Dear readers, It is with great pleasure that we offer you an exclusive interview with one of the leading artists of Prog Rock music and the Canterbury Scene in particular, Pye Hastings of the legendary Caravan. Pye was certainly one of the most influential guitarists of the Progressive scene, as well as being one of the most refined singers, with a very warm and expressive tone that characterized the sound of Caravan.
– First of all thank you for giving us this interview, Pye how are you?
Hi Jacopo, I am well thanks,
– Your musical career that has continued for over 50 years, began in the early 60s, where does your passion for music and the choice to play the guitar come from?
I was given my first guitar for my 17th birthday and within 2 weeks I was completely hooked and felt that I had finally found something that I wanted to do for a living.
Music runs in my family. My father played the piano and my brother Jimmy, is a flute and saxophone player and was a great inspiration for me. He is a jazz musician and much more gifted than me,but I wanted to explore the world of Rock and Pop.
– With Wilde Flowers first and then with Caravan, you are one of the pillars of the Canterbury scene, what characterized the creative process that led to the birth of this strand of the Prog scene?
The Wilde Flowers was basically an R&B band with some original songs thrown in.
When I was invited to join the band by Brian Hopper I was delighted and terrified in equal measure. The band was formed by Brian and his brother, Hugh, with Robert Wyatt on drums and featured Kevin Ayers plus Richard Sinclair. My first gig with the band (a slimmed down version with just Brian,Hugh, Robert and me) was a “Battle of the Bands” in Margate which we won.
Brian, Hugh and Robert all wrote their own songs and this was the real incentive for me to start writing my own material.
At this time people were becoming open to more experimental music than previously and this was my opportunity to see if I could start writing my own songs.
– You are the only member of the band that has played in all the lineups since the first formation in 1968, what memories do you have of those times and what was it like making music in those years?
Making music with Richard and Dave Sinclair plus Richard Coughlan was a privilege and the most exciting time.
We all had the same ambition to become successful musicians and to get our music into the charts.
Sadly, collective dreams don’t always come to fruition and the process of having to replace departing members became a reality.
– Over the course of their long history, Caravan have often changed lineup, what have the various components brought to the sound?
Every change of personnel in the band has brought different challenges and enormous rewards.
Trying to replace players of the creative ability of Dave and Richard Sinclair would prove an impossible task, so I invited every new member to contribute their own personality into the playing and not to try and copy what had gone before.
This created a much healthier atmosphere amongst the players and was a great learning experience for me.
– The sound of Caravan, as well as that of Prog has changed in its history, how has the sound of the band evolved over the years?
Certainly the band of today sounds different to the original line up. Some would say it is better and some would not.
I have however always maintained that we have a responsibility to preserve the character of the band by referring to the past but not to copy it exactly.
Every new version of the band has the right to interpret the early songs as they see fit and by doing this it keeps the whole thing alive and fresh.
This is the process of progression.
– You have announced the release of a new studio album “It’s None Of Your Business” for October 2021. How would you present this work to fans?
The new album will be released on the 8th of October on the Madfish Label and has been previewed by Uk journalist as being the “Best music we have produced since the 70’s”.
I wrote 9 songs for the album ,one of which ( the title track called It’s None of your Business) gives a nod to the past by being a four parter.
This was great fun to record and brought many happy memories of the past.
We recorded the album at Rimshot studio near Sittingbourne over a period of 10 days.
I chose this studio because it has a beautiful, large sound room like an oak barn where we could record in a circle, the old fashioned way, so the feeling of us being a band rather than a collection of session musicians was achieved instantly.
This shows in the finished performances by everybody.
Time will tell if we got it right and whether the music is received positively.
– The recent Covid pandemic has upset everyone’s habits, also in the music field, how did the album come about?
During the period of Lockdown I was fortunate to have just settled into a new house and was able to appreciate not having a travelling schedule to adhere to.
The weather was fantastic and I had a cupboard full of wine so I stayed home and got my head down to begin writing.
The songs came easily and freely and when I presented them to the band, once the first lockdown was lifted, I was very pleased that they liked every one of them.
This has always been a worry for me.
– In addition to the release of the new album, according to the provisions due to the pandemic, what are the programs for live activity?
We start a tour of the UK on the 6th of October and are really looking forward to getting back to playing live once more.
Two years is a very long time to have been away and the first show will probably be a bit rusty but We will soon knock the set into place and hopefully people will come out to see us.
Nothing is guaranteed in these awful times and we are going to be very cautious because the virus has not gone away but the thrill of playing to a live audience is an exciting prospect.
– Given your great decades of experience in the world of Prog, what advice would you give to young artists who wish to offer this genre nowadays?
Give it your all,.
Play it Loud and just enjoy yourself.
If it doesn’t click right away, keep on playing.
You will learn so much and meet so many great people along the way.
You have to work at it, nothing comes for free but if you don’t give it your all, you will forever wonder if you could have succeeded.
– The last question, as usual in our interviews, we leave it free, to be able to talk about any topic we haven’t covered, or you have something you want to highlight feel free to talk about it here.
I would just like to thank each and every one of our fans who have supported us on this journey and send you all our love and affection in the hope that you stay safe and can come to see us as and when we get back to Italy to play some live concerts.
Progressive Rock Journal thanks Pye Hastings for his availability and time dedicated, as well as congratulating him on his long and successful career, wishing him the best for the continuation of his musical career.