The Quireboys är albumaktuella med mästerliga “Black eyed sons” och i deras värld är det fortfarande The Faces och Mott the Hoople som regerar. Rocksverige ringde upp en glad Spike för att snacka lite rock and roll. Självfallet togs nyss nämnda album upp, men även det faktum att de en gång i tiden sparkade självaste Bob Rock, samt den kommande soloplattan från Spike, där han bl a gör en ballad med självaste Bonnie Tyler.
“The duet I´m doing with Bonnie is incredible and everybody loves that song. I played it to my mom and not many people have heard it yet, and she went “Which one is you?” (laughs) Which is quite funny!”
The new album, ”Black eyed sons”, was produced by Chris Tsangarides, just like the previous one. How did that come about?
Spike: Well, he did the last one and then this one would´ve been out a lot quicker, but as you´ve might have heard, Chris nearly died. Quireboys luck, eh? (laughs) It was one of those things and that´s why it came out later than what we had hoped for. I´m really pleased with it. The cool thing about working where Chris is, is that you´re miles away from anywhere. It´s not like being in Los Angeles and you´re having a blast every night. You really gotta concentrate on what you´re doing. The greatest thing is that when he first started working back in the day, he used to work at one of the big studios in London and when everything came to a head a few years ago, I think he had shares in it or something, they couldn´t pay him the money they owed him, so he took all of the equipment out of that studio. He´s got all this old equipment and he told me that the mic I was singing through, was the same that Rod Stewart used to sing through. It was really cool! He´s a great guy and he´s worked with everybody and not just heavy rock. We work really well together and quick, so it turned out really well.
These days, do the songs just kinda flow out of you or is it hard work?
Spike: We were talking about this the other day. I think I have probably about 350 published songs from when I first started. I used to write with Guy Bailey when we first started and now I obviously do it with Guy Griffin and it´s just working out really good. I think we don´t try to over think. We try to keep it as simple as we can, like all our old heroes – The Rolling Stones and Mott the Hoople. Trying to have a catchy tune, if we can. Keep it as simple as possible. I was in the studio and Phil Mogg (UFO) came down, who´s a very good friend of mine and he always says “Have you repeated yourself?” (laughs) You have to be careful, because sometimes you can end up repeating yourself with certain things. The hazards of writing lyrics. There´s always the “I´ve heard this before!” We did record about 16 songs when we were down there (Chris´studio), so there´s other material left over. There was so much stuff on this one with the DVD and there are so many bands putting out 19-20 songs and we just wanted to keep it simple with 10 songs, like the old days, really. When Phil came down, I said to him that 10 songs were enough and he said “Well, there were only 7 on one of the UFO albums back in the day.”
There´s also the attention span. People get tired of it, if there´s too many songs.
Spike: It gets lost, doesn´t it? I don´t think I´ve bought a new album for a long, long time. I think that by the time you´re 19-20, that´s your music for the rest of your life. I think it´s good to keep it in the old school vibe of what we do. When we did these anniversary shows in London, there were really young kids there and they asked who I listened to and I said that I basically listen to what my heroes used to listen to.
How have you been able to keep your voice in shape during all these years?
Spike: It´s very strange, because one of my heroes is Terry Reid and he said to me “Don´t worry, just enjoy it and have a good time!” and that´s all I´ve ever done. On the other hand, what I do do, is that you have to take care. The only time I lose my voice is when I´m in a club and you´re shouting over people and so on. When you´re singing it´s right from your gut, even though everybody think I sing with my throat because it´s so rough, but I´m not. We´re going to America soon and I´ll sing for two weeks in a row. If you sing from your throat, you´re fucked. When Sharon Osbourne managed me way back when I first ever started, she took me to a doctor in Harley Street who worked with all the opera singers and the major thing is to do loads and loads of steam, especially when you smoke. The only thing that will soothe your vocal chords, is steam. I´ve got a vaporizing thing that I breathe in half an hour before and after each show. If I didn´t smoke, I wouldn´t have to do it. (laughs) That´s what Frankie Valli said when Frank Sinatra met him. His big advice was “Don´t smoke and don´t drink!” and Frank Sinatra did all of it. (laughs)
You´ve been around for a long time now. What is it that has made The Quireboys survive through all these years?
Spike: I started this when I was 17 and people forget that we toured nonstop before we got a record deal. When we got our deal, we were just straight out again on tour. We played for such a long time up until the second album (Bitter, sweet & twisted) and then we decided to stop. At that point we hadn´t just been playing for 3 years, we had been playing since ´85 and I think we made the right decision. People always say we stopped because of grunge and all that, but it didn´t have anything to do with that. The album did well and we sold a lot of copies, but when we stopped, nobody had anywhere to live. All the girlfriends had left and we had just lived in hotels for years and years or in the studio and everybody was just exhausted. And I just had my son, who turned 20 yesterday, so it was just that time. Everybody had a few quid and could buy a house and then in 2000 we all decided to get back together, except for Guy Bailey. He just went “I shan´t tread the boards anymore, old boy.” He didn´t want to tour anymore, but we´re still best friends.
Doesn´t kids make you feel a lot older? I have two myself, 12 and 9, and I feel really old.
Spike: When they hit 13-14, you will have my sympathy. That´s a good time to go back on the road. (laughs) My son was born in Canada and then we lived in California and everywhere. It´s great now. He was out on tour with us just the other week, selling merchandise. He´s a great lad. I´m the only one with an older child. It doesn´t make you feel that old, apart from when he says “Dad, sign this!” for somebody.
And that second album you mentioned, “Bitter, sweet & twisted”, was partly produced by none other than Bob Rock.
Spike: It was recorded at the same time as Metallica´s black album and that´s how we ended up living in Vancouver for months and months. Our second album should´ve been out a year before that and it was all because Bob was finishing off Metallica and I think we´re the only people to fire Bob Rock. We fired him and we got Chris Kimsey in to mix it in the end. He mixed it and finished off, really. Bob´s idea of The Quireboys and English rock and roll, even though he was a huge Mott the Hoople fan… you don´t use 27 acoustic guitars on a Quireboys track. (laughs) We had to redo a lot of stuff. I saw Bob at a show with the Down ´N Outz when they were supporting Mott the Hoople and he was apologizing to me. He´s in Hawaii now. That album just took so long. We did the demos in Ireland in two days, recorded them live and they sound better than the album. It´s a shame. That album only cost about 3,5 million pounds to make. That was Bob Rock! We went to Hawaii, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and all over the world doing that album. At that point, money was no object and luckily the album sold really well and people forget that. We did recoup off of it and everything, but it was a year out of our lives when it should really have been a few months.
About the “27 guitars”, do you think he was influenced by working with Metallica and trying all kinds of stuff with those guys?
Spike: Yeah, he shouldn´t have been doing that album and finishing it off and doing us at the same time. The thing is that I wanted Ron Nevison to do the album at that time, because he did our first album. We were gonna rent a house in LA and do it like The Rolling Stones and set up a mobile studio, but obviously when you´re on a company like EMI and being managed by Sharon Osbourne, they want who they think is the best in the world at the time and Bob was the number one guy in the world. Don´t get me wrong, Bob is a wonderful guy, but Metallica was his main focus. In the end, we took it off of him and did it on our terms and tried to finish it the best we could. It all worked out.
You´re putting out an album with Frankie Miller songs. What can you tell me about that one?
Spike: It´s finally all come together. We go to America at the beginning of August and we´ve got 24 shows and then when we come back, it´s released on the 8th of September. I´m trying to put some shows together and see what happens. It´s all going great!
What is it about Frankie Miller?
Spike: Like Terry Reid, he was one of my heroes and he is probably the greatest singer and songwriter! I´ve done a solo album, which nobody has really heard about yet and it will come out at some other point, but I covered two of Frankie´s songs and then Frankie came to a few Quireoys shows and we became very good friends. He said to me that he had like 350 odd songs that nobody has ever heard. It´s just Frankie in his home studio. Some of them finished and some of them were full songs. First of all it was gonna be a country album and then once I got Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser involved, I thought I´d have to put some rockers on it. To have Free´s rhythm section play together for the first time in 30 odd years… All these songs would´ve been lost and this way I thought I could do a solo album and keep Frankie´s songs alive and also keep my songs for Quireboys a separate thing. Hopefully if this goes well, I can do another Frankie album. It´s all friends like Ronnie Wood, and everybody knows each other. It´s not like it´s a tribute thing and there was a lot of people ringing me up asking to play on it and I was like “You don´t know Frankie and I don´t really know you either.” I didn´t wanna do it like that, because then it would end up being like a tribute album, which we didn´t want. I want these songs to be out there so they can hear them and just to keep Frankie´s music alive. Obviously I´m nowhere near as good a singer as Frankie at all, but then nobody´s never gonna know because you´ll never hear his versions. (laughs)
What was it like working with Ronnie Wood? Was he in the studio?
Spike: What I did was that I put everything down to a click and then I sent everything off to Simon Kirke first. I did the acoustic guitar, so then it was drums, acoustic guitars and vocals and then it was sent to Andy Fraser and he put bass on it. Then the rhythm section was done and nowadays, with the technology, I could just go to Ronnie Wood´s house, play him the song and he put his solo on and did his bit and that was it. I took everything that I had done and went into Rockville Studios and took everything off the computer, every little thing that was played, and I put it all back on to a tape, so it sounds like it was recorded in the 70´s. It´s where Frankie recorded his first album. That´s tricks of the trade and I shouldn´t have said that. (laughs) “Yes, we were all live in the studio together!” It all worked out really good.
And Tyla (The Dogs D´Amour) did the artwork, right?
Spike: Yeah, he painted a beautiful one and he plays acoustic on a couple of songs.
And you´re doing a song with Bonnie Tyler?
Spike: The duet I´m doing with Bonnie is incredible and everybody loves that song. I played it to my mom and not many people have heard it yet, and she went “Which one is you?” (laughs) Which is quite funny! It´s a beautiful ballad that we´ve done and she was one of Frankie´s best friends as well as Ronnie Wood and Andy Fraser. We´re all friends and I played with The Stones years ago and we´ve all kept in touch. All I´m trying to do now, is to get the whole thing together so we can do at least two shows. It´s just about getting everybody free at the same time and we´ve been offered a few tv-shows in England to do it.
Av: Niclas Müller-Hansen