San Antonio Express-News on Pete SXSW Keynote

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu Mar 15 06:42:02 CDT 2007 

San Antonio Express-News 

SXSW: You-know-Who speaks out 
Hector Saldaña 

AUSTIN — Pete Townshend — the verbose, scissor-kicking, windmilling songwriting guitar hero of the Who — showed himself to be equally captivating just sitting on a chair and chatting at South by Southwest Music & Media Conference on Wednesday.

More than 1,000 music industry types ventured on opening day to a sixth floor grand ballroom at the Hilton Hotel across the street from the Austin Convention Center, the heart of SXSW 2007, to listen to the legendary musician who was this year's keynote speaker.

Townshend didn't disappoint in an animated evening interview conducted by Bill Flanagan. He said the Who (these days led by surviving members Townshend and Roger Daltrey) are on the road promoting a new album because "we're having fun."

Townshend called the Who "a baby boomer band" and "an anomaly."

The Who arrive at AT&T Center on Tuesday.

In the audience, Tim Hamblin of the Austin History Center and his son, Zed, listened to Townshend talk about the Who, the Internet and "My Generation." "I was a Mod," said British native Tim Hamblin, 56. "I was a kid into the Who." His longhaired son claimed he could relate to the 61-year-old Townshend.

"I like the way he thinks about things," said Zed Hamblin, 11, who also plays guitar.

Townshend talked about his early songs like "Can't Explain." "I was writing for the kids in my neighborhood," Townshend said.

He also offered the caveat that it wasn't anger behind the Who's aggressive material and early destructo stage act, but rather "frustration and a demand for answers (about the past)." His "symbolic guitar smashing" and his violent tendencies, Townshend said, were misguided political statements.

About his favorite Who album, "Quadrophenia": "I don't think I'll ever surpass it."

About Daltrey: "He's a name brand" and "lucky." About the Who's role: "Provide a vent." About having the answers: "My generation, we were driving blind." About journalists: "I saw journalists as my friends. No, I'm kidding. I saw journalists as artists."

He's expected to sing at Zona Rosa on Thursday at 6 p.m. with girlfriend Rachel Fuller. 

-Brian in Atlanta 
The Who This Month!

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