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Arthur Brown: "It's a lot more things I want to do ...

Arthur Brown: "It's a lot more things I want to do ..."
The entire interview with Arthur Brown on  Rockarolla Radio and Kostas Petrides and which was broadcast on the air on 5/3/2012:

Unfortunately, it was a telephone interview and I say this because, as it turned out  from the conversation (note: and from the gig atMillos),the "God of the Hell Fire" is a polite and talkative man, still full of energy and many interesting views

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In fact,when you talk with "legends" of rock who carry such history,you get carried away and feel that you dive-albeit briefly-in that fascinating and exciting era that changed not only the course of rock'n'roll, but also the lives of millions of people ..

 

 

Kostas Petrides: First I would like to ask you about the "Crazy World of Arthur Brown tour". As I was looking at the dates of the tour ,I noticed that you have chosen some very special places where you  will appear in 2012, and among them you chose Greece. Why Greece?
Arthur Brown: First of all,it  is a country with a long history of philosophical ideas, a country whose ancient philosophies are very close to Western philosophy something that everybody is becoming familiar with . It is also a very beautiful country that loves music. So these are some of the reasons for my choice.
KP: That makes me and all the Greeks very happy because there are still artists who want to play in Greece, so we thank you for this! I refer of course to the crisis and the current economic situation and all these things that are heard through the international media.
AB: Some believe that the economic situation was more the result of the policies of European governments so as to have everyone under control rather than something for which Greece is responsible. So I have no particular feelings about itsince it is not something which the Greeks themselves caused, but it is due to the central European politics.
KP: I think you have been to Greece before.
AB: Yes, the first time I came, I performed at Rodon club.
KP: The Rodon in Athens? This must have been way in the past.
AB: Yes, in 1998. I remember the person who had dealt with it then, she was a famous punk singer.

KP: I did not attend thatparticular concert since I live in Thessaloniki , not in Athens.but I remember that your appearance was discussed by many.
AB: Yeah, you know it's very nice thing when ... obviously I read the ancient stories and myths. Suddenly you find yourself standing there and gazing at the sea and standing in front of all these places that you have read about, about Ulleses and all of them .. It's a very special feeling. This was my first visit and I was all aaa! and hh! ...
KP: And I guess it was unforgettable ...
AB: Yes. When I was at university I especially liked the Greek philosophers because their ideas were much closer to modern physics than what I had learned at school and at university. S
KP: One of the things I wanted to ask you was just that.You studied, went to university and after all these studies you chose rock n roll and music and this was in  the 60's. Why did you choose this path?
AB: This option resembles a little Greek culture,living and enjoying. Also when I I was at Law school,I went to an outdoor Jazz concert from New Orleans and when I heard the music, that  was the first live concert I  had been to, free from my usual conscience, all my limits, all my thoughts disappeared and when I landed I thought if that makes music, I want to do it.


KP: Let's dive into the past Crazy World  is an old story. Did it prove to be a good story? Are you happy with that?
AB: Yes I am!It was a quest, connecting many different things as mind, dancing, costumes, acting, music and it  also gave the opportunity to deal with some social issues then. We were broad-based. We had success, part of which was due to the  three key members of the group who went on to several famous bands. The keyboard player joined  the atomic rooster had several top ten hits. The drummer, our first drummer went to Leon Love and several other bands after that. The drummer who  came after was named Palmer and became famous as vacant palmer. We were good "stuff." We managed to annoy many people, which was a good thing. Things need changing. In a sense, the industry began to collapse and explode. From my perspective, my inner consciousness expanded so fast that everything had to explode and move to the next step.
KP: Listening to your music I would say and  I do not know if you agree with me, that it is a creative and experimental kind of  music. Was it made for a purpose or was it just a  mix of all the things you loved, when you were a teenager for example?
AB: All the things I loved, and as a teenager, joined in it. but the sounds from the radio which  played it very world music then. There was a hit in 1955 I think, not mine, called Tom Harc, a a group of three, four, five, six, flutes and it was essentially African music. World music had begun to invade then. I began working on traditional jazz, I had a modern jazz quartet, playing bass, we gathered students and worked on thelonious monk and other such things. At that time most bands had  such influences, modern jazz, gospel and the blues, bands like cream and led zepellin. People now listen to new kinds of jazz,which also have their beauty, but are not exactly instrumental.



KP: I guess that you adope jazz and blues, recognizable elements in your music. Listening to your records, the crazy world of Arthur brown in  the 60s,I listen to jazz and blues and psychedelic ... Sometimes avant garde as well. So I would like to ask you ... Despite the fact that your  music was experimental and belonged to the underground scene, your first album sold millions and Fire became a huge and classic success. Did that change your plans?Did all that success affect you?
AB: Well I think so. Now I  played  for larger audiences,I had to give interviews, people asked me questions about how I see life and the meaning of everything and it changed me,it  changed the way I think.
And also the ability to build bigger and better things since I had more money flowing in. At the same time I had the basic contract with some of the more questionable people lurking behind this,there was the mafia and all kinds of weapons ... I would have never done such a contract ... I met some very brave people and some very bad ones.
KP: You had a chance to do it.
AB: Yes, because it gave me another perspective on everything. For me, the Fire was a success in many different ways and for many different people. The Prodigy have success with it, a German band called Die Krups have success with the Fire recently ... This meant that as long as I played Fire in my cincerts,I could play new and old things and nobody really cared as long as they would listen to Fire. It was a way to promote my new material.
KP: Did you like Prodigy’s cover of Fire?
AB: I think Prodigy's music was really excellent. Different kind of music even for me ... With my second band we experimented with drum machines, but the first band used the drum machine instead of a drummer. When the Prodigy appeared,they used all these and also the image of Fire. I acknowledge this was a very good production by them, with a lot of creativity. different style but with quality.
KP: I guess you saw yourself reflected in the music of the Prodigy.That’s the way I see it. We talk about technology and you said that you were the first to use drum machines and effects, etc.You are supporting technology. But do you believe that it will replace the actual music?
AB: I think it is likegrants (noble funds). Take Finland for example. It has one of the greatest rates of suicides because there’s lack of sunshine throughout all the months of the year and people are cut off because of  the snow. Since grants appeared ,this rate fell. Life goes on with technology. The latter does not go against the first. I believe that creativity and musicality are an integral part of the human spirit and they will  use whatever technology is available.
 Besides, for a man in the jungles of the Amazon, who has little contact with our technology, an electric guitar is an absolute piece of future technology and not natural. But for us,it is  something we feel very natural. All the  differencesthat people  are trying to find between techno music and non techno music ... Everything is music.That’s how I feel.

 

 

 

KP: I could not agree more. From your first steps ,you became known as an eccentric performer with all that make up, masks and fires on stage and basically you were a pioneer in this kind of music. Do you think this is necessary for an artist who wants to send a message to the world?
AB: I think it’s a way of doing it
KP: Sorry to interrupt,do you like to shock the audience with your appearance?
(Laughs) AB: I enjoyed it in a way but those were certain times when I did that. Then a lot of ideas appeared on the scene and the world was eager for new opportunities. I was part of all that,I wanted to shoot down many of the old ways of seeing things, therefore the masks were part of this. They were like different identities. I started with flaming mask and hat.Then I took the mask off... Afterwards  the mask was replaced by make up in live performances. I used white and black paint and then I just smudged them, rubbing them with my fingers on  my face as I sang. the result was a gray-brown spread everywhere, something that turned me into someone from Africa or somewhere ... And they were all different identities. That was the point.
Shocking is much more difficult today because they have seen so many terrible things happening. What can you do? Shoot someone on stage?
KP: Maybe you could. (Laughs). Of course things have changed and shocking someone in the '60s is very different from shocking somebody today.
AB: Yes I suppose ... Also now,you  gave a concert in a city and everybody came because the market was one.
Now there are 500 different kinds of styles if you want to shock the world ...What  may shock a jazz lover or a folk listener may not shock a hip hop fan and vice versa. So if you want to shock the world,you you need to see how they think. One thing I find shocking is finding  people who are spontaneous and  have true feelings because everything is manufactured.
KP: How do you feel when they say that many artists like Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan, Bruce Dickinson, Grissam Glory have been influenced by your actions? Do you also agree that many heavy metal groups have been inspired by you?
AB: Yes it is strange because obviously in  the original band we didn’t have a guitarist so it seemed strange to me that heavy metal was inspired by us. They were probably more inspired from our stage appearance and acting. It's nice though because it proves that the form had been successful and others used and modified it.It is perfect.
KP: What do you think of the Alice Cooper with whom you are old acquaintances. Do you enjoy working with him on stage?
(Laughs)
 AB: Yes, I like him,he is a generous man, not selfish at all, neither does he try to dominate.Tere  are some few who want to be influenced by others but not this one. He is always original. His plans are exceptionally good. Of course he doesn’t use keyboards, I on the other hand like them, but he manages, at least the last time I sang with him.Last November the band made a musical version so wonderful, dynamic, harmonious, perfect.
 
KP: Currently on tour and appear in the blues band Iamburg
Are you going back to your roots? Because the blues is a very mild form of music for you but as I said earlier you worship it.Does blues music awaken deep emotions in you?
AB: Looking back on my path I can say that when I came face to face with it I was surprised by it as a music genre from the emotional honesty that it distinguishes. At that time in particular, the music was characterized by romance eg Frank Sinatra ... But blues was liberating and as for its rhythm and its sounds many of them came to us in America from Africa by the slaves and combined with Western influences that’s how the connection with the brutal and the most basic acceptance of the human body and human emotions was made. Something which is great. It's a simple base which allows you to improvise a lot and I like to improvise very much.
KP: And I like the blues a lot,it  is my favorite. It is the first kind of music that I  started to transmit on the radio ... I would like to ask you, do you like to appear in front of young audience and what would you say now to a teenager about  music and society?
AB: Obviously I like it ..I happened to sing to very young children ,7-8 years old. And they immediately respond to the energy,they are not bothered with the deeper meaning or anything else ... They love the energy. As far as young children are concerned ,they  belong to another world but I try to maintain an attitude that is not stuck to my ideas so I think I'm able to communicate fairly easily with them.
What I would say is that if you try to make money from it today ,it is very difficult. On the other hand,it was just as hard when I started. The fact is  that you continue to play because you love it. Money is another one of the perks. If you never make money but still love it,you are  rewarded. If you become famous and stop loving it.. I remember a time when Clapton said he had became bitter through music but I think he has changed his mind now.You  may stick to the track of success and then turn into something ordinary.You get drifted (with success).
The chaces of making asuccess are greater for people who nobody knows them rather than for people who are already famous.
I saw a video the other day and some people were making music while  driving a car, hitting objects in it. It was a brilliant piece
that had  never been heard before and it had 50 million hits on their website.How could anyone not listen to them again? But what does it matter?
KP:That’s the point. We at Rockarolla Radio say  that  music is above all ... What are your plans for the future because as far as I can see ,you will never ever stop making art!
(Laughter)
AB: That is true. I have several dvd and stuff ready to come out. I am about to begin exploring  more world music and in 4 months I will start my attempt to convince people with money to build a transparent,round dance room that will have other functions as well. There are many other things I want to do too. I just enjoy listening to beautiful music of all kinds. When I travel,I listen to things on the streets, on the radio and Internet Radio as well. I can not imagine myself not creating music. formI don’t know what kind. There is an inexplicable energy that springs from the movements of the body, mind, blood, everything, if you listen to the right instrument/organ(?),music is created on its own.
KP: Will you record again another project with the Crazy World of Arthur Brown?
AB: Yes, we will begin this month. We record it with a newer group ,we are still planning it. This means that we will have, and  we certainly will have, the spirit of the original crazy world that the world is crazy how people balance while the world is getting even crazier day by day. Our music deals with this issue.
KP: It sounds very interesting. I look forward to hearing your new project
AB: I'll keep a copy.
KP: Maybe In ten days we will meet again in Thessaloniki.
AB: (Laughs) Yes.
KP: Will we see fire (fire) on stage? Real flames?
AB: Oh, yes we will  do that (laughs).
KP: But you do not intend to burn the place ...
AB: I hope not haha Iwould imagine doing that in my head.
KP: Some people are afraid of this ..
(Laughs)
AB: I read something about Mitt Romney in America. He said I am going to do many things but one thing I  am not going to do is become President and set my hair on fire.
KP: Well I would like you to tell me even though we’ve been talkin

g for 35 minutes... Of course if you want we can talk for an hour more.I have time
AB: haha I have no problem if that suits you

 

 

 

CP: In my opinion you were very lucky to have lived and created in the most exciting era of rock, the end of the 60s early 70s. It was an era filled with every kind of creativity, the political and the social movements of the hippies,LSD and  so many interesting things.
Do you find a link to the above, those years and today?
Is there anything in common or is everything very different now and we will simply remember that time and that's it?

AB: I think that the form definitely came from that era because of the patchwork of different genres such as jazz and blues to rock. Technology gave more potential for electric guitars and keyboards as with amps
Today new technologies gives us different possibilities.
 I also believe it is  the result of Thatcherism and Reagan’s  influence, but also of the rest of the European influences,it is the common belief among young people to earn so much money and to have such and such car or any other material goods.Music comes second to the young generation. Only when they decide when they will have a family do they think about music. That was the result. But history repeats itself. The materialistic aspirations, which science completely exhausted, have left behind the financial practices and our policy has failed to bring back seat.
What happens if you are interested in looking inside people. How does this affect society?But the questions remain the same even if we have different technologies and different political seetings...
If you look at that time, even when the underground was really underground, 95% of the music was commercial and you could characterize it as exploratory. There are many similarities with what was then and now. New music made its appearance. The melodic expression changed with the bass. This is just a trend. If people want to connect and define themselves by the most gangster and rap elements instead of the courtesy hidden behind this music, which argues that we live in a hostile environment and what to do to change that. If people prefer to deal with the pace and not with the messages behind it, then we come up against a very unpleasant reality.

KP: I read one of your interviews , many years ago. You said that it is time to use the albums as weapons: "Let's use music as weapons"
AB: If you look at the records issued by the political parties ... Take for example my album, the fire. There was a version of it in which George Bush sang it  with the material from Iraq and the war there.It was also used to fire the campaign against global warming and stuff. From this point of view when he used it (the Bush),it was a weapon against fixed  ideas in people’s minds,against people’s way of thinking. We see politicians trying to play in bands or occasionally playing a musical instrument. And political parties use it.They come in contact with music stars. And they in turn associate themselves with politicians.They already use music as a weapon. It has already happened.

KP: Mr Brown thank you very much for your time and the nice conversation! We will watch your concerts in Thessaloniki and Athens and I imagine we will talk in person
ABThank you too! I can not wait!
 
Performance dialogues-translation
Konstantina Lambropoulou
Thalia Georgatsou

 

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