Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum ... a separate entity

Brooker on Danish Radio, 1990

This Gary Brooker interview was conducted in 1990 by Karsten Overgaard and Niels-Erik Mortensen: we've split it into various parts: find the rest by clicking here

Fishing, Bach and the future

Then you went on fishing for a few years, you told us the other day.

Yeah, I went fishing, well I went soloing, I went playing in other people's bands, and I went fishing for a couple of years, and then I went rocking for a couple of years, and now I'm back where I'm not tired at all, and I'm much refreshed, and although it's been a long time between albums, I'm now going to make a new Procol Harum album.

Have you written the material already, or are you preparing that?

Preparing it, we've written most of it.

But, the time is running out, five minutes or so, we could ask Gary about his present visit

If we don't mention my ballet, were not going to have a talk again, are we!

We are going to mention your ballet, but ... er did you have anything more about the Procol Harum thing?

No, I have finished.

It's not The Procol Harum, you know that?

No no, I said the Procol Harum thing.

Oh, sorry, beg your pardon.

Perhaps there's one thing I'd like to ask you. There was quite a few English bands at the time who were classically-influenced, I mean the Moodies and you were and the Keith Relf action called Renaissance. Was it a trend about 1967 to ... through 70 ... to create rock music, rhythm and blues, on the basis of classical influences?

Well I think what our friend said earlier, he said that Procol Harum perhaps was the first band that combined the two things, if we have to put it into a pigeon-hole, and I ... whether we were or not, Procol Harum's success in Britain in 1967 gave a lot of groups the idea that they could also do their own ideas along a similar line of thought perhaps and ... that it would work..

There have been a lot of groups doing that: the Dutch group Ekseption, for example, they just took some classical music and put drums on it and played it and ...

Yes, Some did it an outright, just a version of a classical ... well the Nice, I remember used to play quite a few pieces.

Of course I had forgotten The Nice

Keith Emerson, yeah

What is your opinion of The Nice as they were then?

Well, they were exciting.

But it was not really original, I mean just taking a classical piece of music

No, I don't think they were song-writers, but they were a good band, or I remember them as a good band.

I think the original thing is to turn it upside down and come up with something new, and that is something very few ... in my opinion only Procol Harum and Beatles have done that, mixing the classical and the rock concept in very special and ... well it's very difficult to explain what it is, you have to hear it.

Yeah, well I think Bach is still around, I think he's still in the back of my mind somewhere, because I still find even today if I can't get an original start to a song, that I'll get out the 48 preludes and fugues, and play one of them at a quarter the speed it should be and perhaps backwards, or something, and it will give me just a little start to something. [Read afeature in which GB reveals more about this Bach-inspired compositional method]

You are so familiar, you can play this Bach sheet music without any troubles and go through it yourself, I mean ....

Well, no, great deliberations, I'm a terrible reader, but I can read, but by the time I've struggled through the first four or five bars I've probably gone off on to a song by then, it's been enough, I mean the music is so good, I've got the spirit, suddenly it's given me three chords to start on, and I'm away.

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