Picture taken from The Snow Goose CD insert
Andy Ward ~ Camel Reflections
Andy's reflections are in the format of an interview between *Shane and Andy
* What is your lasting memory of the Royal Albert Hall show? (The lead up/rehearsal, the show itself and immediately afterwards)
Rehearsals with David Bedford and the orchestra were fascinating - if a little fraught! Nerves before the gig were unlike any before or since. The show itself seemed to be over in a flash!
Early tours of Holland when everything was new and fresh. Holidaying in Morrocco with Andy Latimer and tour manager Laurie Small. We stayed in a horrible hotel - had to change rooms three times because the springs were all going through the bed! They reckoned Queen Victoria had stayed there and we thought they hadn't changed the sheets since! But we had a laugh together. We didn't ride on any camels then - I did that in Tunisia on a between-tour break.
It has to be the Snow Goose - our first really cohesive album. It also gave me a chance to stretch out as a drummer.
The first Japanese tour - it was so different from anything we'd done before. All the concerts were very early, it was all very clean - and brilliantly organised. The promoters were all very professional and friendly and the audiences were always very quiet - silent - while we played and then very enthusiastic at the end of each number.
Realising we still sound good together and still make each other laugh.
Hopefully more recording with Brew and an album with David Sinclair and Richard Sinclair.
Andy Ward - Sticking Around
With their kind permission, Andy has put together a selection of tracks from the work of some of the many musicians he has had the privilege of recording with. This includes members of the legendary Canterbury Scene as well as musicians far distant from Kent, in the US and Europe. Called Sticking Around, this CD is in answer to the very many enquiries Andy has had about what he has been doing in the two decades since leaving Camel, Andy hopes you will enjoy listening to it as much as he has enjoyed playing this selection of music.
As a bonus Sticking Around includes a never-before-released drum solo, the eponymous 'Sticking Around', from an extended version of 'Never Let Go' performed during Camel's 1979 tour of Germany.
Interview with Andy Ward from BBC Radio Londons Breakthrough program, 26 September 1977.
The interviewer is the shows regular host Mike Sparrow (M.S.)
Transcribed and sent to Rajaz by Peter Beasley
|The Snow Goose
(extract) is played.
M.S: An extract from Snow Goose, the album that made the band Camel really, although theyd been at it for some years before that brought them success. Theyve got a new album out. Its called Rain Dances. But you mightve noticed that its been a long long time for Camel between albums; some eighteen months I do believe. So Andy Ward, the drummer of Camel popped in to Breakthrough the other day. I asked him Why so long?
A.W: That was because of change in members in the group really. Doug left, what February?, something like that, and wed just started rehearsing for this album, so we had to basically re-assess what we were doing, look for a replacement, audition, rehearse, get to know people. We were very lucky in getting the replacement that we got. You know, it was our first choice.
M.S. You picked up on Richard Sinclair
A.W: Thats right.
M.S: who of course has been round for some time, noticeably in Caravan, which has some similarities to Camel anyway.
A.W: Thats right. Particularly our earlier albums, were compared in the press to Caravan and other groups; Pink Floyd, but..
A.W: quite a few of them did see that there was a similarity and quite a lot of people weve spoken to since Richards joined said Well of course, it was the logical replacement.
M.S: Richard had in fact been in a sort of limbo I gather, because of course Hatfield and the North, which hed been in for some time
A.W: Thats right. That folded up, which I thought was a shame at the time, because I did like them very much. But hed gone back down to Canterbury, patched up his home life and hed just been doing carpentry, making musical instruments, occasionally playing in wine bars with local musicians, because theres still a lot of them down there, hanging around.
M.S: Whats been the effect of integrating him in to Camel?
A.W: Well its been very exciting for me. I think its affected me more than anyone else, just because Im the drummer and obviously when youre re-establishing a rhythm section, the change in style between him and Doug is fairly noticeable. Its taken a lot of hard work, because hes a much more fluid, much more technical player than Doug. So theres a lot more nervous energy floating around while were playing, which spurs a lot of interesting things off, when it works.
M.S: Well thats interesting, because listening to the album, its a distinct departure from the melodies of Snow Goose and Moonmadness.
M.S: Theres a lot of, almost, jazz rock in this, in places.
A.W: Well, we thought wed done what wed set out to do with the area of music with Snow Goose. Moonmadness, I think, was really just a step towards this. We didnt want to do another concept album, so Moonmadness really was the transition period between the Goose and this. With this album, I think its allowing us to air our influences, whereas wed never allow that before, it was always we were all very wary of sounding like someone else. With this one, we havent worried about it too much. We thought, if weve written a piece thats in a funky vein, why shouldnt we do it? Its not expected of us, or if we do a slow, fairly pop influenced song. In the past, wed be a little bit reticent to do it. Wed think everyone would say weve sold out or whatever. But I think we felt the freedom on this album to do just what we wanted to do.
M.S: Tell Me for instance and lets say First Light are really opposite ends of the spectrum.
A.W: Thats right. That was the main difficulty actually getting the running order, because we had so much different material and it does go through so many changes. That was one of the most tricky bits, once we had it all finished, it was getting it in the right order.
M.S If you do go towards jazz rock, what effect does that have on you as a drummer, because you immediately put yourself into the bag that a lot of very great drummers have already explored, noticeably say Billy Cobham?
A.W: Right. Well, thered be very little point in me trying to do that I think. Ive listened to that kind of music for five or six years I suppose, so it has influenced my playing to a certain degree, but technically Im not in the same sort of camp as Billy Cobham, Tony Williams, so I think it would be foolish for me to try and use all my energy in that area. But its nice that Ive been able to get some of it out, on this album.
M.S Theres some intriguing credit notes on the album. For example Rain Dances, which I suppose is the title track, credits yourself and Richard and Mel Collins, whos joined you, with umbrellas?
A.W: Thats right.
M.S: What is that all about?
A.W: Well its my questionable sense of humour actually. I did all those. Originally, the sleeve notes went on for weeks. It would take you months to read them. Thats the abridged version.
Rain Dances is played.
M.S: Mel Collins is, I think, one of the finest saxophone players around. How did he get involved in the project?
A.W: Mel in fact toured with us in Europe last year, while Doug was still with the band. Doug and Andy had known Mel for quite a time from the Guildford scene and wed met up with him from time to time over the years and we just asked him if hed be interested in having a blow with us and he did and it worked. So he did that tour, which we all enjoyed and it did add quite a lot to the old material. So when it came around to the new album, we got in touch with him again - hed been touring with Bryan Ferry - and asked him if hed like to do it, which he said Yes straight away and he became far more involved in the music than we expected, which was a very nice surprise, because he is essentially, these days, a session musician he has become very involved in our music.
M.S: Hes very good too.
A.W: He is.
A.W: Hes an astounding player.
M.S: Absolutely, yes. I agree. What effect do you think the success of Snow Goose and Moonmadness has had on Camel? Because for years they were a sort of struggling band. We heard continually of the hard luck stories of Latimer and Bardens and Co.
A.W: (laughs). That one didnt work did it. No one felt sorry for us, so we changed our tact. No, I think the success of Snow Goose was very good, except it is just one area of the music were capable of coming up with I think and for that to be our most successful album, it put us in the Pomp Rock camp, which none of us were too happy to be in. I mean no one really likes being labelled as jazz rock or anything else, but that put us in with the Yess and the Genesiss of this world; which I dont think we quite fit in to that area and this album shows that theres been quite a lot of change since then. But it did put us on the map.
M.S: Yes, but you think perhaps, this is a more representative album?
A.W: Oh it certainly is now. Yes certainly. Although were even more representative live now. Some of these tracks have developed further. Theres been more sections written for Skylines for example and One Of These Days Ill Get An Early Night, weve re-arranged quite considerably.
OOTDIGAEN is played.
M.S: The issue of the album, does go hand in hand with the tour. Youre playing in London at the end of this week in fact, at the Hammersmith Odeon, two dates. Any surprises? What have you got rigged for us?
A.W: They wont be surprises if I tell you. No, theres no real surprises, except the new line up is a lot more inspired on stage. A bit more out of control at times, when it takes off.
M.S: Well thats no bad thing.
A.W: We have to sort of try and pull it back down on the ground. Well be using the visuals again.
M.S: What in particular?
A.W: Were just using slides and film and Kenny Sutherland, our lighting whiz kid, has various rotating lenses. He makes cut glass images out of and theyre nice little things. But basically were trying to tie in the visuals with the music again. That started with The Snow Goose and that was easy because we were pulling from a story that was already there, already been written, so the visuals were fairly obvious. With this, we have the freedom to be a bit more abstract go over the top a bit more.
M.S: What are you going to do next? I mean presumably one just tours and consolidates this album?
A.W: Its looking a bit hairy at the moment. Weve got a two week English tour and then another three weeks in Germany and then depending on what happens to the album in the States, well either go there or not. If we dont, I think well start writing again straight away. Maybe have a day off.
M.S: (laughs). Andy, thanks.
A.W: O.K., thanks, Mike.
(Mike then plugs Rain Dances and the London gigs)