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Rich Harding (Also Eden etc)

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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 29 2011 at 14:07

Rich Harding became the new vocalist in the very promising UK band Also Eden some time ago. Then he had a massive accident which were noted with two very worried and then get better soon threads here in ProgArchives.

I am pleased to report that he is recovering and that Also Eden will soon hit the scene with a new album. Here is the short inverview, a jubilant interview from my part, with Rich.

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It was with utter horror the ProgArchives community last year received the news that you were seriously hurt in a bike accident. What really happened and how is the recovery going ?

I was rounding a fast corner flanked with hedges, came across a cyclist going very slowly, moved to overtake him but he wobbled into my path as I went. I clipped his shoulder with mine, the bike slid down the road, and I ended up hitting an armco barrier straight on at what was probably still about fifty miles per hour. I broke almost all of my ribs, various vertebrae, left collarbone, several fingers, smashed my pelvis to pieces and did considerable damage to both legs, particularly the left one. The day after the accident, my aorta ruptured, and I spent hours in an operating theatre with my blood being cleaned and fed back to me from out of my chest cavity.

Recovery has been slow but steady, and the main focus for almost all of it has been my left leg, which still has an Ilizarov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilizarov_apparatus) frame on, which allowed me to regrow 85mm of bone; that re-lengthening process finished late on Christmas Eve, but it takes a long time for the bone to solidify. I also had a bone graft a couple of months ago, to sort out the lower part of the tibia; this seems to have been quite successful.

Maybe this question is an overlap of the previous question, but you are not the type of self pitying guy who spend recoveries in holed up in a bed. As I understand it, your time is spent on academic work, physical excersises, gigs with Also Eden and other things. Please tell us why a comfortable bed has been ditched and what you have been spending the recovery time on.

Well, I'm sitting on a bed writing this - because it's comfortable - but I've been working since I was still in a hospital bed a year ago. I've been self-employed as a computer analyst/programmer since 1998 and I have long-term customers - everything from Telecoms PLCs to a Fire Brigade - who need things doing for them. Also, I code because I enjoy it, not because I have to. I can't ride bikes and I can't currently fly paragliders (well, I'm tempted, but it wouldn't be very sensible with a frame still on my leg!), so music and computing are two of my main outlets at the moment.

Of course I have a lot of physio to do as well; mind you, just climbing the stairs counts as physio. Recuperate in a bed? I was asleep for four to five weeks; I think that's quite enough time to spend in bed :)

You are the vocalist in Also Eden. But you were also involved in a Genesis tribute band in addition to ...Eden and a couple of other projects if I am not wrong. Are you still as active now in other projects as before the accident ?

LOL! I don't actually particularly like Genesis - I even say so in my Also Eden biog :) But back in 1998, a group of friends, who'd met online, clubbed together to commission Mark Wilkinson to produce a picture for Fish's 40th birthday. Later that year we held a charity event in Nottingham, and myself, Tony Makos and Richard Reeves decided to do some acoustic versions of Marillion tracks - with Vicki Harding of The Web UK, and Lucy Jordache (still working for EMI, rather than Marillion themselves, at that point) on backing vocals. We did it a couple more times, culminating in the 2001 Garden Party in Stourbridge, where the current lineup of the band that had become Skyline Drifters first played together.

After that it all gradually became a bit silly, until at one point I was fronting four separate Marillion tributes in four different countries.
I didn't expect to return from the Netherlands to the UK when I did, and I thought I'd be off to continental Europe again pretty quickly, but I had a new girlfriend, Sarah, who wanted to stay in the UK, so I decided to find myself a new original material band to sing with. All of the tribute stuff was only ever a sideline, albeit a very enjoyable one, and I've spent almost my entire musical career writing and performing originals - I need that creative outlet. I hadn't been aware of Also Eden, but as soon as I heard their earlier stuff, I wanted the job.

Whilst I've been recovering I've only done one tribute gig, with Skyline Drifters. We had to cancel three Misplaced Neighbourhood (Norwegian Marillion tribute: http://www.misplaced-neighbourhood.net/) gigs in England last autumn, as I wasn't well enough to do them. These will be
rescheduled when I'm fit enough, which probably means early 2012. Plans are also afoot for a Lords of the Backstage (Dutch Marillion tribute: http://www.lordsofthebackstage.nl/) gig in January. Also Eden is very much my main focus, but I'm very good friends with all of the tribute band musicians, and I'm sure we'll continue doing the occasional gig.

Over to the Also Eden gigs. How has these gigs been going ?


The gigs have been great. The first one at Riffs was a bit of a rite of passage, as you can imagine, but I started to feel completely at home on stage at The Peel the following night, and we debuted both the title track of the album and another called 1949, of which more below. Things started ramping up nicely from The Electric Garden Festival in May, where we introduced a third track from the album, Oversight, and we've really enjoyed all of the gigs we've done, particularly the last three at The Fleece, Cambridge Rock Festival and The Louisiana.

I've been playing guitar on some tracks at all of the gigs - this is something we discussed when I joined the band, and adds another dimension. I'm too much of a natural front man these days to want to be tied to an instrument all the time, but I enjoy contributing another layer to the songs in their live setting - Si Rogers tends to write a lot of complementary guitar parts, so it's good to be able to bring that to the live environment without backing tapes or any other kind of "cheating".

Also Eden will release the new album in October. Please tell us more about this album.

We started working on Think of the Children in June last year, jamming the basis of potential tracks - including one session where I actually ended up "playing" the drums. I had a strong set of related subjects to write about, and came up with several sets of lyrics in the rehearsal room itself, writing the rest at home. So, whilst you might think the album would be heavily influenced by my recent experiences, it's mainly lyrically driven by the Benjamin Franklin quote, "Those who would trade essential liberty for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety". It's all about how our fears are manipulated and preyed upon to control us, and is told as a series of connected stories. The title reflects the fallacy of the "If only one life is saved..." kind of argument often advanced in favour of curbing people's freedoms.

The only track whose lyrics I've written entirely since the accident is 1949, which is based upon my experiences in intensive care, when for a while I was convinced I was appearing in two reality medical dramas, one set in the present day, the other in the fledgling National Health Service, soon after the Second World War. The song was originally called 1953; perhaps you can offer a prize to the person who can tell you why it was renamed? Clue: it's the first publication date of a very famous book, closely related to the main subject matter of the album.

How much has your outlook on life been changed since the accident and how much of that has been transferred into your creativity/lyrics which still is within the 1984 concept of your new album ?

Ah, good spot on the book, but the concept is wider than 1984 and Big Brother, i.e. it's not necessarily a direct influence, although there are shared elements.
As per the Ben Franklin quote, the theme of Think of the Children is that you can't ensure security by removing liberty - in any area and the power of fear. Take the title track: it's all about the over-protection of children, which ends up denying them the space to grow; this is contrasted with those, like myself, who grew up in a less frightened age:

"When the world for me was new
Yesterday was upside-down
Summer skies were always blue
And feet would scarcely touch the ground
The gate to heaven was a wheel
With spokes of thought that made no sound
And everything you'd wish to feel
Was ever-present in the round, and round, and round..."

Remember that the lyrics for all but one song of the album were written before my accident, so it's not really been an influence at all.

I wouldn't say the accident has changed my outlook on life at all, to be honest - I was always like this :)

Is there any of the new lyrics and songs you may carry over to other projects ? Any plans to do anything solo ?

I write lyrics all the time, so I don't think I'd ever take Also Eden lyrics or songs and use them elsewhere as such, although Si Rogers and I have done a couple of duo gigs, where we've included a couple of Also Eden tracks in amongst a variety of other numbers, from Radiohead to Elvis Costello. Any solo project for me would be a collaboration with others, although I don't have any plans to do that at the moment - I'm looking forward to the next Also Eden album :)

Besides of this album; what is your other plans for this year ?

I'm sure Also Eden will be writing again as soon as we have Think of the Children in the metaphorical can, and we're planning more gigs too.

Skyline Drifters played a full set at The Summer Garden Party, in mid-June, and we have another, private party to do in October - it's one of our very good friends' 40th birthday. We'll be playing our usual mix of Marillion and Fish tracks, interspersed with a variety of other numbers - where else could you see a gig where the last three numbers in the main set run: Mr Blue Sky, Comfortably Numb, Fugazi? :)



Thank you to Rich for this interview

The Also Eden PA profile is here & the homepage is here

 
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