2006-10-26 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz
Nick is not at all an industrial artist. If you google for Nick Beggs, no matter whether you look for the pictures or informations, you'll find him across the Internet very easy. Nick, with his great skills and love of music became one of the most influencing bass and Chapman Stick players during the last 25 years. In Europe he was known mostly from the 80's pop band Kajagoogoo, after that he's been playing session and live acts with such artists like John Paul Jones (ex-Led Zeppelin), Iona, Steve Howe (Yes), Ellis, Beggs & Howard, Howard Jones, Toyah, Kim Wilde, Belinda Carlise and many, many more. Years of hard work, live performances and an open minded attitude to life brough him respect of others. Anyways, I was growing up in admiration of Nick as a man and his bass play for the bigger part of the 80's. When I started learning English myself at the age of 9 it was because I was trying to understand his lyrics. Years have passed by, we hooked up via email in 2000, when Nick set up his official website. After a few years I decided to interview Nick as well. This is the result ;)
NINa: What are your views about industrial rock music? Would you find a way for yourself in such messy stuff? ;)
Nick Beggs: Yes I love industrial rock. For instance I think Trent Reznor is brilliant and I got to hang out with Adrian Belew for a while who also worked with Trent. I even tried to join Marilyn Manson band but never got a reply. I think he’s the most interesting hard rock artist around. I guess rock music is basically the same once you strip away the stage clothes and marketing. I’m a big fan of Tool also. But I guess most hard core fans of Industrial Rock will laugh at me for even sighting those names. I know there are much harder bands than that on the scene but it all comes from the same mould.
NINa: You spent some time in the USA in the 80's. How much does nowadays America differ from the one you saw 20 years ago?
Well actually I spent more time in the USA during the 90’s. I’ve toured America east to west coast more than three times. And I used to love it.
But now things have changed. I’ve had numbers of offers of work there but have turned them all down. It’s a paranoid country now and my country (the UK) is in bed with America. 9/11 was like their second Pearl Harbour and it’s made them really jittery. The UK is used to being bombed. We’ve been invaded and bombed since we could put mud on our faces.. The Americans aren’t used to having their building blown up so they are all in mortal dread and make everyone else pay the price for it. As a culture we need to wake up to what it is that we’ve done to bring this on ourselves.
America has also now made it impossibly difficult for UK musicians to get work visas. The red tape is unbelievable. So I just say. “NO. THANK YOU. I DON”T NEED THE DOLLAR THAT BADDLY.”
NINa: Seems that Kajagoogoo reunited in 2000 because of fan-requests? Some shows took place, some of them were cancelled. How do you feel about that reunion? Was it necessary?
Kajagoogoo actually reformed because of VH-1 and that’s the only reason.
No shows were canceled because there was only one ever scheduled apart from a gig in Wales, which went under because the promoter went bust.
We were booked to play a series of shows in the USA but trying to get visas was appallingly difficult so we dropped the whole thing.
Yes I think it was a necessary thing to reform the band. The fans did want it and I think it gave every one closure when they saw the TV show.
Steve, Stu and I also recorded a new song for the first time in 23 years, which I’m quite proud of.
I was disappointed that we couldn’t come to an arrangement to tour with the original 5 piece band again, but there had always been a question mark over that happening.
NINa: You keep yourself busy playing with a lot of different musicians. There's time for Kim Wilde once again. How did the cooperation begin?
Well Kim and I have been working together on and off for years. I recorded basses on her last album for MCA and have also played live for her a lot over the years. Kim has been offering me work since 1987. She’s also lovely and a breeze to work for as are her management etc. This always makes thing easier. So when I got the call once again I said yes.
NINa: I guess it was a big challenge to join John Paul Jones (ex-Led Zeppelin bass player) while supporting John Paul Jones Trio live shows. Did you learn something new in the course of that venture?
Working for John Paul Jones was like taking a university degree. He is the most amazing man. His abilities are quite staggering and after Robert Fripp recommended me to him I didn’t want to let either of them down. It was the most demanding gig of my career so far and also the most rewarding.
NINa: You seem to have fun everytime you are on stage. Do you find yourself a born showman? Could you ever be a regular office worker?
Yes I am just a big show off? On stage is the place I feel most at home.
I had an office job for a while, working as an A&R man for Phonogram records and I loved it. However during that time I got a call from Steve Howe (Yes) who I had already recorded for, asking me if I’d be interested in touring with Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. Even though Tony Levin ended up doing that tour, I realized that soon I would be back out playing live again for some one.
NINa: You graduated in art and draw a lot, also had a few exhibitions (e.g. in Tampere, Finland). What style of art do you value the highest? Is that Art Noveau? ;)
Well actually I never graduated in art. I took an art course after dropping out of college some years later which I passed but I don’t have a degree in Art.
I was groomed for success while I was at art school by my tutors who all said I had great things ahead of me as an artist. But I didn’t see my future that way after my mother died and I was left in charge of my 15 year old sister while I was still only 17.
It was then that I decide not to follow the art rout but to become a musician.
Yes I’ve always loved Art Nouveau. I love most art. Sketching is a great release when I have time to do it.
NINa: Your stage image has varied through years from one-part uniforms with cool stripes (the Kajagoogoo era), replaced by long hair and leather pants in Iona and Ellis Beggs and Howard. These days you seem to be in love with Scottish kilts. Was it Sean Connery who convinced you that a man could look sexy in that?
Well it was actually the response of the ladies who would come to shows who convinced me of that. It seems to have a strange affect on females in general.
They all want to know what’s under it. Over the years I’ve been happy to show a few. I ended up marrying my wife after she saw what was underneath.
NINa: Your hairstyle was a nice accent for a number of Kajagoogoo fans. Could I ask for one of those beads, pretty please? ;)
If I can find one you can have it ;-))
NINa: Do you travel a lot? What was the best place you have visited so far?
Yes I travel a tremendous amount. I was in Salzburg, Munich and Berlin this week. While in Salzburg I hired a bike and traversed the city. It was a wonderful day and I felt like the luckiest man alive. The sun was shining and I made friends with the place. Next week I’m in Stockholm.
NINa: You released two solo albums. Is there any news about new tracks?
Next year it is 25 years since I became professional player and I would like to do something to mark that. But I have nothing new yet. Maybe I’ll do a new Kajagoogoo album for the Industrial Rock Fans.
NINa: Thanks to the YouTube webservice your fans, who never had any occasion to see you live are able to enjoy Kajagoogoo's live shows and such amazing videos like The Lion's Mouth. Are you going to publish some very rare videos there? Have you ever performed the song 'Monochromatic' live?
I would like to make a new Kajagoogoo album. But as for the videos I have no plans to re-release them. Yes we used to perform Monochromatic live. Is this a favourite of yours?
[NINa: Yes totally, very well arrangements ;)]
NINa: "The Lion's Mouth" video is the best clip of Kaja in my opinion. What were you inspired by while writing the screenplay?
My friend and hero Storm Thorguson wrote this synopsis for that video. He also is responsible for some amazing album artwork for people like Pink Floyd.
The idea behind the video was basically temptation and danger.
NINa: Are you: a smoker, a drinker, a lover, a rock'n'roller, a preacher or a heartbreaker?
Yes. I am.
NINa: The English nation is a bit double-sided as for private parts. On one side it seems that you hide your desires deep inside, on the other hand English people are well known for so called sex tourism. What's your view on that?
Sex is very important. It is the most powerful force in nature. But sex comes with a lot of responsibilities. Amsterdam and Thailand obviously have their sex industries because people will pay for certain things.
Other than that I have no opinions on sex tourism. That question seemed a little random..?
NINa: On your official website we can see the numerous bass guitars you use. Has there been any new purchase lately?
Yes I bought a wonderful new Rickenbacker this year and a Music man stingray last year... They are both great.
NINa: Do you have any favourite bass manufacturer?
I’m a big fan of Chris Squire so from an early age I always dreamt of owning a Rickenbacker. But I can not say I have a favourite bass manufacturer. However Wal basses are amazing and Electric Wood made me a 5 string, which I still use 20 years later. I would have to also include my trusty Chapman Stick which was so wonderfully custom built for me by Emmett Chapman.
NINa: You enter bass workshops and write articles for music magazines like Bass Player. Do you get a lot of feedback?
I get offers of teaching and lecturing regularly but I’m often too busy to do them.
I have really enjoyed this work over the years but with a big family like mine and a work load to accompany it I’ve had to turn a lot down.
I’ve had good feed back in the past.
NINa: What would be the first thing you did if you turned into a lesbian woman?
Wow! Where did that come from? There you go with your random questions again. But it’s a good one. Hhhhhmmmmmm. Let me think about that one. Yes I know.
I’d get a hot girl friend and lick her into shape. Then I’d get a pair of silicon tits and never leave the house.
NINa: How about a threesome?
You are quite the little journalist aren’t you? Yes actually. Isn’t it every man's dream?
NINa: Is that your long-lasting never-realized dream?
I’ve done it. Are you asking me what it was like?
[NINa: The other interview will be only about it, I promise ;)]
NINa: Do you find yourself more interested in rock, funky or pop music?
I’m more interested in Classical and Jazz actually. Pat Metheny and Mozart.
I saw John Mayer this week and he rocked. Best new artist I’ve seen in years.
NINa: What was the most difficult thing to learn during all those years since you began playing the bass?
How to fail with dignity. You can have success and it’s great but it’s more difficult to deal with coming down the other side of the mountain. I was lucky though. All I ever wanted to be was a musician so not being a pop star any more wasn’t such a big deal for me. Since then I’ve had to learn how to be a session player along with all the other session players and not get every gig I audition for. That’s been the most difficult thing.
NINa: I saw your picture with Seal. Is there any chance we could listen to you both in the future?
I would work for Seal in a heartbeat. But things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to between Seal and me. And that’s what I mean about not getting every gig you want.
NINa: What are your favourite albums of the week?
The new John Mayer album. Imogen Heap’s new album and Miles Davis Kinda Blue.
NINa: You are over 40 and look as if time stopped for you. What is your secret recipe to feel and look younger?
NINa: What makes you angry these days?
The Human Race makes me angry. We are stupid. Short sighted and selfish. Paranoid, wasteful and arrogant. Did I leave anything out?
NINa: They say a man should build a house, plant a tree and conceive a child to prove his manliness. Is there something you haven't done so far?
I’d like to conceive a tree and plant a child. See I told we were stupid.
NINa: There must have been legions of girls who were attracted to you at first sight. What has Ann done to make you interested in a marriage?
Well first off my wife is a Raven Haired Dominatrix and I am her puppy. Woof! I’m a good little doggie!!
Secondly....... Well I think I should stop right there just incase my children are reading this.
NINa: Could your family be compared to the Osbournes?
No. We’ve risen above the need for expletives in our normal daily conversations. Also our children behave themselves. My wife cracks a mighty whip and I believe in well behaved children. I love the Osbournes but we are not dysfunctional as a family.
NINa: Are you serious sometimes?
I’m more serious than you can imagine and more stupid than you would believe.
NINa: Howard Jones does pretty well with his Myspace profile. Would you join the community too and let guys/bass players influenced by your technique put you among their Top Friends? ;)
I really don’t have time right now. We have 5 children and a family business plus my work. I’m finding it hard to answer these questions in the time I have let alone set up a My Space. I guess I could get some one to do it for me?
NINa: And the last question, I hope your fingers are not tired yet ;) You gave a few shows in Poland in the 80's. There are pictures from that time as well. What are your memories of the shows?
The Polish audiences are amongst the most appreciative in the world. I grew to love the Poles during those months. I think I understand them as a nation quite well. They are a hard working good hearted people. That’s what I remember about that time.
NINa: Is it true you were playing one of the earliest Chapman Stick models during those live acts?
Yes that is true. It was a time before Perestroika and Glasnost. Before the fall of Communism and the Berlin wall. A time before midi Chapman sticks and Gangster rap. But I don’t miss it.
Kajagoogoo AT MYSPACE
|| Nick Beggs' official website
Watch Nick on YouTube: Kaja's "The Lion's Mouth" video
|| Kaja's "Turn Your Back On Me" video
Pictures grabbed from Nick Beggs' archive, all copyrights reserved by © their authors.