INTERVIEW- Madrid, 21th April 1999
Note : Rick Wakeman visited Madrid -Spain, Europe- on 20th/21th April, to promote his new album "Return to the Centre of the Earth". We had the pleasure of interviewing him at the Palace Hotel.
Rick at Palace Hotel, Madrid.
YES MUSEUM: "Return to The Centre of The Earth is possibly your best work in the last 20 years, and a dream that has come true. When did you start to think about this project and how long it took to write and arrange the music?.
RICK WAKEMAN: I have to go back eight years, and I was in Italy, and I did an interview with an italian journalist at the hotel, and when we finished the interview -he's a very nice man, I can't remember his name, but he's a very nice man- and we were just talking about music and things. And he just said to me: "You know?, I bet you wish you could do "Journey to The Centre of The Earth" again now. I said: "Why?". He said: "Well, technology has come on, you know there is now CD whereas before there was only records, also keyboards, etc. And for the next few days I was on tour with YES with Union Tour, and I thought: "You know? That's a good idea!". And I came up with the idea, I thought: "In 1994 it will be 20 years, so what I could do, I could re-record "Journey to The Centre of The Earth" at a live concert, maybe a little bit of new music, and make a 20th Anniversary". And I thought: "This is a very good idea". I went to New York with the YES Union Tour , and I spoke to a very great friend of mine at Arista Records, and said: "I've got this fantastic idea!", and he said: "What's your fantastic idea?", and I said: "To do a concert of "Journey to The Centre of The Earth" with new keyboards, and record it live with new technology, add a bit of more music, put it on CD, isn't a great idea?" , and he said: "No, is a really bad idea, is a stupid idea". I said: "Why?", and he said: "First of all when you did "Journey to The Centre of The Earth" your recorded it and wrote it with what you knew existed with instruments and recording techniques, so you pushed as far you could go. Now if you do it again, is different because you would not be pushing anything, and it was for the second period of time it was written, even it could still be played nice, you shouldn't do it, is a mistake." So I said: "What do you think that I should do?", and he said: "You should do another epic, another big thing, because that is what you are really good at, with completely new music, completely new idea, but not now". I said: "When?" and he said: "You'll know when the right time is, I don't know, you'll know". So I said: "You can't tell me?. You say that my idea is terrible, I should do a big epic but you don't know when. And I said: "You are the possible record company? and he said "Yeah".
YM: He is a good friend!
RW: He is a good friend, absolutely, yeah. A very wise friend. And I do listen sometimes to people whom I respect. And, it's so funny because I sorted of forgot all about it. And then 3 years ago , in the space of 2 months, I got four telephone calls from four different record companies, very strange, and they all said : "You know there is a big lot of interest in musicians from the 70's who are still playing and doing all different sort of things from that period, and looking at the big epic. Would you like to do another epic?". And by the time of the first call I thought: "Perhaps this is what my friend Tom meant, because it appears to be a good time". So they asked to me to do a budget of what I thought it could cost, and it was really expensive, and three of the record companies said OK. So I said: "Let's start looking for a new idea, and I went back to Jules Verne and I looked to "Around the world in 80 days", the book, and I started writing, starting putting some ideas together, and then, it was crazy because, suddenly, every time you turn on the news on the television, somebody was going after a balloon!. You open a newspaper and there is somebody in a balloon trying to go around the world, you open the window and there is a balloon that goes by.
YM: Oh, I know who's that man!. Brandson is the man!
RW: Richard Brandson!. And I thought: "No, no, this is crazy", because I worked out that I would finish the project by early 1999. And I thought, that's gonna be round about the time somebody is actually going to manage to go round the globe, and everybody is gonna think I did it because they were doing that. So I was in a strange situation of having four record companies who wanted to do a big project, but I haven't got one. So I read an article in the newspaper from Stephen Spielberg who was talking about have sequels for making films, how you have a story and you spin up from the story for a whole new story, but you have a relationship, which is very comfortable for the people who listen a whole new story, new characters, but there's still a relationship. So I thought it could be fun to imagine if Jules Verne were still alive, and Spielberg had gone to see Jules Verne and said: Hey Jules, I really like your "Journey to The Centre of The Earth", somebody has already made a film of it, I really want to make another film, so you need to write a new sequel, a new story, another "Journey to The Centre of The Earth". So I read his original book and wrote a sequel, a new story based on three people who wanted to do the same journey that has done before, and this three people start off the same and arrive at the entrance of the volcano, but then in the Jules Verne's book it say that the shadow from the sun holds on the central entrance of the three. So I made them descend from another entrance so they could go down and happen the new journey. The other thing I did was I gave the new travellers no names, because they can be the person who is listening, can be one of them, so it doesn't says whether is a man or a woman...
YM: Even it could be Ozzy Osbourne ! Even!
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