Nicht viele Bands hatten im Verlauf der Geschichte die Chance, ein halbes Jahrhundert lang hindurch zu bestehen und dabei auch noch die meiste Zeit über mit ihrer Musik erfolgreich zu sein! Gerade erst vor Kurzem waren die niemals aufzuhaltenden Rolling Stones wegen ihrer fünfzig Jahre umfassenden Karriere groß in den Nachrichten, da folgt mit Status Quo auch schon ein zweiter Gigant der britischen Rockszene, der ebenfalls auf seine fünfzig Lenzen kommt. Aus diesem Anlass soll am 29. November ein Dokumentarfilm erscheinen, der die Geschichte der Band von ihren Anfängen mit Alan Lancester und John Coghlan in allen Details bis zum heutigen Tage beleuchtet.
Als Fan - oder auch im Allgemeinen als Ausenstehender - denkt man sich vielleicht, dass die Menschen, die so etwas erreicht haben, zur Würdigung der eigenen Verdienste eine riesige Feier mit unvergesslichem Gelage ganz in Manier der alten Rockschulen schmeißen; doch ist das wikrlich so? Sehen die Figuren der Szene, die so viele Generationen geprägt haben, aus ihrer eigenen Perspektive ganz ähnlich auf ihr Werk, wie die Hörer es tun?
Sänger, Gitarrist und Gründungsmitglied von Status Quo, Francis Rossi, tut das gewiss nicht! Ihm bedeuten solche Jubiläen nicht viel. Aber er vermeidet nicht nur jegliches Brimborium um derartige Ereignisse, die bloß der PR-Maschinerie nutzen, noch will er die Rolle seiner Band in der Musikgeschichte überinterpretieren. Und das, obwohl er an der Entwicklung eines ganzen Genres beteiligt war?
Die Musik und somit auch der Rock und Metal als Genre, sind einer stätigen Wandlung unterzogen. Als Francis im Alter von gerade mal 12 Jahren anfing zu musizieren, sah die Szenen noch ganz anders aus. Der Rock der fünziger Jahre, also konkret der "Rock ’n’ Roll" als solches, war damals einer der musikalischen Einflüsse, von denen Status Quo stilistisch zehren konnten. Aber sie selbst haben diese Musik nicht einfach 1:1 übernommen, sondern kontinuierlich weiterentwickelt, vorangetrieben und den gegebenen Umständen angepasst. Dass dann auch mal Songs dabei herauskamen, die den Fans eher weniger mundeten, gehört wohl zur natürlichen Entwicklung einer jeden Band.
Für die Zukunft befürchtet Francis ein womögliches Aussterben der Live-Bands nach heutigem Verständnis. Die Musiker und das Biz an sich tendieren dazu, sich mehr und mehr auf die Produktion und teure Special Effects zu verlassen, anstatt einfach authentisch auf der Bühne zu stehen und zu musizieren. Bei Produktionen bis hin zum Ende der Achtziger Jahre kann man sofort – so Francis – einen sehr eigenen Charme oder Stil heraushören. Als dann aber die Bits und Bytes mit der technischen Revolution der Neunziger Einzug in die Produktionsstudios hielten, da wurde alles elektrisch, digital, generisch. Die Vielfalt, die in den Jahrzehnten zuvor durch heute längst überholte Technik geboten wurde, starb mit dem technologischen Fortschritt. Wie bewertet er diese Entwicklung und welches Fazit zieht er aus diesen Überlegungen?
Und viel wichtiger: Was steht nun konkret für die Zukunft der Band an? In welche Richtung wollen sich die Junsg von Status Quo bewegen? Erstmal soll 2013 der Actionfilm "Bula Quo" veröffentlicht werden. Im Zuge dessen kommt auch ein dazu passendes neues Studioalbum auf den Markt. Lest dies und vieles mehr in unserem Interview!
Viel Spaß dabei!
Im November 2012 habt ihr übrigens die Chance, Status Quo auf der Bühne zu sehen und euch ein eigenes Bild der Live-Qualitäten der alten Bands zu machen, die Francis im Interview anspricht:
Status Quo: Quid Pro Quo Tour 2012
8.11.2012 - München
9.11.2012 - Regensburg
10.11.2012 - Frankfurt
11.11.2012 - Stuttgart
14.11.2012 - Berlin
16.11.2012 - Köln
17.11.2012 - Aurich
Alex: Hi Francis! Thanks for taking the time for this interview! How is the weather in Great Britain?
Francis Rossi: The weather in Great Britain is like Great Britain's weather. Let me have a look ... a pleasant autumn day. But I like the winter more. I like the snow and I think that when it comes at the end of the year I can rest at that point. Shut down and spend time with my family and so on. My father was always like that. I don't have this desire for sunshine that some English seem to say they want. When they want to live in Spain, they should go and live in Spain then. I like it here.
Alex: Right now, you’re celebrating your 50th band anniversary and on November 29 a documentation about you is scheduled to be released. What can you tell us about all that?
Francis Rossi: It's quite an in depth documentary that goes from the beginning with Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan to the present time. It gives an insight into English show business and it's quite a good one I think. But it's quite difficult to make a choice on that because it's about me and something I have done. So in the end it's up to the people to say whether they like it or not. But I think it's good.
Alex: Can the fans expect any other specials in the course of this anniversary?
Francis Rossi: I don't see it as the celebration of an anniversary. There are so many anniversaries and I think this documentary is enough. I mean ... before, it was the 49th anniversary. And before that, it was the 48th. But I'm really strange on stuff like that, on birthdays and all those kind of things. Also with my children, they don't tend to celebrate their birthdays. Their mother does, but I don't. Usually, from a promotional point of view it's something good to hang things on. That's what I know: We have a documentary - and hopefully people will like it - that documents basically the last fifty years through. So if people like it, that would be fine. I can't say I like the story about me, but yeah ... I think it's good!
Alex: What would you personally say was your greatest success with Status quo?
Francis Rossi: Greatest success? That we're surviving and still be functional after fifty years. I'm 63 years old and I started with twelve or thirteen and I am still doing it! It's like a drug. It always needs feeding. And I'm lucky, that it still exists and still goes on. That's the best achievement!
Alex: What do your audiences look like in 2012? Mostly die-hard fans from the very beginning of the band’s career or are there also a lot of young people?
Francis Rossi: I think we lost a lot of the die-hards when we did "Rocking All Over The World". For a lot of people this was a mistake. The same goes for "In the army". And in the end, the Internet in my opinion was a negative influence on our business in a lot of ways. It's positive that many young people are now looking and surfing around on YouTube a lot and they see clips and might come along and make this decision on their own rather than from pay pressures.
So we tend to get young people, too. They come along and like what they see in the Internet and then we're lucky, when they come to gigs. There are a lot of die hard fans, but it's a very good mixture I think. Though it's very strange to judge anybody on the age of their audiences. Strange world we're living in, when a band that has a young audience is good and if they have an older audience it's not good. To me they are just people. And the more people, the better, I suppose.
Alex: Yesterday I've talked with Creedence bass player Stu Cook and he said that the role of music has changed over the last decades. That today music is less important then it used to be in the Sixties or Seventies. Would you agree on that?
Francis Rossi: Yes, very much! But that's just progress, I suppose ... Most young people don't find records as important anymore. I mean, not necessarily the music! But we would buy records and we'd have a piece of it in our hands, the product itself. Would have some look at the album cover and this whole album thing. So most things are downloads today and music is played everywhere, from elevators to telephones. So it's very strange that young people don't see it as special anymore.
We where kind of "post-war". It was all new from ... well, maybe the 50th Rock'n'Roll to come around, and then the Sixties and Seventies explosion with people writing their own music and young guys getting together and play music together was some kind of unheard of. When I think about bands like ourselves, who have been around a long time, that's the first time that bands have their careers from when they where teenagers until they're in their sixties! Look at the Stones, who are older than us. Or Creedence, who also are older than us. And all these bands still survived!
But are there bands from the Nineties? I was thinking the other night that we could put some music on and you can tell within a few seconds if this is a Sixties record, a Seventies record or an Eigthies record! But in the early Nineties, the middle Nineties and from there on up to now, because of the digital explosion and disco music, you don't necessarily hear the sound anymore. There is a sound of the Sixties! And a sound of the Seventies and so on. But these days, it is very hard to tell if it comes from the middle Nineties or early Twothousands or from now. Because of this digital thing. Generally it's not as important as it was then. It isn't new and very much part of life.
It seems that to a lot of young people the games on their telephones are more important. But not all people! Live music has got more important, too, because of the death of the record. But even so, now we have a lot of acts that can just go out with a laptop and sound as good on stage as in the studio. That may be the future in another ten or twenty years! There might not be any live acts other then people themselves being there in person. Look at the acts now! They use their laptop or two laptops and just sing to the records. And particularly in America I think this is very big! They even print it on the ticket – that it's what they call a „proto show“. In other words that it comes out of a producer. And it doesn't seem to bother anybody anymore. It's seems to be a lot more about production and what I call distraction.
Seem to bee so many acts that have fantastic amounts of money spent on special effects or the show rather then a bunch of four or five guys just playing music. Maybe that's no good anymore, I don't know! Maybe the future is different like that. So, we are a dying breed. Ask the Stones or whoever else. We are a dying breed of musicians. But that's just progression I suppose. I don't now. But I'm very confused by that.
Alex: How do you feel about being part of this dying breed?
Francis Rossi: In some ways quite good! As I've said, we're still doing it. At sixty years or so old there are still those bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd or as you said Michael Schenker, or Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. They are all old men. And that was considered wrong when this kind of music first started! But if we had died away or we had all stopped with thirty, there would be something wrong with the music. Parent's generation ... but this is not valid! That it wouldn't last. So we're still trying to make it last! What comes next I don't know. Whether the acts that are breaking today or the acts from the middle Nineties or middle Twothousands will be around in fourty or fifty years.
I don't know whether they want to be around this, possibly. There seems to be a lot of people that just want to make the money and go to some place just to retire. We still need to go up and do it. That's something about playing live music ... itself it's a drug and justifices and validates our lives as musicians, if you like. We have to be careful with that word "musician", though. We're just people that do a little show and need to go and stand in front of people and play. If we would not be doing that it would mean that nobody in the world would need our music. I don't believe in that neither. It's a thing that moves on and changes. So perhaps it's just the way how it develops in the way it grows. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be? I don't know.
Alex: So can the fans expect any new studio album in the near future?
Francis Rossi: We're doing an album and something is mixed today. It's for the movie we did earlier this year. It comes out maybe April next year and it's a soundtrack for that,. So, that's coming out next year. It will be called "Bula Quo", I think. And most of the soundtrack from that will be the next album.
Alex: A lot of musicians claim that each and every single “great” riff has already been played in a song somewhere. Would you agree?
Francis Rossi: Yeah, pretty much! I'm not one of those people who's trying to look for something new all the time. I just try to look for something that stirs me or excites me. I heard the other night a band of my generation that I don't like much really: Kiss. I have never really ignored them, but I thought it's just a kind of image. But I heard the new record another night and, again, this has probably something to do with recording and computers. And it sounded fantastic! But not necessarily anything different then what I've heard. It's just that I liked it. And that should be the great share of music. Do you like it? Yes! It hasn't to be: I like it, but it's not new enough, so I don't like it.
And I don't really mind! And I don't listen to music as that always. It's just ... Something happens inside that I like! That's it. I don't question whether it is musically very good or whether it's different music. It's just that I like it. And that for me is good. I realized that with all the combinations I've noticed on acts of any time or cultures, things must bee repeated. It's just how it is.
I think that's the same in movies, it's the same in books, love stories, detective stories ... they are all the same! And war stories are all the same, too, as well as Westerns. Humans tend to say that they want different things, but in fact we don't. We want the same meal over and over again. And thanks to globalization we want the same thing all over the world, wherever we go! When we get that, we look for times gone by when we couldn't get it just the same. So human is quite strange on that.
But yes, I think most of the things have been done. But that doesn't bother.
Alex: Is it possible to have a constant development with a bands own sound? I guess after some time you reach a point where you can't develop the sound of a band anymore ...
Francis Rossi: Well, I think if you're going to look at music and a band as development, it's not just music anymore. To me it is just music, as I've said, if something happens. Why it's good? I don't know. Why we like it? I don't know. Why we don't like it? I don't know. But I think if we try to develop and change it to be different, that's very critical to me and more a scientific experiment.
Music is just something that we don't know why we like it. As with Sex or with other people. Why do we fall in love with the more attractive and to somebody else that same woman is not attractive? Why? I don't know and I found the same with music. I don't question it, I just like it. And whether it's reggae, opera, classical music or pop music, it's very strange.
I have read an article in the papers, that said, that was saying: Oh finally ELO are very hip and very groovy. When I was younger I was asked in Deutschland in an interview what sort of music I like. And when I told them I was asked not to mention that because that's bad for my image and not be considered to be cool. Some years later I mentioned that I like the Bee Gees and later I've read that the Bee Gees where cool. I've always liked ELO and I've read that ELO is okay now. It's always been okay to me. So there seems to be a bunch of people or a section of the public that don't just judge music on how they hear it and how they feel about it. To them it's whether it's acceptable or cool or not. I found that strange, but that's the way it is for some reason.
Alex: How important should music be in our everyday lives? Can music really change our world or is it just complaining about what's going wrong right now?
Francis Rossi: I don't know if music can change anything and if it's part of these changes that come and go on in the world. I don't think that I look at music and think that it should change or it shouldn't change the world. I think it could maybe change something, but I don't think that anybody should start to say that he is going to change the world with music.
Alex: How about events like Woodstock or the Moscow Music Peace Festival in '89?
Francis Rossi: Well, if someone has an idea and a lot of people are going to fill it with emotion and use it to raise their hands it might be possible. But I don't think the music itself does that. Otherwise the music would do it before someone called for a Peace Festival. And it seems to me that in a world of relativity we think that we can have world peace and maybe we can't, because we wouldn't have relativity. And now we had peace and we had war and I don't understand why it is that way. But can we have poverty if we don't have rich? We live in relativity and without rich we can't have poor and and without war we can't have peace and also without peace we can't have war.
Do you think we have peace in the world today? No, I don't think so. And plus, there is a war machine and arms industry that needs conflicts and all that. If there is no conflict, there is no a arms industry. So that industry is going to need its conflicts which is kind of weird. But that's what happens. I don't like it and it makes me wonder why various wars came about. And why we have this whole circle of terrorism. Are there really areas that need terrorism? So they can they sell their arms and people are frightened.
It's hard to know what's going on today. But I always think that we live in relativity. Will we ever have world peace? We wouldn't know, would we? It's a little bit strange to me when I think about poverty. Can the world all have the same amount of money? I don't know.I probably feel a lot more comfortable of that if I heard that it's okay, but there will always be somebody worse or better then someone else. I don't think that's necessarily good, but that's just how it is ... we live in a world of relativity.
Alex: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview! Could you leave some final greetings to the fans out there?
Francis Rossi: I don't have any closing words. Maybe that sounds strange, but I don't. You want me something to say like: "I'm looking forward to rock with you", but I don't do that. I would like to see our fans at the next gig or whatever we come to! I don't have any particular message that would put me in a very lofty position.
I can't say: "This gig, it's going to be fantastic and the best night in your live!" That's not true. It might not be ... some people would see it as the worst night they ever had. We live in relativity! [laughs]
Alex: So, thanks again for your time and all the best for your future!