Courtesy of Paul Rogers


FRED JUNG: Let's start from the beginning.

PAUL ROGERS: It was that being allowed to hear it on the radio really. Bass was my first instrument and it is the only thing I play. I have changed the instrument now. I have got a six-string bass, which I got a guy to make to me in France, where I live. And I've got sympathetic strings on it as well, so it is really not a double bass now. It is another instrument. It is like I am a string quartet now. That is the way I hear it. I really love string quartets, whether it's Mozart or very contemporary and that is what I hear now. I realized this these last few months. The way I want to play is I want to be a string quartet. For me, it is all about the process, the process of doing something, rather than the end result.

FJ: How was the musical scene in London in your youth?

PAUL ROGERS: I first moved to London when I was eighteen in the early Seventies, '74. There was music everywhere, pubs, concerts, all sorts of things. I started to play with people like Mike Osborne and Evan Parker almost immediately because they were playing in pubs, John Stevens, Derek Bailey and everybody. Just have a room in the pub, no money, but you just go and play. It was just part of the nature of the music. It is not a job, it is a life. You just do it, In England, it was possible to do that in those days. Now, it is more difficult. Business has taken over.

FJ: When did you begin collaborating with Paul Dunmall?

PAUL ROGERS: We first played December '79 with a drummer called Nigel Morris, who we both knew and from then on, we have played fairly regularly ever since. We really started to play a lot after 1982.

FJ: Then the addition of Tony Levin.

PAUL ROGERS: Levin, we started to play with Levin in 1984 in a band with Alan Skidmore on saxophone.

FJ: Lastly, the addition of Keith Tippett and the band became Mujician.

PAUL ROGERS: (Asks Paul Dunmall) When did Mujician start? Was it '88? Yes, 1988 was the first concert. I lived in New York for a couple of years, '86-'88, but I went back to England and we did a gig as a quartet in Wales and that was it. We were looking for a name and Keith had already used Mujician as one of his solo records and we thought that that was a good name to use as a group and that is it. We try and keep working.

FJ: The band has quite the recorded discography.

PAUL ROGERS: We've got the first six or seven years, every concert was recorded. So there is like hundreds of tapes of recordings of the concerts. We had a friend who used to come to concerts and record them on cassettes. They are all different, which is amazing. We are still working. We've got some gigs coming up. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we don't work everyday together. I think if we did that, we would probably kill each other after a couple of weeks. The fact that we don't work that often means that every time we see each other, it is like the first time and then we have two weeks together or five days together and we build up. We build on it and we keep building and every time, it is different. We are all progressing in our own individual ways as well. We are all getting older and stuff, so the music has developed separately and together.

FJ: But it is not necessarily free jazz.

PAUL ROGERS: It is improvised music. We draw on all the music that we have ever listened to. We don't just listen to jazz. We listen to all sorts of music, ethnic music, Indian music, or British folk music, especially, now because we are doing his bagpipes and things. That brings in another aspect and the fact that we don't really talk about what we do. We just play. When I am at home, I practice all day. I practice scales. I work. I write music. But when I am at a concert, we don't need to talk because we know. It is on another level. It is on another consciousness. It is a collective conscious. We don't have to talk about it. We just play.

FJ: Martin Davidson's Emanem label released Listen, a record of various double bass solos.

PAUL ROGERS: That's right. It is in two bits. The one that I wanted him to release was from 1999. Then a friend of mine, who records all these Mujician gigs, he had a concert I did in '89. I remember that in fact. It was in a little pub somewhere and I think Derek Bailey was in the audience. He played that and, "Fuck, it sounds OK." It was a four-string bass and the five-string. That was nice. I enjoyed that. But of course, it progresses. It is not like we play set pieces, where we play the same thing. It is always different, hopefully. We are always looking for something. What? I don't know. Of course, you are free to do whatever you want. You are free to play the right notes and that is what you do, hopefully. You don't play the wrong notes. You play the right notes. You play the right music. If you are free and you're open to the moment and you don't think about it, you just play the right things. You can only analyze it afterwards. You can't analyze it before. Once it is already gone, I don't bother analyzing it anyways.

FJ: And this tour?

PAUL ROGERS: We've got about seven gigs and then two days in the studio. We will be recording with Kevin (Norton). I think the way play, it is all familiar and it is not familiar. Even when I play with Dunmall, it is familiar, but he has never played like that before. He doesn't play the same every time because he can play whatever he wants. I am so involved in it in a playing way, not in an intellectual discussion. If I start to analyze it, I can start to get brought down and think, "Oh, my God, what is this?" And that is not what I want to do.

Fred Jung is the Editor-In-Chief and is Wang Chunging tonight. Comments? Email Him