Interview:Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention,Paul McCartney,George Harrison)

HIT CHANNEL INTERVIEW: September 2011. We had the luck to talk with a legendary drummer: Dave Mattacks. He was a member of Fairport Convention and he has also played with Nick Drake, Paul McCartney (in albums ‘Tug of War’, ‘Pipes of Peace’, ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’, ‘Flowers in The Dirt’, ‘Run Devil Run’), George Harrison (‘Somewhere in England’, ‘Gone Troppo’), Elton John, Brian Eno, Jethro Tull, Gary Brooker and many more..


dave1Which are the current projects you’re involved in? Are you doing any recordings this period?

I live in New England, USA (eleven years now) and go back to the UK approx. two or three times a year – once (every April) to play with ‘Feast of Fiddles’ ( ) for their annual tour ..  after 16 plus years together ,we recently completed a studio CD which we are all very happy with !

Here in New England, I estimate to record between 8 & 12 CD’s a year for various songwriters/ singers .  Some recent high points have included “City Squirrel”,  Mark Bates’ “Down the Narrows” , “Super Genius” & Jon Cate. I also produce CD’s ; one   –  ‘09’s ‘Fond Desire Farewell’ (artist : Debra Cowan)   –  was nominated for the BBC’s folk record of the year. I also teach (occasionally at Boston’s Berklee College of Music) as well as having private students.  I do Drum Master Classes (Connecticut Drum Show/ London ’s Royal Academy of Music) too. When I can , I like to do local club dates with Jazz musicians & singer/songwriter friends.


Do you think Fairport Convention should have become more popular outside UK ?

It is what it is.


dave2You played in Nick Drake’s ‘Bryter Layter’. Do you have any memories from these sessions? How was Nick as a person and collaborator?

I recall them fondly . Nick was extremely talented & extremely shy.


George Harrison’s ‘Somewhere in England’ recordings were very difficult emotionally. Did you like the final result? Was George proud for that album?

I did like the final result, though I’m not too happy with my playing – it’s ok. I believe George was happy with it.


Was it difficult for you to ‘realize’ Bria Eno’s vision in ‘Before and After Science’ and ‘Music For Films’ albums?

Like some sessions I’ve done over the years, certain artists “broaden” one’s perception of what is “right /correct” in the studio . The better we know the “rules” , the more illuminating it is when they are “broken”.  Brian was definitely one of those artists.


In three of  Paul McCartney albums you played (‘Tug of War’, ‘Pipes of Peace’, ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’), producer was George Martin. How scary was for you being at studio with such a legend?

I actually played on five of Pauls’ CD’s  –  the other two are “Flowers in the Dirt” and  “Run Devil Run”. I’d worked with George Martin previously– once with Cilla Black (!) and also on Gary Brooker ’s ( Procul Harum’s singer/writer / pianist) solo CD ‘Fear of Flying’  –  so while I was very respectful and happy to be in the studio with him , the ‘Deer-in-the-headlights’ factor had dropped considerably! As for Paul, he’s very good at making people feel relaxed around him – another great chap !


dave4You did several recordings with Elton John. Was it easy to work with him?

Very! We knew each other from  “bumping into each other” on recording sessions ( for other artists) well before he became “Elton John” .  He’s on of the funniest, nicest and most talented people I’ve worked with .


Who would you say influenced you the most in your life?

On a musical level, probably Fairport Convention.  I was very “technique” oriented when I joined the band (‘69/’70) ; after approx 18 months – when I truly “got it” ( ie: understood what they were doing/ were “about” ), I did a virtual 180 degree flip with regard to how I heard music and what I perceived was  “important”.   It was the difference between (for example) Bill Evans & Oscar Peterson , Miles Davis & Arturo Sandaval , The Band &  Rush .  Basically, I went from the latter to the former.


Jethro Tull is a big part of your life.Do you think Ian Anderson has drought out of ideas during the last 15 years?

Jethro Tull is not a big part of my life. I worked with them for one year – ’92 (touring / one live CD)  – which I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t feel I’m in a position to comment/ answer your question.


Is there anyone you’d like to play with and hasn’t happened yet?

There’s not enough space here to list them !


How possible is to see you playing in Greece soon? Send a message to Greek listeners.

Unfortunately, I have no plans to visit Greece in the near future  –  I hope I’ll get the opportunity soon for that to change !


A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Dave Mattacks.




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