had a big flourish. Because I think when people do get unhappy and lost, music is one of the things they turn to. Because it brings them great comfort and so I think in many ways there's a great potential for music to grow and everything. It's much more the people and people connected to society that are going to suffer. But I don't think there is a solution for them, other then a very big shock to the system. Where either we change our monetary system around, and forget about..."
How do you mean?
"I mean, I don't know. One way, one suggestion is perhaps to go back to the bartering situation, where you swap things that you have for other things that you want, because you don't have money. So you just, you swap, you barter, people grow things and make things so that you have something in exchange for the things that you want. And I can't see any solution other than something like that, because the whole way our system is built up, it's so, so dependant on money, and yet there is not enough money for everyone."
You're dealing with quite a few sorta unusual themes at the moment. I mean, on the album, there's some fairly violent kind of imagery. You know like Pull Out The Pin presumably refers to hand grenade.
"Yeah, yeah that's right."
What, what sorta bringed you onto that.
"Well, I think I've always been into that sort of imagery, really. I think it's just that perhaps because of the ... surface suggestions of what the music is about, people don't realize that they're actually about what they're about, presumably. And I think even though the songs on this album are much more obvious of what they really are, I think on alot of the other albums they're been very similar themes, such as those being much less obvious... about..."
The Wedding List, for example, was a violent song.
"Yes it was..."
A song about revenge.
"Yes and I actually thing Breathing was a very violent song too, just because it was so negative. I mean, they're a lot of just awful imagery. I mean it's really terrible, it's so negative, without hope at all. And yet hope people seem to treat it on quite a normal level."
How is Breathing negative? I can't...um...
"I think some of the imagery in it is. It's more or less saying that this baby that's being born, that is a baby that's perhaps has had several lives before, is about to be destroyed inside it's mother, because it's living off it's mother, and it's mother will die, and it will die even before it's sees the day of light. And I think that's really negative!" [Laughs]
You are, you're into reincarnation a bit aren't you.
"Yes, I think so. I love the idea of a person during one lifetime actually having three or four lives."
Within the same lifetime?
"Yeah. You see I feel that reincarnation is perhaps just a continuation of that. Cause if you look at yourself or maybe other people, you can see little circles, that maybe they emit the..., say there's fifty or sixty, but these little circles have occurred each time, maybe in each phase of there life. You know, where they get into a rut, and come around to a very similar relationship to the one they had years ago, and it ends up in exactly the same way. They start again, exactly the same thing happens, and they end up where they are again. And its something ... maybe that little complete circle, and then break right away. And really, I mean, for myself, if I look at my life, in a way I feel I've led almost two lives. Because the first part of my life was so difficult, whereas the second part...
"...the second stage..."
Staying at home all day, composing?
"Yes, I would say from my life up until 16 and then from 17 up until now have been two completely different stages. I mean I changed my christian name, become a vegetarian, left school, go into dance..." Really, what was your christian name?
"Well, it's just that I used to be called Cathy and I became Kate. And that was a very different stage for me."
Why would Kate...be more sorta tided into the vegetarian thing I suppose.
"I don't know, but it actually created..."
Did you lose lots of weight or something?
"No, no I didn't. I think just becoming called that name gave me a chance to break away from the person I'd been before. I mean there's no doubt that when people change their names, they actually do change."
To the Reaching Out Interviews Table of Contents
"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds