I really liked this interview with Mr. Entwistle. Some interesting facts are revealed too. Credit to Mrs. Charone for having this great talk.
Here`s to the next punch up
Everyone knows how difficult it was to get the Mona Lisa to smile – not to mention John Entwistle. Imagine Barbara Charone`s surprise when he cracked his stone face image.
The following words on John Entwistle will not mention the usual array of adjectives heaped on the infamous Who bassist. Nowhere on this page will you find any black print that reads morose, evil, creepy or other descriptions of that ilk. Just for a refreshing change we will expose the brighter side of John Entwistle.
For starters here`s some captivating trivia bound to fascinate even the most casual Who fan. At last we can now reveal that for a long time John`s lucky numbers were 127 and 8. So troublesome is this plaguing dilemma that for more than a few years all relevant hotel room numbers and telephone exchanges revolved around those very digits. Fascinating stuff this.
In addition to the usual assortment of beautiful guitars, and the unusual acquisition of a suit of armour that lurks mysteriously in his front room, John Entwistle owns four automobiles none of which he is able to drive. One of the cars in question of which he has never been caught even sitting in the driver`s seat, adorns a poster enclosed in his brand new album `Mad Dog.` The dog in question also belongs to John. Sneaky way of wending our way towards Ox isn`t it?
“What keeps the Who going,” John casually remarked propped up against the bar of a Wardour Street pub, “is the freedom for everyone in the group to do individual projects. This way if the Who ever broke up, we all have our own identity. Ox makes my position in the Who that much stronger.”
Balancing precariously on that very special working relationship the four men achieve, one wonders if Entwistle`s recent show of strength will offset that integral balance?
“I would never want to disturb the balance of power in the Who,” John says being purposely evasive. “But Ox was the only move I could make. In the beginning Ox might have been a plaything but not now. I always talked about going on tour with the band but nothing ever happened. Now that I`m actually on the road, I realise it`s a feasible thing, not just a side interest. Ox is a definite thing that I want to do. And I want it to carry on as long as the band stays together,” – he laughs nervously, “throughout the rest of the Who`s career. It`s my means of playing my material onstage.”
“I`ll be less frustrated and more confident going back to the Who,” John matter of factly remarked sipping slowly on a brandy and American Dry. “Before Ox I couldn`t come to the front of the stage because I got so used to leaning back against my amplifiers and looking bored. I`ll still look bored,” he says snidely, “standing in front of the stage but I can`t change that. The only time I don`t look bored is when my mouth is moving.”
Wonderful sense of humour has our John, as he sits against the bar, mouth moving, boredom disappearing as he continues assessments and predictions of the past and future.
“I know I`m supposed to be the quiet one,” he says with a moving mouth, “but I think when I go back to playing with the Who again I won`t be standing back in the shadows. I`m quite used to standing out front now. Ox hasn`t changed my style of playing but it`s altered me a lot onstage. Doing announcements is completely new to me. I doubt if anyone knows what my natural voice sounds like. Some people in England do now but in the States they`ve never really seen me talk,” he laughs at the absurdity of it all.
“I am enjoying being the frontman but it`s hard work. The hard work isn`t onstage but off; doing interviews, radio tours. I`ve got a new record company, Decca, so I thought I might as well put on a happy, smiling face for the first album cause they won`t get that much cooperation from me for the second.”
What with the Who being, well rather popular, John must have been a bit apprehensive about going out on the road without his comrades of ten years, slightly worried that the audience would bombard the stage with verbal assaults like “where`s yer mates?”
“Sure most of the people that come to see me come expecting me to do some Who stuff but nicely enough no one has shouted out we want the Who. Only one person yelled out `Magic Bus` and I told him to get stuffed. Usually the requests have been from `Whistle Rymes` or songs like `Boris The Spider` and `Heaven And Hell.`
“What I really mean to do more onstage with Ox is play bass solos. At the moment I`m trying to take over from guitar and keyboard solos on bass. I did do one but you probably didn`t notice because I push a button and the volume of my guitar suddenly doubles. No one notices cause the same thing has happened to Pete for years. People always wonder how he manages to play a lead phrase with his hands on a chord swinging his arms around and notes coming out but he`s using the same sort of guitar sound.”
Anyone with ears in good working condition must have noticed through the last couple years that Entwistle`s bass mastery has mysteriously improved. On `Quadrophenia` the prominent bass parts provided more than a solid underneath.
“I changed back to playing without a plectrum. `Tommy` was done with a plectrum but when `Who`s Next` came along I changed back to fingers. By the time we got to `Quadrophenia` I was used to recording with my fingers which makes me able to play much faster.
“`Quadrophenia` was really an instrumental album and you needed to hear the bass up, which seemed to hold the numbers together. I`ve always thought the bass had been light on all our albums up to `Quadrophenia`. Before that the only one I liked the bass sound on was `Live At Leeds`.”
Right now Ox are in America. When they return the band should be well oiled, running smoothly and ripe for perhaps a charity London gig, a possible benefit for the Battersea Dogs Home. Well something like that. While he`s away Decca have released the `Mad Dog` album, a curious assortment of past rock styles done up with a combination of serious and not-so-serious intentions. But the next Ox album should feature the band as it is in concert.
“That new album really started out as a `Rigor Mortis` album and then Ox was formed. We didn`t really know what directions we were going in till we played onstage. Now that we know it`s not going to be in that rock and roll vein. Obviously we`ll play some rock numbers, even the Who do that, but it will really be down to what we get together in the free form parts, improvising.
“It`s a nice change playing with a keyboard player. In the end it wasn`t worth having the bigger band. We`ve had two lady singers when we did that `Old Grey Whistle Test` because the single has female voices on it. Yeah I suppose the `Mad Dog` track was my sorta Spectorish number. I`ve always liked overdubbing lots of instruments. Unfortunately Spector discovered it first so everything after gets named after him.”
Aside from discovering multi-instrumentation and grandiose production after Spector, life for John Entwistle is good and productive. Unlike other musicians who sit back in their easy chair watching the caretaker keep the mansion tidy, Entwistle has been extremely busy taking part in the `Tommy` soundtrack album, mixing `Odds And Sods,` playing on `Fearless Flash` a rock musical of sorts, and producing the Sharks album that never was.
“I`ve spent the last year in the studio,” he says half seriously, “I have to be busy cause I can`t stand having free time. When the Who weren`t working I could have gone to the Bahamas for a month but I go out of my way to feel ill. When I`m healthy,” he says sardonically, “I feel ill.
“What I learned from producing that Sharks album is that I`m not built to be a producer. I started getting jealous, I wanted to play not suggest!”
But he will get the opportunity to play soon enough when the Who forge bravely into areas unknown this Spring to record their next vinyl effort.
“I`m really looking forward to doing the next Who album because it will be a straight album,” he says mustering up mild enthusiasm but secretly excited. “This next one won`t be such hard work cause `Quadrophenia` was difficult work. Some of those numbers had impact but others felt like padding. I like to hear the material rehearsed before we record which is what happened with the last album. The market will certainly be swamped with Who product soon,” he smiles slightly. “What with solo albums from Roger and Pete, the new Who album and the `Tommy` soundtrack.
“I don`t see the Who breaking up in the next six years, I hope,” he adds softly. “Nobody wants to break the Who up, not unless things started slipping downwards and we started to lose interest. But,” he predicted ordering another brandy and American, “that wouldn`t happen for at least three years.”
If time away from each other has given Who members individual self confidence, they should be able to reunite with renewed inspiration and enthusiasm. There will always be arguments, fights and squabbles as long as there is the Who and as even the most casual Who afficiando must know by now, the band do occasionally lose their collective tempers.
“The only time I got really angry was when we did a ten week American tour and came out of it with only £100 each,” John says in a burst of nostalgic recollections. “When I found that out I cut a mattress in half with a bowie knife. Every band has the same pressures but they don`t all come out of it.
“The thing about the Who,” John astutely concluded finishing up the last of the brandy, “is even when we did have punch-ups, we`d make up and get on even better.”
Here`s to the next punch-up.
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: Joe Cocker, Argent, Paul McCartney, The Troggs, Chaka Khan, Lindisfarne, Rupert Holmes, Black Oak Arkansas, Labelle, Return To Forever, Arthur Lee, Flying Burrito Brothers, Glitter Band, Andy Fraser, The Sound of Philly, Back Door, Ronnie Lane, ELO, Tom Paxton.
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