“Interview at the tearoom in Tierra del Fuego” - Alan talks to Quique Berro Garcia about his career and work with Ant (originally published in #10 of The Pavilion magazine)
TP: First of all, Quique, how did you come to meet Anthony?
QBG I met him in 1978 through Rupert Hine who was a friend of a friend, so that’s how we met. I went to a recording session where he was mixing one of the tracks off the Sides album and we met and became very close friends. We had been playing for two years without doing anything you know, we used to play tennis and then one day we decided to do an album.
TP: That was the Antiques album?
QBG Yeah, that was the Antiques album.
TP: Was it composed entirely as you played it or did Anthony come up with some ideas first and you both develop them?
QBG He had the ideas first and then we developed them and only a couple of the tracks are entirely his; Old Wives Tale and one other, I think. The rest we just did out of our playing and playing again! (laughs). It was meant to be only two or three tracks but it developed into an entire album.
TP: When you compose for your own music, what do you prefer to compose on, a guitar or a piano?
QBG I am not very prolific as a composer, not as much as Anthony but for songs, for example; if I have to do a song, I prefer the keyboards rather than the piano because of the harmonies I think. On guitar it is mainly instrumental music, not songs or the electric guitar I get more inspiration for that kind of thing.
TP: You also worked with Ant on the Slow Waves Soft Stars album…
QBG Yes, that was when I came back to England in 1986 and I played on Beachrunner and End Of The Affair.
TP: And that was just the two of you with acoustic guitars?
QBG Yeah. We had been improvising one evening and Anthony called me and said; “I’ve been listening to the tape and it has some magic moments” and those tracks ended up on the album.
TP: And when you aren’t working with Anthony, when you are in Argentina do you have your own band?
QBG Not at the moment. I used to work with singers. I do mainly recording sessions for rock or whatever. I like rock too you see (laughs) but not the heavy stuff! Or blues and that kind of thing and I also have students; I teach music, classical and pop and rock on guitar.
TP: You have actually had your own band at one time?
QBG Yes, we were fans of The Beatles and Genesis and then we got together with a couple of musicians and we started to do covers of Genesis, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and so on. It was a very good band and it was very successful but it wasn’t my own band with my own music. I didn’t have that.
TP: You have done a couple of C Ds of your own music, and covers including a CD of Beatles covers. Have you ever recorded an album of your own music?
QBG No. I would like to and it’s an idea I have been considering over the past few months that maybe if I put the energy into writing and composing, maybe some solo guitar or keyboards, it could work, I think.
TP: This is something that could work, a lot of people ask me whether you have any recordings of your own. The album of Beatles covers is interesting, what made you do that?
QBG That started because I know all the songs because I learned them! The Beatles were my inspiration to become a musician and so I learned a lot from them and as I have told you, I played all of these songs with the group I used to be in, and one day I decided to start recording and see what happened and finally it became a CD. It was a good experience.
TP: What do you find so special about The Beatles’s music and Anthony’s music?
QBG Well, I don’t know. In the case of The Beatles it was the music of my generation I suppose. I also used to listen to classical music, my father was a classical musician so I listened to a lot of that; Chopin, Rachmaninov, Brahms. I loved it but when I was twelve or thirteen I remember a friend of mine asking me: “have you heard The Beatles? The new group from Liverpool?” and I said “no”. He had the record Please, Please Me and I couldn’t believe it and became a fan and for years I had been studying and I studied Genesis and all that kind of music. I liked Anthony’s music very much and I thought I would never get the chance to meet him (I know the feeling - AH) and so when we met I nearly died! When he offered me the chance to play with him on one of his albums I was delighted and I think he is one of the most interesting musicians I have worked with live.
TP: What do you think of modern “pop” music?
QBG Well, I don’t really like much of what they record these days. I think the market has changed a lot and you have to meet certain targets these days but I think they have improved the sounds and the technology a lot, but not the music. If you compare it with the music of the Seventies or even the Eighties, it hasn’t got the same soul.