Rhino played with Woodedz in Enfield on 7th September. The event was a fundraiser for the Papworth Hospital Transplant Unit to celebrate the first anniversary of well-known Quo fan Simon Cooper's double lung transplant.
The following interview with Francis appeared in Classic Rock magazine on 9th September. The interview was performed by Dave Ling and the resulting article - entitled "Rossi: Let’s do the Frantic Four again – and see if we can do it better!" - has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons with Francis's assessment of the reunion gigs not going down well with the hardcore fans.
Francis Rossi isn’t one to mince words. Speaking to Classic Rock, the Status Quo frontman is on characteristically contrary form when talking about this year’s much-trumpeted Frantic Four reunion tour, which featured Rossi and longtime cohort Rick Parfitt getting back together with original bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan for the first time in more than 30 years.
While Quo fans lapped up their comeback shows in March, Rossi describes the shows as “all over the place” – though he’s not shutting the door on more shows next year. If that wasn’t enough, he leaps to the defence of Quo’s much maligned movie Bula Quo!, as well as their decision to hawk mince lamb for a supermarket in an Australian TV ad. Over to you, Mr R...
Did you enjoy the Frantic Four tour as much as Rick, Alan and John?
No. I thought that it was a fucking mess. Spud [John Coghlan] was unfit and kept slowing down and Alan Lancaster obviously has his own problems [the bassist has recently had health problems]. Because of that it was extremely hard work for me and Rick. It made me realise that we have come so far. It wasn’t fair to those two guys who haven’t done much since the late 1970s and early 80s. It was so sloppy at times that I cannot see why the fans loved it. I’m glad that they did so but for the life of me I can’t pretend to comprehend why, other than it’s all about nostalgia, and that’s not really what motivates me. The bottom line is that we could have rehearsed a little more, and I think we will next time.
Was there any tension offstage?
Not really. One night on the bus Alan said: “That part [of the show] was really grooving, wasn’t it?” I replied: “It was fucking terrible, what are you talking about?” Nowadays there’s no friction if I say stuff like that but in the past there would’ve been. Rick arrived and Al asked him the same question. Although we hadn’t seen each other [to collude], Rick gave the same answer, almost word for word. I wasn’t sure if I’d hurt Alan’s feelings. The point I’m making is that maybe what they [Lancaster and Coghlan] expected and what Rick and I were expecting was too different
The crowd reaction was truly something to behold.
Fuck me, I’ve never seen an audience like it. Full blown blokes were crying. They were probably rubbing their willies, weren’t they? Cos blokes are like that. The response was fabulous.
What positives did you take away from the tour?
It made Rick and I much, much closer than we’d been in quite a while. If I was singing then I’d watch his right hand out of the corner of my eye, knowing that it wouldn’t slow down – whereas the main thing that Spud seemed to do was slow down, and he had no awareness of it. I’ve a friend that told me he wasn’t going to see the Stones at Hyde Park because he hated the venue. When I spoke to him, he’d changed his mind: “I had to go – it was the Stones.” But he said it made him realise what I’d been saying about the Frantics; it was all over bloody the place and he didn’t give a damn.
But if you did make mistakes, people didn’t really notice or care.
I think they noticed but probably didn’t care. I’m not going to lie to you and say, “Yeah, it was fantastic.” I had a really hard time on that tour. However, there’s something in me that says: “Let’s do it again and see if we can do it better.”
If there were so many errors on the Frantics tour, did you re-touch the live recordings that are just about to be released?
No, I had to stay away from that. I told Mike Paxman [producer] that he wouldn’t have got past the first few bars without trying to repair things. When we did the double-live album all those years ago [in 1977] we decided that we wouldn’t do what everyone else was doing and fix anything, which was a mistake. This time, realising the size of the task, I left it to Mike and I think he had great trouble. But – again – the people that will want it will love it.
So you haven’t listened to or watched anything from the tour?
I did so accidentally a few nights ago. Someone had sent me some clips from the movie [Bula Quo!] and underneath there were some links. I thought: “Oh fuck it, let’s have a look.” Junior’s Wailing from Hammersmith, it was. And it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought… but I soon turned the friggin’ thing off. [Laughs] I can’t look at myself on screen because I look like a dickhead.
It sounds like a new album from the FF isn’t too likely.
I really can’t see it. The way we record now is so efficient. The other two guys are probably thinking: “Four months to make an album” and volume of sales cannot pay for that shit anymore. My thing on that is “no”. But as I’ve said many times before if someone were to give me 20 million to do it, I’d be in the studio in five minutes. That’s not gonna happen, though.
Classic Rock wrote that Quo had ‘made a telegraphed pole-sized rod for their own back’ with the Frantic Four gigs.
Of course I disagree. A few days later we [the 2013 edition of Quo] played in Australia and the crowd was just as loud. I couldn’t believe that a few people said that John Edwards could learn a few things from Alan Lancaster. That showed there were no musicians in that audience. That’s not knocking Alan, he’s just not as good as bass player as John Edwards, whether or not they like his feel more or the punters like way he looks. I love Alan to death now, I love being with him again and we get on extremely well, but I cannot pretend [any different]. I was so relieved to get back to [the regular Quo] so that I could walk a few yards away from the kit and the drummer wouldn’t lose pace. I like the idea of everyone onstage knowing exactly what’s expected of them; just because someone farts they’re not gonna go wrong.
There are strong rumours that the FF have been offered a spot at next year’s Download Festival?
[Silence at end of phone, before Rossi finally replies]: Moving right along...
So is that being considered?
I’ll be honest. I don’t think so.
Moving along, the Bula Quo! movie was panned when it came out a few months ago. Did you pay any attention to criticisms?
Not at all. I can understand it. It’s our first movie. I thought it’d go straight to DVD but we were lucky, we got cinemas. Some people thought it was good – terrific. Others didn’t. I really don’t give a fuck.
Any plans for a sequel?
They’re talking about it, yeah. I enjoyed making the first one so why not?
What’s not to like about a couple of weeks on a desert island?
Well, they’re talking about doing the next one in India. I love Indian girls but I’m not sure I want to go to that country and catch malaria. The squirts would be bad enough.
Thanks for that image. On a different subject, you feature in adverts for the Australian supermarket chain Coles, which are all over the internet. You must have been paid a king’s ransom to make them?
Yes, why do you think we did them? I’m 64 years old and I’m worried about reaching 80 and having no dosh. A week ago I spoke to Al [Lancaster, who lives in Australia] who said: “Have you seen that new ad?” I replied: “Of course, I’m in the fucking thing.” He was very cynical until I gave him a rough idea of what we’d been paid and he said: “Wow, it’s really good, isn’t it?”
When Rick looks at you and says: “That mince. Marvellous” and you reply: “He’s right, you know”, were you thinking that you might as well be hung for as sheep as a lamb?
Yeah, completely. I live in the same world as everyone else. Money is fucking peculiar, and I’m going to need more of it.
So you would thumb your nose to those that say the adverts and the movie torpedoed all of the goodwill generated by the FF tour?
Well, we did the very first ad before the Frantics tour, but the people that came to see the reunion tour don’t want to come and see [the current] Quo. I understand that. And if we have shot ourselves in the foot then I have to say: “Well, what’s the best dosh here?”
It’s that simple to you?
People like to take the moral high ground and say: “I wouldn’t do that for all of the money in the world.” Well, I bet they would. With respect, if I offered you a million quid to do a Coles avert and you declined, I’d offer 10… then 20 million. I’d give you 560 million and you’d think: “Hmmm, I could buy my parents a house.” You’re tempted. In the end, and it’s a sad, sad thing to say but put enough zeros on the end of the cheque and I’ll be there."Revisit the September 2013 event list
Rick appeared on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) from 16th to 20th September during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment in which stars select tracks of meaning to them. During this first appearance, Rick selected Slim Whitman's cover of the Frank Ifield classic "I Remember You" and he recalled the first time he heard it on a transistor radio. His second pick was Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down A Dream" (from his first solo album 'Full Moon Fever') and Rick described it as "one of the most dangerous tracks to drive a car to"!Revisit the September 2013 event list
In the second of five appearances on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Rick selected Cliff Richard's debut chart hit, "Move It" (which Rick said was his inspiration to become a rock star) and "I Dreamed A Dream" by Susan Boyle ("spine-tingling stuff"!).Revisit the September 2013 event list
In the third of five appearances on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Rick first selected Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" which he had played at his mum's funeral. His next choice was "Setting The Woods On Fire" by Hank Williams and he described the magic of the transition from guitar to fiddle in the solo.Revisit the September 2013 event list
In his penultimate appearance on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Rick selected "Lucky Number" by Lene Lovich and reminisced fondly about working with her, then Jeff Lynne's "September Song" (from his first solo album 'Armchair Theatre'). Rick's admiration for Jeff was obvious and he described him as a genius.Revisit the September 2013 event list
In his final appearance on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Rick selected "Barcelona" by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe and he described Freddy as a "charming and lovely man". His final selection was Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and he talked about working with him and his disbelief at working with one of his childhood heros.Revisit the September 2013 event list
Rick and Francis were interviewed on tour for Classic Rock's TeamRock radio, with the interviews being broadcast on 25th September.
Rick was interviewed first in his hotel room and he spoke very fondly of getting the Frantic Four back together again. He said he was happy at the end of rehearsals, but had been very scared at end of the first week. He went on to talk about how nervous he was before the first Manchester gig, before the programme played "Blue Eyed Lady". Next up was a discussion of where the name "Frantic Four" came from and how the reunion came about through making the 'Hello Quo' documentary. Turning to his younger days, Rick talked about simply wanting to be in show business before the inevitable discussion about the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. The programme then played "Rockin' All Over The World". The final topic was retirement and Rick's only complaint was that poor sound is the only thing that makes him not want to do it anymore.
Next up was Francis who was interviewed in the dressing room. He was little more low key on the Frantic Four and said the tour was "enjoyable to a degree" and felt it was under-rehearsed. He spoke fondly of playing the older songs, though, and he mentioned the first Hammersmith gig explicitly for knocking his socks off in terms of audience reaction. He talked about the next (and last!) time for the Frantic Four, hoping it would be better the second time around. The programme then played "Roll Over Lay Down". Francis mentioned Europe as a target market for the next Frantic Four tour before talking merchandise. He then analyzed the nostalgia aspect of the Frantic Four tour, before the programme played "Down Down". He said his favourite incarnation of Quo is the current Quo and his favourite songs are "Marguerita Time" and "All We Really Wanna Do" (which was then played). He talked about starting off touring again in November in Germany in closing.Revisit the September 2013 event list
Capitalising on the incredible success of the Frantic Four reunion tour in March 2013, a swag of product was released in the UK on 30th September. The collectors piece was the so-called "earBOOK". This limited edition, single print run earBOOK cornerstone release boasts 128 lavish pages packed with outstanding photography from across the tour, both on and offstage, and rehearsals providing a real window onto the Frantic Four dates. It was written by Ian Woods, Senior Correspondent for Sky News and features photography by original tour photographer Danny Clifford; both his vintage material and exclusive live and backstage material from the reunion shows. The earBOOK contains six discs containing all the material that is to be released across the various formats (except the vinyl release), as follows:
The Wembley DVD/Blu-Ray was also made available as a separate release, along with a double CD set from the Hammersmith shows. Another "must have" for collectors was the additional "Live in Glasgow" gatefold double vinyl set (on 180g vinyl), with audio taken from the two shows on the 9th/10th March 2013 (newly compiled and re-mastered).Revisit the September 2013 event list