Chris Payne is a British orchestral composer for film & television; he was a former session musician for the Gary Numan Band. Classically trained, Chris has recorded & conducted the LSO & Prague Philharmonic Orchestras. Chris has dedicated his time to managing the groups Celtic Legend & Eden. Chris secured credits for both1979ís The Pleasure Principle and 1980ís Telekon as well as other contributions to Garyís other albums. Chris also co-write what was to become a sound track of the 80s Visageís hit, Fade To Grey, sharing writing credits with both Midge Ure and Billy Currie of Ultravox. Chris was also a member of the band Dramatis. Dramatis formed after Gary Numan quit touring, Garyís backing band got together to form a five piece electronic pop outfit Dramatis, released an LP called "For Future Reference".
Chris also formed Big Noise UK with fellow Numan session player Ade Orange. The track Fade To Grey was re-recorded by the duo and released under the name of Big Noise only and got released on 7"/12" on the President label in 1989 (Catalogue number PT [12-]580). The B-side recording was I Want Your Love. The song is also to find on the album Good Morning Baby on the President label in 1991 (Catalogue number PCOM 1111), along with the extended remix of Fade To Grey.
Chris is currently working on several projects, orchestral choral piece called 'The Vampire Symphonies' under the auspices of 'Gothic Orchestra' which will hopefully be recorded in Bratislava later this year. And the Dramatis album with Rrussell Bell, heís writing for producer Rusty Egan on Visage project, and recording a very interesting album with singer Gwenno Saunders in the Cornish language, and working with Emily Ovenden on new Celtic legend album. He also played a violin contribution to Tenekís What Do You Want? And heís solo piano album called 'Between Betjeman Bach and Numan' which has just been released.
Numanme: What was your inspiration to start playing music?
Chris Payne: I originally wanted to be a submarine captain, then a Film Director. Music just sort of came into my life and made me a bit more grounded when I discovered the viola aged 14.
Numanme: What kind of music did you like as a teenager?
Chris Payne: I was really into Jethro Tull, King Crimson, T Rex, Van de Graff generator, Gong, and the German bands like Amon Duul etc. I also loved Fairport Convention, Gryphon and loads of other folk stuff plus Classical music.
Numanme: What bands did you play with before Gary Numan?
Chris Payne: I played in a band called Crucible with my school buddies! The only claim to fame we had was supporting 'The Enid' on tour and having the Film composer Hans Zimmer join us for a load of demo recordings
Numanme: Do you have any hobbies apart from music?
Chris Payne: I used to have loads, but as I'm getting older I'm really getting quite boring! I love Chinese medicine and have recently qualified in that, and music will always provide enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes.
Numanme: Did you have any formal musical training?
Chris Payne: I studied at Chichester College of Music on a great course which allowed me to explore early music amongst other things. I also did some experimental music with friends and fellow composers Michael J. Stewart and Paul Johnson Rogers, two really clever old mates of mine. I then went on to a post grad Licentiate at Trinity College but messed it up as I didn't give a toss for the pompous old fuckers that ran the place at that time. Sorry do I sound a 'tad' Bitter??
Numanme: What is your most prized LP in you collation?
Chris Payne: Wow, too many of them. King Crimson's Islands, all Peter Gabriel, love 'Sigur Ros' album, but there's loads more
Numanme: What is your most embarrassing in you collation?
Chris Payne: At the time it was an Abba album as it was so un-cool to admit to liking them. However I can now come out and proudly say that ABBA are one stupendously. prodigious and astonishing group of singers and songwriters.
Numanme: What was it like to auditioning for Gary Numan?
Chris Payne: Weird. I had no idea what I was in for, turned up with long hair, a dodgy moustache, hob nailed boots and a donkey jacket and got the job!
Numanme: What did you think of Garyís fans?
Chris Payne: Wacky, friendly, courteous, loyal, balding, overweight and old (but not as overweight and old as me) and probably the best fans on the planet...
Numanme: What was your first TV appearance with Gary Numan
Chris Payne: 'Old Grey Whistle test' May '79
Numanme: Did you feel at home in the recording studio with Gary?
Chris Payne: Very much so. It was great fun to do the early recordings. On later albums it wasn't quite the same as we were only required on certain days to play our parts which isn't the same vibe as recording as a band like we did on Pleasure Principle recordings.
Numanme: What was The Pleasure Principle sessions like?
Chris Payne: Wicked. A bit knackering as they were night sessions and my bodyclock doesn't work after 1.00 AM. Good fun laying down the backing tracks with Paul and Ced playing live with Gary and myself playing keyboards.
Numanme: Did you have any involvement in arranging any of the tracks on the The Pleasure Principle?
Chris Payne: Not really. Gary had pretty much everything sorted. Only Complex was a bit incomplete and I filled that in with some Viola stuff while Gary was away doing an interview. I honestly wasn't sure if he'd like it, but he did!!
Numanme: What was it like on the first night of the Touring Principle?
Chris Payne: Oh madness! Panic before the show as it was the first and no-one really knew if was all going to work, Incredible excitement when it all kicked off, and huge relief at the end when we knew it had all worked so well..
Numanme: Did Gary or any of the other band members ever worry whether it would be a sell out tour?
Chris Payne: I don't remember thinking about that at all. As far as my memory serves me the tour sold out very quickly as he had become such an overnight sensation.
Numanme: What were your highlights from the tour?
Chris Payne: For me it was playing at the Brighton Dome as it was the venue I saw most of the bands playing in when I was young, and a load of my mates were there.
Numanme: What were your low points?
Chris Payne: Our third show at Coventry was a bit special, we had a bit of a crowd issue, and our dressing room was broken into and the band had some clothes and possessions stolen. I had the piss taken out of me big time as I was the only person not to have anything taken from them. Showed the state of my wardrobe during that period! I guess orange coloured flares were not cool?
Numanme: Did you get nervous before playing live?
Chris Payne: I wasn't nervous about playing the parts, but I got stressed about the reliability of the synths. Bearing in mind this was a period when synths would 'have a mind of there own' drift out of tune, get overheated, or would pack up during a crucial moment. I spent ten minutes before each show checking and double checking those little bastards!
Numanme: what did you think when you first see the Touring Principle lightshow?
Chris Payne: It was at rehearsals in London and I was blown away. For me It sunk home the enormity of the shows which were about to take place.
Numanme: what did you think of Paul Gardiner?
Chris Payne: Fascinating, lovely chap. A one off. I can honestly say I've never come across some-one like him. He was a complicated person and his death was untimely to say the least. He was making a comeback and I sincerely believe that had he managed to get his solo album out it would have been a classic.
Numanme: what was it like playing on Saturday Night Live in America with 40 million viewers ?
Chris Payne: It was interesting although not as terrifying as you'd imagine (apart from poor old Denis having a moment). They had a really good way of recording it by having an invited audience of around 300 people, and you would run through everything early evening as if it was a live performance (which technically it was) and they would then change the audience and you'd then record the live TV show later that evening.
Numanme: Did you enjoy recording Telekon?
Chris Payne: I did enjoy it, but not as much as the pleasure principle recordings
Numanme: What was the difference between recording in the studio or touring?
Chris Payne: Much more fun on the road!
Numanme: Were you shocked that Gary decided to retire?
Chris Payne: Not shocked but a bit disappointed as I felt there was still so much more to come. We had done two world tours with great sets and for me I thought it was all ending a bit too soon.
Numanme: What are your memories of playing at Wembley?
Chris Payne: Three great shows and the atmosphere each night was electrifying. I had serious un-controlable 'knee wobble' through the excitement adrenaline and ambience. That's why I though it was such a shame to end it all (as it happened and you all know this, We all came back in 1983)
Numanme: Chris can you let everyone know your involvement with "Fade To Grey" by Visage.
Chris Payne: I had written the bass line and chords ages ago before our first tour. I used to mess around with it at rehearsals and Billy Currie and Cedric started to join in, and we used to use it during sound checks where between us it developed into a song. It was working really well and so Billy decided he'd like us to go into the producer Martin Rushents studio near Reading and record it after the tour as a kind of 'momento' to the time we spent on tour, bearing in mind Billy was only doing this one tour with us as he was scheduled to return to Ultravox duties. We tried to put it out as a solo instrumental but it didn't really happen and eventually it was put on the Visage album with Midge Ure having written the melody and lyrics. It was chosen as a single and the rest is history!
Numanme: Can you tell us a little history behind of Dramatis and how it all started?
Chris Payne: It all came about because of Gary's intended retirement back in 1981. We became basically 'Unemployed' and that's how we got together as Dramatis.
Numanme: What songs did you write on 'For Future Reference'?
Chris Payne: Ummm let me think 'Turn' was mine, apart from that I just contributed to some of the others. 'Ex luna' was Rruss and Denis, 'Only find rewind' and 'Human sacrifice' Love needs no disguise' was Rruss, 'On reflection'' Ced and me, 'Take me Home' Denis. The others I can't remember. You'll have to ask 'Mr super memory man' Rruss that one. He'll have the answers and probably correct what I've just told you.
Numanme: What were your thoughts when you first see 'For Future Reference' album in the record shops?
Chris Payne:I honestly couldn't find a copy in any shop. Must have sold out!
Numanme: What was the best song in your opinion on 'For Future Reference'.
Chris Payne: Ex Luna by a mile.
Numanme: Was 'Love Needs No Disguise' written for Gary and how did you get him to sing on it.
Chris Payne:Best ask Rruss that. I think he penned it as a reflective piece about our days with Numan. Gary came down to Ridge farm studios where it was recorded and as he liked the track so much we said. "Off you go, you sing on it!"
Numanme: What was the Dramatis tour like?
Chris Payne: Had it's moments. Some of the venues were too small and as Denis had left before we toured the three of us had our work cut out. Great experience though. It was a shame we didn't continue the project.
Numanme: What was the most famous person you met?
Chris Payne: Blimey! Brian Ferry, Peter Gabriel, Mike Oldfield, Elliot Gould, Brit Ekland, Bob Geldof, Queen, Ultravox, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Barry Mcguigan, Chrissy Hind, Bonny Tyler, the weird looking bloke from the Specials, Jim Davidson, Eddy Grant band (who interestingly challenged us to a game of cricket in the Alps...Long story) Probably the most famous would have to be H.M. The Queen who came to our music college during her 1977 silver jubilee year. I remember her passing and I couldn't help but look at her as she was only a few feet away. I got that regal look back of "Carry on playing and stop starring at me you little bastard" vibe from Her Majesty. Lovely looking lady though!
Numanme: What are your memories of Paul Gardiner and Paul's Death?
Chris Payne: As I mentioned earlier Paul's death was a shock at age 25 and we all had this sense of sad loss from a young guy who was really talented and could have ended up recording a really classic album of our time. As you know Ced died recently and I was looking at someone's copy of Pleasure principle with the picture of us in the pyramid, and it struck me that half of the band that recorded that album are now gone. Very sad..
Numanme: Why did Dramatis split up?
Chris Payne: We were exhausted by the bad luck, crap management, bloody useless label, we were all over the place, and 'Lord only knows' what else was happening at that time. But I must say, we never actually officially split up and as you well know, Dramatis are once more together and recording the second album 30 years after the first. Must be a Guiness book of records that one.
The really sad thing about this intended release is the loss of Cedric. We had all met up in London (Rruss Ced and myself) only a week before his heart attack and we were making plans for the 'great Dramatis comeback' together like the three musketeers.
Numanme: Do you keep contact with Gary?
Chris Payne: I do occasionally. I'd like to see him more often but I live in France, were both busy. It's not easy but I'm sure we'll always be in touch one way or another.
Numanme: Do you think you will play live with Gary ever again?
Chris Payne: I sincerely hope so!
Numanme: What is the future for Chris Payne and what projects are you working on.
Chris Payne: I'm working on a Orchestral choral piece called 'The Vampire Symphonies' under the auspices of 'Gothic Orchestra' which will hopefully be recorded in Bratislava later this tear. Of course the Dramatis album with Rruss, my solo piano album called 'Between Betjeman Bach and Numan' which has just been released. I'm writing for producer Rusty Egan on Visage project. I'm recording a very interesting album with singer Gwenno Saunders in the Cornish language, and I'm working with Emily Ovenden on new Celtic legend album. So yeah I've got a few things to do.
Numanme: what do you think of Garyís music today
Chris Payne: I think it's amazing. I haven't heard Dead son rising but jagged and exile are brilliant. It was interesting as I spoke to him recently about his career and it really is like two halves so to speak. He had his commercial synth based era with us and with his new band it's become more industrialised heavy downbeat sound of NIN and Rammstein.
There is just one thing that I feel I have to make clear based on some of the feed back I've had over the years from a few of the fans. As much as it's really nice to have positive comments written about us, there have been comparisons between the old band and new and not very favourable comments regarding his new members. I had the privilege of playing live with Gary and his band in 2009 and trust me they are all extremely talented musicians and made me feel most welcome in the set up. It's not always easy to suddenly meet new musicians and be so well accepted, and I must say that I find Numans 'new' band to be of the highest calibre of musicianship and damn fine chaps every one of them!
Well that's all I've got to say and don't forget to buy my album as the I need the money to pay the wine bills!
Professionally, Cornishman Chris Payne is hailed as an orchestral composer for film and television, with a truly unique diversity that can be woven into many different styles. However, many will cite him as a virtuoso of the synthpop genre, thanks to the years he put in as a session musician with GARY NUMAN, securing credits for both 1979ís The Pleasure Principle and 1980ís Telekon as well as intermittent contributions to his other albums. To that end, itís no big surprise that Chris is also set to release an eBook entitled My Numan Years very shortly. During these years, Chris would co-write what was one of the soundtracks of an era, VISAGEís seminal hit, Fade To Grey, sharing writing credits with both Midge Ure and Billy Currie of ULTRAVOX.
Classically trained, Chris has composed, scored and recorded his works, going on to conduct the LSO and Prague Philharmonic Orchestras and thus demonstrating true versatility; from the birth of the music itself, through to his skill as a sympathetic musical director Ė an opportunity to get even closer to the monumentality of his compositions, no doubt requiring both focus, and, an unprecedented amount of energy. Focussing on his unadulterated musical excellence and experimentation, not only does he use of a wide variety of medieval instrumentation within his most current compositions with CELTIC LEGEND, but also his recent violin contribution to TENEKís What Do You Want? provides a precision snapshot that highlights the diverse, the inquisitive and the engaging.
Currently residing in Rouen, France, Chris took time out recently to talk to The Electricity Club about his time touring with GARY NUMAN, and writing for VISAGE ≠ past and present.
As a classically trained musician, is there any particular player you cite as an influence within the classical arena?
Not really. I can cite more progressive rock and folk bands from the 70s as having an influence. I loved JETHRO TULL, KING CRIMSON, FAIRPORT CONVENTION, GRYTHON, VAN DE GRAAF GENERATOR, GONG etc but also a violinist called Darryl Way from CURVED AIR who played the most amazing violin solo live, with all sorts of great effects mixed with classical styles.
I was surrounded by all sorts of classical music from a young age, as my father was playing a lot of records from Bachís Brandenburg to Holstís Planets etc. I also loved early music and I guess my closest likes to electronic music at the time were with German bands like TANGERINE DREAM and AMON D‹‹L II.
Was the viola your first instrument?
It was the first instrument that I had lessons on. I messed around with drums and bass for a while before this, but with not too much success to say the least! Having said that, I do play a bit of bass now and have somehow managed to work out the open strings!
You started quite late in music (around age 15?), yet youíve successfully got into orchestral composition for film and television. You must have worked hard to reach a level of technical development that you were happy with? What kept you focused?
This all came about later around 1985. Itís true that having had a good classical training at Chichester College of Music, it made getting into film/media music easier, but also luck and contacts played a part. A good friend of mine called Nigel Bates actually introduced me to the world of Production music around this time.
Can you remember much about your
audition for GARY NUMANís band? Is it true you hadnít ever played a synthesizer before that?
Oh yeah. I remember as if it was yesterday. I had finished Music College and was taking some time out working for our local council taking down trees. I turned up in my Ďchain sawí gear ie workmanís jacket, large boots and sporting a very bad moustache with hair like King Charles II. All that was missing was the chain saw!
I had never played a synth before. Bluffed my way through the audition pushing every note under the sun and making it look as if I had a clue. The real bonus for me was playing the viola and Gary, being a big fan of stringed instruments, loved the sound.
For you, how did it all start with regard to your first break and getting onto a major tour? How did that feel at the time? Was it hard work, enjoyable, challenging? Probably all those things Iím sure, but do you have a personal perspective you can share with us?
After the audition I remember events moving very swiftly, and before I knew it we were in Shepperton rehearsing for the Old Grey Whistle Test, a live BBC TV music show that used to broadcast every Tuesday night. Later that evening we were told that a spot had come up for us on Top Of The Pops, which at the time was the ĎGodí show for music as MTV etc didnít exist. Four weeks later Are 'Friends' Electric? was at No1.
Was it hard work? No, not at all. I loved every minute of it. From September 1979 we were just continually touring and recording, were all young at the time, and had plenty of energy and enthusiasm. I wonít mention names but I remember hearing on Radio 1, a well known band being asked about life on tour and they complained about how tough it was, and how people didnít realise what they had to go through. I just thoughtÖOK!!!! You donít realise how lucky you are to be in your position, after all whatís better, a world tour when youíre 23 years old or working in a factory making car batteries (a job I did as a student)?
Did you have any inkling that something was about to happen when you were on Old Grey Whistle Test and Top Of The Pops doing Are 'Friends' Electric? in the same week?
It was a frantic few days and as it was happening, I think we all sensed that something was about to happen. Not only did it happen but at such a pace! I didnít realise at the time but Numanís label Beggars Banquet were on the brink of bankruptcy and Garyís success not only made his own career take off but also saved the label. Imagine if Beggars had gone under. Theyíve a lot to thank him for.
You appeared on a number of GARY NUMAN albums including The Pleasure Principle and Telekon, usually playing viola but would be called on to play keyboards occasionally. What kind of parts would you normally be asked to do as it would appear Gary handled many of the synth parts himself in the studio?
Actually Gary was extremely generous letting me play a lot of parts on The Pleasure Principle. We shared the workload, although he had created all of the parts. It was interesting as the main synths were a Minimoog and Polymoog. No guitars just drums, bass, synths and viola of course! My only issue was trying to stay awake, as these were all night recording sessions after the pubs had shut. Youíre correct, by the time Telekon came along Gary played most of the keyboard parts.
What are your overriding memories of the first two GARY NUMAN tours?
Well they were both phenomenal, and bear in mind nothing had ever been seen like it before with these great futuristic sets and lighting effects etc. Far too many great memories of these days, youíll have to come and see me and Iíll spend a few hours chatting about itÖ
We did two world tours with both of these sets and my regret is we didnít tour abroad with Warriors, which also looked amazing.
Which GARY NUMAN songs were your favourites, either because of your contributions or from playing them live?
Itís no secret that my favourite track was Down In The Park. It was truly spine tingling to play with its anthemic power, and I loved playing the piano intro to it before launching into the thunderous Polymoog chords.
I have to ask you about your role as co-writer of VISAGEís hit single Fade To Grey. I believe it came out of some jamming that took place while on tour with GARY NUMAN? What urged both you and Billy Currie to put down a recording of the work?
It just sort of happened and became our Ďsoundcheckí song during the first tour back in 1979, with Ced Sharpley adding some drums. Thatís basically how it developed. As Billy was intending to leave and rejoin ULTRAVOX after the tour, he wanted to record it as a Chris Payne/Billy Currie release, a kind of Ďsouvenirí of the time spent with GARY NUMAN and myself as the other keyboard player. He organised the recording at the late Martin Rushentís studio, and we (Billy, Ced and myself) went in and recorded it the day after the tour finished. By the way, the entire song except vocals was recorded in a dayÖthose were the days! And the rest is historyÖ
This became such a signature track. What do you think was the key to its huge success?
The key to its success A Minor!!! Ha ha!
But seriously! It was part of a movement which, image wise, was very strong. This will always help the promotion of a song. Technically it was very simple, relying on a cyclic movement from A minor to D minor and using the A minor as a pivot chord to re-introduce the verse. Plus it had a very strong but simple chorusÖĒOhhOOH we fade to grey!Ē It also had a certain atmosphere, which was relevant to the times.
How important do you think, were synthesizers in the shaping of music late 70s to mid 80s, and why was there such a huge success rate with synthesizer based bands during this period?
It was important and it enabled non-trained musicians to be able to express themselves. The beauty of a synth is that you can use your imagination to create all manner of soundscapes, atmospheres Ė call it whatever, without the need to be a great player. Some people remarked on how Ďsoul-lessí the synths were compared to real instruments. If you ever heard Billy Currie playing his solo ARP Odyssey, youíll realise how wrong that is. He was a phenomenally expressive player who could make the instrument scream and growl, and also sound very emotive.
Iíve since spoken to many players of early synths and itís interesting that we each in turn have a different favourite. Mine was the Minimoog. A classic little demonic monosynth that could play the most intrinsically beautiful sounds, and also shake a building down to its foundations that you were playing in.
Is there an artist from that era whom you felt was particularly innovative in embracing the synthesiser technology?
Obviously KRAFTWERK plus the other German bands mentioned before, JEAN MICHEL JARRE and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA. As mentioned, Mr Currie, and letís not forget GARY NUMAN who had probably the most influence on the commercialisation of synths.
You toured the skies but it all suddenly ended with GARY NUMANís three farewell shows at Wembley Arena in April 1981. What were your own emotions and thoughts during those gigs?
Because of the immense scale of that production with the three back-to-back concerts and sell out crowds, half of me thought that this was crazy stopping at that moment with such huge interest and the fact that nothing had been seen like this before and if it could grow bigger. Who knows what would have happened? It was also sad and a bit disconcerting as I had been in regular employment for the last three years. On the other hand, Gary had made this decision and it was a case of moving forward with DRAMATIS and looking forward to a new adventure.
You formed DRAMATIS with RRussell Bell, Ced Sharpley and Denis Haines from the GARY NUMAN band and released the album For Future Reference on ELTON JOHNís Rocket Records in late 1981. Simon Heyworth who worked on Tubular Bells was the co-producer. How do you look back on the recording of that?
Oh God, it was a mess! I never understood why we spent ages recording it in one of the best studios in England at the time, a studio called Ridge Farm, only to remix it in London, which was bloody awful. All this messing around when we had perfectly good mixes drove me to despair. It took forever, cost a fortune, we had to re-do the cover of the album and when it was finally released, Denis left the band! Having said that, the time spent at Ridge Farm was brilliant. It was a really inspirational environment and had a great pub in the village just up the road. Needless to say where we were most evenings.
RRussell and Denis were the main vocalists for DRAMATIS. But GARY NUMAN sang on the terrific Love Needs No Disguise and you even did a lead vocal on Turn. Was there initially a reluctance for someone to take up the mantle of fronting DRAMATIS, especially as you were all more used to the role of being seasoned multi-instrumentalists?
Thatís an interesting point. In retrospect, RRussell should have been the only vocalist (apart from Garyís contribution) as this would have set a certain continuity. I donít know why it ended up with Denis and myself singing. Turn was my composition, which explains why I sang it, but I really have a shocking voiceÖmy wife Dominique will verify that! I remember that it took about two to three days to get it. No Ďauto tuneí to save the day in those daysÖ
Interestingly, I remember that ADAM ANTís ex-wife Eve, who I was sharing a flat with at the time, suggested we tried out a hairdresser friend of hers who was looking to sing in a band. His name: BOY GEORGE! Imagine if he had joined DRAMATIS?
In hindsight, why do you think GARY NUMANís fanbase didnít appear to take to DRAMATIS in large numbers?
I donít know. Perhaps we didnít have a strong enough identity? The music was too removed from the Numan style? Badly promoted? It could be a combination of all of these or other factors. It might even have been my dodgy haircut!
After For Future Reference, DRAMATIS did some cracking singles like Face On The Wall and The Shame. I Can See Her Now even got into the lower reaches of the chart and you toured in your own right. Was a second album ever close to completion?
We were working on quite a few songs for a second album. But I think we just lost our way and enthusiasm for the project with all the problems that beset us. Maybe weíll release them someday?
You rejoined GARY NUMANís band for 1983ís Warriors tour and remained until 1988(?) But in between, you also did a stint touring with DEAD OR ALIVE after they secured a No1 with You Spin Me Round. Do you have any amusing recollections of that DEAD OR ALIVE tour? What was it like working with Pete Burns?
I actually stayed officially until 1990. As for DEAD OR ALIVE, that was a fun tour. Three weeks or so and I wish it could have gone on. It was a summer tour as well, which made it feel even more like a holiday. As for anecdotes, there are loads too many to mention here. Youíll have to buy a copy of my eBook My Numan Years due for release soon.
Pete was great, and actually very shy. He kept a low profile and after the shows went back to his room with his wife Lynn. The drummer Steve Coy was also really nice and a serious nutcase. Tim Lever (keyboards) and Mike Percy (Bass) were also great. In spite of the image, I found them to be just a typical down-to-earth bunch of scousers!
You returned to play viola with GARY NUMAN on Complex at a few of The Pleasure Principle 30th Anniversary shows in 2009 to a rapturous reception. What was it like to be back on stage with him?
It was fantastic. The only downside was that Iíd loved to have done the tour. I hadnít realised how much Iíd missed live work. Iíll have to get DRAMATIS back together!
Youíve been working with TENEK on a track called What Do You Want? for their new EP2. How did that come about and what was it like working with Pete Steer and Geoff Pinckney?
I met them at the aftershow party at the O2. Pete contacted me somehow and it went from there. I didnít know anything about them but they are very impressive and seem to be building up quite a following, which doesnít surprise me as theyíre excellent.
I believe VISAGE are working on a new album and that Rusty Egan, fairly recently, invited you to write a song for the album? Did that actually happen? If so, how would you describe your contribution and how did you approach it?
Rusty tracked me down on Facebook. At first I thought it was a joke and that some one was scamming me for a laugh. But after some careful further investigation, I knew it was for real. The latest I heard was that two of my contributions including a co-written track with producer Nigel Bates were shortlisted along with contributions from Midge Ure, Youth etc. But you just never know if theyíll eventually make the final cut.
What are your thoughts with regards to VISAGE putting out a new record?
I think itís a great idea. Especially if they use my compositions!!!
How did your interest in medieval and traditional instrumentation develop? This is quite prominent in your latest work with CELTIC LEGEND isnít it?
Iíve always had a passion for early music instruments and played them long before joining Gary. I spent a few months with a consort called MUSICA ANTIQUA and also used them in a band called CRUCIBLE (which included film composer Hans Zimmer for a while). They do appear in CELTIC LEGEND although the style is more Uillean pipes and flageolet or tin whistle. The strange thing about this love of folk and early music is that Iíve found that itís so divorced from what I did with GARY NUMAN, it confuses a lot of people.
You have conducted your own orchestral works ≠ can you tell us how this opportunity came about? How passionate are you about the interpretation of your own scores?
I have made a lot of big orchestral recordings in London and Prague over the years and this is really where my passion lies. I have never experienced a bigger recording thrill than hearing a hundred piece plus symphony orchestra perform stuff that Iíve written. As for interpretation of my scores, Iím quite flexible about this, you have to be. I remember once recording one of my first sessions and myself and a friend called Paul Rogers, who orchestrated this particular piece, looked at each other in total amazement because the percussionist (who was Italian, new to the Orchestra and couldnít understand English) was playing something seriously Ďoff scoreí. Not one note resembled anything that we had orchestrated. He was on his own mission and wasnít going to have it any other way. Eventually we just left him to get on with it. It actually worked ok so Iím not that bothered.
You once wrote some intro tour music for heavy metal giants IRON MAIDEN. How did this opportunity present itself? Did you have a particular vision in mind or were you given a brief? Incidentally, can you remember which tour this was?
It was a track called Declamation published by Universal Music, which Iíd recorded at CTS studios Wembley in 1987. IRON MAIDEN used it as an intro to their Death On The Road tour in 2003/4. They somehow heard it and thought that it was an out of copyright piece by a dead composer. Unfortunately for them, the composer (Me) was still very much alive and wanted some royalties please. Anyway the issue was resolved and I got paid. Itís a shame I didnít know about it as Iíd like to have seen it. Iím a bit of a rock fan at heart and do like IRON MAIDEN!
Technology moves fairly quickly. How keen are you to embrace new technologies? Have you used soft synths?
Love the new software synths. No more overheating oscillators going out of tune, and there are some fantastic synths out there. I love Spectrasonics Atmosphere, and Ivory Piano is just sensational.
During your career, you have explored many genres. However, is there a particular song/work that you have been exceptionally moved by?
At different moments in my life, there have been songs or compositions that have really impacted on me for whatever reason or situation. The standout ones are Vaughn Williamsí Lark Ascending and Elgarís Cello Concerto in E minor. I think the power in these two pieces lie in the fact that I have been living in France for several years, but as soon as I hear either of these Iím instantly transported back to England. Itís not that I miss the UK, after all Iím only across the channel in Rouen. Itís just that the emotiveness of these works are so quintessentially English they have a powerful effect on me.
DRAMATISí first single Ex Luna Scientia celebrated the spirit of NASA. How do you see the future of space travel now that the Space Shuttle has flown its last mission?
Sad in a way. We have moved on in science so radically in the last few decades but we still know so little (apart from how to destroy ourselves). We still canít account for 94% of the mass of the Universe, which is really quite worrying. Perhaps the missing parts are this great energy force which the Chinese called Qi (or Chi). I have recently completed studies in Chinese medicine and Iím actually a practitioner over here in France. My aim will be to discover the mysterious Qi and who knows after thatÖmaybe DRAMATIS will make a comeback? ĎMay the Force be with YouíÖ
The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Chris Payne