Arturo Vega Interview

“I feel almost a sense of duty– not of obligation, but of duty– to the fans just to reciprocate. Because without the fans, what are the bands? Nothing.”

Arturo Vega and the Ramones outside the loft in the 70s

Arturo Vega was never, at least to my knowledge, a member of a band, but considering the two decades he spent as the Ramones’ artistic director and guardian angel,  he has as much right to say that as anyone. Arturo was present at all but two of the pioneering punk rock band’s 2,263 shows, and to put that into perspective, that’s as many as their three primary drummers combined.*

From his loft apartment in the heart of the East Village, fortunately within crawling distance of CBGB, the Mexican-born artist managed to shape the image of the band that would eventually go on to inspire the first wave of Punk and the many who followed in its wake, selling merchandise, painting backdrops, and working as lighting director among other things. He even designed the band’s legendary Presidential seal logo, which is thought to be second best-selling band logo in history, right behind the Rolling Stones’.

Dee Dee Ramone wearing a shirt with Arturo’s legendary logo

But the great fame of Arturo’s logo– he is first to admit– has not been without cost. The phenomenally successful logo, which was inspired by Arturo’s belt buckle, has been ripped off in a multitude of contexts, both respectful and decidedly not. I asked Arturo just how it felt to have created such an iconic and oft-recognized image– was he proud of the way it has gained a life of its own, or annoyed that it might have  lost its original meaning? “It bothers me a lot. It also makes me a little proud…  One thing I really like about the fame of the logo is the way people have adopted it to express something very personal, not just for the pirates and the bootleggers. It became something you adopted; it became something you used for something you wanted to do. I find that flattering. I’ve seen a Christian t-shirt in Mexico; instead of Ramones, it says Romans. And the eagle– exact same font and everything– instead of the names, there’s a phrase from the Letter of St. Paul  to the Romans.”

Arturo told me of one particular day when he was standing outside of the Ramones museum in Germany, where he was confronted by several teenagers who believed the Ramones were an H&M brand. “There’s some betrayal… it just becomes fashion.” What’s more, the great fame of the logo has inspired much of Arturo’s recent work. “There’s a series of art I’ve been working on called ‘Fame Is A Disease,’ which also comes from that concept– the betrayal of art by culture.”

The CBGB exterior to be used in the movie,  Savannah, Georgia

T-shirt talk out of the way, I also asked Arturo what he thought of the upcoming biopic of CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, which is to trace the club’s beginnings as a birthplace of the first wave of Punk in New York City, and will include Alan Rickman, Joel David Moore, Malin Ackerman, Estelle Harris, and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters as well as a cameo appearance from Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, who will also be portrayed by Rupert Grint. “I am excited because it seems like a quality production. I mean, they have top talent as actors– two guys from Harry Potter. And not only are they good actors, but they don’t come cheap. I’m sure the quality of the script must be good for these people to get involved.”

Arturo’s loft in 1975, in front of the very first Ramones backdrop. Loft and backdrop appear in some very early Ramones footage.

“As a matter of fact, I am meeting on July 1st with the guy who’s playing Dee Dee. We have some common friends and he kept asking people ‘when do I meet Arturo Vega, when do I meet Arturo Vega?’ so finally, we made the connection and we communicated… somehow, and I’m not sure exactly why, this really touches me. The Ramones as a band, as artists, mean a lot to me. Like Dee Dee said himself, ‘to Arty, the Ramones were art,’ but besides that, we were close, we were very very close. Particularly Dee Dee– I loved him, I still love him very much. So something moves me just about the possibility of someone portraying him in a serious movie. I want to make sure I can contribute in any possible way. I really want to meet this guy. I want to help him do the best job he can.”

“Nobody in movies, I think, cares much about accuracy. I’m sure there will be a degree ofexploitation about Dee Dee’s personality– after all, his personality lends itself to exploitation because of the things that were prevalent in Dee Dee’s life. The drugs, the sex, the rock and roll… Dee Dee has it all. But I think the project has very, very good possibilities.”

The logo, with the original lineup of the band and the original “Look Out Below” written on the flags

Arturo was amused when I informed him that I’d had to convince my father that the Ramones were older than he was. He gestured to one of his Ramones paintings behind him, with the band as they appeared around the start of their career. “People will always think of the Ramones like that. It’s part of the magic.”

And that is true. When I came into Arturo’s loft, the band’s 1984 album Too Tough To Die was blaring. While, sadly, this title has gained sobering irony since the record’s release (as of 2004, the entire core of the band has been dead), their music has not lost its steam. And through people like Arturo Vega, the Ramones’ staunch belief in giving back to the fans has outlived them as well.

*If you’d like to check my math, four drummers played with the Ramones– one of them, Clem Burke of Blondie, played with them for only two shows. That leaves the total of shows played by the other three, Tommy, Marky, and Richie, at 2,261. And that, my friends, is how many Ramones shows Arturo attended. You’re welcome.

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Jorma Kaukonen Interview

Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen

My first meeting with Jorma Kaukonen was pure fluke. In February 2009, just months after I had uploaded to youtube a cover of “Hesitation Blues,” a song Jorma made famous both with Hot Tuna in the 1970s and with Janis Joplin on a bootleg recording called The Typewriter Tapes,  my dear friend and I went to see him perform with G.E. Smith at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, a legendary small venue in Santa Monica, California. The many times I have seen Jorma since then attest to the fact that it was a terrific show, but it was special for me in more ways than that.

Before he and G.E. played “Hesitation Blues,” Jorma told the audience that he had just seen a thirteen-year-old girl “sing the shit out of this on youtube.” There I was, in the middle of an unspeakably awful 9th grade year– complimented by my absolute musical hero. After I explained the situation after the show first to a McCabe’s employee and then to Jorma’s manager, Jorma used his few minutes between the early and late shows to meet me, an experience for which I am still grateful. Turns out that not only is he a terrific musician, but also an exceedingly kind and generous person.

Since that show, I have seen and spoken to Jorma several more times, but it was only recently that I decided to attempt an interview– the following is the email transcript.

Jefferson Airplane, 1967– Jorma is the one in stripes

LA: You taught guitar in the early 60s before your work with Airplane and Hot Tuna. Was it strange going back so many years later to teach at the Fur Peace Ranch?

JK: Indeed, I started teaching early on in my fingerpicking career. I had really only been playing that style about three years when I moved to California and found that for a while I could make more money teaching than performing. I didn’t really get back into teaching until the mid 80’s when I taught for two semesters at the New School For Social Research in New York City. In the late 80’s, Happy Traum of Homespun approached me to do an instructional and over the next decade I did a number of them for him. When wer got the Fur Peace Ranch off the ground in 1998, it was like coming home.

LA: What motivated you to get back to teaching guitar?

JK: It just seemed like it was something that I needed to do. I enjoy being able to pass on what I have learned, the fellowship of musicians is very special and incidentally it has made and continues to make me a better player.

LA: Do you feel that all your years of touring and recording have made it easier to teach?

JK: There is a co-dependent relationship here… as things have transpired, I think teaching has made touring and recording easier.

LA: If you could impart one thing about playing music to your students, what do you think it would be?

JK: First of all… love to do it. Then focus on attainable goals… learn to be constructively self critical and don’t forget to practice.

LA: I also wanted to ask you a little bit about roots in music, and variety in musical styles. 

In listening to both Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, I am probably struck most of all by the mix of different styles in both—you can discern rock, blues, jazz, folk, and pop in Airplane, and folk, blues, rock, jazz, and gospel in Hot Tuna. Do you think it’s important for groups not to limit themselves to one genre or one style?

JK: If you consider the disparate bunch of characters in the Airplane it is not surprising that there is such an eclectic artistic mix. Generally speaking, one needs to follow one’s heart. It is always constructive to bring something fresh into any musical mix… obviously there are no rules here. That said, even though I do not consider myself strictly a blues musician… there is no question that blues has colored the way I look at things.

 LA: Hot Tuna’s recent work and your solo material both have a heavy emphasis on roots sounds—what do you think is the importance of roots in music?

JK: There is strength in tradition but don’t forget, at one time what we consider ‘roots’ music today was new. It would be interesting to know what someone like, say, Robert Johnson would have considered to be ‘roots.’ For me, traditional music is very important.

LA: Your work is now better-known than that of many of your biggest influences. How do you feel about that?

JK: Well, for better or worse, that is the way of things. One of the things that I am proudest of in my career is to be able to bring some of those artists I consider to be ‘masters’ to a wider audience.

LA: My generation’s influences are often from the 60s through the 90s—not many people I know listen to the early-20th century folk, blues, and jazz musicians that inspired your generation. Do you feel that for younger bands, roots have been somewhat displaced? 

JK: Roots as such will always be changing… for you to listen to music of the 60’s would be like me listening to music of the 20’s when I was young. The good news is, that thanks to digital technology, it’s all out there and you can easily find it if you want to. There is no shortage of new talent… hopefully there will always be a place for old talent too.

Donovan Leitch Interview

When I had the opportunity to see Donovan Leitch perform and be interviewed at LA’s Grammy Museum in honor of his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I expected a fascinating interview and a great performer, but I had no idea that I might get the chance to ask this legendary singer-songwriter of the 1960s and 1970s a few questions myself. The evening itself was excellent, but the real excitement was to come later, when while walking back to where my family’s car was parked, I saw a man carrying Donovan’s guitar case (which we had seen earlier) into a restaurant with none other than Tommy Smothers.

After some cursory decisionmaking, I decided to go in and introduce myself to the man– Donovan’s manager– who then introduced me to Donovan himself. During my brief meeting with this genuinely nice and down-to-earth performer, who informed me that he had written a song called Lily once, but that it was for his cat, I managed to score a five-question interview over email– this is the direct transcript.

LA: I think that one of the major reasons I am drawn to music so much before pmy time is perhaps what seems to me to be the more organic nature of it– stars weren’t made by American Idol or Youtube, and music didn’t have to be digitally corrected before it was considered finished. What do you think has been lost with music in the digital age? What has been gained?

DL: Music has lost nothing, it is always rising up from the deep wells within us. All new composers need to do is practice the forms with dedication. The forms are folk and blues and their children, pop and rock.

LA: Do you think that in this time, it is still possible to find poetry in music?

DL: Poetry and Music were one and they were separated. My generation re-united them. New poets need to practice the forms—the forms are lyric and free verse .

LA: Its position has obviously changed over the years– do you fear it is becoming obsolete, or that it ever possibly could?

DL: New poets need to study William Butler Yeats’ early poetry of Myth & Magic. Poetry is the language of the invisible world and always exists.

LA: In so much of your music, you express what was actually going on in the world– for instance, “From Susan On the West Coast Waiting.” How important do you think social consciousness is in popular music?

DL: New composers should reflect current events more often. Personal songs of love and relationships are always dominant though.

LA: Transcendental Meditation has played a huge part in your music. Nowadays, it seems as if the only kind of spirituality that can be found in popular music is in so-called “Christian Rock.” Do you feel that spirituality is an essential part of music?

DL: In traditional cultures the Shaman Poet Musician leads the society to the Realm Within through storytelling, chant and vision. Music is the invisible sound that calls the tribe to transcend. The Great Religions of the Passing Epoch have lost their efficacy and a New Form is emerging to suit the New Age being born. Read Joseph Campbell to see where we are in the transition.

LA: Lastly, how is it possible for you to stay passionate about a song forty years later? Do you think that forty years ago, you expected that you still would be?

DL: The songs I sing are archetypal and are not limited to my own life experience. The song is singing of all our lives, and so I am not reliving an earlier experience, I am echoing the drama of relationships that we all share. The song is ever young and wise.

I hope these replies are able to enlighten your readers to the Poet’s Role in Societies in the past, now and in all futures.

Donovan

Nick Mason Interview

In September 2011, I was privileged enough to interview Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason when he came to LA’s Grammy Museum to discuss the coming reissue of Dark Side of the Moon and its accompanying box set. However, I was more interested in his opinions on new and old music, and the presence of technology in popular music through time. This interview was originally published on a site called Get Lit LA that I was affiliated with at the time. 

Lily Armstrong: So, I wanted to start by talking a little bit about drumming. I’ve heard people like Paul McCartney say they thought that, really, what made their music truly exceptional was its drumming. And I was especially curious about emotion in drumming. How are really good drummers able to convey emotion through that instrument?

NM: Um.  Good question.  First of all, I think a lot of the good drumming is about being an ensemble player.  It’s not about just how many gymnastics you can do with your playing.  It’s to do with how you work with the music.  And although time-keeping is meant to be the ultimate, you know, role of the drummer, in many ways it’s slightly … off time-keeping.  There’s quite an interesting belief that there’s a big difference, almost a school of drumming that is the American school and an English school. And the theory behind the English school is that they play — or we play — fractionally, not behind the beat but on the back of the beat.  Will it influence the music and give it a very specific feel?  It’s about the feel that is delivered not only by the actual part that’s played but the actual tempo. That is, the subtleties of pulling the music back slightly and adding to the dynamic of it. And I think that’s probably what Paul was sort of talking about.  You know the most dangerous [member] in a band is someone who just doesn’t know how to shut up.

LA: I can see that being true, I mean, there is a very clear division between drummers like Ginger Baker and Keith Moon and other more restrained drummers who, you know, try to keep time more uniformly, you could say.  

NM: But then, you know, I have some real favorites apart from Ginger, who was such an influence on me. Also Mitch Mitchell’s, Jimi Hendrix’s drummer. I think he’s fantastic and the curious thing with him is there’s almost no one else who’s ever sort of emulated him.  And he had this thing, which was such a sort of partly loose thing, an almost jazzy style of playing that really worked well with Jimi’s music.

LA: Also, I wanted to bring in technology and music, because Pink Floyd did so much with breaking ground in the technology that went into recording, and to this day those breakthroughs are hugely influential. I recently read this story about the band Wilco’s latest single, which is called “I Might,” in which there’s a lyric that ends with the word “brother.” Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy said that when he was in studio, he was trying to emulate the word “brother” in The Stooges’ song “TV Eye,” the way Iggy sings it. And apparently he couldn’t get it right, so he decided to sample him in behind him, and he claimed that “the lyric needed more than I could give it, and fortunately this is the 21st century, so these things can happen.” Do you think that’s an honest use of the kind of technology you pioneered?

NM: Yeah, I mean, I think that there are no rules.  I think [the] only rules that come into play are where perhaps you use enough of someone’s music that you’re actually using their music, if you see what I mean…  But if you just took a particular drum sound or something or just took a beat off of someone’s record, I just see that as being legitimate creativity.  Um I would not be happy with myself sitting here going, “No, that’s wrong, that’s allowed, that’s not allowed.”  I think you do whatever you can to get whatever it is you want.

LA: Back in the 60’s and 70’s, was that the mentality that you guys really went into it with?

NM: The issue of sampling of course is very much a sort of later period thing. No one had even thought about sampling.  I do remember the closest that we came to [sampling] was the Melotron.  And I remember the Musicians’ Union was up in arms at the prospect of orchestras losing their livelihood because of the Melotron, which is complete nonsense, of course, because the Melotron is the most extraordinary instrument. But you’d never think that’s an orchestra, you’d think that’s a Melotron. So, yeah, I think in those sorts of terms it’s very hard to look at how things were then, you know. So much of it was people messing around in the studios. Sometimes people think we were sort of very busy with Loogs and really elaborate instruments.  Most of it was things like, you know, when you listen to George Martin talking about phasing. Basically, it was two tape recorders running with someone putting their elbow on it to slow it up very slightly to get that effect. And there was quite a lot of that sort of trial-and-error experimentation, I think.

LA: Do you think that in some ways, bands today are somehow disadvantaged by having that technology immediately at their disposal?

NM: It’s not really a disadvantage. I mean it’s great, obviously, to be able to choose exactly what sounds you want to be able to play with, and all the rest of it, but the biggest problem is: it takes time.  You know, the great thing about few tracks, very few tracks — the original four track recordings and so on — was however hard you tried, you really finished things quickly. Because you had to make decisions. You couldn’t leave it ‘til the mix to decide, ah, how loud the bass should be, because you had the bass on with the drums and [you had to] get it right the first time. All the Beatles’ recordings and certainly our first recordings were incredibly quick because … we could leave those decisions and decide later on whether we wanted the high hat in or out or whatever.

LA: Actually, I was wondering about the amount of time it takes to record an album, and how it’s changed.  A lot of bands now wait four years between albums. And for so long, Pink Floyd was just turning out albums so relatively quickly, compared to that kind of a distance.

NM: Yeah, I’m not sure. I’ve never seen us as being particularly prolific.  I mean, you’re right. I suppose, looking back on it, compared to the four year lay-off or whatever, we quite often did an album a year.  In terms of studio time, I think we only took two or three weeks to do Obscured by Clouds, which was a movie album. But, the fact is, the world is always changing and albums now are less important than live music. Whereas, in the ‘70s, the album was everything. You know, the touring was done to promote the album.

LA: So are you saying that recently, the live performance has become more important than the album or studio recordings?

NM: Well, the fact of the matter is, as a business, music has changed so dramatically that actually live performance is the area where you make money; and the records are slipping all the time. You can’t get away from that so you’ve got an enormous change in attitude where people go off and tour now and it’s generally a year, or a year plus. Our early tours were about three weeks, and that was it.

LA: You kept the US tours pretty short, in general.

NM: Yeah, I don’t know why we did that. When I look back now, I think, ‘That was idiotic.’ Because the great thing about long tours is that you get better at it and you actually really hone the music and get it right and you can develop it.

LA: Yeah, I remember you saying in your book that “Eclipse,” specifically, really improved by being performed live.

NM: Yeah, that’s one of the things about this new release next week, what’s called the “Immersion” version of Dark Side — it’s exactly that. There are recordings from where the ideas were being tried out on the road. And the silly thing is that everyone got sort of hung-up on the business of people bootlegging and so everyone stopped touring and just rehearsed in the studios which is not nearly as efficient because if you’ve played live, you keep working on it. The trouble in the studio, I think, is you wait until you’ve got it right, and then you consider that as the finished article; whereas if you’re playing live, you see whether the audience likes it. You can see whether, in fact, it sits properly in the rest of the music, and that’s what I think comes over a little bit with the Dark Side pieces. They’re quite different than how they ended up on the album — hopefully, they’re better on the album — but you can see the thinking was, “Well, this isn’t quite right like that, and it needs to be changed,” or “It doesn’t work.”

LA: Yeah, I actually was just listening to Dark Side a little while ago, and I was thinking about how the time signature changes on it — like we were talking about earlier. As a musician myself, I really notice differences in time change. How it really creates a mood throughout it, and takes the listener up and down with it.

NM: I think that’s absolutely what we were trying to do, was put a dynamic into the record. At the time, I won’t say it was radical, because it wasn’t. In a way, Sergeant Pepper did that initially, but it was this idea that you don’t have to have everything played at 200 miles an hour, flat-out and loud, and all the rest of it, but you make it go exactly that — up and down in tempo and in volume, really. That makes it more interesting.

LA: Definitely. And then, back to performance, bands like Pink Floyd, and The Who and David Bowie were considered very theatrical for the time, and were doing really radical things onstage compared to what had come before. And even today, the sort of rock show as opposed to the rock concert has become really, really prevalent. What do you think it is about rock n’ roll, and about that sort of music that gravitates to the “big production?”

NM: Well, I think [the main thing] that has driven the bigger production values is that people have started playing bigger and bigger places. You know, when you look back, Shea Stadium was a real wakeup call — it didn’t work. It was an iconic moment in time, but still, working in a proper performance which the audience could hear — it was nowhere! You know, the biggest thing has been the move from theatres to arenas and in some cases into stadiums. In many ways, not many people, I think, make the stadium work for them. I don’t think we ever did, really. I think the arena show we got right, but the stadium show—it was always… never quite reaching, really, as far as it should. I think The Stones really mastered the stadium show, but that just became a bigger and bigger industry, and you think, in the ‘50s, let’s say, or the ‘60s, the rock show was in a theatre, and it would have seven or eight acts on the bill. It was unthinkable that Chuck Berry would do two and a half hours or whatever. He’d come and do twenty minutes and when that’s done, they’d go on and so on. It’s that move from that way. I think that the industry has changed, and the way music is performed has changed, and that’s driven this whole business of production. And it is amazing. Yes, okay, we did a lot of hopefully really good things, but now even a really good boy band will be there with fireworks, and films, and video, and unbelievably good shows.

LA: And how do you think that can affect the music in the show? I know that a lot of acts today cannot perform live, and perform to pre-recorded tracks because the dance is so elaborate, and the show is so big.

NM: The answer at the end of the day is “Do their fans like it?” It’s almost impossible to do the singing and the dancing — that’s some heavy breathing. I think on principle, I am conservative in the sense that I’m not entirely happy with the idea that other people are just using backing tracks. Occasionally, yes, sometimes it’s a good idea. I mean, we’ve done it on odd occasions in order to sync the film properly. And generally, I’d try to design the show so that if the film goes out of sync, it doesn’t matter.

LA: Yeah, I remember in your book, you were talking about how you tried to have a sort of cushion for those sorts of transitions. I actually wanted to share with you a quote from Roger Daltrey from Rolling Stone in 1975 — please don’t ask me why I have a Rolling Stone from 1975. But, he said, “Our audience wouldn’t put up with it if The Who went onstage like Pink Floyd with an incredible light show and stood there like four dead people that sounded great.” I didn’t really know what to think of that one.

NM: That’s a fair comment. You know, that’s part of the reason we put all that stuff up there — because none of us did do duck-walking, or moon-walking, or anything like that. It’s a fair comment…  I’ve never heard that quote from Roger before, but I once said that — well, someone once said that, “It’s becoming so mechanical,” and I said, “We did try to use computers instead of us going on stage but they used to move around too much.”

LA: My next question was going to be about what, I guess you can say, is the increasing acceptability of rock-and-roll. Now you find rock-and-roll songs in commercials, you find increased legitimacy from organizations designed to promote it, and such. And how do you think that’s affected musical output?

NM: I think it’s something I’m not entirely comfortable with. I think the music has been devalued a bit, and I think that if you’re walking around the supermarket now — funnily enough, I was in Trader Joe’s, and it was Led Zeppelin. You know, while people are wandering around trying to choose their granola, there’s Jimmy giving it everything. It used to be muzak. Now, everyone hated muzak, but on the other hand, at least we all knew where we stood: muzak was in the shop, Led Zeppelin was onstage. I don’t feel comfortable with it just being anywhere all the time. I mean, it’s partly because we all have so many other ways of entertaining ourselves. You know, when Led Zeppelin were at their peak, no one had a computer game. And movies — well, we had movies, but they didn’t quite feel as important as they do now. So, I really can’t remember what exactly the thrust of the question was, but—remind me?

LA: It was just sort of “how do you think the increased acceptability has affected the musical output?

NM: I don’t really think it’s affected music. I think most musicians still work. Actually, there are many, many more good musicians around now because kids are learning to play so much better from day one. I mean, my boys took guitar lessons — electric guitar lessons — in school, and drums lessons. If I’d gone to my music master and said “Please sir, I’d like to play the drums,” I think he’d have fainted. d “Could I have some more, sir?” “What?!”

LA: Do you think that there’s a difference between how it’s affected newer acts and older acts?

NM: Well, a lot of older acts have suddenly realized that they can still work. They’ve come back out of the woodwork which I think it terrific. Most musicians work to please themselves. Because you can’t second-guess what the public are going to like anyway. There are a few people who can do that, produce pop songs, but it’s a very unusual ability.  Most people please themselves first and then the public discover them.  But, you know, Jimmy Paige doesn’t sit down and go, “I wonder if the public would like this,” or Keith Moon go, “I wonder if they’d like it if I kicked my drum kit over.” It comes from somewhere else. They’re not really affected by those sort of outside influences. It’s something you’re driven to do of your own volition.

LA: Do you think that drive is what really separates rock and roll from a lot of other types of music?

NM: No, I don’t. I think that theme runs through. I think that people are passionate about music at every sort of level even.  Even country and western, something I know absolutely zero about, but I think the people who are good at it are very good and have the passion. And I think that’s true with creative arts generally; that actors, the same; painters, the same; you have to have this sort of — I mean, the interesting thing with rock music is that you have a slightly different dynamic with so many bands who are successful because they’ve got more than one of those people in the band. Those people quite often spark off of each other and against each other at the same time, but that to me seems to be the sort of unusual element about rock music and why it seems to be, maybe, a little bit sparkier.

LA: Just about that sheer size of the genre now — there are just so, so many people who are trying to do it and who do do it and in so many different genres that it seems like are popping up every single day.

NM: I think that makes life a bit more difficult. I mean, I think what was easier about the music business thirty years ago is that it was a very channeled system to be successful. It was very channeled.  You needed three cards to get in the game; you needed an agent, a manager and a record deal.  And now, you’re really having to try to sort out a career without necessarily having a record deal, or without having the manager aspect of it. That makes it tougher because, you know it’s hard, it’s much more difficult to get your target audience to listen to you because there are so many radio stations now. In England there used to be one important radio station, that was it. And so once you were played on there — you were sort of rolling.  Whereas now, how many radio stations are there in London? There’s one for every artist, more or less.

LA: We’ve been talking about the last forty or so years of music — What do you see happening in the next forty?

NM: I think it’s very hard to second-guess forty years of music but in the next few years, I think there’ll be changes in the way we download and buy music.  I think it’s a fairly chaotic system at the moment with pirating and downloading and Spotify and, you know, all the different versions and the different levels of quality available and I think that could quite possibly settle down and we’ll find ways of monetizing music so that people can make a living.  Not a fortune necessarily, but more people can make a living out of music.  I think we need the Chinese to produce a great band and some great players and some great thoughts and then suddenly they’ll get the whole business of copyright protection.  I mean it won’t happen until it affects them directly.

LA: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been a great honor.