daevid allen, 2014-08-ish
10 Questions from Christoph Dallach:
What was interesting about meeting William s Burroughs?
Well I was in my early twenties and he was already a literary lion of the Beat Movement to which I felt a certain allegiance. What surprised me was that he resembled a jaded insurance clerk from the Bronx.
But behind this musty disguise and the laconic southern drawl there was an old school gentleman with a very kind heart. The dichotomy between his fictional characters and his extreme detachment as an author I ascribed to his heroin habit which only occasionally wobbled him out. Naturally he offered sex as an opportunity for inclusion in his circle. This I declined but it did not greatly affect our working together or my acceptance among his friends at the Beat Hotel. I particularly connected with Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville who insisted on trying out the Dream Machine on me.
With a temporal Dave Allen Trio, I supplied the music for a theatrical version of The Ticket That Exploded at a Montparnasse club run by Bud Powell's wife. On the final night I was joined by Terry Riley playing a Lambretta Motor Scooter. This was relatively normal at those times.
What is your best memory about Soft Machine?
It was possibly the night at The Speakeasy Club in London when Jimmi Hendrix sat in on bass. Although i really enjoyed playing with Soft Machine at Brigitte Bardot's party in St Tropez in the summer of 1967. We played the best version of We Did It Again ever heard. It lasted for over an hour and delighted the French Celebrity Guest list.
Are you still in touch with Robert Wyatt?
What was the original idea for Gong?
To be a community of musicians and eventually to become a community of bands of varying musical styles and philosophies.
The one combining energy was a belief in a positive outcome for the whole group as an influence on humanity.
How did that change through the Years?
Well it evolved in its own way and spread out into various genres, specialties and attitudes.
I was not interested in influencing anything other than the idea of a positive philosophical outcome.
I am unsure how well I succeeded but at least the initial impetus was there.
Would your Music sound different without your experiences in Paris 1968?
Yes. Every experience especially the intense and mind blowing experiences changes the art you create as an organic human processor of reality.
Did Technology change the way you approach music?
Yes. For example, what once I achieved by using scissors to cut tape loops I can now do with the keys on my computer. Word processing is enormously accelerated by Microsoft Word and its like.
How has your songwriting changed?
Well sometimes I write straight from my musical imagination and it flows instantaneously into a composition.
Other times I tease and tickle my senses by toying with tiny sections of the ideas of others and the process becomes one similar to collage. The best results however come from jamming with the band members, recording everything and brainstorming the most inspired sections into a composition all together as a group.
Has it changed? I wonder…
How important was/is the commercial success of your music?
For me, it is only important in that it serves as a connector to like minded humans with whom we can share the experience.
I firmly believe that huge success is a disaster which creates burn out, or at least it would for me.
I know very few who manage this without self destructing.
I wanted my musical career to stretch throughout my entire life. The proof is that at 76 and newly recovering from intense cancer surgery, I am only now starting to consider retirement.
What is the best way to listen to Gong?
Whatever way you would normally listen to music.We don't really need special little helpers.
This latest Gong album (i see u) will attract attention under any conditions.
Thanks for the interview.