You're on your 50th anniversary tour, how's it been going?
It's been really good fun, we've done eight gigs, we did Glasgow, then we did a week in Spain, which was good fun, we hadn't played in Spain before. Then, we've done this one in Nottingham and then it's the big one in London at Hoxton Hall in Shoreditch.
When you formed the band 50 years ago, could you ever have imagined that you'd still be going?
Obviously not! It just doesn't happen - something you're doing today, you don't think "oh, will I still be doing this in 50 years?", it's not something that comes into your head. You're interviewing me now, you're not thinking when you get home, "I wonder if I'll still be doing this in 50 years" but life is weird. Life is a series of circles, isn't it? It's very fitting that at the Hoxton Hall, when I play there and probably for the last time, it's only a mile away from where I was born. Which has a nice melancholy feel to it, a nice sentimental closing of the circle.
Kaleidoscope's debut album Tangerine Dream is being reissued, can you tell us a little about that?
We've been fighting the record company for a couple of years over who owns the rights. In the end, well it wasn't a David and Goliath situation, because we had to just accept that we could never argue with Universal because they're just too enormous, we didn't have the funds to follow it up legally. So, we're working with them now on the reissue and we've decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary by reissuing it but in a very special package. It comes out in a very heavy card sleeve, it's a tangerine orange 180grm vinyl, it's got different inserts and things in it. There is a special issue, which has now sold out, which was signed. It's very satisfying to see it come out after 50 years, it's a dream come true. It's fascinating to think, and very heart-warming, that after 50 years this music, which we thought had died a death back in the 60s and early 70s, has actually been bubbling under for all that time and new audiences like yourself, younger people, appreciate it and that's why we did it in the first place. We're not worried about making money out of it, it's just the fact that people are still out there now enjoying the music, that's why we wrote it, that's why we recorded it.
Have you personally been involved in the remastering?
Not the remastering as such, but the choosing of the takes, listening to it, approving it and various things. I wrote the sleeve notes for the album but what is interesting is that possibly next year or the year after, we are working towards doing a box set, which will release all of the Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour recordings on luxury vinyl. But the Tangerine Dream album in that box set will hopefully be made up of different takes of each track so that people who buy the reissue now will get something different when they buy the box set.
Is there ever a temptation, when you listen back to it, to make changes?
It's interesting that you say that because we've been into Universal's vaults and got copies of all of the various takes and there are things in there that you hear now that weren't in the released mixes. Obviously, that was the mix that was made, that was the one that was released but when we recorded it, we recorded it in a slightly different way, the guitars were higher or whatever. So, if you can get access to those tapes, you can go back and re-mix them, which personally I would like to do. Some people say, "oh no, it's got to stay the same as the original" but I'd like to bring out different things. When we were listening to them, I could hear different harmonies that got lost in the mix. Well, you could bring those out and it would give people a different take on the recording, which I would like.
What's it like still playing live and knowing that most people in the audience weren't born when you formed the band?
It's remarkable, I was contacted in 2009 or 2010 by somebody in America asking if the band would go over and play in America and I said, "well there's only me, poor Steve died and the other guys aren't in the best of health. There's only me so we can't do it." About 6 or 7 months later he contacted me again and said that he wanted us to come over but I told him that he couldn't have the band because there's only me and he said, "well, you come over and I'll put a band together." I thought it was ridiculous but my wife said, "who was that?" and I told her it was some guy in America who wanted me to go over and play and she said, "well, you're going aren't you?" I said no but she told me that if I didn't go then I'd regret it for the rest of my life, which obviously was true, she had the sense to advise me of that. So, I went over and for the first time in over 40 years, climbed on a stage in San Francisco and it was amazing, absolutely incredible. It's very addictive because I really do enjoy playing and I love the buzz afterwards, meeting people who appreciate this music and tell me how much they love it, it's really heart-warming. So, that's what I've been doing on and off since then and has culminated in these gigs this autumn and will possibly finish in London because I've got a lot of problems with my hearing - I'm deaf in my right ear and it seems foolish to stand up in front of a rock band with damaged hearing. As much as I love it and I would love to go on doing it but you've got to be sensible.
That's a real shame. Would you ever consider doing something else such as going back into the studio?
Well, I've been recording ever since the band broke up. I've released 20, 21 albums, I can't even remember how many, which I'm very proud of but of course people aren't interested in those particularly, they want to hear the original stuff. It's been satisfying, writing and recording myself and releasing this stuff but the band can't go back in the studio, I don't think it would work, we couldn't' get together, we dispersed all over the country. I like working with other people though, I've worked with amazing musicians like Damian Youth in America, fabulous musician, we've released three albums. Asteroid Number Four, a new psych band from San Francisco, I wrote and released an album with them, great album, I'm very proud of that. I've kept my hand in over the years.
There's been a huge resurgence in psych recently, what do you make of the new bands?
I'm afraid I know nothing about it whatsoever because I don't listen to music because as I said, I've got to protect my hearing. I hear that are new psychedelic bands, which is fantastic, keeping the genre alive, which is great. It was very short lived, psychedelia only lasted about 18 months and then disappeared and then we moved on as Fairfield Parlour but it's great that there are new bands doing it.
The 50th anniversary reissue of Tangerine Dream comes out on the 24th of November