The coronavirus may have forced the Who to push all their tour dates until 2021, but that doesn’t mean Pete Townshend has been inactive. In a new interview with the BBC’s Matt Everett, he revealed he’s using the downtime to begin work on new Who music.
“I’m in Wilshire; I’ve got a country place here,” he said. “I have to say I feel really lucky because what I do mainly is spend a lot of time on my own in the studio. I feel like I’ve been given an answer to a prayer I don’t think I would have had the guts to do, which is to say, ‘Please cancel everything and give me some time in the studio!’ It feels like a gift.”
His focus now is on a remix of “Beads on One String” from the Who’s 2019 record Who for possible release as a single. “The other thing I’ve done is looked at the possibility of starting work early — I was going to do this next year — but starting work early on writing new songs for another Who album, as the last one did so well. So, I’m knocking ideas around.”
Another project in the works is a musical adaptation of his 2019 novel The Age of Anxiety. “It’s time-consuming, but it’s really pleasurable,” he said. “I’m working with orchestrations, drum boxes, old vintage synthesizers and, of course, the usual guitars and piano.”
Who was the Who’s first album of new material since’s 2006’s Endless Wire and only their second record since 1982’s It’s Hard. Townshend hasn’t released a solo record since 1993’s Psychoderelict. Much of his energy in the past few decades has been devoted to touring.
“I’ve never really enjoyed [touring that] much,” he told the BBC. “But it’s a necessary part of the business. The joy of what I do has been in the composing, the writing, the playing around with studio gear. It’s like being told, ‘Go and play with your train set.’ Oh, that’s terrible!”
“I’m lucky to be in the countryside,” he continued. “I’m lucky to have space to walk in, we have dogs. … I’m doing a bit of DIY, but it’s all studio-related. I’ve got an old American camper and at the moment I’m putting a finger-drumming studio in the back of that. That what I’m doing today and it’s fun. It feels like it might lead to inspiration and creativity. We shall see.”