Gary Brooker on 50 years of Procol Harum
The Procol Harum singer/pianist on lyricists, banging his head and losing his hearing, and falling off logs in Finland
It might feel as if Procol Harum are emerging from an extended break – it has been 14 years since their last studio album, after all. But, as Gary Brooker is quick to point out, if that is the case, then what are they doing on tour every year? He does admit, however, that the band’s itinerary has included just three British shows in the past decade. Still, in the meantime there’s been a steady flow of live souvenir albums and DVDs, several of them featuring an orchestra in an attempt to emulate the band’s landmark Live With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra back in 1971.
Now, with a new album, Novum, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of their debut it’s all hands on deck – although Brooker, whose dry wit camouflages an even deeper sense of British reserve, concedes that he was not exactly leading the charge from below deck.
“Obviously there’d been a lot of talk about the fiftieth anniversary from people like promoters, agents and the record company,” says Brooker. “And they were all waiting for me to say something. And I was looking for some kind of inspiration. That came when I went into the studio to start working on some songs, and realised how much I liked the process of making an album.”