January 1987 A4 32 pages
photocopy reprint (last 4 copies)
Example article extract
At midday (on the day of the AMP Records concert at the Planetarium - 29/9/86) in a nice comfortable, and reasonably quiet, Hotel bar. After swapping greetings, ordering a round of lagers and deciding what cigarettes to smoke, we proceed with the job at hand - the interview...
Firstly, have Neuronium disbanded, as there hasn't been an album for quite a while?
"No, the main reason for us not recording a new Neuronium album is that I've been too busy during the last few months. I have to compose the music for a new TV series in Spain, it's a Science Fiction series, and I have to compose music for all 52 episodes, all the incidental music - everything!"
Is some of this work going to appear on LP?
"Yes, I hope so - possibly next Spring. The problem is that I have so many things, i.e. I also have to compose music for the Madrid Planetarium which I haven't finished yet, and It'll be opened by the King of Spain in January!"
So it's quite apt that you're playing at the Planetarium in London!
"Yes, the real problem now is that I don't have an exact date for the release of HYBRID DATA the next Neuronium album, which is all composed, but I don't know when I could find the 2 weeks I need to record it; when I'm not tired, it's very important to be relaxed and I am really too busy you know. Next Friday I begin a promotional tour of radio stations in Spain and I have at least 13 programs to do. In November I'm also doing a small tour of Spain which will finish at the Madrid Computer Fair."
When you make an album, do you compose it all first, as some of your spacier pieces sound as though they could be improvised?
"Yes, it's all composed, totally. Some parts, sometimes have a little improvisation, but really I improvise mainly in concert. When I go to the recording studio to record a new album I know exactly what I am going to put on - always. For this reason I know which track, which sound..."
On your latest album BARCELONA 1992 there is some similarity with Vangelis, was this intentional?
"I didn't realise that, perhaps in the mood."
In the past you worked with Vangelis on Spanish TV, maybe you could have been influenced by this experience?
"That was a very nice jam session - totally improvised. To be sincere, a long while ago I was slightly influenced by the music of Klaus Schulze, mostly with records like BODY LOVE - pieces like Blanche, the DUNE album. But, really, I think the Neuronium sound exists on it's own."
Why did you leave Jive Electro?
"Firstly I had a 5 year contract with them, during the first year everything was okay, but when they signed up Tangerine Dream everything changed. I mean that Tangerine Dream cost them a lot of money and for this reason all the attention of the company was for them, and all the promotion, etc. This made me upset as nothing was happening as far as promotion for my music was concerned, this was the reason I left them. But, I continue to have good relations with Roddy McKenna their artistic manager, the main problems were not from Roddy but the general and business managers."
They never did a good job of promoting you at the UK Electronica 1984 did they? There wasn't any reports on your concert or anything.
"No, as I've said all the money went on Tangerine Dream, even though they didn't need it, whereas Neuronium did."
Are your records still released on Auvi in Spain?
"No, we're now with the biggest Spanish totally independent company - D.R.O. It's a very nice record company because you can do exactly what you want. You record your album and give them the master tape, and they do the rest. Their pressings are absolutely amazing quality with Direct Metal Mastering."
What is the current line-up of Neuronium?
"Myself and Santi Pico. Incidentally the next album contains a lot of spacey music, very cosmic, with a lot of choirs.
Why do some of your albums have nice lengthy cosmic pieces preceded by heavier rockier tracks? Could it be that these more accessible pieces are better suited for radio play?
"Because I like both these types of music. In Spain, for instance, they won't play a long piece on radio, not only my music - but any kind of music. If you compose a heavy long track it will never get any air-play, it's always the 4 or 5 minute maximum.
On BARCELONA 1992 the opening track Carvalho seems very much out of place, is this the main title score?
"Yes, it's playing while the titles are appearing on the screen. It's a thriller movie so a soft piece of music wouldn't have been right - In the movie there are seven murders!"
As a soundtrack LP it stands up well without the visuals, quite often a soundtrack can be very tedious with the same theme repeated over and over again.
"Yes. On this LP I think Tonight...The Night is probably my favourite composition to date."
Do you work with any other musicians apart from Santi Pico nowadays?
"No, I don't know if I'd use more people, because you know I play all the keyboards and Santi plays electric and synthesized guitar, and really the music is just right."
We were just wondering if you'd like to work with another keyboard player again, as with Carlos Guirao?
"No, we played together for 5 years, but after that he left the group because he wanted to make disco and techno-pop music and has released some records."
Are you still friends?
"Oh yes, I saw him last Monday. His leaving had nothing to do with internal problems - one day he just told me 'I like this music very much but I also want to make a lot of very up-tempo music' and so I told him okay we can do 1 or 2 up-tempo things per album but no more. However he wanted to release an up-tempo album..."
Well, you did with the CAPTURING HOLOGRAMS album.
"Not really, it contains 4 tracks that are from different Spanish TV programs. It wasn't composed to be released as an album. One piece, Meeting At The Hilton was very famous in Spain, and none of the material was on LP so we decided to release it."
Where you pressured by Jive into releasing it?
"Yes, they wanted something quite commercial. Also they released a compilation DISC DRIVE, until very recently I hadn't received a copy - but I knew it existed as I'd been getting royalties from it. The first day I received a royalty statement I thought DISC DRIVE? I had never released an album with this title! (laughs)"
Have you brought your own equipment over for tonight's Planetarium concert?
"No, the costs are too high. Also if I brought all my equipment I'd have to bring all my roadies and I have 11 people working with Neuronium.
Did you use your own equipment at the UK Electronica concert?
"Yes, it all came over from Spain. It cost a lot, with the screen and everything."
Did you enjoy it?
"Oh yes, fantastic, because I think the people were really into our music."
What equipment do you use nowadays?
"I have a Jupiter 6, JX3P, Super JX1O, DX7, Akai Samplers and an Emulator."
Which instrument do you find most enjoyable to work with at the moment?
"Hmmm, I play a lot of Jupiter 6, I have the new Super JX1O but I still prefer the Jupiter 6. I also like the JX3P which I use with my own sounds, it sounds very cosmic, very soft, whereas the JX1O is a very strong and powerful instrument, you can do very good strings but it sounds very aggressive."
A lot of people seem to like the DX7 or Emulator best.
"I don't like the Emulator much because there is a lot of trouble with them. Sometimes when you're loading a sound you have trouble, i.e. you go to play something and nothing happens - it's unreliable. I like the Akai sampler very much, it's not an expensive instrument either."
You used to use mainly Korg equipment, have you got any of that left?
"All I've got left is the digital voice processor, but I don't sing - I use a lot of choir mixed with sampled choir."
Do you prefer digital equipment to analogue?
"No, I like both things. I think that to do nice music, cosmic music, it's necessary to have more expensive instruments."
A string-synthesizer is essential isn't it?
"Yes, it's not really necessary to have a Fairlight or other instruments like that because when I've worked on a Fairlight (a friend of mine has one) you can always recognise it as a Fairlight sound. If you don't use a characteristic sound it's ridiculous as it's extremely expensive. Also the drums on the Fairlight always sound the same, false acoustics and a not very clean (dirty) sound."
That's why most people when using the Fairlight always use the same sounds, otherwise they'd be there for hours programming the sounds.
"Yes, and for this reason on BARCELONA 1992 I put on the back cover 'on this album the Fairlight CMI has not been used.' It's an obsession in Spain to put Fairlight on all records."
There seems to be a lot of musicians nowadays that have masses of equipment on stage, mainly for show, what do you think of this?
"I do not like to do it for show, to me the most important thing is the sound. When Tangerine Dream played in Barcelona they had lots of equipment on stage, all had their lights on but the phono jacks weren't plugged in - stupid!"
Were you in any other bands before Neuronium?
"Yes. I formed the group Suck Electronic with another guy, we played psychedelic music, I left them in 1975 because they wanted to do a heavy commercial type music."
What about before that?
"I played with another rock band who remained totally unknown. They were a kind of heavy psychedelic music, I played organ."
A bit like the German bands, i.e. Eloy?
"Yes, a bit like that."
Your first album as Neuronium - QUASAR 2C361 was in a way psychedelic.
"Yes, Pink Floyd & Klaus Schulze inspired, for this reason EMI put it out on the Harvest label."
How did you happen to get Nico doing vocals on the VUELO QUIMICO album? Was it a chance occurrence, or was it pre-planned?
"We were recording the album at EMI studios in Barcelona when suddenly Nico appeared and told me 'Hello, I am Nico from the Velvet Underground', I told her I know that, 'I like your music very much and would like to play on your album', and I told her oh, we'll have to talk about that. As you know she plays the harmonium very badly, and I thought - Oh My God she wants to play harmonium! Finally I decided that she could recite an Edgar Allan Poe poem, which she enjoyed very much."
Your first solo was ABSENCE OF REALITY, is this hard to get hold of in Spain? It's very scarce in England.
"No, you can get it."
Lotus sold Neuronium imports very cheaply at first, why was this?
"That's because they bought so many, more than 2,500 - so they could sell them cheaper."
The Spanish music scene is very obscure for people in England.
"Yes, I know. In fact there's so many groups, you'd be surprised. I am also going to produce a record by a group called Vocoder, they've had a few hit records, but now they want to release a cosmic album, and they asked me to produce the album, so... There is also another Spanish band making electronic music, whose name in English is Blue & Black, they have 4 albums, sometimes romantic music, with vocals on half of each album, sales are over 300,000 which is a platinum record in Spain."
What solo work has Santi Pico done?
"He has 3 solo LP's which are very nice, THE SILVER KEY, OASIS and MAGICA MEDIANOCHE."
Would you like to play 'live' again in England?
"Yes, I hope to come back as Neuronium with the light show too."
Have you ever thought of releasing a live LP?
"Not yet, we are recording the Planetarium concert, so maybe? Everyone always asks me this, but then what happens to the next Neuronium studio album?"
You obviously enjoy what you do.
"Oh yes, music is my life. But sometimes it's hard for me really, just too much at the same time."
SANTI PICO ENTERS...
Interview by Steve & Alan Freeman
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