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November 5th 1994 - with Brain Damage Print E-mail

Beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine greeted the drivers in the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, held on 5th November 1994. This event, jointly sponsored by the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) and Tindle Newspapers, draws large crowds in its celebration of the first ever 'Emancipation Run' - the abolition of the 4mph speed limit. Horseless carriages were allowed to travel at a maximum of 12mph without a man walking in front of the vehicle carrying a red flag.

Only cars built before 1st January 1905 are permitted entry, and it is also worth pointing out that it is not a race - the cars are limited to an average speed of 20mph and the only reward for a successful run is a bronze RAC medal (awarded to all who reach Brighton before 4.30pm). The event starts at London's Hyde Park at 7.30am (the oldest cars leave first), and the first car is expected to arrive at the finishing line on Brighton's Madeira Drive from 10.30am. Cars are entered from all over the world - this year including Australia, the Czeck Republik, Hong Kong, South Africa, Turkey and the United States, as well as all over Britain and other European countries.

Alongside other car fanatics and also celebrities, including Lord Montagu, who owns the famous motor museum at Beaulieu, his co-driver this year used to faster transport Nigel Mansell, Stirling Moss; was everyone's favourite drummer, Nick Mason.

Putting in an excellent performance, Nick's 1901 Panhard et Levassor (car # 116) crossed the line in third place, at 10.50am, a matter of a few minutes behind the first two cars who finished together. Interviewed on the finishing line, Nick was asked if he'd received a lot of encouragement on the way down. He replied "No, I thought it was quiet! I think it was so early that most people had not got out of bed yet!". I caught up with him once he had parked his trusty steed...after renewing old aquaintances things went from slightly monosyllabic (due to the fact that Nick was rather cold and tired) to a bit more expansive...including some exclusive information relating to his book which was in its final stages of production when we spoke.

    Matt   Did you enjoy the run today Nick?
    Nick   Er yep - triffic...
    Matt   It seemed a bit cold out there today...
    Nick   Hmm. Not excessively.
    Matt   Are you intending to carry on doing the run? It's the 100th year next year...
    Nick   Yeah - I hope so...
    Matt   ...if you can do it, because I believe that there's a tour next year?
    Nick   (SHOCK and SURPRISE)
    Matt   (continuing unabated) Beginning April/May in New York, according to Columbia, running for 74 dates...
    Nick   Well, no one's told me!!
    Matt   (Both laughing) OK, well, is that par for the course that plans are made initially and then you are told....
    Nick   No - absolutely not. That would be ludicrous - it's not the case.
    Matt   (Quick change of subject!) One of the things I was interested in actually, was that you were doing some work on a film called 'Mon Ami Mate', about Mike Hawthorn [Britain's first motor racing champ]? Did anything come of that?
    Nick   (Searching memory banks) Oh...er...no, it didn't. I mean, there are always lots of film projects floating around, which one waits to see if they ever happen. But there's nothing happening with that one as far as I know...
    Matt   So are there any other films that you may be working on...or solo work?
    Nick   No - I have no plans for anything specific at the moment.
    Matt   What about the band? Are there any plans...
    Nick   No I mean there are no plans for anything at the moment (laughs)
    Matt   So you are just going to take it easy for a while are you?
    Nick   Erm...I don't know. But I mean we just haven't made any plans yet.
    Matt   Are you pleased with the way that the last tour went?
    Nick   Yep.
    Matt   And 'Pulse', are you happy with the way that turned out?
    Nick   Yep. Very happy. Very happy.
    Matt   You sound quite contented.
    Nick   (Upon reflection) Yeah, yeah...
    Matt   Are you spending more time with the cars now?
    Nick   No, not really because a number of things...
      (Both distracted by vintage car right behind us trying desperately and noisily to get into gear!)
    Nick   ...nice to catch up on - you know, just have time with the family, just do a few things...
    Matt   Are you enjoying your new house? It looks a very nice place!
    Nick   Yes...yes it is...
    Matt   (Change of tack) If you were going to go on tour again, do you think it could be the last one? I know that there has been talk in the past about a final tour, but I know that you've said [you'd make it clear if it was]...
    Nick   When has anyone ever said that it was the final tour?
    Matt   No-one's said that it's going to be the last tour...
    Nick   Hmm, yes. Well I think if we ever do a final tour then we'll probably announce it, yes, as that.
    Matt   I recall that last year you said that if it was going to be the last tour then you'd...but you've no intentions then to do one last tour - you still want to carry on playing the drums...
    Nick   Oh yes, well I think if there's some reason why we should finish then doubtless we'll make some announcement, but...
    Matt   But you're perfectly happy with it at the moment?
    Nick   I can't see why we would want neccessarily to finish anything at this point...
    Matt   If, for instance, the other members of the band decided they didn't want to do much more, but you wanted to carry on, would you maybe join up with someone else, do some more [solo work]...
    Nick   What, Roger you mean, or Syd? (laughs) All that sort of stuff is conjecture. I don't want to read an interview where I'm saying: "oh, if the rest of the band left I'd...". It's make the decision when the time comes...
    Matt   Oh exactly. One thing I was interested in is that I know that you've been working on the book, but I understand that it's been stopped?
    Nick   No - it's been delayed. But it's rolling along...
    Matt   Is it coming out at some point next year?
    Nick   (A most definite) Yep!
    Matt   And what sort of format is it in? Is it...very much narrative?
    Nick   (laughs) Book format mainly! Words and pictures - words and pictures...
    Matt   A lot of pictures that no-one's seen before?
    Nick   (Genuinely) Oh I hope so - we're still collecting pictures, but hopefully...
    Matt   Good, good! And I understand you've been working on a video anthology of the band as well, or have been for a while now...
    Nick   (Surprised) oh, er, what? No.
    Matt   A lot of people have been under the - misapprehension presumably - that you've been working on that.
    Nick   No - not at all. All we were doing was cataloging what we've got.
    Matt   Is there a lot of stuff there that could potentially come out in the future or is it not of sufficiently good quality?
    Nick   There's some stuff - there's some stuff a lot of which is pretty naff, and some stuff that's...sort of...to transfer...We don't have...I would not say that they were particularly good archives. There's some stuff there, some of it's quite good...
    Matt   I think there's some quite good stuff in some of the European countries - the TV stations have some good material...
    Nick   Yeah but some of the best of it is 'sort of' missing and there's some good and some quite funny things - odd things that aren't particularly good [quality] for the period but nothing that I sort of... Erm, it's not brilliant.
    Matt   That's a shame really. It would be nice to bring out something: a representative record...
    Nick   Well, I don't know. I think when you are going through the history, the actual music tends to sound pretty...a lot of it sounds dated now in a way that - recordings tend to be quite well done. The best of the best tends to be very acceptable, but I'm not mad about the live shows from 1969, things like that. I think I can live without those!! (laughs)
    Matt   (Also laughing) So you're not keen on some of the bootlegs that are around as well?
    Nick   I HATE bootlegs. I absolutely disapprove of bootlegging. WE should be allowed to make the decision about what of our work we will put out.
    Matt   That's right. And also the way you USED to do the new album [live] before releasing it...
    Nick   That's right - obviously all that's gone out the window. Which is a shame...
    Matt   That's right - because albums 'evolve'.
    Nick   Yeah - absolutely. I agree. I'm opposed to bootleggers generally, and I'm not very sympathetic to that particular cause. I think that if you WANT to run things like the Grateful Dead do, that's fine and that works very well. If the band makes a conscious decision about how they want to operate then that's fine. So I'd say that from my point of view, I'm not very keen on it, and tend to take a rather jaundiced view when people want to get their bootleg albums autographed! (laughs)
    Matt   It must be very galling for you!
    Nick   It's not very galling, it's just irritating!
    Matt   You were saying that the quality of the videos is not sufficient...how about some of the old tracks that never came out, demos, etc...
    Nick   Well there aren't...(big intake of breath) erm...lots of old tracks that never came out. Nearly everything that we worked on eventually came out.
    Matt   I know that a lot of people are keen for 'Scream Thy Last Scream' and 'Vegetable Man' to come out...
    Nick   (chuckles) I think nearly everyone's got a bootleg of those anyway in pretty fair quality!!
    Matt   Things like 'Household Objects' - it would be interesting to hear what was completed for that...
    Nick   (Raised eyebrow) Yeah...or not as the case might be! I think it's of interest to the...what one might call the 'trainspotter', but I don't think it's of great interest to the majority of people in terms of music. From a historical point of view it's probably interesting. Exactly. So if you're a musical archeologist OK, but for anyone interested in music...put it this way, I wouldn't buy it myself!! (laughs)
    Matt   OK - last question. Thirty years of the band. Any particular outstanding moments that you can remember - or any low points, or high points...
    Nick   No - absolutely fuck all I'm afraid. Nothing happened at all - thirty years just gone - WHOOOOSH!! (laughs)
    Matt   Just flown by...
    Nick   Yep - just flown by - nothing happened. One starts one day, next day - (laughs) thirty years!! No, of course there are, but nothing...er...
    Matt   "...that won't be in the book"!
    Nick   Yep. They'll be in the book.
    Matt   A good trailer for the book!
    Nick   (laughing) All those stories you've always wondered about!
    Matt   Will it lay some of the rumours to rest? Some of the famous tales?
    Nick   (Ponders briefly, laughs) No I don't think it will. Hopefully indicative that there is still a LOT of confusion about a lot of the stories. Everyone has a different version of the stories and tracking down some of them has been extraordinary. I mean - yes - there will be a few things which will hopefully be either exorcised as being nonsense, or if they're true, perhaps shown as they REALLY happened, from the horse's mouth of whoever they happened to...I've hoped to acheive one or two things, particularly relating to Syd. But it's not an exposé - apart from anything, the rest of the band are bigger than I am!
    Matt   Has Roger seen any of the book yet? If he has, what has he said?
    Nick   No, but I have communicated with him. Well, actually, that's not true. He has seen a copy...he's seen - I haven't finished it. I've just been in contact with him.
    Matt   Is the relationship er...getting easier between him and...
    Nick   "We're just good friends"! (laughs) No - it's better now...

And on that cheerful note, I thanked Nick for his time as his daughter dragged him off for a well-deserved coffee to try and thaw themselves out!

 
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