Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 45 - Francis Rossi

WHO IS THE DADDY?


JAMES GADEN CHATS EXCLUSIVELY TO FRANCIS ROSSI.

Back in Fireworks #40, I interviewed the legendary frontman from Status Quo, Francis Rossi, about his new solo album 'One Step At A Time' (click here to read the album review on Rocktopia). I very much enjoyed the upbeat feel to it and the chance it gave Francis to explore some of his pop sensibilities outside of the confines of Status Quo. Six UK shows were booked in support of the album, a thought that filled Francis with a sense of trepidation, but upon completion, a gig at St. Lukes in London was booked, for the purpose of recording a live DVD and CD of the solo show. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance that night and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The DVD proved to recreate the experience superbly, so after a bit of nagging, I was granted an exclusive interview with Francis to talk about it. As this would be my third time talking to the charismatic guitarist, I expected him to be talkative, witty and entertaining as always. What I didn't expect was the phone to be answered on the very first ring by a timid, effeminate voice...

Hello, is daddy there please?

Er... pardon?

That got you didn't it? You didn't expect that.

(Laughs) No, I didn't!

I wasn't going to do that, I was gonna do 'Freddie's Sandwich Bar, how may I help you?' but I just thought of 'Hello, is daddy there please?' Makes it sound like I called you. I think the phone is a wonderful thing for doing shit like that.

(Laughs) It is, and I must say, that is the best start to an interview I've ever had!

Not a bad life really then, is it? Things on the up - and you work for Fireworks, that's not bad is it?

No, it could be worse... right, you've completely thrown me off kilter now, I don't know where I am.

Well I'm ready now!

Good - okay, I don't know if you remember or not but I interviewed you back when 'One Step At A Time' was released. You told me that you had to play some shows to support it, and part of you was really looking forward to it, but another part was terrified of having to go out there without Status Quo. Obviously, you played the dates and now you've done a live DVD of a show at St. Lukes, which is also out as a live album. Was it you who decided to do that because the other shows went well?

No, it was one of those things - I didn't really want to do the filming either really, but it's one of those things you sign up for when you say something like 'ooh, I wanna be a pop star!' Stuff like that, which I said way back when - loads of things I've done with Quo I'd rather not have done, getting photographed so often for one, being on the cover, all that kind of thing... but it comes with it. If I want this, I have to do that stuff to go with it. When the record company gave me a solo deal, obviously they want to maximise their return from it, that's life. The first solo show I played, in Edinburgh, I literally had to be pushed in the small of the back by the production manager to get me on the stage. Once I got on, I was okay. But the one we recorded, from the second set of dates... probably the worst show we frigging played! I told the band 'Look, I don't want any of you guys getting silly about the cameras. I don't want anyone worried about their mums or dads watching...' Everything I told them not to do, I fucking did! I was useless! I've seen the DVD once, my children put it on the other night... that was embarrassing. Him on the screen, me, ooh, he looks uncomfortable. But... I do think it's a great collection of tunes. I was looking at the setlist the other night and I said 'They're great tunes' to the wife. She went 'Yeah, they are!' and I thought fucking hell, I'm saying they're great, I wrote them, you're saying they're great, they're by your husband. What a pair of dickheads! (laughs) It's very difficult because you're looking at yourself. When you come to judge it, it's like 'Well, can I say it's good?'

The thing I liked best about the DVD was you have left it exactly as it was on the night. I got home and told people about it, specifically different funny things you said in-between the songs, especially when you were moaning about fitting the capo because it kept making your guitar go out of tune, and it held the show up. They way you did it, with your typical humour, it really endeared me to the gig and I was glad you left all that in there, you didn't feel the need to polish it all out and fix it, make it all slickly edited. I think that side of the show makes it more entertaining.

Well it's nice of you to say that. He was cacking himself up there with that capo, that's why he was filling in with all that rubbish! We've had trouble with that guitar, the bridge has been moved, the body has gotten soft with age and the screws into it were moving... the guitar is from 1958 I think and the first time the machine heads were changed was probably ten years ago. Parts for guitars used to last for centuries but now they want you to buy more. We've got it fixed up now and I'm looking forward to playing it again. Hopefully, when the capo goes on now it'll sit straight! All those things were making me nervy. However, I must say, when I watched it again, part of me couldn't help thinking 'Cor, I'd love to do that again.' I'm terrible like that! I really enjoyed working with those people - it's not that I have a problem with the people I normally work with, it's just... it was great, I really enjoyed myself. It was strange with the press too - I didn't have to go down a storm, I didn't have to have people going nuts, I didn't have to have a massive gate, I didn't need those things that come along as part of being in Status Quo. I was just that bloke from that band, with no huge expectation of what I'd do.

I really enjoyed it.I really liked the fact you picked some obscure or less well known Quo stuff to play - you had two from the 'Under The Influence' record, three from 'In Search Of The Fourth Chord'... great songs but stuff that probably would never find space in a Quo setlist. Did you have songs like that in mind early on when creating your setlist, or where you thinking more about your solo stuff first and foremost?

I'd like to say I was thinking about those Quo tracks, but if I take you back to when I talked to you before, my manager mentioned about me re-working a Quo song. I didn't really want to until I remembered I wrote 'Caroline' as a shuffle originally, and I could go back to how it was before it became the Quo song. I told you I was laughing at the idea of opening with it, because Quo have opened shows with 'Caroline' for so long, it's painful. So I decided I'd open with it, the one song people thought 'Well surely he won't start with that...' And he did! But once I had that idea, I figured out how the set should go. 'Caroline' would go into 'Claudie'... I've always loved that, we did that years ago and they lace together beautifully. That's a big part of putting a setlist together, you can have loads of great songs but they won't all mesh. The way 'Caroline' finishes is perfect to go into 'Claudie'. From there, you go up a tone into 'All We Really Wanna Do' which I think is a fab tune. I'm getting excited about it again now, can you hear me? (laughs) On about himself again, what a dick! Oh dear!

To read the full three page interview with Francis, buy Fireworks #45. Available from:

• Participating WHSmith and McColls Group stores (see Store Finder for participating stockists)
• Here in the Rocktopia Shop  (registration required)
• Here in the Fireworks Magazine Mini Store (no registration required) 
• Direct from Fireworks HQ by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , paying via Paypal. Send £6 (Inc P&P)

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