The Dick Ward interview
bj : Listen. You're born and raised (most of the time) in one spot. You only know and thus
accept your immediate environment.
Then some bastard ruins the idyll by a) making you aware of the clock and b) teaching
you to read and write.
So, if you have a choice, you attempt to remain ignorant or accept that some form of
education will be to your advantage. But
the truth is, naive or not, you'll just get shafted anyway - which I find hugely humorous.
I think it's called 'life'.....
dw : Could you answer my question please?
bj : In the general scheme of things, questioning the interpretation of a
Bacharach/David song borders on the edge of farce, but as
you press me..... Here we have some English musicians - who were one day going about their
profession you know, making people
dance, smile, cry - usual mucky music stuff when an arts outreach dude in Berlin (or to be
precise the old East Berlin) by the name of
Wolf-Peter Stiftel whose brief was to 'culturally outreach' with other countries thought -
'Mmmm, those crazy Fun Horns of Berlin should
work with the thrashy trashy whatever Englisher guitarist dude...' So he sat down with my
coordinator Oliver Weindling and they
mapped out a way forward.
Now in as good as twenty five years of professional music activities I've heard
and seen many horrendous 'cultural
collaborations'. Collaborations born in the boardroom by arts administrators who are not
Fire cannot be made by selecting two pieces of wood. It's how
they rub against each other...
dw : Oh I see, the analogy of wood - hence The Carpenters...?
bj : Er....I hadn't thought of that one, Dick, I must say.
Listen. Some English dudes, some East German dudes. Fortunately we all speak music.
So you've got some raised in capitalism, some in communism. Both ideologies
are systems - within which the person
operates. The 'successful' person is the one who works the system well - but one does that
at the expense of individualism.
Compromise. And of course those little short cuts like deception, lyin', cheatin' and two-
faced underhand stuff.....
So we get thrown all together in a studio for the first time. If you got '
Close To You' sweet as a sugar substitute slimming aid
that would be 'playing the system' - lyin' an' cheatin' and stuff. So as I don't lie much
ou got '(Not) Close To You'....
dw : With hindsight, do you have any other thoughts about The Carpenters?
bj : Yes. If Mama Cass had invited Karen Carpenter to dinner more often they might both be alive today.
dw : So you start East/West badly. But does it actually get, er, 'better?'
bj : Listen, if you're stuck with something you learn to cope with it. You make the
best of what you can, but to be frank sudden
nationalistic changes (and don't forget all of Germany is very regionalised) are really
quite a pisser.
You got the presumed poor cousins from the East who for years corresponded
with their more presumed affluent relations in
the West. Suddenly, the worst thing imaginable happens, They are free to meet. But all
of a sudden the Western side don't want to
know their less wealthy relations. This is happening to many families....
dw : Ahh, I think I'm getting the picture now. Two societies Not Close Together (so to
speak). Then the Wall Comes
Down, people start to Wander, and the little Trabants head west. You meet in a suitable
social spot, like a restaurant or
something and realise that you're only human for flip's sake so you all start grooving
together at the Club Reunification
disco, then you all get rat-arsed together and plan optimistically the Hopes for the
future. But then come the Fears of
inevitable manipulation by some form of stratagem or system - which will ultimately
affect one's children. And then.....and
then you sing 'What A wonderful World' ironically.....
bj : No, that's how I normally sing.
dw : Well, I must say at that point I lose the plot again.
bj : That's because it's finished.
dw : Er, forgive me if I'm wrong, there's a huge classical medley which, if you don't
mind me saying, is more 'Hooked On
Drugs' than 'Hooked On Classics'.....
bj : We can only observe and comment on such social upheaval from our position as
musicians. The manipulation of the Muse by
the control of people by politicians. It would be stupid to think that art and music in
this case is a greater issue than social reality. We
can only contribute to the debate. Therefore, having musically illustrated the coming
together (and speaking as a reluctant small town
boy closet xenophobe, I feel the VOGC/Fun Horns a rather triumphal coming together)
of two different cultures, it is only right that we
put this into a context that we fully understand by adding, in effect, an alternative -
yet parallel - conclusion.
dw : But the conclusion appears that you end up er.., 'somewhat distressed.'
bj : Artistry tramples over the frame it inhabits. Left to
it's own devices the 'carrier' can learn to cope with it. When
the Muse must be forced through financial necessity it can do terrible things to your
mind, your health - not nice for those Close to
You (there, I said it again!).
And when the Muse is forced, what do we get? Competence. But the sad fact is,
when one is manipulated or sucked into
capital or state dependency, competence becomes a recognisable baby blanket -
individuality is seen as a threat. But I've met many,
many musicians and music business people and do you know, I can't think of one that could
be considered a 'threat' to society -
except, perhaps, those who mistake their competence for artistry!
dw : But to me, it sounds like you can all play, but you're 'mucking about.'
bj : You like the Carpenters, Dick. You probably have a disposable income. You can
leave your work, come home and relax. You
have weekends off. You can afford those strange things they call 'holidays.' To you art
is by necessity something 'nice' - a pleasure.
You have your 'shit' at work (for which you put up with to receive your wages). You
probably believe in God and dismiss natural and
manmade calamities as anything other than what they are. You are the one who learnt to
tell the time and to read and write - and you
still can and still are.
The artist never leaves work. We carry it all the time. And after maybe nine
hours of shaken around travelling, little but fast
food, indifferent coffee that exasperates the mouth ulcers and worn car
seats that chafe your piles caused by years of stressful
arrival-time-restricted travel one picks up your instrument. Are you gonna
hear dross? No - you're gonna hear joy. Triumph over
adversity. Not mucking about. It's the joy of living, the joy of surviving, Dick.
dw : Do you think I could learn to like 'East/West?'
bj : It's powerful music, Dick. You don't hear much 'unadulterated music these days.
There's so much noise today the ear has to
shut off - which is why most popular music is so bland, otherwise the assault on the
senses would be too much. But give it a chance.
For fuck's sake - scientologists use The Hubbard (registered) Super VII E-Meter (trademark)
with electrodes and stuff. To 'improve' your
life!? Give yourself to this music and I assure you that regular concentrated doses will
rid you of 'soul-searching,' 'life-enhancement' and
give you a healthy disregard for religious mumbo-jumboism.
dw : But you sound just like all the others - 'Buy My Product'...
bj : Do I? That's great! Maybe at last I'm learning to sell in the market place.
So, Dick. Now that I've given you a load of verbal
bollocks - as a journalist, where are you going to sell it, eh?
dw : So we're just like all the others?
bj : Yup, human and first thing in the morning we all smell funny.