Oliver Wakeman is the son of Rick Wakeman. And just like his dad he has opted for a career in the music world, and just like Rick he has become one of the pillars in the world of Prog Rock. Oliver is not the first progeny to follow in their fathers footsteps, many have tried, and most have failed. Oliver is different, Oliver has that spark. Yes there maybe some similarities between Rick and Oliver, but they are completely different composers and performers.
I have been a fan of Rick Wakeman since the very early 70′s, my god I am getting old! It was through a rather convoluted route that I discovered Oliver, but discover I did.
I am a huge fan of prog rock, and Oliver is part of the re-emergence of prog rock. I guess we could call it Prog Rock 2.0. Oliver has just released a new DVD Coming To Town, and it is well worth seeking out. Even my wife Jan, who thinks that the music world begins and ends in Nashville really likes it!
I had the opportunity to talk with this gifted musician:
I really liked Coming To Town it had a great combination of old and new techniques. You have created a great band. How long have you been playing together and who are the rest of the band?
Thanks for the kind words. We have been a band for about 5 years. I had done a number of solo projects, and played lots of music, with lots of bands. I decided it was time to have a stable platform. The band is Paul Manzi on vocals, and a great job he does. Paul Brown on bass, and I have a great story about him. David Mark Pearce is on guitars, and Dave Wagstaff is the guy on the drums.
Paul and Paul were great, because they actually turned up for rehearsals.
A really funny story involves Paul the the Bass player. I had sent the song notation to him in the mail. He turns up for the try-out, and fits right in. I really liked his style. After the session I was talking to him, thanking him for being well prepared, well it turned out my letter never got to him, he did it all by ear, on the fly.
Track 3 of the DVD Is big and sweeping, it reminded me a lot of some of your fathers compositions.
Oh, you are talking about The Agent. There is a bit of a story behind that one. I had just been ripped off, and I was in a really bad mood. I started writing, just as a way to blow off steam. I had the first part done when my wife Lisa asked me when I was coming to bed. ‘In a minute’ was my answer’. I sat and wrote, the music just started to flow.
The Wakemans are a musical family, I guess its in the genes. What attracted you to the Prog rock genre?
Actually I am classically trained, and I put a lot of stock in that, to me it is very important. From an early age I used to spend hours playing on the piano at home when no one else was around. My first real playing experience was in an R&B band, I played with them for about 3 years. We played in pubs and clubs, it was a lot of fun, and I learned a great deal. here was a lot of improv in our music.
If we call it prog rock 2.0. There is a big difference with it from the 1970′s version. In 1.0 there was what I would call turf wars. This next generation seems to be much more open to collaboration. Is that the key to modern success?
Yes I guess the music scene is a little different today. It is a different world, Prog Rock doesn’t get a lot of media support they it did in the 70′s and 80′s. The bands today are all good friends and we help each other. We don’t have a lot of airs and graces.
Is it a blessing of a curse having Rick Wakeman for a dad?
That’s a difficult one to answer, it is both. It is great having the name recognition, the curse part is being compared to him. My father is a wonderful musician. I go out on stage and just do the best I can.
I know your sister Jemma is in the music business, I have seen her perform on a couple of DVD’s, I believe you also have a brother, is he also a musician?
Jemma has a great voice, she is still in university and only gigs occasionally, Adam is a session musician, and pretty much you can find him wherever Ossie Osbourne is. Oscar is also in university and there are a couple of other brothers floating around, my dad has been married more than once.
I was watching Coming To Town last night and I was trying to figure out the setup you use, but the camera angle was not cooperating. I know that you were playing a Korg T1 and a Roland, what are the other two keyboards?
They are a Korg 01W, and a Korg Triton Pro. The T1 in the music industry is an antique, and it is old, I think it was bought in 1996. It is also big and heavy. The problem was that I used the T1 in the studio, and when I was playing live I had to fight to get the same sound from the other keyboards. So the T1 has become part of the live act.
Coming To Town was recorded in Poland, and we shipped our gear in a van. I really wanted to take Yamaha keyboard with me, it has a great Moog sound, but I was worried about having all my eggs in one basket. I needed something to work with in England, plus the van only had so much room.
Yes were planning a tour, and I understand that you were invited to be the keyboard player, alas Jon Anderson has been sidelined with some medical issues. Was this a big disappointment?
It was a very great honor to be asked to play with Yes. Disappointed, yes I suppose I was, in someways But maybe the will be another opportunity. Jon is a great guy, and it was two weeks before we were going to start rehearsals. I understand though, my dad has had his problems with illnesses.
The cute bit about being asked to play with Yes was that I made it to the front page of the BBC and CNN web sites. I even took screen prints!
What is next for Oliver Wakeman?
Early in 2009 we are going to start work on a new album, I already have the title picked out ‘Cultural Vandals’, I am also a fair way through a solo project on the piano.
Thanks for talking with us Oliver and I am sure I speak for everyone here at Blogger News in wishing you every success in your future projects.
You can find more information about this great musician on the Oliver Wakeman Band Home page.