I've been listening to Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator for over a decade, and it is difficult to articulate how deeply the balance of grandeur and intimacy in that music has affected me in that time. As a songwriter, I have definitely apprenticed myself to the recordings of Peter Hammill's solo career at one point or another, not only to study his songwriting but also his ambition in the studio as a recording artist. It was only in 2012 that I first began to sing a song of Hammill's (Gone Ahead, the first cut on this EP) which I performed a few times and put up on YouTube. Immediately this sparked the idea of doing more, but this didn't crystallize into the thought of an EP until last summer, when I emailed Mr. Hammill on a whim to ask for permission, not really expecting much of a reply. I very quickly heard back, and realized I needed to put my money where my mouth was.
The EP was recorded in two bursts between January 27th-30th and April 16th-19th of 2014. Much of the time between receiving the OK and the first recording session was spent trying to decide which songs to use. This was an embarrassingly difficult process given I had only 6 songs to work with. Eventually I settled on the roster you have, attempting to get each decade of Hammill's career (minus the 2010s), but heavily favoring the late 70s/early 80s, which I have called my favorite 'period' of Hammill's career if such a decision had to be made. Learning the tunes involved playing them for hours and listening to various live versions to contrast the studio constructions. Ultimately the arrangements here emulate the studio originals most of all, but with moments borrowed from a live performance, or inserted in the fever of the editing process. And though I am neither a Graham Smith nor a David Jackson, I was happy to tip my hat to them with my far uglier wind-and-string arrangements on certain tracks.
I'm very glad to be releasing this EP, warts and all, as an homage to an artist who has influenced me at many stages of my life and work. Viva Hammill!
released May 5, 2014
An Historic is: Adam Matlock - Voice, Accordion, Piano (3-5), Violin (1,3), Clarinet (5), Guitar (3), Percussion (3)
All songs written by Peter Hammill (except 6, by Hammill/Ferguson).
Photography, Cover Art and Graphic Design by Jerome Harris.