"Movers And Shakers" - Jonathan Mover talks to TWR about his musical career and about that GTR group. Interview by Alan Hewitt.
TWR: What were your own earliest musical influences?
JM: My early influences were many, mostly due to that others in my family were listing to at the time; ELP, Yes; Iron Butterfly; King Crimson; Maynard Ferguson; Chicago; Zappa; The Beatles. Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull; Genesis and Led Zeppelin came later on.
TWR: How did you become involved in music?
JM: My first interest in music came from seeing an animated film called "The Point" by Harry Nilson; the story and the soundtrack just blew my mind. I related to it so much so that it is undeniable in the sense of it being directly related to my becoming a musician. Shortly after that I recall hearing ELP and being blown away by Toccata on Brain Salad Surgery that got me interested in synths and drums and the thought of playing an instrument but it was hearing Inna Gadda Davida by Iron Butterfly that sealed the deal for me and started my love affair with drums.
TWR: What was the first band you played in?
JM: I guess that would be The Mad Hatters (quite appropriate given Steve Hackett's Charisma connections!). I was then thirteen or fourteen and we were a trio made up mostly in my basement and sometimes a gig for a local church; temple or an old folks' home.
TWR: You had a short stint in Marillion, how did it compare working with those guys and the guys in GTR?
JM: In some ways it did and in many ways it didn't. It did in the sense that it was an eye opener to the music industry; the business and the personal ego aspects of it. It didn't in the sense that Marillion was a small gig in comparison to playing in a super group that received immediate notoriety and attention worldwide. GTR put me on the map; Marillion didn't.
TWR: How did you become involved with GTR?
JM: I can thank Steve Hackett for that. After Marillion, I contacted Steve Hackett's manager at the time to enquire about a gig with Steve. It made sense since the drummer who took over with Marillion after my departure was Steve's previous drummer (Ian Mosley). It made sense since the drummer who took over with Marillion after my departure was Steve's previous drummer who had auditioned for the Marillion gig at the same time as I did. Anyway, I figured there must be a vacancy now that he took it after I left. Well, it turned out that I was a week or so late and Steve had already hired somebody else.
So, I decided to call the manager back and offer a deal… Steve gives me ten minutes in a rehearsal room; if I get the gig, he pays for the room. If I don't; I pay for it. He called me back and gave me the time and place to be… he ended up paying for the room! Shortly after getting the gig and preparing for a European tour, he called to tell me that he had met up with Steve Howe and that the two were going to put together a guitar-based super group and would I be interested in playing drums? Of course, I jumped at the chance and that was it for me.
TWR: How much input did you and the other guys have in the writing of the music for the GTR album? Was it pretty much a two man writing team with the others there to facilitate the playing of what had been written by the two Steves or did the rest of the band have a hand in the writing as well?
JM: Actually, Phil Spalding and I had quite a bit of input in regard to the writing, but since we were the new guys along with Max Bacon, we were told that we would receive publishing and writing credits on only one song apiece. That song became the one that we had the most input into. I ended up with Imagining but I also, along with Phil had a lot to do with Here I Wait, Jekyll And Hyde; You Can Still Get Through and Reach Out (Never Say No).
TWR: How did you feel about playing in a band fronted by two such well known musicians?
JM: It felt amazing. I mean you have to remember that even though I had had a bit of success and experience with Marillion and a few other bands back in the States, I was twenty or so playing with two of my favourite guitarists from two of my favourite bands; what more could a kid ask for? Instant rock star!
TWR: How well were the rest of the band treated by the two main protagonists and Brian Lane?
JM: Well, looking back on it now, I don't feel the need to complain as I did back then, but I felt it was unfair not to get the writing and publishing credits that we all deserved as well as the incredible waste of money that we all had to pay for in the end. That was one of the big lessons I got from the music industry at the time.
TWR: Do you have any amusing memories of the recording sessions and/or the tour itself?
JM: Actually I was the practical joker on the road and I have plenty of stories that I could tell but I doubt either of the two Steves found my antics as amusing as everyone else did. One amusing memory about the recording though… Phil and I had finished off all our parts within a few days so I had a lot of time to kill while the others were taking care of guitar and vocals. I decided to take a holiday in Europe with my girlfriend and when I got back I found that Geoff (Downes) had edited quite a bit of my drum parts and the songs in order to make the record more "accessible". Meaning all the big drum fills and some odd time bits and pieces were nixed.
So, me and my big mouth told Geoff and Steve Howe to go and fuck themselves; I quit on the spot and walked out of the Townhouse Studios. It was Steve Hackett who came out after me and persuaded me to stay and just go with it. His advice was to look at GTR as a stepping stone and use it as much as I could. I was pissed and hurt but I was lucky to have him looking out for me.
TWR: It is well documented that the GTR project eventually deteriorated, what are your thoughts on that subject? Where do you think it went wrong?
JM: I think it went wrong because of the people that got in between the two Steves along with some greed and a lot of blame throwing. You see, Hackett with Genesis and Howe with Yes had two very different ways of doing things. Instead of coming together with the help of a manager and producer, they were driven apart. There was a lot of blame thrown around for why GTR wasn't as big as Asia had been. So, instead of enjoying what we had created, and where we could go with it; the wedge just separated them so much so that it became sand and unenjoyable and a drag to be around that no matter how much I tried, when Hackett decided not to even show up in Devon for the writing/demo sessions for the next record, I knew my days were numbered. As much as I was angry with both of them for their silliness, my allegiance was with Hackett and I was not going to continue without him.
TWR: Were you involved on the follow-up album to GTR?
JM: Well, just for a moment I guess you could say. I showed up in Devon with the others to start writing the new record, and it’s a real shame that it didn't happen because there were some great songs developing but Steve Hackett never showed up and that really took its toll on me. He called me and said that he was done with GTR and would I still be interested in working with him on a solo project? I remember being crushed by it all and just decided to go home for the holidays and call it quits.
TWR: What projects were you involved with after GTR?
JM: I went straight from GTR to working with Joe Satriani for the better part of almost ten years. In and around and after Joe I have worked with Alice Cooper; Aretha Franklin; Fuel; Oleander; Frank Gambale; Stu Hamm and many others.
TWR: Did your experience of GTR teach you anything?
JM: Yes, it taught me plenty! Let's see… not all things are as they seem… shut your mouth and don't burn any bridges; take what you are given and make the most of it; forgive and forget…do I need to go on?
TWR: What projects are you currently involved with?
JM: Well, aside from doing many sessions; playing and producing, as well as owning and operating Skyline Studios here in New York City (www.skystudionyc.com) strangely enough I am involved with a new super group; its called "Penrod" and we will be recording the debut CD this winter. The band is based around myself, and partner Bret Scallions; former lead singer and rhythm guitarist from Fuel along with two other very notable musicians on lead guitar and bass soon to be divulged.
Our thanks to Jonathan for giving up so much of his time to talk to us here at TWR.