Kate Bush on David Gilmour, Pink Floyd, and the new Hounds of Love

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 6, 1985

By Steve Newton

When Kate Bush was 15 years old, she thought it would be nice if she could get some of her songs published. There was a friend of her family who knew someone that was looking for talent to encourage and produce. That someone came and heard Kate’s songs, and was intrigued enough to put up the money needed to master a few demo tapes. Those masters were what got the career of Kate Bush rolling…right up to her highly acclaimed new album, Hounds of Love.

The certain someone who put the ball in motion was none other than David Gilmour, famed guitarist for seventies rock giants Pink Floyd.

“He was really responsible for me getting my recording contract with EMI in the first place,” says Kate, who called the Straight from Toronto recently. That contract has resulted in the release of five full-length LPs–The Kick Inside (1977), Lionheart (’78), Never For Ever (’80), The Dreaming (’82), and Hounds (’85)–as well as two mini-albums, the live On Stage and Kate Bush (both ’83).

Strangely enough, upon first meeting Gilmour in ’75, Bush had never even heard any Pink Floyd music.

“I was not really aware of much contemporary rock music at that age. I had heard of them, but hadn’t actually heard their music. It wasn’t until later that I got to hear stuff like Dark Side of the Moon. And I just thought that was superb–I mean they really did do some pretty profound stuff.”

Gilmour was executive producer of The Kick Inside. He also sang on “Pull Out the Pin” from The Dreaming. In fact, Kate Bush has been fortunate enough to have fine musicians sitting in on all her records. Aside from the basic core of players that includes drummer Stuart Elliot, bassist Del Palmer, and guitarist Alan Murphy, she had help from synth whiz Larry Fast (Never For Ever), bassist Eberhard Weber (The Dreaming), and guitarist John Williams (Hounds of Love). Max Middleton, former Jeff Beck keyboardist, played extensively on Never For Ever. So where does she find such top-notch talent?

“Well if I’m not a particular fan of them, then I’m either introduced to them through fellow musicians, or people I know. But quite often you hear a piece of music, and you really like what’s happening there…so you just get them in!”

One piece of music that had a strong effect on Bush was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. She liked it so much that she borrowed the helicopter effect from that song to use on “Waking the Witch”, one of the more startling songs on Hounds of Love. It begins with a curious vocal track that resembles a jumbled-up morse code.

“That’s an effect that we managed to muck around with. It was a very experimental idea, a sort of trick really, that took us a long time to do. I wanted to give the impression of a very desperate attempt to communicate.”

Another peculiar effect on the new record occurs at the start of the title track. A frightened, male voice cries “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!”

“It’s really the idea of someone being chased by something–which in this case is love–but something that they’re really scared of. It’s being treated in an incredibly melodramatic way, you know, as if some great monster is coming to get you.”

The line comes from a 1956 black and white English horror movie, Night of the Demon (also released as Curse of the Demon). As it turns out, Kate is quite a fan of scary flicks. On the liner notes of Hounds of Love there’s a special thanks to Werner Herzog.

“There’s a piece of music in ‘Hello Earth’ that a choir sings. I heard that originally in a film of his called Nosferatu [a vampire movie]. It’s such a beautiful piece of traditional music, that I just had to use it, so we rearranged it for voices.”

On “Hello Earth” an instrument called the bouzouki is used, and throughout Hounds instruments such as the balalaika and didjeridu are put into play. Kate seems to thrive on sounds that are found far off the beaten path of ordinary pop.

“I think you’re always looking for little pieces of gold amongst the rubbish–on every level. Lyrically, musically, and soundwise.

“The didjeridu I first used on the last album. There’s a man called Rolf Harris, who’s an incredible didjeridu player. And I’d written a track on the last album about aborigines [‘The Dreaming’], and asked him to come in and play it.”

On her new album, the didjeridu is played by Kate’s brother Paddy Bush. He uses it on “The Big Sky”, and also plays violin and fujare on “The Morning Fog”.

“Paddy has always been quite involved in all my albums. and Jon [Bush, another brother] hasn’t really played as much, but he’s been involved in vocal things, particularly on this album. He’s a novel writer as well, and a photographer.”

Brother Jon is actually the one responsible for the striking photography on the cover and inside sleeve of Hounds of Love. The cover shot depicts a seductive Kate cuddling in a purple bed with two German hunting dogs. On the back cover Kate is shown partially submerged in a weedy pond. There is a method to her madness.

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“Since the album is like two completely different albums, and we gave each side a title, we thought it would be nice if it almost had two front covers. Each picture is sort of depicting a side, you know.”

Side One is titled “Hounds of Love”, and Side Two “The Ninth Wave”. The first side kicks off with the hit single “Running Up That Hill”, and carries on with four more individual tunes, while “The Ninth Wave” is a concept side, its seven songs combining to tell one story.

“Even though the first side isn’t conceptual, all the songs are linked by the fact that they’re about relationships of some kind. They’re all love songs, really.”

Bush says that she has a fascination with the psychology of people. “Everyone does really.” “Running Up That Hill” resulted from that keen interest in the way people think about one another.

“It’s the idea of people actually making a deal with God, you know, to just swap places with each other, and understand what it is like from the other person’s point of view.

“It’s about trying to bring people together even more. You always understand something better once you’ve experienced it.”

Kate Bush isn’t too certain about where her musical career will take her next. Obviously, her many fans would love the chance to see her live. Is touring a possibility?

“I think that’s the question that everyone is asking. I really would like to tour again, but it’s an incredibly big commitment–financially as well as timewise.

“I’m not quite sure what I want to do as a next project. It could perhaps be this film, or a tour, or perhaps I’ll go straight into another album. I don’t really want to go from one intense project to another….that just seems to be the way it is for me!”

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To hear the full audio of my 1985 interview with Kate Bush subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001
…with hundreds more to come

 

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