Are Pendragon prog's greatest unsung heroes?
"We decided not to split up just to spite people," say the 80s prog survivors.
From terminally uncool teenage Yes fans to battered survivors of the 1980s prog wars, Pendragon have done things the hard way in search of their own personal Holy Grail. But now, 30 years on, they’re finally having the last laugh on the world.
There’s a weird logic to his thinking. Pendragon are one of prog’s great unsung survivors. Since they rose to cult prominence in the early 80s, Barrett has steered the band through the choppy waters of changing musical trends and the implosion of the music industry.
In the late 80s, while bands were still hypnotised by the million-dollar promise of a major record deal, Pendragon had already founded their own successful label. They were there in the vanguard of artists who recognised the importance of the internet in sustaining a band’s career, from fan recruitment to crowd-sourcing to actually selling albums. And while many of their contemporaries from the neo-prog scene and beyond were long ago forced to hit the job centre, metaphorically or otherwise, these unlikely elder statesmen have rebuilt their career around modest but reliable five-figure album sales and mid-sized tours, without the slightest whisper of an A&R man saying: “But I don’t hear a single.”
Today, as we sip beer in a South London bar, the material rewards of being a pioneer are evident. Barrett’s shiny Harley-Davidson sits outside, gleaming in the sunlight. If that’s what not giving a fuck gets you, we’ll have what he’s having.