Crossed Guitars '18

Interview with Rick Parfitt

As Rick Parfitt's solo album will be released this week I thought it would be nice to put the interview up me and JM Set had with him on December 4, 2014 in Holland. It's not the entire interview. Just the best bits. Hope you enjoy it. Sorry in advance for any spelling mistakes.

Rick welcomed us with a big smile and in good spirits and started talking about his health right away. Rick: I eat properly now. I stopped drinking, stopped smoking and do a bit of swimming. When I had the heart attack nearly five months ago now it kind of let me know it’s time to press the reset button. After 50 years of real abuse and living the rock n roll lifestyle I thought it’s either now or never. I came out of hospital and decided to get myself healthy and keep myself that way. So that’s what I’m doing now. That’s why I lost a lot of weight. As I say I stopped smoking and drinking and it’s great, I love it. Wish I had done it 5 years ago. Cause life is so much better not drinking. I didn’t realize that. I thought when I had a drink you can have a laugh and that it was the only way to do it cause I’ve been doing it all my life. I don’t know any other way. Now I do and wish I had done it a long time ago. It’s a hundred times better when you don’t drink. Your real personality comes through, you find you still have your sense of humor but people can understand what you’re talking about cause you’re not talking bollocks.

So you’re in good shape now and feeling 100% fit? Yes I’m in very good shape. I would say I’m at 95% at the moment. And at 66 years old that’s good enough for me. When I look around me I see a lot of my colleagues from the past who are now dead. I’m meeting people from the past who I haven’t seen for years who are fat and have lost their hair, they look old. It’s hard to believe sometimes. I’ve managed to survive it and coming through looking still intact and in good shape. So yes I feel very good and looking forward to the next couple of years cause there’s a lot going on.

Like what? Well, we obviously finish this year which hasn’t been that busy. And next year I will be doing the Rock Meets Classic concerts in Germany. I’m looking forward to that.

What can we expect from that? Which songs are you going to do? I’m not sure yet. Obviously I will be doing Whatever you want and Rockin’ all over the world. Probably In the army now and another couple but I’m not quite sure yet. I will make my mind up fairly soon. I’m really looking forward to be working with Ian Gillan. I haven’t seen him for a while. We know one another for 30 years. And with Eric Martin from Mr. Big it should be a good gig for everybody. I think with the orchestra and the choir and whoever else is on plus Eric, Ian and myself it’s going to be a good show. Some good songs in there. So I’m really looking forward to it. After that we will be doing some Aquostic shows, some rock shows and whatever else may come along. We’ll wait and see.

You’ve done lots of different things the last few years. Hello Quo, the FF reunion tours, Bula Quo, now the Aquostic album and in between all that business as usual with the “normal” Quo. The band is still very alive on all these different aspects. How have you experienced all that? For me it was wonderful doing the Frantic Four gigs. I had an absolute blast. I have to say I loved every second of it. I loved being on stage with them. And it was so heavy. I’d forgotten how heavy the original Quo were. I don’t know exactly where that comes from. There’s just something in the combination of Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan that is heavy. You can’t make that up. It’s either the magic’s there or it ain’t. And although Alan was struggling to play it was just magical. Off stage we partied till three or four o clock in the morning. It was just like old times. It was fantastic. I had a blast. But sadly for me we have to leave it there. The first tour we did was platinum. It was wonderful. The second one was also wonderful. Shiny bright gold. But I wouldn’t want it to go silver, bronze or leave it glowing. So that will be that. We shut the door on it now.

Why do you think it will go downwards? It’s in terms of the excitement of the people and seeing us for the first time in thirty years or more. And for us as well. I wouldn’t like it for it to become “oh, we saw them last year but let’s go again this year or oh, here they are again”. It’s a legacy that you want to leave gleaming. I think everybody can do it again. Physically Alan could probably do it again. Spud played incredibly well. Once he got back into it and started remembering his parts he was fantastic. It took him a long while to get it together cause he forgot quite a lot but that’s also the charm of it. But I think it’s nice to leave it where it is. It’s gleaming, it’s gold and it’s beautiful. Leave it there.

That is quite the opposite of what you said on the Dublin dvd. At that time you were determined to do more gigs. What made you change your mind? I haven’t changed my mind. I would do it again but everybody has got to want to do it. And I don’t think Francis wants to do it. And if you don’t want to do it, especially with Francis, it ain’t gonna happen. Cause it’s got to be happy, it’s got to be united. It has to be an even front where everybody is up for it. And if you got one weak link in the chain who doesn’t want to do it then there’s just no point doing it. And as I say, from my point of view I was up for doing it a second time. I still think the excitement and the magic was still there in terms of the way the people saw it. I wouldn’t like the audience to see it with any less enthusiasm then they did. Cause they were just amazing. The reaction was out of this world. I wouldn’t want that to slightly disappear. I want to leave it where it was. I think it’s best for us and for everybody now to shut the door and leave it beautiful.

One of the reasons Francis doesn’t want to do it anymore is because he thinks the personalities will clash again. Do you agree with that? No I don’t. I always got on well with everybody and never had a problem with anyone. In the old days John was a very individual person. He was very moody and all those years ago you never knew who he was going to be on a day. But getting to know him again these days it’s all very nice. He’s easy to talk too and he’s leveled off a little bit. I never had a problem with Alan. We’ve always been close and good friends. So I didn’t have a problem at all with anyone. Maybe they had a problem with me, I don’t know. But I don’t think so. Life’s too short to have these arguments. We’ve had this conflict with Alan for long enough about money and stuff like that and I was so relieved when that came to an end. Then I was even more relieved we got back together and swung our arms around each other. That was a magic moment. As I say, if nothing comes from working with the band again at least we end up all being friends which to me means an awful lot.

How is Alan doing at the moment? Have you spoken to him recently? Yes, I got in touch with him a couple of days ago. He’s still got a grin from ear to ear. He smiles all the time and is making silly jokes and always has a guitar in his hand. Whenever I speak to him through Skype he’s always saying “I’ve got this new song that we should do” and I say Alan, what’s the point of you having a new song? We’re not gonna do another album. He’s like “yes, but this would be great. Even if we didn’t do it you guys can do it”. I mean, bless his heart. He’s still there in 1978. He’s still there. Coming up with these songs that we’ve done like a million times. So I said it’s not gonna go anywhere Alan. I’m trying to convince him of that but on the other hand you really shouldn’t try to talk him out of it cause that’s his life now. He’s living there and he really believes we could do this and I don’t want to spoil his illusion. I don’t think there’s anything that anybody can do to lift him out of that time. He’s sort of stuck there. How magical it must have been for him to come back and actually doing it. Maybe he’s suffering a little now while he’s not doing it and sitting at home. I asked him the other day what he was doing and he said “nothing really”. He’s writing a few songs so I said why don’t you go out and do a couple of gigs. But I don’t think he’s got the enthusiasm to do that now. To go out with another line-up. I think it’s because of his condition cause he’s not well.

How bad is his condition then? On the Dublin dvd you said the problem was all in his head. I’m not a doctor or psychiatrist or a medical person but I don’t know. It’s very hard to tell. One minute you think it’s in his head and he can’t walk or hold his plectrum. But can that only be in your head? I don’t know. But whatever, if you add it all up he’s not well. Every day he’s saying “I’m getting fitter and getting stronger” but that’s him. That’s Alan. He’s always been like that. Nothing would ever beat him. If he was in a fight with somebody he would fuckin’ win. Nobody beats him. He’s very determent and as long as he holds on to that great will that he has than hopefully he won’t deteriorate much more. But I really don’t think he’s gig fit now. Maybe he could have done one more tour but it’s not gonna happen.

You’re playing some of the FF classics in the current set now like O baby. How different is it playing them compared to the FF? It’s very hard to describe because the arrangements and everything are exactly the same. But it sounds different. This line-up is much more precise. Leon is a very different drummer to John Coghlan. Rhino is a very accomplished bass player and plays it bang on as it should be. And if you like, the songs are in one way better. But in another way they are not magical. Because I think there isn’t anything that can top the people that wrote and recorded those songs. So in a way we play them better now but it’s not magical. That’s the difference.

Are you happy with Leon Cave? Yes very happy. It’s a double headed sword really. Trying to find a new drummer. He’d worked with Francis. I’d never seen him cause I hadn’t been to any of Francis’ gigs. I’d never heard of him and didn’t know how good he was. Francis said he’s good and a nice guy so I thought ok, that’ll do me. When he came in I found him a little bit lightweight and restrained but I think that’s natural when you step into something that’s been established for so long. He may felt a little out of place but he’s certainly settled down now and he’s playing the gig just great. You can rely on him. When you’re on stage and someone makes a mistake you can always look behind you and rely on the drummer. Except in John Coghlan’s case. But with this band you just watch the drummer and you will pick it up again. And he’s there now. It’s good. And the other half of the sword is that he’s a lovely guy. It doesn’t matter if he’s the greatest drummer on the planet, if he doesn’t fit in with us it won’t work. Cause we are a very close unit and together all the time.

Are you surprised by all the positive reviews of Aquostic cause I don’t think I’ve read a bad one. It’s unusual for us to get reviews like that. I think the press are surprised and they are pleased that we have finally done something different. I think a lot of people are pleased for us that we’ve pulled it off. We proved to everybody that Quo isn’t a one trick pony and that we can do more than all these mindless rock songs. Well, there are not mindless cause there’s a lot into them but we surprised people by making those songs sound fresh again. Including ourselves. There’s talk of doing another album of another set of songs from the past cause there’s plenty of them. So we’ll see what happens. I leave it open. As I said, anything can happen. Even another movie can come along. I hope not though.

How do you really feel about them doing a gig without you? It was horrible. I actually did the gig at home in my head. But it was horrible. I couldn’t take it in. I couldn’t believe it. I thought they are doing that and I’m not there for the first time in 40 odd years. I can’t explain how I felt.

Do you think it should have been cancelled? It would have if Freddie hadn’t stepped in. And it’s lucky cause Freddie has always been a fan of my playing. I’ve always shown him how to do this or that since he was a kid. He basically knows how I do it so it’s kind of handy having him around. And bless his heart. It was a big moment in his life. If the truth be known I could have done the gig. It was against doctors orders. They said don’t do it. Rest! But you know me. I felt fine. But I got a text from Freddie and he just couldn’t believe he was gonna do the gig. It was the moment of his life so I sat in the chair and let Fred do it. He did a good job apparently but it was awesomely horrible for me not to do the gig. I’m doing all I can within my power now to make sure it never happens again.

Do you think the gig would have been cancelled if it was Francis who hadn’t been able to play? I would think so. There’s only one man who I know that can step into Francis’ shoes and that’s the guy who writes with me called Wayne Morris. He knows Francis’ parts very well, he can sing a tune. But personally I would elect to cancel the gig if Francis was unable to do it. I wouldn’t wanna do the gig. I think the gig had to go ahead for some kind of contractual reason and it would have been really bad news for a lot of people if we’d canceled it. I don’t think anybody in the audience had an idea that I wasn’t going to be there. They went in and didn’t know until the band got on stage. That’s the first the audience knew about it I think. But touch wood and hope it never happens again.

Do you have any plans to finally make a solo album or maybe tour some clubs when the band calls it quits? I do yes. I got a couple of songs going now that I would like to do. I prefer to do something away from the norm. I’m a fan of 40s and 50s songs and I like to make a more placid album than a twelve bar boogie album. Maybe the old track here and there but I’d like to do something very different. So I do have that in mind. But up until now I haven’t been able to progress it fully cause for the last couple of years there’s been so much going on. Even when the band haven’t been working I still had a lot to do. I got to wait until I see a clear period in my life where I can sit down and finish some songs off. Or maybe even do some cover versions of songs that I wanted to do for years. So yes I would love to do that. But it certainly won’t be next year cause there’s a lot going on then. Besides the Rock Meets Classics shows and the Aquostic tour we will do the summer festivals and all the regular rock shows. With the way it’s been the last few years the phone will ring and there will be somebody that you’ve never heard of or an organization that you never dreamed of working with saying we’d like Status Quo to do this or that. Three years ago the phone rings and someone asks do you want to make a movie? And we say no but we did it anyway. It’s fuckin’ shit and I never wish we’d made it but it was a new experience. And then doing these adverts for Coles and stuff so who knows what’s gonna happen. I know the touring schedule will be quite hefty next year. I also want to take some time off to be with my kids cause I don’t see a lot of them these days. It will be a full year. So to answer your question, for me to do a solo record won’t be happening before at least 2016. But I would like to do it before I get too old.

Any special guest appearances you had in mind? I’d like to do it with my songwriting partner Wayne Morris. Who else I don’t know really. Perhaps a few guests maybe. A few people coming in singing and playing. You know, Brian May coming in and doing something and just having a bit of fun with it. A bit of name dropping here, I was in touch with Robert Plant recently and I know that he’ll probably come along and have a duet or sing something. There’s a lot of possibilities of what could happen. Let’s wait and see but it might hold a few surprises to a lot of people.

Finally, based on the Dublin FF documentary and your view on the FF being completely different than Francis’ it looked like your relationship with him was a bit edgy to put it nicely. It seemed you weren’t really getting on. Yes Francis and I have our times every now and then. We are going through a time right now actually where we don’t speak to one another. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re used to it. We have periods when we are cuddling one another, chatting away, doing this or doing that. And we have quiet periods. We know one another but there’s nothing wrong. He’s not feeling fully up to scratch today. He wasn’t yesterday either. And I know he wants to be quiet and wants to rest and I’ll let him do that. He understands me, I understand him. He won’t come in my dressing room, I won’t go in his. It’s as simple as that. But there’s nothing wrong. Tomorrow could be different. You have to think that Francis and I are together all the while. The others go off to hotels and stuff like that. Francis and I don’t. We stay on the bus cause we like it. We got everything we want on our tourbus. Everybody else will go to the hotel. 25 years ago I would have done everything. Get me the best fuckin’ suite in the hotel. I can’t think of anything worse now. I hate hotels. Can’t stand them. So him and I are very happy on the bus. He has the whole back end of the bus and I’m in the front. And it works great. You have to give one another space. And if that’s what it takes to keep it going and keeps it in tune than that’s what you do. So that’s why we are where we are. We’ve been together nearly 50 years. If you need some space you create it. It’s as simple as that. But there’s nothing wrong.

Bron: Arjen de Graaf