|An interview with David Jackson by Mick Dillingham
|I remember playing that Hemel Hempstead gig and it seemed one of the worst gigs we'd ever done. I could barely stand having to play this music any more - despair seemed paramount and the evening seemed like a disaster. I heard a tape of the gig later and it's simply awe-inspiring - magnificent, but dripping despair with every note through sheer feeling and passion. Strange how that happened - many of the concerts from that time are equally powerful to hear on tape later, but at the time it seemed like the pits. (Gig review)
That year passed and things got better. In 1976 we re-equipped, and did a big tour of Northern Europe with Alexis Korner - I remember that tour because he was such a wonderful bloke to talk to. He supported us on a French tour and we watched every gig - that doesn't happen very often, that you want to always watch the band that's supporting you. We recorded our last album, 'World Record', during the Summer and it was decided to try and crack North America with it.
|In October we did a tour of Canada, and because we were big in France we were automatically big in Canada. Then we played New York. It was a sell-out concert, but then out of the blue the record company decided that it wasn't going to let us play the rest of the US tour. They pulled out all support from under 'World Record' and the band and although we had gigs on the East and West coast lined up we had no money to get to them. Then when we arrived back in England we found that the expected profits from the Canadian tour had been sidetracked away from us somehow, so we lost money on the whole thing.|
|I remember just before Christmas somewhere in Germany, we were given backstage passes shaped like big yellow triangles - really quite striking - and on them it said 'VdGG - Farewell'... the support band were called 'Farewell'. I thought, how strange! This would be a weird last gig to do in, in Stuttgart! I've still got the pass in a box somewhere because it did turn out to be just that, the last Van der Graaf Generator gig I ever did. Just after Christmas Hugh left the band. We brought in Graham Smith (ex-violinist with String Driven Thing) and Nic Potter came back on bass, we spent a week rehearsing but I found the situation insurmountable. I just couldn't see how it could work. At the end of that week I resigned. I thought if I left now it would help the reformation, me being there with a broken heart would not help it. My spirit had gone, the two years and all the problems had wiped it away. I didn't want to be away from home. I had a little baby, 9 months spent touring that year didn't seem to be a thing I wanted to do.|
|They dropped the 'Generator' at that point which was a nice gesture, and toured very successfully for 18 months or so as Van der Graaf. They put out one album, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome', which is excellent. I was working as a driver when I got a call from them to guest at two Marquee gigs to be recorded as a live album, by this time they had brought in Charles Dickie on cello. The finished album, 'Vital', is a personal disaster for me, I can't bear to hear it. Usually I would have wanted 4 tracks of the 24 track mobile they set up, 2 because of the stereo nature of my saxophone set-up and two for the effects pedal etc. on each channel.|
|What I got was one track - worse still, when Guy Evans came to mix the tapes he found that the mobile had been faulty and there was just total silence on my track. What he had to do was go through the other tracks looking for where my sax would have bled onto a track, like the vocal track, and then take out my sax and boost it up and clean it - and that's what you hear on the record.|