SUPERTRAMP Interviews year 1977

SUPERTRAMP Interviews year 1977



A Tale of Supertramp, Organic Fruit Juice

The Burlington Free Press
Friday, June 10, 1977
By Susan Green

Why is it that nothing ever happens quite normally in this state? Everything seems to be touched by some strange little twist of fate, perhaps just to remind us that we're mere specks in the great scheme of things.

The scheme of things Tuesday morning did not appear to hold much promise of an interview with Supertramp, the band that played rock music's swan song a Memorial Auditorium Monday. After a night of sheer chaos trying to hear the concert, I was too worn out to ask any intelligent questions of the three Englishmen, one Scotsman and one American who comprise Supertramp.

So, a tentative appointment was set up for the next morning with the group's publicist, who promised to round up the ban members. The publicist was unable to locate anyone, so I calmly went about my business, which, in the early afternoon, included a shopping trip to a local health foods store.

As I was bending over a barrel of brown rice, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the guitarist-vocalist-composer of Supertramp squeezing organic grapefruits at the other end of the store.

I introduced myself to Roger Hodgson, whose high-pitched, intriguing voice had so captured the imaginations of the high-school-age audience the night before. He introduced me to the bass player, Dougie Thomson, and we made arrangements for an interview after completing our purchases.

Back in the kitchen, over a few cups of red clover tea, we got down to talking about Supertramp's brand of music.

"If we come play here again, we'll bring security with us," said Hodgson, a native of Oxford, England. "It's a nice place to play. There is nothing wrong with those kids (at the concert). There was a communication breakdown".

"We've always thought that our music was kind of contrary to violence. We like to hypnotize people with the light show. They get off on the words and the music," Thomson said in a lilting Glasgow Scots accent.

I asked them about the words in "School" from their popular album "Crime of the Century." For example: "Don't do this and don't do that, What are they trying to do? Make a good boy of you, Do they know where isn't at? Don't criticize. They're old and wise, don't want the devil to, Come and put out your eyes…Maybe I'm mistaken expecting you to fight…."

Hodgson thought a moment. "There are two different types of revolutions in lyrics. One that just incites listeners to stand up and start shouting 'This is wrong. This is wrong.' Any one that suggests they become aware of what's really happening and change themselves and bring about a change. The world needs that now," he said.

"The song 'School' is putting down the educational system, which is easy for us, having been through it. Reaching the age we are (both 27) and looking back logically, it (school) didn't teach me much or what it did teach me was how not to educate a child."

Thomson added, "It's not so easy if you're in it. You obviously do get frustrated then." "There are many sides to Supertramp," Hodgson said. "There's a real boogie side, a jamming side, a jazzy side, a drama side - which really is 'Crime of the Century.' It just happens that one side took off. so people kind of labeled us into that."

Both men agreed that each band member had changed a great deal since coming to the U.S., and accordingly, their music has evolved into new realms, one of them being spiritual.

"Music itself is spiritual on all kinds of different levels," Hodgson said. "I'm a spiritual seeker. The thing that most musicians strive for - most musicians that I've idolized in the past - is success.

And then when they get there, they kind of fall apart because there's nowhere else to go. And then their writing falls to pieces. Most of the bands from the 1960s, I've seen them go that way. A lot of them either take to drugs or they take to their mansion or their car and they just divorce themselves from reality. Hopefully, if success does get a bit crazy, knowing that I'm looking for something else, will keep me sane."

What was that something else? "Well, just a meaning to my life. God has given me music.

Hopefully I can be a vehicle to learn more about myself and help other as well from what I learn," Hodgson said. We all got off on the Beatles' dream. The Beatles showed how music can change the world".

"We need some respect for each other's individuality," Thomson said.

"Rock music today seems to have a void of anything meaningful,"Hodgson said. "In the '60s, there was really hope there, because it exploded, because people were singing about things that meant something. It's a cycle. Maybe it will explode again in the '70s."

"Yeah," Thomson said. "It's become unfashionable to express yourself…to care. People tend to knock it. But basically behind all the facades, everybody's just as confused as the next one."

He feels that America is "the hub of what's happening in the world. All the problems are here and all the answers. In England, people are still walking around with blinkers on. That stubbornness to change is what's going to cripple them, whereas here people are so willing to change."

"I always wonder where songs come from,"Hodgson laughs. "If you knew how Supertramp came together seven years ago, you'd have to believe in some kind of guiding force. If that guiding force is there then there has to be a guiding force for all our music as well. All thoughts and music are extracted from the cosmos, I suppose. The music is just coming through me. I'm just a sort of transmitter. And so, the more positive and purer I make the transmitter, the better the music is going to be."

On their latest album, "Even in the Quietest Moments," there is a tune written to "Babaji," a "very high spirit a la Christ and Krishna."

"All my life," the song goes, "I felt that you were listening, Watching for ways to help me stay in tune. Lord of my dreams, although confusion, keeps trying to deceive, What is it that makes me believe in you?…Babaji, oh won't you come to me, Won't you help me face the music, Bring out so We can sing it out, Help us find it before we lose it…"

After a few hours of tea and conversation, the two rock and rollers rode off in their superterrific camper to the next town and the next show.

Was I impressed by their music and their mystery and their manners? Bloody well right I was.


Golden gift for a Dutch uncle

Daily Mirror
Saturday, July 30 1977
Pauline McLeod in Los Angeles

Supertramp have found the answer to a $64,000 question that's been bugging them for years. How to pay off a debt to their Dutch uncle.

He's known simply as Sam, a millionaire from Holland who "adopted" the two founder-members of the group, Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, in the early seventies and sank a lot of money in their future.

The group split up in disharmony after making only two albums…having spent $64,000 of Sam's money with nothing in return.

It was a case of third time lucky with their next line-up.

Their records began to sell and today the group is so successful they could pay back every penny they owe…if Same would only agree to take the money!

Instead, the group dedicated their album "Crime of the Century" to him…and it's just earned a golden disc for selling 500,000 copies in America.

Supertramp moved to the States "lock, Stock and barrel" eighteen months ago and are currently preparing for the second leg of an extensive tour over there.

"We're looking forward to coming back to England in October but I think that to b certain extent we had outplayed ourselves at home," John Helliwell , who plays wind instruments with the group, told me.

"We couldn't do the usual trick of jumping on to a big name group's tour because it takes so long to set up our equipment.

"So we started off in the great land of opportunity heading and of course, at first we lost money."

Supertramp's latest album, "Even in the Quietest Moments" has also just won a gold disc in America.
John puts down the style of the new album to the 'maturing and mellowing' of Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson.

They are the group's writers.

"Roger is for ever searching," says John. He meditates regularly and Babajee - one of the tracks on the record - is supposed to be an Indian guru who lives for ever.

"Rick is totally opposite to Roger. That is why the two of them gel so perfectly in their work. Rick is very down-to-earth. He is married now and that has obviously made him a lot happier."

Supertramp are happy enough making a temporary home in America, although they do miss certain typically British pleasures. Like?

"Fish and chips and English pubs," said John, with a wistful eye on Autumn.


Personality crisis, what personality crisis?

April 9,1977
An interview by Matt Mabel.

You work hard and eventually convince your record company to give you an open cheque book to accompany you into the studio. The result is a huge hit spurned on by a nationwide tour.

A year later you repeat the cycle and become staple diet of both the album chart and disc jockeys who profess to program ‘rock’ radio. The second tour goes so well that a ‘thank’ you gig is arranged at London’s Royal Albert Hall. It sells out.

After the gig you vanish, leaving the album charts and the playlists behind. Another year later, you sit between colourfully carpeted walls at the Record Plant in Los Angeles and say "I sure hope they haven’t forgotten us in Britain".

So says Roger Hodgson after ace Record Plant engineer Geoff Emerick gives the Supertramp co-leader permission to leave the control room where the mixing of the new album, "Even In The Quietest Moments…" is almost complete.

In their own minds Supertramp haven’t ‘moved’ to L.A., according to Hodgson, who loyally sports an A&M Records t-shirt and is pretty shagged out, as the Americans would say, after two-thirds of a day of listening to playbacks.

"We live in a Supertramp bubble. We are each other’s friends so it’s like the English vibe is still there. L.A. is a totally crazy place, none of us like living here particularly. We like the weather and that’s about it".

Since they’ll be touring for nearly a year following the album’s release, there is hardly a question of living anywhere in the first place. Bette Midler cleverly dubbed the City Of Angels "The Home Of Absolutely Nothing" on this year’s Grammy Awards telecast and Supertramp fit comfortably into her definition.

"We haven’t found anywhere we want to live really, although I don’t think we want to go back to England.

"I don’t personally miss it but some of the others do. If anything I miss the subtleties of the English".

Supertramp have taken a big step on the new LP and decided to produce themselves, jettisoning the services of Ken Scott. That move comes as a reaction to their last release, ‘Crisis What Crisis’. Problems Hodgson sees in ‘Crisis have been solved on ‘Even In The Quietest Moments’.

"’Crisis’, he explains with an either-you-laugh-or-you-cry-smile, "came to mean more to us as a title than it did to other people because it was really a crisis album. We learnt how not to make an album, coming right off the road and going into the studio.

"It could have been much better that ‘Crime Of The Century’ but it wasn’t. We had a lot of bad luck in the studio. We really didn’t enjoy making it and in the end it was kind of a patch up job. A lot of people liked it but for us it missed".

Funny how they don’t tell you that before the album comes out. Still. This time around after 1976 North American tours they took a three month planning period, similar to their occupation of a Somerset farm house three years ago planning what would become their best seller, ‘Crime’.

With 40 songs in hand, the band worked arrangements of 7 and had the set pretty much in mind before they began recording at Jimmy Guercio’s Caribou studio last November.

Appropriately, working with material that sounds as if it has come more from the heart that ever before, the Tramp have captured warmer, fuller sound

"Working with Ken we became perfectionists in a way and went overboard on ‘Crisis’ and became perfectionist technically. Now we are concentrating on getting the feel of a song down. That’s why it has taken so long. Some days we don’t feel like playing. So we don’t play.

"Now the sound is not quite so clinical, it’s more live and definitely much better."

Hodgson himself, has discovered the Oberheim synthesizer since we heard from him last. "It’s an amazing instrument, we did most of the strings and a lot of other sounds with it. It gets any sound under the sun".

Two of the new tracks stand out in his mind, one of which is recorded to be the band’s best, a ten minute job called ‘Fool’s Overture’,
once had a provisional title of ‘The String Machine Epic’. It closes the album.

If you’re wondering why the ‘Overture’ is reserved for the end, then you’ll have to get into the, er, depth, of the message. The album ends with a conductor tapping his baton on his music-stand after a track dealing with The End Of Everything As We Know It.

With such honest material they are leaving themselves open to plenty of criticism, which, no doubt, by press-time has manifested itself.

The other stand out track for Hodgson is so because he sees it as ‘a hit’, is a voice approaching the Queen’s English. Not that Supertramp think product-wise, of course, but "it will help in America because you really can’t do anything here without one.

"You just write and record your songs. ‘Give A Little Bit’ is one of mine. Obviously if you play the game right it is good if you have a number that is going to be a single.

"Next year we’ll probably put out singles as singles as well. We’ve got songs that’d make great singles but wouldn’t fit so well on an album".

The tour, which begins in Canada to coincide with the album’s release, took a month’s rehearsal. Fans who have already seen the ‘Crime Of The Century Film’ time and time again will be happy to know that it will be taking back seat to a new film, shot to coincide with ‘Fool’s Overture’. There’ll be slides, too.

"The set is going to be really amazing. For a start it will be much stronger cause we’ve got three albums to pull material from. We can pick the ones we enjoy playing and the ones which are most popular.

"It’ll be great to play England again. We don’t want to lose our English identity. I dread the thought of anyone ever thinking we were an American Band.

"After the American tour we do England, then Europe, some recording, then another American tour, a bit more recording after that, then Japan, Australia, and if we last that long we’ll be happy".

So, you spend time on another album, until you are completely satisfied, you aim for the charts and the air waves, and try to remind your audience that your vanishing audience that your vanishing act can’t go on forever. Supertramp’s quietest moments have temporarily been cancelled.



Melody Maker
November 19, 1977
by David Boothroy

Any band that play 114 concerts on a tour of America and Europe spanning several months deserve full marks for endurance, if nothing else.

That Supertramp managed to give their audience at Bournemouth last week and example of their best at this, the last gig, speaks volumes - for the band themselves, the road crew and everybody else involved.

Supertramp have by now reached a stage of technical perfection that few bands ever approach.

Their sound system, which they own themselves, makes most others sound like a transistor radio.

The lighting is timed to micro-seconds and they play their music faultlessly.

Last week they even installed a private generator in case of power cuts, after suffering that way the week before at Wembley.

But at Bournemouth it was far from a purely technical masterpiece. There were monkeys dancing with bananas(!), schoolgirl Joan attacking sax-player John Helliwell ("a dream come true," he said), and a male stripper sitting beneath the parasol from the cover of "Crisis What Crisis?"

It was a night of restrained lunacy, which the audience loved, but the stage antics were never allowed to distract attention from the music. The band played many of the songs from their 1977 album, "Even In the Quietest Moments," including "Babaji," their latest singe, as well as alder material, ending up as they always do with "Fool's Overture" and "Crime of the Century," still apparently the favourite of most audiences, and certainly Bournemouth's.

Supertramp's set is not the most spontaneous you will ever see. They stick to one encore, "Crime of the Century," ending in an explosion of noise with the famous album cover of the fists gripping the iron grill filling the screen.

But if they changed the set all the time they couldn't achieve the split-second timing and precision that makes their concerts literally breathtaking. Nobody at Bournemouth seemed to think it sounded over-rehearsed or artificial, just fine music played to perfection.

If you missed them this time around, you missed something special. The band will be back in 1978; don't make the same mistake again.

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