Zappanale (Then & Now) – The Steve Hillage Band


Steve Hillage is an English musician, best known as a guitarist. He is associated with the Cambridge psychedelic scene and has worked in experimental and avant garde music since the late 1960s. Besides his solo recordings he has been a member of Gong, Khan and System 7.

About Gong:

“I got to join my favourite band,” Hillage says. “Life in Gong was very intense, full of ups and downs. People kept leaving and joining and in the end I left.” But not before he’d formed a partnership with one of the Gong ladies, Miquette Giraudy aka Bambaloni Yoni. “It was a true community. But everyone accepted that Daevid was the founder and had the vision, the pre-eminent role. We simply had ideas and he Gongified them…” And so, in exemplary communitarian style, when the break for solo territory came in 1975, Miquette went with Hillage and most of Gong played on Fish Rising.

“I am very uncomfortable with being called ‘prog-rock’,” says Hillage in an article in the Independent. “Even though we played a lot of chord changes and time signatures, which people might say fits with the prog definition, there’s something that Miquette and I share with Daevid Allen about the prog mentality… It’s overblown. We may have dressed like we were part of it, we may have sounded like we were part of it. But we didn’t feel like we were part of it.”

It was in November of 2006 when Hillage made a surprise return to the Gong fold when he and Giraudy performed at the Gong Unconvention in The Melkweg, Amsterdam, as the “Steve Hillage Band” (view the clips above, “Hello Dawn” and “Aftaglid Part 1 & 2”, respectively).

The Steve Hillage Band:

Steve Hillage – guitar, vocals
Miquette Giraudy – synthesizers, vocals
Mike Howlett – bass
Chris Taylor – drums
Basil Brooks – additional synthesizers

The Steve Hillage Band will perform at the Zappanale 20 Main Stage Friday, August 15th, 2009.

8 Responses to “Zappanale (Then & Now) – The Steve Hillage Band”

  1. profusion says:

    I believe that Steve & Miquette have actually rejoined Gong for a number of concerts in the last couple of years. It must be said that Gong is a constantly shifting sort of thing, so it’s not that weird to have people come and go. But Steve’s guitar stylings were a big part of the classic Gong material. I probably like his solo stuff better than Gong, though. A little of Daevid Allen’s whimsy can go a long way…

  2. peter says:

    Hillage had a string of pretty popular albums back in the mid to late 70s. Many a school chum had at least one in his collection. Interestingly, it is 1979s chill out ambient RAINBOW DOME MUSICK that has proven to be his most influential work — some say it is his really his wifes album more than Steve’s!

  3. Andre/Project Object says:

    I love Hillage, one of the many mighty Guitar Steve’s all huge faves of mine — Vai (birthday tomorrow), Howe, Hackett, Morse, Hunter.

    The live album is a must… and the reissued “FISH RISING” and “GREEN” are fantastic, w/cool extra tracks.

    I love Steve’s unique processed overdrive guitar, and almost funk-rock-mixed with proggy psychedelia. Always a lot more for guitar freaks to hang onto in his music, yet he maintained the mushroom-crusty crop circle electronica space side going after he left Gong.

    The “L” album was historic because not only did Todd Rundgren produce it, but Utopia plays on the album as Hillage’s backing band.

    Speaking of which — if there are any Utopia fans here (I’m a fanatic) in Sept. three of the guys from the classic Utopia lineup premiere the first ever live run of Todd’s groundbreaking: “A Wizard. A True Star”. The band is:
    Todd
    Kasim Sultan (Utopia, Meatloaf etc)
    Roger Powell (Utopia)
    Greg Hawkes (Cars, New Cars)
    Jesse Gress (Tony Levin Band, 10+ years Guitar Player Music Editor, Todd’s band since 1991)
    Prairie Prince (The Tubes, XTC, Jefferson Starship, New Cars, longtime Todd drummer)

    Yeah. Been cranking a lot of Hillage in anticipation of the Z’nale show.

  4. peter says:

    A quote from profusion:

    I probably like his solo stuff better than Gong, though. A little of Daevid Allen’s whimsy can go a long way…

    I’m sure yr right, the whimsy stands out, but Allen brings so much more to the table than that. Experimentalist, proto-punk, dadaist, jazzer, ethnic fusionist..the man was doin’ all this for years before anyone caught up with him.

  5. profusion says:

    A quote from peter:

    I’m sure yr right, the whimsy stands out, but Allen brings so much more to the table than that. Experimentalist, proto-punk, dadaist, jazzer, ethnic fusionist..the man was doin’ all this for years before anyone caught up with him.

    Oh yeah, Allen is a true original and amazingly ahead of his time. I enjoy the “Radio Gnome Trilogy” Gong albums a lot, but there are times when I wish those albums had a little more Hillage and a little less Allen.

    It’s all down to the mood I’m in. 🙂

  6. Harry Barris says:

    “Unconvention” sure sounds pretty conventional.
    I’ll take some genuine ‘Gnome Rock’ from ’74/’75 instead.

  7. alan says:

    The more i listen to steve hillage the more the guy blows me out of the park… the obvious connection would be Gong! Outstanding band….

    But the more i find out about or listen in regards to hillage the more i start to elevate him to higher regard…. his solo rock stuffs great…. rainbow dome musick i love to listen to that at night when i can’t sleep and just drift off listening to it in the dark…. working with the ozric tentacles (a band who owe a lot of credit to hillage and gong)….

    …and being a rock music fan who is quite into electronic music and dance music…absolutely adore system7. System7 are amazing… i saw them in the summer at a festival i was at and they had absolutely had the mudd field pumped and jumpin’…. the guy is a true musical hero who i feel naturally embraced that part of music culture and adopted it as a natural progression… and i get it! It makes a lot of sense to me….

    What a hero…..

    I know most of the older 60’s/70’s hillage fans probably don’t like system7. I just felt it was worth mentioning…. as i truely think he’s doing spectacular, and he’s still rocking out on the guitar while he’s at it…. and he’s still captivating audiences today! Him and his wife Miquette.

  8. Jamez says:

    A quote from Andre/Project Object:

    I love Hillage, one of the many mighty Guitar Steve’s all huge faves of mine — Vai (birthday tomorrow), Howe, Hackett, Morse, Hunter.

    The live album is a must… and the reissued “FISH RISING” and “GREEN” are fantastic, w/cool extra tracks.

    I love Steve’s unique processed overdrive guitar, and almost funk-rock-mixed with proggy psychedelia. Always a lot more for guitar freaks to hang onto in his music, yet he maintained the mushroom-crusty crop circle electronica space side going after he left Gong.

    The “L” album was historic because not only did Todd Rundgren produce it, but Utopia plays on the album as Hillage’s backing band.

    Speaking of which — if there are any Utopia fans here (I’m a fanatic) in Sept. three of the guys from the classic Utopia lineup premiere the first ever live run of Todd’s groundbreaking: “A Wizard. A True Star”. The band is:
    Todd
    Kasim Sultan (Utopia, Meatloaf etc)
    Roger Powell (Utopia)
    Greg Hawkes (Cars, New Cars)
    Jesse Gress (Tony Levin Band, 10+ years Guitar Player Music Editor, Todd’s band since 1991)
    Prairie Prince (The Tubes, XTC, Jefferson Starship, New Cars, longtime Todd drummer)

    Yeah. Been cranking a lot of Hillage in anticipation of the Z’nale show.

    I love the early Utopia, from the debut up to ‘Oops,Wrong Planet’. I wish they’d bring out a new album. P.S. Where is John ‘Willie’ Wilcox?

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