I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
I haven`t printed any articles about Faces or Rod Stewart before. Time to change that, as Rod was a rocker at the start of the 70s. Quite an interesting article, especially seen in the light of today. Have a nice read!
A Mod`s Progress
The life and times, trials and tribulations of R. Stewart Esq., Folk singer
By James Johnson
Rod Stewart ruffles his hair, gazes down thoughtfully at his red patent-leather shoes. It`s early evening in an office above Wardour Street and, a floor below, the Marquee Club is just warming up for the night. Thick, muddy, distorted rock seeps up through the floorboards.
Stewart grimaces: “That guitarist doesn`t sound much good does `e?” – then pauses before continuing with a slight edge of wistfulness to his voice:
“…Yeah, I`d like to play the Marquee again – if we could get away with it.”
In some respects the early days must have been great for Rod Stewart and the Faces, when they used to play places like the Marquee. Admittedly there are few guys around who seem to enjoy the flash of success more than Stewart yet, in some ways, life must have proved much easier then. Certainly less complicated.
Just sometimes Stewart must wish he could get back to that, especially over the last six months when one could hardly blame him if he occasionally felt a little desperate.
On their last British tour the Faces were roundly criticised for sticking too closely to their old material. Then Stewart was quoted as saying he thought “Ooh La La” was a mess. And now, for whatever reasons, Ronnie Lane has left the band. So here he is tonight, forgoing an invitation to a fashion show at the Savoy to put the record straight.
“I ought to get some kind of award for being the most misquoted and most misunderstood person in 1973. I`ve been misquoted a lot lately and it can hurt, y`know. Believe me, it can hurt.”
He speaks cautiously now. Despite his brash, arrogant onstage persona he`s a guy with sensitive spots like any other; edges and sides that have sometimes been hidden behind the boozy, outgoing exterior.
Even so, tonight, he`s content with the world, and perhaps rightly so. Over the previous weekend the Faces had played a series of heartening concerts at the Edmonton Sundown. On two or three of the nights they had been ace, simply tremendous and Stewart knows it.
If the band have been through a bad patch just lately it now seems over.
He doesn`t put one completely at ease, stretching back smiling and saying “Well, what do you want to know James?” but he`s a likeable soul, a little more homespun than sometimes presented.
He sips a pint of bitter and starts to talk, firstly about Tetsu.
“It was either going to be Andy Fraser or Tetsu. Tetsu was the first we asked and he jumped at the idea. We were a bit wary at first `cos we`re really quite close to Free, not so much as friends but we really love their music and we didn`t want to bust their band up.
“But Tets reckons Paul Rodgers was great about it and we were with Simon (Kirke) a couple of nights ago and he was great about it too, so…
“It was Simon who said it`s brought the two bands together – which it has. Free`s music is maybe more of a down type of music than ours but there`s a similarity. We tried one other guy who was brilliant but not as good as Tets.
“He`s just the right shape y`know,” Stewart rubs his hand down his hip. “He`s got a tiny little rib cage and little spindly legs and his guitar kind of fits in the middle.
“The first night he came he brought some scotch with him. I don`t think he`s ever drunk so much in his life till that night. Now every time I see him there`s a bottle of scotch sticking out of his pocket.” Stewart laughs in satisfaction.
“You could say we`re getting `im well trained.”
He moves on to explain how it`s good to get some new blood in the “orchestra”, and he`s looking forward to getting Tetsu on stage.
Nevertheless he admits it won`t be quite the same again without Ronnie Lane. “There`s only one Ronnie and it`s impossible to look for another one. The guy`s a character and we`ll never replace `im.”
But hadn`t Ronnie Lane`s increasing interest in Meher Baba – and perhaps his more homely approach to life – meant a certain contradiction of life-styles within the band?
Stewart draws up his shoulders slightly. “Let`s get one point clear: we`re all parting on the best of terms. Let`s get that on record, there`s no bad feelings.
“If you look back at the interviews I`ve done since we first got together, I`ve always said Ronnie Lane is one of the best lyricists Britain`s got, and he still is. He`s got a great career ahead of him.
“I think he probably just got tired of being on the road, which I don`t really blame him for. It was just at a point, though, when the rest of us were really getting into doing it on the road. Y`know, we love it now – me, Woody, Mac and Kenny – we love being on the road. But I don`t think Ronnie did.
“On the American tour we had two rows, and that was really because we wanted Ronnie to stay and he didn`t want to. There are no bad feelings. Two little rows, y`know, that`s not bad.”
Fair enough. But, just to check it out, how about the old rumour that Rod`s thinking of leaving the band? That he doesn`t need the Faces as much as the Faces need him?
“Well, I don`t know whether they need me but I know I need them. If something was to happen I could always make my own albums, but I`d be lost without them.
“I get depressed if I don`t see the boys for a while. There`ll always be a Faces and I think I`ll always be in it. I hope so anyway. Unless they kick me out of course…”
“I don`t expect, though, to sustain the same level of success for ever. Name somebody who ever has. Everybody has to level out and I can`t expect to have another album as successful as `Every Picture Tells A Story`. That was a freak album. It sold a ridiculous amount of records.
“Yet `Gasoline Alley` was the best for me. If I could capture that again I`d be well pleased.”
Stewart says there`s a peak he`s aiming for – records and concerts that he`s totally satisfied with. “When that happens I`ll retire – I`ll knock it on the head.
“I look at it like all good footballers should – I want to retire at the top. It doesn`t tend to happen in this business and it`s sad. People just sink lower and lower and hang on to the music business.
“I want to disappear,” – he snaps his fingers – “like that.”
So what does he feel is still missing from the albums?
“Aaargh…”, his face creases, “That`s where I got misquoted last time, on `Ooh La La`. What I`m trying to say is that we can do a better album than that.”
He emphasises it. “We can do a better one and we`re going to.
“As for me own albums – the same, really. Except I`ve got to start being a bit more honest with myself – move on to songs I really want to sing.”
“Oh, I don`t know because last time I said that with `Amazing Grace` everybody else went ahead and did it and beat me to the punch. These days I keep the songs I want to record up my sleeve.
“Of course, having said that, the next solo album will probably turn out to be all Stewart/Wood songs. You just can`t tell.”
He taps his forehead. “It`s all up here at present. With Ronnie and things, it`s all been held back a bit.”
Is there any more he`d like to say about it? Stewart considers.
“Well, I`ll probably use the same crew…yeah, I think I`ll use the same crew. And there`s a strong possibility it could be the last one.
“In future I think we`ll combine the two – my albums and Faces albums – so I can put one hundred per cent into both. I think that`d be a good move.
“Then I`ve got this album which is a kind of `Best Of` coming out in about four weeks time which I`m really pleased with. I went to the trouble of re-mixing some of the tracks and cross-fading some of the others. I`m glad the record company had the courtesy to ask me to put it together myself.
“Then I think we`ve got a live album coming out but everybody`s doing that…” He trails off. “I don`t know…music`s so boring to talk about. It`s an active thing. Not something to sit and discuss.”
He gazes at the floor again, then perks up. “I`ve got more guitars than I know chords. Did you know that? I`ve been collecting acoustic guitars lately and I worked it out the other day that I own more guitars than I know chords.” He looks pleased.
“What else do you want to know James? Do you want to know where I`m going for a holiday?”
Stewart smiles and talks about football for a while. He says he`s still allright as a player but finds it hard to get a game without attracting vast crowds who`ve come to see Rod Stewart – Rock Star. He says he can no longer combine the two lives.
In many ways Stewart is remarkably unassuming. He`ll talk about football but don`t expect any great insights into the state of the world or more etherial subjects. He`s interested but doesn`t see that he or any other artist should know more about it than anybody else.
“You`ve got to be honest and admit that the level of intelligence among rock musicians is not all that high. I`m not saying they`re all idiots, but, generally speaking, most musicians come from a working-class background so why should they particularly know what`s going on?
“You can only reflect your life and times. I think I did that with `Silicone Groan` – y`know, everybodies having it done in the States, having their tits blown up with silicone. I suppose you could say that`s social comment if you want.”
Also, Stewart is not particularly interested in the supposed new rock phenomena: decadence.
“Each to his own, y`know. I don`t think I live a particularly evil life but I don`t allow myself to get bored either. I suppose I come in between the two.
“I dunno. What is decadence? MPs getting knocked off by hookers? Good luck to them – why should we pry into it?”
How does he feel about Ian McLagan once describing him as “a bit of an old folkie at heart”?
“Yeah…that`s true. You`ll catch me at the dirtiest of folk clubs sometimes. I went to see Deroll Adams, the old banjo player, at the…where was it?…the Shakespeare the other night. Y`know I really blew it. I sort of walked in, in me yellow suit, and they were all sitting there…you know how they are.”
He grins again.
“But I`d like to play one…I wish I could do that…just get up and do `Mandolin Wind`. I`d really be nervous because it`s not something I`m one hundred per cent sure I could do. It`s a very different scene.”
He thinks for a moment. “Y`see I`ve always personally got to remember that I`m a singer of songs. I don`t need a sensation to get a crowd on their feet. I don`t have to take me trousers off or something. It`s sometimes easy to forget that.”
But doesn`t a certain amount of spectacle on stage help to sell records? “Yeah, I think maybe it half-sells them. Like, I think I`ve been flash since I left school but I do think I`ve got a pretty good voice as well. You can`t forget that.
“I mean, there was a time when I was with Beck that I used to hide behind the amplifiers and my voice hasn`t improved that much since then. It`s just audiences – and audiences, particularly in America, have brought me out of myself on stage.
“I really need an audience – the bigger the better. It`s a great boost to the ego – that`s something that everybody needs.
“Also, I need to be told how good I am. And everybody needs that.
“Unfortunately you can get in a certain position where people take you for granted and forget to tell you how good you are. That`s the point when you begin to doubt yourself.”
Did anyone ever read this ad through from start to finish?
This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Terry Reid, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Gilbert O`Sullivan, Fleetwood Mac, Edgar Winter, Led Zeppelin, John Entwistle, Jimmy McCullough, Marc Bolan, Nickey Barclay.
This edition is sold!