Interview Between Guest Disk Jockey 'Number Six' and Geoff Whitehorn – uclaradio.com Procol Harum Marathon #3 – 02 December 2001, here presented in two episodes, of which this is the second. Of course we have compressed the sound clips to aid downloading … the original broadcast quality was impeccable. Part One is here
Fifth .mp3 excerpt : working with other musicians, working solo
You've played with so many legends in British Rock history: Maggie Bell, Roger Chapman, Bad Company, Roger Daltrey, The Who, Manfred Mann, Roger Waters, Billy Ocean, Paul McCartney. It's just amazing. What are some of your best memories and experiences playing with these great legends?
Oh … I mean, it's just … I think, just the pleasure of working with all these great people, really. They're all turned out to be really nice people. No one's turned out to be a dick-head, really.
I mean they're all there for a reason, because they're truly, you know, talented people. All I've ever been, to be honest, is kind of a sideman, an interpreter of what's going on. Coming back to Procol if you like it's always been…I was a fan in the first place and then a sort of well – you know – I don't change much. There are always kind of different avenues to explore.
Besides your work with other groups such as If, and I guess it's called the Back Street Crawlers, Bad Company, the Who, Procol Harum, the British Rock Symphony, you've also recorded some solo albums, I understand, Geoff Who and Big in Gravesend. What was it like doing solo recordings and are there any plans that you have for more solo recordings in the future?
Yeah. I mean doing solo albums is really good. It's just knowing when you've finished them. Obviously they are literally solo recordings done in my own little studio here at home, and who's to say that you've finished? How do you know? So Geoff Who, in fact, I didn't do at home. That was done in just a regular recording studio. I didn't have the technology, the facilities at home. I mean that was done in about five days. The second one, you know, Big in Gravesend probably took something like three months to do in between kind of other projects and was released in '94. And the third one, which I haven't decided what the title is – it's probably something like, Life on The Hard Shoulder or Life in the 'Bus Lane or something – I mean that's been on-going since '94 and so far I've recorded nothing. It's all been…There are some sequences. There's some stuff written. In fact it's probably mostly programmed, written, it's kind of ready to go. It's just having maybe a clear two weeks or three weeks just to sit down and actually do the work. That's all.
Well, we'll look forward to that one, as well.
I look forward to starting, just getting on with it. Just getting the momentum together to go 'Right, this is the window for doing this. Let's finish it. Let's commit." You know.
Sixth .mp3 excerpt : teaching guitar, Beatle George
I understand that one of the things that you do is write and play for a magazine called … I believe it's called Guitar Techniques. How'd you get involved in that and how is it serving in a sense as a teacher of others, in essence the technique of guitar playing? Do you enjoy that teaching aspect?
To be honest, no. I don't. But all I've been doing really with Guitar Techniques is recycling my record collection and learning how to play it all properly, really. And I'm actually getting sick of it. I mean there is obviously a teaching element, there is an element of experience you can import. You can teach people the notes but you can't teach them the feel or what was intended in the first place by the original artist. You know there is a bunch of [?] and stuff, a bunch of British blues etc., etc. And I haven't even put a spin on it. I've just recreated it, to be honest. You know and it's been transcribed and so on and so forth. [see here for Geoff's A Whiter Shade of Pale in Guitar Techniques]. I think that's fine but you can only go so far with blues guitar. You can't teach people how to play the blues. You can teach people how to play the notes. You can't teach them how to be in the right frame of mind (or the wrong frame of mind in fact) to play the blues.
This week was a very sad week in music history. We lost a legend, George Harrison. I know that he'd played with Brooker, and Brooker had played on some of his albums. Did you know him and care to comment?
Yeah. I mean he wasn't a friend, he was an acquaintance. [Geoff changes phones]. Yeah, I mean it's totally tragic. We've now lost two Beatles. I don't know how old you are but I mean I grew up entirely around the Beatles' music. And to have … to have lost two Beatles is just awful.
It's sad. Not only have we lost the Beatles but I think that there's something in there that makes us aware of our own mortality perhaps, or something along those lines.
Yeah. I'm not bothered about my own mortality. I mean, since September 11, I seem to have been flying more than ever. I mean I just came back from Brazil this morning. You know. And the flight was absolutely packed with people. So I think people are getting maybe a little more fatalistic about stuff like that. And it's like, 'Okay. If it happens, it happens. So what.' You know there are possibly worse ways to go. I think I'd rather…I mean this might sound weird. I think I'd rather go in a 'plane than maybe the way George Harrison had to die. Does that make sense?
It's a sad loss. Yeah. I hear what you're saying.
George was fantastic. I met him a couple of times. I went to his house, once. You know the old monastery place, you know, in Henley, where he had lived forever. I mean he had been there for years and years. Where he got attacked, not long ago. Great house. He's a really nice guy. Very spiritual sort of guy. Very mellow. Mellow guy. Totally nice man.
It's a great loss for music and the world in general.
For sure. For sure.
Seventh .mp3 excerpt : Procol Harum may surprise us at some point!
Geoff, what do you see as the future now for Procol Harum? I mean here we have a group that somehow has managed to continue through since the late 60s. Where do you see the future of Procol Harum going?
Well there is certainly no need for Procol Harum not to have a future. I think it's entirely down to Gary, and Keith and Matthew to decide, you know, how much they want to do necessarily. Obviously I would love it to continue. It is my favourite gig that I've ever had. You know, out of everything that I've ever done. It's a gig that was … I coveted, as a teenager – not necessarily as a teenager but certainly as a youngster. To actually be part of it! Well, let's not stop now. Let's not just be doing, you know, reproducing the old catalogue. Let's move forward. But I don't have any particular influence other than friendship, and sort of encouragement to make that happen. you know. Gary and Keith and Matthew will decide in their own good time exactly what it is they want to do.
Well I certainly hope there continues to be a future for Procol both playing gigs and recording. The current line-up sounds terrific.
I think we may … I think Procol may surprise you at some point. I just have that feeling.
Good. I hope in a good way.
So do I.
Because the current line-up I think is terrific. You guys have really jelled as I listen to you. The current line up is great. You know, Gary's voice sounds better than ever; Matthew's Hammond organ is … remains excellent, and you have sort of recharged the guitar end of things. I think you put so much energy and enthusiasm into it. I just love watching you play.
I remember you saying, I think you said you know, I appear to be having such a great time and I'm smiling.
I mean that's actually been misinterpreted. There's been one or two comments where … "Why did you look so happy? This is supposed to be serious shit." It's like…well, it is serious. But, it's serious when you're learning it. It's serious when you're putting it together. But once you understand it and once you have put it together, there is a great deal of joy, you know, that it kind of gives, you know. And I'm just happy to be there. That's what I'm smiling about.
And I think the fans are also smiling.
Anything else you'd like to tell Procol Harum fans who are listening to the webcast?
Just stick with us. I think it's more than just going out and doing concerts, repeating, you know, kind of reinterpreting the old catalogue. I'd love to think there is more to come. I would love to think that. I mean, I'm viewing it all with bated breath just the same as the fans. You know.
Great. Well thank you very much for talking to me.