I am, finally, yeah. I’ve worked out what volume to play at so I don’t drown the orchestra out. I’m getting used to playing with the orchestra now. There’s a lot of musicians up there; it’s very easy to get carried away and go off into what The Who used to be. With 30 pieces in the orchestra [60 at some shows] it’s tricky. I’ve got a volume I can work at now quite safely [where] we sort of cut the orchestra out but I can boost it when the orchestra’s not playing.
Started getting it about the fourth concert. It was OK most of the time but sometimes the orchestra’d get drowned out.
Well, before the Carnegie Hall thing [“Daltrey Sings Townshend” concerts, Feb. 23-24, 1994] I was kind of nervous, you know, I didn’t have that much rehearsal time. The thing that worried me the most was I was less rehearsed than the rest of the band. I mean, they actually took it that I’d know the stuff anyway, but the main problem is learning the slightly different arrangements all the time. I felt meself drifting off into the way The Who used to play it. It was kind of a nightmare.
I finally got about four days. [laughs]
Not really...the first concert in Denver was kind of choosy. First time we’d played in somewhere as big. We were kind of underpowered for a little while there, kind of scary. Denver was in Red Rocks, a hard place to play anyway.
Oh, it’s beautiful, yeah, but the audience goes straight up a rough cliff face. It’s a very strange sound.
I really don’t know. The itinerary changes from day to day. They juggle it around so we don’t have too far to travel but we’re getting extra gigs coming in because people are hearing about it and realizing that it is a Who show. And it is rock and roll. People’s idea of it I think was Roger standing with an acoustic guitar in front of a 60-piece orchestra.
I get shown the good ones.
Most of the reviews are good. A lot of them have a little dig but they usually haven’t even seen the shows, they’re written before the show, [on] what they expect the show’s going to be like.
No I don’t, not really. There are a lot of cannibals out there who like bringing people down so they feel better theirselves.
Oh, yeah. There has to be something.
I think so, yeah, probably next year.
Yeah, yeah. There’s intentions for Australia, the Far East, Japan, hopefully back to America.
It’s kind of difficult to decide where to cross over America to get to the West Coast, you either go down, or you go along the middle, or you go up to Canada and go through there. At the moment we’re zig-zagging all over the place, like a table-tennis ball in a wind tunnel. The Gumball Tour. The big problem was, we had to get the orchestras on the same day as we want to do the gig, and also, because of my hand getting cut we had to put it back a month, which kind of messed our scheduling up.
We put the tour off for a month, but I could have worked two weeks into that month, but I didn’t want to take the chance, because it was a split between my fingers, and I’d had my fingers bound together, and I didn’t want to play too soon because I didn’t want to open it up and have to start again.
It was a half-inch cut from a brandy glass I was trying to save falling off the table. It was a cheap brandy glass and it shattered, from my enthusiasm, at the part where the stalk joins the bowl, and cut through between my second and third fingers. I put plastic stitches on it but at the time it separated and started bleeding again so I had to bind my fingers together. It took awhile to get better.
Spare time is usually eating, watching TV . . . in the case of Florida I’ll probably go fishing, deep-sea fishing. Most of the time we’re travelling; once we get to a town — if we have the evening off we go out to dinner or something. The next day we have to go to sound check at like 4:00 and work with the orchestra. We don’t get much of the rest of the day.
I played in a little blues club in Chicago, fell out with a bunch of blues guys, played a couple of songs. I’ve been to the China Club lately, when we’re in New York a few days I hope to do some jamming there, a couple of nights at the China Club. It depends on where I end up after the shows. Usually if I like the look of the bass equipment I’ll get up there and play if I’m in the mood. I need a few drinks before I get up and play. Grabbing hold of someone else’s bass and playing with someone else’s equipment is scary unless you’re drunk [laughs].
Yeah, I got lucky ’cause I can actually sort of write the music down and if I don’t like the sound of the music when I play it, I don’t bother to demo it, so there aren’t that many demos that are unused hanging around here; the best of that project was “905,” and “Had Enough” is on manuscript paper at the moment, hasn’t ever been demoed.
Parts of it could have, yeah. I’d have to change the words slightly. It was along the same lines.
Pete’s plot [for “Lifehouse”] was music being banned; mine was called “Factory of Birth,” and it was a world without women which is very scary. The hero at the end realizes that there are women around, but they’re not being used for birth.
We did a tour of Japan; I formed a band with Jeff Baxter, and Zak [Starkey] was in the band for a while, and The Best really jammed into that.
Yeah, there’s always a possibility of it. The Best was never supposed to be a set band, there were supposed to be a couple of set members and then the rest would change. We had another tour planned of America, had lots of dates lined up, but we just couldn’t get the people we wanted at the right time. So it kind of fell through for that one year, and now I’m onto this thing. There’s a possibility it could come back again.
Yeah, I still carry on, I’ve just finished a chapter on the Herman’s Hermits tour.
A lot of them were usually the second. You’ll remember that most of the time we were learning the song, and by the time we got to the first take we were still ironing out little teasy problems and we still hadn’t arrived at the part we were intending to play. “The Real Me” was first take. I was actually messing around just taking the Mickey out of the song, you know, playing all over it, the bass part not thinking it was being recorded or it wasn’t important. We did it a few more times, but the first one still worked out for being the best.
It kind of was, I was just sitting on top of the cabinet.
I guess any time we all got exactly what we wanted out of our sound and our instruments, and we thought the parts were real inventive. A lot of really good sessions were around our second album, we had a lot of fun doing that album. And Tommy and Quadrophenia were fun too.
Well, in Quadrophenia we had a chance to hear the material. And also with Who’s Next. A lot of times with The Who we’d hear the demo, we’d go “OK, let’s do that one.” It was like “learn it and play it at the same time.”
Yeah, I wasn’t very happy with my bass sound. I was changing from Precision to Gibson Thunderbird round about that time. There seemed to be a sound that was “John Lite,” that was too close to a normal bass sound for me. It was difficult for me to adapt, I’m always trying to get my sound onto record, but it seems the only time it ever got onto record was on live albums, like Live at Leeds.
I may promote it, and say “yes” or “no” at the end of it, but I really haven’t got time to be involved, with all the projects I’m doing.
I’m got some art shows to do; an initial series of ten cartoons, which we’re lithographing, a limited edition of each one of the different rock stars: The Who, some of the Stones, Elton John, Rod Stewart. It’ll be a numbered limited edition that’s probably coming up early next year. And then I’ve got the book. Also, there’s plans for a “best of” solo album/CD; going back over the five [solo albums] with three new songs which I’ve already recorded. So there’s a whole bunch of stuff, at the same time as carrying on touring with this band.
I recorded them with a band called The Rock, and they’re three of the four songs that I wrote for the album. I plan on redoing parts of them and maybe replacing some of the vocals. One’s called “Last Song,” one called “Life After Love,” and I haven’t decided what the other one’s going to be yet.
Uh, sounds like a rumor. I haven’t spoken to Pete in quite a while, I’ve heard nothing of any other Who project at all.
I like a lot of it. I must admit I play the video more than I do the box set because, I mean, there’s a lot of stuff on the box set that’s great — some of the remixes I wasn’t sure of, but it’s a really good set — but I think some of the mixes should have been left alone. I think there’s enough other material, the rare live stuff, that counteracts that.
Some of the Live at Leeds stuff. It no longer sounded like Live at Leeds.
That is one I’d like to actually sit in on the mixes with. I wouldn’t want it to be wrecked again. It’s the one album I got my bass sound onto round about that time, I was really pleased with my bass sound. It was on the left-hand side so bass players could turn over to the left and hear me playing lead, guitar players could turn over to the right and hear Pete. The new mix doesn’t sound anything like it. It’s kind of a disappointment and a very sore point as far as I’m concerned because if Live at Leeds is going to be remixed then I want to be there.
I usually just do a couple. Frankfurt and the NAMM show in Anaheim and that’s it.
Acoustic [Sound] Services — A.S.S. They’re a company in England. They make all those cabinets. They make those specially, a rig for me.
No, they’re sold commercially, but they’re a very small company in South End in England. They used to make stuff like TurboSound by JBL. It’s just that their cabinets give you a very directional, perfect sound. The bottom end is very tight, top end’s very smooth. I haven’t found any other cabinets like them that last that long. I use exactly the same speakers that I use in those cabinets in other cabinets and they blow to smithereens.
Well I’ve done this tour, I’ve done a club tour, done a tour of sheds, done a couple of stadium tours with The Who with them, and I haven’t blown one speaker yet.
Solo tours always cost a fortune, unless you get some backup from the record company, I’ve done two or three solo tours now and I’ve lost on an average about 40 or 50 grand on each one, and that’s just been doing clubs. If I went any higher than that like playing sheds like this, I mean . . . there’s no huge amounts of money being made on this tour. The tour’s being done to keep The Who’s music going and to prepare for what may happen in the future.
I couldn’t start to tell people what music they should listen to.
I think “The Real Me”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, and a lot of Quadrophenia. [John is speaking here of the studio versions, as he doesn’t play “Baba O’Riley” on the current tour].
We added “The Real Me” after about the fourth or fifth show. It needed to be there.
The main confusion on this tour has been actually to what the tour was. Now people are realizing that it’s good loud rock and roll with a big magnificent-sounding orchestra behind it, people are starting to ask for tickets and say “Well, why aren’t you playing our town?” [laughs]
Well, I didn’t like any of ’em.
Uh, yeah, ’cause I was there. I’ve never spoke to anyone who wrote any of the major books. Richard Barnes, yeah, but ...
They’d really have to talk to everyone in the band to find out what really happened, and I’m writing my book from my point of view, as being a member of the band. Mine isn’t a serious book with a lot of dates and sort of looking back on albums and rehearing them with a lot of hindsight. I’m basically writing the funny stories, the silly things that happened to us. I’m actually putting dialogue in it, because you can’t really tell stories about The Who without putting in what people said, or what you remember them saying. That way I can give myself all the best laugh lines.
The Who’s roadie, Bob Pridden, who’s been with them like 29 years, he’s on my back all the time because he did a lot of the research for it. He’s forcing me to try and write every day, but I can’t. I have get into a book-writing head or a songwriting head or a playing head. I’m probably going to take some time in Ireland for a couple of months so I’m going to try and finish the first book then. It’s going to turn out to be a trilogy, there’s too much to put in one book. The first book goes up to ’67. I was going to take it up to Woodstock but that’s too far.
Well, I don’t want to make them big fat lengthy books; more like a series of capsulated chapters, going from one period to another.
I’ve read the James Herriot books, All Creatures Great and Small; I’ve read those, and I like the way they’re written, they’re very amusing, very light reading. I figured he’s up to five or six books, so I’ll split mine into three.
I used to read horror story anthologies most of the time. I stopped that when I was about 23.
With The Who, we actually got to meet most of our early audiences, then we kind of lost contact. I try to meet as many fans as possible, time permitting. When I did my solo tours, we would travel by bus and I’d keep the bus around for like 45 minutes and sign autographs in the bus, 2 or 3 people at a time, but that’s pretty impossible when you’re playing bigger places. I’m one of those people that unless I’m in mortal danger I’ll sign autographs until nothing more’s being passed in front of me. I have a lot of trouble, especially at NAMM shows. I tend to upset a few people because if I happen to stand still and pose for a photograph or start signing autographs I’m stuck in one place for like half an hour.
Well, when I have to say, “No, I’ve got to run, I’m supposed to be at another booth, blah blah blah.” I have to actually refuse autographs, which I don’t like doing. Most of the time at a NAMM show I run up the aisle or walk too fast, so people go, “Was it or wasn’t it? Maybe not.”
It’s actually “Hold your group together with Rotosound strings,” like you’re tying the band up.
I would say “The IN Sound,” at that time; AM and FM didn’t exist at that time, it was all AM.