Van der Graaf Generator

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This article is about the band. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_0

For the machine with a similar name, see Van de Graaff generator. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_1

Van der Graaf Generator_table_infobox_0

Van der Graaf GeneratorVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_1_0
OriginVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_2_0 Manchester, EnglandVan der Graaf Generator_cell_0_2_1
GenresVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_3_0 Van der Graaf Generator_cell_0_3_1
Years activeVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_4_0 1967–1972, 1975–1978, 2005–presentVan der Graaf Generator_cell_0_4_1
LabelsVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_5_0 Mercury, Charisma, Fontana, Vertigo, Probe, Dunhill, VirginVan der Graaf Generator_cell_0_5_1
MembersVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_7_0 Peter Hammill

Hugh Banton Guy EvansVan der Graaf Generator_cell_0_7_1

Past membersVan der Graaf Generator_header_cell_0_9_0 Chris Judge Smith

Nick Pearne Keith Ellis Nic Potter David Jackson Graham Smith Charles DickieVan der Graaf Generator_cell_0_9_1

Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band, formed in 1967 in Manchester by singer-songwriters Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith and the first act signed by Charisma Records. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_2

They did not experience much commercial success in the UK, but became popular in Italy during the 1970s. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_3

In 2005 the band reformed, and are still musically active with a line-up of Hammill, organist Hugh Banton and drummer Guy Evans. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_4

The band formed at the University of Manchester, but settled in London where they signed with Charisma. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_5

They went through several incarnations in their early years, including a brief split in 1969. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_6

When they reformed, they found minor commercial success with The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (released in early 1970 and their only album to chart in the UK), and after the follow-up album, H to He, Who Am the Only One (December 1970), stabilised around a line-up of Hammill, Banton, Evans and saxophonist David Jackson. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_7

The quartet subsequently achieved significant success in Italy with the release of Pawn Hearts in 1971. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_8

After several exhausting tours of Italy, the band split in 1972. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_9

They reformed in 1975, releasing Godbluff and frequently touring Italy again, before a major line-up change and a slight rename to Van der Graaf. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_10

The band split in 1978. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_11

After many years apart, the band finally reunited at a gig at the Royal Festival Hall and a short tour in 2005. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_12

Since then, the band has continued as a trio of Hammill, Banton, and Evans, who record and tour regularly in between Hammill's concurrent solo career. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_13

The group's albums have tended to be both lyrically and musically darker in atmosphere than many of their progressive rock peers (a trait they shared with King Crimson, whose guitarist Robert Fripp guested on two of their albums), and guitar solos were the exception rather than the rule, preferring to use Banton's classically influenced organ, and, until his departure, Jackson's multiple saxophones. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_14

While Hammill is the primary songwriter for the band, and members have contributed to his solo albums, the band arranges all its material collectively. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_15

Hammill's lyrics covered themes of mortality, due to his love of science fiction writers such as Robert A. Heinlein and Philip K. Dick, along with his confessed warped and obsessive nature. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_16

His voice has been a distinctive component of the band throughout its career, described as "a male Nico". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_17

Though the group have generally been commercially unsuccessful, they have inspired several musicians across various genres. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_18

History Van der Graaf Generator_section_0

Formation and early years (1967–69) Van der Graaf Generator_section_1

The band formed in 1967 at the University of Manchester, after Chris Judge Smith, who had already played in several British rhythm and blues groups whilst a pupil in Oundle School, returned from a trip to San Francisco and, inspired by the bands he had seen, put together a list of possible band names to form a new group. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_19

After an unsatisfactory audition they had both attended in response to an advert to form a band, he met fellow student Peter Hammill, who was playing some of his original songs. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_20

Hammill had begun writing songs and poetry at the age of 12 while at prep school, and progressed to playing in bands while a pupil at Beaumont College. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_21

He was then briefly employed as a computer programmer, during which time he subsequently claimed to have written much of the band's early material, before enrolling at Manchester. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_22

Smith was so impressed with the quality of Hammill's original material that the two agreed to form a band together. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_23

The band name chosen from Smith's list was based on a Van de Graaff generator, a mechanical device that produces static electricity with lightning-like flashes – the misspellings are accidental. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_24

Smith recalls the reason for this may have been that Van de Graaff died in 1967, which was widely reported in the media. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_25

Among the bands that regularly played the university, including Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd, they were particularly impressed by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and recruited an organist, Nick Pearne, to match the format of Arthur Brown's band. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_26

Along with two female dancers, the initial line-up was Hammill on guitar and vocals, Smith on drums, wind instruments and vocals, and Pearne on organ (though he did not initially have an instrument). Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_27

According to Smith, the band initially played as a two-piece, with Smith occasionally using a typewriter as a percussion instrument; their first gig as a three-piece was in the student union, which lasted five minutes before the group's amplifiers blew up. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_28

The band managed to persuade fellow student Caleb Bradley to manage them, and by the start of 1968, the band had managed to record a demo tape influenced by blues and jazz, sending it to Lou Reizner, then the U.K. head of Mercury Records, who offered the trio of Hammill, Smith, and Pearne a recording contract in May. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_29

At this point, the band had to make a decision whether to stay on at university, or quit their courses and move to London to turn professional. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_30

Pearne was not keen to abandon his studies, so decided to leave the group. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_31

On arrival in London, Hammill and Smith met up with trainee BBC engineer and classically trained organist Hugh Banton, who was a brother of one of their friends back in Manchester. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_32

Later that year, they met Tony Stratton-Smith, who agreed to sign a management contract with them in December. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_33

Through him, the band acquired a bass guitar player, Keith Ellis, with drummer Guy Evans joining not too long afterwards. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_34

This line-up recorded a series of demos for Mercury, before recording a single ("People You Were Going To" b/w "Firebrand") on Polydor Records, which was released in January 1969. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_35

Melody Maker said the single was "one of the best records of the week". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_36

But the single was quickly withdrawn under pressure from Mercury, since it violated the contract band members Hammill and Smith signed the previous year. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_37

As a result the record later became a collectors item, with record collector magazine valuing the disc a top end value of £500 in 2018. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_38

However, the following year a copy went on to sell at auction for more than twice that. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_39

Smith, feeling superfluous to requirements, left the band, amicably, shortly after the recording of the single. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_40

He later released demos featuring his time in Van der Graaf Generator on a CD, Democrazy. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_41

The remaining 4 members performed for John Peel on BBC Radio 1's Top Gear radio show in November, and played several gigs in England in the next months. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_42

Meanwhile, Mercury refused to let the band record, and at the same time Stratton-Smith refused to let the other members of the band sign to Mercury too, as he did not think the deal was fair to the band (only Hammill remained now of the original three who had signed with Mercury). Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_43

On top of that in late January 1969 the band's van and equipment were stolen. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_44

The theft aggravated their financial difficulties. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_45

Although the band was touring successfully, which included a concert in February at the Royal Albert Hall in support of Jimi Hendrix, it broke up in June after playing a final gig at Nottingham's Pop & Blues Festival on 10 May entirely with borrowed equipment. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_46

John Peel, who was compering the show, announced their break-up to the audience. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_47

In July 1969, Hammill had begun performing solo at the Marquee Club in London, and since there was no group, he decided to record what was intended to be his first solo album at Trident Studios on 31 July and 1 August, with Banton, Evans, and Ellis as session musicians. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_48

However, through a deal worked out by Stratton-Smith, the album, The Aerosol Grey Machine, was released in September 1969 by Mercury under the group's name in return for releasing them from their contract. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_49

The album was initially only released in the United States with hardly any promotion at all, so sales were minimal, but the group decided to reform in the middle of the recording session. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_50

Ellis had already committed to joining Juicy Lucy and was replaced by Evan's former bandmate in The Misunderstood, Nic Potter. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_51

The band had also enjoyed flautist Jeff Peach's contributions to the album and wanted to recruit a further instrumentalist. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_52

"There was always the idea of having another melodic instrument," recalled Evans. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_53

"He [Banton]'ll play a solo, sure, and really give it something, but he doesn't want to do that all the time." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_54

Peach was approached to become a full-time member, but dropped out after one rehearsal as he didn't think his playing style fitted the band. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_55

The position was eventually filled by saxophonist and flautist David Jackson, who had previously played in a band called Heebalob with Smith. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_56

Hammill had already sat in with Heebalob at the Plumpton National Jazz Festival on 9 August, and, impressed by Jackson's playing, invited him to join the band, partly because he also needed a flatmate to help pay with the rent. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_57

Signing to Charisma (1969–70) Van der Graaf Generator_section_2

In September, the new five-piece band began rehearsals in Notting Hill Gate and began to change its sound. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_58

Banton, influenced by the effects pedals popularised by Jimi Hendrix, used his electronic skills to modify a Farfisa organ, giving it a wider variety of sounds. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_59

Jackson was inspired by jazz musicians, particularly Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and began to play multiple saxophones (usually alto and tenor) simultaneously. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_60

Hammill, for his part, elected to sing in received pronunciation, exploring the full range of his vocal capabilities. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_61

"We were all megalomaniacs," said Banton. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_62

"We grabbed our own space as best we could." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_63

The band started to gig regularly, including the first of several live appearances at the Friars Aylesbury in November. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_64

Tony Stratton-Smith formed Charisma Records and signed the band as his first act, who recorded their second album, The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other from 11–14 December 1969 with producer John Anthony in Trident Studios. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_65

Hammill's voice was electronically treated on "After the Flood", while "Refugees" and "White Hammer" featured cello and cornet respectively. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_66

Because the band finished ahead of their rehearsal schedule, Potter decided to overdub some electric guitar – an instrument he had never played before. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_67

The album was released in February 1970 and made the top 50 in the U.K, Melody Maker said "If all our groups were as together as this, the British music scene would improve ten-fold." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_68

Potter, however, did not feel he fitted into the increasingly experimental sound the band was developing and tended to wait until the others had worked out their parts during rehearsals, adding his bass lines on top at the last minute. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_69

After recording three tracks of their third album, H to He, Who Am the Only One, he decided to quit the band. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_70

His last gig was on 9 August at the 1970 Plumpton Festival. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_71

The remaining members auditioned Dave Anderson, roadie for Brinsley Schwarz and friend of the band, but after a week's rehearsal found that things weren't working out musically. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_72

Banton, meanwhile, had become influenced by Vincent Crane's work in Atomic Rooster, where Crane played the bass lines on a Hammond organ's bass pedals and suggested that he could do this as well. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_73

With just days to go before the next gig, they tried rehearsing as a four-piece, and it was successful. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_74

Banton later played bass guitar on certain songs, having already learned the instrument in the mid-1960s, and Hammill expanded his instrumental capabilities on stage to cover piano and keyboards as well as guitar. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_75

Jackson modified his saxophones to be completely electric, as opposed to simply being amplified through a microphone, and combined the sound with a wah-wah pedal and an octave divider. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_76

H to He continued to be recorded sporadically throughout 1970, and featured Robert Fripp of King Crimson contributing guitar on "The Emperor in His War-Room". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_77

Producer John Anthony knew Fripp socially and invited him to a session as a guest, something Fripp had never done before at that point. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_78

According to Jackson, Fripp "put headphones on and started searing away", listening to the track once, then performing two takes. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_79

"Killer", later to become a live favourite, recycled a middle eight from an old Heebalob song, and Smith received a co-composition credit on the track. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_80

The album was released in December, but didn't sell as well as The Least We Can Do... because of the lack of a hit. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_81

Charisma proposed "Killer" as a single, but the band rejected this. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_82

Reviewing the album, Sounds particularly praised Jackson's saxophone work, but critical reception overall was mixed. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_83

The classic line-up (1971–72) Van der Graaf Generator_section_3

The Hammill/Banton/Jackson/Evans quartet that resulted from H to He, Who Am the Only One is now considered the "classic" line-up. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_84

The group played on the 'Six Bob Tour' in early 1971 with fellow Charisma labelmates Genesis and Lindisfarne. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_85

Despite the complexity of their music, the band were well received on the tour, with Hammill noting "at nearly all the gigs, most of the audience have known most of the songs ... Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_86

It was like a big family actually, exactly as all of us had pictured it in our wildest dreams." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_87

While on tour, the band started working out compositions between gigs for their next album, which would become Pawn Hearts. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_88

The intention was to release a double album, and the band recorded the material; however, for economic reasons, the released recording was a single album containing three tracks – "Lemmings", "Man-Erg", and the 23 minute concept piece "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_89

Reflecting on this, Hammill said: "Charisma Records felt that it wasn't appropriate for us to release a double album and they vetoed the live studio recordings and the solo tracks by Guy, David, and Hugh." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_90

The master tape of the recording sessions has been lost. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_91

Fripp again provided a cameo appearance on guitar. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_92

While "Man-Erg" had already been performed on stage, "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" evolved in the studio, recorded in small sections and pieced together during mixing. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_93

According to producer John Anthony, the track features a lot more studio experimentation than on previous albums, saying "we pushed the facilities at Trident to the limit and had involved the use of every single tape machine in Trident at some stage." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_94

The experiments included tape manipulation and Banton playing Mellotron and synthesizer. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_95

According to Jackson, one section of it features the entire band overdubbed 16 times. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_96

The album was released in October 1971 and was not a success in the U.K, but proved highly successful in Italy, topping the chart there for 12 weeks. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_97

The following single, "Theme One", reached number one in Italy, too. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_98

"Theme One" was an instrumental piece, originally written by Beatles producer George Martin as a fanfare for the BBC radio station Radio 1, later to appear on US pressings of Pawn Hearts. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_99

Following commercial success in Italy, the band did a six-week tour there at the start of 1972. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_100

The band were apprehensive about touring there, concerned they might be playing to half empty venues, but they were all shocked by the sheer volume of the crowds that came to see them. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_101

"Pawn Hearts was seen as the ultimate album by the ultimate band," said Jackson, who at times found it difficult to walk down the street in parts of Italy without being recognised. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_102

"The tour was like the prophets have landed ... you couldn't go anywhere without this lunatic 'Generator Mania' breaking out." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_103

After the tour, the group was immediately offered another Italian tour, this time doing up to three shows a day. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_104

In between the tours, the band made an appearance on Belgian television performing "Theme One" and "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_105

Since the studio recording of "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" was a collage of multiple recordings, impossible to reproduce live in one setting, the band simply filmed individual sections of the song and spliced them together in the editing suite. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_106

It was the only live performance of the song until 2013. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_107

By June, the band had performed another Italian tour (the third that year) and wanted to start recording new material (some of which ended up on Hammill's 1973 solo album Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night). Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_108

However, the combination of working for too long without a break, combined with a lack of support from Stratton-Smith and Charisma and continued financial difficulties caused the band to implode, and Hammill left to pursue a solo career in mid-1972. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_109

The three remaining members recorded an instrumental album with Nic Potter, Ced Curtis, and Pietro Messina, under the name 'The Long Hello'. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_110

Their self-titled album (The Long Hello) was released in 1974. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_111

First reunion (1975–78) Van der Graaf Generator_section_4

Hammill's split with the group was amicable, and Banton, Jackson, and Evans, among others, all contributed to his solo work at various times. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_112

By February 1975, the members of the band were ready to work with each other in a full-time capacity again, and they decided to reform the band. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_113

All the members were keen on carrying on with new music, with no nostalgia for their previous era, and did not want to play earlier stage favourites such as "Killer" (the opening track on H to He, Who Am the Only One) and "Theme One". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_114

"We didn't want to continue as if nothing had happened," said Hammill. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_115

Banton was in the middle of building a custom organ at the time, and halted the project to join the reformed group, using a rented Hammond C3 organ instead. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_116

Hammill began playing electric guitar in the band, which had been conspicuously absent earlier in their career. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_117

The reformed band worked at a prolific pace, rehearsing, and touring France before recording three new albums in just 12 months, beginning with Godbluff (October 1975). Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_118

Unlike the earlier work with John Anthony at Trident, the sessions were produced by the band themselves, and both the Melody Maker and Sounds thought they were a tighter and more cohesive unit than previously. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_119

The album in particular saw Hammill making significant use of the Hohner clavinet keyboard. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_120

Still Life followed on 15 April 1976. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_121

Banton considers this album one of his favourites by the group. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_122

In the summer of 1975, the band gigged in Italy without incident, but when they returned to tour there in November, the intense political situation the country was going through caught up with them. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_123

The opening concert in Padua was marked with clashes with communists delivering political speeches, and the audience started throwing missiles towards the stage. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_124

After a gig without incident in Genoa, the third day of the tour at the PalaSport in Rome, in front of 40,000 people, saw similar confrontations to the Padua gig. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_125

A fire broke out at the venue, but was brought under control. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_126

The next day, the band learned that most of their gear had been stolen from the tour van, including Hammill's blue Fender Stratocaster, christened "Meurglys". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_127

Despite threats from promoters that the band would continue the tour using hired equipment (which Jackson considered impossible given the electronic modifications he had made to his saxophones), they abandoned the tour. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_128

Miraculously, all of Jackson's saxophones had survived the theft. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_129

In December 1976, following the World Record tour, Banton quit, and in January 1977 Nic Potter returned to replace him alongside the violinist Graham Smith (formerly of Charisma folk-rock band String Driven Thing). Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_130

But when suddenly Jackson also decided to leave the band, a four-piece line-up with a quite different sound, with a shortened name of Van der Graaf, had to play the spring tour. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_131

They produced the album The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, released in September 1977, and then Charles Dickie joined the band in August on cello and keyboards, and stayed with the band in their last year. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_132

A further studio album was never recorded, so that the only document of this line-up is the live double-album Vital, which was recorded in January 1978, and contained at least several new songs. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_133

The 2 concerts played for this record also brought a brief reunion with David Jackson, who guested on 6 of the album's tracks. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_134

By the time Vital was released, in July 1978, the band had already split, because of lack of record company support in the United States and financial difficulties. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_135

In 1982 a collection of out-takes and rehearsal recordings from the 1972–1975 hiatus was released (initially on cassette only), called Time Vaults. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_136

Intended only as a gift for hardcore fans these are mostly not studio-quality recordings, some of them have even a quite bad audio quality full of distortions. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_137

Second reunion (2005) Van der Graaf Generator_section_5

Despite the 1978 split, Banton recalled that the group "never descended very far into our sub-conscience". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_138

Banton, Jackson and Evans appeared on Hammill's solo albums, and all four occasionally played together. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_139

In 1996, the quartet appeared on stage during a concert by Hammill and Evans at the Union Chapel in London to perform "Lemmings", which was later in March 1997 released as The Union Chapel Concert. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_140

In 2003, Banton, Jackson, and Evans joined with Hammill to perform "Still Life" at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_141

Following the Queen Elizabeth Hall performance, the band members discussed working together. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_142

In mid-2004, they began to write and rehearse new material. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_143

The result was a double CD, Present, released in April 2005. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_144

Critical response was favourable; BBC Music's Peter Marsh said the group was "willing to push the envelope a little, and bless them for that", while AllMusic' Dave Thompson said the group "never made a less than fabulous album in their lives. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_145

And they're not about to start now." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_146

A reunion concert took place at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 6 May 2005, which was released as Real Time in March 2007. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_147

The Festival Hall concert was followed by several European dates in the summer and autumn. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_148

The concert in Leverkusen, Germany on 5 November was filmed for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk TV show Rockpalast, which was broadcast on 16 January 2006. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_149

Hammill stated in a December 2005 newsletter that there were no plans for further recordings or performances by the "classic" Van der Graaf Generator line-up of himself, Banton, Evans and Jackson. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_150

Hammill subsequently announced that the band would be continuing as a trio, for live and studio work, without Jackson. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_151

He later stated that the reason for Jackson's departure was that he "seemed to have difficulty in understanding what we had mutually agreed" and that he clashed with the other band members. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_152

Relationships between Jackson and the others became strained, and Hammill, Banton and Evans realised that the only way the group could continue was without him. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_153

Trio (2006 – present) Van der Graaf Generator_section_6

After Jackson's departure, the group took a break before touring as a trio in April and July 2007 over Europe. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_154

A concert on 14 April 2007 in the Paradiso in Amsterdam was recorded and streamed on the FabChannel website until March 2009, and was released on DVD and CD that June. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_155

The first trio recording, Trisector, was released on 17 March 2008. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_156

Live concerts were played in Europe in March and April, and in Japan in June, among them, one at the Gouveia Art Rock Festival. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_157

There were further concerts in January 2009 in Europe, and the band played several concerts in Canada and the United States in the summer of 2009, among them a performance at NEARfest in Bethlehem PA. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_158

It was only the second time Van der Graaf Generator had visited the United States (their first being in New York City in 1976). Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_159

In spring 2010, the group recorded a new album in Devon. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_160

A Grounding in Numbers was released on 14 March 2011. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_161

Live at Metropolis Studios 2010 was released as a 2CD/1DVD set by Salvo/Union Square Music on 4 June 2012. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_162

The band then toured the eastern part of the United States and Canada during June and July 2012, including an appearance at NEARfest Apocalypse in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on 22 June. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_163

An album of out-takes and in-studio jams, similar to the second disc of Present, called ALT was released in June 2012. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_164

Hammill has stated that he has enjoyed the current reunion, as "the activity has reinvigorated me. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_165

Going from one thing to another is an energizing thing." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_166

Hammill revealed via his website that the band's former bassist Nic Potter died on the night of 16 January 2013, aged 61. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_167

The group continued to tour in 2013, including the first live performance of "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_168

In 2014, the group collaborated with Soviet dissident artist Vladislav Shabalin for an art venture titled the Earlybird Project. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_169

The title comes from the track of the same name on ALT. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_170

In 2015, the group released the live album, Merlin Atmos featuring tracks recorded during the 2013 tour, and After the Flood, an album of BBC recordings from 1968–1977. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_171

A new album, Do Not Disturb was released in September 2016. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_172

It included the song "Alfa Berlina" which documented the group's 1970s Italian tours. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_173

Critics speculated that it would be the band's last album, though this has not been confirmed. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_174

Musical style Van der Graaf Generator_section_7

Due to the time-frame of the original band's career, Van der Graaf Generator have been frequently referred to as a progressive rock band. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_175

Writing in Record Collector, Toby Manning said the music was "philosophical, even intellectual, complex .. at times, terrifying". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_176

While the music on The Aerosol Grey Machine (September 1969) has a more pastoral, hippie feel, with prominent use of Hammill's acoustic guitar, later work featured more complex instrumentation and arrangements. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_177

Hammill thinks the style of the band evolved due to the culture of music in the late 1960s, stating "the whole of music was laid out in front of you ... it was the blues in wonky time signatures." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_178

Both Hammill and Banton have stated that Jimi Hendrix was an influence on the band's sound, with Hammill remarking that "there'd been distortion before, but there hadn't been that real out-there attitude to sound in itself". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_179

The group's experimental style has also been compared to Krautrock bands such as Can. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_180

Because of their musical influences and line-up, the band tended to play darker musical themes than other progressive bands, with the possible exception of King Crimson. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_181

However, Hammill has stated that the group is still fun to work with, stating "as far as we're concerned, it's serious fun, but fun nonetheless." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_182

Promoting Do Not Disturb, he said "We love making a racket, and that has to do with chaos, which is pretty punk". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_183

Hammill's lyrics frequently covered themes of mortality, due to his love of science fiction writers such as Robert A. Heinlein and Philip K. Dick, along with his self-confessed warped and obsessive nature. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_184

His voice has been a distinctive component of the band throughout its career. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_185

It has been described as "a male Nico" and would later on be cited as an influence by Goth bands in the 1980s. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_186

Unlike several other notable prog rock keyboardists, such as Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson, Banton considers himself primarily an organist, due to his background in classical and church music, and only ever used that instrument on stage, albeit heavily modified with customised electronics and devices. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_187

Hammill said that "Hugh is one of the most instinctive, baffling, and brilliant people I've known and his intuitive hold on the worlds of music and electronics has always astonished me." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_188

Banton used clonewheel organs during the 2005 reformation, but since 2009 he has used the Hammond XK-3c, and thinks Hammond have "cracked that sound at long last". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_189

Although Hammill has written the vast majority of the songs in the band's catalogue, and all of the lyrics, he is keen to stress that the arrangements of the music comes from all the group's members. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_190

In 1976, being interviewed for the Melody Maker, he said that "VDGG is a band, a real band ... of course [it] is something special, it releases in individual terms parts of us that wouldn't be aired otherwise. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_191

In 2013, he reiterated, "Some people don't think Van der Graaf is a democracy, but believe me, it's entirely democratic, with everyone having very vocal and forceful opinions." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_192

Since the band has stabilised around Hammill, Banton and Jackson, the members think there is a good balance of opinion, with somebody always having the casting vote. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_193

The band have been compared with Genesis due to being label-mates at Charisma Records, sharing management with Tony Stratton-Smith and performing on the same bill on the 'Six Bob Tour'. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_194

Hammill and Banton both reject this comparison, with Hammill noting that Genesis were far more driven to be commercially successful, whereas he prefers to release music without interference from record companies. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_195

In particular, he has mentioned that while he himself continues to release albums on a regular basis in the 21st century, Peter Gabriel's "average output has been about 0.2 albums a year". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_196

Influence Van der Graaf Generator_section_8

Though the group have generally been commercially unsuccessful outside of early 1970s Italy, they have inspired notable musicians, including Rush, John Lydon, Marc Almond, Graham Coxon, Luca Prodan, Mark E. Smith, John Frusciante and Julian Cope. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_197

Coxon is particularly fond of "House with No Door" from H to He (1970), saying the track is "extremely beautiful, with Jackson's truly lovely sax-and-flute instrumental section." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_198

Almond recalled hearing "Killer" for the first time saying, "I'd never heard anything like it before. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_199

It wasn't just Peter's snarling operatic vocal, it was the mix of instruments ... Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_200

I became an instant fan." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_201

Mentioning their reputation as something of an acquired taste, Lydon said, "There's a few Van der Graaf things I like, but I'm not going to recommend anything to anyone. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_202

It might not be for them. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_203

Music doesn't come with a set of guidelines." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_204

Bruce Dickinson – a fan of the band since he saw them at Oundle School aged 13 – hailed Hammill as one of his childhood heroes. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_205

Although Van der Graaf Generator are generally categorised as progressive rock, Cope is keen to distance the band from that movement: "Their music was like some Brechtian bar band – the opposite of prog rock, really". Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_206

Nevertheless, the band have been acknowledged as an influence on the neo-progressive rock subgenre that emerged in the 1980s and of which Marillion were the most successful proponents. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_207

Hammill's singing style influenced Marillion singer Fish and he was a support act on Marillion's first album tour. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_208

"The band we really cared about was Van der Graaf Generator," said Philip Oakey of The Human League. Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_209

"That music was so committed." Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_210

Personnel Van der Graaf Generator_section_9

Members Van der Graaf Generator_section_10

Lineups Van der Graaf Generator_section_11

Timeline Van der Graaf Generator_section_12

Discography Van der Graaf Generator_section_13

Main article: Van der Graaf Generator discography Van der Graaf Generator_sentence_211


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van der Graaf Generator.