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Bill's Mike Giles Interview -- PART TWO

This is where writer Bill Murphy posts his interviews with the Crims, and other prog luminaries. It's a book in serial form -- that you become part of!

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Bill's Mike Giles Interview -- PART TWO

Postby LTinAspic on Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:36 pm

This is part two of my three-part interview with Crimso’s original (and still, in my opinion, the best) drummer Mike Giles. This picks up where Part One left off. Both interviews were conducted on April 24, 1993.


BM: What happened, then? There’s a big difference between the first album and the second album [In the Wake of Poseidon, 1970], in not only a loss of Ian and you kind of coming in as a guest musician. But there’s a different feel to it. Is that kind of what you’re talking about? That second album doesn’t feel at all like the first one, even though Greg’s still singing and you’re still playing drums, it’s different.

MG: I think, yes. I think you have to remember the quiet desperation of someone in Robert’s position who was not, who was highly ambitions at that point, and quietly desperate, probably. I mean, I’m trying to say all this in the kindest spirit. What would you do in that position? If someone had said to you, “Well, we don’t want the name, you take the name.” Two-fifths of the band are not with you.

BM: [laughs]

MG: And one of those fifths is a strong writer. What do you do? You know, there’s a demand for more music, you begin to enter the commercial world, don’t you?

BM: Yeah.

MG: You begin to enter the business world rather than the art world. So you make a second album, which is based on the first album, which was a proven, successful formula.

BM: Yep.

MG: Well, not that it was regarded as a formula when it was put together, but after the event, you know, managers and agents and record companies say, and even musicians say, “Well, that worked, so we’ll repeat it.” So it was a kind of repeat of the first one, but without, well, three fifths of it, really.

BM: Yeah.

MG: Because it was only really Robert and Pete that put it together.

BM: Yeah.

MG: So it was relying on the basic elements, and Robert’s writing ability, well, Robert’s and Pete’s writing ability.

BM: What caused you and Ian to—

MG: But, by the, purely by mathematics, it must make it less than the first, mustn’t it?

BM: And it does. It has a different feel to it by far.

MG: Yeah.

BM: But what caused you to leave? I asked Ian why he left the band, if he ever regretted it, and he said, oh yeah, he regretted it a lot. He was just young and kind of foolish. What was your reason for departing King Crimson after the first album?

MG: It’s so many reasons. I mean, one I’ve already mentioned.

BM: The touring?

MG: The touring, yeah. I could have handled the touring if it had been planned better, but immediately after Christmas we were due to go round Europe and I mean, one would have been completely exhausted after all that. Plus, I wanted to develop the relationship with my wife, which was a big thing.

BM: [laughs] Yeah, I can imagine it was.

MG: But there were a lot of musical differences. And there were a lot of differences in, I don’t know how, I mean, I use the word taste, discrimination. It seemed to me that the rest of the band was embarking on what I considered to be juvenile.

BM: Really? How is it then you got talked into guest drumming on the second album, if after you left?

MG: Well, because it didn’t mean that I was associated with it, other than in the studio.

BM: Oh, ok.

MG: So I could go in and do it and walk away from it.

BM: [laughs]

MG: As a musician rather than as a creator of it.

BM: Well, when you found yourself—

MG: I think really it all, it just comes down to personal and musical differences, I think. It’s a, when you get into the arts with a band of people who are not particularly well educated and have no company structure, nothing that’s been done before gives you the map of how to conduct yourself as a group, you know, as an artistic group and as a commercial group. And you have success and spotlight thrust on you in a very short space of time, it does create a lot of pressures and a lot of tensions, and different members react in different ways. It’s really, I think it’s got a lot to do with personal and musical differences and the pressures of rapid rocket success. Because I think if we’d have had more time, I don’t actually regret leaving.

BM: Really?

MG: No. I mean, I know that Ian said that before. And that’s the way he feels, and I respect that. But I don’t regret it. Have you spoken to Greg? What is he saying?

BM: No, I haven’t spoken to Greg. I have a couple requests to interview him, but his management kind of shoved it aside. [I eventually spoke to Greg Lake. The interview is posted here on ProjeKction.]

MG: Yeah, well that, yeah.

BM: Well, what changed? Did Robert change at all? You worked with him in Giles, Giles & Fripp [The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp, 1968], you spent months with him, a year or two maybe. Was he difficult? Did King Crimson change him at all? You know, I realize, what I’m saying is he later got the reputation for being very difficult to work with. You know?

MG: Yeah.

BM: Did he change when King Crimson came along, or were you just able to—

MG: I’ve always got on well with Robert.

BM: Yeah.

MG: I still do. And I like him. And I find his persona quite, I don’t find it a problem like other people do.

BM: Yeah.

MG: I mean, there does seem to be a point of connection between him and me, which other people don’t seem to be able to make.

BM: [laughs]

MG: Some other people. I mean, I really don’t find Robert a problem at all.

BM: That’s interesting. You’d be one of the few then, I guess. He seems very difficult, very intense, I guess. Very, well, Dick Fraser said, [laughs], Dik Fraser said Robert likes to talk about democracy in a band, but he doesn’t like it when people choose to do things he doesn’t want them to do. [laughs] You know? He’s got that kind of reputation, at least with Dik Fraser.

MG: Well, he, I mean, Robert is a very determined, intense, ambitions person.

BM: Yeah, that’s a good word.

MG: And there are quite a lot of people like that in the world.

BM: Mmhm.

MG: And they have their good side and their bad side. I mean at least people like that get things done. [laughs] Where other, more laid-back people, don’t get anything done.

BM: [laughs]

MG: [laughs] You know?

BM: Yeah.

MG: You know, you have to look upon these, you know, you don’t have to mention names, you could just say there are certain people, you know, one of those people’s got the name, the label Robert Fripp attached to him. Another one’s got the label Clinton attached to him. You know?

BM: Yeah.

MG: They’re forces which act in the world, aren’t they?

BM: Mmhm.

MG: And create activity, and things happening.

BM: So really, your problem wasn’t with Robert Fripp. Somehow the collective unit of King Crimson and the touring and stuff took its toll and you wanted out of that situation. That’s more—

MG: Yeah, I mean, I, it was a combination of things. And it’s the way that one person rubs off on another.

BM: Yeah.

MG: It’s quite hard to describe, really. I mean, for all Robert’s determination and intensity, he can be very gullible.

BM: Really?

MG: And very impressionable. Yes.

BM: That I wouldn’t have guessed at all. [laughs] You know, he seems very much in control of everything he’s saying and doing, and unable to be duped, you know?

MG: Yes, but rather like I said, you know, I find it very easy to be critical, so I check myself and I hold myself in.

BM: Yeah.

MG: So you might say if someone’s gullible, that they hold themselves in and try and protect themselves from being gullible, you know what I mean?

BM: Yeah. Well, what camaraderie did you strike up with Ian, then? When you left Crimson, you did the McDonald and Giles [1971] album. Did you intentionally leave Crimson to do that particular album, or did that just kind of fall into place afterwards?

MG: I think, well, Ian and I shared a desire to do something more friendly with some love in it, rather than things with hate in it.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

MG: And it seemed like a good thing to do at the time. [laughs]

BM: [laughs] What do you think of the album now, when you look back on it?

MG: I mean, as an artist, I find all previous work slightly embarrassing.

BM: [laughs]

MG: [laughs] You know, I’m not very satisfied with anything that I’ve done.

BM: Really?

MG: It’s just a perpetual search for a, I mean, I don’t say this easily, and I’m very happy that other people enjoy these records. But personally, I’m always dissatisfied, I suppose.

BM: Really.

MG: Well maybe not always.

BM: Ian seemed pretty critical of this album. He said it kind of embarrasses him a bit because of the vocals and whatnot. He’d like to remix it. But overall he says, “Birdman” is a pretty good piece of music. And he still likes the album overall, I guess.

MG: Oh, I like the album overall, but I suppose I get more out of the album because other people like it.

BM: What do you think are the possibilities of [English label] Voiceprint reissuing that one? I mean, Ian would like a crack at remixing that thing.

MG: I know he would, yeah. Well, Voiceprint hasn’t got the money.

BM: Really. Yeah, that’s one thing Ian found out. He wanted to have Voiceprint do his album, the one he’s working on now. He wanted to have Voiceprint release it, but they didn’t have the budget for it.

MG: Yeah, right. No, but they wouldn’t even have the budget for remixing.

BM: Really?

MG: Or reworking McDonald and Giles. So if that was to be done, yeah, I mean, it’s all water under the bridge to me. I’d rather move on. I’d rather make a new album with Ian.

BM: Well, why don’t you?

MG: Yeah.

BM: [laughs]

MG: Yeah.

BM: In fact, Ian mentioned something about there was some rumors or talk or maybe the original Crimson line up getting back together at some point and doing some exploring or something of the sort. Would you be open to that if it happened?

MG: Well, I’m more than open. I mean, I’ve send 12 pages of foolscap to Robert on the subject.

BM: Really?

MG: Last year, yeah. With a formula for seeing how it could work. But he’s somewhat reluctant to take it up. I think everybody would do it. I think probably Robert is holding back because he’s probably in a more powerful position to carry on with his own career.

BM: Well, that’s true.

MG: And perhaps doesn’t want to revisit the old line up.

BM: Well, do you think Greg Lake would really do that?

MG: Yes.

BM: Really? That’s—

MG: Oh yes, because I went to see Greg at Bristol when he was playing with the reformed ELP. And we were talking in the dressing room. And he said, “Do you know, people come backstage, and they bring albums for me to sign, and do you know which one they bring the most?” [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Yeah. That strange covered one, huh? [In the Court of the Crimson King.]

MG: It’s the King Crimson one. [laughs]

BM: Yep. [laughs]

MG: It’s not the ELP one. [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Yeah. When I talked to Peter Sinfield, he seemed to indicate that ELP just had massive egos in the ‘70s, and they’re just now starting to come down from that. And he says Greg still has a little bit of an attitude or something. He just stands around in his leather trousers and looks serious. So I would never have gotten the impression that he would have been open to something like that.

MG: Oh yes, he is, yeah.

BM: That’s really—

MG: No, yeah, because I mean, he and Robert have been talking.

BM: Really?

MG: Which is, you know, going on six months. So that’s something, isn’t it?

BM: That’s amazing. Yeah, I’d love to get a hold of Greg Lake. I’m going to have to try his management again in California. I’ll keep pressing them on it, see if I can get through to him.

MG: Well, yeah, I think you just have to keep trying.

BM: The Victory music label has some outside PR firm handling their interview requests. And it’s a group of women in the office,. And they always say they’re too busy and they haven’t got time to do this and that, and I just can’t get past them.

MG: Well, yeah, Greg does seem to surround himself with heavies.

BM: [laughs]

MG: Or his management does.

BM: Yeah, well that’s unfortunate for me. But that’s interesting. That’s really interesting.

MG: Well, some people do, some people don’t. It is a question of attitude, isn’t it?

BM: Yeah. Well, did you follow Crimson at all, after you did the first couple of albums? Did you listen to it from then on? Did you pay attention to what Robert was doing?

MG: I picked up the albums whenever I was in the office, and just played them once when I got home.

BM: Was it, [laughs], you were not that impressed with it, I take it?

MG: [laughs]

BM: [laughs]

MG: No. But I must say that the 1981 Discipline Band was one of the best things I’ve ever heard.

BM: Really?

MG: With Adrian Belew and Tony Levin and Bill.

BM: Yeah, that was a killer line up of musical talent, that’s for sure.

MG: Yeah, I thought that was the best thing that Robert’s ever done, outside of his Crafty Guitarist.

BM: There’s one thing that, he sent me a three-page fax about a week ago, actually, and he outlined some of his vision for King Crimson, and he said it was some kind of iconic entity outside of himself. I mean, like King Crimson is some kind of presence or being that plays through the musicians from time to time. Did he think that back then? Has it always been that kind of thing for him? Or did he slowly come to realize that over the years?

MG: I think it’s been a growing thing with him over the years. I mean, the seeds must have been there in 1969. And then they were probably scattered in the ‘70s. And those seeds, you know, some rain dropped on them in 1980, 81. And they shot up with the Discipline band.

BM: Yeah.

MG: And I think that, I don’t know, he’s been the holder of the King Crimson reins for all these years, but I think he doesn’t want to, I mean he’s got this kind of reverse, well, what do you call it? He’s trying to explain himself away.

BM: Yeah. That’s a good way to put that. I’d actually sent him a fax once to that effect. I said, “You seem like such a paradox. On the one hand, you’re self-depreciating, you say what you’re doing is not important, you shouldn’t be written about.” On the other hand, he painstakingly records every note and every detail and keeps putting out box sets.

MG: Yeah.

BM: I think that’s such a paradox.

MG: Yeah.

BM: I don’t really know what to make of that.

MG: Well, I mean, I have this theory that none of us devoid of duality. And some of our duality, no, some people’s duality has a much bigger dynamic range than other people’s. What I’m saying is that Robert, like the rest of us, suffers from a duality.

BM: [laughs]

MG: And his dynamic range is very big. [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Very dynamic duality. Yeah.

MG: In other words, I’m seeking the opposite. I’m seeking to reduce the dynamic range in my duality. I’m accepting the fact that I’ll never get rid of it. On the one hand, I’m a nice guy, and on the other hand, I’m a nasty guy. But I’m trying to get the nice and the nasty much closer together and just be me.

BM: [laughs] So, what is your opinion, then, of his comments. Do you share them? Do you think, what? Is it true?

MG: I think he’s trying to, he’s putting a group of words on something which he’s probably a bit sensitive about or embarrassed about. You know, he’s the holder of the name, and he puts bands together under that name, and you know—

BM: But there’s a big leap, though, between saying that name is an entity or being. I mean, that seems to take a step beyond just being a holder of that name. That’s almost like whatever that is is holding you. [laughs]

MG: I think it’s some, a kind of religion.

BM: Yeah.

MG: You know, when you look at the big man in the sky with the grey beard and you call him God. I mean, if you’re deeply religious, which I’m not. And I know what I mean by God. But I think that King Crimson is a kind of—

[The tape ran out here. I quickly turned it over and was able to pretty much pick up where we left off.]

BM: So that’s, really. That’s interesting. To keep his feet on the ground, he’s gotta be a servant to that God of King Crimson. I never would have thought it in those terms.

MG: Well, I’ve never thought of it either. That’s off the top of my head, so don’t take it too seriously.

BM: I’m not, no. But that’s an interesting theory. I mean, it really is. He did seem to indicate that the creative process for him was outside of himself. That music kind of—

MG: Yeah, but he’s right in that respect. I mean, if you talk about music as being outside of yourself, yes. But I don’t know about King Crimson. You know, I mean I’m not sure about his theory on that. I mean, if he regards King Crimson as a master which he must serve, then I can understand that. But I would agree that music is in the air.

BM: Really?

MG: And that you or I or anybody is welcome to pluck from the air any combination of notes, words, sounds, and make music. I mean, that is, you know, I’m not being cosmo or spiritual or anything. I mean, I think that’s the fact of life.

BM: I’ll betcha you’re one of the guys he was talking about then. I mean, he was saying that he tended to part company with most of the King Crimson players when it comes to his philosophies of music, with the exception of one or two. And I’ll betcha, that’s probably why you get along so well with him. I mean, you do have a philosophical link. You sound a lot like him when it comes to that aspect of things is what I’m saying.

MG: Well, anybody can do it. There’s a piano downstairs, you know, anybody can put their hands on it, can’t they?

BM: Yeah, but not everybody can equally, with the same amount of dexterity, play the thing. No matter how hard you’re listening to music out there calling you, not everybody has the ability to translate it.

MG: Well, I think, you know, maybe we all come from different directions. And I think it’s taken Robert a long time to realize that when you’re making music, you need to do more listening than playing. And he’s spent most of his life playing. You know, I think you’ve gotta have the right combination of both. And I think since that he’s got into the Crafty Guitarist, I think he’s learnt a lot. I don’t think his learning would have progressed if he’d have remained in a rock band. I think what he’s learnt has come from the [Greek-Armenian mystic G.I.] Gurdjieff and [Russian philosopher P.D.] Ouspensky teachings.

BM: Oh yeah, the [teacher/philosopher/author John G.] Bennett stuff.

MG: Yeah, which has been put into play, it’s been seen to work with the Crafties. And so he’s better for it.

BM: That’s interesting.

MG: You know, I think we’ve all got our cross to bear, and I mean, I think he’s done well, really, considering what a struggle he’s had with himself. And when I talk about himself or myself, I’m talking about my father, my grandfather, my great grandfather, and everyone on my mother’s side, what our genetic structure is and what our hereditary structure is, you know. And if you think of every human being in those terms, most of us are struggling.

BM: Sure.

MG: I mean, we’re not, I’ve got three children, and one of them is blessed. One of them doesn’t struggle.

BM: Wow.

MG: You know, he’s one of the few people in the world that I know, and I’m very lucky to live with him, who no matter, he can’t lose, this boy.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

MG: He’s not particularly clever. You know, he’s not brilliant at school or you know, he’s a good drummer, and I’ve never taught him anything. And he’s only 13, but I mean, there’s a ray of sunshine shining through him which I don’t see in other people.

BM: Yeah.

MG: I don’t see it in myself. You know, when people call him an angel, I think that’s what he is. He’s an angel, on earth.

BM: Yeah.

MG: It’s incredible. And you must believe me, I’m not a spiritualist, I’m not a cultist, I don’t take drugs.

BM: [laughs]

MG: I never have done, I mean, I’m dead straight. [laughs]

BM: I believe you. [laughs]

MG: I’m not a cosmo person.

BM: Yeah.

MG: I don’t belong to any sect or cult or anything. And so the rest of us, you know, have got a terrific struggle going on. And I think Robert’s had an enormous struggle to pull his life together.

BM: Well, it’s interesting that when he corresponds with me, sends me faxes or whatnot, it’s always in such veiled terms. He never really just comes out and says what’s on his mind, he always just drops hints or suggestions or makes comments. And he says, “Well here’s your clue, go search it out.” You know, what I’d like him to do is say, here it all is on the table, just spill his guts and tell me what he’s thinking and feeling. That would make things easier for me. But he’s very enigmatic, you know, he’s a very private person.

MG: Yeah, that’s true. Well, so am I, in a different way.

BM: Tell me something—

MG: I don’t want to be recognized on the street.

BM: [laughs]

MG: I don’t want my picture in the paper. I never have.

BM: Really?

MG: I don’t want any of that, no. All I want is genuine, healthy appreciation of what I do, and enough money to survive.

BM: So you’re motivated strictly by the creative process. You like to create music, be inventive, be creative, and that in itself is the majority of your reward then.

MG: Yes, yeah. Providing I’m—

BM: Paid for it.

MG: Me and my family aren’t starving. [laughs]

BM: [laughs] You know, the word that’s been used to describe you, when I talk to Ian or Dik, is the word inventive. I mean, they said that you were one of the most inventive drummers they’ve ever seen, especially in your drum solos in concert. Dik was saying that most drummers built to a crescendo, but your solos petered out.

MG: [laughs]

BM: They got quieter and quieter. [laughs]

MG: [laughs]

BM: Where did the inspiration for that come from? [laughs]

MG: [laughs]

BM: He said that in a good way, by the way. You had the audience in the palm of your hand. And every little tap on the snare, you know, you got so quiet, and the whole audience was just hushed and still. Where did that come from? Where did you get the idea to do it like that?

MG: I mean, well, like we said before, I don’t associate myself with drum soloists. I don’t regard myself as a solo drummer or technician or, I mean, I find the, I have always found the drum solo to be a very show-off, egotistical, technical display of dynamics and what you learnt at home. And I just, I find the whole formula so clichéd and so boring. And so I just went the other way, really, and let perversity reign.

BM: [laughs]

MG: And went in the opposite direction. [laughs] And tried to make it as rubbishy and topsy-turvy as I possibly could.

BM: Well, you impressed your band mates.

MG: [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Ian said that some of the concerts you guys played, you tried to see who would chicken out first.

MG: That’s true, yeah.

BM: You’d be totally quiet and see who had to make the noise first.

MG: Yeah.

BM: Was that, what brought that about?

MG: Well that’s, I mean, that’s lovely. It’s sex, I think, and I think it’s quite interesting for the audience as well. I mean, some people might think it’s indulgent, but actually, playing with silence is quite fun. You know, playing with space, time, silence. Much more interesting than filling it all up. And well, you see, part of my attitude is that one of the things I don’t like about rock music is its circus nature. I think circuses are very colorful, but they’re not very good for the animals.

BM: [laughs] That’s true.

MG: I don’t mind the clowns, you know, getting buckets of water over them. But you know, I do find that the, and it still goes on today. I mean, I’d have thought that it would all have been dropped years ago, you know, all this dry ice and fireworks and bigger stage rigs and more lights, and more and more and more and more and more. It has a canceling effect, doesn’t it? It all cancels itself out in the end.

BM: It becomes clichéd and trite.

MG: Yeah. So it’s got to do with that. And really, I didn’t want to go on like a performing animal.

BM: [laughs]

MG: Let out of a cage, namely an aircraft or a hotel lobby, and then be let out, you know, come through the tunnel like the lions do, and then be let out. And you’re so pent up and frustrated, that you’ve just got to give vent and show off and break lose, you know. Once you get on the stage, and the lights, you know, that’s the fundamentals of most rock concerts.

BM: It doesn’t sound like you’d ever really want to be in a band again and do any tours.

MG: Oh I would, but I’d have to believe it. It would have to be real. And it would have to be honest, I mean, no pretensions at all. It would, I would have to, you know, to get on that van or in that hotel room or on that airplane, it would have to be very real.

BM: Do you think over the years that all the egos, and well, what am I trying to say here? Do you think age has brought a maturity and sort of a diminishing of all the egos that would allow for all you guys to get together again, you know, the first Crimson lineup? Do you think that’s helped? In other words, what’s different now between all you guys that couldn’t seem to get together then, that could probably do it now?

MG: Yes, I think it’s almost possible to do it now, with Robert’s agreement. I think age has a mellowing effect. I don’t think it changes people. I don’t think it changes their fundamentals. I just think it makes them a little bit kinder, a little bit more open minded, a bit more tolerant. I mean, surely, that’s what it should do.

BM: Oh yeah.

MG: You know, you don’t get, the older you get, the less upset you get about things.

BM: [laughs] Hopefully.

MG: You know there’s only one place to go, don’t you?

BM: [laughs]

MG: [laughs]

BM: Well, in all the years since Crimson, you know, the albums you did -- McDonald and Giles, and even your solo album -- what are the highlights of that? What have you really looked back on at this point and said, “Well jeez, I just loved doing that. That was a great session, or that was a great album”?

MG: Actually, there are some good things. But they’re not publicly known. Because I’ve done about 40 albums, and quite a lot of production. I’ve been active during this period. But I can think of the second or even the first John Perry album, which was incredibly creative and of which I’m quite proud of my contributions. And the first one didn’t sell very many, and the second one never even got released.

BM: [laughs] Is it still in the can somewhere then?

MG: Yes.

BM: Really?

MG: Yes. I told [Voiceprint’s] Rob Ayling about it, but it would be a question of someone buying it from Decca. And also, that film music I told you about, the Ghost Dance.

BM: Oh yeah, with Jamie Muir?

MG: With Jamie Muir and David Cunningham. That was very good too.

BM: What is Jamie Muir up to these days? Is he still, David didn’t have any idea where he was. [I eventually caught up with Jamie. My interview is posted here on ProjeKction.]

MG: He’s in his garage, painting. He just paints.

BM: Is he really? Wow. That was an interesting Crimson incarnation, with him in it.

MG: Yes, I think he was very good for it. But there again, he couldn’t handle it either.

BM: Well, all the things he did, the bizarre stage antics and things, I asked Dik, I said, “Was this guy really all there?” And he said, “Well, yeah. He was very lucid and intelligent, but on stage he just let loose, you know. There was just something different about his stage persona.”

MG: No, I liked Jamie, I liked working with Jamie.

BM: Yeah, he seems like a very interesting guy.

MG: Yeah, he’s all there.

BM: [laughs]

MG: Definitely all there.

BM: Is he still, he’s in a monastery yet, eh?

MG: No, no, he came back from India. He went to Scotland and then India, and he came back in about 1979, I think, or 1980. And then we did the Ghost Dance in about ’82 I think. It was something like 10 years ago.

BM: Wow.

MG: But very, very good stuff. Quite strange, but good.

BM: Is that going to be, that’s not on CD.

MG: We’re going to print that one up and put it out, yeah.

BM: I hope so.

MG: Yeah, because that’s all paid for and it’s all done. There’s no costs involved with that, so that should come out this year.

BM: Good, good. Well, what does the future look like? You still gonna look for sessions here and there, or are you going to keep pressing Robert to do the Crimson thing?

MG: No, I’m not really looking to other people, I’m looking to myself. I’ve got a lot of compositions to do this year.

BM: Yeah.

MG: I want to get this CD out with Rob, or out, anyway, if he wants to do it, but I’m concentrating on my own stuff. I’ve got a studio space out at real world.

BM: That’s not far from you then.

MG: No, that’s right. And all the ethnic, world music players come through there at some point. Really, what I’m interested in is world music. You know, if my album was in a record shop and Peter Gabriel’s was in a record shop, they’d have to go in the same rack.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

MG: But mine would be, obviously different from his. I think, for me, that’s the only future for music, is to recognize the world, and not the overblown, greedy, fat, western, post-industrial societies that we live in.

BM: World music doesn’t, well, Peter Gabriel sells mega bucks because of his name, and I don’t know all the reasons, but world music in general doesn’t really sell that well. I mean, it’s not a commercial success by any means.

MG: Well, that’s because it’s early days. It hasn’t been developed. Peter’s taken it in a very healthy direction, and he knows that he can’t go the whole way. But you never know, you know, over the next few years, he might. He might introduce his audiences to more and more real ethnic, you know, Egyptian pipe players and all that sort of thing. I mean, he’s doing it through the catalog, at the moment, the Real World catalog anyway.

BM: Yeah.

MG: But you never know, he might incorporate more of it in his own music.

BM: What’s the appeal of that particular music, and why do you care about Egyptian pipe players or bassists from Somalia or something? Why do you think people in England want to hear that kind of music? Why do you think people in Australia give a rip about music from a different country in that manner? What do you think the appeal is?

MG: Well, my interest is educational and historical, namely that if I’d had a real music education when I needed it, and that I was introduced to world music when I was 13, and I’d had a training in drums and piano as well, and jazz and blues and rock and pop and Buddy Holly and everything, then I’d feel that I was, I’d have more of a sense of being more complete than I am.

BM: Yeah.

MG: So, it’s a bit of a voyage of discovery, looking at world music. I’m not seeking to copy it, and I don’t actually play a lot of it at home. I just think that it’s educational. It’s the right thing to do. It makes oneself aware of how fat and consumptive we are. Not that I am fat.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

MG: And I find it illuminating.

BM: Do you listen to other bands, the Midnight Oil type, the Earth Day type thing? Do you listen to other bands of that so-called alternative or world music bent? Do you have favorite ones you listen to these days?

MG: Actually, I try not to listen to. [laughs]

BM: Really?

MG: I mean, I don’t know how to describe it. I’ve got this, I’ve got, sometimes I feel like listening to everything, and other times I just want to hear the music that’s in me, and get that out.

BM: Yeah.

MG: So it’s a bit of a sea saw, that one, another sort of duality.

BM: Do you have problems ever, getting music out? Being a drummer, drums aren’t a melodic instrument or anything. When you hear music in you, do you ever have difficulty expressing that to people around you?

MG: Yeah, it is difficult.

BM: Really.

MG: It means that I have to spend a lot of time on my own with a multi-track machine before I can express an idea to other people, because I’m not a good piano player or anything else. No, that’s a good question, actually. Yeah.

BM: Wow. Well, do you have anything else on your paper that you haven’t gotten to yet? I’ve gone through all the questions I have today. We’ve been talking for a couple hours now. If you have other things you’d like to add that I haven’t gotten to, feel free to do so.

MG: I’d like to talk again, because there’s still a lot to go.

BM: Yeah.

MG: On my cue sheet, I’ve got progressive rock, working in KC, McDonald and Giles, but there’s a whole load of, I don’t know whether that’s relevant to your book or whatever.

BM: There’s a lot I’d like to talk about.

MG: Or anything else you write for, but there’s a massive biography, there’s a massive discography.

BM: Definitely, yeah.

MG: There’s a lot more I could say.

BM: I’d like to know what you think of the music industry, and the changes since the King Crimson days also, but if you don’t mind, if I can call you back another time, I’d love to.

MG: Yeah, no, I’m happy to talk. Or, and write. I mean, we’ve not covered any of the favorite albums or songs or musical influences or…

BM: And that’s stuff I definitely would like to know. So it’s, if you don’t mind—

MG: Or all the hundreds of people I’ve worked with as well.

BM: Yep, that’s all important stuff.

MG: There’s lots and lots.

BM: Well one thing, what I told Ian is, I don’t really want to label Ian a progressive rocker and just talk about his King Crimson days. What I wanted to know was about him and his musical career. And the same goes with you. You’re just not stuck in ’69 and all you’ve done is King Crimson. I really do want to know your whole career. So anything you’ve got along those lines is definitely pertinent to what I’m doing.

MG: Right, ok.

BM: When would be a good time to give you a call back, then? Next Saturday? The Saturday after that?

MG: Yeah. I mean.

BM: It’s up to your schedule.

MG: I just remembered something I should have in the book. We’ve got a wedding to go to next Saturday, so it can’t be then.

BM: Ok, I can call you in two weeks, if that’d be fine. In the meantime, actually, I’ll send you that tape I was—

MG: In two weeks would be quite good, actually, because if I take the studio at Peter Gabriel’s, then I will have opened all the boxes by then. [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Perfect. In the meantime, I’ll make that compilation tape for you, so you can hear what’s going on out there with, where progressive rock went. [laughs] What it’s doing now. And Ian found it to be fairly eye-opening, although he said he couldn’t stomach, [laughs] he didn’t like to hear a lot of it, because it did have that retro sound to it.

MG: Yeah. Well if it’s not too much trouble, I’d love to hear it.

BM: No, it’d be a lot of fun. Yeah.

MG: Yeah, because obviously, it’s a bigger scene out there than it is here.

BM: Definitely. That’s really good. Well, I really enjoyed the time today. It’s fascinating to listen to a lot of your theories.

MG: Well, so have I, because I haven’t done many interviews, and it’s, I suppose, I mean, I am actually interested in the whole subject. All of it.

BM: Well, that’s good then. It’s fortunate that we’re connecting, then. [laughs]

MG: [laughs]

BM: You want to talk about it, and I want to hear about it. [laughs] So we’re perfectly matched there.

MG: Yeah.

BM: Well, that’s good. Was the time I called fine? I could call in two weeks at 5:00 your time, if that’s alright.

MG: 5:00, I’m just writing it down now.

BM: Ok.

MG: Five pm, Saturday the eighth.

BM: Ok, May eighth. Alright.

MG: It must be costing you a lot of money.

BM: Uh, yeah, actually my last phone bill was about $400. It does cost a lot. I call Spain, I call Holland, I call Switzerland, I call, in fact, I talked to Steve Howe in Switzerland a couple weeks ago. So yeah, my phone bills are pretty enormous.

MG: Mind you, I think what you pay for telephone in the States is much cheaper than it is here.

BM: That’s what I hear from Stuart Nicholson, the lead vocalist of the Galahad band I told you about, tells me that. I talk to him all the time, and he’s amazed that it costs me less to call him than if he called me.

MG: Well, $400 doesn’t seem much.

BM: You pay by the quarter, though, don’t you?

MG: Yeah.

BM: I do that by month. I don’t know what your bill—

MG: Yours is monthly, is it?

BM: Yeah, yeah.

MG: Well, it still doesn’t seem very much.

BM: So in a quarter, that would be like--

MG: For international calls.

BM: Yeah.

MG: I think you’ve got a good deal. [laughs]

BM: Yep. [laughs]

MG: [laughs]

BM: Alright, well I’m looking forward to speaking with you in a couple weeks, and in the meantime, you’ll receive a tape from me. I hope your couple of weeks goes well for you.

MG: Well, thank you very much, Bill.

BM: Alright.

MG: I’ve enjoyed it. Thanks for your interest, too.

BM: Oh, thank you for being there. I appreciate your time.

MG: [laughs]

BM: We’ll talk to you later.

MG: Ok.

BM: Bye bye.

MG: Bye bye.

So ends my interview with Mike Giles. At least, the first part. I’ll dig up the next interview and get it published ASAP.

Feel free to let me know what you think, good or bad. Love to read your thoughts.

"You make my life and times
A book of bluesy Saturdays
And I have to choose..."
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