Ray Shulman interview in Q magazine
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Ray Shulman was interviewed by Q magazine (UK) in 2004, in their special issue on progressive rock, Q Classic, The Ultimate Collectors Edition, "Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock."
Gentle Giant's bassist wrestles with brotherly love and the curse of the concept album.
- What do you think of Octopus when you listen to it today?
- It was probably our best album, with the exception, perhaps of Acquiring the Taste. We started with the idea of writing a song about each member of the band. Having a concept in mind was a good starting point for writing. I don't know why, but despite the impact of [The Who's] Tommy and Quadrophenia, almost overnight concept albums were suddenly perceived as rather naff and pretentious.
- Was it problematic having three brothers in the band?
- Not at the beginning, but as things developed there was tension -- what might be called sandbox stuff. Derek [Shulman, vocals] and Phil [saxophone] had issues, and I had problems with Martin [Smith, drums] but we all found a real ally in Kerry [Minnear, keyboards]...
- Why did Gentle Giant split up?
- We started with a blank canvas, and then halfway through the realities of being in a functioning band started to loom. It became a business. We were on a conveyor belt where every album and tour was crucial to support the next album and tour. We were pressurised to be more commercial, and that's when we reached the end of the lifecycle.
- What have you been doing since the band split?
- My life seems to evolve every seven years or so. After Giant I got involved in composing music for advertising and then I fell into record-producing -- Sugarcubes, The Sundays -- but I got bored being locked in the studio and moved on to creating music for computer games. Right now I'm involved in a DVD production, and worked on recent Queen, Phil Collins and Genesis DVDs to name but three.
- What chance of a Gentle Giant reunion?
- None. The thought is quite hideous. I don't think even a one-off would work. The idea of having to re-learn my parts is daunting but, I suppose, perfectly possible. What would be the point, though? It's over.