Dale Newman Interview

Dale Playing Live (Photo Copyright TEJ)
Dale Playing Live (Photo Copyright TEJ)

TEJ: Have you thought of a title for your next album?

DN: No is the answer to that question. I’ve had some ideas in and out of my mind.

TEJ: What inspired you to write this current album that you’ve been working on?

DN: Being alive… You know. I get ideas and it’s just a case of whether I take the time to pick up a guitar or hit a keyboard and make the sound and record it.
I can’t stop getting the ideas.

TEJ: Have you used any of the musicians that guested on Cubed, on this project?

DN: Keith Blundell’s played drums on a couple of songs, but it would be wrong to refer to this as an album or anything like that, because after Cubed I probably won’t do another album, per say, because it takes money to do that.

TEJ: And, obviously, as you’re not signed to a record label…

DN: Yeah, nobody’s interested in me, is a more blunt way of putting it.
The reason why I did Cubed was ‘cos I happened to have enough money around at the time and because the band offered to allow me to list it on the Genesis website.
It was generally thought that enough Genesis fans would buy it out of interest, loyalty and stroke, whatever would recoup my investment.

DN: That was the tangible reason. The intangible reason for doing Cubed was like I said, I had enough money to do it at the time, but I could do it and I felt for once in my life I should do a CD properly. Cathy, who was the original website designer, offered to do the artwork and she encouraged me to go for it.
Other people (I’m not going to name names), said “it sounds great, you should do it”.

TEJ: Regarding your back catalogue, ‘The Eyes Have It’ and ‘The Little Things That Matter’…are they out of print now?

DN:Well, I wish somebody would get them because there must be boxes of them somewhere. I never sold more than a box or two. Helmut Janisch at Decision Products, that’s who you need to get in touch with Helmut, is a guy from IT (A German Genesis Fanzine).

TEJ: When you supported The Musical Box, what did you play and how did it feel?

DN: I would have played; ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, ‘Anyway’ and ‘Ice Cream Soldier’. I can’t think of the others. It was educational.
This is why I need to do another CD, because by doing those gigs, I discovered that I couldn’t play my own songs. I knew that anyway,
but I had no reins on me in the studio. I could do whatever I wanted because I wasn’t playing them live.
I didn’t have any expectation of playing them live.

DN: I had a quite unrealistic dream that some band somewhere would pick ‘em up and play them live, so I could get away with doing anything…
…but then when I actually got a gig I realised that I couldn’t play for several reasons. One of which, was that I’d never actually played them before.
They were put together like building blocks and the guitar was certainly not the central instrument on a lot of them.
I couldn’t go off on these long instrumental passages, because it’s just me and a guitar and so I learned two lessons.
One, was that the songs wouldn’t just stand up on an acoustic guitar, ‘cos I couldn’t play it, so I had to re-arrange ‘em,
and the other lesson was that if I did re-arrange them the songs did stand up and they did work. So it had an immediate effect on my writing.
I immediately started writing in a manner that I could reproduce live. It just came naturally.
I had the experience of a few gigs, but I had that behind me which affects the way you do things.

TEJ: How did you come to opening for The Musical Box?

DN: Er… because they’re very anal about Genesis! I say that with a smile on my face guys!
I think originally they probably sent me some questions, like these guys do… about which fuzz tone was used on the middle guitar part in some song in 1974.
Somebody was in contact with Peter Gabriel, probably their manager, Serge, and I got an e-mail, either from the office or Peter, or copied to both of us,
but Peter expressed some interest in aiding them to do The Lamb show.
The Lamb show was the first tour I worked on.

DN: I’m the only one around here who goes back that far, so I was sort of vaguely aware of what was happening from that and then
Tony Smith was here one day and was lamenting that The Lamb had never been filmed or anything like that…”too bad we don’t have the slideshow”.
I just said, “Well, but we do” he looked at me and said,
“What do you mean?”.
I said, “Well, we have the slides”. and he said
“Well I’ve been looking for those for years” and I said “Well, you asked the wrong person”,
‘cos you know we have buildings full of stuff here and I just happened to know where the slides were and nobody had ever said to me “do you know where The Lamb slides are?”,
and so from that we did a deal with those guys so that they could use the slides to make copies of, and that gave it authenticity for them. And they helped us by putting it in the right order, ‘cos nobody here would sit down and do that.

DN: I got to know them via e-mail that way, through a couple of intermediaries.
And then when they were rehearsing at Chid Club, they invited me down, and so as a gesture of goodwill I mentioned it to Mike,
“Why don’t you come down with me for five minutes and say Hello? What do you think?”. He went “Yeah”, so we went down
They’re nice guys, I get on with them quite well. I think they do as good a job as anybody can. I let ‘em see the studio, just because of their interest in Genesis, and then the next thing I knew, Serge e-mailed me, some time later…
”What’re you up to?” and I said “Well, I’ve started playing live” and they said “Well, we’ve got a couple of gigs in the UK, do you want to open for us?” and so I opened for them. It’s that simple.

TEJ: Were the gigs recorded?

DN: Yes. I have a very good DVD of Montreal.

TEJ: Any plans to release this in the future?

DN: Somebody else would have to organise that. The problem with playing solo live is that by about the fourth song, you need a something just to lift it up a little bit and unless you’re Bob Dylan singing all those songs, although the audience was great, I fell a little bit flat on the fourth, fifth and sixth songs, just because I had nowhere further to go. I have videos of most of the gigs I’ve done which is only about four or five but the later gigs I made backing tracks to the newer songs which are more bandy sounding. I have backing tracks of just the bass, drums and string parts. And that works. That’s all I need. It takes it up to that next step and gives the audience something to listen to.

TEJ: And obviously you enjoyed that thoroughly?

DN: Yeah.

TEJ: Would you do it again?

DN: Yeah.

TEJ: The Musical Box are touring in England in April this year, aren’t they?

DN: Yeah, well, I’ve been waiting for the phone to ring…

TEJ: Going back to Genesis…you opened some gigs in 1978 with a gentleman called Dan Owen. What are your memories of that? How did it come about?

DN: Dan Owen was an old friend of mine and I got him on tour as my assistant because it was the first year of the guitarist playing bass as well.
Steve left and so Daryl came in. Mike played more guitar so Daryl was going to be playing some bass, which sort of means that you’ve got two full bass and guitar rigs.
Dan was my old playing and singing partner back in Indiana. We were good.

DN: In the middle of the tour, Genesis was playing Pine knob in Chicago, Merriwether Post Pavillion, near DC, and Saratoga Springs
and they needed an opening act which they hadn’t had and we were there.
We used to sing through the PA before and/or after soundcheck and mess around in the hotel room… My hotel’s used to be the in the boring cities…
that was the place where three or four other roadies would come because I’d always be playing the guitar.
We played terribly the first night. The best thing we did was in Montreal We played Montreal,
the city before Chicago or a couple of days before and so without Craig Schertz knowing,
the monitor engineer, M L Procise, Dan and I went into the Montreal Forum early, cranked up the PA and Dan and I rehearsed for about forty five minutes.

DN: We rehearsed our set in an empty Montreal Forum and it was brilliant. It sounded fantastic.
Chicago was first, we didn’t play particularly well. Dan had some difficulty handling working as a roadie and then performing at the same time.
I didn’t have that problem. By that time I was like a seasoned pro. He was a little more of a perfectionist than me.
He was a lot more of a perfectionist than me. The band was great.
Phil introduced us, we went down OK, but we didn’t play very well. In fact we didn’t play very well until the last one.
I think we did five shows… I think it was three places, but five shows.
The last one, we had some problems with the gear and it was so hectic.

DN: It was like that with Genesis if you were a band roadie.
If you had problems with the lights then everything gets shoved back and so everything gets shoved back,
which means the band gear doesn’t get opened until too late,
then you gotta rush round, get the band gear up for soundcheck… and that’s what happened.
We were running late. Dan used to like to rehearse and I didn’t.
I liked to have run through’s and then do it. Dan used to like to tune up for, two hours and I didn’t.
I’d tune up and go. And on that night it was so hard with Genesis that we got them sound checked,
and then we had to go backstage, literally change T-shirts and then go on ’cos as soon as they had the crowd in, we went on.
I stayed away from Dan, ‘cos I had a feeling that he wasn’t going to go on because of that.
It only took about twenty minutes for them to fill the auditorium and I would just go and get him and say,
“We’re on”…and we went out and we did well and we played well and the crowd responded and it was great.
The bigger the gig, the better. The smaller the gig the more difficult it is.
It’s easier to play to two thousand people than to twenty-five.

TEJ: Were any of these shows recorded?

DN: I have no idea. We might find out when we go through these board tapes.

TEJ: Which brings nicely up to date. The Genesis Webmaster has announced that you and Geoff are in the process of digitising the board tapes at the moment.
Are you able to tell us anything more about it?

DN: Well, that’s what’s happening, but that’s about all there is to say about it. I can’t speculate at all.

TEJ: More recently, you were spotted at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in September last year, at The Mechanics gig…

DN: Yeah. I was driving the truck!

TEJ: Was that for the only for that gig?

DN: No. When Mike goes out, I’m asked to do little bits and pieces.
Mike often will ask me to drive him to gigs, when they’re in this country, so I’m always sort of around on the fringes of Mechanics.
I’m not his live guitar roadie any more. I do stuff here and I help out if they have an acoustic gig, then I’ll go do those.
They had these two gigs in East Germany… Eastern Germany, (I should say now) and the tour manager kind of jokingly said,
“Oh well, they said I should ask you to drive the truck out”. I thought about it and I thought “Well, I can drive a seven tonner”.
We looked into it and it was decided that that was probably the most economical way to solve this problem, getting this gear out there
and so I hopped in a truck when they had these two gigs and drove it out to a place called Schwern,
which is East of Hamburg and then down to Dobeln overnight and then all the way back to do Shepherd’s Bush.

DN: I didn’t manage to scratch the car until I got back to London! I found truck driving very easy in Germany and not so easy in Britain, but that’s probably another issue.
And, so, yeah… that was it… It was just two gigs.
To hire a trucking company was not cost effective, but to ask Dale to do it was.
Story of my life! I was there all day. The truck drivers role is to get the back of the truck to the load ramp at the right time in the morning and be back there at the right time after the gig and between those things they don’t have a lot to do.
I was like the extra pair of hands, which was not really required.
Geoff had his recording thing together, Bison had the gear together, but I had nowhere to go, I was in town with the truck all day, but it was great ’cos they don’t do that many gigs now.

TEJ: What do you do when you’re not here or playing gigs? I’ve read in various interviews that you’ve done that you like to play golf…

DN: I have played a lot of golf, but I’m not in my golf mode at the moment.

TEJ: What is your handicap like?

DN: Er…we won’t talk about that!

TEJ: You’re a fan of baseball as well, if I recall…

DN: I’m a Chicago White Sox fan.

TEJ: Do you play?

DN: I was a baseball player.

TEJ: Really? Tell us more about that.

DN: Yeah. I was a good baseball player and I played in the British Baseball Federation. I played outfield at The Oval one day.
I played in the best team in Britain one year, when I was about forty years old and everybody else was twenty-three, twenty-four.
I used to play every Sunday for seven or eight years, maybe more.
I was drilled at baseball when I was very young, so I missed that one…
I didn’t find out ‘till I was about thirty-eight that I could have been a professional baseball player, I was very good.
Who knows, if I’d have been in America, where the baseball standard is much higher, maybe I wouldn’t have stuck out so much.
There’s nothing like hitting a baseball. Hitting a golf ball is nothing like as good as hitting a baseball.
In fact I played golf because I couldn’t play baseball any more.

TEJ:Why did you quit baseball and move onto golf?

DN:I got to old to play baseball and I started injuring ankles and things. it was a pain to organise nine people to get on a diamond.
With golf you can go out all by yourself, that’s why I played it, ‘cos I could play it by myself and there’s a golf course right up here,
a good drive away from The Farm and so I could go up there and play in the evenings,
but that closed and so it’s not so convenient.
I did get to an eighteen handicap at one point, so that was as good as I got. I thought I was going to play par golf in five years, ‘cos I thought par meant average.

TEJ: Do you have any memories from the time George Harrison was here?

DN: George was here for a couple of days working on a Gary Brooker album. I got to spend a couple of hours with him alone, which was fantastic.
He needed to go somewhere and I was trying to explain to him how to get there and he just said “Well, can you come with me?” and I dropped everything and climbed in his Porsche and went over with him.
We had a talk on the way there and on the way back. Yeah we had some laughs.
I even changed his string. We had a great time.

TEJ: George Harrison’s guitar tech for the day….

DN: For a day, yeah. Well, for about ten minutes actually.

TEJ: Are you gigging any time soon?

DN: I’m ready. Anybody got a gig for me, call me. I’m ready. I’m rehearsed and ready to go.

TEJ: So contact your webmaster I take it.

DN: Yes. I’m ready.

TEJ: And you’re rehearsing every day?

DN: I rehearse every day. I’ve got a forty-five minute set that could be stretched to an hour if people are good.

TEJ: And you do cover versions as well?

DN: I do a few Paul Simon’s. I do Graceland, I might do a couple of Beatles songs, I do a sort of a ballady version of Here Comes The Sun, and I do a rather good Scarborough Fair.

TEJ: Who would you be interested in supporting?

DN: I’d be interested in supporting anybody. Anywhere people will listen, I would like to play. Well you tell everybody out there. I’m ready. I’m waiting by the phone.
I need an agent! I wanna be the opening act. One of those painless ones that comes in with a guitar, does forty minutes and then he’s out of the way, which is good for bands, you know…’cos you’re not shifting stuff around…

And with that Dale drew the interview to a close. Thanks to Dale for taking the time out to speak to me.