daevid allen and Acid Mothers Temple - E-mail interview by Johnson Cummings 05/2007
The continued success of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville can be a attributed to the ever-progressive and eclectic programming that earmarks it as one of the vanguard events for experimental music of all forms. This year serves its 24-year legacy well with a standout bill, Acid Mothers Gong, which seems to encapsulate Victoriavilles spirit perfectly. Pairing Tokyos psychedelic freakout improv band Acid Mothers Temple with one of their heroes, daevid allen of space-rock pioneers Gong, the likeminded alchemy at play really sends off sparks.
This meeting of minds isnt unprecedentedtheir amazing 2003 recording Live in Nagoya was steeped in improvisational moments that push the needle into the red while updating the psychedelic sound into the future. While AMT fulfill the role of a sonic safety net, Allen helms the ship, with his groundbreaking ideas providing the solid centre to the band.
The Mirror had an e-mail exchange with this Australian-born original member of the Soft Machine and Gong about the newfound interest in his body of work, and how he has managed to avoid stumbling under the weight of his rich legacy 0f 40 years of making music while proving to be the very essence of progressive musicianship.
Mirror: Why do you think there is such a resurgence of interest in your career now?
daevid allen: Is there? I thought it was just chugging along like an old schoolbus covered in graffiti. So if there is, I would put it down to hard work for thousands of years… and luck. They say luck comes from hard work, and I am a bit of a creative workaholic, but I am also thoroughly grateful for the continuing interest in my work. Whenever I notice it, it always seems to help a lot!
M: What are some of the differences in youth culture that youve noticed now, compared to the 60s and 70s?
DA: When I go to dance parties, I see that the drugs have evolved to less dangerous doses and that the party people seem a little less naive than we were in the 60s. But I am not a huge fan of doof-doof-doof and programmed music generally. I prefer to be able to smell the sweat of the drummer.
M: How did your collaboration with Acid Mothers Temple originally happen, and how have they influenced you?
DA: I met them at a gig we shared in London, and they taught me focus! Extraordinary focus and presence in the moment. A very Zen band of glorious eccentrics.
M: You have been noted as an early tape-loop pioneer. Have you embraced the advances in technology since you first started splicing tape?
DA: I enjoyed working with tape and tape loops much more than just dialing them up on two-dimensional screens. There is something non-human and meaningless about ProTools, Cubase and so on, and the results seem cold and facile. Sorry, but the music had more meaning before computerized recording programs came to suck musicality dry.
M: You have been blessed to work with a lot of talented people in your career, such as Robert Wyatt and William S. Burroughs. Who are some of the people you have drawn the most influence from?
DA: Thelonious Monk for his spaces between the notes, Dylan Thomas for the passion and pagan depths of his poetry, Jeff Beck for riding feedback on horseback, William Burroughs for his kindliness, Gilli Smyth for her guts and resilience, Miles for his endless stylistic progressions, Francis Poulenc for his concert programming and orange shades, Robert Graves for his extraordinary memory, Jimi Hendrix for his generosity of spirit, Don Cherry for his performance magic, Didier Malherbe for his pure musicality and Pip Pyle for his wild-man drumming and impossible sense of humour.
M: You've lost the rights to a lot of your music due to some bad business dealings in the pastany advice you would give to young bands today?
DA: Play music. Let the businessmen kill each other for the money. Dont worry, eat more curry.