Barclay James Harvest

John Lees Interview, April 1989


This interview was conducted by Keith Domone and Kevin Goodman for the official BJH fan club magazine, Nova Lepidoptera, and first appeared in issues #5 and 6 of NL in June and September 1989.

Deutsche Übersetzung


John enjoys a good read...

NL: What's the state of play on the new album?

JOHN: It's going very well - we've done two tracks already, and we have quite a surfeit of material. I would think we've got enough to do two albums, so we're in the good position of being able to pick the best of what we've got. I don't know whether it'll suit the fans or not, but for once we are enjoying doing it, we're having a good time.

 

NL: That's unusual, is it, that you're enjoying recording?

JOHN: Well, the last few albums have been really difficult to do. The longer you're in the business, the harder it gets to be creative in the way that you want to be, because the record company and all the rest have certain ideas as to the way they think you should do it, telling you one thing; the fans are telling you another, and you've got to sort of fall in the middle. It's very, very difficult.

 

NL: Was it better in the early days when you could do what you liked?

JOHN: Well it was, because you weren't worried about the commercial aspect of it. When we've been writing for the past four or five years, maybe more, even since Gone To Earth, we've had to be aware of trying to keep Barclay James Harvest alive. The last tour that we did just about managed to pay off all the debts that were accrued and set us up for making another album. I think a lot of people tend to think of this band as millionaires sat back in super luxury enjoying a wonderful lifestyle, and it's not true - it never has been true.

 

NL: If you could compare the new album with any previous work, how would you say it sounds?

JOHN: From a recording point of view, from a technique and from a sound point of view, it's more in keeping with what you would expect from, say, a Dire Straits album or a Peter Gabriel album - that kind of very upfront, very modernistic sound, but used in the Barclays way. The producer, Jon Astley, is working very well to get us working as a unit again. I might be doing him a great disservice, but the guy to me is very like Woolly in temperament and attitude, and it really is having a good effect. There's still the same kind of songs there, still the Barclays' songs, but it's into another stage of treatment when you come to recording them. I would say that we're more in the situation that we were when we produced albums like Gone To Earth. We were terribly disappointed about the reaction to Face To Face; we'd made a conscious effort to go back and look at the catalogue that we'd produced over the years, to try and take something from that, and we didn't really get the kind of reaction we thought we would, and followed by that live album - that was ludicrous. We weren't worried about it not selling, we were worried that people thought it wasn't live! We did hardly anything on it, we didn't even touch it.

 

NL: One or two people suggested that some of the vocals were taken from other concerts.

JOHN: No, untrue. I'll tell you what did happen: the one that went out on East German radio was just raw, we didn't do any treatment at all to it. Obviously, you've got to do a bit of work on the tapes when you get them back to the studio - say a vocal's got a piece of extremely loud feedback or something is wrong with it, then you've got to replace it, but I must say, and I can put my hand on my heart and say this, that the amount of work we did on that album was negligible. I was ill while that was being mixed, so we couldn't have done overdubs for me, anyway. I just wasn't there!

 

NL: You're on record as saying that you weren't very happy with some previous albums, especially Baby James, but also Ring Of Changes and Victims - how do you feel about them now?

JOHN: They're not my favourite albums, no. It was mainly that I didn't have a good time doing them - I don't think anybody did, really - and at the end of the day it showed. The producer probably kept us all together, we've got to thank him for that, but I think to do that he had to give such a strong influence that the Barclays really got smothered a bit. It's like with the backing vocalists, it was like "What do we do next?" - "Why don't we try a backing vocal on one song?", and we got backing singers to do that, and then it was "While they're here why don't we do this, that and the other?" and the next thing we're touring with them, and it really didn't work. They were great, and one of them's quite famous now, isn't she?! Everything they did was right, but it detracted from what the band was doing on stage; it actually drew attention to the stage, and my impression of Barclays fans over the years is that people want to sit there and not really be aware of the musicians on stage, just the total effect of the music. Both those albums were enormously expensive to make, and probably will never recoup what it cost to make them.

 

NL: Is that why you went back to analogue for Face To Face?

JOHN: No, in actual fact cost wasn't a factor in that, it was the fact that we didn't really think that it made any difference. OK, if you mix analogue as well, then obviously the quality isn't there, but if you record analogue and mix digitally, I really do defy people to tell the difference. Some things don't record that nicely on digital, because there's a kind of natural compression with analogue when you're overloading drums and things like that - you don't get anything like that with digital. Having said that, we're recording this one digitally, and the machine we're working on seems to be very good, or the sounds that come off the machine seem to be very good.

 

NL: You've mentioned keeping the Barclays together - do you see the band as a career now, or are you still doing it because you enjoy it?

JOHN: I enjoy it, I love writing songs. it's the one thing that I think I can do, and do quite successfully. I'm not talking about hit songs, but it's a really good way to be creative, to express yourself, and the net result of that is that we're lucky enough to be able to put those things onto plastic, which a lot of people are not lucky enough to do. To do that we have to keep Barclay James Harvest successful - not just for that, but for all the people who have really believed in us over the years. You get to this point in life where it's "Too old to rock 'n' roll" and they call it "Crinkle Rock", but I've always said that it's a shame that something else hasn't come along that's put the music that we're doing into the vein of modern jazz or whatever, kicked it to one side where it could carry on graciously. Unfortunately that's never happened, so you've still got people like ourselves and Pink Floyd and Genesis, still competing in the same arena with young kids. it seems a bit idiotic, really, but we're fighting all the time in that kind of league, otherwise we won't get the releases and we won't get the songs on record.

 

NL: Would you be happier if you could go back to the college circuit?

JOHN: I personally would like that situation, but it doesn't just depend on me. Whether that will ever happen again I don't know, because I really enjoyed that, it was great, but I can't see it at this particular moment.

 

NL: When you get together for a new album and you present songs to Les and Mel, how complete are they and what form do they take?

JOHN: They're demos, all on cassette. Some of them are very simple, some are quite complex, arrangement-wise. They're just played between the three of us first and then with the management, and this time for the first time with the record company as well, because this chap that we're working with at the record company, John Williams, is somebody that was aware of the band years and years ago when we were with EMI, then he was part of the sales force at Polydor. I remember years ago we did a radio station tour and he did it with us and must have kept in touch with what was happening with the group. He is now head of A & R at Polydor, and he's really behind the band. He's absolutely over the moon with what we've done and there's big moves towards America as well.

 

NL: Do you think this could be a renaissance, a rebirth of the band?

JOHN: I hope so. There is another wild card in the pack now, which is Jon Astley, who has a lot of credibility In the States and Canada and also has an American management who are very keen on the project and very pleased with what they've heard already. We sent two rough mixes of unfinished tracks to America and Jon Astley's manager heard these and thought they were finished mixes! So, from that point of view it's very encouraging.

 

NL: Have you heard Jon Astley's solo albums? what did you think?

JOHN: I liked the album (The Compleat Angler) - there's a couple of songs on it, two or three that I think are very very good. I've not heard the first album. He's just got a big advance from the Americans to do a third album, so he's obviously somebody to watch.

 

NL: Going back to selecting material for your own LPs, do you think there's a danger of being too democratic in that you tend to split songwriting credits down the middle? If Les came along with ten really strong songs, would you record a whole LP of his material?

JOHN: I suppose you'd have to. The way it works out really is that they look at Les's songs and they pick the best of his songs, then they pick the best of my songs. I think the problem is that they are so very different, at least for the past few albums; the material that Les writes and that I write is absolutely poles apart, but a lot of people think that's good.

 

NL: Could you envisage Les and yourself writing a song together at any stage?

JOHN: I don't know, that's not something I've thought about. We haven't actually sat down and written songs together in the past, but I have helped him in the early days to do a lyric or two. "Early Morning" was the only song that the band actually wrote together.

 

NL: Some of the early songwriting credits are a little confused...

JOHN: It was democratic in those days. When we set off it was decided that we would sign as Barclay James Harvest, as a group, and that everything would be split between the four of us. In actual fact most of the material was written by myself and Woolly in the early days, but to make sure there was no disparity everything was split four ways, so anything that was split four ways came out as credited to Barclay James Harvest. Before we actually got a record deal we did an enormous amount of songs, maybe something like fifty or sixty songs that never saw the light of day. There were very few of those early songs that ever got onto record. I don't know what happened to the demos, I've just got a list of titles. We did a documentary film for Granada Television, and that's got material on it that has never seen the light of day.

 

NL: If you were told that money was no object, and that you could use the very latest technology to re-record an old song, which song would it be?

JOHN: I don't know, I don't remember half of them! If I could do any one... I'd like to do "Pools Of Blue" (one of the early unreleased demos) with a full orchestra. At the same time as I wrote "Pools Of Blue", I wrote "Mocking Bird", "Dark Now My Sky" and "Galadriel", and "Pools Of Blue" was the one that was picked to be the follow-on to "Early Morning", but we never came to terms with it. it's all about somebody that's blind - it's imagining what it would be like, all the things that we can see that a blind person can't see, only touch and smell.

 

NL: Can we expect any surprises on the next tour?

JOHN: The album will dictate exactly what happens afterwards. Hopefully the record will sell, because to tour you have to have promoters who want you to tour and they have to put up the money. We'll know when the album's finished whether we've managed to do the trick or not. We feel like it's a real watershed in our career, and we're going to go out and do an absolutely magic album that's going to grab everybody by the throat and make them go out and buy it.

 

NL: In a poll in the club magazine, the top three songs that people wanted you to play live were "For No One", "Suicide?" and "Guitar Blues" - any chance of you doing any of these?

JOHN: "For No One" is a great song, isn't it?! I was listening to that the other day when I was doing some work for this album. I went back and listened to a few old tracks. "Suicide?", that's another one, they still shout for that. Again, it's something that I don't have any control over; it's democratic, the three members of the band pick with the management, and at the end of the day you go with whatever the majority say. I really wanted to do more of the old stuff on the last tour, I wanted to do "Jonathan". I think it's one of the best songs that Les has ever written, but it didn't go in the act.

 

NL: A lot of people asked us why you didn't perform "Guitar Blues".

JOHN: 1 really don't know. "Guitar Blues", interesting song, that, it goes back a long way; it was written for Ring Of Changes. There were a couple that didn't get on that album and that was one of them, so it went on the Face To Face album. That has happened a few times in the Barclays' career; "Child Of The Universe" got overlooked, and "Hymn" was around for a long time before it was recorded.

 

NL: You brought back "Medicine Man", which went down a storm.

JOHN: That was David Walker - he's been trying to get us to do that for years! I'll go along with that. Again, it's a super song.

 

NL: Are there any others that you'd like to air again?

JOHN: Certainly "For No One" is a cracking song, it really is, and "Suicide?" is as well, from a performance standpoint. On that last verse you could hear a pin drop - I was always really impressed with that, people were really listening to it.

 

NL: Have you got a favourite amongst your own songs?

JOHN: I liked "How Do You Feel Now", I thought that was an absolutely brilliant song, it was just the wrong person singing it! It really wasn't a song that somebody like me should have sung, I couldn't do it justice. If some really big singer had done a cover of it...

 

NL: You're obviously quite a private person - does it bother you when fans seek you out at home?

JOHN: Yeah, it really embarrasses me, I can't handle it. I have to, obviously, but I don't really relate to what they relate to. It's kind of like when I read Nova Lepidoptera, I probably read it like one of them - all these stories about this John Lees character! These people see this lifestyle, they see you on tour and this sort of mad extravagant thing, but when you're at home you're not like that at all, you're just like them, so it comes as a bolt out of the blue when someone recognises you. That's the price you pay, I suppose. In one respect we're lucky, I think, that we're not monstrous in England. I'm sure I'm quite eccentric, but I have no illusions, I'm just a normal person that is artistic.

 

NL: You don't think that fame has affected you at all?

JOHN: No.

 

NL: Do you see yourself as famous?

JOHN: No, I don't. What's fame? A good indication of the kind of reaction you get here is the chap that we're working with now, Andy Mac. When it was all being put together, that we were going to be produced by Jon Astley and Andy MacPherson - it's a joint production - we had to provide them with back catalogue of everything we'd done for them to listen to, to see where we were going. I got a 'phone call from Andy MacPherson, who said, "I've just listened to all this stuff, and it's going to sound really bad, but I've never heard anything you'd done before, and it's */$*! brilliant". He really enthused about "Face To Face", and said, "Now I realise what kind of standards I'm going to have to better"!

 

NL: If, with this album, you suddenly became as big as, say, Dire Straits or Fleetwood Mac, could you handle it?

JOHN: Oh yeah!! Everything's keyed up and ready to go! No problem at all - that's the beauty of twenty-odd years experience, so I think at this stage of the game I could quite easily cope with every benefit! This kind of music does have a wide appeal. If a wider audience could be subjected to it. If it would be possible finally to get something through, people would have all those other albums to go back to. The band has never got over the fatal mistake it made right at the beginning; this band was a working band, so by the time the first album hit the market we'd got a substantial following. The trouble was, and this is where the trouble's always lain, that the media didn't discover the band, the people that we played to discovered the band, and the press has never forgiven that. Even to this day that kind of stigma's carried on - reporters have this inbuilt thing about the band. What we need to do now is bring out an album that's going to go across the board, and that's what we're trying to do.

 

NL: How have BJH survived for twenty-one years, when so many of the people who were around when you started have long since fallen by the wayside?

JOHN: Hard work and a combination of lucky circumstances that established a pattern for the band; I think the first fortunate thing that happened to us was the abysmal failure of the orchestral tour, and the debts that were left behind.

 

NL: That was fortunate?

JOHN: I think it was fortunate in that we had to work to save the situation, to recoup the money, and we had to recreate the sound of the orchestra that we hadn't got. That produced the standard of live shows that pulled US through that period. I think the second fortunate move was that we changed to a management in David Walker who provided a sound accounting and financial base to secure a future for the band. Unfortunately, I think that really led to the demise of Woolly - he never quite got over all that changing about and the more determined effort to be commercial which we undertook with David as well. David's big thing was that he never had "Hymn", because he thought that that was a number one that never happened.

 

NL: Could you actually see the split coming with Woolly?

JOHN: No, it was straight out of the blue. I've missed him ever since, because he was like a real ally. I write songs, but I'm not terribly up on arranging them, and he used to be of great assistance in that respect. I think he was fed up of the continual touring -it's really hard work - and that combined with a lot of other things, he made his mind up and that was it. We went to do these summer festivals in Germany, which were like a prelude to the Berlin gig; they were enormously successful, and I pleaded with him the whole time. At this place called Loreley there were thousands and thousands of people as far as the eye could see, you just thought there couldn't be any more people, and we were top billing over people like Dire Straits and The Police. it started to go dusk and we started playing "Hymn" and there were people sat in all the trees and there were all these lights in the trees! I got backstage afterwards and I said "You can't walk away from all this, you can't do it", but anyway he did.

 

NL: Going on to your solo album, can you throw some light on the puzzling track listing: a release schedule from EMI in 1973 gives totally different track titles.

JOHN: Yeah, I don't know. it was recorded in about two weeks, it was very quick, then leaving EMI it just got lost. Subsequently, years later when they got onto me to release it on the Heritage label, it had lost all context for me, so I just left it exactly as it was. I never even got involved, and they produced that cover. The original cover was absolutely staggering, it was a really nice cover, and the chap that actually did it is a really famous bird illustrator now.

 

NL: What was the original cover like?

JOHN: it was very much like the cover of Gone To Earth, actually, it was like a natural history thing, a watercolour of a kestrel in the wild environment. it was a gatefold and there was a photograph on the Inside, but I don't think it was pressed at all, the whole thing was just shelved.

 

NL: Would you like to see it available again?

JOHN: I don't see why people should want it really, it's seriously dated - it sounds like it was recorded in somebody's front room! I've got the masters and everything, the album technically belongs to me, and I've got two offers to release it, but it's whether I want it out or not. I've not really made a decision one way or the other yet. I've re-contacted the guy that did the original artwork, and if it did go out it would be with the original artwork. If I could get someone who was interested and get them to pay to remix it, that would be the best thing.

 

NL: Is there any other music that you particularly like - other bands or even the classics?

JOHN: I like everything really, music-wise, I'm not very difficult to please! I hear records and I buy them months and months after they've been popular. Somebody just lent me a CD, and I'll go and buy it now because I liked it; I'd always heard this one track and I kept saying to the kid in the car "Hey, listen to this, it's a real good groove!" and it was "The Boys Of Summer" by Don Henley. I knew it was somebody from The Eagles, but that shows you how far behind I am!

 

NL: Talking about the Eagles, why did you record "Best Of My Love"?

JOHN: I thought they were great, The Eagles, I've got all the stuff they did. I had a thing about Eric Clapton, James Taylor in the early days and then The Eagles, and this one track I thought was going to be a monster. We were working with this guy called Rodger Bain at the time, and I did three songs as a single in John Kongos' place, Olympic Studios. I picked "Best Of My Love" and a Clapton track and the actual B-side, which was a song written by me.

 

NL: The label credits "Ryder" ...

JOHN: That was my wife! That was her name before we got married, so it was in her name, but it was my song. We went with "Best Of My Love", and it got playlisted on the BBC and Anne Nightingale waxed lyrical about it. We got a very nice letter from The Eagles' company, but it was deleted very quickly - that's why there weren't many copies of it. We couldn't use the Clapton one because there was a possibility that he might use it as a single.

 

NL: Just out of interest, what was the Clapton track?

JOHN: Er... "Feeling Free" - I have to sing the lyric to get the title!* I believe Polydor have got all three tracks, and if "A Major Fancy" ever comes out it will come out with those three tracks on it if I can swing it, because that will make it really interesting. I haven't even got a tape of that Clapton song, and I remember it being really good.

(* The track in question is actually called "Please Be With Me", and comes from Clapton's "461 Ocean Boulevard" LP. It was written by Charles Scott Boyer and originally recorded by his band, Cowboy, featuring Duane Allman on guitar. Not a lot of people know that!!)

 

NL: Would you like to make another solo album?

JOHN: Yes. Not because I don't like being in a group, but I think there are things I do and have done over the years that aren't really representative of BJH. There are things around that wouldn't be of any use to BJH, that I wouldn't have minded the opportunity at some point to put down, as with that particular record. Whether I'll ever get the opportunity or not I don't know, because it probably wouldn't be commercially viable.

 

NL: Moving on to your BJH songs - "The Closed Shop" has been read as an attack on the trade unions, whereas in "African" you wrote "slave labour, working class, what's in a name?" - is this a change in your political views?

JOHN: It's misinterpreting what I said in the first place. I wasn't against the working class, I wasn't against the unions; I was against the closed shop. I thought it was a destructive force, and I still do. If you look back through all the songs I've written in that kind of vein, they're all pro-working class, because that's what I am, and you can't change where you come from. I'm not really political, I've got a social conscience.

 

NL: But "African" was far and away the most political thing you've ever written, whereas normally your lyrics are open to interpretation.

JOHN: I've just been pulled up for this, for being too blatant in the lyrics! The song in question is really literal, it's a story about something that happened on one of the first albums we ever recorded. The song was written in about two or three hours, and it was one of these that just flowed out; because of its literal use of names and things like that, I actually had to change the lyric, because people thought it sounded amateurish! I started thinking maybe I should write a devious one now, so I went out and wrote a very devious one, and that's one of the ones that we've recorded now.

 

NL: You said that "How Do You Feel Now" was one of your favourite songs - you can't get much more literal than that.

JOHN: No, and I think people like that, but with certain things you do try and hide it in a way that is open to interpretation. "African" was written off the back of that mining disaster where all those people were killed; it had to be literal, it had to be brutal, but that was just social conscience, it wasn't political. "Child Of The Universe" is a very socially conscious song; "For No One", "Summer Soldier" and those kind of songs are on every album.

 

NL: Will there be anything like that this time?

JOHN: Yes, there's one on this album, we start arranging it today. it's called "Cheap The Bullet" and it's the next "African" if you like. The next "Guitar Blues" if we do it is a song with the working title "I Played John Lennon's Guitar", and that gives you an indication of what the song is about.

 

NL: In "He Said Love" you sing "he'll change all your lives if you just let him in". How has he changed your life?

JOHN: He hasn't really, I've always been involved. I think I'm very lucky, I have a very simple faith and that's great. I've read The Bible, but I wouldn't really count myself as born again - I suppose people are, but I couldn't really own up to that because I've always used prayer from being a kid.

 

NL: In "Nova Lepidoptera" you used a great many science fiction book titles and expressions; do you read much SF?

JOHN: Yes, it was deliberate. I did at the time read a lot of SF, I still do. I've written quite a few songs like that - that's a particular type of writing that David Bowie I know uses a lot as well. What you do, basically, is you write all these things down as a list, then you cut them all up as sentences or even words, and you mix them all and jumble them all up, then you pull them out and fit them together.

 

NL: Is that how you wrote "Titles" as well?

JOHN: No, "Titles" I actually wrote as it was. If you listen to the way the titles are laid out, they were picked to try and illustrate the falling out between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Most of the songs I write are lyric and music together, or a first line, and then I'll write a song to go with the first line. Sometimes you'll write a song that's purely music, and if there is no Inspiration at all which way to write a lyric for it, then I'll do one of these cut-ups. "Nova Lepidoptera" was about SF, and I just looked at my shelf of SF books and I took bits from every one.

 

NL: In "Paraiso Dos Cavalos" you wrote about horse-riding - is that a hobby of yours?

JOHN: It's not, but when I was in Portugal I learnt to ride. My wife is really into horse-riding, as is Les's Christine; the two of them sort of grew up together and were always interested in horses. My wife had a bad fall; the horse bolted and ran away, she went under the horse and got kicked badly, and it put her off. When we went to Portugal, she got confidence enough to start riding again, so I decided to learn and it was then that I got the idea for "Paraiso Dos Cavalos". Olwen's now very involved in horses again, and goes out with Christine.

 

NL: At the Wembley concert, you started off with "Fifties Child" and all of a sudden you forgot the words! what went through your mind?

JOHN: You do that, it's an awful thing. When you've done a lot of gigs, you go into automatic, you start listening to what's going on, you start watching the light show and all of a sudden for some reason you look - as soon as you look, you break the chain and everything goes.

 

NL: Would you like to do any more gigs behind the iron curtain?

JOHN: It was fabulous, actually, that Treptower Park experience, it was absolutely amazing.

 

NL: How do you feel when you actually walk out in front of all those people?

JOHN: The worst one was the initial Berlin concert, we had some massive technical problems. Somebody walked across the stage in the afternoon and knocked all the guitars over, and the outcome was that the main guitar that I was using for the night had the frets knocked into the wood. We couldn't get a replacement, so we had to go with the Instrument that we'd got, which wouldn't tune, so on the things that that guitar was on we just had to bluff it and keep it down! Obviously, we had to do a lot of repair on that when we got to look at the tapes, and there was massive hum on everything. We did the Weeley Festival which was also a lot of people, but we were with the Orchestra so you were stuck behind this wall of people, which was great: with Berlin you were right out on your own. Just as an aside, I remember there was a ramp up to the stage, and there were millions of people back stage. We had this guy called Simon Renshaw working for us, and in an effort to dear the stage so the band could get on, he just shouted as loud as he could, "Get off the f***ing ramp now, the band's coming!". I was actually walking up the ramp, and I turned round and started running off, and I just heard this voice shout behind me, "Not you, you ****, you're in the group!"!!

 

NL: During the concert itself, you did a lot of segues where you used instrumental links between the songs - I wondered why you'd never tried that again.

JOHN: Oh, the bridge pieces, yeah. it's something we thought about on the last tour. We didn't like to have a lot of introductions in that set, you could lose an audience, and the people that we were working with, Kevin especially, it was his forte; he could produce these wonderful keyboard effects.

 

NL: Do you choose your own support bands?

JOHN: Yeah, we are actively involved in that. We don't really like support bands, that's why we always have a solo artist.

 

NL: Why not dispense with a support altogether, then?

JOHN: Because we'd be overstretched, doing a really long show - it would be hard for Us to do, physically, and we've got the old-fashioned idea that there should be two acts, to make it value for money. Roy Harper had a hard time in Europe, although there were some places where he went down really well. He got very disillusioned at one point, and we had to encourage him to go on; one of the band actually went on stage and said "Listen to this guy", because some of his stuff is great. it's difficult to envisage a band that would gel with the Barclays; light-show wise, it's so geared to what we're doing, so we always go for simplicity.

 

NL: Have you ever thought of doing the artwork for a cover?

JOHN: We've done quite a few where we've actually been instrumental in suggesting what the cover should be, but no, something like that is better done outside the unit, then you can be more objective about it.

 

NL: Would you advise your children to become professional musicians?

JOHN: It's a difficult one, isn't it, it's such a weird business to be in. For every person that's like me, a survivor, there are a lot of people that just aren't here any more, they're dead because of the business. I don't think it's something you can give advice on, really, it's something they either do or they don't. I probably wouldn't discourage them, just give them advice on the pitfalls.

 

NL: On a lighter note, years ago you mentioned that you had various pets, including sixty-five rabbits - have you still got them?

JOHN: No, they staged a mass break-out! We've got three now! I've got loads of pets: two hens, three rabbits, three parrots, three cats and three dogs!

 

NL: If the band had split up years ago, what do you think you'd be doing now?

JOHN: I don't know, probably an artist, I'd probably be painting. I've been doing a foundation course in Fine Arts this past six months, and if and when I get the time, I'm going to go back and do that full time, because that's what I used to do anyway, I went to an Art School.

 

NL: And, finally, how do you see the future of Barclay James Harvest?

JOHN: Well, I think we're all taking it on a day to day basis, really. I thought that Face To Face was a great album, I thought it really worked; the songs of mine in particular I was very pleased with, and I think what we've got to do with this album is do something that's even better than that, and that can be sold to people other than die-hard BJH fans. We've got people at the record company that believe In the band again; the Chairman is really enthusing about what he's heard, so it's very encouraging. We've got to break the English and American markets to make a positive step forward again, and the only way we're going to do that is by having an absolutely incredible album.


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