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Kindly supplied to Crystal Music by Alfonso Algora.

Interview conducted in November, 1998
and published in Lunar Waves #4 (Spain), February 2000.

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LW:- Well Lee, I'd like to talk about your past, present and future, so as your thoughts about business and prog music nowadays. Crystal Void was your first band and had a great success without any CD released and giving shows full of "special effects". How do you explain this? which kind of music did C.V.? and why C.V. broke up?.

I think bands were devoid of real entertainment. I think people really do want to be entertained when they see a band live. We gave them that and more. At the core of the show was the band and the music, but we surrounded ourselves with effects, light shows, film shows and a fantastic laser show. We would keep the audience entertained totally for the two hours we were playing, and never gave their senses time to recover.

This kind of show was easy to pull together because of the type of band The Void were, and that was a Space Rock band in the same mould as Hawkwind.

The band disbanded because I got tired of the hard work keeping such a big show together. That tiredness came on top of a ban across the south of England after a open air show. We played a Napoleonic castle, complete with the whole show with the added extra of a massive and intense firework display.

The show we were performing was The Wasteland, which was a musical representation of a build up and aftermath of WW3. About halfway through the show I let off the fireworks in one big almighty burst, which was to represent the nuclear war. We had all the fireworks around the battlements, and the audience got a stunning display that they were not expecting. This caused us many problems with the local authorities, and off course the ban.

Most large venues here in the UK are owned by the local authorities, so after that it was difficult, if not impossible to hire a venue to perform in. So the band disbanded, and I decided to go solo.

LW:- Have you played in another groups or made music for another bands, films, jingles, etc...?

I have never played in any other band apart from The Void. I have helped others piece their musical projects together, and played or produced their material so that they could get a finished article. But nothing I would put my name to, because that is not what I want people to see, I just did to help them. I did do a TV pilot for a Sci-fi programme that didn't make it, which starred the ex-Dr Who Jon Pertwee, and I have never or would ever do jingles. It just not the way I see music, or how I see myself creating music.

LW:- Then you created Crystal Music International in order to release your own works. I know that it's difficult for the artists to create their own labels. Had you problems with majors labels?. In my opinion, you're an artist with a lot of "faces" apart from music (video, films, Internet), do you think that the freedom that gives you CMI can show us the real artist Lee Saunders?.

I actually created CMI for the administration side the band Crystal Void. But when the band disbanded and I went solo I keep the machine intact, for the solo project. It was an easy change of gear.

As to major labels I have always had problems, and that's why I probably decided to really go solo, and not wait around for unfilled promises. I don't think major companies like their artists to have so much control over the product, and that control goes beyond the music.

All people have at the moment is "A Promise Of Peace", and that is because I have been slowly building all the other sides to which a company needs to survive. This company now relies on nothing outside its in-house facilities, apart from the actual pressing of the CD. So yes CMI does give me the freedom to explore and experiment with the project, and only time will show the project in its true light.

People keep pestering me to release another album, but they just don't understand the full workings of the music industry, the cost, and the hard work that goes into a project like mine. This is not pop music, or basic rock and I don't have a band of five members to share the work. Its me, and I'm on my own. Its like chess, and I don't want to expose my King so early in the game, that's if I want to remain in the game and win.

LW:- In prog music nowadays, there's a lot of people who prefers to create music as craftsmen. People such as Jeremy, Arjen Lucassen, Robert Fripp, or you, are unusual artists who had created your own projects alone. Do you think prog music is healthy nowadays because is like a small circle of artists and listeners who search for the real art?

I know little about prog music, the past or the present. I don't come from a prog background, but have been embraced by the prog scene. But what I do know about the prog scene is that is this, the scene is full of people passionate about their music. And that is the key, to be passionate about something. People call me intense, but I prefer passionate.

LW:- Let's talk about "A Promise of Peace" your great first CD. I think that it's a very well documented work, a little lesson of History about WW2. How arose your interest about the war? is it a question of personal experiences in your family?

My interest in WW2 is no different to my interest in anything else, but for the "Puzzle" project I needed a theme that could kick it off, act like a foundation.

Well that's not exactly true, thinking about it, because my family did experience the war at first hand in many ways. So I know the stories passed on to me as a child. But I think that was their way of passing on information in very much the same way I am doing it with the album. But I don't have a firm passion for just WW2, but an interest in all things.

The Puzzle project is way of me coming to terms with what is going on around me. By looking at the events of yesterday helps me come to terms with the way things are now. And maybe a little insight into how things might go in the future. And most things today are ripples from WW2. So it seemed logical to start here. WW2 saw an end to one age, and the dawn of a new age. Many events in WW2 changed the world so much that things could never return from the road in which we have been forced down. It created a chain reaction that is still in flux. Very few events in history have had this effect on our species.

WW2 gave birth to the atomic age, the space race and the cold war. And within these events alone they other events have been ignited by this chain reaction. So "A Promise Of Peace" acts as a perfect platform as the first piece of the puzzle.

LW:- Are you pessimistic about the future? It's APOP an advice for forthcoming generations?

Yes it is a warning to future generations, in the hope that our generation gets its first. "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

But I am an optimist, other wise I wouldn't see the point of carrying on. I'm hopeful that people can slowly change things, and that one day we can reach some sort of utopian existence.

LW:- APOP is perhaps one of the best produced CD's I've ever heard. Tell me something about all the production process. Has this been the main reason for the delay of APOP release?

If we are talking about the delay of the release in Spain, that is only down to not having a Spanish distributor. The production of APOP has not been delayed anywhere else in the world, and is readily available.

But in the process of recording a project like this is very long and time consuming. The research alone can take a long time, just so that you have your facts rights. But also the research helps get the feel of the period and theme, and within that what you are trying to convey.

Then you enter the studio, and this is not part time like other bands, but every day. And the more you get into the project the longer the days become, until there is no point in leaving. APOP took nearly nine months, and I don't expect that process to change for future projects.

LW:- Where did you found the musicians? Tell me something about the bands they'd played before.

The musicians on the album are from various past line ups of The Void. People that I have played with in the past. Only two have not played for The Void, and that is Rob Boyce on saxophone, and Sharon Woolf on vocals. I believe all are working with bands at the moment, but who I am not sure.

I also believe that some have their own projects on the go. But the sad news is that Jon Harris, who was my best friend and very much behind the scenes of this project, died last June. Jon joined The Void back in 1988 and was there until it disbanded. When I decided to go solo he was there from the start. And now I have to face future projects without him, which will be difficult emotionally.

LW:- Are you going to take APOP concept into a stage?

Haven't decided as of yet. Sometimes I would like to, and then other times I think back to the hard work doing a show like Crystal Void. If a major record company was involved it would ease the pressure, especially financially.

But there are plans to maybe film a one-off performance, which will allow us to do a great spectacle. We will have to see. I would like to do it live.

I think I would like to release a copy more albums before really taking to the stage, APOP is only 1 hour and 17 mins long which I don't think is long enough for a live show.

LW:- Well, you've to know that the CD. has got great reviews everywhere, but it's clear that APOP is compared to Pink Floyd's music and not only for the melodies (samples, speeches, sound effects, the war leitmotif, etc.).

I think that people might pigeon hole me into the same area because it is comfortable to link to a sound, or idea. Just saying a band's name for comparison saves a lot of explaining to be done. But it does skip over some major differences. I don't think my melodies are similar to The Floyd.

I also think that I use the samples (speeches) in a very different manner to The Floyd, or any other artist. I believe others use it for special effects, where I use it like lyrics, to help the narration to the story.

As for the war theme in APOP its very focused and tells the story in chronological order the events of WW2, and the varying emotions by its effects, as seen through the eyes of an Englishman. Maybe a Floyd fan could do a focal description of Pink Floyd's angle on WW2. But one thing is for sure, put them side by side and they are completely different.

LW:-Do you like this comparisons?

I'm not bothered. I take it as a compliment.

LW:-Are you bored of it?

Not really, for the same reason as above. I'm not bothered by it.

LW:-Obviously, Roger Water's work is your main influence, but what's about another influences?

Roger Waters is not an influence at all. I don't mind the assumption, but its a fact. We might have the same political beliefs, and we might be products of the same educational system. And I don't think its just us two either, I am sure there are more people out there that think the same...well I hope. And that includes writers, directors, anyone who has the ability to communicate to people in numbers.

My main influence is only one band, and that is Hawkwind. I grew up with this band from a very young age. I went to school near where they lived. I knew, and still know, many (ex)-members from the band.

It was their music that turned me towards being a musician. Their live show that wanted me to create a visual show. I listen to my music and the influence is obvious to me, but to others it may escape them if they don't know the band.

Although musically I know I have moved away from my early influences, but I put that down to age and mellowing out. I remember the early days where I would never have used a sax or female vocal, but as I have got older I would say they are my favourite instruments. So then the obvious replacement is Pink Floyd or Roger Waters. What can I say.

But I am along way from Hawkwind themes, and my music has developed as I have got older. But hearing old Void tapes, and seeing that band develop over the years to reach where I am now, the path is clear and the progression curve obvious.

LW:-Which kind of groups do you hear?

Always a difficult one to answer. I don't really listen to music much, and I have a very small collection of CD's. I listen to the radio while driving, and bits on the the TV. I like most kinds of music, and I think most kinds of music has its time and its place, and of course depending what mood you're in is the key. For example I would never listen to flamenco here in England, it would be out of place. But while in Spain it would probably be what I hear most, because it feels right, right time and the right place.

But one thing is for sure...I do not like West End musicals or Country and Western.

I like Classical, Opera, Rock, Blues, a whole spectrum of music.

LW:- Have we got to wait a long time in order to hear a new Lee Saunders' CD.? I know you want to release a series of conceptual CD's, could you tell me some news about your forthcoming musical projects and "The Puzzle" project? Are they going to go on with APOP concept?

I am not sure when people will get to hear the next CD., all I can say is that I have been working on it for over a year now. I work on many projects at the same time, and I find that one particular project steps forward and pulls me towards it. Then I suppose it feels right to do. I would say that early in the new year seems the time I will return to the studio.

All the future projects carry on from APOP, APOP is the starting block. The next project is about the Space Race, which was part of the Cold War. Its a difficult subject to cover especially if you want to cover all the angles. The story looks at the Nazi's involvement in WW2, and then carries on with the Americans and Russians picking from the spoils of war, the Nazi scientists, and the race between them to reach the Moon. This is a lot of material to cover and the event of landing on the Moon itself.

I am thinking of breaking it up into 3 parts, and its along these lines that I am working at the moment. So once I have decided and I feel happy with it the time will be right to go back into the studio. Like I said I think that will be early in the new year.

LW:- As I told you, I know you're very interested about other facets in art such as films, video, Internet, etc. Are all related with APOP and your musical projects?

Yes. All involvement's with other multimedia projects are based within "The Puzzle" project. I don't know when I will get to release them because I like to make sure that I am very happy with the finished article. I don't like to rush anything, and I certainly don't want to be an artist who releases any shoddy work (a couple of new songs mixed with old songs, but are re-mixes), and that justifies calling it a new album. That's when I think the artist is doing it for the money.

LW:- Here in Spain there's a lot of problems in order to find APOP. Some stores say that APOP is deleted. Why?

I haven't a clue. The album has never, and will never be deleted. It will always be pressed and available. Another reason to go alone and build your own company, no one makes that decision apart from me.

This is one of the reasons we I have concentrated on building up my company. We have stocks of the album on at three sites on two continents. And we have plans to expand all the time. Crystal music International has Crystal Music UK that looks after Europe, and Crystal Music USA takes care of North, Central and South America. If you can't find the album (or future projects in your local shops) the next best thing is contact these companies directly. (www.LeeSaunders.com)

The only reason sometimes is that they think its deleted, or someone has told them its deleted. That would normally come from a distribution company or shop, who probably hasn't even made an attempt to make contact with us with a view to supply it.

LW:- Is CMI going to support new bands?

Not to the point of releasing another band/artists music. This is one of the problems of the record companies. They can never give the attention any one act needs. They overstretch themselves between bands, and the bands suffer for it. If you are a popular band, well you're lucky and you may be the flavour of the month.

The other sting in the tale is that if CMI helps other bands then The Puzzle will suffer. The two cannot work together. So the choice has always been to go it alone.

But if any musicians that perform on any of my albums have there own material on CD., I would be more than willing to offer it to people via our company.

LW:- I know you like Spain a lot. You and I are almost neighbours. What do you think about my country? Do you like Spanish music (prog, pop, flamenco)? tell me Spanish bands you like.

I love Spain, and although work has stopped me from visiting for the last couple of years, I did have regular visits over 15 years. I found Spain slow and relaxed, a perfect escape. As for Spanish music you must understand that I never mixed with English people in Spain, just local Spanish people. So exposure to pop or prog music was never an option. But I love flamenco. We would get invited to some of the small bars in the back streets, away from tourist traps, and watch and listen to real musicians and dancers. Good memories.

LW:- I'd like you to say some words for Lunar Waves readers that never have heard your music. What things they can find in Lee Saunders' works?

I hope that "A Promise Of Peace" gives some sort of indication of how the project and future releases will go. A lot of detail and quality of music. I also hope that the project will cover new ground as we move into the new century, taking in all the mediums associated with multimedia. I think the future is multimedia, but that doesn't mean having the finance to bring people in from the outside to falafel these areas, but a true artist of the future should be able to do all disciplines him/her self. This is the future, and this is how someone can fully express themselves. I have a lot of good people with me, all excellent at what they do and good teachers.

I think I'm moving into unknown areas and people that follow my work will be coming along for the ride by default. It should interesting, and certainly fun.

LW:- Thank you very much for your answers. See you in Spain.

You're welcome, and I look forward to visiting again.

Yours sincerely

Lee Saunders.

Copyright 1999, Alfonso Algora (Lunar Waves).

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For those visitors that have entered to this site, directly to this page, we would like to inform you that this page is part of a series of pages, within a section that acts as a backdrop to 'The Puzzle' project. 'The Puzzle' is a musical project that looks at different events from the 20th-21st Century.

This section is part of the 'World War II' zone. 'A Promise Of Peace' tells the story, in chronological order, of World War II.

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