EMI UK Broken China Interview 1996

“During the recording of “Division Bell” I decided I wanted to make my own record. I formulated some of the ideas actually recording “Division Bell”, and…I actually intended to actually start writing it when we were on the road touring “Division Bell”, but that was practically impossible. But as soon as I came off the road, because I’d been playing for six months, um…I was raring to go as the expression goes. And so I immediately actually went back to France and…first thing I did was actually get rid of all the equipment I had in my studio in France and bought new equipment which was, took me up until December I think, and then I started writing it really from March ’95 and then basically the final mixes were finished in mmmmm…April ’96. So that’s a year. However, there were some periods of time when I wasn’t working on it, but overall that year I guess I spent six months writing it, and recording it, and mixing it.”

“How it compare to the first album – “Wet Dream”, was, mmm just basically a collection of songs, mmm, I was in Greece actually when I wrote it, and because we were abroad I just felt I needed to carry on writing, and I made an album and I think it was quite amateur although I quite like it. The second album was ‘Identity’ which I’ve always said was my experimental mistake. But “Broken China” is the first album that I really considered seriously from the beginning to the end, and got all the people I wanted to work with, like Anthony Moore and Manu and Pino and Tim, Renwick and, all the people, and I’d planned it out, and, so for me it was really my first serious solo album.”

“I have to say that I was really fortunate that all the people that I wanted to work on my album, and I asked them, all said yes, and so. I’ll start with Manu Katche who was, he was actually playing with Peter Gabriel and his, Peter Gabriel’s world tour, and I saw him, this was before I even started writing my solo album, and I said: ‘If I ever make a solo album,’ – and at that time I was beginning to think of doing one – I said: ‘If I ever do it, I want him to play.’ Um, he luckily when I sent him the demos of my album, he called back and said he’d love to do it, but he said that ‘the only reason, the only way I’ll do it is if I can work with Pino Palladino”, because Manu and Pino know each other very well and work very well together. And I said “Well that’s great, because Pino is one of my, one of my if not my favorite bass player”, so that problem was solved immediately.

Um, than with the guitarist, I mean my first obvious choice was to ask Tim Renwick, because he’s worked with the Floyd on two tours and on albums, um, and he was prefect for the parts I needed him to play, I knew him very well, I knew how he worked in the studio, so he was my first call, and again, happily he had the time to do it ’cause he’s very busy. And then after that we were… – Dominic Miller was someone I didn’t know, but I was with Laurie Latham who’s the producer of the album, and we were looking, I’d actually, the story actually is that I wanted Jeff Beck to do one track, and Jeff Beck either wasn’t available, or wasn’t interested, or whatever, but he heard the tape and kindly phoned back and said “No, I don’t have the time to do it”. And then I was talking to Laurie Latham who was engineering the overdub and said “Well, I know a guitarist called Dominic Miller who I think could do and play exactly what you’re looking for.” And so we called him up, and he was working with Sting at the time, and actually came up for just two days in between rehearsing with Sting, and came and listened to the music and actually as soon as he came in, heard the music and then sat down and played the guitar.”

“I am the narrator, and the girl singing the two songs is the actual person who suffered this depression. And the first person that came to my head when I knew I wanted, I had to have a girl singer for this, these two songs that already had been written, was Sinead, because I love her voice, I think she is a fascinating person, and I just felt “well, I don’t have much chance, but at least I’m gonna call her up and say ‘would you like to sing these two songs?'” And it took some time, but when she did turn up at the studio, and I played her the songs she immediately said “yes, I’d love to do them.”, and I said “When would you like to do them?” and she said “I’ll do them tonight.” And she did.”

“Um, yeah, it was the first time I’ve done an album and not having done an album for myself, but…actually on Pink Floyd albums where I took actually lead, took the lead vocals, and…it was an interesting process because when I first started writing the album I was seriously considering bringing in…I knew I wanted to bring in a girl singer for the two songs which immediately I wanted Sinead to do. And luckily Sinead said yes, but at the same time I was still considering actually asking other singers to sing the other songs. Because I was always a bit doubtful about my voice, but as it happened, because I was in my own studio in France, I actually started experimenting, not experimenting but, just singing without any pressure, without any producers, without any musicians around. So I actually started singing in my studio by my self and developed a style, and then I suddenly felt very comfortable with the style of singing. So then Anthony Moore, who actually was working on the whole album apart from just lyrics but mainly came in for his lyricism, wrote lyrics and I sang them, and I just…began to feel very comfortable about signing the songs myself, to the point that I actually really did enjoy singing them and actually now quite miss singing.”

“Mmm, the equipment I used on Broken China wasn’t anything specifically new, except from…myself personally I actually got familiar with the Macintosh and Cubase, which was a great help for me actually scoring and composing the album. Although it wasn’t new, because it had been used on “Division Bell” and certainly, probably “Momentary Lapse of Reason.” But for me personally I learned how to use the computer. And I’ve used the same equipment as I had done on the two previous albums of Pink Floyd, which was Kurzweil. The only new piece of equipment I did use was an Atari Radar 24-track digital hard-disc recorder, which was just come out when I’d start working on the album.”

“From the time we started in the sixties to how it is now is, it’s, it’s such an incredible change, its like, on the technical side I can simply say that in the beginning we went into Abbey Road Studios, the four of us, and we recorded on a four-track, and we were expected to make the whole album in three weeks, and we were totally limited in equipment. Now we have so much equipment that you can spend a year just discovering the different sounds and the different techniques to make an album. It’s a completely different, completely different experience. I personally prefer what we have now.”

“Obviously if Broken China is successful I would love to go and tour with it, because I think it’s actually, could be a very interesting piece to actually do live, ’cause it’s such a thematic piece and such a visual piece in many ways and what it’s trying to say. So I’d love to tour with it, but I think I have to wait and see how the album does.”

“If you want me to name one record, a record I always go back to, it would be an record by Miles Davies called “Porgy And Bess”, um, arranged by Gil Evans. It’s one of the records I always listen to, but I can’t say today what record I want to listen to. Perhaps I’ll go over to my CD-player now and put on Jeff Beck, Guitar Workshop. But I can’t answer the question, because I listen to anything or everything that’s good.”

“The trouble with Oasis is, I’ve heard John Lennon and I’ve heard the Beatles and they are rather better than Oasis. However, it’s not putting Oasis down, actually they’ve had some great songs, um, but I find it rather ironic that when I hear their records I hear John Lennon somehere in the background. He could do it better.”

“Sometimes I think I really should go out and listen to what’s going on at the moment, and the things I do hear that are going on at the moment, I actually don’t particularly like. I mean, if you go back to punk when punk was happening I didn’t like the music, I liked what they were trying to do, I liked that it was this anger, I liked… ’cause when we started in the late sixties no one understood our music, everyone just thought it was rubbish, but out of that came some great music and hopefully the Pink Floyd and other bands such as ourselves influenced what happened in the music business and what people listen to. Therefore there must be, there are things happening today that I can’t relate to what I hear.”

“My relationship with Nick and Dave in the Pink Floyd is that socially we don’t see each other so much, um, we have our own lives, we have our own interests, but…we always…I think we’re always waiting, actually, for one of us, or all of us to say ‘let’s go and do another record’ or ‘let’s do another tour’, and when we’re on tour and when we’re doing a record it’s all very very nice. But on the social level, no we don’t actually mix with each other.”

“I have plans now to carry on writing and writing music. I’m gonna possibly do some soundtrack music, I’m not quite sure, but I’m now, after doing this album, I just don’t want to stop, I’m gonna write and I’m already formulating my next album. But at any time Dave will call me up and say ‘let’s do another album’, I will then do that. So my plans are: I’m gonna carry on writing, working, and then when the Floyd are ready I’ll rejoin them, if you like, and do the next album.”

“In terms of the next Pink Floyd album: If you look at the time period we spend recording an album and touring, it traditionally falls over, funny enough, a seven year period, we could call it ‘the seven year itch’ if you like. But, so on that basis the next Pink Floyd album would be coming out in 2001.”

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