Kim Gisborne interviews the legendary Roy Wood - 16 Dec 1997.
Cheap Trick fans will be aware that there is a strong bond between Roy Wood and CT, stretching back some 20 years. Trick have often been noted as being influenced by The Move, amongst other 60s British bands. And of course they have covered three of Roy's songs ("California Man", "Brontosaurus" and "Rock'n'Roll Tonight"), as well as Roy contributing vocals to "Money is the Route of all Fun" (on Sex.America.Cheap Trick). Roy has also co-written two songs with Robin Zander, originally for the latters (1993) solo album. I believe these remain unrecorded to date. In addition, Roy and Cheap Trick have played together on stage a number of times since Feb 1979, first at Barbarella's in Birmingham on 16 Feb 1979 and most recently in 1995 in New York at a charity concert for the orphans of Bosnia (CT backed Roy on "Fire Brigade", "Ball Park Incident", "Blackberry Way", "Christmas Everyday" and "California Man").
The scene is a bitterly cold evening (16 Dec)in Manchester. Roy Wood and his Big Band are due to play a show that night at The Ritz Club, and its a week or so before Christmas.
I'd arranged to interview Roy at some point before the show, so was privileged to sit in on the soundcheck of three songs, (California Man, Fire Brigade and Roys Revenge). Unfortunately, things were running a little late, Roy had to eat then change, and then he and his band had to take the stage 30 minutes earlier than expected.
So, its almost midnight, after the show, in the corner of a busy "dressing room", with the 12 strong band plus others waiting to set off to their hotel. My planned interview of 20 questions, mainly related to Roy's relationship with Cheap Trick, was thus EXTREMELY truncated, down to around 3-4 minutes (!!)......
KG: Kim Gisborne ; RW: Roy Wood
KG: When did you first get to hear of Cheap Trick and get involved with them ?
RW: Well, they recorded a version of California Man which I liked quite a lot, and they were over playing in London at the Hammersmith Odeon (25 Feb 1979), and I went along. There was myself and Dave Edmunds, we went along and me and Dave got up and did a couple of Everly Brothers songs. And I stayed on and played California Man with them, and since then we've done quite a lot of shows together
KG: They've covered a number of your songs - Brontosaurus, Rock'n'Roll Tonight, California Man. What do you think of their interpretations ?
RW: Very good. They're an excellent band, I like them a lot. They've got a big influence from British rock music in there, and they're doing really well
KG: Are there any other of your songs that you'd like to hear them do ?
RW: Thats a difficult one. I can't name one at the moment, but if they want to do some more of my stuff that would be great !
KG: I gather you were going to join Cheap Trick on a few of their British dates back in October. What were you planning or hoping to do ?
RW: I would have got up (on stage) and played with them...
KG: Would that still be a possibility if it got rearranged ?
RW: Yeah, if we're in the same town, we're bound to to play together I would have thought
KG: You worked with Cheap Trick in 86, contributing vocals to "Money is the Route of all Fun". Did you do anything else with them that didn't get used or any other writing ?
RW: Not recording wise. I wrote a couple of songs with Robin that so far havn't been used. He was doing a solo album, and I don't know what happened to those to be honest.
KG: What happened ? Did Robin approach you ..?
RW: He came to my house and we wrote a couple of things
KG: Cheap Trick have covered some of your songs. If you could cover one or two of theirs, are there any in particular that you think "I'd love to do that"...?
RW: Thats a difficult question. There's quite a lot of their stuff I like...
KG: Have you kept up with what Cheap Trick have done over the years ? For example, the latest album, have you heard that ?
RW: I've got the one with the 4 CDs in..
KG: Sex.America, the retrospective...
RW: Yeah, I've got that one
KG: You haven't got the 97 album ? That's this one (shows CT97 t-shirt he is wearing..)
RW: The one with all the guitars ? I've got that, yeah. I like it, its very good
KG: Hows the tour been going ? I saw you in Bradford and it was a tremendous show, and a great show tonight..
RW: Alright, yeah, not too bad. It was a corporate do tonight and they're always a bit dodgy to be honest. I mean, cos people have just been invited along by their companies and they haven't paid to come and actually see you, you know what I mean, so it does make it a bit different..
KG: You all still looked as if you enjoyed yourselves
RW: We always do ! We get on well, and we're good friends..
KG: When is the "Alive" album due to come out ? I think you mentioned next year ?
RW: It depends on when we can get to mix the tapes, but it has been recorded already. Its a live recording, its turned out very well..
KG: And finally, because I'd better let you go I think. Cheap Trick have been influenced by The Move. Who's particularly influenced you ?
RW: A bit of everything I supppose really. I mean, I grew up with my Mum and Dad, who were big classical music fans, and my brother in law was a Big Band fan and jazz, so I was influenced by both of those. When I first started playing, I was influenced by American rock music, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and all that...
(With THANKS to Rob Caiger, Gill, and of course, Roy Wood)
This was the second time in a month that I'd seen Roy and his band. They put on an excellent show, and really looked to be enjoying themselves. Roys 12 piece Big Band includes a 7 piece brass section and are extremely effective in their contribution to Roys classic hits, as well as coming into their own on the newer songs.
Roy expects to play in the USA around April, and I fully recommend seeing him if you possibly can. Its worth travelling to see one of the most talented and enduring of British musicians. I don't know when he expects to tour Britain again, perhaps next Autumn/Christmas ? Whenever he does, the show with his Big Band is well worth seeing, and highly recommended. Don't miss out !!
Roy is planning to release a live album from his 1997 shows. Titled "Alive" its expected to feature both classic Move and Wizzard hits, as well as a number of new songs. I'm sure this will be an excellent purchase, so look out for it later in 1998.
Roy Wood has his own Web site on the Internet, at http://www.roywood.com. This features several different pages including news, interviews and reviews. Additionally, Issue 25 of the ELO fanzine "Face The Music" is particularly interesting as it features interviews with Rick Nielsen and Roy Wood, and also a short article about Cheap Trick. For information on subscribing to the fanzine "Face the Music" or seeing if any copies of FTM #25 are still available, write to FTM (UK), PO Box 718, Sidcup, Kent DA15 7UD (England).
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