A Few Words With...Daevid Allen

Interview and photos by John A. Wilcox

He's the Divided Alien. He's Zero The Hero. An Octave Doctor. He's Daevid Allen, the visionary behind all that is Gong. Gong's latest opus is 2032 and sees guitarist Steve Hillage back on board as well as Miquette Giraudy and Theo Travis joining the current cast of pothead pixies in the band. Progsheet struck its gong and summoned the shining wisdom of the eternal Daevid Allen...

PS: What made this the right time to continue the Radio Gnome story?

DA: I am like a man standing at a window and sometimes the blackbird turns into a pie.

PS: How did Steve and Miquette come to be involved in the project?

DA: The 2006 Gong Unconvention at the Melkweg in Amsterdam was a moment of revolution within GONG. Steve & Miquette returned to play a momentous set. A new resolve was born. I always felt Steve still had a huge reserve of guitar air miles left to give with a (live) Gong band that was close to his heart. The surprise revelation was Miquette's hugely evolved synthi presence. For me, she lifted us into the 21st Century on the spot.

PS: Please tell me about the thread tying the 2032 album together & what inspired it.

DA: It has been both my joy and my burden to carry this wild notion of a planet that guides me & those of like mind. In the year 2032, all this will become a dream that passes for reality amongst the human races & allies. Don't ask me how. I won't be there. This CD is both bugle of optimistic good cheer and horn of folly & forgetfulness. Let history remake itself with every deluded tick of the clock.
“Hurrah! Horsefarts! Long live the people!” (Alfred Jarry)

PS: What guitars did you use for the sessions for 2032?

DA: Hohner GT3 Headless with middle position humbucker. Myself and Steve has the same look except that his is a Steinburger. My second guitar is a buffalo burger.

PS: What does Theo Travis bring into Gong that differs from Didier Malherbe's work?

DA: As a post Brecker sax stylist his hair style is mostly Bauerhouse. Also he is statuesque. The rumpled Englishman meeting the vicar in a brothel. His flute salads have a secret ingredient.

PS: As a writer, what does 70something year old Daevid bring to the table that 30/40something Daevid did not yet have?

DA: An itchy quilt. Skin cancer of my quill nib. A girlfriend who is 45 years younger than eye & yet who is totally my equal. A crinkled smile.
A shiny blackbound sweet smelling & sexy autobiographical volume called GONG DREAMING 2 (1969-75). SAF Publ.UK - available from www.planetgong.co.uk

PS: I'd like to ask for a bit of background on a few songs. Can you start by telling me what was the inspiration for How To Stay Alive?

DA: Its part of a traditional (Gong) teaching story which amongst other things, (re) introduces the energy keys for survival into the future. Vocally, I use a new soft rap vocal form called rapscat. My son Toby is a rap specialist journo in Melbourne & he is unknowingly my rapscat guru.

PS: Tell me about Escape Control Delete.

DA: It revisits the obvious notion that life is speeding up on this world, (O the INTENSITEA!) and remembers the advice given to me by William Burroughs: “Keep yer bags packed and ready to go at all times.”
I mean, if you were from another planet that visited us in the late sixties and has just now returned for a second visit, you might feel rather like leaving too.

PS: Did any particular incident inspire the lyric to Wacky Baccy Banker?

DA: Um...well, the 2008 teetering of the tower of world banking mebbee. In the business district of London I saw bankers jeeringly waving banknotes from above at eco warriors who had hung the bankers' effigies from the lamp posts.
The banker in this story tells how he became a street protestor, lost everything (mebbee), then suddenly got really high & tuned into Radio Gnome Invisible. Now he knows who he really is and can see thru the hype yet has the patience and good humour not to interfere.

PS: Lastly, what's the story behind The Gris Gris Girl?

DA: Grris Gris Grrl is the Switch Doctor's* udder half. Solar Switch Doc broke the matrix because his individual genius was somewhat arrogant. To regain equilibrium he found himself split in two & separated from his other half, driving taxis in the cities of planet Earth. She in turn went feral. Lived wild & by her wits travelling the world by her vibrant ingenuity, Earthy charm and a certain ancient magick coming through her singing voice. Will they ever find each other? A Happy ending is never guaranteed.
* The Switch Doctor is an observer for Planet Gong on Earth. He was sent here as therapy for an overactive “kundabuffer” (Gurdjieffian term for “charisma”).

PS: Are there any plans to bring the live show to the US in 2010?

DA: In Australia where I live amidst my family, I have a beloved 15 year old son and we miss each other. I have promised myself to stay home as much as I can next year to make up for 2009. I dearly want to get back to drawing, impossible while on tour. The answer unfortunately is no.
In any case I somewhat agree with the sentiments of David Bowie's song I'm Afraid Of Americans. It appears to the disinterested observer that for some reason they think themselves superior. They are scary.

PS: I've a question about the Trilogy remasters of a few years ago. While they were being put together, were you kept in the loop in terms of the mixes, the mastering, and the packaging? Or do the labels not bother to consult the creators of the work?

DA: Jonny Greene, Gilli, Steffe & I along with Steve & Miquette were the landscape gardeners behind these collections. I sensitivity-tested them at a famous DMT temple in the upland rainforests of Byron Bay.

PS: There are many Gong & Gong related albums currently unavailable on CD. Continental Circus is long out of print, I believe. I'm fairly certain that Gilli's Mother album & the Robot Woman albums have ever seen the light of day on CD. Any plans for any of these projects to see the light of day on CD anytime soon?

DA: This is a question for Lorde Greene of GAS - www.planetgong.co.uk - the responder to all questions of intricate historical portent. His email is jonny@planetgong.co.uk.

PS: I'd like to ask a question about the much missed Pip Pyle. What did he bring into your life that you still carry with you?

DA: He had a sulking room in his house. A cupboard where he would sit & sulk. Sulking was vorboten anywhere else in his house. This is a tradition I shall carry on James & don't spare the gorgonzola.

PS: With 2032 completed & live shows to support it in the works, what releases can we next expect from you?

DA: I hope to be released.

PS: Can you please tell me 6 CDs you always enjoy listening to?

DA: I'm sorry but there are no six CDs I always enjoy listening to. I revere silence.
All the better to hear you with.


GONG release their new album “2032” on September 21st. The band embarks on a nationwide UK tour on November 19th starting at the Bristol O2 Academy. Ticket Hotline: 08700 603 777, Book Online: www.seetickets.com For further information please visit the official Gong website - www.planetgong.co.uk

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