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Artykuły » Articles in English » Oliver Wakeman (interview)
Oliver Wakeman (interview)
Firstly I'd like to congratulate you and your band on giving a great concert in Poland and releasing a brilliant DVD.

Thank you very much, I am extremely proud of the DVD and think that the guys in the band played really well on the night. I also think that Metal Mind did a great job in capturing the performance so well.

What criteria did you use to select tracks for the concert in Poland? In my opinion you didn't treat " Hound of the Baskervilles" the way it deserved?

Sorry about the Hound not being played as much. What happened was - we had rehearsed a longer set but at the last minute had to make a few adjustments to make sure we didn't run over time. Unfortunately the songs that we removed were from Hound. If we get to do another DVD I'll make sure there are Hound songs in there - I promise!

What are your memories from your visit in Poland? What sort of impression did the Silesian Theater and Poland in general make on you?

I really enjoyed my visit to Poland, we were performing in Katowice and thought the theatre was absolutely beautiful. I had an explore around the theatre during the afternoon and thought it was wonderful.

The day after the show, the band and I travelled out to Krakow and I think it is such a beautiful city. The buildings and history on show in the town is incredible. We spent the whole day really enjoying ourselves. We also had a very nice lunch at a beautiful old restaurant, it seemed to have been unchanged since the 40's and was like stepping back in time.

That evening a rock opera "She"was put on stage, weren't you afraid that your concert could be somehow overshadowed by it and lose some spotlight?

Not really, I knew that our show was to be a completely different type of show to Clives. Clive was making use of a lot of visual effects, acting and stage props as well as the music - whereas we were a bit more of a rock and roll approach. 5 guys on stage, 5 sets of instruments and the songs. I enjoy the elaborate shows but I also think that a bit of straight ahead rock show can be very entertaining as well. I think, judging by the response we received from the crowd during the concert and afterwards that they enjoyed it too!

I think that you cannot be dissatisfied with the audience - you were welcomed as stars of the evening!

I do have to say that they were fantastic - having a great audience really helps you on stage. It's always great to play to people but when they are responding and singing along it takes to to a different level, you feed off their energy and it just makes the whole event great fun for everyone. We must have spent well over a hour chatting, signing and having photos taken after we came off stage. The band and I felt very honoured by the good wishes and comments people were giving us. It really finished off a wonderful evening.

For years you've been releasing various kinds of music, not only rock pieces. Right now it seems that situation is quite stable with the band's lineup fixed. So, do you plan to put out "Oliver Wakeman Band" album? Maybe you've got some other ideas?

I do have a follow up album to Mother's Ruin called Cultural Vandals which I am hoping to record early next year which will feature the guys from the DVD but I also have a piano album I'm recording and last year I recorded a live album with the 70's classic rock band Starcastle which should be due out next year.

I couldn't find any information concerning the change in lineup after Mother's Ruin release. Moon Kinnaird is listed as a band member on the album. When did Paul Manzi take his place and what were the reasons of this change?

After I finished the album I decided that the time was right to start performing music from my back catalogue and the current album live. Firstly I asked all the musicians who had performed on the album if they were available for rehearsals, unfortunately Moon was unable to commit himself to the live shows and so that left me in the position of trying to find a vocalist that could do the songs justice. Tim's circumstances meant he was unable make a regular rehearsal schedule as well. Dave Wagstaffe (the drummer) mentioned that he had worked in the past with a bass player called Paul Brown in a band called Janison Edge and he was also aware of a vocalist called Paul Manzi who lived in London and was looking to get back to his rock singing following a 'time-out' period away from singing.

The rehearsal a couple of weeks later will still rank as one of the best music days of my career so far. The two Pauls came along, extremely personable, well rehearsed and phenomenal players!

I need to admit that I'm a fan of your collaboration albums recorded with Clive Nolan - Jabberwocky and Hound of the Baskervilles. Any chance you'll record albums in this style in the future?

Clive and I have talked about writing a third album together and I have also written one on my own which is ready to be recorded - it's just that I have another couple of albums I want to release first!

It seems that as a solo musician you have more space for displaying your great skills. Do you prefer to play with a band/lead singer or maybe solo?

I enjoy playing is all types of set up. In a band it's great fun because you can really let rip sometimes because of the support you get from the other musicians but I also really enjoy the challenge of playing solo piano or as a duo. There is no-where to hide when you play solo and you have to be very accurate and I find that challenging but great fun.

You're a versatile musician so is there anything that you can surprise your fans with?

Not sure really, I like to think that in this day and age where lots of artists put out album after album that are quite similar, I will always hopefully release something slightly different to my last release!

You designed a few artworks for covers of your albums. I think that DVD's cover is the best one, which one is your favourite?

I must agree, I really like the artwork for the DVD. I also like a lot of the inlay artwork I put together for the Mother's Ruin album. I studied at Art college in my youth and have worked as a freelance graphic designer, it is something I really enjoy.

When I was a child I remember my father getting his latest album cover through the post and he was looking at it for the first time (I can't remember which album is was now) and saying - they've mucked up the cover again. I remember thinking at the time that if I ever released albums I would try and control the cover artwork as much as I could or if I couldn't do the artwork I would use people I could trust.

I do think it's so important, you spend so much time on the music it doesn't seem right to then just release it with a cover that doesn't do the music justice.

Do you think any of your albums was a turning point in your career?

There have been a few that have made a more of an impression, Jabberwocky was a very important album for me, it introduced me to a wider audience. 3 Ages was an album that I think proved to people my ability to write and perform complex instrumental work and Mother's Ruin was a great way of showing that I could write for a band. I think as an artist, every release is a progression of sorts and hopefully they all help shape you.

How did your position on prog rock scene develop? Was it improving gradually or did any album make you suddenly become much more popular, attracted large numbers of fans and increased sales?

As above, I think Jabberwocky made a big difference as did Mother's Ruin.

Do you find it easy to be a keyboard player and a son of a legendary keyboard player? Did that help you in your career or just the opposite?

It's a bit of a double edged sword. Maybe people will pay you a bit more attention at first because of the Wakeman name but if you can't deliver or have your own personality people get bored pretty quickly and move on.

I think I've spent enough time doing this now that hopefully people are looking at me as my own person. Obviously the link with Dad will always be there and it's something I'm very proud of.

One of the things that is always in my mind is that Dad has released loads of great records and I want to make sure all the records I release are building on a list of Wakeman albums that are of a high quality and enjoyed by people.

Unfortunately due to health problems of Jon Anderson it was impossible for you to play with Yes which cancelled the tour. Do you think that this could be rescheduled for some other time? Is Jon's health improving so that we can hope to see you all on stage soon?

I'm hoping that all will be re-organised and that I will get to perform with the guys and play some of those great tracks. It was a great honour just to be asked and something I was really pleased about. Fingers crossed - but we'll just have to wait and see!

However, I did a duo show that other day and as a bit of a tribute my singer and I did a version of Wondrous Stories which was really well received and fun to play!

I wish you every success and hope that some day we'll meet after your concert in Poland.
Please write a few words for your fans and RockArea readers.

I'd just like to say thanks to all the people who support artists like myself. We really need people who enjoy good music to allow us to keep doing what we're doing!

Questions: Piotr Spyra
Translation: Gosia Michalska
Photos: Marta Tłuszcz (Metal Mind)