HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: 1 March 2012. We talked to a great musician: Gary Husband. Gary is a phenomenon: He ‘s keyboardist, drummer, songwriter and arranger. He has played with numerous gifted musicians like John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Billy Cobham, Jack Bruce, Gary Moore, Robin Trower, Jim Mullen, Mark King, Level 42, Steve Hackett to name some. His latest solo effort is “Dirty & Beautiful Vol.2” and he has many great friends playing in it. Read below the very interesting things he told us:
Are you satisfied with the feedback you got so far from fans and press for your “Dirty & Beautiful Vol 2” album?
(Laughs)I haven’t had my copy of Volume 2 yet! I know that a good many people have already received it though, and I’ve had some wonderful comments and compliments on the new CD. I’ve also seen three or four reviews already and they’ve each been very nice too. Y’know, if listeners find themselves enjoying it I’m just very happy for that. That’s the most important thing. It’s the kind of music – the kind of album especially – where there literally might be something for all tastes! There’s diversity here, but I think it feels very coherent. For me it’s all just music – music I feel, music I’ve worked on and music I take great pleasure in sharing.
How easy was to get all these great people (John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Mike Stern, Jan Hammer, Robin Trower, Mark King and others) involved in both “Dirty & Beautiful” volumes ?
Some were easier than others. The album was made in numerous different locations in the world: some in Europe, some in America and some others here in Britain. Since I work with most of these people and have done on a continuous basis for many years, it’s easy for me to get to their attention, initially, but this is not always a reason to say “yes” or “no” (laughs). So, I was very happy that just about everybody that I contacted with, was really enthusiastic about the idea of coming to play. I’m very grateful for that.
How possible is to do a solo tour soon?
It isn’t a very easy album to think about touring. I do have a lot of ideas about some kind of band, like a “Dirty and Beautiful” band to play that music. It’s a question though of what kind of band could play all the music because the pieces featured are very diverse, stylistically and musically. Also, with a lot of the music I wrote I was thinking just of the musicians that are featured. It’s difficult to know how to shape it at the moment, but I would welcome it. Of course the economic thing is very difficult too, but I’ll try for it.
How did the tour with Jim Mullen go?
Oh, that was nice! Jim is a great guitar player and the way that he plays is very special. It’s always a really nice experience to play with him. He’s such a wonderful guitarist and so musical. He’s one of those really, really natural improvisers and everything has an incredible poetry, character, elegance and beautiful feeling about it. Everything that makes a great jazz musician, he has it. It was really great to play again with him.
Tomorrow (Monday 27th February) you start playing with Mark King (Level 42) at Ronnie Scott’s for a week. How do you imagine these shows with Mark at this particular place?
I think it’s ok – possibly a bit loud for the club! But it’ll work out well, I’m sure. We were rehearsing this week and we’re playing tunes from Mark’s older records. This is all material from Mark’s solo albums. I’m playing keyboards and Mike Lindup is also playing keyboards, so we are basically sharing keyboard duties. There will be the drummer of Level 42, Pete Ray Biggin, who is very good. There’s also a three-piece brass section, so it’s a very powerful band.
Are you participating in John McLaughlin’s upcoming album?
Yes, we recorded it last December. I think this new (4th Dimension) album is supposed to be coming out this summer – possibly late summer.
Will you tour with John during this year?
Yes, we are going to do a European tour this fall. That will be really nice. I’d love to think that we will come to Greece but I don’t know.
In which way do you write a song? On keyboards?
Usually on keyboards, or sometimes without an instrument. Sometimes on drums, too. It’s crazy because I’m coming from these two different instrument’s perspectives all the time. It’s interesting how they combine together in the writing process, but I’m writing usually together with a keyboard of some kind.
While you are playing an instrument on stage do you miss the other one you don’t play it?
(Laughs) Well, sometimes. But I don’t really think about it very much. When I‘m playing keyboards I’m very involved with keyboards. Exactly the same when playing drums, but I have to say I’m usually listening to the whole thing. So, I’m not really concentrating too much on me. What I can bring to the music at all times is the most important thing for me. But as a keyboardist or pianist I love to play with great drummers.
Do you think your career would be different if you hadn’t met Allan Holdsworth at so young age?
Oh, sure. Because this forged in such a big way the way I play today. A most significant wealth of development stemmed from the early years with him since he was really the first one who let me be free. Before I met Allan, I was playing in a number of different bands. In one I would be asked to try and sound like Steve Gadd, in another like Elvin Jones. Even though the music was jazz, musical, fusion, they still wanted me to be in a certain way, and quite rigid with it, but Allan was the first one who said to me “Listen, just play how you want to play and bring to the music what you feel”. He was the first one that asked me not only to play the drums – he asked me for my imagination too. So, yes, he was especially important to me.
What do you remember the most from Crossroads Festival in 2007 with John McLaughlin, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck?
Oh, that was a great time (laughs)! Of course, a lot of very famous people walking around and lots of great musicians… but like all festivals, it was very rushed. We had very little time and we don’t have the time to work on the songs. Vinnie Colaiuta and Matt Garrison had to learn the songs fast and we had to bring it together in not a lot of time. But it was very electric and to play with John, Vinnie and Matt as a little band. We all enjoyed that.
Do you wish you‘d done more things with Jeff Beck?
Well, I’m not finished yet, so hopefully, maybe in the future. Who knows! Yes, it would be lovely. I never really made a real contact with this guy. It’s been the case with a few artists or a few “sets” of artists that I’ve always found it difficult to get anywhere near them. I’m not even sure Jeff’s aware of me as a drummer in fact. It’s just interesting sometimes that no matter however many artists and friends we have in common our paths never seem to cross. But you know, he has had a lot of great drummers and he can play with anyone he wants.
Who are your influences as a drummer?
Oh, so many.. I was very attracted to drummers from many different styles. I was attracted of power and the amazing strength of what they could bring from drums. I used to like big bands drummers a lot. I like a guy you possibly may not have heard of named John Von Ohlen. He played very passionately and strongly withStan Kenton in 1972, and I was really very, very influenced by him, from the beginning. Then I discovered Mitch Mitchell playing with Jimi Hendrix. I saw Billy Cobham with his own band on TV around 1974, and that was the beginning of another very big influence on me. Through him, I discovered Tony Williams who was just a monumentally major influence. He introduced me to something very, very unique, very advanced and very, very intelligent and high. This is one guy who influenced so many musicians in so many different ways, but, again, there are so many fantastic drummers that I grew up listening to and have been influenced by. There are now too – I like watching and listening to all kinds of drummers.
Did you feel comfortable when you played in pop recordings with Pet Shop Boys, Spandau Ballet etc?
Ah well, a couple of examples of my session career there! It’s a certain discipline and application. For stuff like that I just go into a mode of trying to make the music sound as good as I am able, and to make the artist happy. That’s the important thing. I draw on whatever I can to make the track sound good. I think I did one track with Pet Shop Boys, many years ago, for one of their albums. I‘ve done a lot of different kinds of recordings with singers, groups and the suchlike. I always like the challenge of trying to make something sound good. That’s all (laughs). I just do the best I can and as some kind of perfectionist I’ d like them to be happy with my work. That’s a big thing.
You ‘ve played with so many amazing musicians. Do you feel lucky that you’ve worked with these people? You’re still very young for a jazz musician.
I’m still very young? I don’t know about that! I’m very, very happy and I feel so lucky and blessed that I managed to play with so many great people so far and I really hope that it will all continue in new and exciting ways. That’s what it keeps me alive – being challenged and trying to make great music. That, and love. I don’t know how it would feel if I didn’t have these. Of course I’m really lucky. To be able to make a living many times is tough. I‘m putting a lot of money into my own records and projects and it leaves you quite regularly with hardly anything (laughs), except for a lot of satisfaction and a lot of fulfillment. These are different kinds of being rich: to be spiritually rich by creating something that some people enjoy and feel something from.
Is there anyone you ‘d like to play with and hasn’t happened yet?
Yes, a great deal of people. I really like the saxophonist Dave Liebman, I like anybody who plays with that kind of intensity. I think it’s not a secret: I love guitar players, so to play with people such as Jeff Beck one day would be great. But, there are a lot of new musicians coming out all the time that really excite me.
Do you remember that night at Roxy in L.A when Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Berlin joined you and Allan Holdsworth on stage?
Yes, I do (laughs). These were wild times. This is 1982 you’re talking about . We were just very happy because when we started that band in 1979 here, it was very difficult for anything happens for us. It was such difficult to get work. Because Allan had played in America with Soft Machine, U.K and Tony Williams, I lot of people knew that he was doing something new and it was very easy for us to go there and work, which at the time was an incredibly exciting thing for all of us. Especially for me. But, here Allan was in that country doing his own band, a lot of people were coming out and showing their appreciation. One of them, a big fan, was Eddie Van Halen, who loved Allan’s playing. At the time, I think we were trying to get a new record contract, so Eddie helped Allan out by giving him visibility and playing live with him onstage, which was great. I don’t remember actually which songs we played, but I remember the feeling, it was very nice.
What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?
I really just listen to so many different kinds of things. I love singers – soul music, many kinds of pop and rock through the years, many kinds of jazz. I love some particular North and South Indian classical musicians. There is music I discover in movies that I suddenly love. I’m listening for new and listening for old. I love having music that I’ve always loved around me and I also enjoy discovering new things – new composers and players too. I come from classical in terms of classic piano, so a lot stayed with me from that experience in terms of influence. I just want to be moved! If an album or musician doesn’t move me I’ll take the album and give it to somebody else! As far as a specific list is concerned though, I can’t really say. I don’t know.
Hope to see you soon in Greece, maybe with John McLaughlin.
I really hope to come too. I think the last time I came in Greece was with Billy Cobham around 1994 or so.
A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Gary Husband.
Please check out www.garyhusband.com