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Prog rock band Caravan play Pizza Express at Maidstone Fringe Festival this bank holiday weekend

Prog rockers Caravan were a big part of the 1960s music scene in Canterbury and are still as popular now. Here's Pye Hastings ahead of their Maidstone Fringe Festival gig.

We got called up by the Maidstone Fringe Festival and asked to do this gig at Pizza Express...

It’s very interesting to do these smallish and personal gigs. I like the pizzas there, too. And I’ve never played in Maidstone – not in all these years.

We play some of the old stuff and some of the new, but we change the old ones so they’re more modern...

We have fun with it. We enjoy ourselves – that’s something that I hope comes across. Some of our early songs go on for ages, so we only do one or two of them – they’re 20 minutes long. Sometimes we put them into sections so they’re shorter. We do a mixture of songs that are four or five minutes, and a few of the long ones. Nine Feet Underground, for instance, is 18 minutes long. And we like to have some chat in there.

Caravan, from left, Jim Leverton, Jan Schelhaas, Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson and Mark Walker
Caravan, from left, Jim Leverton, Jan Schelhaas, Pye Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson and Mark Walker

We were part of the Canterbury prog rock scene in the 1960s...

To be honest, it was something journalists came up with, because there were a few bands from Canterbury around at the time. Calling it a scene was a bit more jazzy, I think! Now, we carry it like a badge of honour. It’s quite a privilege and we’re glad to have been part of it.

We’ve just played a cruise around the Caribbean supporting Marillion...

It’s really popular, although it was the first time we’d done it. It’s like being stuck in rock hell. You have to sit there on the boat and listen to it. Actually the people who go love it and we really enjoyed it.

We’ve played Norway and Sweden, Monte Carlo and might do Belgium this year...

It’s especially fun playing in Europe. The food’s better and the weather’s better. We’re busier than ever – there’s a big demand. Maybe our fans have retired and now have the money and time to see us.

We have quite a few new, younger followers now...

Our old ones all have big bellies and bald heads, so it’s good to have some others, too. The younger ones have just discovered us. Most of those who come to see us know all the stuff. They notice if we change the songs and probably think we’ve played the chords wrong.

We’ve made 21 or 22 albums – I don’t know, really...

We started in 1968 and we’ve had a few years off over the years. There are probably far more albums out there. Live recordings and things other people have done that we don’t even know about – and aren’t getting any money for!

I moved to a tiny village in Scotland nine years ago...

Which means I have to fly to rehearse in Kent sometimes! There are only between 300 and 400 people living in the village. It’s a bit different to Kent. If we have a gig coming up, I have to come down and rehearse for a couple of days – or not rehearse at all.

Live music at Earls
Live music at Earls


Caravan were formed in Canterbury in 1968 by singer and guitarist Pye Hastings, Dave Sinclair (keyboards), Richard Sinclair (bass and vocals) and Richard Coughlan (drums).

They released their first album, Caravan, the same year and by 1971 they had a following that saw them play to crowds of 250,000.

Over the years they have had a number of line-up changes, the saddest being Richard Coughlan dying after a long illness in 2013.

In 1990 the original line-up was put back together for a TV programme and they also played the Canterbury Festival that year.

The band released a box set in 2011 to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of their now legendary album, In The Land Of Grey And Pink.

The current line-up comprises Pye, Geoffrey Richardson, Jan Schelhaas, Jim Leverton and Mark Walker.

They will play the Music Room in Pizza Express, Earl Street, on Saturday, April 30. Doors open at 7pm, music at 8.30pm.

To book for the gig, visit pizzaexpresslive.com/maidstone

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