IQ Interview

Greetings Martin,from a rainy night!How are the things there?Southhampton must be seeming great in these autumn days!

We’ve had plenty of rain here too over the the last few months, but it’s not too bad here this week. In the south of England we don’t get too much snow and cold weather like the rest of the UK 


Lets start with the general feedbacks about the latest IQ release ‘Dark Matter’How are the reactions so far?Are there anything unpleasant about the reactions?

The reaction has been almost completely positive and we’ve had great reviews even from the British music press who normally hate progressive rock. The general opinion is that Dark Matter is a great rock record and there’s always a place for those.


What was the biggest inspiration behind the song writing process of the’ Dark Matter’?With which ideas you entered the recording room this time?

We started writing the album about 18 months ago now, and some of the very earliest material we wrote as a band became significant sections of the long track “Harvest Of Souls”. Once it became obvious that this was going to be a really big track I was also able to use a lot of my older ideas which hadn’t found a place in IQ before. Getting a new keyboard is always an inspiration and when I got the Korg CX-3 organ (basically a digital Hammond Organ soundalike) the whole thing took on a much more “retro” approach, and I came up with a great deal of new material  in a very short time. Getting the CX-3 gave it all a much more “Rock” feel than our previous albums, and the other band members came up with some more great material to match that direction. A lot of quite significant sections were written by all of us either in the studio or just before we went in, and it all came togerther in a very pleasing way.


You have also the owner of the label ‘ Giant Electric Pea’.So can you mention more about this label and its activities please?

GEP has been  running for 13 years now which is a pretty good survival rate for a small label. I do most of the day-to-day running of the label myself – anything from drawing up contracts to packing CDs in boxes, but I love it and it’s my hobby as well as my main profession. Although we never have more than 2 or 3 releases per year we always manage to generate enough money to fund releases that are in every way comparable with what the major labels are capable of, and occasionally as well as IQ we release really good albums by other artists when the opportunity arises. I am proud to have been able to offer great acts like Renaissance and John Wetton the opportunity to release their albums on GEP, and though we don’t really have the resources to break new artists, we have proved to be a good and comfortable home for classic rock artists that no longer have a deal with a major label.



And,How it feels when you involve in the scene boths as musicians and a label owner?

I don’t have the luxury of getting other people to handle the record company side of things (we really can’t afford to employ any staff!) so I have to do it myself otherwise we would never get any more records released! However it is a nice feeling to be involved at every stage of a record’s release from the earliest songwriting process right up to actually seeing the CD in the shops.


What are your opinions about UK s classical rock scene?Are there new names who deserve respect and attention?

There are a few bands that have been around for a few years but are still making good records. However I haven’t seen any new bands for quite a while that have really impressed me. They all make all the right noises, but they just don’t have the songs to back it up. However once in a while something really good comes along, and it’s often from a surprising source.

Our next release on GEP will be from Steve Thorne who is a virtually unknown local songwriter from here in Southampton. I play football with Steve on a Tuesday night most weeks and I knew he was a great talent and was putting an album together, but in the last few months he has attracted an astonishing list of guest artists for his album including Tony Levin, Geoff Downes, Nick d’Virgilio, and most of IQ and Jadis! It just shows what you can do if you are a nice guy with some outstanding songs, and I’m sure it will do well for Steve and for our label.


Evolution can be seen in IQ’s musical character like it can be seen in any other walks of music.So in which aspects you see ‘the evolution’ in IQ s history?On which ways IQ evolved throughout the passing years?

We always wrote good songs, but we play better these days and we have generally perfected our craft over the years. To achieve full control over what you do is surely evolution enough for most bands.


Do you have any hints tos hare with me about the coming IQ songs/a new album?Have you already started to work on some songs?

No, we’re going to leave it alone for a while. We only do this part-time at weekends in addition to our day jobs, so having all worked 7 days a week for most of this year we really need a break now to spend some time with our families and generally re-charge our batteries. However we will not be completely idle as we have just released a great double live DVD of the 20th anniversary concert and we will be releasing the 1993 Forever Live concert on DVD next year. We may then get together again in summer 2005 to work on some new material.


Once i have read an interview in which you say ‘We have very contrasting personalities and it’s a complete mystery to everyone how the band has lasted this long. ‘After the 23 years ,for you,what kind of magic was it that keeping  the IQ spirit alive?

We’re bloody good at what we do and when IQ is in full flow it’s as good as any rock band in the world. That’s enough to keep it all together. 


As far as i have noticed you employed a different way of design in Dark Matter’s booklet.I mean it appeared to me that every page has diverse designing/colouring structures like ‘every’ song has diverse sound spirit as well.Did you try to depict something like that?

Actually it was the same designer (Tony Lythgoe) that did our last two studio albums. Tony is an old friend of ours and we totally trust what he does for us. I just think that Dark Matter is a particularly good piece of work from him. 


What kind of  bands/styles you have been listening to lately?

Not much really. I mostly pack CDs in boxes rather than listening to music. I generally only listen to music when it’s something I’m working on. 


What exactly you feel when you switch on the Tv set and see millions of the same minded,pseudo rockstar wannabe bands on Mtv?

I’m glad I’m not them. I do have a life outside of music and I wouldn’t care to spend the next 5 years in identical hotel rooms around the world.


Have got any fave songs from the Dark Matter?Actually mine is ‘ Born Brilliant’ ! Particularly the lyrics are so great in this song…

I think Harvest Of Souls is simply the best thing we’ve ever done.


Actually i want to learn more on your very first days,may you mention about these days a bit?The taste of the first gig,the first deals with labels…

Well we started off as an independent band and we are one again. The major label deal we had with Polygram didn’t really work for us at all. I’m now far too old to remember anything about our first gig!


Without a doubt,this 23 year old band quested so many great memories,yet with some decent ones as well.If you wouldnt mind,can you tell me a memory which has an outstanding  place on you,among the other remembrances?

There are far too may to mention, but it is nice to be able to work on equal terms with many of the musicians I grew up listening to as a teenager. One of the big thrills for me was not IQ related, and it was great to play really big gigs (like ParkPop in the Netherlands) and do a short US tour with John Wetton a few years ago.


Thanks for the time Martin,time for the conclusion now,anything to add in the end?

 Well it’s been  a pretty good ride so far – here’s to the next 23 years!

 All the best,        Martin Orford



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