Interview with PATRICK MORAZ
- What kind of keyboards do you prefer - piano, organ or synthesizers - moog, mellotron?
Although my first instrument was actually the violin, I prefer the piano as my main instrument. I love harpsichord and church organ and, of course, I love all synthesizers, analog and digital, as well as all sorts of percussion instruments, in addition to my beloved Alpine Horn and trumpet. And there's nothing like a Hammond organ and a real Moog synthesizer, or even a real Oberheim. When I played the mellotron, I had special effects tapes of all my albums made and was "playing" them through live concerts or different recordings like "on cue" analog samplers. I liked that part of playing them too, because they provided some very original punctuations in the music.
- Who did the most influence you as a player?
John Coltrane was probably my deepest influence, along with Jimi Hendrix, Elvin Jones, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, Ravi Shankar, Art Tatum, Clifford Brown, Eric Dolphy, Oscar Peterson, John Lewis, Bill Evans, Yehudi Menuhin, McCoy Tyner, THE BEATLES, Jimmy Smith, Keith Jarret, Glenn Gould, Aldo Ciccolini, Georgy Cziffra, Dinu Lipatti and Clara Haskil, with whom I worked as a child.
- Your memories on opening out for such geniuses as Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane?
Very deep, spiritual and intense memories of some of the most magical moments of my life spent in the company of such geniuses. On different planes of "Spiritual Translations". I always felt attracted to and influenced by their music.
- Was it difficult for a Swiss man to get to the Anglo-American dominated rock scene?
Extremely difficult, especially because of regulations which had to do with Immigration laws and Musician's Union rules, in addition to work permits and special visas. It was very difficult at first as well because of language barriers. Fortunately, music being a universal language, it was possible to build "Bridges of Silence", magical pathways through the uncharted territories of administrative and governmental jurisdictions. Having learned the English language, and many others since, the situation improved somewhat.
- Who do you consider to be your rivals in the rock field?
Well, I was involved in the Brazilian music scene and had recorded some of my solo albums like the "The Story of i", "Out In The Sun" and "Patrick Moraz/Primitivisation" there. I had my own band with sixteen percussionists and keyboards and I was very active in the recording and concerts scene. I had met Steve Hackett in Rio de Janeiro, when he came there with GENESIS. Later, there were talks about doing something with him and Steve Howe in GTR but for some reason that never came about. I eventually joined THE MOODY BLUES.
- What was the fans' reaction on you stepping in Wakeman's shoes?
I was not "stepping" in Rick's shoes, although that figure of speech was used. In any case, I was extremely well received by fans and critics alike and I felt that the response to my playing and contribution to YES was positive throughout.
- Wasn't this situation similar to the one with REFUGEE - THE NICE minus Keith Emerson?
Almost, but not quite. THE NICE had been split-up for more than three years when we formed REFUGEE. Also in REFUGEE, we were playing all original music, which I composed for the group. So I did not have to copy or replicate parts which had been recorded before me. The only reference to THE NICE was the fact that I was playing with the same rhythm section, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison, both excellent players and showmen, as well as contributors to the group. I keep an excellent memory of REFUGEE.
- What kind of music played REFUGEE and MAINHORSE?
Both groups played progressive rock and even though the majority of the music was based on my compositions, the end result was really a group effort, especially in the arrangements. Both groups MAINHORSE and REFUGEE had a different identity, however MAINHORSE had a lead guitarist which made a big difference in the overall sound. We also had much more vocal arrangements in MAINHORSE. But the essence of the music was mine, in both groups.
- Did you know Wakeman before you joined YES? What were and are your relations?
I had never met Rick before joining YES. However I had met some of the other YESmen, like Tony Kaye, Peter Banks, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Bill Bruford. I met Rick in the Eighties outside London and we even played on the same stage and jammed together in September 1991 and May 1992, in Florida, when we were invited to play some benefit concerts for the "Give Kids the Word" Foundation.
- How did you join YES - I mean, through management or personal contact?
Both, personal contact with Jon Anderson which had been arranged by my very
good friend Ray Gomez, guitarist extraordinaire, also by Chris Welch, the
main journalist for the music paper "Melody Maker" and also through a
request by Brian Lane, YES's manager at that time. Then through the request
by the whole group. Apparently, it was a unanimous decision and the
invitation came quite instantly. The day after I played with them for the
very first time, I got a call telling me I was in the band as an
equal-member, and my presence was being requested immediately!
- "Relayer" is a great piece of work. But don't you think that you weren't given as much space as was Rick and the album is dominated by Steve Howe's guitar?
When we started to record "Relayer", some of the music had already been written and rehearsed by Chris, Jon, Steve and Alan. I contributed as much as I could to the overall picture of the pieces. However, it is a fact that Steve used quite a lot of tracks for his many overdubs everywhere on the album, except when there is no guitar at all, which is a rare occasion.
- All the tracks on the album are credited to all YES members. Who do you used to compose with and who you were close with the most?
We all participated in the compositions and the final arrangements, even if most of the "songs" were originally composed somewhat more by Jon, and Steve in some instances. I liked to work with Jon and Chris, especially. Alan was always contributing some very good rhythmic ideas. I also worked quite a lot with Steve during the whole time I was in YES.
- You left YES while writing material for the upcoming "Going For The One" album. What was written before you left that ended up on the record?
We had written, together, quite a lot of the material which ended up on "Going For The One", like "Awaken", "Wondrous Stories" or even "Parallels" which were as much part my composition as anyone else in the band at that time. I also came up, during the two previous years prior to the recording of "Going For The One", with a lot of ideas and contributions to the band and its sound. The fact that I was not credited as a writer of the songs, does not mean I did not compose for the group. As a member of the band, I composed as much as I could, as much as I was "allowed" to compose by the others.
- Were you forced to leave or parting company was friendly?
Unfortunately, I was forced to leave. And even though, at the time,
the split "was not made to appear acrimonious", I suffered extremely and
extensively. To be "asked to leave" so suddenly put me in a lot of turmoil
and disturbance. The fact is, I was never compensated for anything. I never
ever got paid for any of my tour participation in the extremely successful
and extensive YES Tour of 1976, which comprised about 65 concerts, many of
them in front of sold-out audiences of more than 100,000 people. After all,
as a member of the band, I was entitled to a 20% cut from what the band was
- Shed some light, please, on your work on Howe's solo albums.
In the very early part of 1975 already, we somehow had discussed the idea of
doing, each and everyone of us, a solo album. Steve asked me if I wanted to
take part in his own "Beginnings" album.
I said,"Sure I would love to!" Then he gave me a tape with a few notes on it
and asked me if I could arrange and orchestrate it like Vivaldi.
I said I would do my best and I worked on it for about three weeks.
When I came to play him the demo and show him all the work I had done with
the piece, "Beginnings", he loved it immediately and he told me that we
would record it. And we did. I also played the harpsichord on some other
tunes with him on the album.
- Was it through this work that you got to know Bill Bruford?
I knew Bill somewhat before he had even left YES, in 1968. (He left in
early 1972). But it is more through Chris's solo album that I got to know Bill better. We actually played together for the first time in early 1976. Eventually, we met again in 1983, when we were living in the same village. We talked about doing an acoustic "piano and drums" duet.
- All of your solo works seem to have a certain concept. Could you depict some themes?
The "Story Of i" is an allegory about Life and Beyond. It takes place in an
environment which implies the notion of virtuality. However, if the games
are artificially monitored and use technologies which go beyond what is
understood nowadays as "digital" and "virtual", the emotions are very real,
and the feelings are definitely human.
- What is main theme of "i"? I think you're hooked on the existentialists' works, aren't you?
The inspiration for "The Story Of i" came to me during the course of
an elevator ride in a newly-built hotel in America.
The idea implanted itself in a flash.
It immediately became clear that it was an allegory about life itself.
What came to me was a way to present an abstract and spiritual
train of thought under the guise of a concrete story, a kind of
"sci-fi" story with plenty of symbolic narratives and figurative twists,
with its own rites, games and rules as well as endless interactive
situations. Always with a hopeful goal, however, with eternal light in sight. A sort of modern times search for the ever-elusive Holy Grail.
For a first "concept" album, the task was formidable and
proved even more so as time passed. However, as the original idea was firmly rooted, the development of the whole work grew virtually at an exponential rate. All the elements came into place at the right time,
even if over a period of a few months.
- Don't you think that the story has something in common with the subject of THE EAGLES' "Hotel California" - especially having noticed that both albums appeared in 1976?
Oh, I thought "Hotel California" was released in 1978! What's for sure is that "The Story Of i" was recorded mainly in 1975, and some of the compositions were created as early as 1973 and 1974.
Most of your solo works are unavailable on CD. Do you plan to have them re-issued?
I would like that very much. They would have to be re-mastered digitally though, if not re-mixed, that would be ideal. I would like to have all my albums under the same "roof". In any case, I own all my works, they are all copyrighted in my name, so it's just a matter of time (and money, of course) to have them re-issued and released.
- As I know you joined THE MOODY BLUES in the summer of 1978. So why did it take so long - almost three years - before "Long Distance Voyager" was out?
I joined THE MOODY BLUES in the latter part of 1978. We only started the tour in November of that year. Then in 1979, we only toured in part of the early summer. We then prepared for some recording in the late summer of 1979, especially with Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. Since I was living in Brazil at that time and recording two solo albums, "Coexistence" and "Future Memories", both recorded in Switzerland, and also composing for two movies and TV shows ("Le Chemin Perdu", directed by my sister Patricia Moraz), there was no time for me to start recording with the Moodies prior to February of 1980. When we started recording, with some breaks in between, the album took almost a year to be finally produced and ready to go.
- Once you left MOODIES they played without keyboards. Did they want to sound like this and ask you to go or it's a result of your departure?
I don't know about that! Since I was not part of the group anymore, I cannot comment very much on that. However, I understand that, to replace me, they added two keyboard players, another drummer in addition to the existing one, two or three vocalists and even a whole symphony orchestra to play the mellotron parts?
- You played with Alphonse Mouzon, Andy Newmark and some other great jazz drummers. Do you consider Bill Bruford the best, having recorded with him two albums?
Bill was a good, disciplined drummer. Somewhat stiff, though. Whereas other drummers I have played and recorded with like Alphonse Mouzon, Richie Morales, John and Chad Wackerman as well as genius drummers Jacob Armen and Ronnie Ciago for example, to name but a few, were not only disciplined, but very loose too and can play just about anything. All these guys have much more jazz, swing, funk, rock and power in them. In "Flags", the second album we did together, under the name MORAZ-BRUFORD, Bill recorded most of his drums to a click-track, overdubbing his parts to my original compositions.
- You took part in the "Steinway To Heaven" album recorded by the greatest rock piano players. Did you meet the rest of them while recording? Why did you choose Chopin's "Military Polonaise"?
I didn't meet the other players while recording my piece, which was recorded
on January 19th, 1996 at "Mad Hatter" studio in Los Angeles.
However, I know most of the players personally, we are friends and I have
played and jammed with most of them, with Brian Auger, Keith Emerson,
Rick Wakeman, Jordan Ruddess and even David Bryan.
- You did compose the soundtracks for quite a many films. What of them - I mean, both films and your works - you think is the best?
Yes, I did compose many scores for films, documentaries and even
commercials. I really enjoyed doing them. However, it's very different,
although the 'compositional' process might be the same. Let me explain. For
a movie, or for any "soundtrack", the end result is always "functional".
The composer has to create functional emotions, on cue and on budget. There
is the difference. When a musician/composer writes for an album which has, a
priori, no "function" other than the pure expression of the soul as an
Artform, the inspiration comes, most probably more from "within" or
"inside", as opposed to "outside" forms of inspiration such as suggestions
from a script or a scenario. In a "non-functional"
situation, there might be an imaginery scenario. In a functional one, even
if the scenario is imaginery, the "scenes" are real and the music score has
to fit that "reality". Of course, there is always the possibility to compose
the music before the film is shot, which I did many times, in the early
days, especially in Europe. I worked with film directors like Alain Tanner, ("La Salamandre", "Le Milieu du Monde") and Claude Goretta ("The
Invitation" that received Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes Festival), and many others.
- Was "Wild Orchid" the most successful commercially - or was it "Predator"? Did you meet Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mickey Rourke while working on the soundtracks?
In regards to "Predator" and "Wild Orchid", I only did some "temporary cues". Not the final scores.
- Are there plans to work with major artists/bands in the future or you'd prefer to concentrate on your own works?
You mean, am I going to join N'SYNC, the BACKSTREET BOYS, the Britney Spears
or the Shania Twain backing-band, or am I going to work with Madonna on
her next album, or am I going to co-write and perform some songs with David
Bowie, Phil Collins, Sting or Peter Gabriel, and even go on tour with U2?
Well, we never know, nothing is impossible. However, for the moment, I am
concentrating on my own projects and some new works commissioned for some
symphony orchestras and choirs. In the very near future, in addition to "Resonance", I am going to release
soon another solo piano CD entitled "E.S.P." (for "Etudes, Sonatas & Preludes"), and another electro-ethnic studio CD which I am just finishing as we speak, "A Way To Freedom", so to follow further information, please, check www.patrickmoraz.com.