What gave you that courage?
Aah! I think it was probably my friendship with Delaney because he inspired me such a great deal, and he gave me the confidence that I needed. He told me that anyone could do it, literally, if they just put their minds to it.
What songs are you happiest with?
I think I like all the songs … my performances are better on some than they are on others. I think the song I’m sort of least pleased with is “Bad Boy.” I like that song but I still, in my mind, haven’t worked out a way to do it, make it more than just ordinary. We’ve tried rehearsing it a hundred different ways and we still come back to the way that it is on the record. I like most of the stuff on there, if I can take it with a pinch of salt you know, and realize that it’s just me having a try. At the time that I did the album I was still very fresh, you know.
It’s really just the same as anything else that you do, you know, it’s practice. If I didn’t sing for a week then I’d be right out where I started. But if it was every day, same as if I played, I’d get better all the time. I would just become stronger.
Why was there such a delay between the finish of the album and its release?
There’s two sides to that coin. First of all we decided to leave the tapes in LA and Delaney would mix them, and Delaney was waiting on me to finish one of the tracks! And I didn’t realize that. I was waiting on him to mix the tracks and send them over. Finally my manager got kind of impatient and told Atlantic to send the tapes to me, and I mixed them – very badly. Atlantic heard them, didn’t like ’em. Then they sent them to Tom Dowd, who mixed them again.
So they were mixed three times in all. Naturally, I never really heard Delaney’s mixes until it was too late, until about two weeks ago, when the record was already out. And they are actually very good. They’re nearest to the original concept of all the songs. But Tom Dowd’s are probably good from another point of view in that he’s coming from an outside point and view and mixed with it all a very objective … kind of attitude.
I understand that you don’t want any singles released from the album?
Not from the album, no. Because now, this is a different group. It’s a group that I’m with now, and just whatever singles should be released should be made by this group.
A year ago you said something to the effect that you’d like to take music back to the pure form of the Fifties.
Well, that’s probably what I’m trying to do. But, then, how can you? I mean, that’s just an idea. When you try and exercise that idea it comes out something different. It’s impossible even for say, a group like the Sha Na Nas to completely recaptivate what was going on in the Fifties. I wasn’t playing anything at the time, so I don’t actually know. I just have a kind of reminiscence of what it was like, a kind of romantic idea. I was influenced by that whole thing – that’s what brought me into music. But if I try and exercise that idea … it’ll still come out with something brand new and fresh, because I’m doing it with four people who have their own ideas. And then the conglomeration of that makes it into something completely new. Should do!
I haven’t been in touch, I haven’t really seen many groups play for a long time now. I don’t know how we’re going to fit in. How what we’re doing is going to fit into the overall picture. Whether it’ll stand out like a sore thumb, or just be part of a huge pile of what everyone else is doing. But I certainly have a lot of faith in it. It seems to me to be a lot stronger than the things I’ve done before except that I have doubts in myself. But I don’t have any doubts in the others of the group at all. They’re all rocks to me – just fantastically strong. They push me along all the time.
What kind of doubts do you have about yourself?
Well … the same doubts as anybody that sticks their neck out and writes a song. Whether or not it’s worth writing in the first place. It’s all been done before. Once you’ve got that in the back of your head, it’s very hard to do anything with conviction.
So many musicians lately, particularly in Britain, have been accused of playing for themselves: I get the feeling that it’s very important to you to be able to communicate with your audience.
Yeah, it’s very important actually, very, very important. But not, not necessarily with words or ideas or slogans. But more just with feeling, I suppose. I have a great respect for music like reggae, which I think is a fantastically high, communicative kind of music, because it’s like simple. So many people do attach themselves to that music, like the skinheads. For them reggae is a complete kind of language. For people who haven’t heard it before, it’s actually quite strange.