Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 
Progressive Rock Interviews

Omenopus

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Omenopus from 2021
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

 

John Pierpoint: I was a late starter! I wasn’t really interested in music as a child, except for listening to pop singles. Music lessons at school were crap (teachers doling out wood blocks, triangles and individual glockenspiel bars to a class of 30 bored kids), and I wasn’t encouraged to learn to play an instrument. My brother got hooked on music first, and I sort of got pulled along in his wake. I tried learning drums, but couldn’t deal with co-ordinating my limbs.

 

At 6th Form College I met new friends who all played music. They met up at lunchtimes in the music rooms to jam, and I went along just to listen (I had nothing else to do, and it meant I could be inside in the warm!). After a while I wanted to join in. Picking up a spare acoustic guitar, I plucked the lowest strings and joked that I was “the bassist”. That’s where it all started! I started to borrow my brother’s instruments and practice on them. My Dad (who hated all modern music) was surprisingly supportive. I was given my first bass - a short-scale Epiphone - for my 18th birthday, and my second - the mighty Rickenbacker 4001 - for my 21st. By then I was heavily into Yes and Rush, and reckoned that the Rick was the best sounding - and coolest looking - bass in the world. That's an opinion I still hold to this day, even though my muso mates keep telling me to switch to a Fender Jazz. (I do have a Jazz too, but it’s fretless and therefore takes a lot more skill and effort to play.)

 

My brother is the naturally-talented musician in the family, so I never saw it as a career for myself. I studied electronic engineering, and settled into a day-job designing electronic street-lamp controllers.

 

On the music front, although I was still massively into rock and had my guitars, I somehow managed to avoid joining a group until 1987, when I was invited to join a young Deep Purple-influenced group of ever-changing name and line-up. This eventually stabilised as the metal trio Cold Flame. As well as the obligatory Deep Purple covers, we had a nice little set of original material. Guitarist/singer Kev Reihill was the main creative force, but I started to cut my own song-writing teeth, too.

 

We managed just one gig, at the infamous Alum Rock pub in Birmingham (about which, I could tell you a lot of stories!), before lack of cash forced an end to things.

 

At this time, we were sharing a lock-up rehearsal room at "Robannas" in Birmingham with some friends who played together under the name "Dusk." Real musos all, and seemingly destined for greatness, they were my role models and heroes. As I was already filling in with them after their last bassist left, they accepted me as a full member. Joining their select ranks felt like a real achievement.

 

It didn’t last long though, mostly because I just wasn’t good enough to play at their level, and within a year I was out.

 

Disillusioned, I dropped out of music for a couple of years. Then a guitarist friend recommended me to a group formed by some young Lucas engineers he knew, who shared digs in Sparkhill, Birmingham. Initially influenced by The Cult, they had a high-octane set - penned mostly by the awesome team of singer Alan Liddle and guitarist Pete Jones.

 

I liked the feel-good atmosphere of the group, and joined without hesitation - contributing two songs of my own. I think it was Alan who chose the name "The Earthmovers." A daft name, but fun - just like the group.

 

Soon we found ourselves in need of a new drummer and rhythm guitarist. I suggested my old Dusk colleagues Doug and Happy, who agreed to join. This line-up cut a four-song demo tape Enough, which included the original twin-guitar version of my own "The Gulf Between Us."

 

Due to daytime career changes, we lost our original singer soon after our debut gig, but the group's style matured and diversified under the guidance of new singer and beat poet Paul Davies - bringing some genuinely new and unique sounds to the tired old pub-rock circuit.

 

The Earthmovers were fairly successful. Paul injected some theatre into the shows, and we discovered a great way to bring my bouzouki into the act. We soon had a semi-residency at The Fallow & Firkin in Harborne (now burnt down!). We recorded some more demo tapes, both live at the Fallow and in Paul's makeshift home studio. While the recording technique wasn't as polished as on the Enough demo, the material shone through. With some digital cleaning-up, these demos were transferred to CD and re-released in May 2003 under their original titles of "Jammin' For Quakes" and "Firkin Live & Fallow."

 

The group lasted several years (and more line-up changes) before reaching a natural conclusion in 1997. (We had an Earthmovers reunion in October 2007.)

 

At about the time we were winding up The Earthmovers, our drummer Simon asked me to help out temporarily on bass in a new country rock group he'd joined, formed by guitarist Rob Brunt.

 

The original musical style was definitely not my "cup of tea," being a collection of country and blues covers. I used to get confused by the sheer number of songs that had almost identical chords and rhythms - especially as the bass part was limited to the traditional "dum-de-dum" plodding along on roots and 5ths. To make it worse, I was determined to learn something new, so played everything on my fretless Fender Jazz, which had been gathering dust until then. Despite all this, I found that I could last the distance, when other - technically superior - bassists had proved unreliable. (That's me: boring, but reliable.)

 

The stay became a permanent one, as the group metamorphosed into Randolph Flagg, and left the musty old country genre for fresher and more interesting pastures. The new sound was much closer to the style I like to play: up-front, in-yer-face bass, more emotion and plenty of scope for interesting breaks and fills. I even started to bring in the ol' Rick and bouzouki on some of the tunes.

 

After Randolph Flagg went on ice (it became difficult to find and keep drummers), I teamed up again with Dave "Doug" Sutheran to reform Dusk. Our first project was to consolidate our surviving recordings of this band, and produce some CDs of the best tracks.

 

We then got together with some good friends to form a 21st Century incarnation of the band that will take the music forward. Soon, however, we changed the name to "1912" to reflect the new style and agenda. So far, we’ve released three albums: Waiting For No One, Elegy and New World Order. (Album four  - working title “No Place Like Home” - is nearly complete as I write this.)


Around 2007, Doug introduced me to his old friend Lee Potts. We hit it off well right from the start and we started working together. Initially Lee took some of my old demo tunes and worked them into intricate arrangements – often going in directions that were totally unexpected, but utterly brilliant.

 

So since 2009, I've been a part of Lee’s evolving and successful "Omenopus" project. For a change, I'm mostly playing lead guitar, but with a bit of bass, mando and bouzouki (and even piano!) thrown in. In 2010, we released a (free) four-track EP Portents, and then our debut album Time Flies. After that came Plague/Scars (2012) and then The Archives (2014). Lee loves creating interesting cover versions, so we’ve put out singles of We Are The Robots and The Physician (AKA the Doctor Who theme). Maybe we should go further and do a whole album of covers. . .


Lee has also worked closely with 1912. He has been a real champion for the band’s cause, providing artwork, logo and cover designs and even dealing with the record distribution. All Omenopus and 1912 albums have been released on Lee’s own Monty Maggot label. Lee remixed and re-imagined several 1912 pieces and used them as a starting point to create a concept album with sci-fi storyline The Hybrid Project that was packaged with the New World Order album (2016). This year Omenopus put out an EP of incidental music for the book Teepee the Space Girl and the Singing Kettle, which was written by my cousin Wanda Pierpoint and designed and illustrated by Lee. And that pretty much brings us up to date.

 

Sheriden Starr:  Does singing along with The Beatles as a baby count? I guess I was between two and three and, with the bright colours they wore on Sgt. Peppers along with The Hendrix Experience wore on Are You Experienced, I thought they were kids music! I guess I first started playing music as a young teen after the punk revolution, I caught the DIY bug and figured if The Sex Pistols could make noisy rock, so could I.

 

Lee Potts: Way back in 1976, some schools friends and I formed a band: Loz Toth, Dave Sutheran, Alan Sutheran and myself. We called ourselves ‘The Omen’. We really didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Dave is now the drummer with 1912 along with John playing on bass. That link is where the name Omenopus comes from. And I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

MSJ:

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing with those creative urges?

 

John Pierpoint: Pretty much more of what I’m doing now: writing; drawing; making things. Perhaps I’d have got a bit further with my poetry books!

 

Sheriden Starr:  Well I work with an art based jewelry company and went to art school, so perhaps painting, or film/video, which I also studied, but I consider my "fine art" to be music.

 

Lee Potts: Drawing.

MSJ:

You've got a new soundtrack release based on a book. What can you tell us about the book and the soundtrack?

Sheriden Starr:  The new book is perhaps interrelated to the story of The Archives, but this particular one is the the work of Wanda Pierpoint-Jones with artwork by Lee, so better for Lee to answer, but perhaps a good spot to tease a novel that ties-in directly with The Archives that is coming.

 

Lee Potts: Teepee The Space Girl & The Singing Kettle was written by Wanda Pierpoint, I did the illustrations. It's a kids sci-fi feel-good story. The CD is a soundtrack that could be played while reading the book. There's a Kettle song in the book that Bridget has reproduced, all the sounds and vocals created by Bridget as Kettle would have done. If you read the book that'll all make sense. There is also a track that was destined for the next Omenopus album mostly written by Sheriden but has made an early appearance here instead. "11 Realities" is about a scientist trying to find his one true love across the dimensions.

MSJ:

How did the name of the project originate?

Lee Potts: Teepee The Space Girl And The Singing Kettle, started as a bit of fun with Wanda and myself. I scribbled a few pictures and handed them to her, who then put a story to the images. It’s just a kids story. You can read it as sci-fi or a creation of a new type of music.

MSJ:

Who would you see as your musical influences?

John Pierpoint: Without a doubt, I cite Chris Squire and Geddy Lee as my main bassist role models.


I was very influenced by Mike Oldfield when I started playing guitar and bass, and as a teenager I spent many hours learning to play some of his amazing riffs from Tubular Bells and Incantations. I still tend to default to playing his rhythm style whenever I pick up a guitar. I was taught so much about bass and guitar playing by my good friends Mark “Happy” Wadsworth and Pete “Jungle” Williams. They taught me how to really listen to music too. Without their guidance, I might never have reached the level of competence that allowed me to get up on stage in front of people. I’m naturally reclusive and shy, so would not even attempt such a thing unless I had sufficient confidence in myself.


I also particularly admire the guitar techniques of Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, Alex Lifeson and Rik Emmett. My early years in the 70s were spent listening to chart singles – notably the glam rock of Slade, Sweet, Mud – even The Osmonds! The first albums I got into were those by ELO, and I also enjoyed electronic musicians such as Jean-Michel Jarre. I didn’t even know about the classic rock stuff out there until I left school, went to 6th Form College and met a new set of friends who enlightened me. This was when I started playing guitar – just to join in with what they were doing. They introduced me to Yes, Rush, Zeppelin and others.

 

Sheriden Starr:  Such a long list, I could hardly answer without it being another book, but obviously the aforementioned Beatles and Hendrix, along with Cream, Badfinger, T. Rex, The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Rush, Sex Pistols and even a few more contemporary acts like Radiohead and Tool.

 

Lee Potts: Tangerine Dream, The Orb, The Future Sound Of London, The Radiophonic Workshop.

MSJ:

What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?

John Pierpoint: Someone once said my (solo) material reminded him of Mike Oldfield, and I should do a Tubular Bells-like multitrack project. Given how much I love Oldfield’s early music, this was the best praise I could imagine getting.


Another sort of back-handed compliment I received once went like this:
I was playing a show with The Earthmovers (can't remember the place or the date right now). We were to support another band. I was up on the stage alone, doing a soundcheck with my bouzouki by playing my “Juliet” solo party-piece, and one of the guys in the headliner band apparently came up to the other Earthmovers and said:

"Your guitarist is really good!"

"That's not our guitarist. That's our bassist."

(Gulps) "Oh s**t! Listen - can we go on before you?"

 

Sheriden Starr:  That it's unique and "good?"

 

Lee Potts: Well, if you look at page 93 in the Music Street Journal 2011 Issue 86, there a line written by some bloke called "Gary," and he says, "For my money, this is one of the best albums of the year." (Omenopus: Time Flies). I think that's pretty good...

MSJ:

What's ahead for you?

John Pierpoint: We still have an Omenopus album in the works. It keeps changing (at one time there was a definite theme that we were working towards), so I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out now. One of the songs slated for that album has now surfaced on the Teepee. . . soundtrack EP instead (although it may end up on the next album as well – maybe in a different form). Lee and Sheriden are cooking up some more ideas involving the future world introduced in The Archives, and it may be that this is what will see the light of day first.


I’m also working on the fourth 1912 album (nearly ready!), which is shaping up to be our best yet. (Yes, I know every artist says this about their upcoming album. . .) If I had the time, I’d like to get some of my own stuff properly recorded. Lee did some amazing work on my early demos when we first met, and I’d love to revisit that material and get it out there, and maybe work on my personal favourite from my early song-writing attempts: a song I wrote for The Earthmovers titled “The Gulf Between Us." I’d love to hear that tune given the Omenopus treatment (maybe coaxing Earthmovers singer Paul Davies to reprise his vocals).


I want to write and record something to go with my upcoming poetry books, too.

 

Sheriden Starr:  I have plenty of things planned, but it's all an adventure, which is probably a large part of why it's still fun for me. I do hope to work on some heavier tracks for my (sort of solo) project Bangtheory, another concept CD with Omenopus and another that sort of visits different styles and eras of music.

 

Lee Potts: Finish the next Omenopus album. And, maybe create a new 27 Warriors CD.

MSJ:

Here are few questions that are, perhaps, of the odd-ball variety. You did a version of the "Doctor Who" themes song some years back. What drew you to "Doctor Who" and what has kept you as a fan?

John Pierpoint: I was born in ’63, so I think of myself as a “Who Baby” – like yourself, I suppose! I don’t remember the Hartnell years (I was too young), but I clearly remember the Troughton episodes. They were very scary, and sometimes quite surreal. I wish they’d bring back some of the creatures from those shows, such as The Quarks, the Yetis... When Pertwee took over, the show got even scarier! Seeing shop window dummies gunning down ordinary pedestrians on a High Street really frightened me. Those shows were cleverly written to extract the maximum effect from meagre resources. This may be sacrilegious, but I think the show was not as good once Tom Baker took over. Unless I was just outgrowing the “behind the sofa” stage! There were still some brilliant storylines though. “The Genesis of the Daleks” stands out as one of the best ever. However, I’ve remained loyal through some pretty lean times. The 21st Century version of the show initially annoyed me (I never liked the “last Timelord” idea), but it grew on me.

 

Sheriden Starr:  I actually didn't participate in that track, but I really like what everyone else did with it and, of course it's a classic sci-fi show, so pretty excited that a project I work with had a chance to create their own version of the theme.

 

Lee Potts: I've been watching Doctor Who since Patrick Troughton, so I think nostalgia more than anything.

MSJ:

This might be opening a can of worms, but what do you think of where the show is going these days?

John Pierpoint: For me, the peak of the show since the restart was during Matt Smith’s tenure. He was astoundingly - and surprisingly, for a young, unknown actor - good. Capaldi should have been good too: he’s an actor with the necessary gravitas and a huge fan of the show. But his first series was in my opinion quite awful, with an ultimately pointless story arc involving Missy and Cybermen. It picked up the next year with that excellent two-parter with Davros (“The only chair on Skaro!") and then – in Capaldi’s last series, brilliantly accompanied by Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas – suddenly leapt up to new heights. I haven’t enjoyed the Whittaker episodes much. They seem to be very badly written, and I hated the return of the “all the other Timelords are dead” scenario (especially as it was never properly explained how The Master supposedly did all that on his own). I didn’t like the “Star Child” back story either; it seemed to be shoe-horned into The Doctor’s history in a very cumbersome way. I’d like to see Whittaker stick around (rumours abound that she’s leaving after the next series), but with some sharper scripts and a better idea of where things are going.


On the positive side, I prefer Segun Akinola’s more electronic new theme and incidental music to Murray Gold’s lush but overpowering (often drowning out the on-screen speech and sound) orchestral music. It sounds more foreboding and reminds me more of the days when The Radiophonic Workshop provided much of the music. Surely everyone who watched it as a child in the 70s felt that frisson of fear when the theme tune came on?

 

Sheriden Starr:  Perhaps nothing can really surpass the classic version of things we love, but I try to be open to re-imagining and personally glad it's still evolving.

 

Lee Potts: It isn't. The writers have been "Extermintating" it since Peter Capaldi and now with Jodie Whittaker. In fact I only watched the first four episodes with her, after that I gave up.

MSJ:

Staying on the "Doctor Who" theme, the 60th Anniversary is coming up in a couple years. If you were running the show, what kind of a special event would you do to celebrate the milestone?

John Pierpoint: Firstly, I would like to say that the Beeb should do what it has consistently failed to do over the years and support the programme for a change. Every year they seem to come up with new reasons to postpone it or further trim the number of episodes made. I feel very short-changed. So they should stump up some cash and make not one special episode, but several. Give the fans what they actually want: more Who, not less! I would say that they should also show more classic 20th Century Who episodes, but with all those shows now being used as a carrot to get new Britbox subscribers, that is now not likely to happen.

 

Without a doubt, I’d do the obvious things: get as many former Doctors involved as possible, and include plenty of fan-favourite monsters. Certainly Capaldi, Smith and Tennant, McGann - and indeed any of the others that are up for it (I know Eccleston won’t consider it). The 50th anniversary episode was hugely and unexpectedly enjoyable and had an uplifting ending. I would hope to produce something like that, that made people want to watch it over and over – rather than some “clever” script that appealed only to superfans and left everyone else scratching their heads. I’d get Moffat, RTD and maybe Gatiss to collaborate on the script, and make it a celebration of the show’s greatest moments.

 

Sheriden Starr:  I really haven't thought about it much, but might be fun if they went back in time to revisit the very start with a multi-episode mini-series, or something of that nature.

 

Lee Potts: A film.

MSJ:

I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

John Pierpoint: Omenopus are electronic/industrial/ambient, but also venture into psychedelic and progressive rock territory.

 

Sheriden Starr:  A collage of styles and sounds that combined is quite unique and can, at times, be quite experimental, yet still be pleasing.

 

Lee Potts: Good Music Genre

MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?

John Pierpoint: Hard to name names, but any of my musical idols who are still alive! They’re dropping fast. . .


Closer to home, I’d love to get some of our previous guest collaborators back to do more stuff with us, such as Andrea Rushton, Sarah Panton, David Speight and the other 1912 guys. As I said before, I’d love to get my old Earthmovers comrade Paul Davies in to do some vocals, too. Lee has a gift for networking and collaboration, so I’m sure he’ll find new musicians who will contribute to future projects.

 

Sheriden Starr:  I love collaborating, so I'm always up for trying to work with other artists and/or projects, but none in particular come to mind.

MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

John Pierpoint: I think it’s less of a problem than it used to be in the old days. In fact it can now be a way of getting exposure for unsigned acts. People still seem to want to buy physical media (look at the resurgence of vinyl), so being able to listen to a low-res ripped copy on YouTube or wherever may whet appetites and win new fans. I don’t subscribe to any streaming services myself, but if I want to try out something new, I can usually find it on YouTube. The sound quality is usually appalling, but it at least gives me an idea of how good the music is. However, if I like it, I’d always buy it on CD, as I distrust non-physical formats. Like yourself, I prefer to have something tangible for my money, something that can’t later be revoked by a content provider’s demise, buyout, merger or even T&C change.

 

Sheriden Starr:  I'd prefer folks not illegally download the work of us artists, but it's part of this era in music, I like the streaming, as it allows people to hear new artists and music without only learning about via traditional advertising and the old avenues of media distribution. So I suppose it's sort of a mixed bag of opportunity tempered by a reduced revenue stream for those of us creating music.

 

Lee Potts: Oooo! Good question. It's got to be a hindrance. There are some fantastic musicians out there, who are now just calling it a day. Most don't really do it for the money, but without the cash they can't produce the goods.

MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?

John Pierpoint: I’ve recently started seeking out live bootlegs of some artists who are no longer about, so I think it’s a valuable resource, as long as no one is making a fortune off the artists’ music (except the artists, of course). Yes recently posted a link to a site that contains bootlegs of almost all their shows. They did this so that fans could more easily find the recordings they wanted (“Union” tour recordings for me!) and also so that other people couldn’t make money by selling the recordings.

 

Sheriden Starr:  It's just fine with me.

 

Lee Potts: A live recorded gig can give a glimpse of what a "polished" work could sound like.

MSJ:

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

John Pierpoint: I love superhero comics, and have boxes and boxes of them at home. My all-time favourite was The Legion of Super Heroes.


However, I will take a leaf out of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels for my answer. If I was a superhero, my musical arch-enemy would be an amalgam creature made up of all the pop artists who sound exactly the same because they use the same samples, beats, effects and auto-tune devices on their vocals, and recycle the same source material for their song structures, riffs and melodies, all compressed to hell to make it as loud and intense as possible. Trust me, it’s a scary thought to have that lumbering towards you, with thousands of almost-identical heads all singing variations of the same melodies, over and over again, while disembodied limbs jerk and writhe in what is considered the de rigueur moves for dancers in current pop videos!


I imagine it being like the “thing from Vat 4” in Burroughs’ “Synthetic Men of Mars” novel: “
 . . .there was a single huge mass of animal tissue emerging from the vat and rolling out over the floor. Human parts and organs grew out of it, a leg here, a hand there, a head somewhere else: and the heads were mouthing and screaming. It could go on growing until it engulfed the building, the city… and perhaps all of Barsoom … unless it were destroyed.”

 

Sheriden Starr:  I'm not much into the superhero stuff, so have a hard time picturing myself as one, but that wasn't the question and I could see Ted Nugent as my nemesis, I'm based outside Atlanta, Georgia, USA and know a number of Georgia music heroes who knew him personally. They tell me his fairly malignant public image barely scratches the surface of what a true creep he is. The public version is nasty enough for me to discount the fact that he's technically a very good guitarist.

 

Lee Potts: I would be Super Lee. My nemesis would be a Theremin.

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Bridget Wishart: It would be the Hippy Slags as we were when I first joined. We were enthusiastic, in it for a laugh, but still serious about the music. Being together now would give us the technology that wasn't available at the time to make decent recordings of our songs ourselves. Relying on the goodwill and sometimes dubious skills of friends because we were broke was a real drag. Being in an all female band is a lot more fun! There wasn't a hierarchy either. None of us were caught up in our own importance... no posturing or tantrums and no serious arguments. We all had equal but unique value and input. I'm feeling a bit sad just thinking and writing about it as it can't happen.

 

John Pierpoint: It’s strange, but although I used to love pondering these ”fantasy band” ideas, these days I just can’t get interested in it. Over the years, there have been many “super bands” and they’ve nearly always failed to impress me. With so many of my idols now gone, too, this becomes a harder question to answer. Restricting myself to just those artists who are still with us: Carl Palmer or Michael Giles on drums, Geddy Lee or Klaus Peter Matziol on bass, Robert Fripp and/or Steve Howe on guitar, Bob Catley or Tony Martin on vocals, Rick Wakeman or Tony Carey on keyboards.

 

Sheriden Starr:  Probably a cheesy answer, but it just might be Omenopus, the way we collaborate, sending ideas and parts back and forth until a song seems to evolve until it has a life of its own is incredibly fun and rewarding.I also really like my own project, Bangtheory, as it's just me, working with a friend, or two to help flesh out ideas, but it can be working out most of the parts myself. Still both are a labour of love.

 

Lee Potts: Bridget Wishart, John Pierpoint, Sheriden Starr, me and my nan on spoons.

MSJ:

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Bridget Wishart: Daytime: Billy Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Richard and Linda Thompson, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Elvis, Sandy Denny, Abba, Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, Milk Carton Kids, John Prine, John Martyn, Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel, Supertramp, The Eagles, Robert Wyatt, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Mahalia Jackson, Joni Mitchell

 

Nighttime: Massive Attack, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and the Experience, Can, Free, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Ramones, The Demented Stoats, The Clash, Damned, The Slits,The Raincoats, The Hippy Slags, Buzzcocks, Bob Marley And The Wailers, Alpha, Blondie, Spearhead, Nusrat Fateh, Ali Khan, Michael Jackson, Stereo MC's, Eminem, Hawkwind (when me and Simon House were in them of course) Culture Shock, Specials, Madness

 

John Pierpoint: Again, sticking to still-alive artists: Genesis (with Gabriel and Hackett back in the band!), Yes (an amalgam of the two versions currently operating), Blue Öyster Cult (with the Bouchard brothers back), Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin (with Jason Bonham on drums), King Crimson, Hawkwind, Magnum, It Bites, Kula Shaker, Fleetwood Mac, Triumph (I’d love to see them live again – I was too out of my face to take it all in last time!), Muse, a reformed Porcupine Tree, Eloy, oh, and of course Omenopus and 1912!

 

Sheriden Starr:  My perfect festival would perhaps just be a 12-hour long Jimi Hendrix Experience jam... On the other hand, could be Jimi, Beatles, Badfinger, Floyd with Syd (hopefully behaving himself, somewhat), Marc Bolan/T. Rex, Cream, The Who, Rush, Tool and REM (with Bill Berry), all of them performing as themselves and some "supergroup" jams...of yeah, Led Zeppelin, already mentioned those under influences with the exception of a couple and omitting Zeppelin as an influence, which they certainly are. Oh yeah, The Polyphonic Spree needs to be there, they're practically like a festival themselves - essentially they're an "alternative-rock" orchestra that was built from the ashes of Tripping Daisy.

 

Lee Potts: Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Future Sound Of London, and those Hawkwind dudes...

 

MSJ:

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Bridget Wishart: Last CD was the new Bob Dylan one. Finally, as I near 60, I'm starting to really enjoy Dylan!  We listen to BBC radio 6 when we're in the kitchen, and I really enjoy Craig Charle's Funk and Soul show. Martin is figuring out how to play some Townes Van Zandt songs, so his music echoes round the house, along with Linda Thompson, Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson. I'm busy making collages and drawing and usually prefer silence as I work.

 

John Pierpoint: The last CD I bought was a Montrose radio sessions set that I found in a charity shop for £1. I picked up a Magnum live album for a couple of quid on Amazon (thanks to a tip-off on the band’s FB fangroup page), but haven’t been able to play it yet.


I’ve recently co-authored a discography and brief biography of The Enid. I hadn’t heard any of their music since The Spell which was some thirty years ago! So I’ve been catching up on their later albums and finding some great music in there. When I’m financially flush again, I’ll be ordering some records from the band’s web site. Now I’m doing a Rush discography, so I’m listening to more of their stuff (not that I’ve ever stopped listening to Rush!), including their later albums that I’m not so familiar with.


Last year I listened to Steven Wilson’s The Raven That Refused to Sing and was hit with the strange feeling that the artist had created this music specifically to appeal to me! It was the strongest positive reaction I’ve had to new music since I discovered Adult Cinema’s albums a couple of years before.

 

Sheriden Starr:  May have been In An Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, a rather amazing underground CD from Athens, Georgia singer/songwriter Jeff Mangum, recorded with tons of his friends and home recorded (on 8-track tape, I think).

 

Lee Potts: Jean-Michel Jarre - Equinoxe Infinity and Ria Plays - Jar of Fishes.

 

MSJ:

Have you read any good books lately?

John Pierpoint: Oh yes! I’m currently reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which has actually exceeded my high expectations. Usually, when I read a book after seeing the film/TV version, I’m disappointed (The English Patient being a classic example) - but not this time! It’s been a thoroughly entertaining read so far.


My brother recently gave me two books on the history of mathematics. I’m not terribly good at maths, but I’m fascinated by it, so these will be very interesting. In a similar vein, I started reading Roger Penrose’s mighty tome The Road to Reality a while ago, but had to abandon it part way through, as I realised I just wasn’t understanding many of the concepts presented thus far, and had almost zero chance of understanding what came after. I may return to it after I’ve read round the subject a bit more. I also love reading about physics (another subject I have a vast interest in, but little talent!).


Most of the time though I’m reading children’s books to my son, and Lee and Wanda’s Teepee The Space Girl and the Singing Kettle features regularly.

 

Sheriden Starr:  I'm a huge fan of serious sci-fi, not to plug the new project too much, but I've been reading the final draft, and I think it's truly top notch work that's based on my original story from The Archives that became a collab with Lee and now a collaboration with Graeme Talboys -  who's made it his own story, as well

 

Bridget Wishart: Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb... Tore me apart... She is such an ace story teller... She doesn't spare her characters... Dope Sick by Beth Macy. She writes about the drug company that got America hooked on opioids I've just bought the latest Patricia Briggs but am saving it for a lazy day.

 

Lee Potts: The Gruffalo

MSJ:

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

John Pierpoint: That was a long time ago! I think it was Yes at Birmingham Symphony Hall in 2016, on their “Fragile Drama” tour. I don’t think I’ve even been to a pub gig since then!

 

Sheriden Starr:  Would probably be one of the last shows I did with my buddy Tim Rood and local guitar legend Barry Richman, or perhaps the one we did with other local legend Spencer Kirkpatrick (he actually played some shows with his 79s band Hydra opening for Queen and also featuring Hawkwind). They're both inspiring artists to work with live, and I prefer playing a live show to watching them.

 

Lee Potts: Jean-Michel Jarre

 

Bridget Wishart: Milk Carton Kids in Feb 2020 just before the world Pandemic changed reality. They were amazing!... I can't say enough about how good they were. They had decided to play small venues as they wanted to enjoy playing live again. We saw them on the Thekla in Bristol. The Thekla is a boat. The sound was incredible and because our friend had a leg injury we were upstairs with a few other favoured old and injured. We had the perfect view!

MSJ:

Do you remember the first concert you attended?

Bridget Wishart: There were three concerts all within a short space...two of which I had to sneak out of boarding school for... Climb back up fire escapes etcetera... Those two were Steve Gibbons Band and Steve Hillage. The other was David Coverdale's Whitesnake at Bath Pavilion

 

John Pierpoint: When I started at 6th Form Collage in 1979, my new friends took me to a string of great concerts at The Birmingham Odeon. I think the first one was Sky (on their superb Sky2 tour). But in quick succession I also saw Yes (on the Drama tour), Triumph (on Progressions of Power) and Saxon (Wheels of Steel).

 

Sheriden Starr:  I do, it was a local all ages local punk show featuring a band called "DDT." Well, that was my first concert I saw without my parents taking me (or they did drop me off at that one). If you count shows I saw as a child, I saw Bob Dylan...was sort of boring for a kid, though.

 

Lee Potts: Yeah, back in 1977 I went to see Uriah Heep at the Birmingham Odeon and The Motors were supporting.

MSJ:

Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?

John Pierpoint: I bought a lovely uke last year for a fiver! It’s only a cheapo model that was originally sold at “The Works” outlets, but it has proper tuning machines and a lovely tone. I play it more than anything else right now.

 

Sheriden Starr:  Not that new, but fairly so, I have an Axe FX, it constantly feels new because the company (Fractal Audio) constantly upgrades and adds new amps and features... It's very guitar centric, but the last addition I've really "loved" is a sim of an Ampeg B-15, very rich sounding bass amp, though I still prefer my dual Ampeg SVP-CL tube preamp set-up for bass (and works great for warm guitar, or with a bit of distortion from another pedal or preamp.)

MSJ:

Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

John Pierpoint: I suppose for a serious rock audience, ELO would fit the bill. I was heavily into them for many years. They used to call me “The ELO Kid” at school! At junior school I was mad about The Osmonds for a year or two. (But then again, so was everyone else at the time – so maybe that doesn’t count.)

 

Sheriden Starr:  Sure, don’t we all love ABBA?!?

 

Lee Potts: Grease soundtrack. You just know it's the one that you want.

 

MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

John Pierpoint: I was in a country rock trio called "Randolph Flagg" for several years. On one occasion, we were on the bill with a singer who sang country covers to backing tapes. We did a version of “Crazy,” and so did she. So her parents (who were her managers) suggested that we combine forces and do a joint version of the song. Oh, it was awful! We knew it in one key and tempo, while she knew it in another. It fell to bits halfway through, and we had to stop. It never happens like that in the old musicals, does it? Someone leaps up and sings their song and the band (who have never heard it before in their lives) just pick it up and roll with it as though they’ve rehearsed it for weeks. In the same band, we worked on an instrumental that Rob had written which sounded promising until the drummer pointed out that it was actually the chords to “La Bamba." Rob liked it so much though that he wanted to play it anyway, just as it was. At one gig, a bloke came up out of the crowd, stood behind the mic and started singing “La Bamba” to it.

 

Sheriden Starr:  Well the Axe-FX units go up to 20! Looking forward to my chance to open for the puppet show, considering most of the shows I've done with friends are at local dive bars, it would be my big break!

 

Lee Potts: Can we only choose one?

MSJ:

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

John Pierpoint: Mum, Dad and my brother. I really miss my parents and would have such a lot to tell them.

 

Sheriden Starr:  John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Syd Barrett.

 

Lee Potts: Nan ans Grandad. Does Monty my old dog count?

 

MSJ:

What would be on the menu?

John Pierpoint: Something stodgy and filling and boring, but which I loved in childhood - like roast meat and veg with lots of gravy, with a suet pudding afterwards - the sort of food that I still dream about at night. Anyway, my brother is seriously undernourished and needs a good square meal inside him!

 

Sheriden Starr:  I think John was on a macrobiotic diet of fish sauce and brown rice, Jimi would probably go for some wild looking mix of Asian fusion, I think I'd go for the the same, actually and Syd? Maybe the rest of that guy's finger he bit when he was recording (The Madcap Laughs) and they handed him lyrics written in red ink because they blue one was out of ink and he thought they were telling him to get lost and giving him a bill?

Lee Potts: Curry.

MSJ:

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

John Pierpoint: It’s been a bad year for music and musicians. And that’s come after many lean years where all but the top-earning musicians have seen their sources of income, backing and exposure dwindle to nothing due to changes in the music industry. But I think that we may be at the bottom of that curve, and the future could be bright for those that stay the distance. New technology and new ways of doing things are making it easier for artists to get their music out there without having to conform to the whims and expectations of big business. It’s now possible to make your way without the – once essential – protective cocoons of a record contract, a manager, a promoter. It’s now possible to find gigs, get exposure, even have CD and vinyl records pressed in very small quantities, without having to sign up to a major label’s punitive contract. The days when artists could become millionaires are probably over (for all but a very select few), but the days when many more artists can earn a decent living doing what they love best are coming back. We just need to stick together and make sure that the musicians keep control this time.

 

Sheriden Starr:  That I truly enjoyed this chance to talk about our music, to kid around a bit, the last ten-plus years of working with Omenopus. I look forward to sharing more music and stories with our friends and listeners. Thanks for listening, for reading and hopefully enjoying. Wishing my best to each and every one of you.

 

Lee Potts: Be kind to someone today, it might change their life (and yours).

MSJ: This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.
 
More Interviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Non-Prog
Progressive Rock
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2021 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com