Interview with FRANCIS ROSSI of STATUS QUO
Revered as one of the best classic rocks bands of all time, Status Quo are getting ready to rock with their final full-on electric shows in Australia this October. Amnplify’s Pauli Dee spoke to original band member & founder Francis Rossi about his memories of Australia, his take on social media and what it’s like hearing “Down Down” every time he visits a Coles supermarket!
Pauli: Francis, thanks for chatting with us. Status Quo’s “The Last Night of Electrics” tour is headed to Australia in a few weeks. It’s been 4 years since your last visit. What are you memories of Australia?
Francis: Yes, it’s been about that. We love it. We’ve said many times how much we love Australia. I think most people on the planet should visit Australia! I’m not sure Australia wants that, but everyone should experience the vibe down there. Until you’ve been, you just don’t understand, but we love it.
Will you be doing much sight-seeing while you’re here? Or is it all work and no play?
Andrew and John are good at sight-seeing, but I’ve been there enough times to see most things & when I go to work, I just seem to focus on that. When we’re in Europe, like we are now, we travel on a bus and you know, we wake up at 9.30, get off the bus at 10, have some breakfast at the venue, check out the stage and then I like to be there for most of the day. I can only focus on the gig for some reason. If I go out, I get a little bit jumpy and need to get back to the venue and prepare!
I think I’m sort of institutionalised, I’m here to do a job and that’s what I’ll do!
You’ll be playing one of our most iconic landmarks on your next visit; The Sydney Opera House. Have you played there before?
No, we haven’t. Sometimes when we play those sorts of venues & I hope it doesn’t happen with the Aussies, sometimes a posh venue intimidates a rock audience. There’s a couple of places in England we’ve done like that where the crowd are a little bit hushed because they’re in such a nice place, but I will encourage them not to be too posh!
Almost 40 years after you released it, your song “Down Down” is one of the most heard songs on TV and in supermarkets here in Australia due to Coles Supermarkets making it their theme song. Does that spin you out?
Yeah well we’ve done a lot of things with Coles many times over the years and this time a lot of people got quite upset about it. I remember last time we were there about to fly out of Melbourne & a couple of people in the lounge came up and said they were disgusted with us for doing ads and saying we sold out for money, but what do they think? We have to make an income and a certain amount of money, just like your corner shop does, to exist! It’s something that no-one really talks about in this business, but radio stations, magazines, everyone has to take “x amount” to survive, so we tend to take whatever we can to survive. We prostitute ourselves! It’s just how it is!
Is it strange to hear music you wrote or recorded so many years ago still being played on the radio so many years later?
Yes! It’s nice, but it can be weird. You know when you’re 17 and you look at someone that’s 25, you think “oh, they’re old,” then when we’re in our twenties, being in your thirties is old. So back then none of us ever thought this was going to last for men in their 30’s, let alone 40’s or 50’s and I’m nearly 70 years old & when I say that it sounds ridiculous to me!
I suppose that’s one good thing about the internet being around now, you can do that. I can’t imagine us in the 70’s seeing or hearing music from the 20’s! It just didn’t happen, but now with the internet, there’s such a broad spectrum of music to be heard and that’s a really good thing, especially for younger people because they can have a real collective mix of music, which is healthy.
Do you find a younger audience discovering Status Quo’s music? Or is most of your fan-base the older generations?
Yeah we definitely see a younger generation discovering our music but I think that’s not just Status Quo, that’s a lot of older bands and younger bands. You get such a cross-section of people now and that’s one of the good things about having the internet now. Some of my kids have Red Hot Chilli Peppers on their iPod next to Frank Sinatra or Shirley Bassey or Robbie Williams. The kids now don’t have to be pinpointed into one genre of music. It’s just all music and they can love all of it. I think that’s great and we have to thank the internet for that, even if we blame it for a lot of other things.
It’s good to hear a positive take on the internet’s influence on the music industry. We mostly only hear of the damage it’s done.
Well don’t you agree that anything that man has created or progressed, whether it be growing a lung or a kidney, or progressing international communication, everything we have has a positive and a negative? You can use it for good or you can use it for bad. There’s a lot about the internet that isn’t good, but there’s also a lot about it that’s great.
How do you go with social media? Do you get on Facebook & Twitter? Or do you stay away from it?
I don’t have any of that! My children do and some of the guys in the band do but I don’t understand putting your testicles out on show or your laundry or whatever it is. But it’s interesting and I was actually watching something on TV last night where a guy was saying we put so much on social media, that we’re actually surveying ourselves, we’re putting up a surveillance for anybody out there that wants to look around and see who is where & what we’re doing. That can be the negative side of it & I find that frustrating, but that’s the way forward & how the world is.
What can your fans expect from your “The Last Night of Electrics” shows? Are we going to hear old songs? New songs? A mix of both?
Nah, we’re bored with our hits, so we’re just going to play The Rolling Stones! Hahaha no, Im joking!
Look, I should be on here saying it’s going to be the BEST night you’ve ever had, but I don’t know that. We HOPE it is. Every night we go out there to try and create that magic moment because it also makes us feel good. When we’re on stage and we’re really feeling it, we know the audience is going to understand and feel it too. When any band is on stage and they connect with their audience with a certain vibe, it’s quite magical. You can’t harness it, you can’t do anything with it and the following day, it’s gone, so we start again and try for the next night. When it works, it’s just the best existence.
Do you get bored with any of the songs? Do you feel the need to re-invent them? Or is there pressure to stay true to their original versions?
They tend to change themselves and it’s been happening more lately because we have a new guitar player. If you allow it, and maybe only very subtly, but it’s the thing that makes us as artists not get bored with it. Sometimes we’re bored with a song but when you play it for someone and their face lights up, it’s worth it.
What about the recording studio? Is that something you still enjoy? Have you been in the studio lately? WILL you be getting back in there any time soon?
Well last year we did 2 acoustic albums, which was very interesting because when we went over each song, each individual gets quite precious about each song, but it was also quite liberating because each one of us can throw an idea in and let the others say “yeah, let’s try it, or not!” so yes I still enjoy being in the studio. Whether or not you finish your product or piece of music is one thing, but making a track and enjoying that for one’s self is another thing. You want it to go out to the public and you want them to like it, but even if they don’t, I still find I’ve had that moment so I do enjoy it, in fact, I have 2 weeks off and my daughter is coming from Canada and then I’m back in the studio second week of September before coming out to you in Australia.
Is Australia the final point of the tour? Or do you have more dates after us?
No after Australia, we do a couple of European full electric shows, then come back to do acoustic shows back in the UK which will take us into Christmas.
Australian Tour Dates:
Friday 13th October 2017
THE STAR GOLD COAST QLD
Special guest Travis Collins
Saturday 14th October 2017
Civic Theatre NEWCASTLE NSW
Special guest Travis Collins
www.ticketek.com.au | (02) 4929 1977
Sunday 15th October 2017
Sydney Opera House, SYDNEY NSW
Special guest Travis Collins
21st & 22nd October 2017
ROCK THE BOAT
Tuesday 24th October 2017
Hamer Hall, MELBOURNE VIC
Special guest Dino Jag