For the love of vintage music & gear: an interview with Brendan Pollard
Date: July 2020
Brendan, what made you decide to sell (most of) your vintage gear back in 2014/2015? Back in 2012 there was sadly a conglomeration of life events which led me to make that decision. It was one I honestly didn’t have to think about too much. There are plenty of people who know my wife has suffered with MS for many years and around that time the dreadful disease had an acute effect on her which meant she could no longer work and needed full time care from me and of course I also had to give up work. I couldn’t afford to keep the studio going so it made financial sense to sell up. I did keep a few things of course and friends lent me some other gear to make “Two Roads” with Javi Canovas in 2013.
When & why did you start purchasing back some of those, how did that work out? Well, in 2016 we moved house which is wheelchair-friendly for my wife. In 2017 I was lucky enough to be offered back to me three of my old modular system cabinets. I jumped at the chance as I had seriously been contemplating getting back into making some music. Fortunately I still had a few bits and pieces from the old studio so I decided to set up a new small recording studio. Next to that I thought it would be great to see if Phil Booth and Michael Daniel were interested in reforming after an 8 year rest and of course they were up for it and in July 2018 we recorded “PDB Volume Eight” on cd. Mick has been remastering all the old material and we have gradually been re-releasing this on cd.
I heard you and Jerome Ramsey met up again in 2019. How did that happen & will this result a rebirth of Rogue Element somehow?
Indeed in 2019 I asked Jerome if he fancied moving some of his gear into the new studio and to reform the old Rogue Element. He hadn’t been doing any electronic music for many years and most of his gear was in storage so it made perfect sense to join forces again. We both continue to use the old vintage equipment, Mellotron, ARP, Oberheim, along with the modular systems. Jerome has always had an in interest in the Eurorack modular scene and was amazed how far that has moved on so his system has greatly expanded now. Similarly with me I have expanded the 5U modular from 3 to 7 cabinets. During 2019 we had several get togethers mainly to get the gear all up and running and synching everything together, yep we don’t have any computers, it’s done via clock and triggers. We were just about ready to start recording properly then the Covid19 struck so we haven’t been able to get together at all.
You had some new solo/collaborative stuff in the works for a while. What can you tell about them? And what about the “Sequencerzeit” exclusive track you forwarded to the Fruit de Mer sampler “Head in the Clouds”?
I had been working on solo material in 2019 plus in 2018 there was collaboration with my old synth technician Adrian Dolente who joined me for my return to the live scene gig at the Awakenings AllDayer back in October 2018. We only rehearsed the main set just once which we actually recorded and was released as a cd-r in June 2020 as “Diffuser the Rehearsal”. We also released “Live and More” as a factory pressed cd at the same time which contains the Awakenings gig plus a studio track from me. Also after a 13 year gap since my last solo cd I released “Prologue” -which is material recorded in 2019 and 2020- again as a factory pressed cd.
During the Covid19 lock-down I got inspired by the isolation so I took time to perform a couple of Facebook Live sessions. These two recordings weren’t perfect as they contained quite some clicks, bumps, but that’s playing live. I thought it would be nice to make a little fun release with these pieces plus an alternate take, live in the studio sequencing etc. It ended up as “Isolated Passages”, available as download and cd-r.
The “Head in the Clouds” cd is due for the end of September on the Fruits de Mer. The original plan was a release in March but the dreaded Covid-19 again has had its influence. This should be a great compilation cd celebrating Krautrock and its various facets.
Do you fancy any other collaboration in the near future?
Certainly, I’m always up for collaboration as long as those involved get use to my ancient work practices. I’m still holding off going along the computer and recording software route and it’s mostly that I don’t understand any of it to be honest. There are in fact two more collaborations that have been discussed that will hopefully come to fruition.