Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden
(Magic Bus Productions)


Some U.K. music fans in the know are comparing the latest CD by Magic Bus to the spirit of the legendary music from the 1968-73 Canterbury area of England that spawned bands like Caravan and Robert Wyatt with Soft Machine. The 2014 CD by Magic Bus, Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden features the songs, guitars and vocals of Paul Evans, who receives some excellent support from a number of musicians. Of course it’s not 1968 anymore but Magic Bus and Paul Evans do a great job reviving that legendary U.K. folk-pop-prog sound of troubadours like Daevid Allen, the above mentioned Robert Wyatt and even Donovan. On keyboards in Magic Bus is Jay Darlington of Kula Shaker and his keyboard approach sounds influenced by the legendary David Sinclair of Caravan, which is clearly a good thing for prog fans. Also adding to the CD sound is Terence Waldstädt (lead guitars) and Viv Goodwin-Darke (flute, recorder, backing vocals). Regarding his songwriting influences, Evans also sounds influenced by West Coast American bands like Grateful Dead and CSN. Speaking about the 1973 comparison, Magic Bus driver Evans adds, ‘The Canterbury bands and the West Coast bands do certainly have differences in their styles but I love them both… the great harmonies and jazzy guitar noodling from the U.S and the English folk and keyboard-led jams from the U.K. blend perfectly to me.’ It’s also worth noting the way the CD is packaged, which is quite amazing complete with lyrics booklet. As if to gently contrast the timelessness of their music in this 21st century age of plug-ins, apps and sampling in a second—Magic Bus has created a minor prog-rock classic with Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden. presents an interview with
Paul Evans of MAGIC BUS

: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and what you like best about it? What cities and towns are you favorites to visit or live in?

Paul Evans: I'm from Kingsbury in London. Best thing about it? You could hop on the underground train to the city center and go see great bands from around the world. For 10 years now I've lived in the countryside in Totnes, Devon. It’s fun to go to cities but I soon feel the call of the green again. Favorite cities to visit… Paris, New York, Amsterdam.

mwe3: When did you form the band Magic Bus, who’s in the band currently, when did you start recording albums with the band and how many albums has Magic Bus released? I think some might think Magic Bus is a Who tribute band and come to think of it, Townshend fans would like Magic Bus either way!

Paul Evans: The songs for the first album were written in 2009, and I got the band together to record the first album 2010. Recorded T.F.S.G in 2013 released 2014. The current band line up is: Me, Jay Darlington (keys, backing vocals), Terence Waldstädt (lead guitars), Viv Goodwin-Darke (flute, recorder, backing vocals), Wihll Mellorz (bass) and Connor Spring (drums). I had actually never heard the Who's “Magic Bus” before naming the band, the idea came from Tom Wolfe's book on the Merry Pranksters.

mwe3: The latest Magic Bus album, Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden sounds influenced by the classic Canterbury England sound of Caravan and also early Gong. Is Magic Bus honoring the great U.K. bands of the past or is the band more inclined towards further developing its own style looking towards the future?

Paul Evans: Both…when music has touched you deeply and been a soundtrack to your life you can't help but incorporate the vibe, the style… but as a writer I'll always strive to be as fresh and original as I can.

mwe3: It’s interesting to note that you were also influenced by American bands like Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. Seems like Caravan should have been more popular than they were in the U.S. How do you balance that contrast between the U.K. and U.S. brand of psychedelia and prog? There is a big difference in my opinion.

Paul Evans: In 1990 the Grateful dead played in Wembley… 5 minutes from where I lived. I had never seen or experienced anything like that, tie dyed hippies as far as the eye could see, bongos, flutes, guitars, girls dressed as fairies with magic wands. And this is in the car park outside the venue!. Then I go in and the Dead are already on stage “Roll Away The Dew”! Oh my god!!. 3 hours later I know why there is nothing quite like a Grateful dead concert. I'll never forget it.

The Canterbury bands and the West Coast bands do certainly have differences in their styles but I love them both…the great harmonies and jazzy guitar noodling from the U.S and the English folk and keyboard-led jams from the U.K. blend perfectly to me.

mwe3: What is your background in music and what instruments do you play mostly and how would you describe your compositional style as a songwriter? Do you write lyrics or music first when composing a track?

Paul Evans: I'm self-taught, I sing and play rhythm guitar. I go by feel, what feels good. I don't think about whether it is in this scale or that. If I have a tingle down my neck I’m on the right track. I usually get a vocal melody first, Then find the chords with the guitar. If it’s a very pop melody then I usually try to balance it with something gritty or an unexpected twist. I've got away with it so far.

mwe3: The lead off track on Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden “Sunflower” is very much a West Coast type of track. Would you say it’s kind of different from the other tracks on the CD?

Paul Evans: “Sunflower” is a harmony pop song. I’ve always loved harmony bands, the west coasters”… CSN etc.

mwe3: Track 2 “Ballad Of Lord Sogmore” is brilliant. That really gets back to the Caravan / Softs / Hatfield kind of vibe. Tell us how you worked with keyboardist Jay Darlington on that track. The keys sound brilliant and I’m glad you included a mellotron on that track. Tell us something about Lord Sogmore and how he fits on the CD?

Paul Evans: I had the chords, Jay came up with the Hammond riff, and I added the vocal section and he came up with the idea for a flute solo over the tambora drone. It came together pretty quick. Lord Sogmore is possibly real or maybe mythical… a little mystery is never a dull thing. But the idea of a Lord turning his back on his heritage and high society, to seek out a garden, maybe on Earth or maybe elsewhere, to grow his own paradise was intriguing to me.

mwe3: Is “Cosmic Rays Of Dawn” kind of back to the American West Coast vibe. Even though it’s got a kind of early Stackridge kind of vibe on the song too. The song is a great showcase for guitarist Terence Walstädt’s guitar work and Viv’s magic flute. Do you try to write music to showcase different band members?

Paul Evans: Certain songs lend themselves better to certain instruments. I think the most important thing is what’s best for the song? We're very lucky to have 3 people capable of great noodling.

mwe3: “3 Days” sounds like the Magic Bus theme song! Is “3 Days” the most psychedelic song, lyrically speaking, Magic Bus has made? “Climb Aboard The Bus”… I do like the way the song ends with the jazzy coda with some great guitar leads.

Paul Evans: I guess it is. It’s a traveling song, the center section is very old psyche. I love the ‘tron trombone and mandolin sounds Jay used. You don't get that in every song.

mwe3: What can you tell us about the Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden packaging and artwork. It’s fascinating to see how superbly you packaged the CD and artwork. In a word - spectacular!

Paul Evans: Thank you, I really enjoy putting the artwork together, It’s great to have fun with it, collage is simple but effective. I bought a Linda Perhacs CD with the thick gatefold card and thought it looked and felt great.

mwe3: Tell us something about “Jupiter 3AM”. Sounds like a great jam to feature the really skillful side of the band, with sparse lyrics that are a springboard to the instrumental nature of the band! Are you into astrology and astronomy? Not every songwriter can handle writing songs about planets! Can I assume that you must have been influenced by mellotron wizard Mike Pinder, who founded and guided the Moody Blues?

Paul Evans: Myself and Jay wanted to write a long instrumental, so we worked on it bit by bit, adding to it lastly the beginning vocal part. The space theme pops up a lot, its great to create a soundtrack to space travel. As for being influenced by the Moody Blues, I like what I've heard and I know the keyboard work is cool.

mwe3: Track six “Seven Wonders” has two parts. It reminded me a bit of the Ummagumma era Pink Floyd. What’s the message of “Seven Wonders”? Seems like a good idea to bury all the worries we were sold. I like the harmonies in the song that float in and out after the three minute mark. Seems like a peaceful and happy type of track! Is the instrumental part that closes the track the “White Lake Mountain Pass” part of the song and of course that fab Sinclair-esque keyboard ending? Is that the farfisa organ sound that Caravan used so well?

Paul Evans: Yes the message in 'Seven wonders' is simply don't worry be happy. If we are not on a happy path, we have the power to move and find a new path. “White Lake Mountain Pass” was a separate piece that fitted nicely onto "Seven Wonders". And as for Jay's solo, Ibelieve it's a Hammond organ with a fuzz pedal. But I could be wrong.

mwe3: “Morning Mantra” sounds like the kind of track Daevid Allen would endorse. Do you call it “Morning Mantra” because it encapsulates everything groovy about meditation? Are you into TM or other types of meditation?

Paul Evans: “Morning Mantra” is saying thanks for life, and thanks for the blue sky, thanks for all the things we take for granted, all the things that make our life's so special. I have tried lots of meditations, singing harmony with my Busmates is my current favorite meditation.

mwe3: Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden ends with “Earthpod”. The song kind of pines for a time “when life was simple and slow”. Would you really like to go back? I don’t think we can go back now as the world is going so fast these days, but I do know what you mean! Things were moving much slower back in the early 1970s... 1973 forever!

Paul Evans: What are we at now?… 2016! I can't take that in. That's just silly. No it’s 1973 as far as I'm concerned… good music, fashion, art, films. That’s not to say I'm afraid of the future though…roll on 1974!. There's an old saying…'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

mwe3: So now I hear you’re planning a follow up to Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden. What directions are you driving towards next with Magic Bus and what can the music fans expect from you next?

Paul Evans: We've just recorded the new album, hopefully it will be released by September/October. It’s a bit more instrumental/proggy in places, but still very 1973. We also have 2 new Busmates in Connor and Wihll on drums and bass guitar, they have added a great vibe too.


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