Log for The Artist Shop/Talk City IRC Chat with Bill Nelson on Sunday, November 8, 1998

WotanCCC:    Ok, folks, Bill is here, and we're just dotting some I's and crossing some T's.  We will be starting shortly.  We're currently speaking with musician Bill Nelson.  To send a question to our guest use the following format;   Type /MSG AskBill Your Question Here.

WotanCCC:    ******************************
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    . Welcome to todays
WotanCCC:    . Artist Shop
WotanCCC:    . Featured Artist Conference
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    . An afternoon with
WotanCCC:    . Bill Nelson
WotanCCC:    . of
WotanCCC:    . Be Bop Deluxe
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    . Presented by
WotanCCC:    . @Music and TalkCity
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    ******************************

WotanCCC:    Bill Nelson is a man whose passion is not only music, but also the magic of its very construction and its relationship to art and life.  From the heady rock star days of Be Bop Deluxe and Bill Nelson's Red Noise to a very prolific solo career, Bill has become something of a maverick figure on the British music scene and, by its very nature, his material is often hard to define and categorize.

Bill has released a number of albums lately on his label Populuxe through Voiceprint, but most has recently joined the Discipline Global Mobile label with two new releases.   Bill, thank you for joining us today.

BillNelson:    Thank you. Nice to be here.

WotanCCC:  Bill, can you start us out by telling us about the new CD?

BillNelson:    Well there are two new cd's released simultaneously in   England, staggered in the US. What Now, What next is a compilation of   material from the Cocteau Records period from about 1980 to 1990.  Basically a selection of things I liked from that period.  Restricted to the Cocteau records releases, not major record company releases.

And Atom Shop started life about two years ago as some demos basically which were made with the hope of taking them into a professional studio to rerecord with professional musicians.  The idea was to get Mitchell Froom to help produce. When he heard the album, he felt there wasn't any need for a professional producer, that the arrangements worked fine in their original state.  And suggested that I basically re-record them using other musicians to help me, but not to change the structure of the songs in any way. He also offered to play keyboards.  Unfortunately we couldnt find the finance from a major company to record the songs again. So eventually they were released in their original home demo version on Discipline.

AskBill:    tomos says: Are you still involved with the AMORC / GD / FRC / OMS etc?

BillNelson:    Basically those are esoteric orders, not secret societies so much, but groups of people who band together to study occult sciences I guess.

WotanCCC:    Secret Orders?

BillNelson:    And I was involved in quite deeply with this kind of study for quite a few years through the 80's and early 90's. I was the master of a Rosicrucian chapter in Leeds, Yorkshire here.  Also involved with two French esoteric orders, one basically Masonic, and the other more mystical.  But during that period I built up a large collection of very rare books dealing with this tradition. It's kind of connected with what people call  'white magic' and the caballa, an old jewish tradition, and lots of other related topics such as alchemy. But these days I don't involve myself as much as I did in the practical sense.

I've moved more towards the Buddhist path, I guess.  I learned a lot from the period involved in the western mysteries tradition.  But because of my age now, I'm looking for something simpler
and more direct.  And I've found that Buddhism has a very elegant simplicity, which appeals to me very much.

Straight in with the hard questions!!!

WotanCCC:    We don't fool around on TalkCity.    B-{)}

AskBill:    gentlegiant says: Are the Be Bop Deluxe albums available on CD?

BillNelson:    Yes, they are.  They have been reissued several times by EMI on England and should be available in America, perhaps domestically, but certainly on import otherwise.

AskBill:    aboxofrogs says: How did you get involved with Discipline Global Mobile? Why them over other companies?

BillNelson:    That's a complex one because I was with a label called Resurgence, which is one of the labels run by Voiceprint in the North of England.   Just before I joined DGM, I was given my own label imprint, Populuxe, by Voiceprint.  The company had released quite a few records and I was quite happy with the way they handled everything. But there were some areas where I wanted to see a bit more money spent.  And one of those areas was in terms of packaging.

My business manager in London also manages Robert Fripp and as a result of that connection DGM approached me to see if I would be interested in releasing material through them.  And one of the things I've always liked about them as a label is that there packaging has always been good quality.  Because it's a label run by a musician there's a very good understanding of conveying something special about the music which goes through to the packaging also.

On a more practical label, the company has good connections with a label in Japan, Pony Canyon.  So we thought it would be a better idea to put some material through DGM to achieve some things with the packaging and worldwide distribution.  So that's why we moved.

AskBill:    dbutterfly says: What is the plan regarding releasing the back Cocteau Catalog and will there be new song included?

BillNelson:    Well, again, the plan is to re-release a lot of the back catalog. Not all of it, but as much as we can do.  The plan is to repackage with new sleeves and insert booklets and to include on every album as many bonus tracks as can be fit into the timespace on the CD.  There is no shortage of material from that period. I released only part of the things I recorded.  In fact there are hundreds of pieces that are yet to be released publicly.  So there's no shortage of bonus tracks!

AskBill:    philofborg says: What is "What Now, What Next?" about? Who are the Cocteau's?

BillNelson:    Cocteau is basically a French artist who died around '64 - a painter and a poet and filmaker amongs many other creative pursuits.  He was a big inspiration to me from my late teens and for quite a few years, ongoing almost.   He was the inspiration for the title of the record label.

As for the title of the album - what now, what next - that came because I'd listened through to the amount of the material available to make a compilation, I'd realized that it changes dramatically in places in terms of style and direction.  And I could imagine how some people might find it difficult to get a handle on exactly what kind of music I make.  Often when I meet people and they say to me, "What do you do for a living?" and I say I'm a musician.  They always say, "What kind of music do you make?"  And with most people that's a very difficult question to answer.   But in my case, it's impossible to give an answer because it's not fixed in any one particular point in time.  It seems to be constantly going somewhere.

AskBill:    neondian says: Will you rerelease your entire catalogue on Discipline?

BillNelson:    I think so, if everything goes well and we continue to be happy with the relationship. I can't see why not.

AskBill:    eric says: Greetings Frater Bill! Congrats on your new releases!  Firstly, will you be touring in support of these releases? Secondly, I will be in London Nov. 12-24 and would like to know if there are any shows coming up. Finally, "Lovers Are Mortal" lyrics "...their hearts are the ....,.....,...?" There has been quite a bit of confusion as to what the size of lover's hearts are. If you'd be so kind as to clarify. Thanks for the inspiration! Keep up the good work!

BillNelson:    Well, I'll start with the last one.  The line is "...the size of night clouds."

WotanCCC:    Folks, we've lost Bill to the Internet demons.  He's trying to get back online, and we will continue to get to as many questions as we can.   So far, we've had a really good time talking will Bill, and your questions have been great.  Ok, he's back.  Thanks for hanging in there with us Bill.

BillNelson:    I'm back, Wotan, what was the last bit from me that came through?

WotanCCC:    The line is "...the size of night clouds."   That was the last thing we saw.

BillNelson:    So you didn't see the explanation about the car afterwards?

WotanCCC:    Nope.  Apparantly its a bad net day folks.  Many major nodes are having problems.

BillNelson:    When I was a teenager I borrowed my father's car and took a girlfriend to a hill on the outskirts of town to watch the sun go down. Eventually the sky was filled with beautiful purple clouds.  I usually carry a notebook and some pen in case ideas for lyrics or titles come to me. So I wrote down that line about hearts being the size of night clouds and I used it years later in that particular song.

Now the first part of the question had to do with touring.  I've been wanting to put together a band for some years.  The problem with this is always money...the eternal problem...with financing the kind of music I make.  The cost of finding musicians and rehearsing them, the money and time involved in finding and building the band is more than a minor label can finance.  If I was involved in a major label there possibly would be more money available to make a band.  But in the real world it's always going to be some kind of struggle to present the music that I make in a way that would hit the standard that I need to make it hit.

WotanCCC:    Another Net Hiccup folks....Bill got the boot again He's trying to get back on right now.  We're very sorry for the interruption.  The questions you have been asking are great.  And we really appreciate your patience.   Again, there are problems all over the net today.  And we just have to be patient.

BillNelson:    I'm back....again....

WotanCCC:    Welcome back Bill.  Sorry for all of the problems today.

BillNelson:    Again, what was the last thing you saw from me.

WotanCCC:    "But in the real world it's always going to be some kind of  struggle to present the music that I make in a way that would hit the standard that I need to make it hit."  You were talking about putting a band together and the expenses and other issues involved.

BillNelson:    OK, right.

WotanCCC:    Thanks for your patience Bill.

BillNelson:    However, there are some new possibilities!  And if these work out ok we would be able to have a band on the road early next year to tour in England and the states and Japan as well!  And the whole purpose of this would be to celebrate my 50th year. And the material would cover the entire spectrum from the last 20 odd years.

There's nothing planned for November in London. But he has just missed two solo concerts in London.  These were at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the end of September and beginning of October - 2 nights.  Basically solo concerts where I improvised guitar to pre-recorded kind of backing tracks. Well, more like interactive DAT tapes.   And I also played some piano and marimbas as part of the concert.  And each concert had a back projection of some videos which I made myself.

I got a really good review in the Guardian newspaper!  Which surprised me. They reviewed the first night of the two evenings.  I hadn't enjoyed the first night because of technical problems.  And I felt the second night was much better.   But the guardian newspaper really seemed to enjoy the first night.  I got a really good review and was pleased with that.

AskBill:    devo-tee says: with reference to the live tracks on the B side of the Furniture Music 12" - is there a live Red Noise album ever likely to be made available.

BillNelson:    Well, I have a bootleg CD of Red Noise live which someone else has been selling illegally. I plan to release it as a proper live official release with some nice graphics and sleeve notes and I'll clean up and remaster the recording to make it as high quality as possible.  The secret is to bootleg the bootleggers, but do it better.

AskBill:    el says: i've been going crazy over the lyrics to Secret Ceremony on the Simplex release. i got the quote from Dante's Inferno, any clues as to what else is sung?

BillNelson:    Well, all those lines are actually taken from Dante's Inferno, but they're sung in Latin.  In fact, that particular project which was released under the group name Scala, was a collaboration between myself and a composer called Darryl Runswick.  And Darryl's responsibility was the choral part of that piece.  So he was the person who actually set the lyrics to Dante's Inferno in Latin.

AskBill:    nemo says: What are some of your favorite all time recordings?  What do you consider your biggest influences?

BillNelson:    That's a fairly often asked question, but a difficult one to answer.  I have very wide tastes musically.  Some people would find it impossible to believe that I could enjoy some of the extremes from one end of the spectrum to the other.  So whenever I'm asked to choose favorites or hugely influential records, it's a very difficult task, because I'm bound to leave something out that's important.  Perhaps the best way to answer it is to say that there have been different influences at different times. 

When I first started as a teenager buying records I was interested in purely instrumental guitar music.  And so I liked people such as Duane Eddy and the Shadows.   But later I became interested in Blues and Jazz music.  So that period would be listening to people such as Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery, BB King and lots of different blues guitarists and singers.  And then in the 60's the psychedelic revolution changed the whole face of popular music.  I would be listening to people like Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck.  So these were the initial influences in terms of guitar playing.

But in terms of songwriting the earlier things I listened to would have been The Beatles. Probably the first time I would have appreciated vocal albums. But form the later period starting from Rubber Soul onwards when they began to experiment musically.   That kind of approach to popular music, music with vocals and lyrics, that made me aware of the possibilities for popular music to expand.  And also around the same period being exposed to Bob Dylan and many of the bands that were based on the west coast in America.  Hearing this music made me aware of the potential for exploration outside of just purely a kind of intellectual jazz music if you like or an instrumental form.

But in more recent years I've found myself listening to much older music.   particularly by some of the pioneers of modern composition.  People like Harry Partch and John Cage, Terry Riley...these are the people who've influenced the latest generation of instrumental composers.  So basically there's always been 2 parallel paths with my musical development.  One path has been that of pop culture both musical and visual.  But at the same time I've followed the path of what some people would call 'art' culture....the things which experiment and explore and innovate.

WotanCCC:    Thanks Bill, we've really enjoyed talking to you today.   Is there anything else you would like to mention before we conclude today?

BillNelson:    Well, just thanks to all of you and everyone who's contributed a question.

WotanCCC:    Looks like our time is up...   I'd like to thank everyone for joining us tonight.  Bill, we appreciate your taking the time to come and chat with us today, and hope you'll come back to Talk City again soon!

WotanCCC:    To purchase Bill Nelsons "Atom Shop", or for information on other Artist offerings, please visit The Artist Shop Online at:


WotanCCC:    Finally, thanks to the Artist Shop for working with us on this conference. We especially appreciate the efforts of Gary Davis in giving us the opportunity to speak with Bill Nelson.  And thank you all for coming today.

The transcript of this event will be posted within a few days on the @Music discussion boards on Talk City http://www.talkcity.com/atmusic and on the Artist Shop web site http://www.artist-shop.com .  Thanks again Bill, and thank you to everyone for joining us today.

WotanCCC:    ===========================================
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    Next on our Featured Artist Series:
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    . Wednesday, Nov. 11th at 6:00 pm pt / 9:00 pm et
WotanCCC:    . Annie Haslam of Renaissance
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    . Sunday, Nov. 15th at 12:00 noon pt / 3:00 pm et
WotanCCC:    . Peter Hammill
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    . Stay tuned for more fine
WotanCCC:    . Artist Shop / @Music productions
WotanCCC:    .
WotanCCC:    ===========================================



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