From The Vault: Roye Albrighton

Interview and photos by John A. Wilcox

This story starts in 2009. I had sent Nektar's Roye Albrighton a set of questions to coincide with the just released live album Fortyfied. Roye promptly responded to my questions and the interview can be found elsewhere on the site! Normally, that would be the end of the story. Flash forward to February 12, 2011. I check my email and I have an email from Albrighton answering the same set of questions again. Differently. Perhaps he forgot that he'd already answered the questions 2 years earlier? I never found out. With his tragic passing in 2016, I thought it might now be the time to give Nektar fans a treat. Here is that alternate interview. Enjoy!

PS: Were you the first musician in your family, or did you have relatives that played as well?

RA: At a very early age my father used to go 'round the local pubs playing piano and me being so young would follow him for bags of potato crisps and bottles of pop.(soft drinks). This went on for several years and while I appreciated how my father played it was still pub playing whereas the left had nothing to do musically with the right.
My brother on the other hand played harmonica and was really good at it and because he was a television technician he often picked up things on his travels and one day brought home a beat up old Spanish guitar that I stole from him and that's how it all started.

PS: What was the first guitar you ever bought, and what made you choose that model?

RA: First guitar was a Hofner Galaxy with more switches and knobs and jazzy pearl work all over it..but a neck like a Robin Hood long bow. It didn't take me long to realize there were better things out the next one was a Hohner acoustic but it was just an acoustic (electric guitars were still out of my price range). My brother who was a television engineer/amateur radio enthusiast had a pair of field throatphones that they used for walkie/talkies..all I did was stick them to the belly of the guitar and wire it to an old tape deck my mother had and..hey presto!!!! my first electric guitar.

PS: Who were your guitar heroes as a youth?

RA: Aaaaa so many..I loved the Shadows and the Ventures and all those guitar bands, the American blues greats..but then Mr Hendrix arrived on the scene and that was it. It was like the door had been opened on what was possible on the guitar. The fascinating thing about these old players was that each has his own distinctive could tell immediately who it was that was playing the instrument.
I really miss those days of musicians trying something new for the hell of it.

PS: Fortyfied is a very powerful live document of Nektar on the road. How did you decide which songs you were taking on the road for that tour? What were the criteria?

RA: We basically play what you hear on Fortyfied at every show, sometimes we have to shorten it because of time constraints, but normally it is a 2 hour 20 minute show. It's when the promoter comes up to you 5 minutes before you step out onto the stage and says " make this set 45 minutes" that's a mind blower when most of our songs are on average 15 minutes long.

PS: Nektar's always been noted for having great players, and the current line up is surely no exception. Where did you come across your new keyboardist, Klaus Henatsch, and what about him made you feel he was Nektar material?

RA: I have known Klaus from before when we played Germany and when our last keyboardist (Tom Hughes) decided to leave and pursue his own career, I called on Klaus to see if he would be into working with us, I also asked if he knew of a bassist too that might be able to do the job as Randy Dembo was wanting to leave too due to other commitments.
As it was when Klaus turned up for rehearsals so did Peter Pichl with his 5 string bass. We leapt into the first half of Recycled and then Tab In The Ocean and I knew these guys were right for the job.

PS: What do you feel Ron Howden brings in to the Nektar sound?

RA: As you know Ron and I have been Nektar from the very beginning, musically we think very much alike and can communicate onstage far quicker than any musicians I have ever known. Ron's style of drumming is totally unique and solid as a rock and brings into the Nektar style of music something that no other drummer is able to: "class"

PS: In the 70s, FM radio played the heck out of Nektar. With more strictly formatted and more overtly commercial radio ruling the airwaves, how do you reach the new ears out there?

RA: Yes the 70's were a great time for new breaking bands no less NEKTAR. These days the night owls of WNEW and the KSHE are no longer playing what the DJ likes, moreover what the station are told to play. It all evolves around how much you are prepared to spend on least the internet is a form of cheap promotion..which kind of strangles grass roots music

PS: What elements do you feel elevate a good song into a great song?

RA: Many years ago I tried to answer myself this be honest..I still don't know..I have heard mega production music that never made it..I heard bands recorded in garages with just 2 mics that became a so monotonous that it bored me to tears and fabulous arrangements that did nothing.
I think it best to be honest with your music and whatever comes out of you fingers or your throat..don't try to make it sound like something's yourself.

PS: Speaking of great songs, can you give me the stories behind a few from the Nektar catalogue? Let's start with Do You Believe In Magic?

RA: Basically as the song was lost and then found again for one reason or if by Magic.

PS: Always.

RA: An extreme love song, this was written with past memories still implanted in my head..(if there's a heaven why can't it be there inside YOU?)

PS: That's Life.

RA: The trials and tribulations of life..sometimes it works and sometimes not..whichever way it goes (that's life).

PS: And, finally, Little Boy.

RA: This song was written for my son who at the time was about 5 years old and can be seen on the middle gatefold in front of me on Down To Earth. I enjoy very much playing this song when I do an acoustic show.

PS: Speaking of the Down To Earth album, how did Robert Calvert come to be involved in it?

RA: At the time of writing this album we wanted the circus feel to be present and of course along with the elephants and astral man we needed a ringmasters voice. Robert was introduced to us through Hawkwind and his input and crazy takes on the ringmaster having a German accent just completely floored us in the studio..he was a great guy.

PS: What is the lyrical thread behind the Book Of Days album? What inspired it?

RA: Book Of Days is a collection of songs depicting modern day planet Earth and our catastrophic demands upon her. Ranging from The Iceman through to Over Krakatoa each song has it's own take on what we are doing to Mother Earth.

PS: In the late 70s, you were part of a very interesting project called Snowball. How did you come to hook up with Curt Cress & how was he to work with as a player?

RA: I had already left Nektar and was looking around for something else. At the same time Curt Cress/Dave King and Kristian Schultze were looking for a rock guitarist/singer to join them to record an album called Defroster. I thought it would be a good idea and so we set about recording it. Curt/Dave and Kristian were all exceptional musicians and it was a pleasure to work with them on that project.

PS: What can we expect next from Nektar in the studio?

RA: This is the question everyone asks..even we don't you know every Nektar record is different and no doubt this will be no exception.

PS: What is your current live set-up?

RA: I guess this is where everyone expects hoards of effect pedals..towers of racks and dozens of guitars on the stage..but no not me. To this day I still use a 335 semi and a Marshall JCM800 an old echo unit and the mandatory wah pedal..pretty boring really.

PS: Some 40 years later, what keeps Nektar vital and interesting to you?

RA: Firstly the fans who insist we don't give is the composition of the music..the excitement is in the writing and experimenting..what comes out at the end is what comes out..we just love it.

PS: Finally, please tell me 6 CDs you never get tired of listening to.

RA: Difficult one this but I'll have a go:

Beatles - Abbey Road
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
Genesis - ... And Then There Were Three
Holst - The Planets
Yes - Close To The Edge
David Sancious And Tone


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