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Progressive Rock Interviews

Dave Kilminster

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Dave Kilminster from 2013
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

Okay, a (very) brief resumé...

In 1991 I won the European “Guitarist of the Year” competition, and shortly after that I started writing/transcribing/recording for “Guitar Techniques” magazine... as well as teaching at the Guitar Institute (in Acton, London... not LA!)Later I went on to teach at the ACM in Guildford. 

During this time I got a job with John Wetton (Asia, UK, King Crimson, etcetera) singing and playing guitar, and after several tours we got together with Carl Palmer (the “P” in ELP) and had a little band called Qango...

Later on I toured with Ken Hensley (ex Uriah Heep), and then shortly after that I toured with Keith Emerson for a few years. And then seven years ago, I met Roger Waters... and played on the The Dark Side of the Moon Live and The Wall - Live tours. 

And somewhere amongst all that craziness I managed to release a few of my own CD's too! Playing With Fire, Closer to Earth and Scarlet-the Director's Cut... All available on iTunes...

MSJ:

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

I'd probably be in an asylum! (laughter)Seriously, I was born a musician. I always have music going through my head, and so having an outlet for it, or an instrument to play, keeps me (relatively) sane.

MSJ: You’ve played with some amazing musicians. Are there any moments or meetings that stand out more than others?

February 4th 2000, I was playing the Astoria in London with the aforementioned band Qango... We'd just finished our set, and as we're walking off the stage and down the steps I see this smiling figure, arms outstretched. It was Keith Emerson!

No one knew he was coming, but he gave me this huge hug, and said “do you mind if I get up and jam during the encore!”

My Mother and her two brothers Tony and Peter (who are huge ELP fans!!) were there in the audience... and there was I, standing on stage and playing with Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and John Wetton, with the biggest smile imaginable on my face.  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!

MSJ:

Touring with Keith Emerson and with Roger Waters you’ve found yourself playing some particularly iconic music that you weren’t involved in writing. Does that feeling sink in when playing the music on stage, how iconic those particular pieces of music are, or is it just sort of “this is what I play here?"

There are certain times on stage when the magnitude of it all hits me, usually when I'm playing something straightforward, and can look around at take it all in. Singing “Lucky Man” (which was the first ELP tune I ever heard), and playing and singing all of Tarkus... they were pretty huge moments for me. And also playing the whole of the Dark Side of the Moon...all the stuff that I grew up listening to. You try and concentrate, focus and be professional, but yeah there are times when the little kid inside you looks up and goes “f***!”

MSJ:

Who would you see as your musical influences?

I think everyone you listen to has an influence on your style, either positively or negatively, but early on the first few Queen albums were very influential on me. I loved that unique combination of rock/progressive/classical/vaudeville, mixed up with sublime vocal harmonies and outrageous operatics. I guess early Van Halen and Led Zeppelin are in there too, and pretty much anything that was played on the radio in the seventies!

MSJ:

What's ahead for you?

I'm actually going into the studio next month with Pete Riley and Phil Williams to record the follow up to Scarlet... I've been writing music since I got back from Québec in July, and currently have enough material for two albums!

Also last year I recorded an acoustic album with my good friend Murray Hockridge called “Closer to Earth.” It's available on iTunes at the moment, but I plan to release that on CD in February 2013 and hopefully follow that with a European tour sometime in May.

Then in July-September I have some more The Wall - Live shows in Europe with Roger Waters, and hopefully after that I'll get out on tour to promote Scarlet!

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

It's tough, because my first ever album (Playing With Fire) was all on classical guitar... and the project with Murray Hockridge is all on acoustic instruments. But I guess “rock” is a big enough umbrella to fit under.

MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom haven’t played with you that you would like to play with in the future?

I'm always up for new ventures, but no one in particular springs to mind. I would have loved to have played with Jeff Buckley when he was around though, and would happily have played rhythm guitar all night just to listen to him sing.

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

Well, I can only really comment from my own point of view and, having spent hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds (of my own money) to make Scarlet, I really don't appreciate people putting it up on free download sites. If I want to give my music away for nothing then I will do it!

I need to make a living, just like anyone else. This is my livelihood, and I can't really see that giving away my music will help my career!

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Playing with someone like Roger you expect that to happen. In fact, I know that every single gig I've ever played with Roger (over 300 now!) is on DVD or CD somewhere, which is pretty weird, as the show is (for the most part) pretty much the same every night! But then, I guess there's lots of things that people do nowadays that I really don't understand...like filming their animals, and putting the footage up on YouTube!   

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

In the eighties I had a band called “Wild!” I even designed a Wild! logo (in pink) and used it on all our posters in and around London to advertise our gigs.

Then one day I noticed a brand new album by a band called “Erasure”... the album was called “Wild!,” and they used my exact design on the album cover! I wrote to the record company, and they basically told me to f*** off, otherwise they would squash me like a bug!

So I guess my nemesis would be the bastard that stole my name and my design, and used it promote such a s*** band.

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?

Dennis Chambers on drums (super funky!), Jimmy Johnson on bass (unique and incredibly melodic), Jeff Beck (earthy and tasteful)... and maybe a keyboard player to add some pads and atmospherics. That would be an interesting line up! 

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?

That's tough... there's really not too many bands I like out there at the moment! Ok, as it's “my” music festival we'd start with my ex student Nat Martin and his blues band (the Nat Martin Band). Then I'd have another ex student... either Newton Faulkner or Jon Gomm playing an acoustic set. Probably Jon, actually.  Next up would be my good friend Guthrie Govan and his band The Aristocrats. Then for a total change of pace I'd have Imogen Heep, and finally the headlining act would be Incubus.

Saying all that though, I really dislike music festivals! 

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

The last CD I bought was Sunken Condos by Donald Fagen, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it properly yet. I had Joni Mitchell's Hejira on repeat while I was getting ready to play in New York at the 12.12.12 Sandy Relief concert, and I've been working out in the gym to A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, by Panic! at the Disco recently.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

No... I wish I had the time to read, as I do miss it.

MSJ:

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

That was just a couple of days ago... watching my good friends Pete Riley (drummer on Scarlet) and (fellow guitarist) Guthrie Govan, playing in a jazz fusion band called “The Fellowship” at this intimate little venue... it was a totally amazing evening. Those guys are so good!  

MSJ:
Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Ummm... I really like the Carpenters!
MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

That happened fairly recently actually... 12.12.12... I knew that the show was going to be broadcast to over two billion people (about a third of the population of the planet!), so I guess I was a little umm...distracted. But I felt okay as we walked out onto the stage. Then the stage started revolving and I realized that I didn't have my in-ear monitors or radio pack! I was so intent on keeping warm and relaxed, that I'd completely forgotten them and left them in the dressing room. So I'm standing on stage in front of 19,000 people, cameras, etcetera totally convinced that the band is going to start without me at any second, as I wouldn't be able to play anything without the clicks and cues!

Fortunately the announcement before we started was longer than expected, and my tech managed to get the stuff to me in time, but those two minutes standing in front of the audience thinking that I'd completely blown the biggest gig of my life seemed to last forever!

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?

Oh my God, that's an impossible question! I could think about this for the next week! Okay, let's keep it to living and English speaking.. first three off the top of my head... J. Michael Straczynski, Paul Merton and Stephen Fry. That would make a fun evening!  

MSJ: What would be on the menu?

Sushi... I love sushi, and you wouldn't want anything hot, as it would just get cold as we'd be laughing too much!

And then maybe some incredibly indulgent dessert like Eton Mess or Treacle Toffee Pudding. 

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

Not really... other than I really can't wait to record my new album! It's going to be an amazing year. 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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