Never knew that Earring toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd until I read this one. Seems to me like a odd bill but that was what was so refreshing in the 70s – there were fewer “rules” and you could expect the unexpected. The band released their latest studio album Tits ‘n Ass in 2012 and are still a touring entity.
Dutch courage pays off
Strange chaps, these Golden Earrings. First `Up And Down Absurdia` was the title of their new album, then `Plus Minus Ubsurdio` and now it`s `Switch`. What`s going on? Geoff Barton investigates.
Golden Earring and Lynyrd Skynyrd were together responsible for one of the best concert series of 1974 – you remember, the powerful, if rather controversial double billed tour which, if nothing else, brought the rock year to an exciting and climatic close.
Heavy bets were laid and many a drunken pub argument was had as the question was raised time and again: which of the bands would emerge the better? When it was all over it was a very close thing – finally, it turned out to be impossible to decide.
Yes – it all worked out rather well and was, in all, a very fine package indeed. But what has been happening since then? Well, the Skynyrds are back in Muscle Shoals, working and recording for MCA; Earring are up to very much the same thing – they`re putting the finishing touches to a new album.
I met a busy Earring band at London`s IBC studios and first of all watched George Kooymans lay down a simple but particularly frenzied lick to enhance a virtually completed track for inclusion on the aforementioned album.
Then I went down with Barry into the studio proper to talk about the upcoming album. Is it still going to be called “Up And Down Absurdia”, Barry?
“No,” he laughs, “no, it isn`t. That was once its working title but, well, it isn`t any longer. Our first – rather cruel, I must admit – idea was to give everyone some different names and make a big joke about it all. We had this highly absurdistic feeling before we started this project, that was why the `Absurdia` was there, you know?
“Then I suddenly didn`t like `Up And Down` any more because I saw this album cover – I can`t even remember what it was – which happened to say `Up And Down, This And That`, you know? That always happens – you have something, then you come across something similar and you have to start all over again.
“So then it was changed to `Plus Minus Absurdio`,” he sniggers, “which is quite a funny switch because it`s exactly the same, only it sounds different. But, well, that was too trendy as well. Eventually we decided to keep it straight and simple and call it `Switch`. It`s a good compromise, it means so many things – like it`s a little plastic knob, or it`s an operation. A switch can be anything, you can switch neighbourhoods, switch jobs, switch ladies, you know.
“That was it. I came up with a song called `The Switch` and it all just seemed to fit. We came up with ideas for the cover and everything. All of it really worked well.”
Last time I met Barry he hinted that the cover for “Up And Down Absurdia”, er… “Switch” was going to be something very special, incorporating an alternative sleeve or two to confuse record shops and would-be buyers of the album. Is that still going to happen?
“It`s been, how do you say it, perfectioned?”
“Perfected. Perfectionalised – sounds a lot more English, doesn`t it? Yes, it`s been perfected now and it`s going to be designed by a famous Dutch artist, Corstiaan de Vries. It ties in very much with the title. There`s a lyric sheet, plus the alternative cover, photographed by Graham Hughes.”
Will the album still be a kind of concept album?
“Well, I think all albums are basically concept albums if they`re made in the same lapse of time in the same state of mind. But to me the real idea of a concept album is one which tells a story – in that fashion, I don`t think `Switch` is a concept album at all. But personally all the lyrics were written in the same period, so there`s a definite line in everything. It`s quite an ironic line, really, but I like to think of it as absurd rather than ironic.”
Make of that what you will.
I mentioned the tour with Skynyrd. Were you pleased with the way it went?
“Oooh yeah,” he says, enthusiastically. “As a matter of fact we didn`t really want to play England at that time because of the lack of new product. People would come and say to us: `if you tour England and you don`t have a hit single out, well, forget it. You`ll just have 100 people sitting in the front row`. So we didn`t expect that many people to show up.
“But all the halls were really full and I think we did some of the best concerts we`ve ever done. It was really a fantastic show – Lynyrd Skynyrd are a fine band and I think people got their money`s worth.”
But all too often the media seemed more concerned with Skynyrd than with Earring, didn`t it?
“Yeah, yeah,” he says, as if he`s heard all this before. “That would have really worried me if the same thing had happened with the people in the hall – like if people were still screaming for Skynyrd during our set – then I`d probably freak out. But that never really happened. Skynyrd always played a fine set and they`re great guys and I`m not knocking them at all at the moment – but they never really stole the show, you know?
“So when it actually didn`t happen and people are trying to insinuate that it did happen – what can you do? It`s like somebody telling you that your nose is flat and your ears are sticking out 30 centimetres, and you look in the mirror and you see it`s not true. That`s a silly example, but you know what I mean?”
Earring are soon off to tour Holland, Germany, France and Belgium – there`s also a possibility of a one-off gig at the Rainbow before they leave for the States in April. If that single British concert doesn`t come off they`ll be into an extensive British tour almost immediately after they`ve finished American commitments – that means some time in the Summer. Meanwhile, “Switch” is released throughout the world in early March.
“This has been our dream for so long,” says Barry, “to have an album out at the same time – everywhere. Before, we`ve always had one album out here, another there and a real old one there. It was just one big fuck up, all mixed up and horrible.
“This is going to make things a lot easier for us.”
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: Average White Band, Chick Corea, Gilbert O`Sullivan, Guess Who, Led Zeppelin, Trapeze, John Martyn, John McLaughlin, Gary Moore, Billy Connolly, J. Geils Band, John Holt, Hall & Oates, Donovan, Country Joe McDonald.
The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!