The last installment of Pete's Fan Interview is up.

Jim M nakedi at
Mon May 17 14:02:02 UTC 2010

Pete's Blog
15th May, 2010
Aerodrome62: Pete, what are you reading these days? Fiction or non-fiction? 
What makes you want to pick up a book when you're in the shop? What makes 
you want to put it back down without reading?

PT: I read too many books to give a simple reply. At the moment I am caught 
up in the vogue for crime fiction from the Nordic countries - I started with 
Henning Mankell, recommended by my daughter Emma. There are at least twenty 
writers new in translation that I've since enjoyed, Swedish, Icelandic, 
Finnish and Norwegian. My good friend Steve Riggio the CEO of Barnes and 
Noble sometimes sends me care packages of new translations.

I get books too from other friends who run publishing companies. I am fairly 
up to speed on new writing. I am also reading some classics. Les Miserables 
is beautiful, I started it a few weeks ago. I'd missed it somehow. I am also 
reading Tolstoy; I liked Resurrection.

Non-fiction that has engaged me? The Black Swan is especially good. Here's a 
link The Enemy I Knew is great too, by 
Steven Karras, about young Jewish-German born-American men who wanted to 
sign up to fight against their homeland in World War 2.

I do pick up books in the store, or at the airport, and once I've decided to 
give a book a try I walk up to the base. I give up on very few books. Some 
that I find hard on one day I can finish and enjoy on another. I just love 
reading, the entire business of it, the solitude and concentration. What I 
see in my mind is so much better than most television or movies.

Rock lover: A few years ago I used to love keeping up with you via your 
blog, where you shared everything from what you were working on, to excerpts 
of your autobiography, to what type of elbow cream works best! Any interest 
in getting a blog going again, or at least creating an account on Twitter? 
If and when you're interested, I know you'll have an enthusiastic audience!

PT: I had enthusiastic audience of precisely 450 people. Not enough. When 
you run a Blog you can see exactly how many people are online, how often 
they come back, and what the averages are for attendance. What I saw, as 
well as my faithful bloggers, were about 20 journalists who checked in every 
day to catch me saying something foolish or controversial that they could 
use out of context to pump up the hits on their own so-called news sites or 
to malign me in their tabloids. The rest of you seem to be fully represented 
here now, it's the same old gang.

Most people are happy to read the crap in the newspapers and buy concert 
tickets. You guys have a different requirement of me, and to be honest if 
there were 2,000,000 of you I would do it. I am an artist. What I write and 
what I think is my work. It is for sale. At least here if you read this 
interview you may - if you are completely and totally insane and have no 
fashion sense - go and buy a Who t-shirt that will earn me 2¢. Multiplied by 
two million that's $40,000. I could retire.

Rickraptor: Don't you think the dystopia you conceived on Lifehouse (the 
first conception, I think) is kind of becoming a reality with the internet? 
The internet offers a lot of content and information, but its users may fall 
in the trap of needing the internet to interact with other human beings in 
spite of reality, the same way people used the experience suits but didn't 
really need them as the air was no longer dangerous (as I understood it).

PT: Lifehouse was written in 1971. The smallest music computer at that time 
filled a huge shed. But anything we imagine will become reality sooner or 
later. I'm a sucker for the online world, but what I foresaw in Lifehouse 
has actually turned out to be far worse in real life. There is no way to 
truly lose yourself on the internet, you are not really safe there, you are 
not protected, you are merely overlooked and exploited as a resource for 
banks, businesses and of course moral or political dictatorships.

In Lifehouse the crux of the story hinged on the moment when government 
realised that the people were more malleable kept in their suits in 
isolation, entertained in the most basic and degrading way, rather than set 
free to live in the real world. We are all such mugs. I count myself high 
among the mugs because I saw all this coming, and all I did was to try to 
turn it into art. Art which the internet now uses as its freely given and 
ruthlessly consumed lifeblood.

Take it from me, if I was right about the internet in Lifehouse, consider 
this: if business, banks and government could know where you were, who you 
were, what you were doing, what you were feeling and how you responded to 
their systems and idealogies, do you think they would refuse a chance to do 
so? Very soon some agency will offer you, for your newborn baby, a chip. 
That chip will let you as a parent know where your child is, what it is 
doing, maybe even what it is thinking (in a basic sense) and whether it is 
healthy or not. A good parent might find it hard to refuse such a 
technology. Once that chip is inserted, we are all screwed. If you have 
nothing to hide why would you refuse to be chipped as an adult? If your 
thoughts are pure, and you are a god-fearing patriot then you have nothing 
to fear. Nothing to fear except the future.

What a fucking mess. And the internet was such a good and noble idea to 
start with. You're right though, so much of it is so amazing. I'm a huge fan 
of Wikipedia for example.

Delbut: Pete, re the Method experiment of a few years' ago, did you find 
that there was a direct correlation between sitters and their piece, which 
made it a "worthwhile" experiment?

PT: There was a direct correlation yes. There is no way you and I would 
produce a similar piece of music. But at certain times any sitter would tend 
to produce music with a particular mood, and at another time that mood might 
be different.

In Lifehouse, the Method was meant to be the means by which the good guys 
used the Grid (my word for the internet) to fight back at the bad guys who 
ran it. In reality even though the software was extremely well thought out, 
and some of the music really was wonderful, it was too expensive to keep the 
site running forever. It was very worthwhile though, and I'm sure will rear 
up again one day.

Robinf: My high school students and I were discussing the topic of Personal 
identity. We started to look at Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and James 
Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues". And then your song "The Real Me" entered our 
discussion. In your opinion, can we define ourselves, living in society, 
without the help or opinions of others?

PT: I don't think we need to try to tackle such a big job entirely on our 
own. In any case, we are not just defining ourselves, but moderating 
ourselves in order to fit into the society we have been born into. By its 
very nature society is the system that helps us to pull off this tricky 

I think where art is important is that it deals with, and helps to reflect, 
those aspects of our identity and our essential nature that we find hardest 
to modify. So art helps us to see ourselves as we function (or struggle) in 
society, and also to accept the aspects of ourselves that we cannot change. 
This is particularly important when society makes demands of us en masse 
that we find difficult to rise to en masse - like a war in Vietnam, or a 
sudden change in the way we are expected to use fuel, or a sudden failure of 
the church (as has happened here in the UK but not yet in the USA).

At such times we need a way to look at each other and accept our inability 
to be 'perfect' as we would like to be, and know that all of us are 
imperfect, merely aspiring to perfection, and that is the state in which we 
should be in a right and decent evolving society.

Ryan49321: Are you one to really act on the legacy of The Who? Paul, Ringo, 
and George kept working on continuing the legacy of the Beatles with 
projects such as the LOVE album which branched into Cirque du Soleil. Will 
you continue with The Who, even if there may be no future? If so, through 
which channels?

PT: I am completely dedicated to uphold and explore that legacy. I am 
working on a number of projects today that will keep our music alive, if 
possible, even if we stop touring or die, if people want it. However, the 
Who is from an era in which the composer is expected to perform his own 
work, always and forever, until he drops dead. The Beatles are not the best 
example because they were from a slightly earlier era, and of course they 
stopped performing very quickly as a band.

Willowyn: So many people have sincerely stated that you and/or the Who have 
literally 'saved their lives'...does that strike a reflective chord in you 
to wield so much influence in a positive way or is it more a cynical & 
fatigued "Christ people, it's only f**kin' rock & roll..."

PT: Yes, I've heard it said many times and it is good to hear. It makes me 
feel like a good surgeon and I should now go and play a lot of golf. I am 
cynical only about one part of this issue: yes of course it is only pop 
music, and it was meant to pass. But it did not pass, but that is not my 
doing, it is your doing. What are you doing here asking a question? You are 
a part of the audience who is still engaged by the old music, and the old 
ideas, and maybe you do feel sustained and lightened by being here. I hope 
so. If it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. If it works, use it.

This is what old men like me say to each other about that thing that hangs 
between their legs. At my age this is not so much about sex as waterworks, 
but you know what I mean.

The one: What are you driving these days, and, who ended up with the mod 
campervan you resurrected and auctioned away?

PT: I have about ten cars in all. A VW Lupo and a Vespa scooter I use every 
day. Mark, my security man, drives me when I'm out in public and we use a 
Range Rover or something like that. Car dealers in the UK describe the one I 
use as the 'Prince Charles' model. Suits you, sir. My favourite car is an 
old Suzuki Samuri jeep. VW bought the campervan for their museum. I've got 
some nice old classic cars as well, the most valuable was an old Ferrari 
Daytona Spyder which I sold last year.

Spamhead: Is your Double O charity still active and running today.

PT: Back in black. I've booted it up again, partly with the proceeds of the 
sale of some classic cars as it happens.

Spamhead: ... And are you still getting around on your scoot da loot, and do 
you still use the underground?

PT: I used my scooter yesterday - it was nice weather. I use the train to 
Waterloo (London) often. I usually end up in conversations with people who 
recognise me, and, probably because I am always trying to look open and 
friendly to such people, I often attract what we call the 'nutters' as well. 
It's always fun, sometimes feels dangerous, but no one lives forever. Mostly 
it's quick. I can get from where I live to London in 18 minutes on a train. 
It can take 40 minutes to drive and can of course take hours if there are 
any jams.

Cortez: What is your first memory of great food, and is there a Townshend 
family special?

PT: Frozen peas. I was nearly four years old. My lesbian Auntie Rosie was 
the first person any of us knew to have a refrigerator after World War 2. 
She used to get frozen peas from a US air-force base. My Dad's special was 
grilled tomatoes on toast with lots of salt and pepper. My mum was a good 
cook when she wanted to be, but preferred to eat out if we could afford it, 
so the Townshend family special would have been Chinese, Greek or Indian 
food. Otherwise as a teenager I made my own lunch, usually fried eggs and 
chips (French fries) with baked beans or frozen peas. Today I'm a pretty 
good cook. Sea bass cooked a la Sean Hill is my best trick.

Influencia137: Mr. Townshend, I would like to know if The Who has any chance 
to come to Argentina. In 2007 that chance was frustrated, I was enjoying my 
holidays when I got the news... worst holidays ever! But I'm still hoping 
that you reconsider to play in my homeland.

PT: It isn't looking good, but we too were sad to miss playing Argentina and 
Mexico. We will do our best to come one day, but as I say - we've left it 
rather late now.. However, as you've called me Mr. Townshend so 
respectfully, I will respectfully call you Mr. Influencial137 and look you 
up if I ever get to the land of the Tango! (My song mentioned above, A 
LITTLE IS ENOUGH is the only Tango I've ever written. The Tango is actually 
a great beat for rock.)

Youngestwhofanever: Will you be considering a tour of the US (particularly a 
show in New York) anytime soon? I hope your hearing condition gets better, 
so that you can continue to bless us with your music.

PT: To be honest if I do or do not tour it will have nothing to do with my 
hearing. What my hearing would affect would be what the Who played, and how 
loudly they played it. I'm tired of touring at the moment, and I'm writing, 
so there are no plans right now. We will be discussing the future with Roger 
and our manager Bill Curbishley in the next month and this site is where we 
will break any news about future shows.

Itsalrightmama: Pete, any regrets?

PT: You bought a t-shirt on this website didn't you? I am so, so sorry. You 
have no fashion sense, you've been screwed, and you owe me 2¢. I do regret 
being such a capitalist pig.


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