An interview with David Jackson by Mick Dillingham
Page 6
1974 - Almost together again - By 1973 my money had run out. I had got married and now considered there were more important things in life than Van der Graaf Generator. And yet funnily enough, just before I got married I was offered yet another tour of Italy, just myself and Peter this time, so soon after my wedding I was off to Italy at three in the morning. I did session work for a while after we got back, but we needed regular money so I got a job as a van driver which lasted for almost a year. At the end of 1973 I had enough money to do a private-press album, 'The Long Hello', which featured all of us. 1974 was more of the same; I did a tour as a soloist for some Italian star, more gigs with Peter, and more van driving. Towards the end of that year all four of us played live together in an Italian stadium as Peter Hammill's backing band - the promoters rather naughtily billed us as Van der Graaf Generator even though we weren't playing VdGG material as such. The situation sparked something in us though, for despite that not being a Van der Graaf gig, it could have been one. Everybody wanted it to happen, but if it was to happen, it had to be done properly.

The deal was signed in January 1975. We knew it was going to happen because there was such a strong feeling between the four of us. We'd done this Hammill gig in Italy and had been outraged that we'd been billed as "Van der Graaf Generator", but I think that had done the trick. It could have been VdGG - God, we could show them! In that Autumn of 1974 we recorded 'Nadir's Big Chance' - it was typical of Peter, lyrically and spiritually, that he came up with the right music at the right time and as 'Rikki Nadir and The Pits' we recorded Peter's album. We had all dropped any other commitments we had and the vibe between us was really positive. It wasn't just the four of us by this time though, I was married by then for example and it became a more extended Van der Graaf Generator family. We signed a good deal with Charisma, and agreed on what the original debts were that we'd left behind us.

We went down to a place called Norton Cannon and Hugh started building his infamous organ. I dreamed up this incredible electronic saxophone system for live work and had this customised packing-case made to house all my 'Jaxon' equipment in one place when touring. I christened it the 'Vangogh'. The Old Rectory became like a factory for making gear and making sounds, it was the classic 'place in the country' where bands could 'get their heads together'. We started out at the sort of level we had achieved when we had split up and in that first year got a lot of well-paid work - we even had a private 'plane for a while. It was an extravagant lifestyle - no more Universities or Civic Halls for us, it was major gigs and major tours. We had a 12-man road crew and our own management structure. Charisma no longer managed us, they just released our albums. UCL gig
We had a fifth member of the band: Gordian Troeller, who was the manager - he took care of all the business side of things, but for all intents and purposes VdGG were a five-piece.
After this very extended rehearsal period, we went into Rockfield (studios) and prepared to record just one album. Between the 9th and 29th of June 1975 we recorded the four tracks that became 'Godbluff', plus 'La Rossa' which surfaced on 'Still Life' and other pieces that turned up later on the 'Time Vaults' out-takes compilation in 1983. We toured England and the rest of Europe for the rest of 1975. We couldn't play in Italy, the political situation there meant nobody played Italy in 1975. We knew how important it was to get back there to play again though.
In January 1976 we recorded 'Still Life', and then finally somebody came up with a deal to play Italy that we checked out - everything seemed to be alright, and so on the back of this massive European tour VdGG finally returned to Italy for a three-week tour at a very, very high level.

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