Larry Fast at the Artist Shop

[GaryD] Hello, folks, glad you all could make it. This is The Artist Shop's second chat. Our first was with Trey Gunn of King Crimson. And tonight we have Larry Fast, known to all of you as Synergy.

[GaryD] Tonight's gathering is sort of an on-line CD release party to celebrate the long awaited re-release of the second Synergy album, Sequencer! For those of you who don't yet have it, find some time to make your way over to to order it.

[GaryD] Roger is assisting us tonight in this event. For those of you who have questions for Larry, just shoot them over to Roger in a private message. Roger will then post it to the conversation. Say hello, Roger.

[Roger] Okay, so .. my name is Roger, and I'll be doing this, you send me questions as priv msgs, and I'll post them on the channel.

[GaryD] This way we'll keep things in a relatively orderly fashion. And, of course, a big hello to Larry Fast!

[LarryFast] Good evening--thanks, everyone, for coming.

[GaryD] Later this evening Larry will be giving away an autographed copy of Sequencer. We'll let you know how to get it when that comes up.

[Roger] First question from Benjamin: Being you have worked with Peter Gabriel, I was wondering if you've ever had the opportunity to work with Laurie Anderson?

[LarryFast] No, I haven't worked with Laurie Anderson at all, though I have worked with a number of the same people she's worked with. Most recently was Joy Askew who also worked with Peter on his last tour.

[Roger] Question from Roy: Larry, will you have any "bonus tracks" on the CD re-releases? Things like the version of Classical Gas on the UK Electronic Realizations album or the Semi-Conductor tracks?

[LarryFast] So far, the feedback has been to just re-create the original releases. I thought about adding the old mix of Classical Gas but there were two problems. One is that the publisher of the song really didn't want to do it except for a lot of money--which I still might have considered. But hearing the old mix after the finished one, well it wasn't that good in comparison. So it didn't make sense there. Maybe on some collections thing later.

[Roger] Question from Philip: What new music do we have to look forward to?

[LarryFast] I knew that was coming. I really don't want to make promises because my other projects always get in the way. And some of you have been hearing vapor-music plans for some time now. But I think that with the momentum of the re-releases, there will be time to finish up some of the new pieces I'lle be slooowly getting together during 1997. I'll post progress reports and maybe even the odd mix download when it is more realistic. Check the Synergy website at for updates.

[Roger] Ok... question from Telical: how much training or piano lessons did you have before the first album?

[LarryFast] I took private piano lessons from grade school through high school, but my heart really was in rock and playing in bands. I kind of gave up the lessons late in high school, played bass, 12 string, and then organ (still have my Vox Continental). In college I got serious again in taking music courses--but more as a composer, not as a classical performer. Some of the first album was done as a composition project in 20th century music.

[Roger] From Kenzak: Larry, given the state of currently available electronic instruments, do you think we have hit a dead end in development and/or do you see any kind of evolution.

[LarryFast] I'm sure that we haven't hit a dead end. There is a lot of room for technological evolution of what is *possible* (look at the early state of DSP design right now). But culturally, musically, it takes some time to assimilate what has been developed already. I was at Digidesign's DigiWorld conference over the weekend (in NYC) and some of the digital musical possibilities are amazing. But they're here now, and I don't hear much of them being used to their fullest extent in music being released.

[Roger] From Benjamin: I know this has probably been covered somewhere that I don't know about, but who do you like musically? Who do you draw inspiration from? And what do you think of the current trend in ambient music towards the use of more analog sounds?

[LarryFast] Most of the music I like comes from a variety of sources. Classical is open game for me. But favorites like Stravinsky and Ives come to mind. Electronic--has to be Wendy Carlos. She practically defined the field for all of us.

[GaryD] What about pop or progressive?

[LarryFast] Rock/pop/stuff--a varied list, because most of the people that I like aren't quite as direct influences. For me the influences were strong from the Beatles period through the late 60's. Then I was in the "game" myself. But for names-the UK Mellotron/Synth bands in the 70s like Yes ELP Strawbs, King Crimson. You get the idea. But I also live in the land of Springsteen. And I've played on a lot of R&B stuff, too.

[GaryD] How did you become involved with Peter Gabriel and can you discuss that experience?

[LarryFast] The Peter Gabriel connection came from a few places. I knew Peter from when I worked in radio, and Genesis was on their first US tour. I was part of the radio interview (after a show in Princeton, NJ). But by this time I was also building synth modules for Rick Wakeman, so I was kind of playing both sides of the music biz. When Peter left Genesis, I had my first album out and was touring with Nektar. We had stayed in contact through our record companies (which had a connection) and when he was planning the first solo LP he asked for me. The experience which went for about 10 years (1976-86) is too expansive to discuss in any meaningful way here. But if there is something more specific....

[GaryD] You seemed to have a very integral part in the 3rd album and Security. Can you discuss that further?

[LarryFast] Ironic, because just yesterday, Hugh Padgham who engineered album #3 (melty face) was right here at this same Mac at my house while we were troubleshooting his modem. Anyway, Peter, by his 3rd record, had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted to do. In some ways he had those ideas on #1 and #2 but the producer's wouldn't give him enough room. Steve Lillywhite, on #3, got out of his way, and I served as the "translator" to help turn the concepts into technology-music. Security (as it is known only in the US) was really an extension of the same concept, the last before Peter turned to new creative directions.

[GaryD] How about the Fairlight development for Security?

[LarryFast] The Fairlight was one of the first digital sampling instruments. I was given a demo in NY at the Power Station by one of its inventors in 1979. I invited him to the UK for Peter's sessions. We used it on #3 and by the time of #4, Peter had invested in the UK distributorship (Syco Systems, Ltd.).

[Roger] You mentioned Nektar earlier... from Roy: Nektar was a phenomenal band. Any comments on your experience with them? Why weren't they more successful in the States?

[LarryFast] Nektar, by the time they achieved success, were near the end of their long creative life. Not that the music was played out, but they had been working in some form or another in Europe since the 60's and were feeling the internal stresses. The success of a top 20 LP in the US created extra tensions. Also there were serious problems with the management which thwarted further success and created record company problems. I'm still in thouch with many of the members--they're some of my favorite people. There were times on the road, though, that were pure Spinal Tap.

[GaryD] Any that you can share?

[LarryFast] Well, yes. Just the usual road silliness. Props that didn't work. Album covers that the record company couldn't or wouldn't stand. Girlfriends trying to take over management. Absolutely ridiculous local promo guys. The Spinal Tap movie hit way too close to home. Peter Gabriel was quite different.

[Roger] Question from Philbert: How did your association with Annie Haslam originate?

[LarryFast] That management that was giving us all that trouble with Nektar--they also handled Renaissance, Climax Blues Band, Wishbone Ash and a few others. So we were all one big (sometimes grumpy) family. Annie and I had known each other for years and the opportunity to work together on her solo album was perfect for both of us.

[Roger] From CSR: what have your favorite instruments been? Do you have a favorite analog synth?

[LarryFast] I've always bee a big fan of Bob Moog's designs. Remember that I started out doing synth design, too. So he's one of my heroes. There are a lot of fine designers out there, some of whom had their own companies. These days, I'm centered around Kurzweil instruments, but some of my classics like Prophet 5, various Moogs and Oberheims are still floating around my studio. A have a soft spot for John Simonton's PAiA kits, too.

[GaryD] Speaking of John Simonton, Larry, I've always been very fond of Computer Experiments Vol 1. Will there be a volume 2?

[LarryFast] If I can find some algorithmic composition that doesn't sound like everybody else's ambient drones, then yes. But I've played with a lot of applications, and so far, none have had the creative spark to make it happen. Might be around the next corner, though...

[GaryD] Helios would like to know if you have any plans to tour solo?

[LarryFast] I really don't. I'm involved in so many different projects that it would be hard to set aside the time and energy at this point. But at least now in the late 90's it is possible, where in the 70's the technology wasn't up to it. I won't say never, but without a new (hit) record to support, touring probably isn't viable.

[Roger] From Benjamin: I noticed you called the music business a "game", and your fourth album is called that as well which is supposed to be musical ideas collected while on tour with Gabriel. What is your opinion on the music business?

[LarryFast] The business is a moving target and some of it has changed a lot in the 20+ years I've been in it. But it definitely is a high stakes game where a lot of the impressions created for public consumption are quite different from what goes on "backstage". Once you know what the "game" really is and how it works, you're less likely to be disappointed by it. I don't recommend it for the weak of heart.

[Roger] Another one from Benjamin: With all the new computer interactive technology, I was wondering if you might be considering going the route of the CD-ROM interactive sort of thing in a future Synergy release?

[LarryFast] I'm not an interactive CD creator, I'm a composer, so I don't think that I'd be the one to best author that kind of project, though I've been approached by several people already. It's something worth considering, but my mail feedback is mostly for people looking for music to transport them. Like I said before, I'll rarely rule anything out.

[Roger] Old question from Roy: What was your involvement with Laserium? I seem to remember "seeing" your music at one of the shows... and was there something about it on TV too?

[LarryFast] The creators of Laserium licensed the use of some of my music from my old record company back in 1975 or 76. The record company used them as a marketing tool, too. I didn't have much of a direct connection, though I did work up some sonic soundscapes for a show that they never finished. Some of that is in the 'rainstorm' part of Sequence 14 on Sequencer.

[Roger] Ok... one from CSR: Compare working with the technology of the '70s with that of the post-MIDI era.

[LarryFast] Good question! It's a lot easier now to 'fix' your creative mistakes along the way. Like word processing allows you to polish your thoughts and rearrange them until you've got them right, MIDI helps to keep you from settling on something because it's just too much work to change it (the dreaded fatigue factor). The other side though is that it is possible to polish something to death and bleed all of the life out of it even though it is "perfect". That's definitely more common in the post-MIDI era (though it did happen before--I know, I worked on Jim Steinman's projects).

[GaryD] Between Electronic Realizations and Metropolitan Suite, where would you say were the biggest technological innovations for you?

[LarryFast] For me between the mid 70's and the late 80's the biggest changes were the arrival of computers/MIDI for the composer in me. And the arrival of digital recording and CD's in the studio. Most people don't realize how constraining vinyl LPs were to produce for, and the limits of analog tape for electronic composition.

[Roger] Bruckner asks what sequencers you use.

[LarryFast] I've got some experience with most of the Mac products, but lately I mostly use StudioVision Pro (Opcode). It's exceptionally stable, and integrates well with the ProTools/SoundTools/DeckII audio applications that I use.

[GaryD] I think now we're going to head into our special giveaway. Larry has an autographed copy of the new Sequencer re-release. He's going to ask a trivia question....

[LarryFast] Hard question (I think) first. If nobody gets it we'll try something easier:

[GaryD] Then Roger will unmoderate the room to give everyone a chance to answer the question. The first one to get it right will win the autographed Sequencer CD!

[Roger] OK, I'm ready :)

[GaryD] So, Larry, let's see the tough question!

[LarryFast] Mick Ronson (Spiders From Mars) and I shared three musical/career experiences (separately). What were they. Any one will do, except for a tie, then 2 or 3 will be necessary.

[TrAAin] Worked with Bowie?

[LarryFast] (play jeopardy music here)

[CMayhem] Working with Gabriel?

* Bruckner 's mind is blank

[telical] solo artist working with another bandleader?

[GaryD] This really is a toughie! [Fireballet2] Worked on the Intergalactic Touring Band?

[LarryFast] Bowie--close, but not the precise wording Alex Trebeck is looking for.
[LarryFast] No for Gabriel.
[LarryFast] No for IGTB

[CSR] Both had music featured on Cosmos series? ^^

[Helios] You mean HE'S a musical genius, too? :)

[LarryFast] No for Cosmos. Here's a hint. It's the title of his first solo album, also 1975.

[Kenzak] Wasn't one of Ronson's albums titled "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" - a song you covered on your first album?

[Hthr] who is ziggy stardust

[Hthr] man that fell to earth

[LarryFast] Kenzak!!!! ding ding. We could have a winner unless someone can get the other 2.

[GaryD] Are you kidding? We had a hard enough time getting the one :-)

[Hthr] both worked on "man that fell to earth"

[Benjamin] Great piece, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue... :>

[alley] wakeman

[Philbert] I've been out of the record business too long!

[Helios] You both made synth modules?

[LarryFast] So far Kenzak's ahead. Do we have an agreement to close the guessing yet?

[GaryD] I'm agreed. Roger?

[Hthr] good work kenzak

[Helios] I resign... :(

[Benjamin] I'll ceed. (I got Sequencer anyways.) :>

[Bruckner] I can't think of anymore

[Bruckner] ...

[Philbert] Give it to Kenzak before he gets another one.

[Roger] Ok, I agree too.

[GaryD] Kenzak, congratulations!!!

[Helios] Congrats, Kenzak!

[elana] Hey, Larry, I'll offer some copies of your DREAMS WORD interview/issue as a consolation prize if ya want. :)

[Bruckner] I'll trade you my ESQ-1

[Bruckner] ;)

[LarryFast] The other answers were--we both recorded at House of Music (he with Ian Hunter) and we were both ASKED to work with Bowie, but I turned him down to keep working with Peter.

* CSR already has an autographed copy of ERfRO, so he isn't too broken up. ;)

[TrAAin] Congrats, Kenzak!

[Fireballet2] I should have guessed house of music

[LarryFast] Take Elana up on copies of DREAMS WORD. You won't regret it.

[GaryD] Larry, Electronic Realizations is the most popular album in The Artist Shop. People are now going crazy for Sequencer. When do you anticipate Cords' re-release?

[LarryFast] I'm getting the legal clearances for Cords now. There's some stuff to work out with guitar synthesist Pete Sobel. I would like to have it out by summer, but there are some other things that might delay it slightly. If Sequencer sells well enough--maybe sooner.

[GaryD] Well, I guess that's my cue to mention that Sequencer, as well as Electronic Realizations, is available in The Artist Shop !

[Roger] Another question from CSR: have the rights reverted to you for all your albums now?

[LarryFast] Yes I do have the rights--but I still have to clear publishing and so on for the pieces I didn't write. But I own all of the masters and the artwork now, after the Jem/Passport bankruptcy.

[GaryD] Well, I want to thank Larry for coming tonight. This has been a really great session, almost two hours! Take a bow, Larry! And also thanks to Roger for his assistance. And thanks to AnotherNet and Shane for providing a home for these events.

[Shane] Not a problem, Gary. We're glad to have you here.

[LarryFast] Thanks again for coming. It's been a blast. We'll do this again sometime.

[Roger] good ! :-)

[GaryD] Next week on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 9pm eastern time we'll be having a chat with Mike Pinder, keyboardist/vocalist/poet formerly of the Moody Blues! I hope you can all come back for that. In the mean time we'll unmoderate the room again and let the party continue!!!!

[LarryFast] Goodnight everyone. Thanks.

Session Close: Tue Nov 26 1996



© 1996 Synergy® Electronic Music, Inc.
This page was last updated on December 12, 1996