Roger interview in The Sun - Part Three
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 21 07:12:57 CST 2007
I CAN SEE FOR MILES
By the end of the Sixties, The Who were one of the world’s most celebrated live acts, playing to ever larger audiences, including Woodstock.
How did it feel playing to all those people?
It was an extraordinary period. It felt like it just happened overnight. We went from 500 people at a gig which was a big crowd in those days to 5,000. And we did Woodstock and we did the Isle Of Wight over here with Bob Dylan.
What was Woodstock like?
It was amazing to be there because it was one of the first concerts that had captured the public’s imagination. It was more than just a concert. It was a movement. Woodstock did change America’s thinking about the war. It was the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War but when people ask me about the show, my memory of it is that we weren’t very good.
Your shows got pretty long.
It’s always several hours. And it’s never half throttle.
The Who got a reputation for smashing things up on stage.
What people don’t get about the smashing thing is that wasn’t just violent destruction. It created sound you can only get by smashing instruments. Like Harrison Birtwistle got it from hoovers or boiling kettles.
WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN
The early Seventies marked a purple patch with Live At Leeds and Who’s Next and Quadrophenia.
Who’s Next was a terrific album.
It was ahead of its time. People weren’t ready for it and it didn’t do very well initially. It was, “What’s this weird music?” It came off the back of Live At Leeds.
That’s regarded by some as the best live album ever.
Yet I was unhappy after Leeds. Like I say, the artist is always, “Oh, that could have been better” and I know Pete feels the same. I thought, “Oh f***, we were recording it”. But I can hear it now and say, “Yeah, we were quite good”.
Then, Quadrophenia revisited the Mod era.
You can hear Townshend’s progression in his writing and the classical qualities of Quadrophenia. To write a psychologically-driven musical without it being about “what you had for tea” was so, so clever.
It’s amazing how he got inside the character of Jimmy.
He’s always had that ability but I think Pete is the kind of guy who could possibly write some of his best work at the age he is now because of the way his brain works — with the immensity and complexity of his brain. And you have to have tremendous courage to do what he does.
YOU STAND BY ME
When Keith Moon died aged 32 in 1978, things were never the same. After many fallow years, punctuated by the occasional show and the sad early death of John Entwistle, the remaining members are back. New album Endless Wire appeared last year and this year they headlined Glastonbury.
Why was there such a long time when The Who didn’t happen?
I think other ego drives got in the way. The biggest problem in this business is the ego. It can collapse any artist. But the ego drops away, as with looks and everything else, and you become invisible. Then you can be happy just to be here.
On your recent album Endless Wire, there was this flicker of a new rock opera, wasn’t there
I know that was Pete’s intention but listen to the album as a whole. It’s a wonderful opera. The album is you and me and everyone. That’s what’s so cool about it. I think it’s a great album but how the f*** do you get it heard in today’s world?
It’s very difficult to get actual exposure for most bands.
We don’t even get played on Radio 2 and, if they don’t play you, you don’t get heard.
But you feel The Who is an ongoing project?
Very much. We’re enjoying ourselves. If Pete plays one of his songs, it will be this thing. If I play one of his songs, it will be another thing. When we play one of his songs together, it becomes The Who and that is so special. That ingredient, f*** knows what it is! It’s there and stronger than ever. I hope Pete enjoys it as much as I do ’cos it’s just as good as sex.
Losing Keith and then, recently, John must have been hard.
Keith was so young and that was hard to deal with. With John, you saw it coming. You wouldn’t have changed him. He was a real rock ’n’ roll character and that’s how he wanted to go and I’ve got to respect that. In some ways, I admire it because he made no compromises. I’m sure he knew what road he was on and didn’t give a toss. But I think the underlying reasons we carried on was the subconscious knowledge the music between the two of us, or the three of us with John, had the same drive as the music between the four of us. When either of us goes now, it’s going to be a solo act but that doesn’t matter. The spirit will carry on.
So, you’ve never reunited?
People keep saying ours’ is a reunion. Can we please, please have the luxury of giving up first? We would love to have the luxury of saying, “Oh f*** it, we’ve had enough, we’re giving up” and then we can reunite. I’m sick of being called the former singer of The Who.
How did you find Glastonbury?
Fantastic. Wonderful. We thought who the f***’s going to be there after three days of horrendous weather? It was like Paschendaele. The conditions were horrendous and you think no one is going to stay to the end. It was like the Seventies when the crowds got bigger.
You’re in The Who for life, aren’t you?
Yes. I’ve only ever wanted to be the singer in The Who.
-Brian in Atlanta
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