Steve Gray, Keith Levene and Nick Rhodes
"Emotionally and intellectually I'm a pianist, although I dabble with other keyboards. There are a lot of interesting ideas now from people who wouldn't necessarily regard themselves as pianists — I can see 'the pianist' and 'the keyboardist' coming to inhabit totally different worlds. I think I'll become more of a keyboard player, but I'll always be a pianist first."
At home: Yamaha C3 acoustic grand; Steinway upright; Rhodes Stage 73; Roland JP8; Sequential Circuits Pro-One; Sandy Rodgers harpsichord; Casio VL1. With Sky: Roland JP8; Oberheim OBXa; Oberheim OB1; Hohner Clarinet; William De Blaise harpsichord; hired grand; unknown accordion and Weltklang trumpet for comedy spot.
"The JP8 is the main polysynth, the OBXa for lead. All the programs in the JP8 are duplicated in the OBXa, so if anything goes down I'm covered — the OB1 is emergency-only stuff now. On the JP8 there's a bit more choice of waveform to originate on, on the OBXa you've only got two choices. De Blaise make harpsichords with piano-sized keys, which suits my fairly thick hands.
"I am amazed that so much is happening to synths at so little price. There's so much sensitivity in the human hand that doesn't translate through a synthesiser keyboard yet. I've never actually come across a synth that's got everything I want, but that's because I suppose I'm not even prepared to learn how to play a Fairlight or a Synclavier."
C-Ducer on piano; 'ordinary pickups' on harpsichord; rest DI.'d. JP8 or OBXa can be triggered from harpsichord keyboard.
Boss Flanger on stage.
Roland CR68; Boss DR55; "probably getting a Roland TR606".
Abbey Road/Haydn Bendall, Tony Clark. Lansdowne/Adrian Kerridge, Chris Dibble. "I also like John Kelly."
Teac A3440 4-track; Prokit mixer; mastered to cassette at present. "Most of the Accessit boxes", plus Yamaha analogue delay.
Public Image Ltd
"My role in the band is: anything I can do, I do. I really know about music, I keep changing my mind on the way I feel about it. I don't think my main thing is music, it's just one of the things I do. My main obsession at the moment is computers in relation to graphics, video or music, or all three."
Prophet-5 Rev 3.1; Moog Source; Roland MC4; Synclavier II.
"At the moment we have to settle with the Prophet for live use. The Source I like the look of, I like the one-knob approach. It's being used — we've prepared four or five tracks for the next album. When it comes to writing software for the Synclavier we're, how shall I put it, 'coming along'. We make a point of not calling in a programmer. We're gonna buy a Synclavier — we're borrowing and leasing it at the moment, it makes everything else obsolete. If I had the money I'd just buy one. Once it's programmed up it's wonderful for live use.
"There should be a lot more information on micro-technology, in general, and as applied to the music industry. We need a better 'Computer Music Journal', not written by academic people. When it comes to creative programming, I'd like to see people get hold of the hardware publicly and use it and understand it."
Sequential Circuits Poly Sequencer (to Prophet). "I don't like it that much, it reminds me of Muzak City, but we get some pretty odd sounds."
"We're more into communicating with the audience now, a live video situation. It's separate from what we do in the studio." All synths DI'd.
"We use a lot of effects: the Lexicon 224 and the UM Space Station just to mention two really good pieces of technology."
Linn LM1 drum computer.
Nick Launay at Town House 2; Nick Cook. "They completely opened up to us."
"I started with a Wasp, but I grew to take synths a bit more seriously. To me now, synths are the most interesting instruments, or I'd be playing guitar or something. I do feel they have a place, particularly in this band — we use synth as just one of five elements. I like our balance, not to tally synthetic — even though I like a lot of totally synthetic stuff."
Roland JP4; Roland JP8; Roland SH2; Yamaha CS40M; Crumar Roadrunner; Prophet-5.
"The JP4 was a great price when I bought it — it still stands out as one of the most comprehensive synths: the arpeggios are useful, and the sound of the oscillators is good. The split keyboard on the JP8 is particularly useful. I think the Crumar has a quality most string synths haven't got: the Moog tries to be too real; the Roland is too synthetic; the ARP I quite like; but the Crumar with reverb is amazing. The Prophet I'm not all that keen on at all, I'm not pleased with it.
"I'd like to see all synths compatible with each other. Polyphonic sequencers will be interesting when they're developed properly — the new Yamaha CS70M's got one in it, as has the Prophet-10, but I'm not all that impressed with any of those. There are a lot of improvements that could be made: I'd really like a nice Roland string synth, and a synth that layered sequences on top of one another — I think PPG are attempting that."
Roland CSQ100 — "The memory loss when you switch off is irritating."
"We used to DI everything; now I have my own eight-channel mixer/amp feeding JBLs."
Roland Rack including Space Echo, Phaser, "I'm especially fond of the MXR Flanger, mainly on the JP4".
Air 1; Chipping Norton. Colin Thurston (producer) engineers too: "He has a lot of patience with experimentation."
"Only a Revox" at home, but band's Birmingham HQ, called the Rum Runner, is suitably equipped.
Feature by Tony Bacon
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