A very good and honest interview with Richard Parfitt and Alan Lancaster from what was still an early stage of their career. I really liked this article written by the great Pete Makowski. Enjoy.
Three phases of Quo
By Pete Makowski
“If you take a look at how many bands were around when we started, how many of them are around now?” This thought provoking question was put forth by Status Quo`s bass guitarist Alan Lancaster and rhythm guitarist Richard Parfitt, and it`s true… how many bands are there in existence who have survived the Jimi Hendrix, Walker Brothers and Englebert Humperdinck package tour era?
Only Quo can boast coming out comparatively unscathed, and they endured a tough ride going through the youth club scene, reaching the highest of highs and the lowest of lows three times still to return in fighting form.
The three phases of Quo began when they made national success with “Pictures Of Matchstick Men”. Remember a pubescent Francis Rossi adorned in that trendy mod gear blasting hell out of those four notes? Then the hair grew longer, the whiskers sprouted and the music got grittier and they made a return to the charts with “In My Chair”, which showed the beginnings of their present day boogie style with those monotone vocals from Mr. Rossi which is still a well known trait for the bands newer material. And now Quo are back stronger than ever, they made their return with a very impressive “Piledriver” and followed that up with an even better “Hello.”
It was a nice surprise to find the interview was going to be conducted with Richie and Alan because I was expecting to be confronted with Francis and it`s nice to hear what the rest of the boys think. Richard the blond haired bombshell, whose looks have probably left a few damp seats at their gigs, reflected back to those hard times when the band played residences at Butlins and such like places.
“We were green then,” he explained with a bold cockney accent, “we were being conned left, right and centre, we know now, but we had to learn the hard way, which is probably the best way to do it.”
The band have recently returned from an American tour which they were extremely pleased with, not expecting half the reaction they received, and when they weren`t being subjected to strenuous tours they were putting finishing touches to their recently released album leaving a blank period between “Piledriver” and “Hello” meanwhile, Pye, their former record company, rereleased some of their old singles which sold quite a few copies. I wondered if the band felt this harmed them in any way.
“Obviously we were pissed off, `cause we walked out on them and we want the kids to listen to the new stuff but I must credit them on the singles they chose, they were obviously thinking before they released it.”
“Piledriver”, the album which gave Quo a new lease of life, was a very rugged rock album and a good introductory to what the band were about and like their follow-up they displayed the writing talents of the rest of the band. I asked Richie if he felt “Hello” displayed any state of progression within the band.
“Definitely, we wouldn`t have released it if we felt it wasn`t, it still maintains that Quo feel but it`s more melodic and it`s more the band.” This leads to the question of Mr. Rossi`s position in the band, from live gigs it seems he`s the congenial spokesman, but Richie hastily points out that the vocalist is always the focal point – fair enough – but do the band ever feel repressed in any way?
“No, never, if we felt Francis was taking over we`d pack up tomorrow, but we all have a part in arranging, producing and writing, we`re a family – which may sound corny – but we don`t look at each other as members, it`s a way of life. I can`t imagine what life would be like without Status Quo, I love the band, I love doing what I`m doing, I`m not saying it`s everything I want from life, I don`t want to get heavy about that, but as far as I`m concerned I wouldn`t want to be with any other band.”
But surely if the band plan to be permanently together they would have to eventually change their musical policy? “We`ve all got musical tastes which we`re into and I think that they`ll come out eventually,” said Rick, “but it can only change naturally if it`s not natural we won`t do it,” interjected Alan, the mustachiod brass player. “We`ve found a direction,” continued Rick, “a musical direction we follow but we don`t know where it`s going to yet.”
So Quo are planning to become permanent fixtures but with such a hectic past don`t they have a fear of being abandoned again? “Christ yeah,” exclaimed Rick, “but only from time to time we think `what if it happens again` but the way things are going it looks as if we`ll be here for a long time.”
Do they feel indebted to their loyal followers? “We`re not aiming to be pop stars,” explained Alan, “the first thing we think about is our audience and everything we do we think will they like it? and what`s it going to be like on stage?” Richie continued, “When I sit at home and write a song I try to imagine what it`s like on stage, we do it for the audience and, of course for self satisfaction, you come off stage sometimes and if you haven`t played well you don`t get that warm feeling but when you`ve gone down a storm that`s when you get that feeling.
“We`ve been going a long time and have probably worked harder than any other band,” Alan said, “the amount of work we`ve done and the amount of years we`ve been going we should be rich, `cause we`ve had quite a few record successes as well, most of the money has been put back for things to help us get the sound across. I`m not saying we`re not in it for the money, we are as well, but if we were money grabbers we`d take it and spend all of it.”
Because of their years of hard toil Quo command a high degree of respect and can be credited to the recent rock`n`roll boom, do they feel themselves to be innovaters in any way? “Well, it`ll probably sound conceited,” said Richie blushingly, “but we are aware of that, we do have our own sound you know that.”
With their new album riding high in the charts it looks as if they are going to reach even greater heights but when will they completely lose their insecurity and realise they`ve reached their zenith. Richie pondered for a moment and then expounded. “When we break in the States, if we break there then we can begin to relax a bit more and then the rest of the world! England`s going fairly well but we`ve been playing here for six years so how long is it going to take for the rest of the world?”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Dave Mattacks, David Crosby, The JSD Band, Phil Manzanera, Geordie, Jerry Shirley, Sutherland Bros. and Quiver, Jo Jo Gunne, Allan Taylor.
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