"I almost feel there are two Procol Harums, the Procol Harum that die-hard fans see and the Procol Harum that everyone else sees. 'Oh, yeah, that was a good record, why didn't you make any more like that?'"
Organist Matthew Fisher, there from the beginning and now back in the ranks, neatly encapsulates the enigma that is Procol Harum. Well known worldwide for A Whiter Shade Of Pale, the Number 1 hit of the Summer of Love - 1967, if you're of tender years - they have since built up a body of work that ranks them among the thoroughbreds of British rock. The February 2003 release of 12th album The Well's On Fire extends that legend into the current millennium.
Gary Brooker (MBE!), 'The Commander' to one and all, still leads from behind the piano, with Fisher and ever-present non-playing lyricist Keith Reid steadfastly at his shoulder. Brooker's side projects include playing with the likes of Eric Clapton and Bill Wyman, but the re-hoisting of the Procol flag has brought him back on board full-time. For him, it's all about the songs. "Procol does not deal with pastiche or trying to re-do a blues or a be-bop," he insists. "We really enjoy playing challenging things."
Below decks lies a purring engine of a rhythm section in the comparatively young form of bassist Matt Pegg (son of Dave) and Mark Brzezicki of the late, lamented Big Country. Last but not least, we have twelve-year veteran Geoff Whitehorn who, since filling the sizeable boots of Paul Kossoff in Back Street Crawler, has supplied guitar by appointment to Roger Chapman, Elkie Brooks, Paul Rodgers, Roger Daltrey and several more of the British rock aristocracy.
Though the current five-piece line-up has been together for the best part of a decade, this is the first time they've been in the studio together, and their empathy shows.
Check out all the band's current news and future plans at www.procolharum.com (run by the fans) and maybe even join the free email newsletter.
The band will all be at the festival record stall from 1-2 pm on Saturday to sign copies of their latest CD purchased there.