Nik Turner: Bringing the Music to the People
AAJ: It's interesting because a lot of times guys will get together and just play, like from the Manhattan scene or the Seattle scene, and maybe they'll never even have played together before.
AAJ: You know, I think that's where the influence of bands like Hawkwind comes in.
NT: I like people like Sun Ra, that sort of thing. I think that's really cool. I think there's a guy called Jerry Dammers that used to play with the Specials that's got a band like Sun Ra now. I want to try and play with him. I just like to play in all sorts of contexts, really. It's all easy. It's just either good music or bad music. That's all the types of music there are [laughs]. And I'm up for anything.
AAJ: Yeah, a lot of times there are no rehearsals or anything, even in recording sessions. They just go in and play. And that's where the music I think is most vital.
NT: I think so. It's always first takes are the best, really. Even unrehearsed things are really good because they are just fresh.
AAJ: Are you coming to the States any time soon?
NT: I don't know. I haven't got any plans to come to the States although I would like to. I need a reason. I need a situation. I've been invited to play tours with bands over there. I've played in Seattle a couple of times. I've played in bands over there where I've got sort of an American backing band, these guys from L.A., or I've had some other guys from Chicago as a backing band, and some other guys from Atlanta as a backing band, a band called Space Seed, and another band called Nik Turner and Friends.
I played with these guys from L.A. called Farflungthey've got one band called, and another band called Pressurehedwho I've played with quite a lot. But they want me to play Inner City Unit and Hawkwind songs and I get a bit bored with that. When I was last in America, I met a guy when I was in, I think, in Pittsburgh, who played with Rashied Ali. He suggested I might come and play with them but his phone number is no longer functioning, so I wasn't able to get in touch with him to arrange anything but I'd like to come over and do some work with some of those guys, but I don't know where to contact them.
Rashied Ali used to play with John Coltrane. I'd really like to play with people of that caliber. Ornette Coleman has expressed interest in playing with me but I've lost the phone number of the guy who was the contact for him in New York.
I thought it was interesting, your writings about the drummer from Black Sabbath, him having been always into jazz, and also the guitarist in Black Sabbath always being into jazz as well. It's very interesting. I don't know if they play jazz at all.
AAJ: I don't know. I think they were really into, like, this kind of avant-garde blues-jazz playing. I think they even had a saxophonist for awhile.
NT: I thought that was so interesting, you know. I suppose a lot of people are influenced by jazz. It's a sort of higher form of music. Technically, I find it on par with classical music but better because it's got the soul which classical music doesn't really have. Most people that play classical music are not interpreting the music. They are just playing it as it is written, but they're not really putting any of their own expression into it.
It's funny because Lemmy, from Motorhead, is a friend of mine and I was talking to him the other day and I was saying, "Well, what bass players do you listen to, Lemmy?" "Well, I don't listen to any, really." I said, "What about Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke, and people like that?" "Oh, no. I don't listen to them." [Laughter] I thought, it's a shame because he could learn a lot. He says he just plays what he plays and that's it.
I think, to me, being stimulated by other people is part of the excitement of it because it makes you do things differently yourself. I think we can all learn from each other. I had my own big band for a bit, as well, playing all of these Duke Ellington and Count Basie arrangements, and I was being taught by this trumpeter who was a real fan of Harry James. And he was saying to me, "You know, everybody's got something you can steal from them." [Laughs] Meaning, you can learn from everybody, whatever standard of technique they might be. You can, and I think you have got something for everybody yourself.
AAJ: What I've learned is that I'm not myself unless I am playing. I mean, I have to be playing. Seattle has got a great free jazz scene. Guys get together and play just about anywhereunder bridges, in any small club they can find. But people are really devoted. A lot of people won't even play tunes, at all. They improvise, and that's all they play.