How we met: Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi
'On air, we bicker a lot, like an old married couple. But we never bicker anywhere else'
Steve Davis, 56
Since turning professional in 1978, Davis (left in picture) has won more snooker tournaments than any other player, including six world championships. A recent contestant on 'I'm a Celebrity (Get Me Out of Here)', he also commentates on snooker, and hosts a weekly music radio show. He lives in Essex
I started to get seriously into music at about 16, a couple of years after I started getting seriously into snooker. Genesis and Yes were the big prog-rock acts of the time, but they weren't left-field enough. I was more into the unorthodox; I liked extreme music, bands such as Egg and Gentle Giant. I liked irregular time patterns, music that kept you guessing. I suppose I also liked being a little bit elitist, as long as it didn't make me too unpopular.
I met Kavus a while ago now, in Paris, at a gig. Maybe 2005? Yeah, that sounds about right [it was actually 2009] – the great French prog-rock act Magma were doing a residency at a tiny venue there, Le Triton, celebrating 40 years in the business. Most of the fans were, naturally enough, French, but over by the bar I gravitated towards one of the few English voices I could hear. It belonged to Kavus.
I knew I was meeting a soulmate, in a way, because you don't turn up to a Magma concert without knowing what you are in for. If you didn't, you'd be scarred for life. Music was our common denominator pretty much instantaneously. He told me he was in a band, and I don't know why, but I just assumed it was a pub band. He asked me to come and see him play. A few weeks later, there he was, lead guitarist in the Cardiacs, on stage at the Astoria, in front of 1,500 screaming fans. To be honest, I'd not heard of the Cardiacs, but they clearly weren't a pub band.
He was making his own, more experimental, music, too, and I invited him down to a show I do on Phoenix FM, a local community radio station in Essex. We had a good laugh, hit it off, and he said he enjoyed it, so I invited him to become my co-pilot. We've done it together ever since. We probably have a quite small listenership in the Brentwood and Billericay area, but it's a devoted one, and it's wider online. It's not music for the faint-hearted; it's off the beaten track. We've always said that even if we turn just one person a year on to something they didn't know existed, we've achieved our aims.
We live in very different worlds, me and Kavus, but I've gotten to meet some fantastic musicians along the way as a result of all this, such as Daevid Allen from the legendary Gong. That was pretty special.
I'm sometimes tempted to make my own music, and Kavus is encouraging. It would never be anything more than a whim, though. I'm 56; I'd have known years ago if it was any kind of calling. And even if I do come up with something, I'd never play it on our show. No way. I have a feeling it would be pathetic.
Kavus Torabi, 42
A multi-instrumentalist and composer, Torabi has played with many bands, including the Mediaeval Baebes, the Cardiacs and Gong. He is married, and lives with his wife and four-year-old daughter in east London
I've played in all sorts of bands over the past 20 years: psychedelic, folk, rock, classical, experimental. It's what I loosely call "funny music" – or at least that's what friends call it. It's the kind of music most people want to turn off, I suppose. Not me.
I first met Steve about four years ago, at a Paris gig by Magma. I'd already known he was a fan, because I'd read that he'd helped put on a couple of shows for them back in the early 1980s. He loved them, and wanted them to play in London, so he made it happen. He lost a lot of money over it, but didn't care. When I saw him in the crowd in Paris, I didn't know whether to go up and bother him, but my wife and I had had a few drinks, so we did.
We hit it off immediately, and went out to dinner the next night. It turned out we had the same taste in music. He is a complete music nerd, and into some very obscure stuff, very cerebral. He doesn't go for mainstream psychedelic stuff as much as he does real head music – you know, 40 minutes of dissonant noise from some left-field German band.
I was the guitarist in the Cardiacs, and I invited him to come and see us at the Astoria. He loved it, and also loved another band I was in, Guapo, which did really experimental stuff. We were always recommending music to one another, and then, out of the blue, he asked if I'd like to co-present the show with him.
So that's pretty much what we've done for three or four years. If I'm not off on tour, and if he isn't playing snooker in somewhere like China, then we are sat in a studio in Essex on a Monday night, playing our favourite music to whoever wants to listen. It's pretty ramshackle, the show, but done out of love. We both bring in far more CDs than we could ever play. On air, we bicker a lot over our recommendations, a bit like an old married couple. But we never bicker anywhere else. No tiffs yet.
Steve is such a warm character, and very funny. I think, on TV, he likes to live up to that whole "interesting" caricature he's been lumbered with, but he's not boring in real life at all. He has a very musical mind, very analytical. He can listen to something with different meters, different time signatures, and absorb it instantly. I know a lot of rock musicians who would never be able to get their heads around it, but Steve can. He just gets it.
I'm not a sports fan, but I do like snooker, always have. We talk about it sometimes, and I've gone to see him in tournaments, but we've never played a game together. I wouldn't dare. Besides, he doesn't have a snooker table in his house. I'm serious. He doesn't.
Davis and Torabi co-host 'The Interesting Alternative Show' on Phoenix FM on Mondays from 10pm to midnight (phoenixfm.com)
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