After reviewing Return, the first release in 30 years from East Anglian proggers  Airbridge, Sam Ham wanted to know more, so we packed her off to talk to them.

First off, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me. And I would like to also extend an apology to Lorenzo. I made a mistake during my typing I put your name as ‘Lorenza’ in my review instead of ‘Lorenzo’. Sorry about that!

Now for a little back story. Lorenzo Bedini and Sean Godfrey started off in 1980, debuting in 1983 with “Paradise Moves”.  After the addition of Stephen J. Bennett, they released one more single and that was it for thirty years. After doing numerous side projects and keeping in contact, Lorenzo and Sean got back together with a new drummer, Dave Dowdeswell-Allaway.

(((o))): Were you guys nervous about getting back together and starting over again?

Dave Dowdeswell-Allaway (DDA) – Not in the slightest. In fact, it felt extremely natural playing with these two. With any new venture comes uncertainty but, for me, I like that challenge and the creativity that follows.

Sean Godfrey (SG) – Once we started rehearsing it was fine; then when we played the first gig [2012] I was a bit nervous until we played the first few bars, and then it was grand. Although I clearly remember us selling out the Marquee Club [1982 & 1983] I still was nervous until we got underway.

Lorenzo Bedini (LB) – Not at all, except for a few moments before the first gig- that worrying question: Will people still like us after all these years? What are their expectations versus the about-to-unfold reality? But once we got going it was a breeze.

 

(((o))): How did you, Dave, come to join these two in their journey?

DDA – I first met Sean in 1979, then Lorenzo in 1981. From February 1982 to November 1983 I was the live sound engineer for Airbridge and enjoyed an intense period of gigging and touring as well as studio time. I’d been playing piano since age 5, guitar since age 9, and hitting cushions with knitting needles since Cozy Powell hit the charts with ‘Dance with the Devil’ in 1974. But, as a musician, I didn’t gain my confidence until my early 30s when I formed a couple of bands and started gigging in the north-west of England. Having lived in various places for 27 years, I returned “home” to Norwich, met up with Sean, talked music, played him some of my recordings and he suggested that I join he and Lor in a new version of Airbridge. I jumped at the chance and am so glad that I did.

 

(((o))): Now you, Sean and Lorenzo, went on to do your own thing after AIRBRIDGE initially broke up. What was that like for each of you?

SG – Airbridge was very different after Lorenzo left: the writing process was very different and the whole sound changed with it. After Airbridge split I formed La Host with Stephen J. Bennett [Henry Fool, No Man], and Fudge Smith [Pendragon, Steve Hackett], and Mark Spencer [Twelfth Night]. After La Host I tried various other bands but, in truth, stopped enjoying playing music until I got back together with Lor.

LB – I felt directionless, to be honest. I think that was where the inspiration for Quiet Sky came from. I remember feeling that I was sinking into a quagmire of middle class mediocrity.

 

(((o))): Lorenzo, your opening song, ‘Return the Light’, I stated in my review that I wanted to ask you the inspiration behind it. Was the song meant to be religious?

LB – I work at a psychiatric care home, and on my first Christmas there I was asked to entertain the residents with my guitar. “Sing a few Christmas songs”, they said. I only knew three, so I hurriedly wrote one of my own. It’s about that time of year that has had a special significance for the inhabitants of the Northern hemisphere since long before the birth of Christ: the return of the light after the winter solstice. In spite of these celebrations having been hijacked first by Christianity, and later by the consumerist markets, somehow something of its ancient magic remains.

 

(((o))): Dave, you penned “Who Pays the Ferryman?” and I wanted to say that it has been one of my favorite songs in a long time. I happened to listen to it not but a couple of weeks after my 16-year-old brother-in-law’s funeral. And it made me quite emotional. What inspired you to pen this song?

DDA – Firstly, Sam, I’m sad to hear about your b-i-l: a tragedy to lose someone so young. Thank you, however, for validating my reason for writing music. I write to express what I feel, and most of my songs have a strong autobiographical focus. If someone else is affected by my music then my job is done. ‘Who Pays the Ferryman?’ is a song of hope and, I believe, a song of reality. I have worked as a therapist for many years and my experience tells me that many people struggle and rage against the world as if “the world” has to pay for how they feel. The truth that I have noticed is really that we pay with our pain, with our love, with our rage, with our kindness. All there ever is, is here and now … is the time to be happy. It never ceases to amaze me at how much people will cling to their anger and/or pain, terrified of what they may become if they were to let it go. This song is about letting go.

 

(((o)))Lorenzo, you commented on my review that you didn’t really care for your vocals on “To Absent Friends”. To be honest, your vocals weren’t bad, it really just didn’t blend with the backing music. Is there any song, on either this album or your original, that either you, Sean or Dave, felt could have been better?

DDA – “Better”, now there’s a tricky word. For me, we have the music, the playing of the music, and then we have the recording of the music. Musically, I love all four songs on the EP and wouldn’t want to change a thing about them. As for playing, I’m always improving, looking for new techniques, striving to express myself. I can play better now than I could when we recorded and I hope that is always the case. The recording aspects are at the mercy of time and money. We were able to record some of the parts in Lorenzo’s home studio using Cubase, and we were very fortunate to have access to the main recording studio at the University of East Anglia, courtesy of Stephen J. Bennett [Deputy Head of the School of Music, former keyboard player with Airbridge, LaHost, and currently playing with Henry Fool, and No Man]. I had very little studio experience and so, if any aspects of the ep could be better I’d say my drumming and the time spent in the studio coupled with the quality of our home-recording equipment.

SG – Well, recording wise, because I’m more of a “live” player, recordings never quite match the way I perceive a track to be, but I continue to strive to reach that perfection. I’m really happy that ‘Return’ encompasses the raw feeling of the band.

LB – At a time when it cost £15,000 (about $20,000) to record a cheap album, we recorded Paradise Moves for £240. Needless to say, there were a number of ideas that couldn’t be put into practice on that budget! On the other hand, Return is a much more accomplished recording. The vocals on To Absent Friends could have been better, but you can’t have everything.

 

(((o))): Sean, I don’t think I happened to really go into what you were doing between 1983 and now. Would you care to share some of what you have been doing before you guys got back together to make this amazing EP?

SG – Musically, I was involved in various bands and projects but after a few years I withdrew from the music industry and focused on working on other commitments.

 

(((o))): Lorenzo, during the last song, you say that it always seemed that someone was with you. Was this like you always felt like God was with you?

LB – I’m not a particularly religious person. Spiritual, maybe. This song might reflect the notion of what Jung would have called the ‘higher self’; that part of us that watches us as if from a distance, and sometimes comes to our rescue when one of life’s wheels comes off. Or perhaps it is God… or Allah… Buddha… a ghost. The answer is in the ear of the listener. I like people to make up their own minds. That song is enigmatic and I don’t want to spoil the enigma.

 

(((o))): You guys should be so proud of where you have come from to where you are now, not that I have to tell you that obviously. You guys have exuded the true nature of patience and determination. What is your secret? (laugh) But seriously, how in the world have you guys come back from thirty years ago to be this amazing?

DDA – (Blushing) That’s very kind of you, Sam. I’m really the “new kid on the block” in that I’ve only been involved in writing and performing music for 14 years. You need to ask these two really serious fellows.

SG – My continued love for music, I never lost that, and working with some extremely good musicians. Initially, it was hearing ‘Quiet Sky’ that got me back into it. Lor played it to me and I thought it was brilliant and that definitely tipped the scales for me and made me want to play again. He and I started writing again and it went from there.

LB – Sean, and later my brother Alessandro, showed me that Paradise Moves was selling for over £150 on the net (remember it cost only £240 to record!). If there was that much interest in something that I had thought consigned to my distant past, perhaps it should be revived. It would have been rude to say ‘No’.  Also, having in the interim, lived a bit more life – which often is nothing like you think it will be; things feel very different when they actually happen – I had so much more to write about. Also, I never stopped writing songs, so when we did reform I, and the others, had a backlog of material from which we could cherry pick.

 

(((o))): What can we expect from AIRBRIDGE in the future?

DDA – Well, we have a live set that is over 2hrs long, so we’ve plenty of material all ready to be laid down in the studio. Last winter we had a short writing period and so we have four new songs that need to be polished off and added to the “to be recorded” list. Add to that, the re-working of Lorenzo’s songs, my songs, and music that Sean and I have worked on and we’ll not be short of music to come. We’re building up our live performances and it looks like we’ll be getting into the excellent festival circuit in the UK next year, and we are organizing a short European tour for the summer of 2014 with dates in, at least, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, and Italy. If we had the chance to come over to the States and tap into the fine musical tastes of those that enjoy ‘Echoes and Dust’ then I’m sure that we’d jump at the chance!

SG – Certainly I’m looking forward to playing more gigs and recording a full album, with other associated projects in the pipeline connected to music. I’m excited and optimistic, very optimistic about the future of the band.

LB – Nothing. Nothing at all. It’s way passed my bedtime. Where’s my cocoa? What’s happened to my slippers? Aaaaaghhh!!!!!!!!!!

 

(((o))): When do you expect you guys will be releasing another album with your amazing new trio?

DDA – We are going to release a full album in 2014 and are in conversation with a few labels interested in supporting that.

SG – I agree with Dave, that is the aim and we’ll make it happen.

LB – We have got the beginnings of new recordings already on the way. The outcome of the ‘Return’ recording project and the positive response to it paves the way to a promising future.

 

(((o))): Is there anything you guys would like to say to everyone out there?

DDA – I’d love to hear from folk, get some feedback, find out what we share, so please join us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AirbridgeOriginal), and support our investment into new recordings by downloading, or ordering a cd copy of ‘Return’ (www.airbridgeprog.bandcamp.com ). Finally, since we’ve already paid our way, you know all that “stuff” that can consume your sleeping and waking thoughts? Let it go, and notice how different the world can become J

SG – I don’t want to make this too cheesy, but thank you for your support and loyalty, we’ll do our very best to come up with the goods.

LB – Thanks for listening!

 

(((o))): I want to thank you guys for taking the time answer my questions, and I really hope that you guys release more albums for years to come. Because I can’t get enough of AIRBRIDGE.

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