John Wenlock-Smith: ‘The Cloud Of Unknowing’,you were going to tell me what it is all about?
Nick Fletcher: Well, the album came out of lockdown and my own search to find meaning and purpose in my life as a result of that time.
JWS: How did you do that?
NF: Well I looked in mythology and also to Christian mysticism to find some answers.
JWS: Mysticism? like who?
NF: Under the CD tray is a quote from St John of the Cross, I looked at what folks like him were saying to see if that gave any clarity. For me, I think that it did impact me in how I looked at things and situations and also how to enjoy solitude and silence.
I found there to be much insight and wisdom in these medieval mystics writing, much to learn within those monastic traditions.
JWS: And this all influenced the album?
NF: Yes but indirectly, in that it helped me focus and create the music accordingly.
JWS: The album is great
NF: I feel it’s best listened to straight through to really get what it’s trying to say.
JWS: I can certainly spot the influence of U.K., for instance. While you may not play legato style like Allan Holdsworth, you certainly fly across the strings with some style.
NF: Well, I loved U.K. and I wanted a singer who sounded a little like John Wetton as I love his voice. When Caroline Bonnet (my producer) suggested her friend Stuart Barbour (who she’d worked with before), I tried him and found he had a very good voice, a British voice rather than an American one, and I think that matters for the two songs he does, he did a great job.
JWS: So, obviously, U.K. was an influence.
NF: Yes, but so many other guitarists were too, like John Mclaughlin, his Mahavishnu Orchestra and later 1970s albums were influences too.
JWS: With some guitarists it is all about the song being the springboard from which they can do the guitar solo.
NF: I try not to take that approach, for me, if the song calls for a solo then fine, but it’s a tool that I can choose to employ and it’s not mandatory really. I’m a writer mainly, one who also plays the guitar, it is really merely a tool I can utilise in my music. I’m always writing stuff and the guitar is a tool to use within that context.
JWS: You have some great musicians who lend their skills to the album.
NF: Yes, I have some great friends who are prepared to help me out.
JWS: Like Dave Bainbridge?
NF: Dave played some great organ parts on several tracks.
JWS: How is Dave?
NF: I’m actually seeing him this week as he’s playing a gig in Sheffield and it’s so close to me, it’ll be good to catch up with him again.
JWS: So what’s next for you?
NF: Well, I’m still writing with a view to a third album and in August we (The John Hackett Band) resume touring activities again, plus I’ll have more solo classical guitar recitals to do.
JWS: So, all in all, keeping occupied after the two years of difficulties with covid?
NF: We are doing a promotional film shoot for the band with some live stuff that will be used to promote the band to a wider audience hopefully. That will, hopefully, appear on YouTube.
JWS: So it’s all looking positive Nick?
NF: Yes, very much so!
JWS: Thank you for your time and for the information about the album, that will help me with my review, I hope, and, hopefully, I’ll see you on the road again soon.
NF: Thanks John, good to talk with you again, hope to see you soon too.
‘The Cloud Of Unknowing’ is out now and can be ordered direct from the artist here: