ENTREVUE / INTERVIEW
With: Stuart Nicholson
ALBUM REVIEW HERE
Philippe André - October 2023
Profilprog (PP): Hello Stu thank you for giving us time to answer our questions.
GALAHAD (SN): Always a pleasure.
PP: Galahad has now existed for 38 years (since 1985), so how do you recall the early years of the band?
GALAHAD (SN): Yes, it’s been a long time now! The early years were great fun, we didn’t take it too seriously, there was a lot of camaraderie and we were some great, fun times and great gigs. We were young and just going for it. 😊
PP: Why the name Galahad?
GALAHAD (SN): Roy’s idea, not mine, he formed the band which was already called Galahad when I joined.
Roy like the named that he saw on an invoice from a fruit and veg wholesale business and used the name.
Amazingly, he had no idea who Sir Galahad was, I had to explain to him that Sir Galahad was an Arthurian character which most people think that’s why the band is called Galahad, but alas not.
PP: Like many bands of the time, you started by playing a good number of cover songs. Do you still enjoy doing these kinds of songs?
GALAHAD (SN): We played a few covers out of duress because otherwise it would have been very difficult getting gigs in local pubs and clubs playing original material, let alone Prog rock which was not cool at all back in the 80s. Don’t forget it wasn’t that long after the whole punk/new wave thing so Prog was a bit of a dirty word back in the mid 80s.
I enjoyed playing the covers though and we chose mainly ‘prog’ based songs by the likes of Genesis, Rush, Marillion, Sky, Focus, Pink Floyd and even U2 and Dire Straits!!
PP: Do you still listen to classical musicians? Any favorites? (Bizet, Prokofiev?)
GALAHAD (SN): Occasionally but not often, it was Roy’s idea to play the Faradole by Bizet and Toccata (the Sky version). We even threw in a bit of Beethoven at times.
PP: Still no direct news from Roy Keyworth since he left GALAHAD?
GALAHAD (SN): Nothing I’m afraid, he just disappeared on to the aether. It’s a shame but we’ve moved on. I prefer to look forwards than backwards when it comes to the band.
PP: Your original bassist Tim Ashton returned in 2014 but only stayed for a short time. Any reasons why? As you know he plays today with the formation Grace and Fire.
GALAHAD (SN): Let’s just say we had different ideas on how the band should operate plus he spent a lot of time abroad which wasn’t very conducive to being in Galahad as it made rehearsing and shows a little tricky to organise. Good luck to him though, he seems to have found a band that he’s happy with and probably more to his liking musically.
PP: Why did you call your label Avalon? Any relation to the Arthurian legend?
GALAHAD (SN): Yes indeed, it fitted and tied in well with the Galahad name being related to all things Arthurian.
PP: You recently participated in the Ryszard Kramarski Project album. Was it out of affinity or curiosity?
GALAHAD (SN): I’ve known Ryszard for a while, mainly through Artur Chachlowski in Poland, who is a very good friend and has been a massive supporter of Galahad since the early days.
In fact, I met both Artur and Ryszard recently in Krakow and we had a good catch up and realised we were both big fans of Barclay James Harvest and when he sent me the final TRK album he included a BJJ T-shirt which was a cool and lovely touch.
As far as the album was concerned Ryszard called me up, sent me the backing tracks and lyrics which I liked and then recorded the vocals in my home studio and then sent them back to Ryszard along with a few additional backing vocals and melodies which he then incorporated into the album. I think the album turned out very well and sounds excellent.
PP: Looking back through your discography, what are your three favorite Galahad records and the three you like least?
GALAHAD (SN): That’s a difficult question as I’m always proudest of the latest, the newest album but I’m proud of everything we’ve done to be honest. Everything we have done has been ‘of it’s time’ so I’d rather not be negative and talk about our ‘least liked’ albums.
However, I’m very proud of the last couple of albums i.e. ‘The Last Great Adventurer’ and ‘The Long Goodbye’ as they are very personal from a lyrical perspective, and I suppose ‘Empires Never Last’ as that album using Karl Groom for the first time really did re-vitalise the band in its own eyes and also in the eyes of the audience and helped to raise our profile within the ‘Prog’ world.
PP: Galahad has become one of the flagship groups of progressive music. Are you proud of that accomplishment?
GALAHAD (SN): I think that is a matter of opinion and I’m sure many people would disagree. But to be quite honest I’m just proud of the fact we are still going and are still coming up with new ideas and writing strong material after all these years although it does get harder the older you get and the more you write and release as there is always a danger of repetition, sometimes inadvertently!
PP: You and Dean compose most of the current repertoire. Do the other members chip in and, if so, to what extent?
GALAHAD (SN): Dean and myself have written the majority of the songs for the last few albums more by necessity more than anything else due to Roy leaving the band in 2015 which meant the loss of a writer, thus myself and Dean worked on new material and built up quite a large collection of ideas and songs, most of which have now been completed and used for the last few albums.
Now we have a pretty stable line up we are looking forward to Lee and Mark chipping in with the writing for future projects which is exciting and may even result in the band sounds changing somewhat as a result.
PP: There was a time when you didn't all live in Europe. Is this still the case in 2023?
GALAHAD (SN): It was only Tim that didn’t live in the UK for a while which was quite impractical when it came to rehearsals and gigs unfortunately.
However, all band members live in the UK, mainly along the south coast except Mark who lives north of London but at least we are all in the same country!
PP: Is the title song “The Long Goodbye” about your father? Can you tell us a little more?
GALAHAD (SN): TLG is not about my father, but it is a coincidence that he is struggling badly with dementia at the moment which coincides, bizarrely, with the release of the new album this autumn. Talk about life imitating art!
The song was influenced by my aunt and Nana who both had dementia before the died plus the film Still Alice starring Julianne Moore which is about very clever university professor realising that she was struggling with her memory and was eventually diagnosed with early onset dementia. It was quite harrowing at times, and I was profoundly affected by the film which inspired me to finish the song.
PP: What are the subjects of the other songs on the album?
GALAHAD (SN): It’s quite a personal album tackling such subjects as the breakdown of friendships and relationships, also anxiety, self reflection, fate, the idea of having a guardian angel watching over each and every one of us plus also a few political musings relating to power, corruption, conflict mainly relating to the Middle East, once again back in the headlines at the moment!
PP: For some time now, the band has added an electro touch on your albums. Do you consider the resulting style as being progressive?
GALAHAD (SN): To be honest I’m not that bothered about labels. We just do what we do and like and hope that it appeals to our long-term fans and maybe gain a few new fans along the way.
Although, I think we have progressed over the years and always try and incorporate different ideas and influences within our music.
We are certainly very different now to how we were in the very early days, but then the band personnel are very different other than me and we all have a multitude of influences which is reflected in our songs which is a good thing and stops everything becoming a bit stale and anodyne.
PP: Any plans for the coming months?
GALAHAD (SN): We have a few shows in Europe lined up next year which will be fun plus we hope to start writing and arranging new material as soon as possible. It’s like a drug, an obsession…ina good way!
PP: Other hobbies outside music? Football / Rugby? Other forms of Art?
GALAHAD (SN): I love most sports and follow Liverpool FC for my sins. I also love history, especially the history of the local area where I live as well as exploring the local countryside plus art in general and good beer and wine.
PP: Thank you for your collaboration and all the best for GALAHAD
GALAHAD (SN): Thank you, it was a pleasure.