Death & Mortality: Peter Hammill

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When you had your heart attack just over ten years ago did it change your outlook on life?

At first. Mostly in a life-enhancing way. Quite quickly, though, one’s impression of one’s own immortality returns.

Your song All That Before [on Van der Graaf Generator’s 2008 album Trisector] is all about growing old. Has being older inspired any other songs?

I hope there’s been a constant updating of attitude and inspiration as I’ve grown older. The recent VdGG material in particular has been coloured by the fact that we’re – ahem – not quite as sprightly as we once were.

How did it affect you in 2013 when Nic Potter [ex-VdGG bassist] died?

It led me to reflect on a lot of shared experiences – some wonderful, some not quite so great.

Now you’re older, are you wiser?

Oh, I’m still lacking in common sense.

Do you believe in life after death?

No, I believe that when we’re done we’re done. So make the best use of the time while we’re here.

Are you contemplating retirement?

Absolutely not. Although I might start taking things a little more slowly.

When you started out in 1967, could you have envisaged still being active in music forty-seven years later?

No. There was no blueprint for that at all.

How do you think you’ll be remembered?

I hope, perhaps, that some of the work will still resonate. But I’ll be well out of here.