With a hot new band and a strong new release in Mother's Ruin, keyboard ace Oliver Wakeman is proving to the world that he is more than just Rick Wakeman's son, but a very impressive talent in his own right. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently got some insight from the man himself, who shared his thoughts on his career, the new album, and his father Rick.
Read on for the full interview!
Sea of Tranquility: You've put together a hot new band and a heavier sound for Mother's Ruin-can you talk a little bit about the musicians that you are playing
with now and how you came to collaborate with them?
Olver Wakeman: The band that I put together for the album consisted of Moon Kinnaird on vocals, David Mark Pearce on guitars, Tim Buchanan on bass, and Dave Wagstaffe on drums, with myself covering Piano & Keyboards. Moon had sung the concept albums I wrote with Clive Nolan, firstly in the choir on Jabberwocky and as the character Seldon on The Hound of the Baskervilles. He also sang with Landmarq many years ago and was well known by Dave Wagstaffe who also plays drums for them. Dave Pearce and I met through a mutual friend. I was talking to him about needing a guitarist and he knew of Dave and so we met up and got on really well. He was the guitarist on the View from Here single which was released in 2002 and has also mixed my Purification by Sound and Enlightenment and Inspiration new age albums.
Tim Buchanan and I go back a long way. We both used to jam together at a blues club in North Devon (where I used to live) and he joined the blues band I played in (Smokestack) for a good couple of years. Tim first recorded for me on the 3 Ages of Magick album (which I recorded with Steve Howe in 2000 and released in 2001). He also performed on the View from Here and the latest album. Dave Wagstaffe and I have known each other for a long time, I first met him during the Jabberwocky sessions and he also joined me on the 3 Ages of Magick album.
For various reasons it was decided that Moon wouldnıt be involved in the live band and shortly afterwards Tim also left the band because of a variety of reasons. But it all worked out very well as they have been replaced by Paul Manzi on Vocals and Paul Brown (Janison Edge) on bass guitar and both have fitted into the band superbly and have actually been performing live with me for the last year and a half.
SoT: Serious prog rock fans are saying very positive things about the new album and its abundance of more aggressive guitar sounds and bombastic keyboards. Did you intentionally try to "up the ante" as far as the heavier approach on some of the songs, while still keeping the symphonic nature that is the essence of your style?
Oliver: Itıs great that people are enjoying the album. I deliberately wanted to do something different. I had recorded the 3 Ages album which was very instrumental and had a variety of different styles on it and I'd recorded the 2 rock opera's with Clive. I'd also written the Celtic single and then a couple of New age albums and I felt it was time to show that I could also write strong rock tracks with a band focus. Obviously the keyboards are going to be to the forefront of the music but I love great guitar and bass
and drums and so made sure that the album wasnıt a keyboard album backed by other instruments but and album where all the instruments worked together as a band.
SoT: Although "Mother's Ruin" is filled with plenty of instrumental fireworks, what really strikes me is the use of catchy hooks and melodies in each song, wonderfully performed by the musicians as well as singer Moon Kinnaird. How hard is it to write a catchy song yet still retain enough complexity and use of chops to keep the prog crowd happy?
Oliver: I've always been a great believer in melody and hooks and I deliberately try
to not over use a hook to make people want to listen to songs again and again. I think that music is becoming a harder and harder industry and so you have to work really hard at writing. I donıt like writing Ofiller tracks, I try to make each piece really work and spend a great deal of time on arrangements and producing the song to give it its best shot and appealing to as many people as possible.
SoT: Have you given any thought or been asked to take this line-up on the road for a tour or to play any festivals?
Oliver: The live band has been performing for the last couple of years at various venues across the UK. We supported Arjen Lucassen earlier this year which was great fun and we've got 3 shows lined up for later this year in the UK, Sheffield, Cardiff and London. Hopefully we'll get a few more booked in before the end of the year if people are interested they can check the website www.oliverwakeman.co.uk for more details. I am also going on tour with Bob Catley next week which should be a good laugh as Bob and I have been good friends for years.
SoT: You can hear some possible influences of bands like Arena, Uriah >Heep, Pendragon, and Saga, besides the obvious Yes connection. What bands did you grow up listening to, and what current music do you enjoy?
Oliver: I grew up with the obvious stuff like Yes but I was a big fan of Deep Purple, Rush and my big love was for Styx as I thought they married the great songwriting with great musicianship. More recently things like It Bites and Dan Reed Network although I donıt really listen to a great deal of more modern stuff I never seem to find the time!
SoT: What type of keyboard arsenal do you use these days?
Oliver: For the live show itıs based around my Yamaha electric Piano, a Korg Triton,
Roland XP-30 and Korg O1/W. In the studio I use all the above as well as a D50, Yamaha V50, and whatever else I can find to use in the studio!
SoT: You have done various different projects over the years with many different musicians-do you plan on moving forward and continuing on with this band format, and do you have other projects and perhaps solo instrumental ideas in the works? I have the follow up to Motherıs Ruin almost written and I want to start recording towards the end of the year I also have plans for a piano album which is partly finished and a concept album of sorts. Clive and I keep threatening to write the third collaboration as well so maybe that'll happen in the near future. But a band follow up would probably be the next one.
SoT: How is your father Rick doing these days, and what is he involved with? Any plans to do something with him in the future?
Oliver: Dad and I (along with my brother Adam and sister Jemma) did a couple of theatre
shows towards the end of last year which were really good fun and Dad joined me on stage for the launch concert of Mother's Ruin but there are no plans to do anything else at the moment but we'll have to wait and see!
SoT: Thanks Oliver!
Oliver: My pleasure, cheers!