Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Gary Brooker on Radio Alicante

Twenty Questions from 15 March 2003


Carlos Sempere Carriůn, coordinator of M80 Radio Alicante, writes to BtP from Spain:

"In March of this year, due to the Procol Harum concert taking place in the Lewisham Theatre in London, I was allowed an exclusive interview with Gary Brooker by the record label. This interview took place in the aforementioned theatre just before the concert, and was later emitted on the radio programme, "Symphony in Rock Major" which is transmitted on M80 Radio Alicante.

"As I thought that this interview may be of interest to the fan club members, I have taken the liberty of sending you a transcript of the questions asked in the interview together with an MP3 file of Gary Brooker's answers. It has been a real pleasure to be in contact with yourselves which I hope to keep doing from "Symphony in Rock Major", a radio programme that I have been presenting for over 24 years."



Here are the questions and answers ... they get more and more interesting as they go on!

When you started with the Paramounts, the Rhythm and Blues that was arriving here from America influenced greatly many English groups. Which were the American musicians that most marked your career?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

It is quite shocking that Procol Harum records got better rankings in the American lists than in your country. Why do you think that was?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Since the beginning, you have been the most Ďbluesí part in the group, and Matthew Fisher the most classical part. Was it the wish the join these two genres that made you create a group with a pianist and an organist?

Gary Brooker replies (with The Question sound-checking in the background) : click to hear mp3

 

The relationship between Procol Harum and Keith Reid as a songwriter made the group become something special, because, as in the majority of bands, the lyrics are written by some of their musicians. How did the relationship with Keith Reid start?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

How is the process of work with Keith till a song is finished? What is it like?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

You anticipated the Moody Blues and of course when you did the theme titled In Held 'Twas In I, about 20 minutes long, groups such as Genesis or King Crimson had not started to compose in that way. Were you conscious at that moment that you were opening the doors to progressive rock?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

It is curious that A Whiter Shade of Pale, which is a song with rather abstract lyrics, has become such a massive phenomenon, even in non-English speaking countries?. According to you, what is the key to the success of this song?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Procol Harum has been a pioneering group in the fusion of both rock band and an orchestra. Now everybody wants to do it, but then it seemed something risky. You did it then. What made you think that such an experiment would work?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

In 1967 Procol Harum starts offering their more representative albums at a rate of almost an album per year. From 1977 there is a silence in your production of more than ten years. Was this period a result of the break-up of your relationship as a group or was it just a friendly interval amongst the members of the group?.

Gary Brooker replies rather briefly: click to hear mp3

 

Again you have taken more than ten years to release an album of new songs with the group. Why such a long time?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Letís talk about this album. The songs of this LP, in your distinct styles, seem to us very passionate songs. Does this have anything to do with the title of the record The Wellís on Fire?

Gary Brooker replies

 

I have heard that in The Wellís on Fire some songs had been in your mind for quite some time before. If thatís so, which songs were they?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Roger Taylor appears as a guest in the energetic Shadow Boxed. What was working with Roger like?

Gary Brooker replies, in Hitchcockian terms: click to hear mp3

 

The lyrics of songs such as An Old English Dream, The Wall Street Blues or The Emperorís New Clothes have a high content of social critique. Do you consider Procol Harum to be a vehicle to denounce or to claim any issues?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Have you ever felt discriminated against by the industry due to any of your lyrics?

Gary Brooker replies

 

The effect (validity) of Procol Harum isnít a commercial manoeuvre by any company but it responds to the love of fans that donít forget you and to the interest of other audiences who are discovering you now. It must be rewarding for an artist to get to this point, mustnít it?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

With the application of new technologies to music in the recent years, the more traditional ways of working with music have changed. What has significantly changed in your method of working?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Letís talk about the current formation of the group. The arrival of Matthew Pegg has been a great surprise. How did it happen? How did he become part of the group?

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

Why hasnít the guitarist Robin Trower joined this project?

 

Gary Brooker replies: click to hear mp3

 

What do you think of Tony Blairís position in the Iraqi crisis at the moment?

Gary Brooker replies ... and signs off: click to hear mps3

 Thanks, Carlos!


Procol Harum concerts in 2003: index page


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