Rick Wakeman talks about Hummingbird, the new album created with Dave Cousins - questions put by Steve Young and reprinted by permission of the Witchwood Records site:
Tell me about Dave Cousins and yourself
RICK: Dave and I have remained friends now for 34 years and have often talked about doing something specific together but both always felt that the right time would present itself to us naturally, and that has proven to be correct with Hummingbird.
How does Hummingbird relate to your earlier work?
RICK: A lot of the music is acoustically orientated and Dave and I have certainly "gone back" in order to collect some styles from the past and have brought them into the 21st century to use in considerably different ways. Certainly I have not been part of another album like this one. It has a multitude of variations in style but somehow all knits together as one collective musical journey It is the combining of two musical minds and the inner musical dreams of Dave and myself.
It is not an attempt to recreate the past nor for that matter is it a band album. A band album is when all the musicians who are involved are part of the music from it's conception right through to it's birth and therefore have an influence throughout the making of the album. This album is music composed by Dave and myself, arranged and produced by Dave and myself and which incorporates some very fine musicians that we both admire, enjoy working with and that we knew could bring exactly the musical colouring we had in mind, to selected tracks. Both Chas Cronk and Tony Fernandez play excellently on a couple of tracks and Ric Sanders brought his unique style to three tracks as only he is able.
But this isn't a Strawbs album. To my mind Strawbs already have an excellent profile which continues to gain new friends all over the world on a daily basis. If this album helps to attract new listeners to Strawbs music and that of mine, Dave's and Yes as well for that matter , then that is a bonus for us all. We are not trying to create an early Strawbs sound and if that is what had been suggested at the outset, then this album would not have been made. It's quite simple really. Dave and I are very close friends who also happen to have a great mutual musical respect for each other. The time felt right for us to do an album together and after just one afternoon around Dave's house running through some ideas, we knew instantly that we could produce something both a bit different and a bit special ...........and not a Strawbs album.
Strawbs has seen many metamorphisms in its long and distinguished life and I'm sure will see many more. Fans will always hold certain periods of Strawbs music more closely to their hearts than others and this is one of the joys of a band that has survived successfully for many years.
Do you have any further plans for working with Dave?
RICK: I am likely to be touring pretty solidly with Yes for at least the next year and a half plus I have commitments with my own band, television and visual and audio recordings. But the chances of Dave and I doing the odd "one-off" here and there are i think, pretty good. We both enjoy playing and I think it will be interesting to see how this collaborative album is received. As far as I'm concerned, this is a rather special album for more than just it's very strong musical reasons.
If there were to be the odd one off concert here and there, and I hope this will be the case in-between both our busy schedules, then as far as my thinking is, it would not be as suggested above. Too obvious and predictable. I have a view on how any such shows could be and I'm sure Dave has too. If we can reach a meeting of minds in the same way that we have done with this new album, then I think any such shows could be a pleasurable musical experience for all concerned.
It's becoming an interesting year for me. The first studio album with my band the English Rock Ensemble since the late seventies, an album with Dave and a return to Yes. Perhaps 2002 is meant to be the year of my spiritual homecoming."
Bjørn Nilsen conducted the following e-mail interview with Rick Wakeman about the project that he and Dave Cousins have been working on:
Bjørn: Hi Rick.
RICK: Hi Bjørn
Loved your music for many years and have a few of yours and Yes albums.
RICK: Thanks very much
But Strawbs is the music that is close to my heart,
RICK: Nice band
and I wonder if you will do something with them again?
RICK: Dave Cousins and I are great friends and are in fact currently in the studio producing an album of mostly acoustic sounding music and songs.
But yours and Cousins' style are very different so that might not be easy to do.
RICK: If you listen to Antiques And Curios and From The Witchwood then you'll note that our styles do match in these areas , which is the style we are working on with this album .
But that would relly give StrawbS a good push in the light of new fame if you did. Have a nicetime with Yes.
Dave Cousins commented to me:
DAVE: I have been recording in the studio with Rick for the last few days. Rick he and I are really enjoying what we are doing. It sounds wonderful and is totally different to Acoustic Strawbs. There's a lot of new songs, we've been writing a lot in the studio. Playing with rick is great, but we don't stop talking! I've never heard playing like it: one track features piano and banjo, but it's nothing like you've ever heard …