by Chris McKay/concertshots.com
Randy called me from his home in Canada on August 1, 2001 to discuss his history, personal views, gallbladders, broken shoelaces and current reunion with The Guess Who as the band prepared to do its first American tour with Bachman since 1970. Unfortunately, my tape recorder wasnt quite as ready as he was. My first two-word question elicited a full five-minute response from the clearly excited and enthusiastic guitarist. The question was Why now? The immediate answer was even shorter. He replied, Fate before going into the details of how he and vocalist Burton Cummings wound up back together. The first reunion was at the personal request of the premier of Manitoba to play the closing ceremonies of the Pan Am games in 1999. Initially, Bachman refused, citing the bad blood between the two former band mates. Upon further consideration, he decided that a quarter of a million dollars for four songs would be enough to salve any reopened wounds and agreed to do the one time show. The performance was done in a driving rain before a combined live and TV audience of a million people. Afterwards, he and Burton both acknowledged to each other their mixed feelings about the event. They also acknowledged the magic of their work together. Adopting an Im in if youre in attitude, the two decided to take the show across Canada. Every show sold out instantaneously. The resulting live album has already reached multi-platinum status without even being released in the USA. My tape recorder decided to join the game halfway through the answer to my two-syllable question as Randy described the feelings that he and his band mates were experiencing on that initial tour through Canada.
RANDY BACHMAN: Wow! This is the dream. I am awake. This is real. (At) every gig last year across Canada people were saying we were looking so happy. I mean, we were smiling in disbelief because to walk on stage in Canada, I dont know what its going to be like in the States, but (in Canada we were getting) standing ovations for walking out on stage. People said it wasnt a tour. It wasnt a rock band tour. It was a celebration of Canadian music and something to celebrate that suddenly Canada had a band like The Eagles or Aerosmith that they could actually say Wow, heres three decades of great music, these guys are still alive, they look great, they sound great, they rocked, were having a great time. Because of Lenny Kravitz (covering American Woman) our crowd was 10 and 12-year olds up to like 65-year olds. Burton and I would go out and hang around after the show cause sometimes youre having dinner or youve got relatives to meet or theres a radio station schmooze and when its all died down and its an hour or two later and the crew is still packing up and putting up the stage and were hanging around cause theres nothing else to do, thered be a couple of girls backstage or young guys and (theyd say) Could you sign this? Wed sign it and say, Did you come with your father? No. Did you come with your older brother? No. Well, howd you get here? We came ourselves. Why, to see Widemouth Mason? cause that was our opening act in Canada. Theyre a really young 3-piece band, kind of like ZZ Top and a very cool band. And they said No, no we came to see you. You guys are like the phantoms. Wed say, What do you mean? (Theyd say) Well, weve heard about you all of our lives. Your songs are on radio and movies and commercials and we never ever saw you guys. When I thought back about it, yeah. My own children hadnt seen me. So this has been a great thing for me to play on stage. My kids know, obviously, These Eyes and American Woman and No Time and all those songs, but to actually come and see me go to work do you know what I mean? (Its a) take your kids to work kind of thing so they see what you do. And for them to come see the show and then maybe bring their kids who are like my grandkids, some of them are three or four. Its kind of like maybe (laughing) they think Im like William Shatner, you know what I mean? Its an unbelievable thing, like Gee, my grandfather leads like the Starship Enterprise, you know what I mean? My grandfather goes on stage and everybody screams and goes crazy. Why? They dont understand it cause they dont understand the link (the audience has with) the music, cause its just way older than them. For me its a thrill for them to be able to see it and capture these moments with video. We did a two-hour live television show of our Winnipeg concert at our Canada Day concert last year and its won all kinds of awards in Canada for television whatever production. And its now being played in the States on PBS as one of their fund-raiser weekends. (We) have that documented on film and have the live double album thats now double platinum in Canada and will be released in the States to coincide with this tour. Everythings just falling into place somewhat stunningly wonderfully. I dont know how else to put it, but everythings just falling in.
CHRIS McKAY: When was the last time that you actually toured in America?
RB: (Long pause, deep breath) Ooh, well as The Guess Who with me was 1970. With BTO it was about 76. Ive done tours every summer with just The Randy Bachman Band where we go out and play, you know, my BTO hits, Takin Care Of Business and stuff like that and a couple of Guess Who songs and I play Sturgis and all the biker festivals with all the regulars. You know, Blue Oyster Cult and Molly Hatchett and ZZ Top and all these old buddies of mine Peter Frampton, The Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller guys that Ive known from the 70s. Suddenly were playing together and drawing more crowds than we did in the 70s, selling more records than we did in the 70s and making more money than we did in the 70s. And were a bit smarter. Theres less percentage off the top of our income than there was in the 70s (laughs).
CM: You mentioned a lot of those other bands. Do you ever feel as if your bands are under appreciated compared to some of those artists in America?
RB: Um, yes in one instance, (but) its not the fans. Its basically the recognition factor of the industry and I honestly have to say that theres a huge disappointment within the band, within Canada and on the internet that we have never been considered for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I dont begrudge bands that are in there, because they obviously paid their dues, but some of them have had two or three hits and The Guess Who have had two dozen hits and BTO have had a dozen hits and sold forty or fifty million albums with the two groups together. And you look at other British bands that have had two or three hit singles and then vanished. Theres just some overlooked thing there.
CM: Well, do you think it could possibly be because you didnt have some huge image? You know how image conscious America can be.
RB: Well, we didnt have image and we also didnt have the management. You know when youre starting out and youre in a little town like Winnipeg and you go to the big city. Be it New York or LA or whatever to deal with the labels and the agents and everything you just cant find a manager. Um, so you get somebody you trust, you know, your uncle, your cousin. He handles money. He collects it every week. Hes a paperboy. Lets have him collect our gig money. Then when he goes to deal with the sharks in the jungle of New York he kind of gets taken advantage of and you kind of retreat. So we never really had a big image. We never did videos. We never had a big press organization getting us in Tiger Beat or Teen Beat or even in Rolling Stone. We were pretty much neglected by Rolling Stone. Luckily we had a guy like Lester Bangs from Creem Magazine championing the band and what he said in Almost Famous, you know that we were one of the greatest punk rock bands or some kind of thing like that. Ive just released an album independently if you could just mention my website which is just randybachman.com. Its an album from 67-68 of The Guess Who. We went to England in 67 and recorded four songs, one of them which was Neil Youngs Flying On The Ground Is Wrong, and then came back to Canada broke cause we ran into some bad business guys in London and we were lucky enough to score to be the house band on a television show for two years. And we had to play the top forty. So these tapes were given to me just two years ago. Its The Guess Who doing like Light My Fire the way Feliciano did it and then the way The Doors did it. Then doing White Room and then doing Sunshine Of Your Love, Summertime Blues, Im In The Mood For Love, and the first version of These Eyes which we did during the television show with the Winnipeg symphony before we recorded it in New York with the string section from the New York symphony.
CM: This is just going to be available on the web site?
RB: Yeah, Im looking for American distribution right now, but you can just get it at my web site. My websites kind of the unofficial Guess Who website cause a guy in England got the name The Guess Who. It lapsed for two days when we were on the road and he got it. So randybachman.com is where they go and find the tour listing and all kind of albums and CDs and stuff for sale.
CM: So what was the reason that you originally left The Guess Who?
RB: I had a gall bladder problem. This is before the great hamburgers of McDonalds. In the old days there was no standard hamburger. So after a gig, you know, you went to a truck stop. That was all that was open at one or two in the morning and you were at the mercy of their cook and their grease. And after years after years after years of this and whatever else plus I had tensions cause there was growing apartness in the band where some guys were getting into the late 60s drug culture and I wasnt. So that separates most families, football teams, baseball teams it messes up most gatherings of people when some get into drugs and some dont.
CM: I had always just assumed that you left the band.
RB: Well, I did. I left and they threw me out at the same time. What caused me to leave was probably a succession of two or three weeks of gall bladder attacks every single night where my road manager Jim Martin would take me to the local hospital and you know, youre hot, youre cold, youre vomiting blood, youre shaking, youre trembling, youre in this incredible pain, youre kind of stoned in a way on your bodys adrenaline cause the pain is so bad. To counteract this, you go into this weird shock. And he would take me to emergency and they would say, Oh, this guys just coming down from a drug overdose. (Jim would say) This guys straight, he doesnt drink or smoke, he doesnt even drink tea or coffee. This guys totally straight, but whats wrong with him? Hes throwing up blood and everything. And theyd say, Hes having a bad trip. Take him home, lay him down, stay with him all night and make sure he doesnt hurt himself. This went on for two weeks every single night. I said to Jim, You know, Ive got to go home cause theres one doctor who will believe me. The guy who birthed me. (laughing) You know, he borned me into the world in Winnipeg. I called the band together and said, Ive got to got home. I think Im dying. I didnt know what it was. Nobody could tell me what was wrong with me. (It was just that) every night in the middle of my chest it would be like somebody putting a knife in and turning it and turning it and turning it and then eventually led to intense white heat pain. I dont know how else to describe it. My daughters have had babies and theyve said a baby is a picnic compared to gall bladder especially every night. It was like having a baby every night. You know, two or three hours of incredible pain and discomfort. So, like, I was out and kind of glad to be out. You know, it was really painful, but a really great reason to get out of the situation.
CM: So did you ever regret leaving when you were struggling to get things back together again?
RB: Yeah, I did. I did, but you know Ive grown to enjoy the struggle. There are certain guys who enjoy the struggle like Neil Young keeps changing jackets and coats. By that I mean changing his music. Theres a certain struggle in getting that off the ground. Its like going hunting or going fishing where theres no fish in the lake. Suddenly you catch a fish. You know, theres only one in here and I got it. Its that kind of thing. So theres something about the struggle thats a lot better than riding at the top. You really find your true friends when youre in the struggle. When youre on top, everybodys your friend. You know? When youre number one theres nowhere else to go but down. You hit number one and youre on the way down so youve got to be nice to the people on the way up cause you meet the same people on the way down, you know?
CM: Were there any songs after you left that youd wished youd been a part of or thought you couldve added something special to?
RB: Yeah, I felt a real part of like Share The Land cause that was kind of written when I was in the band, but you know after a year of being out of the hospital and having recuperated from that, my wife just said to me Youve got to start another band, cause I was just restless every night. Having played almost every year in a band for like ten years, at ten or eleven every night something would kick in. Like if you play a football game or if you exercise or run every morning, you can take a morning off but after a whole week, your bodys like wanting to do this exertion that it really likes. So she said Start another band. So I went, (but) nobody would play with me after I left The Guess Who. So I had to go and get my younger brothers. I had three younger brothers. I said You be the manager, you be the drummer, you be this and we started another band and it became BTO and we hit number one album and single in 1975 with You Aint Seen Nothin Yet and the Not Fragile album so I was able to pull it off again.
CM: How was it different for you being in Bachman-Turner Overdrive than it was with The Guess Who?
RB: Well, The Guess Who was more of like a nine-year struggle for what we got for that last year. It was like a band struggle. And it was kind of not focused, like Lets make enough money to buy you new strings and a new pick and a new shirt and eat. With BTO I was determined to make it and show everybody in the music business who pretty much put me down in the press that I would never make it in this business being straight and not being a druggie. And so I had that. And there was a lot of things said when I left The Guess Who that I wouldnt make it.
CM: Within the band?
RB: Yeah well, it was said in the press. If you look at Rolling Stone from about 1970 in July or August in big things on the band theres some pretty heavy duty things said about me in there. So I was just determined to show everybody that I was a pretty good guy, was not a bad guitar player, was a good songwriter. I knew some people in the music business. I could do it again. It was kind of na´ve but it was total head down, running into the wind, tunnel vision, aimed at a target and nothing could stop me. It was really tough. I took my brothers with me and Fred Turner and we just went on the road. We did 300 days a year on the road.
CM: And within a couple of years, in America at least, you were probably bigger than The Guess Who?
RB: Oh yes. There was no videos in those days so for everyone to see you, you had to go to every town. And a couple of radio stations like KSHE in St. Louis and one in Chicago and one in LA really liked the band and the first BTO album. And they would have us in the summer to play these freebie shows that theyd have in the park or something. And thats where we built up friendships with bands just like us starting, REO Speedwagon, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Peter Frampton, The Doobie Brothers. We were all kind of starting 72-ish, the end of Creedence Clearwater and we just latched onto that and suddenly, bam, Let It Ride came out and it was a hit. Then came Takin Care Of Business and bang, bang, bang, bang. Youre kind of reeling with Gee, I wanted this to happen, but its happening too fast. But theres no such thing as too fast cause youve wanted it for so long. You kind of get caught up in it and you go for the ride.
CM: Speaking of the ride and being back with The Guess Who, is this a new beginning or is it just a full-circle closure type of thing to heal some of those old wounds?
RB: Well, theres a wonderful feeling of closure, a wonderful feeling of forgiving and being forgiven for whatever. For whatever youre carrying whatever Im carrying against you, Im dropping it. You know, this baggage is gone just to be rid of the baggage and be friends again. These are like we are each others oldest friends. I mean, how often do you see a guy that you played hockey with when you were nine or ten? You might see him on the street or at a high school reunion, but to actually spend months and months together on a bus, which is what were doing starting next week. And the conversation will be Hey, do you remember that time in Paris? Remember the time in Australia? Remember the time back home? Yeah, and everybody kicks in a story and its like the most wonderful family or class reunion that goes on and on and on and on and nobody argues or fights. You know, usually there are all of these fights cause they dredge up old stuff. We decided to leave the old stuff buried and, you know, if you cant say nothing nice just dont say anything. Everythings kind of like very positive and were all really grateful to be there and were all kind of somewhat amazed at the response. We did two shows in the States last year in the middle of our Canadian tour. One of them was in September in Portland and we played with Steve Miller Band for the big radio station in Portland and it was like Woodstock. They expected 15 to 18 thousand people and and I think we had 28 or 30 (thousand). It almost doubled what they thought. And just before Christmas we played with The Doobie Brothers in Minneapolis on, I think, December 16 same response. The crowds were going crazy so we are kind of amazed at these Guess Who fans. Theyre like Grateful Dead fans. Its like they never forgot what we did and theyll come out en masse. And no matter what set list we put together, which is sometimes 30 or 40 songs, somebody shows up and says, Oh, are you going to do this? We drove 800 miles to hear this. And you go, Wow, we left it out, you know? We just cant put it all in.
CM: As you said, (before my tape recorder caught up) before classic rock radio people knew the songs, but in some cases didnt put it together with the artist.
RB: Thats true, cause people will say, Which band are you with? And no matter which band I say, Bachman-Turner Overdrive or The Guess Who, they go Oh, whats a song? And if I say, These Eyes, Undun, No Time, American Woman, Rain Dance, Share The Land, Let It Ride, Takin Care Of Business, You Aint Seen Nothin Yet, Four Wheel Drive, theyre like Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh that song? And so there is a song recognition. Now I think its all put together.
CM: Youre right, thats probably from classic rock radio continually playing those tunes over and over. I think that explains that.
RB: I love the guy who did that format!
CM: I guess you do. (laughing)
RB: Because before that, in a three hour cycle in radio, it was like one golden oldie or moldy oldie or classic gem or whatever they called it, blast from the past and suddenly to make that a format was quite ingenious for guys like me. Like, this last weekend, we played with Joan Jett, Billy Squier, Pat Benatar, Blue Oyster Cult, I mean this is a whole genre that has sprung up thats very respectable and its the classic rock genre. Previous to that it was the blues, right? Except blues were first of all only played by old, blown-out, down trodden, woke up this morning and life wasnt good kind of guys the old black guys. And then with Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Kenny Wayne Sheppards making it, kind of whitening the music again, the whole blues thing became a very respected genre. And people really go out to see two or three blues acts together like B.B. King, you know, Buddy Guy and stuff like that. And the same things happened with classic rock. Its not like all these guys are doing money grab things. Its Wow, heres a bunch of great songs, theres three or four great bands, lets go see this and lets be twenty-five again. Thats what I said to Burton when I got offstage, I felt like I was thirty again and the audience feels that way, too. Its just Lets cheat time for a couple of hours and lets boogie.
CM: So it is basically like time-traveling almost.
RB: It is because many times onstage in the middle of a song, I look up and I see a twenty-year old Burton Cummings at the piano. And when I see him at twenty, I feel twenty-five (laughs) cause theres five years of difference. Its just very weird, cause youre closing your eyes or theres sweat in your eyes and you close your eyes and suddenly you have this How many times have I played this song? Where am I? Am I in Thunder Bay? And you open your eyes and suddenly you know Im in Atlanta or New York and theres Burton and boy he looks twenty, but hes really fifty, you know what I mean? Its a very incredible thing. Its very weird.
CM: How did Joe Cocker wind up on this bill?
RB: Well, we talked about several acts. One was Steve Miller, but hes basically retired. He did that gig with us in Portland and sold everything and moved to his island, cause hed been back on the road for a long time. Then we discussed The Doobie Brothers, but they just want to work two weeks on and two weeks off and we need a continuity of a tour so all the advertisings all the same. We just threw around a bunch of names. Who do you think would be great? I said, Well, Heart, lets get Heart. Well, Hearts in a not together phase right now. I think Ann Wilson just adopted a baby or Nancy Wilson had a baby or something or whatever. So we tossed around ideas and then when we played the Gray Cup which is our big Super Bowl here, The Guess Who played the Gray Cup last November in Calgary, Alberta. While I was there, I read the newspaper and it said last night, which I missed cause we had just flown in that day, Tina Turner played and her opening act was Joe Cocker and it was an evening of memories and vibes and slick music and great songs, great musicianship and it was a night to remember. So I dont know if I mentioned it or somebody else said Joe Cocker and I said, Yeah. Hes the same vintage as us. Its like Woodstock, 68, 69, hes had ups and downs, ups and downs, ups and downs, he always comes back, hes of our vintage, hes had dozens of hit songs. Its just going to be a continuum of when he starts to when we finish. Its going to be a four-hour blast for people going Wow, isnt he cool. I mean, I cant wait til the first night to go in and tell Joe Cocker what a treasure I think he is and what a cool guy he is. He just keeps coming back. And his voice is absolutely priceless, theres nothing like it. I mean its like a one of a kind thrill that were going to be playing with this guy. Its like doing a tour with Frank Sinatra. Hes a character, a personality or Louis Armstrong, its just a great, great thing, you know?
CM: So are there any acts that are inspiring you right now?
RB: Yeah, there are new modern acts and I also get great inspiration from Aerosmith. I mean they were BTOs opening act in the 70s. And to have them come back and to have them all straighten out and come back bigger than they ever were and to really go out rocking (is inspiring). (Its) the same thing with The Rolling Stones and Eagles that just shows me, yeah youre never too old to rock, just be true to yourself and go out there and your fans will be there with you. The fans are just like you. Youve gotten older. Guess what, so have they, but they still like to rock and its amazing when you look out in the audience and you see a guy who looks like your old high school principal. Hes 65 or 68 and hes bald with glasses, hes overweight, hes struggling with his medication (laughs) and hes suddenly standing on a chair rocking out. And you go, This is insane. This guy looks like a college professor or an old accountant. But at that moment, hes twenty years old and hes boogieing to the song as he did when he was twenty. Its just a really incredible feeling. I dont know of any other business where this can happen in. You cant get athletes together, the team, forty years later to play the Rose Bowl game and win. Its very hard to get actors together to redo a movie. Do you know what I mean, and create something. But in music, theres some incredible phenomena that when you stay in it, you get better. We all play better now than we did obviously twenty years ago. We all write better songs. We all sing better. Its like you being a writer. Youre going to get better and better and better. Instead of you needing an editor, you go to being a self-editor and then you start to edit other people cause you know exactly what to write. You leave out all the excess, you only put in the facts, you have a great story line. Youve got a great caption to get people reading. Its not too long, its not too short and thats the way it is with us with everything. You just know what to do.
CM: You say youre better at everything now. Do you
have any new material that youre going to do?
RB: Well, were not doing any new material now. Were concentrating on the tour. We just played the R and R Convention in LA about a month ago and many of the radio guys came to us and said, You know, youre so smart to not try to do a new album. We said Really, cause most people are saying Wheres the new album? They said Yeah, there are a couple of other bands which I wont name them for you, but you might figure them out. (And) when they got together last year or the year before, they said, Lets do a new studio album. So all of there focus and energy goes into the new studio album and then when they start their tour, guess what, they want to play the new songs for the people and the tours stiff. I dont want to go see my buddy Neil Young and hear twelve new songs. I want to hear Cinnamon Girl, Down By The River, Old Man, and Ive got this list that I want to hear. I count them off in my head. I mean, Im sitting there at a concert with someone next to me like my wife or my daughter or Burton Cummings saying, They havent played this yet. I know people are doing that. So what were doing is concentrating on putting all of our energy into this celebrating our body of work and polishing up the name cause its been tarnished by a clone band thats been out there. Were showing everybody through this PBS show who we are. Were all legitimate members of The Guess Who spanning its 16-year lifetime with Burton Cummings and Garry Peterson on everything and me on everything up til American Woman and Donnie McDougall on the stuff after American Woman. So were like a legitimate alumnus band of The Guess Who and were doing really great songs.
CM: Did you ever think about taking Tal (Bachman, Randys son who had a hit recently with Shes So High) on the road with you?
RB: We talked about him being an opening act in Canada, but hes busy right now. Hes in LA right now writing with a guy from Lifehouse and doing some new material. Hes coming right back here to my home studio after Im done mixing tomorrow and hes in here next week starting his well, hes got fifty songs done. Hes got a bunch of new songs done with this guy in LA whos really a great collaborator. And hes coming here to do his new album. Theres a time when Tal has new albums out and we come back to the States next year that Tal might be in there as the opening act. Lorne Safer who manages The Guess Who right now is an old friend from Winnipeg. I was on the road with The Guess Who in Toronto when Tally was born. It was Lorne Safer who drove my wife to the hospital. He was the first guy to hold my son and hes managing the band so theres this weird cyclical thing thats happening. When I say, Lorne, how bout Tally? (laughs), he says, Well, you know, I know Tally. Remember I held him before you. I drove Lorraine to the hospital. So we all go back a long ways. The whole crew and band are all from Winnipeg. Weve just been old friends since the mid 60s when we were all kids in high school there. Lorne Safer managed Neil Young who was like his first band. Then Lorne Safer managed another band called The Mongrels that I wrote and produced in the late 60s just before The Guess Who explosion. So to come full circle now, not just with the guys in the band but to be working with Lorne who works out of LA and managed Rod Stewart and Prince and went there with a couple of record labels. Hes like the local Winnipeg Jewish kid who left and went to LA and made it good, made it big and ran labels. You know, he started Portrait Records and signed Heart and Burton Cummings and Ringo Starr for Portrait. Then he moved on into management. So to be working together with all these guys is just really fabulous. Its like a quite incredible I dont know. We all fell together, but I couldnt have hand picked a better bunch of guys. Burton Cummings said if he were to hand pick everyone who was in The Guess Who this is the line up that he would pick. So through all of this happenstance and circumstance we just all fell together and its just so incredibly right. To have the extra member, the fifth guy just to add that extra harmony, that extra guitar (is great). Cause a lot of that stuff was done where I played rhythm guitar and lead guitar on a record and something was kind of missing as it is with any three-piece band. Theres usually a guy who plays rhythm through the song first and his leads on top. (We) have the five of us there singing the full tilt harmony and the full guitar arsenal of one on left and one on the right of the stage. Sometimes Burton Cummings plays guitar in the middle of the set and the band takes on a whole different sound cause suddenly we become Buffalo Springfield. For No Time, which was our Buffalo Springfield song, Burtons on rhythm and me and Donnie are on electric guitars and its suddenly a whole ambience change because the keyboards not there and the harmonies sound even sweeter with the keyboards not there. The keyboards cover a lot of frequencies. There are times when Burton doesnt do anything except sing. Hell do a flute solo in the middle of Shes Come Undone and the band kind of expands and shrinks onstage as far as whatever Burtons playing. Sometimes its nothing or just a cowbell like in American Woman and sometimes piano, sometimes flute, sometimes harmonica and sometimes Im singing. Then we do a little acoustic set in the middle and its just a very varied and interesting show to listen to.
CM: So after this, do you have any plans for your solo band or a BTO reunion? Whats up next for you?
RB: This tour will run until about November and then Burton and I were planning to write for another album, but were basically waiting for someone to dangle a carrot in front of us. (Were waiting) for Mo Ostin or Clive Davis to come and say Saw your show in New York, rocked, great, heres some money, heres a contract. You got any ideas for a producer or co-producer? Yeah or no, well try Joseph Puig or whatever and lets just go into the studio and rock. But to go and do it now would be like us kind of burning energy when theres no place for it to go. So were putting it all into literally running or riding. I just finished an hour on my bike, you know. (Im) getting in shape mentally, physically and playing every single day. We start to rehearse this weekend for sound and light and lasers and screens with the whole crew doing that. Then we start next Tuesday in Vancouver on the seventh.
CM: Wow, youre doing a whole big rock and roll production show with lasers and other craziness?
RB: I think we have nine cameras, three huge screens, lasers, the old fashioned Fillmore light show with those Amoebas that move like from the acid (days), you know, those trips kind of movies? That whole thing is there. Weve got a new digital sound system that sounds great. There is a lot. I mean, a lot of money was spent on the stage and production huge. No one can leave. We didnt have one bad word said in Canada, not one negative word from a fan. Well, never from a fan, but normally The Guess Who and me would get slam dunked by some critic somewhere finding something wrong to say about something like somebody wore a broken shoelace. Instead, actually in Canada last year everybody said it was really a special experience and really great. So nobody said one negative comment about anything.
CM: So the critics are even embracing you now?
RB: Yes, (but) I think the critics, in a way, have to jump on the bandwagon or theyll look real stupid and now a lot of the critics are fans. Theres nothing worse than saying to you We want you to go tomorrow and review Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. You go, What, I hate her, I dont like jazz and cocktail stuff. My parents like that. And they say, No, youve got to go and sit through this and, by the way, shes playing with a symphony who are doing Tchaikovskys greatest hits. So you give her a bad review and a lot of times that happens with us. They get some person whos like eighty whos a classical reviewer to review The Guess Who. Well, they dont want to be there. You know what I mean, they show up for two minutes and they do a whole review after staying for two songs and they leave. Now it seems like critics are calling and saying, We want to get in. Were fans. Weve got to review this show and we just wanted to be part of it, and when that happens, its wonderful. You cant buy that kind of press.
CM: Well, I was a bit surprised when I was speaking to your publicist and she mentioned that you were coming to Georgia. Being in America, I didnt even know you were back together or about your tour of Canada. So I myself am excited about the chance to hear all of those great pop songs live and that I get a chance to talk to you.
RB: Well, thank you for your enthusiasm and for talking to me. Its a thrill for me. Wow, guy, I can talk to Atlanta? Or, wow, a guy in Chicago? Its amazing.
CM: Well, just for the record, heres my Randy Bachman experience. Youre partly responsible for me doing this. When I was a kid my father owned a club down in South Carolina in the deep American south. So I grew up hearing Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty and Hee-Haw music. There was a juke box in the club and I went in one Sunday morning to help him clean up and I put on the juke box and by some coincidence, Four Wheel Drive came on and it was loud. That was the first time Id ever heard real rock and roll with distortion and pounding drums.
RB: Really? (sounding genuinely surprised)
CM: Yeah, and there was a drum kit set up in the corner and the snare started rattling from the volume and it freaked me out. I thought there was a ghost behind the kit or something. (laughs) That made a massive impact on me and planted a seed thats still growing. Im a pseudo musician who also writes.
RB: Well, thats great!
CM: Yeah, so basically, Ive been starving ever since. (laughs)
RB: (laughs) But youre doing what you want to do. And then when you start making money, you say What could be better than this? Whatever you do thats your hearts desire takes many years of starving to make sure thats what you really want to do.
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