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Progressive Rock Interviews

Ray Bennett

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Ray Bennett from 2016
MSJ:

You’ve got some reissues coming out soon. What can you tell us about that?

Yes, the first one is out now - official release date was June 6th - D-Day!  As you probably remember, a reissue of Whatever Falls was first put out in 2001 on Voiceprint in the UK, then in the USA in 2003. Hope you don’t mind, we used a part of your original excellent review in the press release.

Next will be Angels & Ghosts, which was also released at the same time on Voiceprint.  That was a retrospective collection going back to the 70s post Flash era and included some collaborations with Flash members and then onward through the 80s and 90s and the beginning of my solo era. I’ll get that one out in the next couple of months.

I’ve signed up with Tunecore for distribution and will also be putting out some other previously unreleased material.  All of this on my own label Mintspy. 

What I’m working on right now is a stash of 90s recordings that got overlooked for a variety of reasons.  The first batch is from when I was a partner in a studio business in NYC in the early 90s.  We were setting up our recording facility for the first time.  I was just playing around with, what was then, the very new Adats and having a blast with the huge leap forward in recording clarity.  I just went bonkers and recorded everything and anything I wanted.  It delves into various styles; me on acoustic quite a bit and mostly all guitar based tracks.  It pretty much shows what I do when I’m not with a band and when I don’t primarily focus on prog type arrangements.  It still comes out a bit prog oriented though!  Can’t help myself.  All of it was about 90% finished at the time and now just needs tidying up and mixing.  This will result in two albums possibly, but we’ll see.  The various musical threads running though this work led me to the Whatever Falls album.

MSJ: I think the last time we interviewed you was about three years ago. What’s been new in the world of Ray Bennett during that time?
Yes. Our last chat was when Flash-Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter came out in 2013.  I worked a lot on trying to get Flash touring throughout 2013, but honestly there was little interest in getting a proper tour organised.  Some agents promised, but never delivered.

This was frustrating on several counts.  There were promoters in various places who were very interested, but financially it wasn’t enough.  There are far too many absolutes money-wise that have to be met.  It was also frustrating when I heard from fans eager to hear us in various parts of the USA, and in Europe.  Colin Carter lost interest in the whole project after a while, even in doing another Flash album, and he drifted toward the idea of doing a solo record.  But, just as I said back in 2013, Flash always felt to me like unfinished business, and the idea of giving it up completely is quite foreign to me.  Just doesn’t make sense to not include it in possible future plans.  I practice the set regularly to keep “gig ready. It’s also a great guitar and vocal workout - gets my juices flowing. Never say never with that, as always. And, as is usual with Flash, during the last couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time managing the business affairs, as we had no manager.  These days with all of the transitioning to the digital world, and all the rights to be taken care of, it gets quite time consuming.

What’s new for me ?  I’m solo again, which isn’t new really! So now, into the Tardis and off somewhere else.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Flash keyboard player, Rick Daugherty, and I plan on continuing working together on a Ray Bennett solo project.  I fancy the idea of a band name though, not my own.  Never liked the idea of the solo front man kind of thing.  I like to be a part of a band.  I always think everyone should contribute and make decisions together.

I have quite a bit of new recorded material in the works, as always.  These days I think of any “new” project as being anything worked on in the last few years. (chuckle).

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
I’m a big Dr Who fan, and enjoy science fiction, always have.  I liked the X-men series and a few others, but I'm having trouble getting my head around the question.  I don’t hate anyone particularly.  Perhaps some kind of superhero who could 'persuade' Congress to pass some new legislation to change royalty rates.  We are living with rates set in the 1940s.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Just bought Miles Davis Birth of the Cool, on CD, not a download.  Also a couple of other Miles CDs.  One with Quincy Jones live at Montreaux. Somehow I missed the Birth of the Cool album, never heard it.  I have a pretty decent jazz collection and always look out for Miles recordings. You can go back to jazz stuff again and again. I listen to Sirius radio in my car a lot these days - big fan of Sirius.  It’s like radio I grew up with.  You actually enjoy it!  So much to choose from. The Sirius Tom Petty channel was a big favourite out by the pool last summer and will probably be again this year.  Tom’s a good DJ and funny. He plays a lot of basic rock stuff, but very cool obscure tracks sometimes.  All of my life I never went for any particular genre of music. I like all kinds, and much of it isn’t rock - : Vaughn Williams, Sam Cooke, Eric Satie, Ravel, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Milt Jackson, Frank Zappa, The Who, Marvin Gaye, James Browne, The Beatles… of course.   I don’t buy many CDs these days, but I frequently get tracks from iTunes.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Yes, I’m currently reading a lengthy one about Winston Churchill.  He lived nearby in the UK when I was growing up, and I often thought of him as one of our own local chaps, even though as a young boy I knew he was very famous. I’ve read a few on him before, but this book is something impressive.  The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill  Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid.  It takes you through the World War II era and on. World War II is a blow by blow account in a highly detailed and totally riveting way.  It seems written in almost real time, and you can feel how it must have appeared to anyone alive then.  For me, fascinating stuff.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
“For my enjoyment”.  What a concept! Yes, I went to a good Vegas venue not long ago, Brooklyn Bowl, but didn’t enjoy it much.  Went to see G. Mule, who I have seen before in NYC and really liked them years ago.  Then they played a wide mix of jamming southern rock and some cool covers, some Beatles, I remember.  They were full of surprises.  This time John Scofield played with them and he looked quite out of place and uncomfortable at times.  He did find his groove now and again and got cooking, but it seemed a struggle, at least that night. G Mule was much less interesting this time, unfortunately.  Lots of boring repetitive jamming.  Overall though, it was a bold move to work together, and I applaud them for that.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Yes…  Frank Sinatra once told me ; “If you get a pain in your eye when you drink coffee…take the spoon out of the cup first”

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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