Going back a bit, how was the flight from England to Hawaii? That's a long time on a plane.
Well, it was with Mick, and I don’t mind jumbo jets [laughs]. I did, but I had this sort of therapy and I knew how to breathe and what to think when there were bumps, and la-dee-da-dee-da. But I was with Mick so we chatted the whole way there. It took all the pain out of sitting on my own. Since then, I went to Africa, and flown around in 12-seaters in safaris, of all things. I don’t even think about it now.
The band toured last year. At what point was it firmly decided that you were coming back?
I went over to Dublin and it was decided that I would go on stage and do "Don’t Stop" with them at the O2. We rehearsed it in Dublin and everyone was looking over at each other smiling thinking this was fantastic. For me, I was looking over at my family again and it was effortless. I don’t know. It felt comfortable. It felt right.
What's the plan now?
Well, the plan is we’re going to start rehearsing in July and go on the road in September. The tour starts in Chicago and we head west and come back east again, finish at Christmas and pick up end of January and complete America and we can do the world, really. And there’s a studio album somewhere in the mix too. We’re playing around in studios now.
How has John's health been since his cancer diagnosis?
John’s health is on the up. He’s still doing chemotherapy and gets tired quickly, but he’s definitely been on the mend. He’s been such a man about this whole thing. I have renewed respect and love for him.
What music are you recording now?
We’re really running through some demos that I sent Lindsey. My demos are rough, [but] we’re just trying to construct some proper tracks from them and the chemistry is magic.
Is the whole band there right now?
Yes, we’re all here. We’re doing some photo shoots and everything for the tour and getting on with the show really.
It must feel like a time warp for you to be back with them after all these years.
It is a time warp; it is very, very happy. None of the nonsense with the drink and the nasty stuff. We’re all grown up, of course. One thing that we definitely have is chemistry and respect for each other's music, and Lindsey and I play well off each other. We have great rapport; he loves working on my songs and I love what he does with my songs, not to mention the fabulous rhythm section. So I’m a pig in a pile of poo really.
Have you guys plotted out a setlist?
We haven’t actually sat down and written a list. We just know we have so much to choose from. All my hits haven’t been aired for years live, so you have all that chunk. Then you have a whole other chunk of Stevie and Lindsey’s stuff, maybe some more obscure tracks from well-known albums. It's mind-boggling.
Any chance you'll do Rumours straight though at some point?
That’s a concept. I think we probably did think about doing it for a special gig somewhere. Who knows? That's something certainly to think about.
How's your singing voice? Have you been doing any exercises to get it in shape for the tour?
Yeah, [we have] a guy who’s been on the road for years that does vocal exercises and I’m sure he’ll come with us this time. My voice is hanging on pretty well. I’m not doing lead vocals right now, but rough vocals and I’m happy with it. My pitching is really on, so I feel no worries about that either.
How long is this tour going to last?
Who knows? This tour will be a world tour. Then we just have to see what will happen after that. A year is a long time. The thing is that we’re all committed to keep on going until one of us says stop it.
The fans are so happy that you're back. This is just so clearly where you belong.
Yeah, I belong here. Not to mention the peripheral people: the managers, the crew, have welcomed me back so warmly. I feel I am in a big family again, it's fantastic. I really had no question that they would want me back. I don’t think I ever worried about it too much. I had e-mails from Stevie offering me money to come back. She said, "Just don’t leave me in this wilderness!" And I know I said to Mick when I left, “Mick, don’t ask me back." And I did mean it then.
Do you regret leaving now?
I don’t think you can spend your time regretting what you did in the past, but you can look to the future and try and glean the very best, sweetest time one has left.
Are you worried the strain of the road is going to drain you?
No, because myself and Mick are on a fitness campaign. We’re working out and doing rigorous training. I need to get my body in shape. I’m doing yoga and breathing exercises—I’m fit as I’ve ever been, so I’m not worried about that.
You mentioned earlier that you had suffered from depression. It's hard to think of a better cure for that than old friends and music.
Music and old friends, and the music happens to be really special in my view. Really lovely songs. As a final note, I'd just like to say, this is unprecedented—band members leave and other people take their place—but there was always that space where the piano should be. I had all my keyboards in storage in Los Angeles. I never shipped them to England. About two years ago, my manager said, "Oh, we should just sell them or give them to the band members." And Stevie said, "I'll take them!" And yesterday, we went to her house for a photo session and went to a room where she kept them safe. She didn't know I was going to come back, but she left them in great shape.
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