Jadis (May 2004)

Jadis Come Across The Water - An Interview With Gary Chandler and Martin Orford

Jadis' Gary Chandler and Martin Orford with Duncan Glenday, April Bower and Greg Stafford of The Prog PalaceBefore the inaugural ROSfest in Pennsylvania, InsideOut Music America arranged for me to interview members of the headline act, Jadis. The band's weekend schedule was full, though, and due to a series of miscommunications they arrived at the theater at 4:00pm, three hours later than expected. The only way our discussions could fit into the available time was to piggyback with another organization who had also scheduled an interview. Fortunately the people in question are good friends, so my wife and I were joined in this interview by Greg Stafford and April Bower from The Prog Palace Internet radio station.

The next challenge was to find a place where the group of us could speak privately - and we needed somewhere without background noises so our handheld tape machines could pick the conversation up well enough for playback. In a tour-of-confusion that recalled that famous Spinal Tap scene, and had us all yelling "Hello Cleveland," Eric Corbin (of IOMA) led us through side doors, up stairs, and down hallways until - finally - we arrived. We were on an old deck with upturned old plant pots and cracked old plastic chairs that were quickly arranged in a circle beneath a rattling old air conditioning unit. It turned out we were above the restaurant next door, overlooking neglected old back yards. But we were in the Spring sunshine sun and in good company and the whole situation lent a light hearted atmosphere to a serious interview.

Jadis's Gary Chandler with Progressiveworld.net's Duncan GlendaySo the joint Prog Palace / ProgressiveWorld.net interview was held with Jadis' Gary Chandler (vocals, guitar) and Martin Orford (backing vocals, keyboards), and obviously, the questions and answers came from all sides. This was more of a swirling, comfortable conversation than an interview. And although there was a lot of laughter and banter, Gary and Martin left us in no doubt that they take their music very seriously.

Duncan Glenday (ProgressiveWorld.Net): Are you guys familiar with ProgressiveWorld.net?

Gary Chandler and Martin Orford (Jadis): Yes! Yes, we are.

DG: Whereabouts are you guys from in the UK?

GC: Southampton. Right on the south coast.

April Bower (The Prog Palace): One of the first things I've always wanted to know about you guys: Where did your name come from?

GC: Well I didn't come up with it, and nor did Martin. Our previous drummer came up with it. He was reading a book and just saw the name "Jadis.,, before that we were called something really pretentious - we were called "Saruman Grass." How pretentious is that!

AB: That sounds very "proggie" though!

Jadis' Martin OrfordMO: Well you look at the name "Saruman Grass and you think - well they read Tolkien and they smoke dope! [Laughs].

GC: And it's irresistible to all hippies! [Laughs]. Anyway - Jadis is the witch from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

DG: By the way - I understand that Disney's next big movie is going to be The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe , so that could be good for you guys.

MO: I was told that today, as a matter of fact!

AB: Wow - I'd love to see Peter Jackson get his hands on that one. But I believe Jackson's doing King Kong now.

Greg Stafford (The Prog Palace): And Jackson now also has the rights to do The Hobbit!

MO: Anyway enough about Tolkien - we're not here to talk about "Saruman Grass" and hobbits anymore.

DG: Well - you went from Tolkien to C.S. Lewis - that isn't very far!

AB: They were contemporaries!

DG: Yeah, they were friends.

GC: Yeah - it was cool to be into Tolkien in those days.

DG: And courtesy of Jackson, it's cool now, for a short time, but it be will unfashionable again quite soon.

AB: Proggies are always accused of only singing about nymphs and fairies.

DG: You guys haven't played the USA before, right? Have you been in the USA before?

GC: We passed through it on the way to Mexico. That's the nearest we got to playing here - we actually had our guitars in our hands! [Laughs].

MO: Although I've been here a few times with IQ and with John Wetton.

DG: Your impressions?

GC: It's very big! [Laughs] And around here it's very attractive countryside - it's not at all what we would expect from the east coast. I mean you say Pennsylvania and we think coal mines - but the countryside we've seen around here is superb!

DG: Actually, if you go to Maryland, where I live, and where April lives, the countryside is rather English!

AB: Well, no matter where you go, you'll still find a McDonalds!

MO: You wouldn't believe what an oasis of good food that is when you find one in the middle of Poland!

DG: I actually think the biggest McDonalds I ever went to was in London - right across from Marble Arch.

GC: Yeah - it's huge. McDonalds is a life support system for musicians around the world.

Jadis live at Rosfest 2004 - Gary and, in background, MartinDG: What do you guys do to warm up for a show?

GC: (To Martin) Well you don't really warm up, do you - you just sort of wander on and do it. I play all the guitar parts really quickly - like ten times the speed I'm meant to play them. 'Cause I don't really read music - it's all like a diagram in my head. Sort of patterns. Martin reads music.

MO: Not very well, though! [Laughs].

GC: He knows where D-major is, and all these things? [Laughs] Anyway, so I warm up like that. Steve warms up by drumming on his knee, and we normally have to wake John up just before we go on! [Laughter].

DG: (To Martin) Do you have classical training? Because it certainly sounds that way?

MO: Yes and no - I mean yes, it's classical, but not very organized training. I mean it was classical training by the old lady in the village who played the church organ rather than the Royal College of Music. I mean, it was excellent tuition, but they wouldn't let me into any of the music schools with that. I did try to get into a few music courses, and they didn't want to know! [Laughs].

DG: I asked that because on your solo album it sounds as if there's a very classical influence.

MO: Oh, it's very classically influenced. But there wasn't any classical training from any of the great musical institutions.

DG: Do you think that sort of training is important when playing this style of music?

Jadis' OrfordMO: No. No. I mean classical music just works on chords, the same way anything else does. I think you're influenced by what you hear and the way the chords move. I don't think you need to be trained in how the chords move - you just get to learn in your head and through your ears what sounds right and what doesn't sound right.

AB: But it obviously influences your writing.

MO: I'm influenced by hearing classical music, but not really by any great tuition.

AB: Now Martin, you're also in IQ I first met you 7 years ago when you played with John Wetton in New York City, and I met you [Gary] at a John Young gig, and I met Steve because of John Wetton - I can't keep track of all the bands you guys are in!

GC: I can, because I'm only in one! [Laughter] Yeah, Martin's been in lots of bands, and so has Steve. He's been with Ken Hensley, and other bands, and he's in some pub bands... but I mean it's who you know, isn't it. John Wetton knows a lot of people.

MO: Well if you do work with an artist, and hopefully you do it well, then other artists get to hear about it and the phone starts to ring, and you get other work. Which is always very welcome!

AB: Do you ever start playing a song at - say - a Jadis gig that's actually from another band?

MO: I did a Jadis gig once where I drank eight pints of beer before I went on, and I started a song in the wrong key!

AB: [Laughs] How did you fix that?

GC: We stopped! [Laughter].

MO: Although that wasn't quite as bad as - in the very early days of I.Q., we used to do a Neil Young cover, "Like A Hurricane," and we used to do it in a selection of different keys. And sometimes we would do it in D minor, and sometimes we'd do it in D# minor. And we did this pub gig and Mike can only play when he's had about five pints anyway - and we started in different keys! I started in D minor and he started in D#, and at exactly the same moment, we realized it was wrong, and we changed over to each other's key! [Laughter] Which rendered the song equally horrible all the way through!

DG: Given that you folks move around quite actively, among the various bands and so on, are any of you guys full time musicians?

GC: I'm not. I clean windows and do things to peoples' gardens that you shouldn't do. [Laughs]. Steve works on a tug boat. You know the Queen Mary? He tugs that in. With his teeth, 'cause he's that hard [Laughs], and John is a town planner. So John stomps around the country looking for beauty spots and then builds blocks of flats [apartments] on them .

MO: And I pack boxes for GEP records.

DG: How often do you guys mange to get together.

MO: Whenever there's a rehearsal!

GC: Normally when there's a gig we'll rehearse like the weekend before.

DG: Is that all the time it takes?

GC: It's all we've got! [Laughs] John lives a long way away, so it can be difficult to schedule.

MO: Luckily Jadis is a band you can slot together fairly easily. You put four people in a room, you play a few numbers, and by the third number it's all set.

Jadis' John JowittAB: How long have you guys been together?

MO: On-and-off since the early nineties. And John and I left for a bit, but it's a bit like the Hotel California, you know - you can check out but you can never leave! [Laughs].

GC: Yeah - it was somewhere in the nineties they [John and Martin] took a sabbatical.

AB: Do you have an album in the works now?

GC: I'm working on some bits and pieces. But a lot of the ideas that I've come up with were on a recording machine that got trashed, so I've lost all those ideas. Steve trod on the machine! We laugh about it now?

DG: With your previous "new" album - why Fanatic? What does that title mean?

GC: Well I had a real bee in my bonnet about all the fanatical religious extremists. It's how I feel about political extremists and the effect they have on the world, and 9/11 just triggered it off. So it's about these fanatics who are just so selfish, and their religious intolerance. So a lot of the tunes are about that.

DG: What are you guys listening to right now? What's in your CD player?

GC: I still listen to a lot of the old faithfuls myself. They still cheer me up, and sound as good as they did when I first heard them. I can still put on Wind And Wuthering and feel as great as when I first heard it. And I listen to Camel, Yes' Going For The One, and things like that; as well as stuff that's more song-oriented - like Crowded House stuff. Bing Crosby...

GS: Frank Sinatra?

GC: Frank, yeah; Dean Martin.

Jadis - FanaticDG: What do you think were the best releases of 2003? And you're not allowed to say Fanatic !

GC: Well I liked the Peter Gabriel album Up. And a DVD release - Rush. Rush In Rio.

DG: [To Martin] What are you listening to right now?

MO: The new I.Q. album. Because I need to learn it! [Laughter].

DG: When are you touring?

MO: It starts on the 13th of May.

DG: Touring - where?

MO: It starts in Holland, we move on to Germany, then Poland, Spain, and we finish up in France.

Jadis' Steve ChristeyDG: Which leads to another of my questions: Where is Jadis most popular, and where do you sell the most?

GC: Probably in Holland, Germany?

DG: England?

GC: Not really, no. We're not that much of a favorite band in England.

DG: What do you attribute that to?

MO: Fashion. Basically, in about 1977 a funny thing happened. All the magazines in England put the boot into progressive rock like you wouldn't believe. They ridiculed it, and made it out to be the worst kind of music that had ever happened, and wanted it to be a whole era that would just be forgotten in history. And we've taken an awful long time to try to get over all that prejudice ... the prejudice is still there, and we're still thought of in England as being sort of social pariahs.

AB: Why do you think it's so hard to live off progressive music?

MO: Because not enough people buy the albums! Very little help from the media - the press, radio, TV ... it's not a fashionable thing. It's very difficult to get any radio station to play it. The problem with progressive rock on the radio is that it's got expression, it's got peaks and troughs. Radio works best with music that's the same level all the way through. They don't want all those highs and lows, and if they do get them they'll put them through a compressor that completely murders all the dynamics. So it's not suited. I mean if progressive rock were marketed properly it would be marketed alongside classical music, and completely divorced from all the rest of popular music. It has completely different criteria.

DG: Let's take that one step further, though. Within progressive rock, neo-progressive is often beaten down.

MO: Well we don't use the term neo-progressive in the UK.

DG: But you guys are very much a part of the neo movement.

GC: Well people have put us in that category.

MO: But it doesn't exist. Neo does not exist! It's a completely made up term. When our bands came up, and Marillion, and Pallas, the term "neo" did not exist.

DG: But the term "progressive" didn't exist in the 70s either, and we've all adopted it now.

MO: Neo is a completely fallacious term. Progressive rock did not stop. There wasn't one batch of progressive rock, then a gap, then another batch. It was completely continuous. And therefore the whole "neo" thing is completely fallacious, and I wish the use of it would die out.

DG: You'll have to go a long way to convince people of that.

MO: Put it this way - almost every interview I do, I take issue with the term "neo."

AB: So when someone asks you what kind of music, what do you tell them?

MO: I sometimes use the term "progressive rock" simply because it's more progressive than what's on the radio. Although it may not be completely groundbreaking, it's more progressive than what people are used to. But "symphonic rock" is probably a better term.

GC: I'm fed up with all the bloody terms, really. I just wish people would listen to it and like it without having to categorize it. Because whatever the category, people will lump you together with other bands you don't actually like.

Greg: Yeah - if you go to a store now, you'll see Pallas in with the heavy metal!

MO: I think in the case of Pallas that's got a certain amount of truth to it, because they were the heaviest of the eighties prog bands. And the live gigs were very heavy. So I can see why they would get that tag, and hopefully by putting them in with metal, people will buy it!

DG: Who writes the songs in Jadis?

Jadis - More Than Meets The EyeGC: Well we went through phases. Before Martin joined, I was doing it. And then we got together for More Than Meets The Eye, and Martin and I were writing it together, and on Across The Water it was me, Martin and Steve, and then Martin left the band with John, and I just basically started writing, with the drummer, and I would construct the words and the melodies and the structures - and I've just continued to do that. Martin's carried on doing more of the I.Q. stuff and having an input in - like - sounds, for the Jadis stuff. With Jadis, a lot of the parts come from the guitar.Jadis - Across The Water

DG: Which is an interesting segue into my next question. You guys tend to be very guitar oriented, and in a piece I wrote about Jadis a little time ago, I raised the point that you [looking at Martin] were somewhat under-utilized. Would you agree with that?

GC: Probably, yeah. Martin has the potential to do a lot more in Jadis than the music dictates. But I think - and Martin might agree - that he's such a major sound in IQ, the sounds might start to merge too much.

MO: You need a demarcation between the sounds. There has to be a line at which something goes well with IQ, and something else works with Jadis.

DG: The one thing that is almost a trademark of Jadis is that it tends to be very upbeat. Would you agree with that?

MO: Yeah! It's the band you put on when you go down to the beach to have a good time! Someone wrote a great review of a Jadis show once. He said "Jadis walked on, and the sun came out."

GC: [Laughs] And by the time they left, the rains had come!

MO: I think that was a term of affection, and it sums up the music very nicely. I.Q. on the other hand is dark and horrible.

AB: Who are your vocal influences?

GC: I like the singing of Peter Gabriel, and Phil Collins on Trick Of The Tail, and the solo bits he did on Selling England...

AB: Which came first? Singing or guitar?

GC: I was singing first. I did a few musicals - Oliver, and The Sound Of Music.

MO: You should see him dressed as a nun! [Laughter].

GC: And things like Brigadoon - so I was singing first, and then I was turned onto the guitar after hearing Steve Hackett, and combined the two.

DG: You mentioned that Fanatic had a theme to it - what about a concept album sometime?

GC: No, not really. I think enough bands do concept albums. I'm quite happy to sing about whatever I'm feeling at the time.

GS: When you do the lyrics - do you write about what's happening to you at that time? Or do any of them tell a story?

GC: A lot of it is what's happening at the time. I mean there's a lot of the Islamic stuff that just really pisses me off, so I can't do anything about it, and the only thing I can do is to write about it. I mean you'll never change the world through music - the people who are the biggest enemies are not listening to music. I mean you're not going to have Bin Laden going "Aahh - 'What Kind Of Reason' ... oh, great! Get rid of the guns" [Laughs]. Although it's fair to say that George W. would probably applaud the sentiment...

AB: So Fanatic is a themed album?

GC: Yeah - but it would be too heavy if it was all about the same thing. For example "The Great Outside" is about people who are stuck in their own four walls and never explore the rest of the world.

Jadis' Gary Chandler at RosfestDG: With regard to the music itself, one of the signature sounds of Jadis is your guitar work. I've heard the criticism - and may have repeated it - that it tends to be a little well, atonal, in the sense that there aren't a lot of different guitar voices, not a lot of effects, it all tends to be pretty much the same sort of thing.

GC: Yeah. Yeah, guilty! Whatever guitar I play, it seems to always sound the same. And whatever I play it through, it always sounds the same. It's actually difficult to make it sound much different.

DG: [Taps foot on the floor]

GC: Yeah, pedals. Effects. Yeah, I use some guitar effects, but I like to use what I feel happy with. I wouldn't just want to keep playing guitar through a flanger...

MO: I think that Gary's having a distinctive guitar sound is actually a bonus. I think the really good guitarists have their own sound! I was talking to Andy Latimer of Camel. I said "Andy, what sort of guitar do you use?" He said "It doesn't matter - they all sound the same when I pick them up."

DG: Well - next question, what do you use, and what setup?

GC: Mainly a Stratocaster. It doesn't really matter what type, so I tend to go for the cheaper end of the market, which is the Squier Stratocasters, and I like the Japanese built Squier Strats because they're light and they're easy to find. And cheap! Tonight we're using a Fender Twin amp, at home I've got Peavey ... generally, we're not that obsessed with gear.

DG: What about your cover art? Who does that?

GC: My brother! He's been doing if for years.

DG: With Fanatic - what does the artwork mean? It seems to be an eye and a lot of colors sort of swirling around...

GC: Well if you look really closely, you'll see bits of the Twin Towers in there. Oh yeah - and my brother did Martin's solo album, too.

DG: Upcoming tours, and albums?

GC: I'm still writing an album, we'll have that in January or February, maybe. We'll hopefully do a few gigs around December, we've got a big gig in our home town in June.

DG: Well, let's snap a few pictures, and I'd like to thank you so much for your time. This one's going to be an interesting one to write up!

MO: Well, if there's stuff in there that you don't like, just make it up! [Laughter].

[ProgressiveWorld.net would like to thank Eric Corbin of InsideOut Music America, and the organizers of ROSfest. All photographs attributed to Duncan Glenday. An audio stream of this interview can be heard on The Prog Palace Internet radio station {2015: it is no longer true... -ed.}]

More Than Meets The Eye (1992)
Once Upon A Time (ep) (1993)
Across The Water (1994)
Once Or Twice (ep) (1996)
Somersault (1997)
As Daylight Fades (1998)
Understand (2000)
Medium Rare (2001)
Alive Outside (2001)
Fanatic (2003)
Photoplay (2006)
See Right Through You (2012)

Added: May 16th 2004
Interviewer: Duncan N Glenday

Artist website: www.jadis-net.co.uk
Hits: 1796
Language: english

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