Before presenting the interview I did with John Woloschuk, I'd like to describe the situation/setting. This interview was arranged by Dee Long. He and I had been discussing things about Klaatu via e-mail and he suggested that I should interview John. He asked me if I'd like him to set this up since John normally didn't grant interviews, especially ones as in depth as this one would turn out to be. I stated that it would be wonderful if he could do this.
I knew that John was uncomfortable with anything personal being made public and wanted to make sure that this interview only dealt with the music, the recording process, the way certain sounds were obtained, and the tricks that went into some of the stunning recordings that appeared on the Klaatu albums. As I progressed in preparing questions, though, I realized that there were also a few topics about things music related that came before Klaatu and after Klaatu, and one of the before Klaatu items was how the band members met and became a band. I offered to present a list of questions to John ahead of time so he could indicate any that he felt weren't appropriate because I didn't want him to be uncomfortable with the interview, and I didn't want have the interview get into areas that it really didn't need to get into.
John was comfortable with the idea of the interview because of what Dee had been telling him about me and about the website, and it was decided to just go ahead and ask the questions with the understanding that if John didn't want to go there, he'd say so.
The interview took place over the course of a 4 hour phone call and was recorded for accuracy and later transcribed for the Klaatu home page. I was extremely nervous, and had shut myself in a room with the phone and the recording equipment. During the course of the conversation I walked back and forth through the room, sometimes just wandering around, sometimes pacing, and yet I found myself chatting with John as if we were old friends.
John was quite open and provided lots of information for the website. I found him to be a very friendly and open person and very easy to talk to. While I had been concerned with not making him uncomfortable, it seemed that he was the one who was making me comfortable and welcome. It was a wonderful conversation and very informal. While there was a structure to it, since I had my questions all written up ahead of time and organized chronologically, I often found that the discussion followed a course of it's own and led to questions I hadn't thought of ahead of time while answering some other questions before I had even asked them.
Because the conversation was so low key and informal, I've tried to preserve that feeling in this transcription and haven't resorted to trying to restrict the exchange to a more formal written style. I've presented things in the informal conversational format in which the discussion took place so that one can get the feeling of what it's like to talk with John. Because of this, there may be places where either my own words, or Johns, seem to ramble and not stay focused on a specific topic or even a specific train of thought. There are times in conversations where you don't finish a thought and it isn't a hanging thought waiting to be completed, it's just an avenue of explanation that was abandoned in favor of a different way of wording something. I've specifically tried NOT to remove those moments during transcription of the conversation so that the open, comfortable, informal feeling of the discussion is preserved.
I hope you enjoy the discussion as much as I did, and I hope that you find it informative and eye opening.
DB: First off, thank you for allowing me the time for the interview. I do appreciate that.
JW: Oh, that's okay.
DB: So do you want to jump right in, or ..
JW: You're responsible for the Klaatu web page, right?
DB: Yes I am.
JW: Dee's been telling me good things about it.
DB: Well, it certainly means a lot to me to know that he finds it a well-designed page. I've tried to keep the information as accurate as possible.
IN THE BEGINNING …
DB: Okay, first off, how did you meet Terry and Dee?
JW: Well, Terry I sort of knew from early school days, because he lived close to where I lived when I was a teenager. I can't remember the exact year, but it would have been quite early. I mean, we didn't do music together right off the bat. We knew each other before we were involved in music, but I think when I – in 1966, I think -- I joined a band that Terry was in at the time, and it was my first excursion into "the wonderful world of music." I think that band lasted about a year and he went onto another band, and we didn't really get together again, musically, until 1972. Or was it '71? '71 or '72.
Terry had known Dee from before. I met Dee about 1972, I think it was, and I was going to university at the time, but Terry knew Dee because they were in competing bands. Dee came from like the other side of Metro Toronto so, it's quite a long ways away, but Terry had met him at a contest, you know, where they have like the battle of the bands type of thing. Anyway, so Terry and I wanted to form a new band. We were older, we were early 20s at that time, and we were more serious. So, we were trying to get some musicians to go into the band, and Terry suggested Dee's name. And I had never met Dee, so Terry introduced me to him in the fall of '72, I think it was – in the very early fall. And that's how I met Dee.
By then I was writing. I had been writing for a few years at that point, and it was hard to find musicians of the same age group that were into writing material, and it was even harder to find ones that were writing material that I thought was worthwhile. Dee had some demos that he had done in his basement, and his songs were really neat. I liked them a lot, and he was a good musician – a better musician (laughs) than either myself or Terry! Anyway, to make a long story short, he agreed to join that band, and that's really how I started working with Dee. His stuff was, his early stuff, was very Moody Bluesish, and of course I was a big fan of the Moody Blues at the time. And he had a Gibson … was it a 335? I can't remember what the number of the guitar is, but it was the same kind of guitar that Justin Hayward uses. And I was just really impressed with him and, I don't know, he must have been impressed enough to want to join, so he did, and that's how we got together.
That was pre-Klaatu, but some of the songs that later became Klaatu songs were already written, and we actually performed some of them in our repertoire. That band, we didn't – most of the times we just rehearsed (laughs). You know, it was really early days. That band lasted about a year, and then it disbanded.
DB: Was that Mudcow?
DB: And you said started somewhere around '72? '71?
JW: Mudcow started, I would say, around the early fall of '72, I would think. I was in my last year of university at that time, and I remember meeting Dee, and we started rehearsing. They had a house they were renting and we started rehearsals and – most of the time we spent rehearsing, you know. I mean, we did some gigs, but it was hard to get gigs because we weren't doing the kind of stuff that the bars wanted to hear. We were trying to do all original, and we ended up having to do cover stuff and things like that. It was sort of like our first foray into semi-pro or pro music.
DB: What was the name of the act that you, Terry and Dino (Tome) had, that recorded "Summer Love" for Trend Records in 1968?
JW: "Summer Love?"
JW: "Summer Love" for Trend Records. I'm not sure where you get the title "Summer Love" from, 'cause that doesn't ring a bell. We did do a recording for Trend Records -- it was me and Terry and Dino Tome, but the two songs were called … oh, I know what you're thinking of: "September Love."
JW: "September Love." We didn't actually do a full-fledged recording of that. What happened there was that a guy named Merv Buchanan had a small, independent label called Trend Records. And he was located out in Whitby, which is like a far-flung suburb – it's not even a suburb, it's outside of Toronto. So we went there to audition, and while we were there – we had our gear with us, of course – and he had this little studio that essentially was in a converted schoolhouse. And so we did perform, we did a bed track. He recorded us auditioning, and we did this song called "September Love." But there was no vocals or anything, we did (laughs) ... It was essentially just drums, and Dino was playing bass at the time, and I was playing guitar, and it was just a bed track. And at the end of the bed track, the guy was ready to sign us, even without going any further. So, it's not like – there is no full-fledged recording of "September Love." But we did go on to do a recording of two songs, one called "Dreamdaying" and another one called "Lonely Lover", I think. And that was done under his label, and it actually got released.
Now what name we were using at the time, gee whiz … I think it was a name, I think it was Whitemail. Sort of like "blackmail" only it was Whitemail (laughs). Not a very good name, but we were real young at the time. I mean, "Dreamdaying" and "Lonely Lover", that was in 1971. That was "pre" meeting Dee. And was actually released. It got really limited airplay. I mean very limited airplay. Then Merv Buchanan, who was the head of Trend Records, relocated to British Columbia.
So the "Summer Love" you're referring to is actually called "September Love" as I mentioned, but it's not a full-fledged recording. In fact, I'm not even sure if I even know where there may be – you know, I'm not even sure I have a tape of that. It was just a bed track.
[Editor's note: The single wasn't on "Trend Records" as had been previously thought. A copy has been located in someone's collection on "Prawn Records". The catalog number is 715, and it was released in 1971. (My time line of 1968 was apparently way off!) The A-side is listed as "Lonely Lover", and the B-side is listed as "(I'm) Dreamdaying". Now if only I could get my hands on a copy!
DB: What tunes did you submit to Terry Brown to attract him into working with Klaatu?
JW: Let me think, now. "Dr Marvello" … we had a demo of "Dr Marvello." Dee had some tunes, too … I'd actually have to go down to the basement, if I could lay my hands on – I actually have quarter-inch dubs of – Dee and I both brought tapes, we brought demos independent of one other, but I can't remember Dee's titles, but I could probably look them up. If you'd just hold the line for a sec, I'll see if I can quickly find the tape. It should be downstairs. Hold on.
(Here follows two minutes and 27 seconds of silence, save and except for Dave Bradley's excited breathing as the possibilities of what treasures lie buried in John's basement race through his head!)
JW: Hi, sorry to keep you waiting.
DB: That's okay.
JW: I had to go down two flights of stairs. On Dee's box, the two titles you would be familiar with are "Anus of Uranus" and "Cherie."
DB: Wow, that's that old!
JW: Yeah. Yeah. Now I've got down here a couple of
other titles. One was called "Cry" and the other was called "Whatever
Is Left Of Me." I mean, Dee's not going to remember any of these
titles, okay? (Laughs) He only recently found out that I have
this tape. In fact, I only recently found out I had this tape, because
it was in a box of stuff we got from our former publisher. There's
another one called "Mother Earth Lament," and here's something interesting:
there's one called "I Don't Want To Go Home," and yet it's not the one
that appeared on Magentalane, because I wrote that one, and I don't normally
steal titles (laughs)! In fact I'm sure I didn't steal it, I think
I didn't realize that he had one called that. Anyway, so that's how
many – one, two, three, four, five, six – there were six on Dee's, two
of which ended up actually getting recorded.
Now mine doesn't have any titles on it so I'm going to have to go by memory, and I'm sure I won't remember them all. But the two that come to mind that you would recognize are "California Jam" and … what were the other ones? "Dr Marvello," and, I'm not sure whether "Dear Christine" was on that or not. But there was a couple of others that never got done. There was one called "Hawkins Hedge Acres" and there was another one called "O'er His Head." And then there was one called – I'm not sure what it was called, but originally there was a suite that never got done, and the name of the suite was Magentalane. But it was one of these – it was like "Tommy" right, you know, like a million parts? I recorded a demo of one of the parts, and I probably just called it Magentalane, but it may have had a different title, because it was only one part of like, maybe ten or twelve. Magentalane originally started – it was originally conceived, and this was before Klaatu yet, as a suite of a whole bunch of different songs. It was supposed to be sort of like "Tommy"-ish. Like "Tommy", the album, has got like a million movements on it, right? And that was sort of our attempt at that. So anyways, there was one on there … I know for sure that "California Jam" was on there, and I know that "Dr Marvello" was, but I don't know if there was anything else that later became recorded under Klaatu.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE …
DB: For the first single, "Hanus of Uranus", I've read that you used a session drummer. Is it true that Terry was not on that recording?
JW: Yes. He wasn't in the band at that time. I should fill you in on how it started. Mudcow disbanded in the fall of '72, and I went to work with Dee at his father's electronics factory. And we worked there for quite a while, like at least six months, and while I was there, I met Terry Brown. I went to his studio, and I was actually looking for a job as a tape-op – you know, like assistant engineer. And he interviewed me, and when I went there, I took a portfolio of lyrics to songs I had written. And he didn't give me the job (laughs), but he was very interested in the songs. And he said, "Do you have any recordings of these?" and I said "Well, no, but I can get you some." And so, he said "Well why don't you do that, and call me up, and come and bring 'em to me, and let me hear 'em out, 'cause I might be interested in doing something here."
So I went back to Dee and said, "Hey Dee, look, I got this opportunity, and would you like to be involved?" Because I knew Dee was a good writer, and I knew that the two of us, between the two of us, we would have a pretty good shot at getting something. So he thought yes, he would put a tape together, and I would put a tape together. So, about a couple of..., two weeks or so later, he had his tape and I had mine, and we met with Brown and Brown liked the tapes a lot. And he consulted with his partner, Doug Riley, and they both liked the stuff and agreed to sign us on. So they signed us on, and when they signed us on we didn't have a name. It was just John and Dee. And so we had to provide a name, so I had a whole bunch of different names and stuff, but we finally came up with the name Klaatu.
So Klaatu really started off as just myself and Dee. Our first session was on New Year's Day 1973, and that's when we laid the bed tracks of "Anus of Uranus." And that was with a session drummer. Terry came along in 1974 – around the spring of 1974 I got Terry into it – asked him to join. We used to have to use session drummers and you never had the same guy twice, and it was really hard to get anything really happening because it was me and Dee with no drummer most of the time. So, if we had our own drummer it made things a little easier, because you could rehearse more, and work out things on the arrangements and that. So Terry sort of joined in the spring of '74. He became official in the fall of '74. I sort of eased him in, because Terry Brown had to agree. And once Terry (Brown) saw he was going to work out okay he agreed, so Terry Draper officially became a member around the fall of '74.
DB: How did Frank Davies get involved?
JW: Well, Frank Davies had his own record label called Daffodil
Records. He and Terry Brown were friends. They were both from
England, and they were pretty acquainted with one another, and Frank had
used Terry's studio from time to time to record some of his product.
And I know that on one or two occasions, Terry played him some of the stuff
that we had done, and Frank Davies was extremely impressed, and expressed
an interest in getting involved somehow. But we were already signed
to Terry's independent production firm, and so Frank ended up being sort
of like an agent for us, in the sense that he shopped the material to record
Even though he had his own label, his own label was quite small at the time, and he couldn't afford the production costs that we – 'cause you know we were doing some pretty -- you know, it wasn't just three piece and go for it, it was, you know we had strings and things like that. With his budgetary constraints, he just wasn't able to come up with the money we needed. But he did agree to shop it for us, and he was very well-connected. And he ended up getting a deal initially in Canada with a company called GRT Records, which at that time was a fairly large – the largest independent label, I guess, in Canada at that time. Of course, there really wasn't very much in Canada at that time, but GRT was like a pretty big label – I think Lighthouse was on them. And so we went on GRT and they released a number of singles before we did anything , you know, album-wise. And they ultimately released the first, and I think the second album as well. And then they sort of went out of business. But Frank was instrumental in getting that deal.
DB: In getting you signed?
JW: Yeah. And he was also the one who got us the deal in the United States with Capitol US. So that's how he became involved, and actually, he's always been an avid fan, I guess is the word, of Klaatu. And even now – like, we have our own publishing now – but his company administers our publishing for us. So we still have ties with Frank. Yeah, he's a really nice guy.
DB: I've heard that. I've heard that he's really easy to get along with, and very, very knowledgeable, and has a lot of contacts.
JW: That's right. And he's also very honest! (laughs)
DB: That's a big plus in the music business.
JW: Which is unusual, in that business. So we've always
had a lot of respect for Frank, always have liked him, and as they say
the proof is in the pudding. I mean, like, some twenty-something
years later we're still connected with Frank.
KLAATU, TONIGHT ON CHANNEL 5!
DB: How and why did you agree to appear on "Keith Hampshire's Music Machine?"
JW: Well, that was really early. We didn't even have an album done at that point. We had just finished recording, I think it was our third single, called "California Jam" and the flip-side was "True Life Hero." Doug Riley, who was Terry Brown's partner at the time, was the Musical Director of that show, and Terry asked him if he could get us on there. We didn't play live, it was just – at that time, Terry had just joined us, Terry Draper, but we were essentially a three-piece, and the material was such that, you know, we did a lot of over-dubbing and things like that. So the only place we could get exposure was either on radio or on television – like, you know, miming on TV. So Doug Riley was the Musical Director of that show, and he got us in there on the strength of the recording.
DB: There was a fourth member on stage with you in that performance.
JW: That's right (laughs). His name was Raymond Gassi.
Now Raymond was in his own band. I think his band was called Songship.
And he had a partner, I think his name was Rusty something -- I can't remember
his last name. And they had been working for a long time, and I really
liked Raymond's voice and his writing. Actually, I was sort of hoping
to get Raymond into Klaatu, but it didn't quite work out that way.
So, essentially I approached Raymond and asked him if he wouldn't mind
singing with me on "California Jam" because it was a two-part harmony thing
all the way through, practically. And he agreed, and Terry Brown
reluctantly agreed – he didn't like the idea of someone else doing it,
but, like, I was sort of hoping that Raymond was going to get into the
band. So anyway, he recorded that with us. His voice is on
the recording that you know. And again, I really liked his singing.
I really liked harmonies and things like that, and he had a very good ear.
And he was a good writer, too and he was into music that was sort of similar
to what we were into, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So he recorded
on "California Jam" the vocal, and he also did the TV appearance.
But then a decision was made that he wasn't going to be admitted into the
band, and that was it. Which is, you know, unfortunate I think, in
some ways, but maybe it worked out for the best. I mean, you never
know with these things, but essentially I was the only one who was avid
about getting him in, so … (laughs) … I got outvoted!
DB: Now does he sing just harmony vocal on that?
JW: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, like, there are some parts where he's singing just by himself, like the ad-lib going into the guitar solo, that "California!" is his voice. Most of the song is two-part harmony, but there are occasions when I sing only and there are occasions when he sings only, but only like a line or two. I mean, I'd have to listen to the recording to tell you who's doing what.
DB: What was it like working with Rush on "Fly By Night" and did you consider Rush to be musical rivals?
JW: It was okay, they're nice guys. They're very down to
earth, and they were really pleasant, and they weren't star-trippers or
anything like that. Of course, at that time, they weren't that big
yet. And yeah, it was okay – I mean, essentially, I was working as
a tape operator, like an engineering assistant, on that. I worked
at Terry Brown's studio for, oh, at least a year, and during that time
I worked on a number of sessions, and the Rush one was one of those.
But I got to know Geddy and Alex pretty well, and Neil. In fact,
Neil had just joined, I think, because on the previous album they had another
drummer. It was pretty good, you know. As far as musical rivals
is concerned, they were into a whole different thing than we were, musically.
They were sort of like into – well, they started off sort of like a Led
Zeppelin type cop, and then they changed direction and started doing more
Genesis-influenced stuff. I personally felt more inclined towards
pop – pop music, like good pop music. I know that some people, when
you say the word "pop," they think you mean "crap." And when I think of
pop I think of the great stuff of the 60s that covered the gamut from,
you know, the Kinks and the Animals and even the Stones at one time were
– I mean, everything was AM radio in those days, there was no FM.
And of course on the States side, you had like the Beach Boys and Buffalo
Springfield and God knows who else … Mamas and the Papas. So, I was
much more of a pop animal, and I didn't really consider them a rival, because
they were into a different kind of music than we were.
DB: Did you work on many other notable recordings outside of Klaatu at this time, like "Sail On" by Tom Cochrane?
JW: I didn't work on "Sail On." I did an album with Tom Cochrane – he did a movie soundtrack, and I can't remember what the name of the movie was – but he did it at the studio where I was working. I got to know Tom pretty well, too. He was struggling in those day. He was just sort of trying to, you know, do his thing and remain true and all that kind of stuff. He was a lot of fun, because he didn't take himself too seriously. I also worked with Ian Thomas a few times. I mean, when I say "worked with him" I worked on the sessions that he either produced, or – and he was a lot of laughs, too. You know he's the brother of the guy from, what is it …?
DB: Bob and Doug Mackenzie.
DB: Yeah, Second City TV, man.
JW: Yeah, he's the brother of the one guy there.
DB: Dave Thomas.
JW: Dave Thomas. Yeah. And Ian has got quite a sarcastic wit, and he would … (laughs) he was a fun guy. I got to know him a lot, too.
DB: Now were you playing on those sessions, or ..
JW: No, no.
DB: … in the studio, control room …
JW: Just, just as an engineering assistant in the studio. But, of course, they all knew I was also in Klaatu at the same time. For the first couple of years of Klaatu, I also worked, not only in Klaatu, but I also worked at the studio as a tape-op. And they knew that I was in that as well, so we used to, you know, get into coversations and things. Pagliaro, Michel Pagliaro – I don't know if you're familiar with him, but he was an artist from Quebec – I think he was from Montreal – but he did some really nice pop stuff in his early days, and he recorded there. I'm trying to think who else. I think that's about it. Dr Music – I don't know if you know who Dr Music is, but it was Doug Riley's own band, they were sort of like into a jazz-rock type thing, and I worked on a lot of his sessions.
DB: Okay, now you say you weren't on "Sail On."
JW: No. I don't think so.
DB: But we did – I've read somewhere that Klaatu was the instrumental backing on that track.
JW: Oh, really? Gee. Well, to tell you the truth, I don't know. I don't remember that.
DB: Maybe it was just Dee and Terry.
JW: It could have just been Dee or Terry, or it could have been just Dee, 'cause I know in the early days he did a few sessions here and there, but he didn't do very much, because I don't think he really cared for it. But he may have played on that, but I don't have any recollection of that. But that doesn't mean anything (laughs)!
DB: It's been a long time.
JW: It's been a long time. My memory's not what it used to be!
JOHN'S PERSONAL FAVES …
DB: Which of the five albums is your favourite?
JW: Oh … um … gee whiz. Your first album's always your favourite, I guess, 'cause you – we got to spend a lot of time on the first album, and we were still experiencing the joy of discovery on the first one. You know, you're really young and idealistic and things like that. Terry Brown was really good to us in the early days, and he used to let us do a lot of experimentation in the studio, which, most bands don't get that opportunity. The first album was one of those type deals, you know, where you had written material in your prior years and you get to select the very best. And of course, we didn't have the deadline either, on the first album, because it was recorded in spurts over about a two-and-a-half year period. We didn't just sit down and record an album, we sort of did singles. And then after we had about three or four singles we then started recording additional material for an album, and specifically for an album. And so, I think the first album would have to be my favourite in the sense that it was the most fun to do, I guess, and I think that I have less reservations – like, I can listen to that album without … cringing (laughs), you know, where some of the other albums are good, I guess, but, you know, I don't … First of all, I don't listen to my, to our stuff, but if I walk into a room and something's playing off the first album, I don't automatically walk out again.
DB: But you would with the other stuff?
JW: Well, you know. I mean, some stuff I don't really care for, you know, or I wish we would have done differently, or better, or whatever. Everything you do isn't great; I mean, some things worked out better than others, some things didn't reach their potential, some things did better than what we expected. But the first album seems to be fresh, and it has a lot of naivete in it, and things like that and, you know, idealism. I mean, we weren't under any pressure from anybody as to what to record or any of that kind of thing. We got to do all the decision-making ourselves.
DB: Out of all five albums, and all of the songs on there, even the ones not written by you, what is your favourite song out of the bunch?
JW: That's a tough question. What's my favourite song? Um … well, I kind of like "Calling Occupants" as a piece of music. I mean, strictly as a piece of music. I mean, if I like something, like when I talk about music I like, it's because there's something musical about it that I like. And "Calling Occupants," I think, is a fairly strong piece of music. It's one of the strongest pieces of music I've been associated with, and I think it's one of the ones that I would have to count among my favourites. I know it's an obvious choice (laughs), but you know, it was one of those songs where you got an idea for a song, and you actually achieved what you set out to do, when the smoke cleared. And the song, I think, does live up to what I was hoping to accomplish with it.
DB: On any of the albums, for the strings and other instruments that weren't played by the band, did you use an arranger for them? And if so, did they have to create the arrangement, or were they converting the arrangements that you hummed for them onto paper charts?
JW: That's a good question, and there's no black and white answer: it varied. The arranging on the first and second albums was done by Doug Riley. He was Terry Brown's partner. Sometimes he came up with the arrangement by himself. For example, "Bodsworth Rugglesby," all the woodwinds and string parts he essentially did – like, he created. But on "Sub Rosa Subway," which was the first song I recorded with Terry Brown, I actually sat with Doug at the piano and said, "Okay, here's what I want here" and he essentially was translating my ideas into manuscript and enhancing them, but he actually didn't – he later told me that he wouldn't have done it the same way (laughs)!
DB: So it was more you than him.
JW: It was more me – actually, it was Dino and myself, 'cause Dino and I had – when we had the bed tracks done for "Sub Rosa Subway" we got together at my house a couple of times and listened to the bed tracks and came up with string lines, just singing them. And that was the basis that I used when I met with Doug, and I sang him the parts that we wanted, and he wrote them down. That's how that was done.
And, for example, the cello in "Little Neutrino" was the same deal. The voice was done through a sono-box, and it sounded like an electric razor. And the song was really heading in a good direction, but we sort of needed something to, you know, give it a little bit of pathos or something like that. So I suggested to the band that they let me work out a cello part with – just one cello – and they agreed, so I went and called up Doug Riley, and he asked me over, and I said "Look Doug, here's what I want to do," and again, he was sort of translating into music what I was asking him to do.
But "Bodsworth," he did the whole thing independently. I'm trying to think if there's anything else on the first album that has orchestration. I don't think there is. Now, on the Hope album, the Hope album was really, was Doug Riley. He did all the arrangements independently of the band. Like what we did was, we put the bed tracks together with all the piano and guitars and whatnot, and we submitted the tapes to him, and then he wrote the arrangements. I actually went over to his place to give him sort of general guidelines, but I can't take any credit for writing the parts. I mean, he wrote all the parts for that. When we went to do Sir Army Suit, Terry Brown and Doug Riley had dissolved their partnership, so Doug was no longer involved. So we got a fellow named Eric Robertson, who was a well-known arranger in Toronto, and he arranged "Cherie." He arranged the strings on "Dear Christine," "A Routine Day," and essentially he created those parts. We didn't really have much input in that. I don't know if there's any other orchestrations on that album or not.
And then on the fourth album, all the arranging was done by Chris Bond, who was the producer. And on the fifth album, Jack Lenz did all the arrangement, and essentially they were string arrangements, and we used a group called the Armin string quartet. And they played on "Magentalane" and "Love of a Woman" and I think maybe "A Million Miles Away," and Dee's song about Mars, "Maybe I'll Move To Mars," and I think they played on "December Dream" too.
DB: There are strings on that.
JW: Yeah. So those string parts were arranged by Jack Lenz. Again, he did all the creating on those.
DB: Other than Hope, do you see any concept to any of the albums? I know that Capitol issued a press release saying that the first album followed a specific story line which Hope was going to pick up on. Was that more than band's perspective, or was that a creative press release on Capitol's part? I can come up with a story line that goes through all five (albums), but I think that's because I'm specifically looking for something to tie together.
JW: The Hope album was a concept album. We set out to do a concept album, and that was it. But as far as the other albums is concerned, there was no conscious concept that I know about. I mean, essentially, the concept was to put together the best material we had at the time, and record it as best we could, under whatever circumstances we were recording. And that was about it.
Now, that's not to say that we didn't have recurrent themes. I mean, we've used the sun as a recurrent theme on our albums, and the mouse. And sometimes in the lyrics we made reference to, you know, "Klaatuism." Like, for example in Magentalane, there's a couple of things in that, that are, you know, sort of feeding the thematic thing, but as far as the overall concept of the album is concerned. I don't think that the other albums – I mean, certainly the Endangered Species album, there was no concept there, other than we were just struggling to survive (laughs) under adverse circumstances.
DB: A little bit of anger at the record company?
JW: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, we had all kinds of problems then.
I mean, we were having problems with our – with Terry Brown, our former
publisher, and we weren't getting paid, and Capitol Records was putting
extreme pressure on us to do it their way, and we weren't happy campers.
And we had to do it in L.A., and we weren't in control, and you know …
So that album, the only concept there was just trying to stay alive, you
know? Just trying to come up with something to please the record
company, because they were threatening to pull the rug out underneath us
if we didn't and, but at the same time, trying to remain as true as we
could to what we had done before, but it wasn't easy. That's why
"Sell Out, Sell Out" is on that album, because it essentially was a coded
message from us to our fans saying, "Despite what this looks like, we're
aware of what's happening, and we're not just being pawns here."