SUPERTRAMP Interviews year 1970

SUPERTRAMP Interviews year 1970


Tramp hits the road

Melody Maker
September 5, 1970
By Andrew Means

Like a thousand other relatively unknown groups, Supertramp are trying hard to make a name for themselves. But unlike most groups in a similar position, they have an excellent recommendation – their first album.

Richard Davies (organ, electric piano, vocals), Roger Hodgson (bass guitar, vocals), Richard Palmer (lead guitar and vocals) and Robert Millar (drums) have combined to produce some very tasteful material.

Latest addition to the group is David Winthrop (saxophone, flute and vocals) who was not featured on the album. The full effect of Supertramp, then, is as yet a relatively unknown quality. During a recent breakfast ritual I asked Roger and Richard Davies how the group had first started.

"I started the group off really, after my old group broke up. My manager asked me if I wanted to start again with new musicians," Richard Davies told me, in between gulps of bacon, sausages and other delicacies.

"We put an advert in, and built up the group from there. Me and Roger are the two main composers and Richard Palmer is writing lyrics at the moment. When we first started we took a wrong direction in trying to do complicated stuff, but we’ve change that now.

"The forming of the group and getting a record out has taken us about a year and we’re itching to get out on the road," Roger broke in.

Was there any particular sound or instrument which they felt would identify them?

"Ideally we’re just five guys on stage just grooving along." Said Richard Davies. "If anything the electric piano may be the distinctive thing. Also we’ve got some weird voices.

"We have very different voices," agreed Roger. "This comes out in the moods of the songs we each write. If we write a rock song Dave usually sings it. He’s got a harsh voice."

Richard explained that when either he or Roger thought of the beginning of a song, they tried to get the mood across to Richard Palmer and he wrote the lyrics.

"When we write a song we find that some line will just come into our heads subconsciously," said Roger. "Richard grabs these lines and writes lyrics around them, making them fit the mood of the song."

Richard Palmer strode in at that moment; I asked how he shaped the lyrics.

"This is contradictory because it’s not what I’m doing, but the lyrics that impress me the most are ballad lyrics about concrete people and places, rather than abstract ideas – like the Band do," he said "It’s not always possible but if you can make the words stand up on their own without the music then it’s good. The attraction of the ballad is that the song tells a story. I admire lyrics if they make sense.

"The days of the protest song as such are over. It’s much better to tell a story illustrating a point. I’m not sure that it’s the business of the rock-and-roll band to protest. It does seem to me a little bit easy to use the stage or record as a soapbox.

"Most people in the music business seem to adopt other people’s convictions without thinking it up for themselves. I try to make a personal point with my lyrics. The right thing is to try and present an attitude – just a statement of fact from which it’s evident that you are thinking in a certain way.

"The songs I admire are narrative. Protest songs are essentially negative. Jefferson Airplane, who I like a lot, have a very positive attitude. They drag you into their field of influence. Many groups don’t have the personality power to do that."

Did they feel that their album represented them fairly?

"I’m satisfied with this album in view of how long we’d been formed when we made it," said Richard Davies. "When we made it Robert had only been with us a week."

"We’ve got about twenty songs for our next album now," Roger told me. "It’s very much different from the first one emotionally."

"The last album was songs which Richard and I had written before Supertramp was formed," said Roger. "The next one is going to be songs written since the group started. Now all we’ve got to do is get the gigs. We’ve got a few University dates and this is the market we’ll be aiming for.




The Seventies Sound
Record Mirror
August 8, 1970

Roger Hodgson is the base guitarist with a new five-piece British group Supertramp, whose debut album "Supertramp" is issued by A&M are particularly enthusiastic about the band who have signed with The Chrysalis Agency and are beginning an extensive round of club and college dates throughout Britain.

"We’re very pleased at the reaction we’ve had to our initial bookings in Britain at places like the Marquee. As a group we haven’t been in existence for long, although all of the members have had a good deal of musical schooling in various groups during the past few years.

"When we originally got together earlier this year it was decided that we must spend some months together tightening up our sound before doing British gigs, so we went to the Continent and spent several weeks rehearsing solidly in Geneva. Then we spent some time as a resident band at the P.N. club in Munich. We had five half-hour shows during the week and seven shows a day at weekends. This was very good for us; it’s the type of experience that many other bands have gone through at the beginning of their careers.
For some reason, a lot of really good British outfits consider that the hard, exhausting work in German clubs is one of the best methods of tightening group sound and getting the group together as a team. We certainly found that to be true.

"Now we’re looking forward to all our British gigs and are really keen to hear the reaction to our album when it’s released. All the numbers were written by ourselves.
"As far as my personal history is concerned I’ve had a passion for playing guitar since my early schooldays – and it certainly affected my work! At school they tried to dissuade my passion for music, but in the end they let me have my own solo concert. I was 12 at the time. I played most of my own compositions but the only encore I received was the one non-original song I performed – Cliff Richard’s "Bachelor Boy."

"I left school at 18 and joined a group called People Like Us, but I was always the odd one out because I refused to force a smile on stage. Lionel Conway of Island Records heard a demo we made and asked me to leave the group and make a solo record of one of my own compositions called "Mr Boyd." It was released in America under the name Argosy and got to No. 28 in the Kansas City charts.

Up until now I’d always played lead guitar, but when I auditions for Supertramp they asked me to switch to bass and, having got used to it, I really dig it now. I also play piano and cello with the group."


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