The Band

It was 40 years ago today……

Paul Gateshill

“We are delighted that Presence, originally released in 1976, has now been digitally remastered from the original master tapes to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Where have those years gone? It is a very special album for all of us involved as it captured a particularly creative and inspirational moment in our lives. Whenever I listen to it, I am struck by the life that is conveyed through the music. It continues to move me, even after 40 years. The songs are still fresh and speak out as if they were only recorded yesterday.

The band came together through the inspiration of the Focolare. Before and after the album’s release we played at ecumenical youth festivals in Rome, Belgium, Berlin as well as throughout the UK, including at the Roundhouse in Camden, London. They were heady days!

Presence was recorded over four days during Easter 1975 at the independent Indigo Studios, in Manchester, England, on an eight track tape machine. The engineer was Dave Rohl. He was also the keyboard player of the Mandala Band and there was an immediate musical rapport with him in the studio. Much of the albums’ vitality and freshness are due to his skills and encouragement. The album was mixed a few weeks later in one day, and the master disc was cut at Abbey Road studios in London.

Veronica Towers

“Why do we not realise how young we are until we are looking back across the decades? It seems a lifetime ago but the album still resonates. There is an energy, a harmony and dare I say a “presence” which endures? Some of the words are no longer ones that we would choose, but the overall sound and feel is unchanged and I listen with tenderness to the people we were and celebrate the love and friendship that we continue to share.”

Ivor Bundell

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive!”

“I was eighteen and knew everything. When asked if we thought we would turn professional I unhesitatingly answered “No” – well, not until after we’d finished University.

I recall playing the chimes at short notice on ‘Peace’ and that worked rather well – seems to me it still does. I also remember the exuberance and improvisation on ‘Prayer’ , where I played harmonica and tried to reach rather high notes when seeking help to ‘climb the poisoned ivy’. I also have fond memories of Mike playing bongos and keeping time for rather wayward rhythm guitarists!

And so it was. We finished university and scattered across the wide world. But that was all too long ago. The recording of ‘Presence’ seems like only yesterday.”

Mike Waiting

“We must have set a record for being the fastest group to go into a studio and be ready to start recording. With guitars tuned and bongos warmed, in 10 minutes we were ready to begin. (We were very conscious of the expense of being there.) The engineers caught up with us and we started.

Warming the bongos seemed an odd thing to do in 1975 but i discovered in 2016 that in Latin American countries there is whole process called “Darle Candela al Tambor”, warming the drums by a street fire before they are played.

We were an extremely focused unit in what we were doing yet at the same time building relationships with the engineers so they felt free to make helpful suggestions.

My contribution on the Monday had been to record the bongos, the plans for the Tuesday, among other things were to record the drum kit. I didn’t sleep much on the Monday night as I was in a panic about recording percussion which would be heard in years to come and I hadn’t practiced very much!

As I had no recordings to do I was on coffee making duty which also meant that I spent a lot of time in the control room and was able to hear the reactions from the engineers. The last line of the last song was “The music will die, and all that will remain is love”

As the last note faded away, Dave said “What a note to end the album on.” These lines still ring true 40 years later.”

Kevan Bundell

“I’ve no idea who came up with the idea of making a record, but I am very happy that they did – and even happier that it was us they thought should make it!
We must have rehearsed I suppose, but what I remember is those few days of recording together in the studio: Mike was the soul of calm – despite his bongos; Veronica sang like an angel (as usual); Paul’s magic fingers danced upon his strings; Ivor sang like a choirboy, while I boomed away on the bass guitar.
It was indeed a privilege to be part of the recording of Presence. Forty years on, I am happy to have the chance to share our music with the world once more. (Now who’s idea was it this time . . . ?)”

So where are we all now? All five of us are still making music and we play on one anothers’ albums and in concerts together. Veronica’s vocals are even richer and more sublime and you can catch up with her song-writing on three albums; the Bundell brothers have also produced three fine albums;. Mike is still being wonderfully percussive and Paul can be heard on most of the aforementioned albums, and on two of his own – see Discography.

If you have ears to hear you will be aware of some of the musical influences behind the album: The Incredible String Band; Nick Drake; Fairport Convention; Sandy Denny; Joni Mitchell, Santana and so much more! We also developed our own original and unique sound on the album. Listen to the combination of the full drum kit with bongos and acoustic guitar. The rhythms seems to ricochet, especially in ‘Turning Point’.

We hope you enjoy this re-release together with a selection of bonus tracks from some of our later recordings on Still Present (CD2). Keep in touch, we’d love to hear from you!


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