JL: Did you ever get to play the Marquee?
DW: Yes, the band regularly headlined at the old Wardour St. premises before the unsuccessful move to Charring Cross Rd. I remember my Marquee debut with the band in 1985 was the same night as the dreadful Tottenham riots were happening a few miles down the road.
JL: You were one of the first bands to produce a vinyl LP ”Fire in the Sky” – How did that come together? And what were the band’s hopes and dreams upon its release?
DW: Well I'd have to give full credit to Keith Turner as I had no part in it- but I know how hugely motivated Keith was, as well as being very talented in numerous diverse areas in addition to music, and that he had put the band back together from scratch many times after a lot of personnel changes. Some excellent players had been and gone, including one line up with The 'Unknown' John Clarke on guitar (who left to join 'Bruford') and fusion drummer Steve Clark, which line-up Keith has a scorching live recording of- though I'm not sure it was hurtling in the direction Keith would have wanted! By the time I auditioned, the line up from the F.I.T.S album had changed quite a bit yet Keith remained undaunted in his mission.
JL: There was a bit of a gap and the next I heard from the band was when you sent me a copy of the Loreli CD…I think it was the first CD I ever got actually…still have it. Tracey was singing with you then. What was happening with the band at that time?
DW: The band had a new lease of life at that point, now having a fully committed vocalist, as the previous singer Sue Robinson had been in the process of leaving for some time, coming back to do the odd gig here and there, and we were now getting more interest and gigs from abroad, and The Loreli album was finally released- after the third attempt to get it down satisfactorily- the previous two attempts being scrapped, although the second attempt with singer Nick Williams, and titled 'Forgotten Dreams' is my favorite of the three oddly enough. We were feeling at this point that anything was possible!
JL: You played on another one of my favorite CD’s – Janison Edge – Services of Mary Goode – Was that a one-off…what happened?
DW: I tend to think of a lot of the projects I get involved with are just that- projects, rather than a band as such- by which I don't mean to belittle or undervalue them in any way, but times have changed and it's hard to get serious funding for so many good ventures like Janison Edge, which I'm very proud of being involved with, and I'm sure it's creators, Mike Varty and his partner Sam, have always had it in their minds for it to be an on-going thing. Mike's involved with do many things at present he's barely got time to sleep but I'm sure he'll get round to a sequel one day!
JL: I usually ask prog band’s if the music is the prime source of income or whether there are other day jobs paying the bills…now when I go to your website you seem to be always busy…drums for hire so to speak…is music your full time gig? Who or what are you currently involved in?
DW: Well, music has been my main source of income for long time but not from playing prog. My main 'day job' at present is with Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash, but before I joined them nearly four years ago, drum teaching around colleges and schools in London was my main source, but MTWA's busy touring schedule made the teaching too erratic to be maintained. Another on-going project- though it has taken a bit of a sabbatical in recent years-is with Oliver Wakeman's band, which got a bit sidelined due to his involvement with Yes and The Strawbs, and now he's busy with Gordon Giltrap, but hopefully after that we can do his next solo album. One of the more recent side projects I was involved with, and which I was very pleased with the way it turned out, was an album with the guitarist from Keith Emerson's old band 'The Nice' - Davy O' List. He had Andy Tillison from The Tangent on keys and Paul Brown from Oliver's band on bass. Though it's still not released yet as far as I know. In between gaps in Landmarq's schedule over the years I've squeezed in some recording or touring with Ken Hensley, John Wetton, The Illegal Eagles (tribute) and a long association with Iranian musician Cyrus Khajavi and his wonderful East meets West project 'Kooch'
Dave Wagstaffe has been on my list of people to interview for a long time. After all he's been beating the skins for prog bands since the early eighties. I finally connected and here's what he had to say.
Jerry Lucky: Your progressive rock music career goes back the heyday of the early eighties prog-rock revival and the band Quasar. What are your memories of that time?
Dave Wagstaffe: It was quite a while before Quasar when I started playing in bands with leanings towards 'prog'. In 1969 I was playing in one of my first outfits called 'Second Sight' - who rocketed to even further obscurity shortly after their demise- mercifully perhaps, but we played mostly covers of bands like The Nice, Tull, Cream and Hendrix, and some of our own offerings in a similar vein. In those days the term 'Progressive' seemed to be aimed at bands that played extended solos and didn't play straight down the line rock and roll songs, but tried to be more adventurous in their arrangements, and that included bands that came from a more 'classical' background like The Nice (pre ELP), a more folk background like Fairport Convention or Pentangle, a more jazzy one like Colosseum or Soft Machine, blues based bands like Ten Years After, Cream, Taste, Zeppelin etc., to the more 'Arty' cum psychedelic bands like Floyd. I was a huge fan of many of these bands at that time, covering a wide spectrum of styles, though these days the term prog seems rather more specific and stylised. However, I always gravitated towards playing with bands with these leanings and that most friends and family considered 'too weird' - usually followed by a comment such as ' You'll never get anywhere playing that sort of stuff- you've got to give 'em what they want'- (and then for good measure) 'and why don't you all smile a bit more!' In retrospect, not too inaccurate!
When I first came down to London in1971 I was recommended to Patrick Moraz by Tom Jones’ old guitarist to try out for Patrick's new band called 'Mainhorse', who put me, and no doubt lots of other hopefuls, through their paces, but unfortunately I didn't get the gig- and when I eventually heard their album and the fantastic drumming of Bryson Graham who did get it, I realized why! I was also one of about 100 drummers who auditioned for Pete Bank's new band 'Flash', after he left Yes, but I guess they weren't too impressed with my attempts at the time to try and sound like Tony Williams, being unfazed as I was by my comparative lack of talent and ability! They more sensibly plumped for the disciplined style of the very underrated Mike Hough.
I eventually formed a band with bassist Mick Pearl called 'Argus' - the name stolen unashamedly from the Wishbone Ash album, and whilst I did try and steer it in a more proggy direction, that's not very apparent listening now to the album the band made which is mainly blues - rock, and touring with bands like Thin Lizzy and Pink Fairies. After that came a more jazz rock type band called 'Anaconda', modelled very badly on one of my fave bands of all time 'Return to Forever' - who I'm sure wouldn't be most people's idea of prog at all- but for myself, I never really separated bands who played busy, more complex and heavily instrumental music along with good musicianship- I just lumped them all altogether, as in the case of RTF who are basically jazz musicians.
JL: When you formed Quasar were you fully aware of the prog revival going on?
DW: When I bumped into Quasar in 1985; they had already been active since 1978, - formed and held together by bassist Keith Turner- so I missed out on their debut 'Fire in The Sky' - which I would have loved to have played on, which, despite the limited production the band could afford, I think it's a classic album - more so than the second album that I played on, along with future Landmarq singer Tracy. I don't recall being aware of a prog revival at that time as to me it had never gone away, and not being one to listen to the charts or anything vaguely current! The band made a huge impact on me at the audition and I thought 'I've got to join these guys'. It was the first band in which I felt something special, and to which I devoted all my energies for the next five and a half years till it imploded. I'm pleased to see Keith has now resurrected the band in his new home of San Francisco.