Interviews & Articles


"KB on Tour"
April 4, 1979

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

Date: Fri, 24 May 91 01:38:48 PDT
From: rhill@pnet01.cts.com (Ronald Hill)
Subject: "KB on Tour", U.K. TV Nationwide, April 3, 1979

The Tour Of Life

Kate Bush On Tour: documentary report on the preparations for the Tour of Life, aired on U.K. TV programme Nationwide, April 3, 1979. This film presents a valuable look at Kate's preparations for the Tour of Life concerts. There are brief interview sections featuring Kate, her brothers John Carder Bush and Paddy Bush, and her dance instructor and co-choreographer Anthony Van Laast. At the end of the film Kate is interviewed in a recording studio where she is working on her third album, Never For Ever.

[Transcribed by Ronald Hill, above comment by IED]

A: Announcer

I: Interviewer

K: Kate

[Parts of the Hammer Horror video are played, and the announcer starts speaking over it]

A: On July the thirtieth Kate Bush was twenty-one. A busseling, always active person, she was hard at work on her next album after eighteen months of calculated success. A convent girl from Bexley in Kent, she'd been playing music with her brothers almost before she could walk. Her father, a doctor, had always been interested in their songs and their singing. And by age 16, Kate had already been spotted by EMI as potential talent. But the family and record company agreed, that Kate Bush should wait several years before launching a full blast career. A period of apprenticeship that gave her the stability to survive the star making process.

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

K: 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.

I: Was it a good reception?

K: 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.

I: Have you had bad experiences?

K: 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.

I: Did you ever consider doing something else, other than being a singer?

K: When I was at school I wanted to be a vet and a physiatrist, but I didn't really, I didn't really want to be that was just, I suppose, to keep people happy to think that if I did get a career it would be a straight one. But it wasn't what I wanted to do at all.

I: Did you do things like A levels and O levels?

K: I took O levels and my mock A's but I left before...

I: How many O's did you get?

K: [Laughs] I got ten.

I: Ten!

K: Yeah.

I: They must have been disappointed when you went off to sing?

K: I don't think so no. I think they thought I was a bit foolish. But, um, I though it was right.

I: Was there one day when you decided, "That's it! I'm going to be a singer, I'm going to make that a career?"

K: Yes there was! I didn't think there would have been, but one day I was with a friend in a park, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do. I had to leave school and I had to do it. And I'm very glad I did!

[Announcer in front of Liverpool Empire]

A: In early January this year, Kate Bush had never performed before an important live audience. She had several successful singles to her name, a couple of albums in the charts, a string of TV appearances. But in a sense, she was a media singer. When she took the decision to go on tour, no one doubted how important it could prove to her career. Cause most live artists make their mistakes either in private, or before a very small audience. Tonight, here at the Liverpool Empire, Kate Bush starts at the top, before several thousand. She can't afford to fail.

[Scenes of Kate and several people discussing plans for the tour]

A: The planning started in ernest three months ago. A series of corridor discussions led to phone calls and then a production meeting. Time, space, and even furniture can never be found. And most of the early, and therefore important, decisions were taken where people just ended up. Sometimes in the back room of a friend of a friend.

[A bit of discussion between several people and Kate discussing plans:]

Has anybody spoken to the musicians union about this?


No the EMU. Has anybody mentioned it to the EMU.

Not specifically no.

Because I have heard instances before of people using tape where the EMU have picked up on it. You've re-recorded the back track with the band?

We ARE re-recording it.

We are re-recording it.

We ARE re-recording it.

A: There's no agency for tour personnel. It's who you know and, more important, who's available. All together, the tour would employ forty people. While the production team was still coming together, Kate Bush was working on her dancing.

[Scenes of Kate entering the dance studio and doing dancing exercises]

A: Now you might think that Kate is in pretty good shape. So the dancing instructor had three weeks to produce a super-fit body capable of enduring two hours of grueling exertion.

A doctor's daughter, not yet twenty-one, with all the pressures of a two hundred thousand pound tour on her shoulders. Selecting and rejecting the best advice she could find and buy.

Anthony Van Laast: One of our problems is that Kate is dancing better and better. I mean I'm teaching her, and she's working...It's incredible how far she's got. I wouldn't have thought it was possible. And the problem now is that she's getting so good at dancing that it's going to be hard now to keep her from dancing so that she can sing properly. I mean it would be fantastic if we could put the whole show on recorder and then she could mine it and then dance. We can't do that. She's got to sing it. So we've got to fit the dancing to the singing.

I: You mean she would be out of breath?

Anthony Van Laast: Oh yeah, she couldn't dance the way she could dance possibly and sing at the same time. So somehow we've got to work it out so that it all fits in properly.

[More scenes of Kate working out dance routines]

A: The broader ideas were usually Kate's. The choreography often a case of trial and error, with Anthony Van Laast cutting back on her more enthusiastic contortions. Nearly every day meant shaping another song, or perfecting the one they'd started yesterday.

K: It's important that the visuals are just emphasizing the music because it's not a dance show, it's a music show that's being illustrated with movement, and it's important that they both complement each other. And I've only...I mean I'm not a dancer, I'm just learning to dance, and what I can do I'll try to put across in the show. But I'm not a dancer, I just love dancing. And I want to be able to learn as much as I can.

[Scene of Kate and dancers rehearsing "Kite"]

A: Every lunch time, after leaving her dancing practice physically drained, she'd drive across the Thames to Greenwich, to rehearse the music at Wolf studios, the best available place, with the right facilities for just running through the songs time, and time, and time again.

[Scene of Kate and band rehearsing "Kite". Kate stops the song with "UGH!" motion]

A: However many times they'd tried it before, they still kept going, until it was perfect every time. Whereas with the dancing she was still uncertain and happy to listen, with the music Kate Bush knew exactly what she wanted - a tight, punchy sound, if anything better than the record.

Band Member: We're not just reproducing the albums. When you're a band, you have you're own identity, and if you're just reproducing albums, there's not much point in having a band. You know, you might as well just play the album.

I: Does she ever lose her temper with you?

Band member: No! I mean...

K: What?

I: Do you ever loose your temper with him?

K: Me??? Lose my temper? No!!! Come on, let's get on with it! [laughs]

[Kate singing Wow]

K: "Wow" we've got to get together more, because it's not sounding as it should be yet. It's not tight, they have to be tight. And especially the fact that we are going to be doing movement to the music, the music has to be very, very together and precise. And that's what we're trying to achieve.

K: I think the main reason why they listen to me is because [laughs] I'm paying their wages and it's my music. And I think, they have enough respect for me, I hope, not to turn round and say "you don't know what you're talking about."

I: How much like the record will your music finally be, in the concert?

K: That is a problem, because obviously the albums have been very carefully produced and you've got mixed levels and everything. And so live work, to a certain extent, we couldn't do it exactly as the album is, even if we wanted to because it wouldn't come across in a strong way. For a live performance, you have to be aware of the fact that making things more obvious so's that people can hear them. Trying to possibly make songs quicker.

[More Wow rehearsal, talk to Paddy]

A: It was a combination of strong personality and discipline that kept Kate Bush in control of eight accomplished musicians. Some of them playing professionally while she was still at school. And she had the help of her two brothers. One of them, Paddy, had even found special instruments for the tour.

I: What do you call it?

Paddy: It's called a strumento de porco, that's it's real name, or at least the name that Portoreas gave it - he was a writer on musical instruments in seventeen century.

I: What do you use it for?

Paddy: Well we use it for a number with an Islamic flavour to it called Kashka From Baghdad. And it sounds like a santer [???] which is traditional Arabian instrument played with hammers, just slightly.

I: You're Kate's brother aren't you.

Paddy: [Smiles] Yeah, 'fraid so.

I: Is it a sort of a bit of a family business, really?

Paddy: Um, well yes and no. I mean like, Kate and I have been making music together for years and years, on different levels, you know. But I mean, there's always been music in our family. My older brother John, he played. And I was in a band with him when I was about thirteen or fourteen.

I: Are you nervous about the concert tour?

Paddy: A little apprehensive, no I think it will be good fun, actually. Really good fun. I mean we're so well rehearsed as far as it goes, and the music will take care of itself.

[Sheperton studio scene]

A: By early march, the whole team moved out to Sheperton, for more space and practice. The music was finally how she wanted it. But the other details had yet to click. Some of the equipment had proven unsuitable. And more still had to be ordered, often costing thousands of pounds. And above all one major problem had yet to be solved. She wouldn't be able to dance and sing and hold a microphone at the same time. An entirely new vocal sound system would have to be developed.

I: How complicated has the sound been for the tour?

Engineer: Ah, very complicated actually. [Inaudible] Mainly the miking up of Kate herself, um, from the dance point of view.

I: How have you solved that?

Engineer: With a very small microphone! Small mike on a boom arm, its gotta be used from the side of her head.

A: Half a dozen complete outfits were in thier final stage. Every single one capable of being changed quickly between songs.

[Scene of Kate discussing a piece of fabric, while smoking!]

Fabric Lady: I think that without actually having cobwebs all over you, I think this is the nearest you're going to get to cobwebs.

Kate: It's beautiful.

A: With three weeks to go, Kate Bush was more like an executive than a singer, making a series of decisions almost every hour. Every detail, every color, every texture, she helped to decide. Even the choice of the crew food was party influenced by her and produced by her other brother John.

John: Well we've got nothing very difficult, but there are a lot of vegetarians involved - about sixteen. And my wife's been cooking for the last few days, and it's working out real well. Everybody like it. It's all going very fast.

I: It's almost a vegetarian tour, isn't it?

John: Yeah, you could say that. You know, well it's good food because it lets people carry on working afterwards. They're not walking around really laid out with an enormous, great, meat meal.

[Scene of the Rainbow]

A: Last week, the preparation climaxed at London's Rainbow theatre -specially booked for the final run-through.

[Scene of rehearsing Wow]

A: In conditions of surprising secrecy, the last wrinkles were gradually ironed out. After two and a half months of intense hard work, everyone, including Kate herself was holding up well. By then, the entire tour, finishing with four nights at the Palladium, had been sold out.

[More scenes of Wow]

K: The most difficult ones are where I've got the headset and I'm moving a lot. It's an amazing feeling of freedom, because, like, there's nothing in your hands yet you can hear your voice being projected miles away -it's incredible. But it's not quite in it's full design yet. There are just a few things that are wrong with it. And it's not always right in front of my mouth, but we're getting that seen to.

I: With only one week to go before opening, how do you think the rehearsals have gone so far?

K: I think they're going very well. There's a lot of rushing, but there always is at this time and that's when mosts get done. I think it's going well.

[Scene of rehearsing Kite]

A: The plan was for a fully integrated dancing, singing, clowning, conjuring, acting, poetical, effects show. Throwing everything in and just hoping it would hold together. On the last dress rehearsal it finally did, and although at first they wouldn't admit it, they were ready for Liverpool.

[Scenes from opening night]

A: Ther'll never be another night quite like the first Kate Bush show at the Liverpool Empire. Even parts of the audience were nervous, wondering if the young lady with brittle voice had brittle nerves as well. But her manager, Hillary Walker, was carefully hiding any fears she had.

Hilary: It has been hard work every day, seven days a week. But it's really been a question of getting the right people to do the right jobs at the right time and pulling them all together and making it work.

I: Are you nervous about tonight?

Hilary: Excited, I think. I think we all are. Yes we're all nervous, of course we are. But things cost.

I: It means a lot doesn't it?

Hilary: Yes it does.

[Scenes from the opening night, with photos mixed in]

A: After just one song, we knew. She was a sensation. Her reputation was safe. And more, Kate Bush was thoroughly enjoying herself during the great test of her life.

[Scene in dressing room afterwards, popping a bottle]

I: [Hands Kate flowers] [inaudible]...flowers.

K: Oh! Bless you! Thank you. [Kisses him]

I: You really happy tonight?

K: Did you enjoy the show?

I: You really happy?

K: I'm knocked out, I can't believe that audience.

I: Worth that three months hard work?

K: I'm just completely knocked out, really. That's amazing.

A: In all, the six week sell-out tour was seen by a hundred thousand. Kate Bush had proved, to her audience at least, an all around entertainer. She's back now to the recording studio, comfortably making her third album.

[Kate in the studio]

I: Don't you have a problem now? What next? How you're going to follow the success?

K: Well you see people say this to me and I don't really look at it that way, because it's not a matter of following success. It's things have happened, you've done them in the past. And you see things wrong in them, and you want to go on, and you want to do them right. And I think that's all it is, you know? It's just the desire to want to keep doing things better. And I don't really see it as following a great success, cause if I did I'd get really paranoid and I probably wouldn't be able to do a thing. I'd be so worried about doing something better than that. Whereas you're just in the present moment and you're doing what you're doing.

I: Are you likely to change your style completely, suddenly?

K: I don't know. I'd quite like to in a way, because I think change is a very important thing on any level. And I do want to change, not only as a person, but as a musician. And I think its starting to happen a little. Just slightly different.

I: What's the most satisfying thing you do then?

K: The most satisfying thing? I guess when you've actually written the song. And you think about what's going to happen to it, in the future, the fact that it maybe will have strings on it and voices.

I: Who do you first play it to?

K: Well, it always used to be my father. When I lived at home, the first thing I'd do was grab him out of his chair and say "listen to this." And I'd put him down and play him all this rubbish. But now I think it's probably either Jon Kelly, my engineer, or one of my brothers. And still my father, now and again. It's always got to be someone who I know their judgement is good, people I trust.

I: And if they said it was rubbish.

K: If they said it was rubbish I'd think about it, but if I didn't think it was rubbish then I'd still carry on with it. You have to believe in yourself. You can't just accept what other people say all the time, otherwise you become them and not yourself.

I: Do you ever worry that your confidence might go?

K: It goes! Yes it goes a lot and you sit there and think "I shouldn't, you know... Oh! where's my purpose?...I'm nothing." And then something will happen that will make you see that you're just a tiny little thing just trying to do your best and that's all you can do, so that's cool.

I: Are you ambitious?

K: I think I must be. I don't think I want to be ambitious, but I must be to want to put up with all this, to carry on.

I: You're now just over twenty one, and you've made it. What is there left to do now?

K: Everything!!! Yeah, I haven't really begun, yet. I've begun on one level, but then that's all gone now so you begin again. I think...

I: Is there ever a chance that you might give up, get married, settle down, be an ordinary mother, say?

K: Obviously there is a chance, because I'm a human, and humans are very unpredictable. But, ah, I don't know. I don't see that happening to me, not for a while. I've got so much do to and I think freedom is important to be able to do all those things.

I: What will Kate Bush be like at thirty-one, any idea?

K: I don't know, probably a few more lines. [Laughs] I hope they're happy ones.

I: And a few more songs.

K: Yeah, I hope so. That's what I want to do, that's what I'm here for.

[Wow is played over the credits]


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"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush

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Marvick - Hill
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