Interview: 10Q’s with OLIVER WAKEMAN

Oliver Wakeman tours with Gordon Giltrap during April promoting their ‘Ravens and Lullabies’ album and their band includes members of Arena and Threshold. Here we find out a little more about the tour, his time with the Strawbs

1. What have you got planned for the next few months e.g. recording, new musical projects etc.

My main focus at the moment is preparing for the tour with Gordon and trying to work out which keyboards to take out on the road! I have a few to chose from and as the set is quite varied I need to take a certain amount to make sure I can cover all the original parts faithfully whilst making sure I don’t take too much equipment and leave the others no room on stage…

I am hoping to start recording a new large project this year but we are still in the development stage but hopefully we’ll be able to announce something in the near future.

2. What sort of setlist can fans expect at the upcoming shows? Do you each play music from your solo careers too?

We will be playing the Ravens & Lullabies album in its entirety along with a few pieces from Gordon’s classic era along with pieces from my past. We have chosen a few tracks from my past which are vocal tracks as we have the excellent singer Paul Manzi with us on stage and so we want to make best use of his time.

3. The backing band have some real prog rock pedigree. How did you hook-up with Arena’s Paul Manzi and Threshold’s rhythm section?

Paul and I have known each other since 2005 – in fact Paul was a member of my solo band long before he joined Arena. He first recorded appearance with my was on my 2008 live DVD ‘Coming to Town’ which was recorded in Poland.

Steve and Johanne were known to me through working with Karl Groom (Threshold Guitarist) in the studio. I was looking for a drummer for this project and Karl suggested Johanne. The bass player on the original album, Steve Amadeo, was unavailable for the festival show we did last year and so Karl and Johanne suggested Steve Anderson. A fine recommendation he was too. Nick Kendall (guitarist from Rock of Ages) was found through a friend of a friend and is a superb guitarist and a great fit for the band.

4. How did you and Gordon first meet up and have you been pleased with the response to the ‘Ravens and Lullabies’ album from reviewers and fans?

Gordon and I first met at a Christmas concert my Dad put on back in 2009. We got chatting and swapped phone bumbers. I then disappeared off on Tour with Yes for another couple of years and when I finished working with them I received a call from Gordon asking if I fancied playing in on his new album. I said yes and then the next day and suggested a collaboration instead.

The response to the Ravens album has been pretty overwhelming to be honest. Nearly all reviews have been glowing and the fans seem to really love the songs, musicianship and the theme of the album. It was a great feeling knowing that it has been so well received as it was my first recorded work after finishing working with Yes.

5. Does your dad ever try and give you tips/advice still on your playing technique? Or is a case that perhaps you’ve been giving him playing advice?

No – we never talk about music – we’ve only played together about 4 times in the whole of our lives. We tend to talk about comedy or cars or the grandchildren.

I wouldn’t dare give him advise about playing the piano – I do try to explain to him how to use his iPad but he often feigns a headache and gets off the phone pretty quickly. He hides away from technology I think!

6. What have been the live highlights so far and why?

I have been fortunate to have had quite a few different music highlights in my career – obviously playing with Yes to some huge audiences was a great thrill but I have also had some amazing experiences on stage with Gordon.

We played at the Trowbridge festival on our first tour together which was a really fun show with an extremely appreciative audience. We also had a small documentary filmed before the show which was interesting. We also performed on the BJH tour in 2013 which again was great and we played to some large audiences – Holmfirth and The Stables were really great shows.

Also the festival headlining spot we did for the Summers End festival was an obvious highlight – playing the tracks from Ravens live for the first (and so far) only time was amazing. It was what inspired us to put the tour together and I can’t wait to start playing the songs again.

7. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

I love spending time with my children and wife although being pretty busy and not keeping normal hours can be a bit tiresome at times. I am hoping to find time to watch the F1 season as I am a big fan but with 2 kids it often gets relegated to watching the races after everyone has gone to bed…

8.  You’ve worked with the Strawbs before. What was it like touring with them and are there any plans to tour with them again at all?

I enjoyed my time with the Strawbs but I haven’t spoken to them in quite some time. I was unable to do a tour with them due to my Yes commitments and so they found someone else who could do the tour and so I haven’t worked with them since 2010. Nice people though and we played some great shows. A few of samples of those shows are on my YouTube channel –

9.  If you had the chance is there any band you’d love to be a member of and how different is it fitting in the band dynamic, as opposed to touring solo or as a duo like you have done previously with Gordon?

I am a huge fan of the band Styx – and would have loved that keyboard job. Although if any big band is reading this and is in the market for a keyboard player – get in touch!

I am quite happy jumping from solo, duo or band set up. I genuinely enjoy all types of performance. Duo and solo can be very challenging because there are less of you making a sound but that gives the music a chance to really shine but with a band you get to rock out and create a lovely sound with other talented musicians.

10.  Message for your fans…

Thanks as always for the continued support – it’s only through people saying how much they enjoy what I do that gives me the encouragement to keep doing it!

Twitter: @OliverWakeman
YouTube: Oliver’s YouTube Channel
Facebook: Oliver on Facebook

GORDON GILTRAP & OLIVER WAKEMAN ‘Ravens and Lullabies’ tour dates:

Thursday, April 3:
St John’s Church, St. John’s Street, Farncombe, Godalming, Surrey GU7 3EH

Friday, April 4:
The Cellar, 78 West Marlands Road, Southampton SO14 7FW.

Saturday, April 5:
Classic Rock Society, Montgomery Hall, Wath Upon Dearne, Rotherham, UK

Sunday, April 6:
The Robin 2 Venue, Mount Pleasant, Bilston

Thursday, April 24:
The Bedford. 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9HD

Friday, April 25:
Tithe Barn, Cheltenham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve GL52 8LU

Saturday, April 26:
Mr Kyps. 8a Parr Street, Parkstone, Poole, BH14 0JY

Sunday, April 27:
The Vic. 88 Victoria Rd, Swindon, SN1 3BD

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