Interview with Eric Woolfson

by Arthur Saenz - May 1999


Eric Woolfson remains as one of music's greatest composers/performers of all time, besides working along with Alan Parsons for around 15 years in The Alan Parsons Project, he has touched thousands of souls with his musicals, Freudiana, Gaudi and Gambler. Besides future musicals he has in mind, Gambler will shortly be playing in Korea as well.

Any musical path he shall follow, we are all sure will be outstanding as everything he has been involved with in the past...

Now, on to the interview, enjoy! Arthur Saenz


Q. Why was it that The Alan Parsons Project was developed from the very beginning as a band without a permanent singer?

A. Because we wanted to make records where the producer was the key figure in much the same way as Stanley Kubrick or George Lucas became the focus of their movies. Just as they used different actors, we decided to use different singers.

Q. How did you meet Chris Harley? (better known with the name Chris Rainbow)

A. I think we were introduced by Ian Bairnson, our guitarist who knew Chris.

Q. When did you first listen to his works? What did you think about them at the time, in both the singing and composition (if it was his solo material)?

A. I can't honestly recall but the sound he made was both arresting and intriguing.

Q. What's your favorite Chris Rainbow song? (if there's a specific one)

A. I don't have a particular favourite. I like everything he does.

Q. What's your favorite Chris Rainbow song with the Project? Or album if it's the case.

A. Similarly its hard to be selective on what he did with the Project but I must admit that 'Gemini' is a gem!

Q. Was Chris ever involved in the composition or production part of the tracks while in The Alan Parsons Project?

A. Chris was never involved in composition but he certainly did contribute suggestions for the productions of the tracks he was on.

Q. There are several songs that seem to be written for Chris'voice/style (e.g: The Turn Of A Friendly Card, The Gold Bug, Gemini, Destiny). Did you ever write a song for Chris' voice, or was he just the "perfect match" when it came down to look for the singer?

A. Chris and I have very similar voices in some respects, and in common with many other writers, I tended to write for my own voice which inevitably meant that the songs suited him as well.

Q. Chris has been known for years and years for his choruses, was there an intention from you to keep those as part of the Project's style/name? (e.g: The Golg Bug, Let's Talk About Me, Don't Answer Me, Limelight, La Sagrada Familia, etc.).

A. I think Chris's sound just developed into a Project trademark and once we started using him it was impossible to stop! Even though I don't work with Alan any more, I still ask Chris to be involved in the recordings of my musicals.

Q. In Camel's "The Single Factor" album, they give thanks to Eric Woolfson in the credits section, did you help them in one way or another at the time?

A. I think the credit they gave me was just because we were working in adjacent studios and I was particularly supportive of what they were doing.

Q. Have you ever had the chance to listen to Chris' work with Camel on "The Single Factor" or "Stationary Traveller"? How did you like it?

A. I can't recall the titles or when I heard them but when you appreciate Chris's talent, you appreciate it wherever you hear it. Incidentally we often heard things in the studios where titles were subsequently changed.

Q. Do you keep contact with any of the Project's musicians, or with the current Alan Parsons lineup? And the million bucks question, is there any possibility/intention to work with any of them in the near future (in plays or studio)?

A. I haven't seen any of them in quite some time. There are no present plans to work together.

Q. Have you had the chance to listen to Alan's recent works (studio or live)? How do you like the music and the lyrics? Is it in any way similar to the work you'd do in a studio nowadays?

A. I haven't heard Alan's recent work.

Q. Do you have any experience touring? Do you actually have any interest in touring?

A. Believe it or not I joined Herman's Hermits on tour for the last 6 weeks before they split up. Touring is not my highest priority.

Q. How much have you liked the experience of working in the plays? Are the sessions and preparation any different from the Project days?

A. I have found the experience of working on musicals much more rewarding as a writer than the rather 2 dimensional world of studio recording. The approach to recording for the theatre is very different to that for a rock recording because basically in a rock recording you start with the base and drums and build the sound round them. In theatre recordings they tend to be added after other instruments are recorded.

Q. Do you think it's been a problem, the fact that the plays are very hard to get on CD? The main public that the plays are made for is the people that go see it, so perhaps it was expected. Was it actually your intention to have them on CD?

A. So far the cast albums that have been made of my musicals have not been as good as I would have liked. this is due to a combination of many factors not the least of which is that voices which sound great in the theatre rarely sound as good on record.

Q. Is composition for the plays very different?

A. Not really, there is not much difference between a concept album and a musical except that the total length of the recording is 2 hours+ for a musical, and about 40 minutes for a record.

Q. Is there more music to come from Eric Woolfson in plays or studio releases?

A. Certainly yes, I am currently working on a new musical inspired by my old hero Edgar Alan Poe.

Very special thanks to the Woolfsons!"