Following their successful inaugural tour across Australia and New Zealand in 2017, the rock pedigree enshrined in the 1960s British power trio Cream: Ginger Baker’s son Kofi Baker, Jack Bruce’s son Malcolm Bruce and Eric Clapton’s nephew Will Johns – come together for the first time in the UK to pay tribute to the extraordinary legacy of the band with The Music Of Cream – 50th Anniversary World Tour.
We chatted to MALCOLM BRUCE about the project and about working with his famous Dad:
RAW RAMP: What is it like to be re-creating Cream’s most famous songs?
“It’s a great opportunity for us to carry on a little bit of the tradition. Cream achieved so much in their short lifespan in terms of songwriting, so we have a lot of material to choose from”
“The most exciting part for us is to find our own way of improvising around the form of the songs. This is of course what Cream are known for, taking the music on a journey, opening out and seeing where it goes. That I feel is the most exciting part. And yes, it’s a great honour to be able to share this as part of our collective heritage.”
RAW RAMP: What characteristics do you think you might have inherited from your father?
“Is this a therapy session? Well, that is a complicated subject, but as far as music goes, I feel I’ve inherited a timbre in my voice, and a natural ability at improvisation as well as an openness to exploration. Music was the glue that bonded our relationship so it really became second nature to express myself through playing and writing.”
RAW RAMP: What was it like to be brought up in a song writing household?
“I was quite heavily involved in various supporting roles with my Dad’s work, whether preproduction during his writing process, or in the studio on a number of his records. So I got an insight into how he thought musically.”
“What I garnered from that, whether a balance between tradition and innovation, a particular sense of the shape and form of music and the possibilities contained within, a sense of simplicity and personality; all those things are important to me.”
“As a writer I am always looking for my own sense of self within what I do (I released my first solo album last year via Pledge Music), rather than ‘fit in’. I think it is that sense of integrity within the music, nothing extraneous, that interests me. Every day is a new day and I learn and grow all the time. So I feel my Dad taught me that, finding a sense of innocence and humility within the process.”
“My earliest musical memories: I have memories of playing the piano from a very early age. My Dad gave me some cassettes when I was very young, Ravel, Debussy etc. I remember a Jimi Hendrix compilation he gave me and I immediately fell in love with how Jimi put things together. ‘Stone Free’ was a song on that tape.”
“And music was generally going on in the house, people like Tony Williams, Larry Coryell, Allan Holdsworth and Jon Hiseman would visit and work with my Dad, and I remember listening to records my parents would play, and Cream was played occasionally too…”
RAW RAMP: You will be performing with: Will Johns, nephew of Eric Clapton, and drummer Kofi Baker. As far as you know, do they share common traits with their own ancestors?
“Yes very much so. Kofi has his own sense of things, he is very much a one-off with his drumming. The polyrhythmic aspects are certainly an inherited interest from his Dad’s exploration of African music, Kofi has taken a number of these elements and created his own approach. His sense of phrasing is different from Ginger, but the fire and improvisation is all there.”
“Will Johns grew up around Eric and Eric very much encouraged him and showed him a few things. And having Andy Johns as his Dad meant all these other influences like the Stones etc. Come to think of it his other uncles are Mick Fleetwood and George Harrison so there is quite a wide palette there to choose from. He’s a fine blues guitarist and singer, and he makes sense sonically for this project. In a sense, and somewhat ironically, the three of us replicate the dynamic of the original members.”
“I’m fairly eclectic, with an interest in classical music, jazz, and rock, Kofi has been influenced by jazz, rock, progressive rock and African music, and Will is the bluesiest (and in many ways the purist) of us all. That sounds about right in terms of being analogous to the original three…”
RAW RAMP: What do you most expect from The Music Of Cream – 50th Anniversary UK Tour?
“We are playing a 40 date tour in the USA from the end of September until a few days before we come to the UK, so I think we will be a well-oiled machine by then. It’s been a challenge to work on the set and fit everything in that we want to play into 2.5 hours. That process to some degree continues to evolve over time.”
“Having said that we will be playing all the best known songs like Sunshine of Your Love and White Room, and Kofi will play a version of Toad with a 20 minute drum solo. All the elements will be there. I think we are all looking forward to just getting out and playing and seeing where that journey takes us.”
“There are so many possibilities within the music. We’ll be telling a few stories during the set and will have some video as well as working with Marc L Rubinstein and his ‘Pig Lightshow’, the famous psychedelic lighting that is associated with everyone from Black Sabbath, to BB King, Santana, Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Mayall etc…”
“We’re looking forward to giving everyone the best possible experience of this music and it’s a great honour and privilege to have the opportunity. Cream has very much been an intrinsic element in our lives and it’s always a lot of fun to play. And it is always a collective experience, like the best kind of music, so connecting with the audience is always something special.”
Thanks, Malcolm Bruce
Malcolm Bruce was chatting to Neil Mach
Main Photo by David Geraghty
“The Music Of Cream – 50th Anniversary Tour” with Malcolm Bruce (bass, vocals), Kofi Baker (drums) and Will Johns (guitar, vocals) includes Glasgow O2 Academy (Nov 23), Leamington Spa Assembly (Nov 24), London O2 Forum Kentish Town (Nov 25) and Manchester O2 Ritz (Nov 26). Tickets are available from www.musicofcream.com