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By: Charlie & Gaz

Ahead of this year’s HRH Prog festival, which starts on Thursday, we sent two of our resident progheads, Charlie Gardner & Gaz Cloud, out to talk to some of the bands on the bill. In this episode, they talk to Theo Travis from the legendary Soft Machine.

(((o))): What can we expect from Soft Machine at HRH Prog IV?

Psychedelic, powerful jazz rock with atmosphere, grooves, great soloing and some classic tunes. The band is three-quarters of the celebrated ‘70s version of the group which recorded the acclaimed Softs album in ’75, plus yours truly. The band plays material from the era (compositions by Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge, Karl Jenkins) as well as many contemporary works, as featured on our recent album Burden of Proof.

(((o))): Which of the other bands on the bill will you try to catch, and why?

Well it will be interesting to see what Caravan are up to these days, and I am curious about Edgar Broughton too.

(((o))): Do you think it’s important prog has its own bespoke festival?

Yes – great idea. Lots of great bands about, and a lot of interest in this classic era of music. There are some nice prog festivals in Germany like Burg Herzburg and Loreley.

(((o))): What are your plans in the months following the festival?

Well, Soft Machine are touring the UK and I have gigs with my own band Double Talk which I am looking forward to. See

(((o))): What should any self-respecting prog fan make sure they pack before heading off to a chalet festival on the Ll?n Peninsula?

A map, a jumper and some cool sounds to listen to on the way there.

(((o))): What does the term “prog” mean to you?

Prog with a capital “P” is a term that refers to classic bands from 1967–1975, plus a few who have remained progressive, forward thinking and musically ambitious and true. I am less keen on many modern “prog” bands that sound more “generic” and a bit “neo” and backward looking. I do like any progressive music that is genuinely forward looking, musically ambitious and doing something interesting and maybe even original…

(((o))): What would be your weapon of choice in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

A flute of course! And failing that maybe a submachine gun.

(((o))): The organisers ask you to play an ad hoc unplugged at the top of Snowdon. Are you mad enough to do it?

Hmm… Nice idea. Maybe, yes, if it is in the café with a nice cuppa tea, and then we get the train down. Now that sounds cool.

(((o))): Additionally, what Bowie track would you choose to play as an encore?

So many great songs to choose from. Soft Machine is not really the right band to play Bowie tracks, especially as we are an instrumental band – but maybe “Heroes” or “Ashes to Ashes”.

Soft Machine play HRH Prog IV on Friday 18 March, 2016.


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