Sunny in Seattle – not so long ago!
By Jim Stewart
Over a decade since the last Moody Blues album, and with fellow front man of the group, Justin Hayward, touring this year to promote his recent album, this is the perfect opportunity for John Lodge to release his second solo album ‘10,000 LIGHT YEARS AGO’ ahead of the Moody’s UK tour in June.
The album draws upon various events and chapters from his life to create an imaginative, powerful collection of songs that crossover many musical genres. John is currently on tour in America with the band, and I caught up with him in my favourite US city, Seattle.
How is Seattle this morning?
‘It’s beautiful, such an interesting place. I remember coming here back in the seventies when Moody Blues toured with Canned Heat. Can you imagine that, and them taking us for a Mexican meal at a little hole in the wall; they said it was like Indian which it wasn’t.’
I’ve got your new album ‘10,000 Light Years Ago’ which I love and it seems to cover so many different spectrums of music.
‘The album is really about who I am today, based on something that has been going through my mind for some time now, that the future is always ahead, but the past is gone forever. And that’s why I wanted to write the album about who I am now today, not a reflective album. I didn’t want to do that, but you can use what’s happened to you in the past to create who you are today, and that’s why the song ‘Those Days In Birmingham’ is so important. It’s me standing on the side of the stage today, waiting to go on, looking at the mountain of equipment, lighting rigs, trucks and tour buses, and remembering how we started.’
I absolutely love that track, good old 70s style rock’roll, and any song that includes ‘Rock-Ola’ is OK with me.
‘That’s it, I looked back to when I was 13, at Eddie’s Café with the Rock-Ola jukebox playing 45s, and there’s nothing like that anymore.’
I also love the opening of the first track ‘In my Mind’. It really gets you, but you don’t know where it’s going to take you.
‘Even that song started when I was on stage doing a sound check using earphones and I played these three notes, two octaves apart, and I decided that’s exactly how the album should start. I’d already written ‘10,000 Light Years Ago’ and knew that would be the title of the album and the last track. So, suddenly, I had the bookends of the album; I knew how it should start and finish; I just had to fill in the bit in-between’.
I spoke to Ray Thomas at the end of last year and you’d just been over there recording with him.
‘I went over to play Ray ‘Simply Magic’ and to try out adding a flute, and so both he and Mike Pinder are with me on that track.’
I particularly like ‘Love Passed Me By’ and the French feel it has to it.
‘That came about because one of the first albums I ever bought was Django Reinhardt and Stefan Grappelli. I’m not a jazz person but I was fascinated by this combination of the guitar and the violin. During the sixties, and well into the seventies, we actually got to do a number of concerts with Stefan Grapppelli, particularly in France and Europe. I thought then that, one day, I will write a song in that vein. So when I came to write the album I thought: ‘this is the perfect time as they were such an influence on my life.’
The album is coming out in three formats.
‘Yes, the important thing is that it’s coming on 180gm vinyl – still the best way to hear music, and, I hear, last year vinyl actually outsold CDs’
It’s taken you 40 years to follow up you debut solo album.
‘Amazing: I know someone mentioned that to me the other day, and I hadn’t realised it until then. The Moody’s took a four-to- five-year gap between ‘Seventh Sojourn’ and ‘Octave’. During that time, Justin and I made ‘Blue Jay’s’ and I did ‘Natural Avenue’, and then the band got back together so it was all about being a Moody again.’
Will you be touring with the album?
‘I don’t know, I’d like to, but I need to judge the reaction to it first.’
Will you get the chance to include a track on the Moody Blues tour?
‘I like to, but I don’t think we’ve got time to rehearse, as we’re working non-stop until Glastonbury.’
Not only have I seen you with the Moody Blues but also on the Leiber And Stoller Tribute at Hammersmith.
‘That was great fun with my old mates, Jim
Capaldi and Kenny Lynch; we decided to do a Shadow’s style walk, and all the way through, Kenny kept saying: ‘John is it left now or right? Brilliant. Jim was a great guy – shame we lost him’
You’re currently on tour in The States before starting the UK leg: how it going?
‘It’s going great, Seattle tonight. Portland tomorrow, then down the West Coast to California, before our final date at Red Rocks and heading back home.
You mentioned you’re playing Glastonbury this year: is it your first time there?
‘We are, and it is, it will be great to get back to a doing a festival again. We’ve done them all around the world but none in England, possibly since The Isle Of Wight.’
Could that be due to the fact you didn’t get paid then?
‘You really have been talking to Ray haven’t you. No, it’s a great way to round everything off, and then I can look forward to getting back to my record shop.’
‘10,000 Light Years Ago’ is now available as a CD, CD+DVD Set, and a 180gm Album.
The Moody Blues UK tour begins in Plymouth on June 6 until Newcastle on the 22, with a London date at Hammersmith on the 12, before heading over to Amsterdam on the 25 and returning for the 8pm slot at Glastonbury on Saturday 27.
Full details of all of the above can be found at www.moodybluestoday.com
In the meantime as I await the tour I have a great album to listen to, followed by a Saturday night in front of the box, before a day out to check on John’s record store.