I really enjoyed this one from Billboard. Don`t know the name of the journalist unfortunately – if anyone knows please drop me a line.
What supergroup member is currently on the road singing original versions of ’50s- flavored rock, has a personal goal of making bass guitar acceptable as a lead instrument, is working on four careers at the same time and credits his family and horror comics for his famous black sense of humor?
The answer to all of the above is John Entwistle, bass player of the Who, generally recognized as one of the three or four most successful rock bands in the world.
All of the members have worked on various solo projects over the years, but Entwistle has been most prolific (four LPs) and is the first to tour as a solo.
“The Who have never worked enough for me,” he says. “I like playing concerts. I like going on the road and I like to be able to play a lot of my own material.
“What I’m doing with these oldie types of songs,” he continues, “is basically playing the music I never got to play. In England you start working in pubs and you do the top 20 of the day, which is what the Who did. So I never got to play the old rock.”
Entwistle’s first two LPs were more in the contemporary rock vein, but with his third LP, “Rigor Mortis,” he began penning tunes centered around old rock and mixing them with standards. The current set, “Ox,” is all original and is considered by Entwistle a mix of tributes and parodies, the music being the tribute and the words and parody. “I’d never be so pretentious as to say I’m writing serious words,” he says. “I like funny words.
“The whole oldies thing is a kind of experiment,” he adds. “I thought I’d take myself back in time and imagine I was writing in the ’50s. Then I’d try to update it as I went along, album by album, and work my way back to the present. The band is getting so much better, though, that the next LP will be a bit more up to date.”
Entwistle admits the tour has enjoyed a kind of built-in acceptance because of his position with the Who. “We didn’t exactly have to fight our way to the top,” he smiles, “but again, people still think of me as the Who’s bassist and they really don’t know what to expect. They seem to like it anyway, even though they’re not getting ‘Magic Bus.'”
While the current album is selling well, Entwistle is also working on what he calls his real solo LP, a set without Ox behind him. He’s also writing a book, getting set to go back in the studio with the Who (who will tour again as soon as an LP is finished) and is playing bass on friends’ sessions.
“Doing things on our own has probably helped the group stay together,” he says. “In the early days, the only obvious way to do your own thing seemed to leave the band. I think I did it the hard way, by staying with the group and still going out on my own and I think that set kind of a precedent for all of us. The Who still comes first, but we’re all free to do other things.”
Entwistle is concentrating on oldies at the moment “because I play a lot of old rock records at home and there’s never enough. I get frustrated, and I feel other people must, too. As for the humor in the songs, my family has a very sick sort of English sense of humor and I’ve always read horror comics. I now have a complete set of ‘Creepy Comics.’
On the musical situation in England at the moment, Entwistle says he doesn’t like it “because you’re not selling a group now, you’re selling a song. In England they find a hit formula and stick to it. All the songs make the charts but they all sound alike. Unless the best musicians begin changing completely, I don’t see anything new coming.”
Entwistle says his big goal now “is to get the bass accepted as a lead instrument. I take leads on stage, and it can be done well. I’ve always played bass, unlike many bassists who start with guitar. I used to go to the guitar shop when I was younger and I realized there weren’t many bass players around, so I’d stand a better chance with that.”
As for the future, Entwistle will go into the studios with the Who again soon and will be doing “some writing with the Who rather than myself in mind. There’s no conflict with Pete (Townshend). He writes solely for the band and I write mainly for myself.”
And he will continue to stand like a statue on stage. “I always thought we’d look like lunatics if we all jumped around,” he says, “and besides, someone has to play. But I once got very paranoid because the kids weren’t screaming my name. One night I had a few drinks and came onstage moving and they started screaming my name. So I thought, Okay, I’ll go back to standing still. They scream at anything that moves.”
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!