King Crimson Meets Van der Graaf Generator!
David Cross & David Jackson Release New Album “Another Day
Interview with David Jackson
Interview with David Jackson
The meeting between you and David Cross dates back to many years ago: why is a common project born only now?
The ‘project’ was born very soon after we first met 2010. We were both guests at the Il Giardino Verona Prog Festival that year. I was at due to play with N.y.X. – but they had to drop out. N.y.X’s other guest Trey Gunn (x King Crimson) couldn’t make it either, so the replacement band was Arti & Mestieri with xKC David Cross. David and I met for the first time at the Ryanair Desk and became friends very quickly. There was a gap in the show that evening, so David and I improvised a spontaneous duo. This was a lot of fun and a great success for us as well as a hit with the audience! Soon afterwards we met up in London and started work by recording improvisations and trying to write new music together. By the time we met you, Athos, in November that same year at Prog Exhibition in Rome, we had several great pieces and astonishing improvisations in the bank.
However, David Cross was also in the middle of finishing ‘Sign of the Crow’, a great album by his Band DCB, as well as several other projects. He was extremely busy, as was I, so we decided to take our time and let our writing and creativity take it’s own time to mature.
"King Crimson Meets Van der Graaf Generator" appears as a very strong call for all fans of progressive music: what are the main features of "Another Day"?
I think that the main feature is that the album doesn’t sound like anyone else! There is great ensemble and individual playing and great melodies. I think it is a new kind of sound-set, that no-one’s found before - and a new kind of collaborative creativity. When we solo and play freely, there are two soloists working around each other and just the rhythm section, which leaves a lot of space. Added is that the violin can do double stops, which means constructive harmony; Jaxon’s two Saxes at once (Double Horns) means he can do the same. Both players can therefore play heavy and power chordal rifs. Both Davids are keyboard players, writers and arrangers, so there are some rousing chorus’ and anthem like tunes. We decided to dd to all of this an amazing rhythm section that has been working together for quite a few years.
What is the underlying theme of the album? Can you consider it a concept despite being an instrumental record?
When we first met and emergency improvised together at the Il Giardino Festival in Verona in 2010, we joking took on the characters of ‘Vladimir and Estragon’ from the play ‘Waiting for Godot’, by Samuel Beckett. It has taken us 8 years to finish this album as we have both been so busy on many other projects. Nevertheless, we have kept coming back to this two disillusioned old men theme and have probably incorporated religious, philosophical, classical, biographical and even wartime references in the choice of material, track titles and even the arrangements. An example might be the inclusion of Big Ben from The Houses of Parliament in ‘Millennium Toll’. Others might me ‘Going Nowhere’ and ‘Mr. Morose.’ I would therefore consider it a concept album and not just a collection of music.
Further clues might be found in the brilliant album cover by Michael Inns and the motifs of the Tree , Sunrise and ’Bowler Hats’ (a direct lift from the heads of Vladimir and Estragon’.)
Sometime in the future Cross and I will be revealing another surprise and public dimension to ‘Another Day’, but the is a secret for the moment. But it will make the concept idea a lot clearer.
How important is the technology in an album like"Another Day"?
How important is the technology in an album like"Another Day"?
PLAYING: David Cross has a wonderful array of FX pedals and Loopers of which he is the master! These have have been part of his set up for many years. These are really designed for guitarists but adapt brilliantly to his electric violin. So he has created an enormous range of tones and colours that match his instantly flexible range of expression. David Jackson also has a lot of FX units and Loopers, but on this album and in this particular situation, I felt it was right to play using all the natural sounds along with only great reverbs and occasional echoes. I play whistles, flutes, Sopranino, Soprano, Alto and Tenor saxophones on this album and uses great microphones to get a very widest range of expression from my horns.
RECORDING: The recording technology has always shaped the creative process in the studio. Thankfully long gone are the days of Tape machines and the strange alchemy of Sound on Sound! Both Davids use LogicX these days, though started the process of this album on Logic9. The power of this system is easy high level recording and mighty editing techniques. Add to that, instant access to great FX; and wonderful harmonic instruments and rhythm sections through MIDI. When we started out, we were able to improvise and experiment: write and arrange and ship ideas back and forth via the internet, so we could work together and apart.
When we were improvising with the band, recording with total separation allowed David and I to edit tracks like ‘Trane to Kiev’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Mr. Morose’ and ‘Time Gentlemen, Please’ into exciting new shapes.
PRODUCTION: The other vital role that technology now plays is in the mixing and production side. We were blessed in the making of ‘Another Day’ in that my son Jake Jackson was happy to work with us. He has won two awards (Breakthrough Engineer 2010 and best Live Recording 2012) and works across all areas of recorded music. Working in two different studios caused us problems creating consistent drum sounds. Mick Paul and Jake got to the bottom of that thanks to a great day at Air Studios! Jake also works a lot for Nick Cave, which also means the violinist Warren Ellis. David Cross is particularly delighted with Jakes mixing of his complex violin sounds. The sax and flutes are produced beautifully too, of course. Jake’s master of the final process and the mysterious world of plug-ins has meant that technology has helped us produce the best sound either of us have ever recorded so far!
MASTERING: Jake carefully chose Jon Webber to finish off the Mastered sound on ‘Another Day’. This clarity caused us a few small trips back to the drawing board to remove erroneous details of the sound no-one had noticed before; but the the final result is marvellous.
What can you say about the other two elements that make up the team, Mick Paul and Craig Blundell?
Our Rhythm Section of Mick Paul and Craig Blundell comes from The David Cross Band. They have been working together for many years and have a unique and great mutual understanding. They are a wonderful team ready to quickly learn and record complex arrangements - or improvise without a word! Mick Paul is famous for his Fretless 6 string bass power and delicacy and his individual harmonic sensibility. Craig Blundell has mastery of complex drum kits and has a distinctive personal sound and approach. He is just a world famous Prog Rock drummer in great demand and clearly at the top of his game!
Several of the pieces on this album came from ‘blind’ improvisations in a small studio. ‘Blind’ means we were all in different rooms - essential for separation - and only joined by headphones - and a random tempo and time signature click track. The unique pieces on the album that came from these band improvisations are ‘Trane to Kiev’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Mr. Morose’ and ‘Time Gentlemen, Please’. Equal credit goes to Mick and Craig in the identity of these tracks!
Is it possible to define your music for some young people who are unlikely to know the prog of the 70s?
Probably not! That’s why we need music journalists and analysts.
The record has great playing and a great sound; and it references music that has gone before and has influenced us all, but it finds a sound and perhaps a new voice all of it’s own. It can be fierce and it can be sublime; it can be uplifting and it can be haunting. It reflects the time we’re now in, much as the Prog of the 70’s reflected that time and feeling.
Have you planned a tour to promote your album? Will you come to Italy?
David Cross and I enjoy the freedom and spontaneity of playing as a Duo and have played duo gigs in UK, Holland and Italy already. That is how much of ‘Another Day’ was created. Live, we use copious amounts of technology in both FX and Loopers and create versions of several tracks from the album. We also include some music from our King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator canon. We like to involve the audience!
So we are ready and willing to promote the album however and wherever there is an audience. We could also create a Band to play the album as it stands, but that requires a lot of all round investment, but please don’t rule that idea out!
Either as a Cross & Jackson Duo, or Cross & Jackson Band, of course we want to come and play Italy! Please help find us the way!
In support of the album David Cross & David Jackson plan to tour mid-2018!
3. LAST RIDE
4. GOING NOWHERE
5. TRANE TO KIEV
6. MILLENNIUM TOLL
8. COME AGAIN
9. BREAKING BAD
10. MR. MOROSE
11. ANTHEM FOR ANOTHER DAY
12. TIME GENTLEMEN, PLEASE
Released March 16, 2018
To purchase David Cross & David Jackson's “Another Day”:
Buy CDs & more information: www.crossmusic.co.uk
David Cross & David Jackson Official website: www.crossandjackson.com
David Cross Music Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/David-Cross-Music-105639052830314
Official website: http://www.jaxontonewall.com