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Well, I had HOPED to resume publication of I.N. when I returned from the desert, but other commitments have made that impossible - so, with this LIMITED ISSUE, we bid you adieu... it's been a wonderful run, & I appreciate EVERYONE's support over these last 15 years... but, with this issue, I declare IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION a thing of the past!


Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 76

INTERVIEW with Nigel Potter


I first ran into Nigel at the tail-end of a tour in Iraq, on some threads where we were discussing the NEED for peace, with various/sundry folks "collaborating" on how to achieve it... as a result of those dialogues, I listened to his music as soon as I hit America's shores again (after 6 months of not being able to hit one page that had music on it, 'coz the SA had ALL music sites zoned out)... when you check his music out, you'll see (right AWAY) what I "heard" in his music that made me want to interview him!  Without further ado, then, here is Mr. Potter, "in his own words"....

ZZAJ: I notice a lot of “layering” in your playing, particularly on tunes like “EDEN”; is it “training” or “practice” (or a little of both) that’s allowed you to get to that level of comprehension?

NP:   I think it is a mixture of both.  The training was what you might call: "On the job training" for the most part.  It sure helps to know what notes go with what notes, but, for me, it's all about what I am feeling as I play  I have to have that connection in sound, head cinema running, so that I can sort of see in sound.  Eden is a very good example of how feeling centered I am.  It is a very very simple song, but the layers are the whole deal almost. I listen to artist's like Phil Thornton, who will write a ten minute piece around 1,maybe 2 notes, yet what he does with introducing new elements, is what makes the song move you. I have what I like to call: "Sparkles". Those are the highlights, the things that catch the ear, they often serve as smoothing bridges between one pattern and the next.
The training can help you understand what notes you need to look for, but how those notes are played, the feel, that slight bend of a note, that's where it will work, or not, for me. 

ZZAJ:  What kind of “processes” & gear do you use?  You seem to be able to achieve very high-quality recording & great sound integration.  How important IS the “process” (and the gear) to the end result?

NP: Ouch, this one's gonna' hurt (LOL)...   Equip: Fender Squier stratocaster (My albino baby); One Distortion pedal; a Starforce bass (Second hand,  50 pounds - ED:  remember now, Nigel's talking about currency, not WEIGHT), think of it as a plank of wood with four strings. And...a Casio 571 keyboard (40 UK pounds second hand)  So my savior is my software. I use Cubase SX for all the recordings, for the finishing touches, Wavelab.  The software really is all here.  I feel like a kid in a sweetie shop every time I plug into it.  I can do things with this software, that back in my band days would have cost hundreds of pounds to achieve in a regular studio.  I find I still hit and miss with the quality, although I am always working my hardest to get what I am after.  But as I always like to say, as an excuse (LOL)...  30 plus years as a guitarist, 2 years at everything else.  I still have along long way to go, and I enjoy the learning, frustrating at times though it may be.  I have no Midi capability, so it's all me, apart from the VSTI drummer (Groove  Agent) 

ZZAJ:  My readers like to know a bit about where the player “hails from”?  Give us a bit of bio sketch, please, Nigel.
NP:  Well, began playing back in the early mid 1970's,in bands, although I had been playing a year or so before then.  But, man was I ever basic!!  Had my first band before I even knew what a bar chord was.  Always my own bands, always our own material.  The first band that really got going was GUNSLINGER.  You know, studio, gigs, gigs  studio, the whole nine yards.  We were a three piece, our biggest influence then was Motorhead.  On drums was Andy Lamb, a real powerhouse drummer!!  On bass and vocals, Alan Davey (My cousin), who later went onto to become Hawkwind's bassist.  Now longest serving member next to Mr. Dave Brock himself.  Was as they say, the whole rock 'n  roll thing. (LOL)  Pretty wild and intense stuff.  But the band split with Alan Auditioning for Hawkwind, and myself auditioning for Motorhead.  I played on Alan's audition, and both Alan and Andy played on mine.  Had another band after that, MERCHANTS OF SORROW.  It did it's time and I learned SO much from that band.  Andy again on drums and a guy called David Meecham on bass, another GREAT bass player.  After that, reality hit....  Band split, flat broke, sold EVERYTHING, not even a guitar left, and it stayed that way till about 4 years ago, when my wife Susan bought me my Strat for Christmas .  A friend of mine David Law, who runs the Hawkwind Museum website, heard some of my early home recordings and told me about sites like Soundclick, and here I am.
ZZAJ:  Your guitar playing is inspiring, without doubt… who are YOUR inspirations (guitar-wise, or else-wise)?
NP:  Jimi Hendrix, I loved the way he played, was described to me once as: "Throwing rage into the guitar" biggest influence, Jimi Page.  First time listening to "You shook Me" off of Zeppelin 1.
That mid song break with just page and Bonham.  The sound of his Les Paul echoing, man I was sold for life on being a guitarist.  But also, it was Page's mastery of mood, and atmosphere, songs like No Quarter....  So I bought the how to play Zeppelin complete works and learned every chord I could.  I later had the opportunity to tell Jimmy, the thought that he was listening to MY music was an out of this world experience for me  Also Robin Trower, man knows how to flow with a mood.. Finally Dave Gilmore, class and emotion, so much feel in his solos.  Away from the guitar, people like Gandhi, HRH Dali Lama, and also many of the good people at sites like Mixposure and The Anubes (A small forum).  They have all had real lasting impacts on me, both on music, and every other topic under the sun, your good self included.

ZZAJ:  Do you play live?  If so, is it solo, or with others?  & IF live, where/how frequently?
NP:  No, unfortunately, my health is not all it should be these days.  Oh, that doesn't stop me having these crazy ideas about doing gigs, but I know they cannot happen in reality, but it's nice to dream now and again.  I did have one fan ask me recently if there was a chance that a gig could happen in the NEW EDEN project in the UK (LOL).....  He wanted the entire Warriors Of The Rainbow CD performed live, just for him (LOL)...  Some of our dialogues on MIXPOSURE make me feel like we have common feelings on issues regarding the damage done by politics & politicians. 

ZZAJ:  Can music aid in healing the human condition?
NP:    Man, I really really hope so. I look at this way, people like Hendrix with "Machine Gun" really really got to me.  Remember sitting in a darkened cinema watching him play that on the screen, which they divided into two for the song.  One side was Jimi on stage, and the other side was scenes from Vietnam.  I cried my eyes out, and when I looked around, many others were crying as well.  So, I think if musicians can have that impact, for a greater good, a common good, then it would be wrong of us not to try.  I have been told many many times that it's pointless, that I am daydreaming...  Well, perhaps I am, although I like to think I'm pretty realistic.
How many forces for good is there in the world?  A force that can make you dance, want to trash your room, fall in love, sail to the stars, and just, want, peace for God's sake.  There are times when I just HAVE to do something.  It's just bursting from the inside outwards.  As Gandhi once said to two warring factions: "For the love of God, just stop it !!"  I heard a song by fellow mixposure artists, who had all got together to do a song called :Stop The Fight".  It was Maria Daines band, Peter (Badmouth) and Jim Rustemeyer.  That song hit me like a sledgehammer, it if hits me, it will hit others.  End of the day, who can really fault us for trying, if we don't make the difference, if it doesn't matter, then we have at the very least declared our feelings are not the feelings of those wielding the misuse of power.  Most folks just want to live, and raise families.
Lot of musicians are REALLY trying their very utmost to make an impact.  We just want peace.

ZZAJ:  You seem to dig good ol’ fashioned R&R as much as I do, & you’ve got some fine lyrical talent.  How do you do it?  Lyrics first, or song & then lyrics layered on top of that?
NP:  Most times, 99.9 percent is music first.  Sometimes I know what I want to write about, so that steers the song writing, but sometimes it is the mood of the music that will decide the tone of the lyrics.  As an example, if I know I  want to write a blues number, I'll go straight for the diminished/minor and seventh chords, they softly cry the blues, you just have to play a chord like an A minor to feel it's mood.  Minor, boy loses girl, major, boy gets girl, simplistic but a good guide.  When I am writing lyrics, it will start as me mumbling rubbish lines, whatever comes into my head, then out of that, will spring a line, a phrase, and the rest will just follow.  Again, lyrics have to be emotion centered, like layering of a song....  You are trying to express a universal emotion, like the blues, and everyone will know it when you get it, and when you don't, so be honest.  If you are going to write an anti war song, pour your heart and soul into it, if you are writing a rock n roll song, get into that feel, don't just think it, feel it!!  My back ground is 4/4 rock n roll, verse chorus, et cetera, it is only since the internet that I have expanded to include instrumentals and different styles.
ZZAJ:  Do you have other players on your MIX tracks, or are the instruments all done by you?  If you’re doing these things solo, how do you make the instruments flow together (as well as you do)?
NP:  I am on several tracks that are on Mix, but I don't  think currently there is one of my page.
Although some are on other sites.  I have been fortunate to work with many amazing Mixposure artists.  Always deeply humbled to be asked.  On solo material, you have to have a bed track.
That is to say, generally to have one instrument play the whole song through, beginning to end.
You can always later edit out the sections where you don't want that instrument in.  Then you build, instrument by instrument.  A straight rock song will have say 4 - 8 tracks rolling together.
A song like Eden,10-20, songs which are epic, like warriors, may have as many as 40+
A track may only be say, a single note bent and echoed for a certain spot, but if it feels like it has to be there, it goes there. 

ZZAJ:  If there were one player (or group) you could have an opportunity to play with, who would it be?  Why?
NP:  Oh, so many many people I would have loved to have jammed live with.  So many of them on Mixposure (You know who you are)  Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd.
ZZAJ:  There are lots of “young” players (not necessarily in age; it could be only in length of time playing); what are your “words of wisdom” to them for the “hard times”?
NP:  Bottom line advice, NEVER quit.  It's your dream, more than that, it's what you ARE.
Every fiber of your being is geared toward this, you live breathe eat and sleep it. Never quit, because no one else can write YOUR songs.  They are in you, and no one else.  When I am away from music, I think about what I am going to do next, and when I am playing, I think about nothing else.  Music will always be good to you, respect it, cherish it and shield it against the know it alls, the critics and the plain mean spirited.  Always be ready to listen to those trying to help, but choose which advice you think best suits YOU and simply disregard the rest.  And, most importantly of all, HAVE FUN.


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