- 1 Allan Holdsworth (Guitar Player 1980)
- 2 Allan Holdsworth (International Musician 1981)
- 3 The Reluctant Virtuoso (Guitar World 1981)
- 4 The Innocent Abroad (Musician 1984)
- 5 Allan Holdsworth (Guitarist 1985)
- 6 "...Where No Guitarist Has Gone Before..." (Cymbiosis 1986)
- 7 Mike Pachelli Show (video transcript 1991)
- 8 Allan Holdsworth (Sound Waves 2012)
- 9 Allan Holdsworth - Jazz/Fusion Guitarist (Musicguy247 2017)
When did you form the group with which you are currently playing?
Early this year. It’s called False Alarm, and it’s a trio that we’re now trying to get management for. We have Gary Husband on drums - he’s also very good on piano - and Paul Carmichael on bass. Besides playing guitar, I also sing a little. We had a terrible time finding a bass player because so many of them are interested in sounding like Jaco [Pastorius]. We wanted someone who sounded like they were doing something of their own. Our music has some elements of jazz and rock, but we try not be overly tricky.
Who is in the band?
ALAN: Gary Husband is the drummer, I found him in Leeds, he plays piano too. The bass player is Paul Carmichael, and vocals for the band are handled by Paul White (sic).
The transatlantic telephone conversation is punctuated with temporary pauses for some deep, basso-profundo coughing as Holdsworth relates the grinding frustration of his current situation. "Yeah, it’s still called False Alarm, that’s the name we’re using in the U.K. It’s my band but I don’t like using my own name. Same band members, Paul Carmichael on bass and Gary Husband on drums. We’re looking for management and a record label. It’s hard [getting signed] everywhere, but it’s really dreadful here. We can’t get anybody interested."
Indeed, Paul Carmichael and especially Gary Husband were unable to get used to living in a very foreign land. As Williams relates, "Gary was having trouble dealing with his own head, so to speak. He wasn’t very well; his father died and he was suffering a lot, so it was affecting us. So he went back to England." Holdsworth filled their chairs with journeyman bassist Jeff Berlin and Zappa alumnus Chad Wackerman (great name for a drummer, eh?).
Why did you leave the UK. to go to America?
Basically, it was because I thought I had tried as hard as I could to play what I wanted to play in England, and couldn’t really get anywhere. It had actually got to a point where I decided that I wasn’t going to be a musician any more. I was just going to get a job, like my father had, in a factory or a music store or something and just play for my own amusement. I’d never stop playing, because I would always have the interest to play, but I don’t want to play pop music and I don’t want to be a session player; selfishly, I just want to play what I want.
I really didn’t expect anything to happen though which is why, before I left England, I was quite prepared to drop out of music completely. Luckily, the bass player in the band at that time, Paul Carmichael, went over to the States and met a girl there who said she could get us some gigs, because people knew who we were. We went over there and were absolutely astounded at the response. Basically, I’ve never looked back.
It was like a last chance for me, because I definitely knew what would happen to me if I stayed here, which was absolutely zero, so why not try. I did, and this is our third album since we left, so I’m really quite pleased. I love England, I always will, but for me it’s just not the place to be for music. It’s great for certain people and certain kinds of pop music, but for me it was just impossible.
Cymbiosis: Now this was after your Soft Machine and Tony Williams days?
Holdsworth: Oh, yeah. This was way after that-and after Bruford and U.K. This was the beginning of this band now, the I.O.U. band. Then we found Paul Carmichael and we liked him because he didn’t sound like he was trying to do anybody else. He was going for his own thing, and that, to me, counts ten times over.
MP: In 1980 you started a trio called False Alarm, with Gary Husband and Paul Carmichael – was it time for you to become a leader?
AH: Well I – during the time that I – most of my life worked – well after I moved to London I been just another guy in someone else’s band, I just decided myself – I had a backlog of material I’d been working on and I wanted to try and play with different people and I met Gary Husband, cause I met all these musicians who had been saying Hey you should listen to this drummer friend I mean it he’s like unbelievable and I had an opportunity to play with Gary and it was like really special, the guys really an unbelievable musician. And I really liked working with him, he really understood – probably understood more where I wanted than I could understand what he was really wanted but it was the beginning of a really great kind of relationship and we just tried to get this band off to the road and we couldn’t – we had a friend worked for Virgin Records and he gave us some free studio time – a guy called Nicholas Powell, and we did some tracks -in fact we finished doing the whole album on this little boat on a canal in London.
About that time, I started playing with drummer Gary Husband on the side. At this time, I had already written a bunch of new music for myself. So I thought it was a golden opportunity to form my own group with Gary and Paul Carmicheal. But unfortunately it was a disaster from a financial point of view. We called the band “IOU” because more often than not, it would cost us more money to do the gig than what we normally got paid for doing it. That’s what happens when you want to play “esoteric bullshit,” which is what some people call what we do.
R.V.B. - In the late 70’s you hooked up with guys like Jean Luc Ponty and Tony Williams. Things are starting to happen now. Was that a natural process to lead you to finally going out on your own and leading your own project?
A.H. - I loved working with Jean Luc and I loved working with Tony Williams. I got to a point where I just wanted to play my own music. It was a logical step to form a group of my own with Gary Husband and Paul Carmichael. We did that for a while and then I left the UK. I worked with Bill Bruford, which was great.