John Wetton was a British bassist and vocalist. He appeared with Allan on one studio album by the band [U.K.].
How did U.K. form?
Bill said that he had an idea of working with [keyboardist] Eddie Johnson and [bassist] John Wetton. He asked me if I would like to go to a rehearsal and play. I agreed, and it looked promising. But the closer we came to recording, the more sterile the music sounded. Just before I left the band, I used to daydream an awful lot while we were playing all those bits onstage; you know, thinking about a nice pint of beer or something. I was easily distracted. And because I couldn't associate all those bits - they didn't form any kind of cohesive picture in my mind - I wouldn't know if it was tune three or tune six or what.
How did U.K. come about?
Well, it had been going for a while before I knew anything about it. John and Bill got together first and then found Eddie and, around that time, I met Bill who asked me to play on his solo album. I was introduced to the other guys and that's how it happened. Nobody actually knew it was going to work or whether we'd get on together ‘cos there are a lot of differences. That's probably one of the things that make it good.
I'd like to go back to U.K. for a moment. Why was the experience so miserable?
It had a lot of potential. The band was originally Eddie Jobson, Bill [Bruford], and John Wetton without myself. They were looking for a guitarist and I had just started playing with Bill to work on his album Feels Good To Me. And he said "There's this guitar player playing on my album, wanna check him out?" So, they had me over and thought this might work and said "Let's give it a go." And we formed the band and came up with the name. I got on really good with all of them, but what went wrong is that everyone wanted to do something else. I think there were two factions in the band: Bill and myself and Eddie and John. And they were kind of at war really. So, that's what made it miserable—they wanted me to play the same solos every night and it was a completely alien thing for me. I would have probably been able to adapt to that now, but what I wanted to do then was so opposite to that. Whereas now, I could have maybe said "Well I know what I want to do, but this is what this is." I enjoyed making the album, and that was great, but it got to be not too much fun on the road. It was purely a musical question. I don't know, maybe the other guys in the band hate me, but it wasn't that for me—it was just the musical thing. It was "Geez, what am I doing here?" It wasn't that I didn't like the people. I did—I really liked all of those guys, even though they probably don't realize that! [laughs] It was purely and simply a musical problem.
Bill Bruford's solo album (out this month) is the latest of Holdsworth's projects; the featured musicians also include Dave Stewart on keyboards and an American called Jeff Berlin on bass, whom Allan spent several minutes enthusing over ("He's a killer. He's gonna scare a lot of people. Really lethal." ) At the time of writing secret rehearsals are going on with a new band believed to include Bruford, Holdsworth, Eddie Jobson and John Wetton. Whether this will result in a touring band, or in an album, or in both, is not known yet. Allan had been sworn to silence even regarding band personnel, and this information came from "another source". Let's just hope it's accurate.
Having worked with the likes of Tony Williams, Jon Hiseman (in Tempest) and Narada, it seemed only logical that Holdsworth would fall in with another great drummer; he joined Bill Bruford to make Bruford's solo classic, One Of A Kind. The two enjoyed working together so much, Bill brought him along to help found art-rock power players U.K., something which Bruford now has second thoughts about: "It's obvious that U.K. was split into the pop half-with John Wetton and Eddie Jobson the potential Asia-type superstars-and Allan and I on the other side. I had hoped Allan would reinforce my side of the discussions, counterbalance the rock aspects of the thing. But it was a painful counterbalancing, it wasn't understood, and I kind of put Allan on the spot."