Pendragon are back with a new studio release after 6 years. The band’s mastermind, musician and songwriter Nick Barrett talked to Grande Rock about his life changes, the new album and music in general, among several other interesting things. Read more below.
Pendragon band pic
Hi Nick. Congrats on “Love Over Fear”. It’s the “Album of the Month” on Grande Rock!
N: Thank you!
It’s been almost 6 years since “Men Who Climb Mountains”. What happened in the meantime and why did it take you so long to come up with a new studio album?
N: Life, moving house, sometimes you just need time , time to think, time to re-evaluate your life, time to do other things. Pendragon has been going for 42 years without much of a break! I needed a break, and time to find the music I wrote for “LOF”.
Which are the music similarities and differences between your new album and your debut?
N: The new material for me is more cohesive, complete, mature, melodic and makes more sense, but some people would disagree, they love “The Jewel” album… but hey that’s people, we all like different things eh?
Can you say that you were influenced by the new place, Cornwall, that you live and the sea sights on the whole?
N: Yes, being in Cornwall is a more relaxed way of life, you have the fields, the hills, the sea, it’s beautiful, and I really love the sea.
What does the album title “Love Over Fear” declare?
N: That love is better than fear and love will conquer fear in the end!
How is the cover artwork related with the album title?
N: All things lead into the middle, there is a heart this represents love, all things lead to this and join to it, God if you like. All the animals get it and understand it… maybe people don’t always understand that!
Does the album has to do with the Socratic concept of “a life worth living” in general?
N: I don’t know that philosophy… but I like the sound of it!
Please give us a hint about each track…
N: “Everything”: It’s about people who think they know everything… but know nothing!
“Starfish and the Moon”: It’s about all the love unseen around us, when we die, we don’t really ever die.
“Truth and Lies”: How truth is becoming less and less in the world. People don’t seek the truth much now, but they really should! Without truth we have nothing.
“360 Degrees”: All about moving to Cornwall…
“Soul and the Sea”: Just a dreamy atmosphere… no heavy demands on your thoughts… You just feel free in this song.
“Eternal Light”: It’s about the spark of good that is in each of us.
“Water”: …water! How I feel about the sea!
“Whirlwind”: It’s about seeking illusions in this life, fame, fortune.
“Who Really Are We?”: What we are as human beings.
“Afraid of Everything”: Be brave… don’t be afraid of anything!
How did you decide to release an acoustic and instrumental version of the album?
N: I thought it would be nice to have some acoustic versions of the songs. I wrote most of them on the acoustic guitar and piano, so it seemed like a good idea. The instrumental, well, some people asked for it… I know it’s odd!
Where did the recordings take place and who is responsible for the production, the mixing and the mastering? What has changed in the way you record and what do you think of the final outcome on the whole?
N: All guitars, vocals, keyboards were recorded at my house. Peter recorded bass at his house on my Pro Tools set up and the drums were recorded at Clive’s studio Thin Ice. Me and Karl Groom did all the mixing/production. Karl did the mastering. We use Pro Tools now which is way easier than going into an expensive studio, which we cannot afford. We can now take months to record at home, it’s wonderful! I like the final outcome.
What are your expectations from “Love Over Fear” and what do you wish to achieve with Pendragon over the next years?
N: Expectations? That people listen to it properly, in the way we used to hear music, spend time listening! Not just 1 listen, you cannot get into an album that has taken years to write and make in one listen… it’s an insult to the artist to give an opinion unless you have listened properly! I don’t know what I wish to achieve any further than keep making great music and playing great concerts… that is everything you can want from music, what else? That is eternally giving to a musician.
What will happen with the postponed tour dates? Will you reschedule it for later? Any info on that?
N: Yes, I’m currently putting them together for next year.
What do you think about this corona-virus thing? How will it affect the music business and people’s lives in general?
N: I don’t know – I’m not a scientist… or a politician! In a perverse way there is a strange calm around, nobody is rushing about, everyone is taking time to think about life, the universe and everything... huhuh it’s about time!
I have just spent a ton of energy making a new album and doing a tour… so I’m quite enjoying an enforced break… it feels like a very long Sunday! Many people are taking the time to do things, write a book, learn French, clear the shed out, learn the banjo!
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Pendragon initially?
N: Our drummer thought of it, Pendragon is King Arthur’s father’s name, Uther Pendragon.
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
N: Spotify. People not listening to music properly, not getting into the heart of the music. There is a lot of bullshit in the music business, it’s hard to find the real stuff, only 1% is about the music, 99% is about the egos. You have to fight to avoid being dragged into the negative aspects of the music business, drugs, drink, egos… you have to remember why you picked that electric guitar up when you were 16 years old!
What do you think about the “downloading & streaming issue” of our time? Do you prefer the streaming services better or not?
N: No, it’s terrible for musicians, they cannot make a living out of this. We have 1 compilation on Spotify, for 6 months royalties we received £5, about €7! Over the next few years the landscape of the music business will change because many bands will not be able to afford to make new music. It’s already happening now, many bands just rely on their back catalogue and touring their old music. Making new albums is not cost effective… plus it’s a massive effort to come up with new music and then try and sell it!
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words:
N: Rockstar: Idiots!
Progressive: Stupid far left idealogues…
Eurovision: Mindnumbingly boring!
Music Realities: Still loving to play your instrument and living to create!
Fill in the phrase… “Prog Rock wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
N: …the dinosaurs…
Which are the best 3 Prog Rock albums of all time according to you?
N: Genesis – “Trick of the Tail”, Camel – “Moonmadness”, Pink Floyd – “Dark Side of the Moon”.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
N: Genesis… around “Trick of the Tail” time!
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in rock history?
N: Male – George Michael, Female – Whitney Houston. I like soul singers more than rock. I like Phil Mogg though UFO, Kate Bush.
Which is the composer/songwriter who influenced rock music the most?
N: Phew, you cannot name just one. Or do you mean my favourite? Maybe Tony Banks.
If you had the opportunity to invite any musician, living or dead, to play on your album whom would you choose and why?
N: Haha… Jimi Hendrix, why?… that is something that doesn’t need an answer!
If you could be any historical person, which one would you be and why?
N: Pontius Pilate… I would have let Jesus go!
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
N: “Dark Side of the Moon”… it just oozes so much class and magic, utterly mesmerizing!
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
N: “Dark Side of the Moon”!
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
N: There is NO place like being in the moment, the now. The past and future are illusions.
Thx for taking the time to do this interview Nick. Wish you the best for the future to come. Thx for the music too… take care!
N: Thank you…