The Nice : Keith Emerson
Welcome back my friends . . .

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cc: You quoted Gustav Holst once as saying, "Don't compose anything, unless the not composing of it becomes a perfect nuisance to you." I get the feeling that a lot of music today has been generated for the sake of it, like its just product to fill the shelves - you've been a real influence in your time, would you agree with this feeling?

KE: Well, it's definitely more corporate these days, which was different in the '60s and maybe the '70s. The artist and the record companies were kind of growing together - these days you have to go through a lot of corporate people to be accepted. I really sympathise with new, upcoming bands that have to go through this struggle. Hopefully the world will turn full circle . . .

cc: . . . and music can once again be seen not as product but art?

KE: I hope so.

cc: You had some dance remixes done a while back of Welcome Back My Friends . . .

KE: That's right, with Mike Bennett.

cc: He worked with The Fall and Wishbone Ash to name but two - quite a diverse interest. You're obviously keen on crossing musical borders as well, with the rock/classical thing, pub songs like Benny The Bouncer, the film scores, and albums like Honky and The Christmas Album. So what else is on the cards?

KE: Well, I've actually got a new conceptual piece that I hope to rehearse with the band when I get back, but we'll have to wait and see what happens.

cc: Are you able to place it in any particular genre?

KE: Well, I certainly learned a lot doing the remixes and I'd like to incorporate some of those ideas into the new stuff I've been working on as well as that same sort or progressive quality I employed with The Nice and ELP.

cc: You and Rick Wakeman are perhaps the world's foremost keyboard masters. Rick's getting back to a more progressive sound with his most recent album . . .

KE: Ah right! Which one is that?

cc: It came out this year I think - anyway it's called Out There. He seems to have got back into the prog rock thing once more. In fact there's an increasing number of bands out there with a new take on progressive rock although it remains pretty underground. Do you think progressive music is due for a big comeback?

KE: Yes, I think it is, but it will be in a different form, because when bands like Yes and ELP were developing, what we created in the studio was sometimes very hard or even impossible to play live because we used the studio as another instrument. We used overdubbing and everything like that, so it was not possible to play certain pieces live, but now of course there's a lot of technology around that can help the musician to actually do this. There was no MIDI for a start.

cc: And analogue synths were notorious for going out of tune if you so much as moved them . . .

KE: That's right.

cc: Hopefully things will be a bit easier for you now you're getting back on the road with The Nice. In the shows you say your aim is to present a 'refined' look at progressive music. How have you refined it?

KE: Oh, I hope the instruments used are a lot more refined than first time round! That's basically it - a modern take on an older sound. We're not changing the music - it would be difficult to try and merge the Eminem style of rhythm into what ELP or The Nice do . . . that's something we'll get into a bit later maybe!

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