Discover thrilling music and its maker(s) in 10 questions…
From Edinburg, Scotland here’s multi-instrumentalist/composer/songwriter GARETH SAGER
First things first: this is no interview about Gareth Sager‘s post-punk-funk achievements with Bristol legends The Pop Group, nor about his other, early 80s, avant-garde adventure Rip Rig + Panic featuring a young Neneh Cherry. No, this interview is about mister Sager‘s classical solo album that Turn Up The Volume discovered during last Christmas fake jingle bells business days. A transcendent, gracious and overall unwinding piano longplayer titled 88 TUNED DREAMS that feels like a mind-massage every single time I play(ed) it.
Let’s start this Q & A with one of the highlights off the LP to put us in the right mood to
talk with the author afterwards…
Hello Gareth Sager, welcome at Turn Up The Volume!…
1 / How different is Gareth Sager, The Pop Group’s guitarist, from
the musician that made a classical piano record last year?
“I’m pretty much the same guy, it’s just using different colours of sound to express different emotions. It is a pity the world feels the need to enforce classification. It encourages people to narrow down what they listen to. I hope most folk find music
they can enjoy in all categories. For me with rock music I tend to need to play with
a really great drummer, the whole thing rides on the drummer!”
2/ Your fascination for classical music goes a whole time back. What inspired you to make the gracious ‘88 TUNED DREAMS’ album so many years later?
“Yes I have been playing the piano since I was 6, so I have always written stuff at the piano. I built up enough pieces that stood on their own as solo compositions rather than songs. There are actually a lot of pieces recorded that didn’t make it onto the LP. I just had this amazing opportunity to record in Studio One, Abbey Road on the great piano there.”
3/ The LP’s cover intrigues me. If Keith Moon was still alive I would have thought that he threw a burning piano out of his hotel window. Why this image?
“I always like images that express being in the moment and a burning piano falling
from a tall building is a perfect way of expressing this. It’s the moment we’re living in!”
4/ I’m counting 14 tracks yet the record’s title reads: ’88 TUNED DREAMS’.
What and/or who inspired you to name the album that way?
“There are 88 keys on a full-sized piano and the piano has been called
88 tuned drums by jazz musicians.”
5/ The longplayer was recorded in the legendary Abbey Road studios. Didn’t that stimulate you to do some Beatlesque piano sequences and what was the overall feeling to work and play in that monumental place?
“It was totally fantastic, the biggest studio in Europe with me on my own at one of the best pianos in Europe. Though I didn’t let the ghosts of the past creep into my mind and didn’t let any of the magnificent histories of the studio affect me. I just got on with it!”
7/ Suppose you can take ‘1’ classic and ‘1’ rock album with you
to an uninhabited island, which ones would you choose and why?
“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony because there’s so much going on
and ‘The Last Second of Normal Time’ by C.C.Sager because
there’s so much going on!”
Another Sager side …
8/ If you could travel in time which classic master would you transfer to the
present to play a grand concert with in the ‘Royal Albert Hall’ in London?
“Franz Liszt or Duke Ellington.”
9/ Frank Zappa or Beethoven?
“Beethoven. I prefer interviews with Zappa,
apart from his work with Captain Beefheart!”
10/ What comes next, Gareth? The Pop Group, more tuned dreams
or do you have other plans?
“I am about to release a trash rock LP called ‘Juicy Rivers’ by Gareth Sager and the Hungry Ghosts and then there is a second LP recorded at Abbey Road with a quartet of tenor sax, cello and bass. The logical thing would be to put the latter LP out now after ’88 Tuned Dreams’. The folk that got into ’88 Tuned Dreams’ will possibly find the trash rock LP a
lot heavier! But luckily I just like good music and I’m not that logical!”
Thank you for this interview, mister Sager…
Sit down, folk, dim the lights, relax,
here are 88 Tuned Dreams…