Adam Ant took to the stage for the first time in 11 years at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London, on Monday, 24th September, 2007. It was dubbed as an Intimate Evening featuring readings from his autobiography, which had just been published in paperback. Entwined between the readings were performances of over a dozen Ant tunes. This was an intimate affair for just over 500 Ant fans who snapped up the tickets within a week of them going on sale. There was no band. No drummers. This was to be an acoustic performance, and one that the two performers (and the Ant fans) would never forget.
The other performer was Dave Pash who, at the time, was relatively unknown to Ant fans. He was mentioned in the autobiography, Stand & Deliver, and appeared on the TV documentary of the same name. He was Adam's school chum and is also a classically trained guitarist. That became apparent that night at the Theatre. He's now the talk of the town (after Adam of course) and it was suggested that he'd make a good candidate for a Carty interview.
Arrangements were made and deals were struck. And now adam-ant.net and cartrouble.nl (the old Carty site before this one) are proud to present the one and only, Dave Pash.
©2006 Fulcrum TV
Carty: Dave Pash, on behalf of adam-ant.net and cartrouble.nl, welcome to this Carty interview. Do you feel as nervous as you did on Monday 24th September 2007?
Dave Pash: I find things don't get to me quite how they used to. I'd say that on a scale of 1 to 10 that concert was 5. This is a 1.5.
C: Well, before I ask about that truly memorable night, let's spin back the clock to your school years. You both spoke fondly of them during your on stage banter. However, how close would you say you were to Adam back then?
D: We met for the first time in September 1966 and at first we didn't hang out together that much. It was about 4 years later that we got talking about the possibility of my teaching him to play the guitar which led to me being invited to his home and we then formed a mutually supportive friendship which has incredibly lasted forty years.
C: What about after the school years? So many friendships can grow apart after people go their own ways after Grammar school. How did you manage to stay in touch afterwards and how often?
D: When he was at Hornsey we did quite a good job of staying in touch and I remember visiting him at Muswell Hill, which was about 3 years after we'd left school. I remember going to see Bazooka Joe and I guess he came to look on me as a sort of musical mentor which was very flattering.
C: In the TV documentary, you mentioned how you admired Adam telling your Headmaster what *he* wanted to do and that in hindsight you would have done the same. What would you have told him?
D: Yes I really admired him for doing that. Even then Stuart was someone who knew what he wanted and wouldn't let the grass grow under his feet. I, on the other hand, was a bit more diffident and anyway it would look really naff if I went and did the same thing as him! I don't think that a music 'A' Level would have been an option. They discouraged these sorts of subjects because they didn't consider them academic. I think they might have had to close the school down if they had to organise two extra courses!
C: Do you consider yourself friends with "Stuart Goddard", "Adam Ant" or both? Do you ever call him "Adam"?
D: I consider myself friends with both of them but primarily with Stuart. I think I'm getting to understand Adam a bit better. I call him a lot of things!
C: Looking back over the past 40 or so years what is your most memorable memory of Adam?
D: Over these years I have many memories of this bloke some very funny and some very sad, but what sticks in my mind most at the moment is him stepping onto the stage at the Bloomsbury and putting the clock back 25 years. It was quite an emotional thing given the history.
C: Adam says you first taught him how to play the guitar, but when did you first learn to play, and who taught you? Was it always classical guitar?
D: My grandmother had a music shop in Notting Hill and her business partner was an elderly music teacher called Charlie Skinner. I was very close to my grandmother and used to spend a lot of time with her and met lots of musicians and guitarists. My grandmother encouraged me to take up the guitar at the age of 7 and in that environment I got very good very quickly playing at that time with a pick. Mr Skinner used to teach guitar at Wormwood Scrubs prison and I later realised that a lot of these people who used to come in and encourage me were axe murderers and burglars. We always had problems with pilferage.
D: At about the age of ten I changed to the classical style and went for lessons with Bill Glover, an ex-pupil of Segovia and Harley St dentist. Wish he'd taught me dentistry as well.
C: What make of guitar did you use for the Bloomsbury Theatre gig, and how much would it cost me to buy one exactly the same?
D: My guitar is by Simon Ambridge - please don't tell him what I've done to it. It would cost about the same as a reliable second hand car.
C: You said on the night that you had to have a hole drilled in this guitar especially for the gig, one assumes for the pick-up to be fitted. Your pride and joy, damaged. Forever. Have you reminded Adam that Christmas is coming soon?
D: It's true that I was a bit anxious about drilling holes in this thing because I thought it might affect the acoustic sound but I needn't have worried.
C: In the auditorium, the lights dimmed, and out walked this shadow with his guitar and took his seat. I could see the laughter lines as he approached the chair. What exactly was going through your mind when you walked out onto that?
D: I didn't expect to be going on first but when asked I just thought let's get on with it...I knew this was going to be something else. I was aware that Adam had a lot riding on this and I wanted to do a good job. I wanted to help him get back to work and put the past behind him and I suppose that was uppermost in my mind. He came and whispered to me "I might mess about a bit, don't worry about it"
C: Had you ever had such a reaction before? Did you wonder if people thought that you were Adam in the dimmed lights?
D: Well it certainly was a very warm reception.
C: But how was it for you and Adam before that moment? The night before the event? During the day? On the way to the venue? The time prior to treading those boards?
D: Funnily enough when I used to do solo concerts I sometimes got very nervous but on this occasion because I wasn't the centre of attention. I didn't feel too bad. I had slight butterflies and felt slightly detached but otherwise ok.
C: Did you or Adam take a peek at the audience beforehand? If so, how did that feel?
D: Of course we couldn't help taking a peek. Adam was really calm. I thought it all seemed alright - no bricks being thrown - should be ok.
C: How did the idea for the gig come about and when?
D: I think Adams's manager, Mal, came up with the idea. When they first put it to me I thought "this is either complete insanity or pure genius". I phoned a friend who is someone in the music business, whose opinion I trust, and asked him what he thought and after an initial groan he said "you know thinking about it I think that might turn out to be a really good idea". So I threw myself into the initial rehearsals which were a bit edgy - some pieces were working better than others.
C: Adam said in a recent interview with David Jensen that the two of you rehearsed for 8 weeks prior to the big night. How did you reconstruct the songs and how did they develop? Which songs did you suggest?
D: Adam was calling the shots throughout. He gave me a set list at the start which was what we did on the night but in a slightly different order. He wanted it to be as close to the records as possible - as ever being mindful of his fans and not wanting to disappoint them.
C: Which songs were rehearsed but never made it to the final playlist?
D: We ended up doing the lot.
C: How long were the rehearsal sessions, and how often?
D: 3 hours, twice a week.
C: What was your reaction when you found out it had sold out without any direct publicity, and in less than a week? How did Adam feel on hearing this news?
D: Adam was really chuffed about that. I just thought "what the hell have I got myself into"!
C: You seemed to have more hands than the four faces of Big Ben playing those tracks. How difficult were they to play?
D: In the scheme of things not too bad. I mean I know things that are technically much more difficult but the songs have these twists and turns that mean you really have to be on your toes and concentrate like crazy. The people who played in the band over the years were very good musicians
C: Which track was the most difficult and which did you enjoy playing the most?
D: In rehearsal "Dog Eat Dog" and "'Antmusic'" were the two pieces that we spent the most time on. I think these were the ones where Adam was missing the band most. It worked better when the guitar was amplified. "Desperate But Not Serious" had a lot going on and I was pleased I didn't forget it. "Young Parisians" is an old friend.
C: There were many standing ovations throughout the set and both you and Adam really seemed to be soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the performances. How would you describe the feeling back-stage after you had completed the initial main set of 12 songs?
D: To have pulled something off that you knew was going to be difficult, if not on the edge of impossible, is a great feeling but this evening had another dimension to it other than the musical one - as far as I was concerned this evening was really about him returning to work after a very long illness and he had done a spectacular job of getting up there and turning on that special "something" that none of us had seen for so long. We jokingly referred to it as tenth gear in rehearsal but he got there...possibly number eleven. Is there a number twelve?
C: How did those two encores really feel to you? And to Adam?
D: Well as you can imagine it felt fantastic...a feeling of a job well done, quite cathartic. At some point you'll have to ask Adam what he felt because he didn't say much but I think he was well pleased.
C: After "Goody Two Shoes" and "Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)", when it really was over, what was going through your mind and what did Adam say to you? And what did you say to Adam?
D: I saw him back-stage he said, "that was good".
D: I said I thought we pulled it off, he'd performed brilliantly, and that he was back. I could tell he was happy. The next day he phoned me up and thanked me warmly.
C: Did either you or Adam realise the impact that night had on the fans?
D: When loading the car outside the theatre, a number of people said they had enjoyed it a lot but it was only later, on looking through the comments on the Internet, that I realised how much it had meant to some people.
C: Back in 1980, after Adam and Marco recorded the "Kings" demos, they visited your Portobello Road flat and played them to you. You said in the TV documentary that you weren't sure how those songs were going to work, because they were just playing them with a couple of guitars. Yet you managed it with just one guitar at the gig. Did you feel as though you had to try and incorporate as much of the original parts of the music as you could into your playing?
D: Thinking about it I think they came and performed it to me - Adam on bass and Marco on electric. It is certainly true that pop music at that time was very formulaic (The "Birdie Song" came out a year or so later!) and I thought this track wasn't a single. I guess I hadn't reckoned on 51% of the population suddenly becoming romantically fixated on Adam and a seismic change in what constituted a pop single was taking place. Try a new flavour indeed.
D: But yes the idea was to make a big sound so that Adam felt he had something of substance to sing against because I think he felt like he was singing a-capella a lot of the time when we played with just the classical guitar unplugged. He was used to playing with a loud band with two drummers and this was really different but it was interesting because the focus was completely on the vocal.
C: Are there plans to do any more similar shows with Adam following the success of that night? And what are those plans?
D: Hard to say exactly. I have said I don't want to do anything which is bad for his health, and the management team around him are of the same opinion so it all depends on him and how he's feeling and what he wants to do.
C: Have you talked about recording Ant tracks in the studio with Adam? For example, in an unplugged/acoustic vein, which I politely suggest being called "The Jukebøx – Unplugged".
D: That could be a good idea.
This isn't real...we made it up
C: On a similar note, have you and Adam talked about recording an album of older material such as "Catch A Falling Star" and "Paper Moon" by Perry Como, and "Softly As I Leave You" by Matt Monro along with other similar classics? This could be called "Passion Ant" by Pash 'n' Ant.
D: That's very funny - he'd like that. After many years in music I've learnt not to make assumptions, we just have to wait and see.
C: Assuming you've answered 'no' to the above suggested projects with Adam, are there plans to be involved with future ventures with him?
D: I guess what I'm saying here is that I'm keen not to pull the 'old pals' act and I want to be judged on the quality of my work. After all Adam Ant at the top of his game could work with anyone.
C: Which Ant albums do you own and what is your favourite (and why)?
D: Over the years he's given me loads of stuff. Somewhere I've got the vinyl Dirk Wears White Søx. A single of Cartrouble. Many copies of The Very Best of Adam and the Ants, and the Limited Edition live album
D: My favourite ant song is "'Antmusic'" because I can remember the first time I heard it and remember thinking what clever lyrics. I also like "Xerox Machine" which I heard for the first time on John Peel's show.
C: Which music influenced you as a young man?
D: Presti and Lagoya - 2 incredible french guitarists, Julian Bream - classical guitarist, Charles Ramire - classical guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Django Reinhardt, Stravinsky, Bartok, Debussy, The Beatles, Jenks "Tex" Carman, J S Bach and George Martin.
C: Which music do you listen to today?
D: To be perfectly honest I've been listening to an extraordinary amount of Adam And The Ants just lately. I really liked that Beatles album that came out round about last Christmas – the thing George Martin's son remixed and prodded about.
C: Where were you trained as a classical guitarist and how highly do you rate yourself against others in the genre?
D: One day when I was still living at home my Dad put an application form for the Royal College of Music in front of me and said "sign this". I said "OK". The next thing I knew I was driving over to South Kensington to do the audition for the college. I hadn't been practising classical guitar much because I'd been playing in a band with Stuart trying to be Jimi Hendrix and I thought my chances of getting in were very slim. I was very nervous and it was, in fact, about this time that the panic attacks started! To cut a long story short I got in and I still think that this represents one of my greatest life achievements. My professor there was Patrick Bashford and he was great for me. I also studied composition with Philip Canon who taught me a lot.
D: I think a realistic appraisal is that I am a very good guitarist but lack the consistency to be considered one of the elite top few.
C: Who do you rate highly as a classical guitarist?
D: Charles Ramirez. He was a contemporary of mine and is now a professor at the college.
C: You played electric guitar and mandarin on the "All The Rivers Gold" album by Terry Oldfield (brother of Mike and Sally). Have you played with any other fruit?
D: Only Terry.
C: Ok, it was a 'mandolin'. How did you become involved in this project?
D: Terry is part of a wonderfully eccentric musical dynasty and I became friendly with him through the music shop. In the 80s he was composing lots of film music and found me useful to have around because of my classical training, since in those days (pre-computers) it was more necessary. So during that period he must have done 70 documentaries and I must have been involved in about 40 of those in some capacity. The CDs and cassettes he did for New World cassettes came later. I remember meeting him at a café in Covent Garden (no cake) and he told me he'd got this new deal with a company that produces music for relaxation, and he went on to do something like twenty five of these and I played on loads of them. I cant remember which one is which but I think "All The Rivers Gold" I recorded in my studio based on some sketches he sent me and he mixed it in his, and there's another one about Africa that I had a bit to do with.
C: You're also credited with playing the 'bouzouki' on his "Reflections, Best Of..." compilation. Which of Terry Oldfield's albums was that track taken from and what's a 'bouzouki'? Is it an ancient Celtic fruit?
D: A bouzouki is an instrument Terry designed and built himself made out of bamboo. He sent it to me on UPS in a large cardboard box with a note saying, "I am the sun king I want you to play more orange!". I'm joking, but it is the sort of thing he was capable of. He did once do something not a million miles from that. Actually it's a Greek instrument with eight stings in four courses and tuned a tone lower than the first 4 strings of the guitar.
C: Which Terry Oldfield album should we buy to hear more of your work?
D: I'm playing on a lot of those things,"Icon", "All the Rivers Gold", the African one. It is music for relaxation - I think its what is known currently as ambient music and might not be quite to the taste of the average Ant fan.
C: You've also helped with the arrangements of some of Terry's film compositions. Which film titles spring to mind?
D: "The Velvet Claw" - computer programming and arranging BBC; "Birth of Europe" - computer and keyboard sessions BBC; "Great River Journeys" - guitar sessions BBC; "Run Rabbit Run" - guitar sessions BBC; "Squirrels" - guitar session BBC; "Squids" - BBC early analogue synths; "Return to Treasure Island" - arranged and conducted strings opening titles; "Tigers of Kamuan" - 5 solo violins - this was a good one; "Kingdom of the Ice Bear" - I arranged the viola part.
D: These are just a few of the projects that he did. There's probably a complete list on his website
C: Have you ever written or published any of your own material? If so, what was it and which genre?
D: I wrote the music for the following BBC TV productions: "In Search of the Trojan Wars" - for the BBC (Pash/Oldfield co-write); "Plight of the Bumble Bee" - BBC Bristol - solo guitar; "Paradise Reclaimed" - BBC Bristol - solo guitar; "Tarahumara" - independent production; Various radio ads and business promotions for a Bristol production Company; Multi Screen Productions - Nuclear Power People; Multi Screen Production for The Central Office of Information.
D: Library music for Bruton Music "Happy Holidays"; Library music for Barry Blue's Library company Connect (This is ethnic drums with choppy synths punctuated with Jeff Beck style electric guitar and piano along with some atmospheric guitar pieces).
D: This was all done with a view to making a few bob but my real thing is my music for classical guitar that I write for my own satisfaction and not with a view to income. I have written a twenty five minute guitar concerto (a piece for guitar and orchestra) and I'm hoping a young guitarist will come along and have a go at it because I don't seem to be able to play it. I hope to write another 5 of these and that will be my legacy.
C: In the final pages of Adam's autobiography he lists you, amongst others, who he has frightened and upset in the past due to his manic depression. I know from my own personal experiences (as an observer) that those close to a bipolar sufferer can be pushed away during manic episodes and then he or she has to attempt to rebuild those severed bonds during times of recovery. It doesn't always work, unless those relationships and friendships are something special. Is that how you see your relationship with Adam? If not how would you describe it in the light of this comment in the book?
D: That bit made me feel quite humble, after all he's apologising for being ill which was something beyond his control. During those weeks that we rehearsed for that show I really enjoyed seeing him again and it was just like when we started off in 1970 – in a way things had gone full circle - and I think he felt the same thing.
C: And finally Dave, what message would you personally give to the online Ant fans who have continued to support him, his music, his imagery and his projects?
D: Just go on supporting him the way you did at the Bloomsbury and he will be back doing unforgettable shows. Just be patient and let him do it in his own time.
C: I'd like to take this opportunity, on behalf of adam-ant.net, cartrouble.nl and all the Ant fans reading this, to thank you for agreeing to do the interview and for the time taken to answer the questions.
Carty would like to thank:
Bon & Walt for suggesting it, Mal Peachey for setting it up, Dave Pash for agreeing to do it, Annet for spell-checking the questions, Kev for spell-checking the (un)finished page and Justin (adam-ant.net) for co-hosting it. Plus additional thanks to Kev (again), Rob, Seedy, Steve, Cork (who is from Cork), Cleo and Walt for their question ideas. And last but not least to Adam Ant for a memorable night and for not yet saying "no".