This Saturday the Who are playing a 40-minute set at the VH1 Rock Honors — where their music will be celebrated by Pearl Jam, the Flaming Lips and more bands — but plans beyond that are murky. Four Japanese dates are on the books for November, but Roger Daltrey tells Rolling Stone that nothing is confirmed beyond that. The group initially planned to hit the studio with T Bone Burnett this year to record an album of R&B obscurities from the Fifties and Sixties as a follow-up to 2006's Endless Wire, but Pete Townshend has indefinitely postponed the project. "I must not commit to studio time or show dates, especially not to long tours, without some kind of creative programme," Townshend wrote on his blog in April. "I don't know whether I can write songs for the Who. I don't know if I can come up with some idea, some story, some angle, that will make me feel good about being the writer for the Who. Most important of all, I don't know if I write something whether I should try to force the Who to carry it."
Daltrey is also conflicted about the idea of a new Who album. "I think we've done enough already," he says. "It would be great to have something new, but it doesn't really matter." He does still see a bright future for the band as a touring act. "No one plays our music better than us," he says. "By the end of this year, after we've done this short stint and got Japan under our belts, we'll have a re-think. I would like to do Quadrophenia again. I think that tour was way ahead of its time when we did it back in 1996. There's so much we can do, but the road does wear you down."
On the Who's fan forums Townshend expressed even more ambivalence about the future. "I am no longer a member of a band called the Who," he wrote. "I am Pete Townshend. I used to be in a band called the Who. It does not exist today except in your dreams. I am a songwriter and guitarist who — if I create the right setting — can walk onto a stage with my old buddy Roger Daltrey and evoke the old magic of the Who in the dreams of the audience. ... There are many Who fans who have just as good a time watching one of the many fantastic Who tribute bands as watching Roger and Pete (and their supporting musicians) pretend to be who we used to be."
Another Who project is also hanging in the balance: the Keith Moon biopic. Daltrey has been working on a Moon movie for years, but despite rumors that Mike Myers and Jason Schwartzman have been in talks for the lead role, there hasn't been much progress. "Maybe I made a mistake of coming to Hollywood," says Daltrey. "I probably would've been better off trying to get it done in England. I'd rather nothing was made then a run-of-the-mill biopic about Keith Moon. The project is really struggling, but when it's ready, it will happen."
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies