How did you pick the setlist for this tour?
We've changed it about 50 percent from the last tour, but they're mostly old songs. We're basically in Michigan right now and they really know all the old stuff, so it's fun to play it for them. When I get out out of here I might play some newer stuff.
I had a dream that I'd start the show with "Feel Like A Number." We hadn't done that in 25 years, but I'm afraid to hit it with them first instead of "Roll Me Away." That's what they really want to hear. We just did "Shining Brightly" for the first time in 31 years. We haven't done "Her Strut" in maybe 25 years, or "Come To Papa" in about 30 years.
Most people know us from our greatest hits though. If we don't do "Travelin' Man" into "Beautiful Loser" they'll throw stuff – at least around here. We’ve got to do “Roll Me Away” and we’ve got to do “Night Moves,” we’ve got to do “Against the Wind,” we’ve got to do “Hollywood Nights,” we’ve got to do “Rock & Roll Never Forgets,” we’ve got to do “Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.” There’s just certain ones we’ve got to do...“Mainstreet,” “Old Time Rock and Roll.” We just cannot get away without doing them. They want to hear them.
You usually don't go on tour without a new album to support. What made you want to head back onto the road right now?
Last fall I put out this album Early Seger Vol. 1. It was a real rush job, but it got me looking through all this old stuff. I found that I had 45 to 55 things that no one had ever heard of before. All last summer I was working on Volume 2 because the first one just had 10 songs on it. That wasn't my idea. It was management, but we won't go there. Anyway, as I worked on them I said, "You know, I’m going to put the band together and see what these would sound like if we played them live." As we played together it just kind of kindled the old flame.
One of the last things I found going through the archives was "Downtown Train," which we cut in 1989. We put that together and I re-sang it and edited it a little bit and we added timpani and the girls and everything, and it really sounded good. So about two months ago I said to my manager, "If you put this on the radio, is that enough for me to go do a couple of months and see if I still like touring?" In May, I’m going to be 66, so I don’t know how many more years I’ve got a chance to do this. I thought if they played "Downtown Train" on the radio we could buy some time for a new album perhaps in the fall.
How far along are you with the new album?
I’d say it’s half-done. I have three other brand new songs on it, and then I’m torn, because I really like some of this old stuff, "Downtown Train" being one of them. I’m thinking about maybe a mix of old and new for the next record.
Tell me more about these older songs.
There's one called "Sunset" that I wrote that's really good. We can't even find the master. I have to put it out the way it is. I can't do anything with it. It's from 1982. The oldest one is from the Pontiac Silverdome in 1974. We played it the night we cut Live Bullet, but the tape got mangled and it's unsalvageable. So eight months later we played it again at the Silverdome. It's called "Breaking Up Somebody's Home." It's by Albert King.
So you'll actually include these older songs on the new album?
I hope so. If I write some really good stuff this summer, the newest stuff is always the stuff I want to put out first. But I like some of this old stuff a lot. I always say to myself, "Why didn’t I put that out?" When you rediscover something it’s a lot of fun.
Most of your peers tour every few years. You really take your time between these tours...
I'm not a tour rat. I'm not crazy about it. It's a challenge, though everybody in the band is telling me that I'm singing better than on the last tour. Again, it's a challenge to sing good up there for two hours when you're 65. I'm really minding my Ps and Qs. I know I'm still smoking and that's bad, but I'm gargling and I've got a lot of lozenges. I pop one every 45 minutes.
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