"1984 - an antique year" - Interview conducted on Sunday 28th August 1995 (originally published in #8 of The Pavilion).
INT: Moving on to the next album, which eventually became the third in the series. The most noticeable thing about it is the complete change of style between this one and 1984. Can you outline how this album came about…
AP: I remember the Argentineans didn’t like 1984 at all. It is very much an album that divides people. They didn’t like it at all but John Anthony was a big fan of that album, for example. The Argentineans were also outside the whole process that I had been through. Quique wasn’t a proper recording musician at that time and so he hadn’t been under the same sort of pressure that I had been under for three or four years.
I got together with Quique and played some music informally with him for about three years after I had first met him at one of the sessions for Sides in 1978. We would either sight read things or we would jam and I think I took round some of my duets which I had actually scored such as Old Wives’ Tale and some of the parts of the Hurlingham Suite. I don’t remember having any long discussions about it and it wasn’t a question of anyone saying “You must do another Private Parts & Pieces album..” It was mainly up to me, so the motivation had to come from me rather than anybody else.
It was a great time that summer. I remember about the time that 1984 came out, I did the Masquerade stuff with Richard Scott at Send. I also did a lot of stuff with Denis (Quinn). I helped him record his first lot of demos about that time as well. I then moved on pretty much straight on to do the stuff with Quique. Within a month of recording the material for Antiques with Quique, I was looking to buy my first house in London so things were happening very much as they came and there was no great long term plan.
So Private Parts & Pieces III just came out of going round to his place for dinner a lot of the time. I guess I must have been reckoning in slipping in another Private Parts & Pieces album during the later part that summer and I recall saying to him that we should do a side of an album as I had planned to do an acoustic album at some point. Then it turned out that they were leaving to go back to Argentina about nine months ahead of the Falklands War and that must have spurred us on I think to record some stuff.
It was just so easy working with him. There were no gruelling sessions where we scratched our heads. I used to just turn up there at about six or seven, we would do a bit of playing, have some supper and then do some more playing. It was perfect.
INT: Was the vast majority of the material for the album specially written for it?
AP: Mainly, yes. Apart from Old Wives’ Tale and the parts of the Hurlingham Suite it was pretty much all new stuff. We started off saying that we should keep it simple and then we got one or two ideas for slight variations like at the end of Old Wives’ Tale where all those extra guitars come in and we started dubbing up quite a bit. Quique was pretty disciplined unlike one or two other people I had worked with and so it was OK to suggest adding the odd extra parts here and there. I think we kept it mainly to two guitars with one or two extras as it were.
The recording, like a lot of things, got a little bit difficult because you are worried if you are getting the best performance as there was no producer but, in the main,. It was pretty easy. I was always concerned because I thought his playing was better than mine. He had better nails than me. I remember I had broken a nail, so my bottom string doesn’t sound as good as it could. Elegy had a twelve string tuned very low which was quite an oddity. I tink it is now pretty well known that the piece at the start of side two called Danse Nude is in fact, part of Sand Dunes backwards.
Things like Bandido just came straight out, no problem. We actually triple tracked the classical guitars on that and it does sound more powerful on that as a result. It was popular with our friends as well. I remember Denis loved that piece I called Frosted Windows. There was nobody else I could have done that sort of stuff with; Quique’s playing was just so good. He also didn’t push the writing, he let me lead with the writing so that was a good combination. Otto’s Face was named after friend Otto. Esperansa I had had for a while that was just an old twelve string sequence of mine which Quique added a tune to. Old Wives’ Tale was originally called Little Leaf. I don’t think there are any out-takes, nothing got left off. This album was put together pretty quickly.
INT: How long did the whole thing take to record?
AP: I think it can’t have been anything over a month. We recorded it and then went away on holiday. In the meantime, I mixed it and when they came back they listened to it and we did all the titling. Then they disappeared for good via Italy. It was in Rome that we took all these crazy photos than you can see on the back cover. We actually scored it all as well when we were in Rome, we had dreams of getting it published but that never happened. I was quite a taskmaster over that, I was really determined. It would have been expensive to print as well, with lots of pages for the duets and the pieces are not that easy.
There were a number of mistakes made with the cover as well. I told Peter Cross that it was Henrique at first and then he had to go away and correct it, I felt rather awkward about that to be honest. The photos were all touched up as you probably know. The one with the chap wearing shorts was taken on a nudist beach. The photo of Quique in the top right was taken when he was stopped by the police for speeding! (laughs). Otto on the front looks a little bit too like Dirk Bogarde there but Peter had to do the cover very quickly as there wasn’t a lot of money available for this one. Quite what “Smithy” (Tony Smith) thought of this I don’t really know! (laughs).
The mention of the long weekend in the Banco di Roma came about from the fact that I was just amazed at how different the banks were. In England we always get this nice orderly line but when we went into a bank there, I was amazed to see all these people just milling round. All the tellers were just sitting there chatting to each other and occasionally one of them would come forward to serve somebody and there would be a surge of people towards him. There were guys there with wild staring eyes that looked as if they might have been there for years without a hope of ever getting their money. Quique’s name DOES mean Henry Watercress - hence the credit. (To this day I am convinced that Ant was pulling my leg about this - AH)
INT: What was the release situation with this album?
AP: RCA still had me on board although 1984 didn’t do what they had wanted it to do, This wasn’t the next proper album as far as they were concerned and they weren’t interested in it. But Tony Smith managed to persuade them to out it out over here. He had to insist that that they put it out for an advance of £1! The pressure was already building up for what eventually became Invisible Men. The usual thing happened with Passport, it just drifted out in the States without any great fanfare. If somebody had got their teeth into it, they might have been able to get some radio play from it. However, everything was still geared towards the pop channels and no one in the management had the right contacts. It was rather disappointing in a sense but I think we were lucky to get a release at all. By the time the album came out it didn’t mean that much to me to be honest, because nobody supported it and it was not going to get pushed. In a way this album does draw the curtains on the Send era as although there were some bits on Private Parts & Pieces from that era….
And speaking of Private Parts & Pieces IV….