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17th April 2017

Q: Bernie it’s good to talk to you again; how are you?

BT: Still recovering from the tour to be honest but good thanks.

Q: So the pledge for your new album was reached in an astonishing nine hours…

BT: Yeah! Eight hours and forty-five minutes to be exact.

Q: It takes longer than that for a record company executive to say yes to a new album.

BT: (laughs)

Q: You must have been close to tears with that.

BT: Yeah it was just amazing! I really didn’t expect it and it was faster than either of the two earlier pledges. I was close to tears but I was also terrified because I suddenly realized that once again, I now had to do it! (laughs) You know, it was  like in the old days when I was in Ian’s band (Gillan) when we only really had twenty to twenty-eight days to complete and album and that would be write it, record it, mix it and have it there at the end of those twenty-eight days and the engineer had to have a couple of days off too. Having that cut off time was great because it means you don’t fuddle around thinking ‘I’ll put another guitar on here’  - you have to get it done.

Q: Did you have all the songs ready to go? Two albums of new material – especially two of the diversity of acoustic and electric – is a lot to come up with.

BT: In truth, on the electric album, I probably had about two-thirds of the tracks but that’s not to say they were finished arrangements of how I was going to record them. On the acoustic album, I probably had about half and ideas for other tracks. Oddly enough, it’s the tracks that I had completed that are the harder ones to record because you have a vision in your head and in fact, on the electric album, there were two tracks that had the drums and bass that were recorded for Blackheart but hadn’t happened for that album so I re-recorded a guitar part and changed the top line and lyrics so that they became different songs.

Q: Talking about the live disc first, why did you select the South Shields gig? Was it just one you happened to have recorded or was there something special about it?

BT: Well I’ve got to say it’s always a special gig to play in South Shields. It’s my heartland in terms of audience – they are great up there – but having said that, I didn’t choose it, it chose me. I didn’t know it was being recorded. What happened was that the guy had a new mixing desk up there and he was able to record on separate tracks and he didn’t tell me about it or ask and I actually didn’t find out about it until about a month afterwards. He asked me if I’d like it and at the start I was a bit pissed off because he hadn’t asked to record us and in fact on that show I was really ill. I had flu, a temperature, splitting headache and was bloody dying so hearing it, I was amazed – it was good! (laughs)

Q: I’m a big fan of trios. The original Motorhead, The Jam, Rory’s band of course and Hendrix because everyone has to work that little bit harder. Ian, Chris and yourself certainly sound like one of the best trios around these days both live and in the studio. Where did you find those guys?

BT: Chris I’ve known a long time. He was in the Tormé line-up in 1985 and then went to the US and joined Shark Island and then we hooked up again around 2006/7 when he came back to the UK and after GMT – the McCoy/ Tormé thing – stopped touring, I called Chris. Ian lives close to me and my previous drummer who had actually played on Flowers And Dirt had left and I had a tour coming up so asked around if anyone knew of a great drummer and I an was recommended. I had never seen him, he just turned up and he was absolutely bloody fantastic! A lovely guy too – it was instant. A match made in heaven really.

Q: The feel I get from this album Bernie and please don’t get me wrong here, it’s not about the playing but the actual feel of the trio, the feeling I got was akin to when I used to see Rory Gallagher play.

BT: Oh absolutely! Rory is a huge hero of mine.

Q: Well the feeling Rory created in an audience and on a record, you’re trio has that.

BT: Thank you. That is a real compliment. I appreciate that a lot. I knew Rory slightly and he was such a nice gentleman. He treated everyone around him well, his audience well and even though he was a star, he was incredibly down to earth and I’ve always tried to do that too. Maybe it’s an Irish thing; I don’t know.

Q: There is a very live feel to the first disc which is the studio album – is that pretty much how it was recorded?


BT: Yes. I tend to try and aim at that. It isn’t true of every track and if you look at Janus for example, it’s very produced and Proggy but generally that isn’t what I aim at because I truly believe that the best Blues and Rock ‘n Roll is quite instant and emotional. The minute you start polishing too much, it loses it.

Q: The mastering sounds quite analogue to me as well and I should mention that I prefer vinyl these days to CD; was that mastering sound a deliberate thing?

BT: Again, I aim at that. An awful lot of CDs nowadays don’t have any dynamic range. Mine always have and more so on this CD than the previous ones. I also structure the CDs as if they are records so there is a sort of side 1, side 2, side 3 and side 4 because that’s how I hear it. I think all of us in the nineties who recorded immediately after CD happened thought ’60 minutes…70 minutes?’ It’s too long an entity for a side. The studio and acoustic albums are around 45 minutes which is like two sides of 22 minutes each. That to me is the form that works.

Q: I agree and as a side note to that, we are now in an age where kids attention span is much lower than when we were kids and the time they spend listening to one artist is a lot less. I wonder how many how many CDs of 70 minutes actually get listened to too the end.

BT: Yeah and there are an awful lot of reissues that have extra tracks at the end. I recently bought a lot of Byrds albums and yes they are in places a bit patchy but there is a certain entity to them. Then they have added a half hour of extra tracks at the end that have no context at all. I find that spoils it.

Q: I’m 100% with you. As someone who loves Rock history, I like to hear that stuff but to own, I’d rather have it on a separate disc. When it comes to pre-CD days recordings, I’ll always favour the vinyl if not just for the tangible experience of it.

BT: I know what you mean. When you think of the Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath albums, they are not long but there is so much in them and they hang together so well.

Q: Right, now, let’s get back to Ian and Chris: How much do they contribute to the writing and arrangements?

BT: They don’t write basically but the arrangements they have ideas on and in some cases really help tracks work that when I play them think ‘Oh no, that’s not happening at all.’ I suppose in some ways I am a kind of dictator and control freak (laughs). I hope I am a benign dictator but if they do things that I think are not happening, I will say ‘No, don’t do that, do this.’ It is a mix. I am always happy to hear other people’s ideas it’s just that I’ll often say no. (laughs) Thinking about Gillan, Ian was such a fantastic guy to have leading the band recording those albums because he really, rarely had any opinions. If he had them, he kept them to himself and it was band who created the tracks and when we would squabble amongst ourselves, he’d stay out of it. We would ask him ‘Is this better or that better?’ and then he would say which one he preferred but he was great for that band because everyone in that band had too many ideas. (laughs)

Q: Well there was a lot of good musicians in that band…

BT: Yeah and whole lot of opinions! (laughs)

Q: When a Rocker goes acoustic for an album as you have for the second disc in this set, there’s always an element of doubt in the air but I have to say, it’s my favourite of the three discs and that’s not to put down the other two but you surprised me so much with this one.

BT: That’s cool. It’s a thing I’ve always wanted to do. In terms of this whole project, that was what I really wanted to do and just as you said, I thought no one would be interested in an acoustic album by Bernie Tormé because it won’t have all the woos and pick-up squeals on it so no one would buy it so the only thing I could really do was have it part of a double album – then they have to buy it! (laughs) Then of course the live album turned up and it became a triple but I really didn’t think people would like it. I have had an amazing reaction, people like yourself have said it’s the best part and I am so pleased because it was new ground too me and trying something I had never tried for even though I had had little acoustic parts going back to the Gillan albums. I have honestly been really knocked out and particularly starting off with a track that is almost twelve minutes long…you know, if you don’t like this, you’re not going to like anything!

Q: That opener floored me. So much so that when it finished, I went back and listened to it again three times before moving onto the other tracks because I wanted to take it all in.

BT: That’s great. I was scared about putting it on but I have three kids, two of whom are in a band whose favourite artist is Black Sabbath. So I played it to them and they said ‘Dad, that’s absolutely fantastic! That’s brilliant!’ and so I thought well if a twenty year old says that too me, that’s got to be good.

Q: I had no idea you had that in you – which acoustic players do you admire and what are your influences for these songs?

BT: I’ve always liked acoustic music and when I was a teenager in Dublin, the great thing was that there was an explosion of Folk, Rock, Blues and traditional Irish music. I remember going to gigs and seeing (the Irish) Skid Row which had Gary Moore in it and they would be supported by Planxty which were a Irish traditional band. There was Terry Woods who was a Folk artist and later on in The Pogues…it was a mix and very open as it was in London at that time as well before it became awfully tribal – I like only Heavy, I like Prog, etc so I always hark back to those times. I like Folk artists – always have done – and I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan’s early stuff in though I don’t try to do anything like that. I have a friend who works for Keith Richards and Keith always said write on acoustic and if it works on acoustic, it will work on electric and I think that’s true. A lot of the electric tracks I have written over the years have been written on acoustic so I don’t see it as a great differential. I think the problem came with journalists who saw it as a great split. It’s all music isn’t Glenn?

Q: It certainly is and to reiterate your point, Rick Wakeman was out here last year with and said that all of his material is written acoustically which is what the entire show was all about. He played the entire Journey To The Centre Of The Earth on a piano and it was gorgeous.

BT: That’s fantastic. I kind of feel that the way music has been marketed, you have a differentiation between say Eddie Van Halen and Bert Jansch. I don’t there is a difference; they are both incredible players and both have tricks that work in either context.

Q: Are you doing an acoustic set in the shows?

BT: No actually. The last tour I did, it was ok in some places but the problem is, if you’re playing Rock clubs, it’s quite hard to get people to pay attention to an acoustic set. They talk and drink and holler so it’s bit hard because it’s an introspective kind of thing. I’m hoping to work it out and either do an acoustic tour or a set.

Q: What guitar are you playing on those tracks?

BT: It’s a Guild Dreadnought and on two or three tracks I play a resonator.

Q: What’s tuning for Lethe?

BT: The low E is dropped to a D but other than that it’s normal tuning.

Q: That’s a very interesting subject matter as well – is that from Greek Mythology and the river down to Hades?


BT: It is – yes. In my teenage years I was probably one of the last generation to learn classical Greek at school and when I came out of school, my parents wanted me to go to university even though I wanted to go London and join a band. So I thought ‘What is going to be the easiest to pass for me?’ and thought classical Greek and there were only three people in the class (laughs). I was in a department with a professor and all that and the entire thing only had about four pupils so they were not going to fail anyone because if they don’t have a second year and a third year, they are putting themselves out of a job. I was ok at it, not really good at it – I’ve always had enough problems speaking English – but I loved it in terms of the stories, the mythology and doing The Iliad and The Odyssey and I came out of it with a whole load of images and tales that I’ve always tried to use and on the acoustic album it kind of fell in.

Q: Well you’ve come up with a truly enjoyable ride with this album Bernie and the only question that remains is are you going to let on who the mystery person is on keyboards?

BT: (laughs) No! I thought about asking Colin (Towns) who is a fantastic player and so clever and I thought if I got him on there it wouldn’t sound primitive enough because he’s too good! That acoustic album is quite stark and simplistic and if the playing on it was too good I would have lost that folky element.

Q: Yes and it would also lose the ‘Bernie Tormé sitting in your front room’ feel which is how I hear it.

BT: (laughs) Oh that’s fantastic because that’s exactly how I intended it to be heard.

Q: Bernie, it’s so good to talk to you and we hope to see you out here later in the year.

BT: Cheers Glenn and it’s great to talk to you too. I really enjoyed it.


























BT:クリスは昔から知っていたんだ。1985年の’トーメ’のメンバーでもあったし。それから彼はアメリカに渡って、’シャーク・アイランド’に加入した。その後、彼がまたイギリスに帰って来た2006年か07年に僕たちは再会したんだ。GMT (マッコイ・トーメ・プロジェクト)の後、ツアーを止めた時にクリスに電話したんだ。イアンは僕の近所に住んでいて、「Flowers And Dirt」に参加したドラマーが辞めてしまって、ツアーが迫っていた時に、誰かいいドラマーはいないかなって探していたらイアンを紹介されたんだ。彼には会ったことがなかったんだけど、すぐに駆けつけてくれた。会ってみると、素晴らしかったよ!すぐに決まった。天の恵みってやつさ!


























































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