been a fan of Gowan for quite some time and first got to see him when
he backed up Supertramp several years ago. The general opinion that
night by most people was Gowan was much better than Supertramp who recently
lost singer Rodger Hodson. I also got to see Gowan when he came back
to Atlantic Canada to headline a year later. Last year I finally got
a chance to meet Mr. Gowan as I am now working at a TV station and got
to sit down with him for a brief interview. We talked about his career
and recent trip overseas, the release of the two live albums, etc. He
is very nice guy and puts on a great show. Even though he was playing
in a small club, the place was packed and the crowd really seemd to
enjoy his music. He came out to mingle with the audience and sign some
audographs after the show.
On a couple of your later albums you are know as Gowan. Now its back
to just Gowan again. Why the name change?
In the 80s the one name thing was very popular. I think I'm always going
to be known to people here as Gowan, and that's not going to go away
and that's all right with me. There's one album I did called "Gowan,
But You Can Call Me Larry" that just kind of added all kinds of confusion
to the issue and I can see your still confused so it's working well.
I understand you're currently working on a new studio album, possibly
to be released in the spring time?
Most of the material from the new record I have already played live.
I had the opportunity last year to work in a lot of the songs in a live
context, which I haven't had that chance to do on records for quite
awhile. I think the songs have worked in quite well, just by me playing
them in front of audiences and alternating according to the audience
Your last studio album had more of a guitar feel to it. What direction
will the new album take?
It going to be a lot of piano on this record mainly because of touring
solo. The solo show is mainly piano based. It caused me to focus on
that instrument again with renewed vigor.
you feel more pressure being on stage yourself, as compared to having
a band back you up.
There's a certain musical accomplishment you have to come up to in a
solo show, that you can maybe get away with not matching in a band show.
My band is quite strong and when I work with them it's easy. We played
several shows last year, I didn't have to be one hundred percent on
because they are such great players, I can sit back and kind of enjoy
it and just be sure I sing the hits in tune. That is as much as I need
to accomplish. In a solo show there is nothing to fall back on. I have
to rely entirely on the rapport that develops with the audience, which
is usually a little bit easier because most people in the audience can
identify with having to do something by themselves on stage. It's got
a little bit of that intimacy alone up there. But I can't allow for
any musical slips, although there are mistakes every night, that wind
up kind of being a bit of a human moment that can enhance the show in
This past summer you played at the Princess of Whales Tribute Concert
with people like Steve Winwood, Chris DeBurgh at the families Estate
in Althorp, England. What was that like?
It was a phenomenal experience because I played with the BBC National
Orchestra and to have them do one of your pieces of music, and her family
really liked the piece and wanted me to play it there. That was a great
honour and especially after the show, going into their house and basically
getting a big sing-a-long going at their family piano. This is something
most musicians don't get a chance to experience. Also to have a piece
of music have some what of a historical dimension to it, also is a very
unique thing and I'm drawn to that.
you recorded two separate live albums in the span of a year or two.
Both having similar songs on them. Why "two" live discs?
One was purely an acoustic record, as I was starting to get a lot of
interest as a solo artist in festivals primarily in US and an number
of them here in Canada. They said "perhaps if he performed acoustically
he could fit on the bill with a lot of other acts that as the rock guy
he couldn't do,"so I did a purely acoustic album and these festival
people really gravitated towards it. I thought that went so well, I
figured that it was time to do a live record. I always wanted to do
a French record as well, so I combined the two, so there's a live album
which I recorded gigs in Quebec City, Montreal and Sherbrooke, mixed
in with a couple of studio French recording so that was an interesting
album to do as well.
And you can only get them at your shows or through mail order?
The Solo Live acoustic one called "No Kilt Tonight" you can only get
at shows and I made it primarily for the festival shows, or for any
solo show I do. "Au Quebec" is the other solo live album that's available
few years ago you did an UN tour of Bosnia. What effect did that have
Quite profound really, I don't know if it had a great deal of a musical
effect but as an experience of playing in front of troops, yea. There
is almost no words to describe what it's like to be on that side of
the east, especially at Christmas, as it was right over the Christmas
holidays and see what people have to endure, and to get a chance to
play music in such a environment is such a tremendous life experience.
I was also in the Sinai Desert in Egypt playing in front of troops in
eleven different countries and through Israel. Quite a tense backdrop
for a concert!
You are originally a classically trained concert pianist are you not?
That was initially my musical training, a lot of my musical background
is in classical music and a lot of those motif ideas tend to surface
in a lot of my songs. If you listen to "A Criminal Mind" or "Moonlight
Desires", they've got melodies that are quite conducive to orchestration
and that's why the shows I have done translate well to orchestral arrangements.
So why the transformation to contemporary pop-rock music
It really wasn't that a great of a jump I just wanted to write my own
stuff and take time with finishing up studying classical music.. I mean
pop music is, I believe, the classical music of today, because that's
what the masses are gyrating towards, and that's what I'm much more
suited at doing anyway.
I understand your first album in now out on CD, is that so?
They re-released the first album which is the one prior to "Strange
Animal" so I'm going to play at least one or two songs from that every
night because over the years it's become kind of a favorite. A lot of
the people that listen to my music mention songs from that first album
that was resurrected after the success of "Strange Animal".
read you sometimes forget some of the older songs that you haven't played
in a while?
I forget them, but that is part of the charm of the solo show. There's
a built in spontaneity where the show can change direction, given any
roudy-loud enough group that keeps demanding one particular song. I
can change the course of the show in a moments notice and go towards
that. Often I do that and often try something I can only get a verse
and a chorus out of it, because I haven't played it for maybe ten years.
I am really impressed with you official web site. How much input do
you have into that.
I don't have a great deal of input, the people who run that just do
such a remarkable job on it. It's become a real center point for such
a number of artists now and I think I was probably one of the earliest
to get in there, not on my own efforts though but on the efforts of
a lady in Calgary that began it. I've seen three or four pop up and
hers was by far the best, so I said you can make that one the official
one. Periodically I check in, leave messages, read what some people
have said about the shows, which is always a great immediate way to
find what your doing. The tour I just did in England with the Stranglers
for example. That generated a lot of response from their fans that have
never seen me before and got a chance to see me over a extended tour
in England. Over six weeks playing everywhere in that county, that was
great way to stay in touch with not only people back home, but to stay
in touch with how that tour was progressing.
You have also just released you first album over there "Home Fields"
how's the reaction been to it.
That was mainly what this tour was to support, that album is doing very
well. It's surprising to learn how may records sold on import over the
years. We needed something for that market place, so I let a couple
of guys who work at basically magazines that champion my stuff over
the years choose the material. I said ,"whatever you think is appropriate
for England lets put that together as a compilation and "Home Field
was that album.
works works a a Contract Producer for TVNB and Freelance Journalist