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Wide Awake Man
Now a regular on Dublin’s Radio Nova, rock veteran Rick Wakeman gives his thoughts on the station, Lou Reed’s recording habits and the importance of classic instruments.
Dave Hanratty, 12 Sep 2012
Rolling out of bed at nine in the morning (it’s a tough life, kids), your Hot Press correspondent finds himself desperately shaking off the cobwebs in a bid to sound chirpy for Yes legend Rick Wakeman. You see, the 63-year-old keyboardist appears to have a better appreciation for sleep than I, rising each day at precisely 5:45am. And yet, as repeated encounters with his voicemail unfold, it would appear that he’s off in the land of nod. Or, as it transpires, running slightly late due to car trouble. Rumours of his early morning regime haven’t been greatly exaggerated after all.
“I don’t know what it is, but I seem to have a built-in alarm clock,” he says breezily. “Wherever I am in the world, doesn’t matter about the time change – a quarter to six – my eyes open and I get up. I think it stems back to the early days when I would do a lot of sessions for other musicians and I had to rise early to make sure I’d beat the rush hour and be in London for 7am. I just got used to it.”
There are probably not enough words in this entire issue to cover the sheer length and breadth of Wakeman’s career, so let’s look at one of his most recent endeavours, a regular Saturday evening slot (The Rick Wakeman Revolution) on the increasingly popular Radio Nova. Originally set for a six-month stint, Rick, having finished up a five-year run on Planet Rock, found he and his new Dublin-based station to be a perfect match. As Nova turns two years old, he’s still very much on board for the ride.
“It’s amazing, really,” he says. “It doesn’t seem like two years since I came over for the launch day, which was tremendous. People lined up down the river bank, it was astonishing. The great thing about Nova is, there have been a lot of radio stations that have sprung up all over Europe in the last few years, but it’s really interesting how many of them didn’t actually look and go, ‘Well, hold on a minute. Whether we’re broadcasting to ten people or ten million, the quality of what we put out is the most crucial element’. Nova really thought about that. The studios they built, the equipment and people they brought in, it’s all top-notch, the approach you would take with a national station. I think that’s the secret of their success, because they don’t treat it like a small local station, they treat it as a national one. Also, they’re aware that an awful lot of people listen online.”