iNTERVIEW: George Thorogood

(July 2016)

Mb: Hi George, how are you?
GT: I’m getting by.
Mb: You must be good at it after all these years…
GT: I don’t have a choice at least I’m not in a hospital.
Mb: So what’s up today? Where are you?
GT: Well, I’m not allowed to divulge the where abouts of my location.
Mb: matter of national security?
GT: You got it.
Mb: Well you’re going to be in my area in the next few weeks. How often do you tour in Canada?
GT: We usually go about every two years.
Mb: Always in the summer or have you had to face one of our winters?
GT: We usually come in April May and we’ve been up in the summe4 to play the Calgary Stampede and this year Haverock festival the end of July.
Mb: So, now that you’re a music icon, tell me about your first band. When it all began… you own your own amp?
GT: I got a guitar for Christmas and there was a band on my street and they knew what i could do, and one of the guys in band said they needed a lead singer and had lyrics to a lot of songs and they already had a guitar player. When it got there they hired me and I trade my guitar and started playing bass. It was a four piece band. We played parties and things like that.
Mb: How old were you?
GT: Fifteen, like anybody else.
Mb: You started playing and you thought “this is for me?”
GT: Ya, right away.
Mb: Do you think everyone who has had your lasting power, knew right away music was it?
GT: I don’t know, everyone is different. Mick jagger went to the London School of Economics and decided to try music for a year and Tom Petty said he heard the Byrds on television and he said “I’m going to do that.”
Mb: You? Have other careers? I read on your wikipedia page you were a roadie for awhile.
GT: I was not.
Mb: Not in your early days?
GT: No. I couldn’t lift my bass, I couldn’t carry my bass… I’d tell guys I’d hire to do it for me.
Mb: So you’ve had someone carrying your gear for over 40 years! That’s quite a live career… and you’ve got a lot of records too? A lot of live records, which leads me to believe live is important to you.
GT: Actually live records were to fulfill the contract. In the day they’d want to do a 6 or 7 album record deal, so I’d put it in the contract…. 6 or 7 records, that’s like sixty or seventy songs! I’m not going to be able to come up with that. So the live albums are there to sustain your career and keep it going. That was the plan from day one. Every artists does that. There’s very few people who can stretch out their careers without them and make something interesting happen on every album.
Mb: I hear that. Especially when you have to write the songs, record the album, rehearse the band….
GT: That’s a lot of pressure.
Mb: A lot of pressure, a lot of money… long risky road. I see you have two of the original guys still in the band with you; Jeff Simon and Billy Blough. That must be good to have a long lasting musical relationship… or is it?
GT: It’s positive, ya. (laughs) They know the drill.
Mb: Which is… not to piss you off?
GT: (laughs) ya basically.
Mb: So how many gigs you do year now?
GT: Basically 16 or 17 a year.
Mb: And are you not aging? Did you find an age defying elixir?
GT: No! (laughs) Nobody has.
Mb: When touring, do you get off the continent much?
GT: Ya, we go to Europe occasionally.
Mb: And how is that?
GT: Good. We only play places where we do well. If it’s something that isn’t happening, don’t do it. On;ty do it if it’s happening.
Mb: Music can work anywhere.
GT: Rock works anywhere.
Mb: And your brand of “party rock” is pretty infectious.
GT: That’s how we came up with “Rock Party,” J Geils had “House Party”… every band has one, a song that is just for that. There’s no mystery to it.
Mb: And lots of songs about drinking.
GT: Two.
Mb: Just two? isn’t there an under lining theme in most the tunes about “the party?”
GT: Well, they are the songs that became popular so we play them. Ya, the audience dictates what you’re going to play. You figure what their tastes are and when you play it, if they like it you keep playing it.
Mb: So when you write a song are wondering about the listener and what’s expected of you?
GT: Exactly, when I’m writing or not writing, it’s got to be entertaining. That’s all that matters.
Mb: So looking forward to playing the show and being in Canada again?
GT: The day I don’t look forward to playing Canada, is the day I hang it up.