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Progressive Rock Interviews

Dylan Howe

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Dylan Howe from 2015

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

I’ve been playing drums since I was ten (1979) and went pro in 1988. Since then I’ve been a session drummer and more recently a bandleader (since 2002).

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
There is no plan B!
MSJ: How much were you around your father’s bands growing up? What kind of an effect do you think that had on your musical development?
The first time I saw Yes I was four or five, and since then I’ve seen them many times - all the lineups, all the tours etcetera. It had an indelible effect on me - a positive one!

Who would you see as your musical influences?

Mostly American music from the 1940s to the ’70s, mainly black musicians - jazz, soul, funk and the studio players, as well as 20th Century classical - romantic and modern. Also folk musicians like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Nick Drake.  Not forgetting UK stuff like The Police, Sting, Bowie and British pop and new wave from the early 80s. 
MSJ: What prompted the decision to redesign (I won’t say “cover” because what you do isn’t covering the songs) David Bowie songs?
I was going through a phase of playing those mid ’70s Bowie albums and was looking for something new to do with my group and it felt like a natural and fresh idea that might just work - I’m glad it did.
MSJ: How did you choose which songs to do?
It had to be the instrumental tracks from these two records - the vocal / song led tracks would not have worked - and I picked the ones I liked best and had an immediate effect on me.
MSJ: I know Bowie shared his thoughts on your album with you. Would you like to share those with the Music Street Journal readers?
I was very happy to receive his message saying: ‘That’s a top notch album you’ve got there. Really”. Meant a lot to me.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
I have some new dates with my group playing the record in the UK and Europe - hope to get to the US soon! Also, some touring with Wilko Johnson.
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
This new album has a lot of real jazz in it - combined with a cinematic mood via electronica and some straight 8th (rock, if you like) feeling and harmony as well.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
My wish list now is still similar to the one I had when I first started playing:

Stevie Wonder, Sting, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Yes, Prince and Herbie Hancock - it used to have Miles Davis and many other jazz musicians when they were still alive.


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

Theft has never really helped anyone - especially artists. Can’t see how it could be a positive thing…
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
Putting stuff on Youtube is fine - it can be a good document and advert and the sound is never that good so you might get a flavour and want to buy the record, but releasing bootlegs is another thing entirely.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Haha, you’re not getting me that easy! The music biz like any other business has its fair share of weirdos and crooks but hey, what can you do.
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?
I would have to have a time machine first - then I’d like to see Miles’ 1964 quintet, Stevie Wonder in ’72, Coltrane in '65 and Joni Mitchell in ’69.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Last couple of CDs I bought were: Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left, Miles Davis Live At Harmon Gymnasium, 1967 and Lester Young - Complete Savoy Recordings.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I’ve been reading a lot of Aldous Huxley over the past year or so and I’m currently getting though Demons by Fydor Dostoyevsky - two of my favourite writers.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Not been to many gigs recently but next week I’m going to Larry Golding’s Trio featuring one of my favourite drummers; Bill Stewart.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
I suppose ’80s pop or Level 42.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Hard to say - maybe being Gaffa (duct) taped to my drum stool with my arms taped at the elbows and hi hats taped shut on stage at Wembley Arena on the last night of a support tour   with Cher? That was a good one. All the roadies were playing practical jokes on everyone - we got them back later...
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?
Good question - Aldous Huxley, Leo Tolstoy and Joni Mitchell.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Not sure... Eat your greens? Never pet a burning dog or stand up in a canoe? Don’t do (too many) drugs? Be nice to animals? Listen to more jazz? Maybe that’s it!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 1 at
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