Roger interview in Honolulu Advertiser

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Sun Aug 1 12:22:21 CDT 2004

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The Who's front man knows, 40 years on 
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Roger Daltrey is no longer an angry young man. Perhaps
best of all, though, he hasn't grown into an angry old
man, either.

In fact, Daltrey at 60 has turned into quite the
thoughtful, intelligent elder statesman for The Who,
the legendary British rock band he's fronted for
exactly 40 years. That is, if you enjoy your elder
statesmen waxing cocky and self-assured as ever about
their band's well-deserved place in rock history,
while fondly recalling youthful days of shagging
Herman's Hermits' groupies.

With The Who in town this week for its first Hawai'i
shows since 1967, The Advertiser spoke at length with
Daltrey about his Who mates — past and present. We
also chatted on his long, and at times contentious,
relationship with guitarist Pete Townshend, and the
day Daltrey might just choose to chuck it all for
manor life in the English countryside.

Reached at his hotel Thursday, several hours before
the second of two Who shows in Sydney, Australia,
Daltrey carried on in a chipper and quick-clipped
Cockney brogue.

OK, I've read about why The Who haven't played
Australia for 36 years. But why haven't you played
Hawai'i for 37?

"I don't know! We just never ever got out there. It
was never part of any of our tours and I don't know
why. Maybe Australia had something to do with it
because (Hawai'i) is on the way to Australia."

I wasn't around at the time. But I thought maybe we'd
done something to offend you all the last time around.

"No, no, no, no, no. We had a very good time in

Do you have any memories of the visit?

"I remember Keith Moon attempting to surf for the
first time, which was hysterical. We both did it for
about an hour, and it was like a lesson in drowning."

Who was better at it?

(Laughs.) "I think we were both as bad as each other.
But I just remember (Hawai'i) being fantastic. And
mainly — because of the age that I was — I remember
the women were wonderful."

You guys opened for Herman's Hermits here. Backstage
must have been interesting.

"Yeah, it was kind of interesting. It was an
interesting tour. It was great fun because we had no
responsibilities. None whatsoever. Just get on and do
our thing. It was great."

What's changed?

"Well, nothing! It's still great fun. But there are
responsibilities now, though, aren't there? It's one
thing supporting someone on a show. It's another thing

So you were OK with supporting the Hermits at that

"It was great, yeah. Like I said, you could have all
the fun, and then you had the first choose of the
women afterwards." (Laughs salaciously.)

I caught a glimpse of The Who's Sydney set list. Do
you still pick the songs for the band?

"Well, not really. I kind of piece it together (once
we) choose what we're gonna play. But, in some ways,
we've got the best of all problems (in) having too
much good material. When you haven't been out (on
tour) for a while, the kind of fans that are gonna
come and see us ... aren't gonna leave until they've
heard 'Won't Get Fooled Again,' 'Who Are You' and
'Baba O'Riley.' If you want to put some of the obscure
stuff in, you're obviously going to have to leave
something out.

Is there anything you'd like to put in the set list
that Pete absolutely refuses to agree to?

"Oh, there's a lot of songs he won't do, and there's a
lot of songs I won't do. There's also a lot that
doesn't actually work on stage. ... I think there are
shows to suit (various) venues. And for the kind of
venues we're doing at the moment, the show we've got
is the best."

And that song that you would love to do live that Pete

"Well, I love 'Slip Kid.' He won't do it. There you

I was surprised to see "Eminence Front" on the Sydney
set list. Is it about the only thing you'll still
touch from "It's Hard?" (The Who's final studio album,
the 1982 disc is considered by the band and many fans
as its worst.)

"No ... It's on there because, basically, after
singing for an hour-and-a-half, I need a break.
(Laughs.) You know, these are tough songs to sing.
They ain't easy. This is not sing-along rock and roll.
This is demanding (expletive deleted), you know?"

And, again, it's that time of the show for Pete to
step up a bit.

"Yeah. And he does 'Drown' on acoustic because it
shows a different side of his guitar. His work on
guitar is extraordinary. ... No one plays acoustic
like him."

At one time you and Pete were talking about doing an
acoustic set on this tour.

"You know, we had been planning one. But at the moment
we've got other things on our mind. We're trying to
finish an album in the studio, and we're doing these
shows to keep our hand in on the road. Because where
we're at in our lives now, if we stop this for too
long, we won't be able to get it back. It's incredibly
demanding work. You have to stay physically into doing
it. It's not the kind of thing you can put down. It'd
be like stopping exercising."

How does touring help with studio work? This will be
The Who's first studio recording in 22 years.

"It keeps you sharp. (It) keeps your ears (sharp) as
well. You get ideas. And the songs are never the same
every night. They're the same songs, but they're a
little bit different every night. There's always
something that happens."

You and Pete have solid musicians backing you on tour,
but what, if anything, do you still miss about having
Keith (Moon) and John (Entwistle) on stage?

"Well, we've kind of almost replaced (Keith) with Zak
(Starkey's) drumming technique. Zak's basically
playing everything that Keith laid down in the first
place. Having said that, Zak very much lays things
down of his own. Let's put it this way, he's about the
best second (to Keith) who'll ever come. ... The one
thing we obviously can't replace with Keith is his
humor. The in-between song 'verbal' that he used to
give the audience was hysterical. And we can never
replace that with anybody because he was a master at
that. I think, in some ways, that was as great as his
talent at drumming. And John ... was such an
individual. It'd be impossible to replace him.."

What's easier and what's difficult about The Who being
just you and Pete?

"This is easy! There's nothing difficult about it at
all. Compared with the four of us, this is easy. We've
only got two of us to fall out with." (Laughs.)

Those fall outs between you and Pete were legendary.
You still have 'em from time to time?

"No, no. Work is really easy now. We're in because we
want to do it now. Those problems were (about) being
young in the early days. Testosterone problems."

Anything different about walking up those stairs to
face an audience at 21 and taking 'em at 60?

"None whatsoever. You don't play any differently at
all. You always go out there and you do your best. I
can only speak for myself because I'm only me. But I
always do my best. Whatever I've got on the night,
I'll give. ... Some nights I'm better than others!"

Has Pete's outlook about being in The Who and touring
as The Who changed any after the difficulties he faced
last year? (Townshend was arrested in January 2003 on
suspicion of downloading and possessing indecent
images of children. He was eventually cleared.)

"Yeah. I think he's realizing that the finishing line
is in sight — that we can't do this forever.
Physically, we won't be able to. We're reaching that
period where you never know when it gives you up. And
that's the facts of life. So we're enjoying it while
we can."

The live shows have been getting good reviews.

"They have. I think in some ways we're better now than
we've ever been. Pete's certainly playing better on
the guitar than he's played since the early

And you?

"I think I'm singing better than ever, yeah."

You've said in the past that you and Pete would
continue performing as The Who as long as you're
breathing and can do the music justice.

"And that's it. That's exactly right. There's an
energy and ability that this music demands. I can kind
of cheat the top few notes and get around them. But if
that goes to too many notes, then I'll stop. And if I
can't give the songs the energy that they demand — or
even change them a bit to kind of fit them to where
(I) am now ... if it doesn't work, I should just stop.
It's as simple as that."

What still excites you about your job, Roger?

"God, it's just the best job in the world. God
almighty. Who wouldn't swap?"

I'd switch with you.

"Well, there you go. I mean, I remember working in a
factory. I still do. And I don't want to go back
there. I could do it. But this is much better. I
wouldn't go back to a day job."

So can we expect you and Pete back in town before
2041, then?

(Laughs heartily.) "There's no way we'll be back then.
(Sighs.) Who knows? Who can foretell the future? That
would be a brave man, indeed. ... Let's just make a
good job of this one first."

Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva at or

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

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