Friday, November 4, 2011

Interview with The Remote Viewers' Dave Petts

The Estonian version can be read here at

1. What is the ethos of your group? The music emits a strong vibe of being *about* something, following some central ideas, one of the main things to draw devoted followers, in my opinion. You also give off a political feel - not in the strictest sense, but as in: 'somehow positioned towards the world', which might as well be a philosophic or aesthetical stance.

 1. By the time the Remote Viewers had evolved from B. Shops for the Poor, we knew that the music we produced was considered challenging, avoiding the blurry hinterland where recreation meets slavery. We were, and still are, quite happy with this situation: working outside of a rapidly crumbling music industry has allowed us a lot of artistic freedom and the ability to develop the music with few external pressures. Our ethos is primarily aesthetic - a sort of militant modernism. The music is driven by doubt as a positive trait - knowing what we don't want to do rather than what we do - , the rejection of (any one particular) style, and impelled by the lure of heresy.

 2. In fact, how would you describe the jazz ethos in general? Jazz, quite similarily to, say, trance, has a pretty low street cred outside of it's fans, it is seen as hopelessly backwards, monotone, meaningless ang having strong bourgeois connotations. You, on the other hand, are a great jazz enthusiast. Would you share your vision of the genre with the prejudiced ones? Are you pleased with your own scene?

 2. There is an ambivalence towards jazz within the band. Personally, I have always expressed anti-jazz sentiments, as did Louise, whereas Adrian is a jazz enthusiast. But we all agreed that the Remote Viewers had little to do with that genre, despite the preponderance of saxophones, the quintessential jazz instrument. In fact, I have been known to issue "no jazz" warnings to new members! Of course, jazz has a rich and varied history and has produced much great music, but it is now seen as another form of easy listening - a case of the enemy of museums ending up in museums. It really depends a lot on definition ...

 3. Tell us of your start, of becoming a musician, tell us, how did your group come to be (I take B-shops for the Poor as a direct predecessor to the Remote Viewers.) Is it an easy road to take, is it a rewarding road? 

3. I am self-taught as a musician, starting out playing guitar before moving quickly to saxophone (originally both tenor and soprano saxes, eventually dropping the latter). I met Jon (Dobie, guitarist and co-founder of B. Shops) at university, and were soon writing and playing together. We made a series of tapes using synths and drum machines instead of actual musicians, mainly because of my suspicion tat other musicians would take the music towards an obviously existing style - we knew what we didn't want more than what we did. For live gigs we continued to use backing tracks but added vocals and extra saxes, going through various line-ups before settling on the one that recorded the CDs, and this was when we started to play gigs outside of the UK. The Remote Viewers grew out of B. Shops, and changed dramatically after Louise left, to become the band that it is now. I have always felt privileged to have my music performed and recorded by such good musicians - that is the only reward for this kind of music, it seems, certainly nothing else!

 4. Give us some recommendations to the works of your fellow fighters, other culturemen. Things you consider important, things that inspire you, be it music, art or literature. Something, that has not received all deserved attention, perhaps, or something, that was famous once but has since fallen into obscurity. 

Dave and Adrian
 4. I am a great fan of Morton Feldman's later long works, especially Quartet2, For Philip Guston and For Stefan Wolpe. I also listen to a lot of Xenakis (Mode records is good label for both), and Sun Ra (the Saturn originals, released on CD on the Artyard label are a good place to start - there are 100's of Ra albums out there). Recently, I've been listening a lot to Schnittke's 4 Symphonies. Outside of music, I enjoy reading (English) fiction from the first half of the 20th century - some examples: The Wild Goose Chase and The Aerodrome by Rex Warner, Summer Will Show and The Corner that Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner. Wyndham Lewis's art and fiction is a recent interest All the above, and many other things, have probably influenced me, which I suppose is an implied recommendation.

 5. Louise. She has left the group. A pity, I loved her voice. Always fancied the instrumental pieces as well, though. How big a part did she play in the artistic direction of the group? Also, is there any word of her, is she done with sharing her gifts with the world?

 5. Louise left the band for personal reasons, not musical. While she was in the band, she was involved in every part of the musical process: she wrote the lyrics, titled the pieces (with me), mixed the CDs,designed the covers, and was a charismatic performer. Once, we cast no shadow - now, I have no idea what Louise is doing.

 6. This one goes out to all the musicians out there: describe us your work process, the making of a song/track/musical piece. The musicians are always unhappy that most of discourse on music is about shooting drugs and hanging out with famous people, rather than music itself. 

 6. Each piece starts with the composition. I send the finished written parts to the other musicians, whose first hearing of the music is it being played on midi instruments - a piece of machine music and a bunch of neutral notes with no guidance on how they should be played. This is where the individual input of the musicians comes into the picture, and a battle between the original intention of the composition and other people's interpretation begins! And this is only half the story - all the musicians are excellent improvisers, so improvisation has always been an essential part of the overall plan.

 7. Then again, a nice illustrative story can't do much harm. Surely there's been tale-worthy happenings during the years you've been active. Share with the crowd!

 7. Sleeping among syringes in a squat in Pisa, travelling through Poland with snow forming on the inside of the touring van, playing to sieg heiling skinheads in Hungary spring immediately to mind, but basically, we played gigs put on by fans of the music, stay with them and have a good time.

 8. Have you had any ideas of things you'd do, were you another kind of creator? Alternatively: who yoould you be, if you could be a completely different person?

 8. I like the idea of being a novelist, but have no ability in that direction. In my dreams I'd like to have been an Oxford don in the inter-war years - don't ask me why!

9. The war is coming. Who are you going to hook up with - the nazis or the communists? There's no meaningful third option at that moment.

9. I am a man of the left - there has only ever been one option for me.

10. Here you can express your discontent towards the world of today. It is important, discontent, creates sympathy, brings people together. 

 10. My discontents are the illusion of democracy and the huge discrepancies of wealth, the pretence of neutrality by the mass media and, with particular respect to the UK, the ability to fund the constant waging of war, whenever the USA demand it, at the same time as being told of the need for cuts to health and education, due to lack of funds.


  1. sirp tsenseeris eelviimase küsimuse?

  2. The war is coming. Who are you going to hook up with - the nazis or the communists?

    I am a man of the left - there has only ever been one option for me

    Nõrk. Väga nõrk. Tulge koos CK-ga tumedale poolele!
    The tume pool awaits intellektiga commandereid.
    We embrace you.
    You are welcome.

    Pealegi must munder sobib Sulle - Sulle Dave! - palju paremini.

    Kui hoovi peal jalka meeskondi kokku pannakse, siis on jama ju kui kõik tahavad olla FC Barcelona. Keegi peab olema ka Fudbalski klub Partizan.

  3. Jim Ashilevi juba oli natsid, keegi pole veel kommarid olnud.

  4. Tahaks kohe muusikat tegema hakata - luiks, sa pidid tulema mulle solistiks vilistama, paneme pundu kokku? Ah?

  5. Armetu ja nõrk, et Sirp selle välja tsenseeris. Oleks neist paremini arvanud. Kurat, pärisajakirjandus on ikka naeruväärne ripats.

  6. Järgi mõeldes näeks ka RK mustas lausa oivaline välja! Millegipärast tundub see loogiline ka mingil teisel tasandil.

    RK, kui nüüd seni tehtule tagasi vaadata, siis kas Sinu taksonoomilises süsteemsuses ei ole alati olnud midagi saksapärast? Kogu see väljapeetud nõudlikkus, kas pole see oma majesteetlikkuses kuidagi echt speerilik?

  7. No kui sa selle niimoodi sõnastad, siis muidugi, kallis CK, hakkan ma sinuga koos fašistiks!

  8. Ja ainult kommentaari kirjutamise vaevaga!
    Ich bin froh wie die Cholera in Odessa