Music Interview: Status Quo

STATUS Quo are about to undertake their annual UK tour, but make the most of it as this could be the last of its kind.

"This could be our last year of doing the theatres, says singer and guitarist Francis Rossi.

"It's killing us, so we may have to concentrate on the arena in future."

Francis, now 61, is talking during a break in the sound-check for a gig in Stuttgart.

Status Quo, famously featuring the dual guitars of Francis and Rick Parfitt, 62, have been touring pretty much relentlessly since last March (with a short break in May as Francis embarked on his first ever solo tour).

"It (the solo tour] went very well," he explains.

"It was a vast money-losing project," he laughs, "but a change is as good as a rest and I'll be doing some more gigs around February of next year."

Francis toured in support of his solo album entitled One Step At A Time.

The mighty Quo have been having hits since 1968 when they hit the charts with the psychedelic Pictures Of Matchstick Men. They were almost ever-present in the charts throughout the seventies and eighties with hits like Caroline, Rain, Whatever You Want, Down Down (their only chart-topper) and the anthemic Rocking All Over The World, with which they kicked off the Live Aid concert in 1985.

They charted again recently with a rerecording (with altered lyrics) of their number two hit from 1986 In The Army Now.

The proceeds from the songs went to the Help For Heroes charity.

Francis tells me why they did the new version.

"We saw all these guys coming home with bits missing and not getting the right rehabilitation; Rick (Parfitt) and I spoke to our manager as we wanted to do something to help and we ended up doing the single."

"To be honest," he says ruefully, "I was a little disappointed that it didn't do better, but Britain might be all charitied out at the moment."

"It seems that people are quick to encourage the guys to go out there and fight, but they look away when they return with their injuries."

Also in the shops is Status Quo at the BBC.

The Beeb have trawled through their archives and have released everything that's survived of all the sessions and concerts that the Quo did for the BBC – harking back to when they were still called The Spectres in 1966.

There are three versions of the collection: a two CD set, a four CD box set, and for the true aficionado, the complete set which is seven CD's and a DVD.

"We didn't have any say or input in the release." Francis says simply.

Anyway, the tour.

"Yes," says Francis. "We're coming home, which we always enjoy."

But there's a bit of trepidation there.

"That's right," he says. "Someone in the band always gets ill when we tour Britain.

"It's strange," he continues, "but no one gets ill when we're abroad."

Fans will be happy to know that the band have no intention of altering the set much.

"There'll be some slight changes, but we never usually change it much. We may do a different medley – perhaps the Mystery Song one, and Rick might be doing For You".

Quo have been named music's hardest working band for two years running and Francis reveals the reason that they keep up their punishing schedule.

"For a start, we don't like rehearsals, it's like playing to a brick wall.

"So we keep going; the longest break we have is coming up in January, although I'll be out in February.

"Actually, we're insecure little show-offs and we have to keep going because we're of that generation where we think that if we don't work we don't get any money in."

"Also," he concludes, "it's an affirmation of our success. Every night we go out to packed halls and that is the affirmation we need."

After the tour and their traditional break, there may be a chance of a new album.

"We were supposed top be doing something last September but it didn't happen," says Francis.

"I've now got about nine songs and we'll collate the stuff in March, but it'll probably be next September before anything is released."

Then, of course, there'll be more touring.

December 19, St George's Hall, Bridge Street, Bradford, 7pm, 34.50. Tel: 01274 432000. www.bradford-theatres.co.uk

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