Supertramp: This Could Be The Last Time - Classic Rock Article

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Supertramp keyboardist/vocalist/co-founder Rick Davies says the band’s October 6 show at London’s O2 Arena might be their last ever UK appearance. Come inside for an exclusive interview with Davies – and get to hear his perspective on the ‘war’ with Supertramp’s other co-founder, Roger Hodgson. Hodgson tells Supertramp: “Don’t play my songs!”

How do you feel about touring at age 66?

Rick Davies: Well I have to say, it’s both scary and pleasant to think of going on the road at 66. I really don’t know quite what to expect but we’ve been training very hard, put it that way, to deliver the goods.

Tell us about the production, what people can expect to see on stage.

Rick Davies: Well, what we intend to deliver is tthe full gamut of Supertramp history. A lot of the most popular songs along with the production that we’re used to. We have to kind of start from scratch from the production but I think we’ve got it all down, we’ve got the lights, we’ve got the movies. You know, a real sort of show is what we’re trying to deliver and really to please the fans and please ourselves.

What songs will be in the set?

Rick Davies: Well, for most places the tour is called ‘All The Hits And More’. And that about sums it up. We’ve got most of the popular stuff that we’ve had through the years and then, of course, we’ve got some more sort of album type of songs. But we’re pulling out all the stops, put it that way.

Tell us about who is in the band.

Rick Davies: There’s actually a mix of new and familiar faces. Obviously we have Mr. John Helliwell, our MC and saxophonist extraordinaire. We have Mr. Bob Seibenberg playing drums. His son, Jesse, is gonna help us out, Jesse being the band historian who knows every single part that was ever put on a Supertramp record or in the show, whatever. And we have old-time favorite Lee Thornburg, who plays great trumpet and tuba and sings. And we also have a wonderful singer this time. For the first time we have a lady: his wife, Cassie, is gonna sing, who’s a wonderful singer. But she’s gonna be backing up this time. We have a new guy, Gabe Dixon, who is from Nashville and he’s a wonderful musician. He sings great, plays keyboards and he’s a great addition to the line-up. And, of course, we have Carl Verheyen, who tours Germany lots with his own band, and Cliff Hugo on bass. So we have a lot of old boys from Supertramp playing for you and they’re playing very well. I can vouch for that from the rehearsals.

Why is Roger Hodgson not a part of this tour?

Rick Davies: Roger left the band… I believe it was 27 years ago. I mean, that’s hard to believe. At the time nobody really understood exactly why. He claimed he wanted to, you know, do his own thing, find himself and play with other people. And as much as we tried, we couldn’t really stop him from going. So that’s what he did. The whole initial idea of the tour really was to get back together with Roger one more time. I mean, it’s conceivably the last time we go out. I’m not gonna say it is or it isn’t. But we had quite a few negotiations and talks about it. It lasted about 15 months of back and forth and it got to the point where really we had to, you know, let people know who wanted to run this tour what was gonna happen. Unfortunately, for reasons that we probably didn’t get to hear about from Roger, he declined to commit to the tour.

Have you ever thought about launching a solo career?

Rick Davies: Not consciously, no. I have a big affinity with the blues and I figure that one day sooner or later I’m gonna do something along those lines. I have quite a few arrangements and blues tunes floating around that I’d like to, to put out one of these days.

Did you have an agreement with Roger not to play any songs that he wrote?

Rick Davies: Well, I mean how far back are we going, 1983? All I know is that there was about 600 pages of documents and agreements to negotiate this thing. As far as I’m concerned, we’re playing Supertramp music. I mean, anything that was made at that time is Supertramp music to me.

Which albums are featured in the set?

Rick Davies: Well I think we pretty much go back to Crime Of The Century, which is  when Supertramp really kicked into gear. And so we go back that far and we work our way through many of the albums over the years, taking the, the most popular songs and some of our favourites, right up until fairly recently.

Is your show at the O2 in London a 40-year homecoming?

Rick Davies: I imagine when we play in London, there’s gonna be a lot of people that used to follow us many years ago and I’m sure that it’s gonna be a lot of nostalgia, you know, déjà vu, whatever. And we’re gonna be there, right there with them. It’s gonna be an emotional time because, you know, it could well be the last time, I don’t know for sure – but certainly on a tour of this size. Hopefully everybody’s not gonna cry too much –including ourselves.

Can you think of a really memorable career moment to share?

Rick Davies: Well I guess the biggest moment from a career standpoint would be the day we got to number one in America with Breakfast In America [1979]. We were in a crummy hotel in Ft. Worth, Texas. As we played those shows, you could actually see the record sales spike with every single show. It was quite amazing. And we actually go to number one when we were in Ft. Worth, staying at a… well I won’t say it, but the hotel was pretty funky.

What are you listening to these days?

Rick Davies: I just listened to an album by Dave Brubeck called Gone With The Wind, which was probably made in about 1959 or 1960 and it sounded absolutely great.

Do you keep up with current music?

Rick Davies: To be quite frank, I really don’t. I keep a very, very sort of sketchy eye on what’s going on.

Would you say that you’ve been semi-retired?

Rick Davies: Actually, I’ve been probably working as hard as I ever have. I’m still fascinated by music and I play a little bit with local people. Again, more on the blues line. I just take an interest in getting better [as a musician]. You can always improve.

Would you ever think of publishing your autobiography?

Rick Davies: I find it very difficult to think of sitting down and talking about myself for, you know, 600 pages of a book, to be honest, even though I do like to read them. I think it would be quite tough for me to do it. So I think the answer is probably no, I probably wouldn’t do it.

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