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Eddie Prevost: Looking Back, Looking Forward

By Published: March 17, 2010

AAJ: Yes, that must have taken ages.

EP: That did take a lot of energy. It was a couple of years out of our lives. More than that for John, but at the end, the last bit, it was a couple of years. I can't believe it took so long. We thought, "When are we ever going to finish it?"

AAJ: He actually did the writing, but did that come out of conversations and memories?

EP: The writing took John 20 years or more. But towards the end, it was putting all of that together in book form. To explain to anybody what the process is—they say it doesn't seem too difficult! [Laughs.] Chasing up references, looking stuff up; suddenly a query comes up and you might spend days hunting around, and what have you achieved? Nothing. Apart from the practical side of getting it into shape and getting it proofread. We're still finding a few odds and ends in it now. Three hundred thousand words—that has been a distraction, to some extent. It is a relief that it is over. So we can get on with other things. It is enough to be getting on with; it is good.

AAJ: Is there anything else to be said about AMM?

EP: There still isn't a full stop at the end of it, so no.

AAJ: Nor will there ever be, will there?

EP: I suppose not, in a weird way. Who knows? You can segue into the workshop because, in a sense, at least from my perspective, the philosophy which underpins AMM is reflected in my contribution to the workshop.

AAJ: How long has it been running now? Nearly 10 years?

EP: 10 years in November [2009].

AAJ: Does it feel like that long?

EP: Some days! No, I don't really mean that. Getting there is often a problem—just the travelling on a Friday night, when you get stuck in traffic. Once I get there, it is fine. A great bunch of people. It has been a challenge and a great joy. Certainly, we're friends.

AAJ: There is a real club feel to it.

EP: There is something about it, yes. From a very personal, musical point of view, there has not been much room in AMM for certain aspects of my own playing. It was never appropriate. It was with Lou because that was different anyway. Within the context of AMM, it wasn't. I couldn't really make that work as well. I had to have two personas, in a sense. I don't mind. It's quite good. I don't have a problem with that intellectually or from a creative point of view. They are still informed by the same sort of spirit and aesthetic, but they inevitably will come out in a different sort of way. The drumming element, if I deal with that: whereas AMM was always interested in finding and using a whole range of different inspirations and materials, in the early days it shied away from jazz for very obvious reasons; it was one of the things we were trying to escape from.

Jazz musicians were probably a mite too emulative for their own good. They try to be better than, because you've got to be better than to be accepted, because they are already doing it pretty well without you. That was what we were about. But of late, in the last few years, there is a way of reworking that material, the jazz material, not in the obvious way of quotations and fleeting references, but working that material in an experimental way. Which, I hope, SUM [the trio of Prévost plus workshop alumni guitarist Ross Lambert and saxophonist Seymour Wright] has tried to do. The SUM recording [Invenio Ergo (Matchless, 2010)] helps give an idea of what I'm going on about. That is a departure for Seymour, really. He is probably thought of as the most radical saxophonist anyone has ever seen, and there he is playing experimental jazz.

It was not done because we think we are going to make new careers out of it; it was done because there is just a wealth of material that we actually could use in the same way as we use the other sonic material that is at our disposal. It'll be interesting to see what the response is to that. There is great playing in that. It is the challenge itself. Ross' guitar playing is wonderful; it has opened up a new side of his work that I wasn't aware of. So maybe with AMM not being the focus so much, it has pushed me into these other things.

AAJ: You talk about the two personas. Is that you reacting differently to the two situations, or do you go in thinking it is a different type of thing? What is the cause and the effect?

EP: That is a good question. I'm not even sure I know. Which is maybe a good thing, so I'll resist that easy option.

AAJ: But by outcome you can recognize that they are two different things.

EP: I'm still looking to explore the instrument. That is still part of my aesthetic aspiration. I'm still searching where I'm unsure what's going on. I'm looking. That's the contrast. It has never been a question of working out something beforehand, albeit in an informal way, and then delivering it with a few embellishments. You carry a lot of baggage with you. We are all encultured. That is an inevitable position to be in; we are who we are because of what we've been, and so on. You can't leave that behind, but on the other hand, you don't want to be lumbered with it. You don't want to parody yourself. Hopefully in that position, we're still saying, "This is a fresh point. Let's know what we're doing." It is a fairly conscious application of that approach. How far we succeed, I don't know. At the same time, you've still got to let it be free enough to breathe and work its own magic, to be spontaneous enough. You don't want to know what's going to happen; it's no fun then.

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