A John Gladwin Interview
Nick Jefferson - We quite often see Blondel quoted in interviews as being an influence on other bands, but who originally inspired you to write and perform music?
John Gladwin - I suppose Robin Hood (the TV series starring Richard Greene). There were little lute-type songs interspersed throughout the program done by Elton Hayes, I believe. They seemed to be what everyone thought mediaeval/renaissance songs were all about then soundwise. I must have been about nine or ten years old and the memories of that program left an impression. When Terry and I started Blondel I listened to all sorts of early music which threw a lot more light on my previous ideas, but the Robin Hood songs still had me in their grip.
N.J. - Blondel's music has always been really difficult to categorise, which to many people is it's appeal. How would you personally describe it?
J.G. - It's English in the broadest sense. It's acoustic, we try not to sing with American accents. It's got influences from the renaissance, the baroque and even the romantic era of Byron and Shelley - and we've got one or two hummable tunes!
N.J. - It's so refreshing to see a band who have had a good degree of success a while back prepared to put their reputation on the line and produce an album of new music rather than rely on re-releases and compilations. Was the decision to record 'Restoration' a hard one to make or did it feel like simply a follow on from the last album that you recorded together?
J.G. - Once we had re-met after all those years we realised the spark was still there even before we played together again. Recording a new album was the natural next step forward. We had a lot of re-learning to do, especially studio techniques. Also, as we had not been playing the old repertoire, the new music for Restoration although still being very 'Blondel' did not have as many old Blondel influences as it might have done.
N.J. - What was the inspiration for 'Benedictus'? Presumably with a name like Coffin we aren't likely to enjoy any new lyrics from the co-writer!
J.G. - I'd always hankered after writing something for Blondel based on Gregorian chant or plainsong style, but using the classical guitars backing the vocal line. It needed to be latin and my schoolboy latin was long gone. I borrowed a book of latin verse from Adrian Hopkins who did the string arrangements on 'England', and trawled the pages for days for something that fitted the melody I'd written. Charles Coffin's verse 'O fons Amoris Spiritus' obliged. The chorus text and the bridge passage were put together by me me from a latin prayerbook. If I need any more text from Charles Coffin other than what he's already written I suppose a spiritualist meeting may have to be on the cards!!
N.J. - Was the album concieved and written as a trio, or had some of the songs been around beforehand?
J.G. - The new music was all specifically written for Restoration as a trio.
N.J. - I know you've done some gigs in the last few weeks, how have they gone?
J.G. - Absolutely great. The first gig was a sell-out three weeks beforehand and the audience were so appreciative. We sold a lot of CD's and T-shirts and spent ages after the gig signing autographs. We made lots of new Blondel converts as well.
N.J. - Had many youngsters picked up on Blondel music?
J.G. - Yes, in fact one chap brought along his daughter who I'd guess was 17-ish. He'd played her a re-issue CD and she had looked down her nose at something her dad liked when she saw the cover, but as soon as she heard the music she was hooked.
N.J. - Do you, Terry and Eddie find it as enjoyable doing the 'Blondel thing' this time round?
J.G. - I'm sure we're enjoying it equally, if not more. In a way it's more exciting cos we're almost starting afresh. The re-issues and the 2 new HTD albums have brought old and new fans to the surface. In fact today I recieved a mega-lengthy fax listing comments from fans all over the world from our web site on the internet. I never realised we'd reached the far corners of the globe.
N.J. - Is there likely to be a follow up to Restoration or was it viewed as a one-off?
J.G. - I hope there will be many more Blondel albums. We certainly feel that the next one will be better than Restoration as we're back in the groove now, especially after doing all the old material for live performances. With a bit of luck we can capitalize on the best parts of Blondel music past and present.