BOB YOUNG Q&A for Dutch Fan Club magazine

Q1: As we know, for the Heavy Traffic album - after some years - you worked again with Francis Rossi. Songs like Heavy Traffic, All Stand Up and Solid Gold are the results of this 'new old writing partnership' and it was an album that a lot of fans had waited for. A lot of them say the magic on 'The Party Ain't Over Yet' was gone. Do you agree? What do you think is the main difference between both albums?
A1: My personal overall preference between them is for ‘Heavy Traffic’. When Francis and I got back together several years ago we had no specific plans other than to have a cup of tea, a chat and a catch up. We ended up talking…and talking….and haven’t really stopped since. The writing again was just a natural progression and before we realized it we’d written and demo’d a whole bunch of new songs. The first one happened to be called ‘Lets Start Again’ which I guess was what we’d decided to do. From this material several tracks made the ‘Heavy Traffic’ album that most agree has an energy and ‘Quo-ness’ that had apparently been missing in some of the previous albums. I don’t put this down to the fact that Francis and I were writing again as has often been suggested but quite simply that everybody’s heads seemed to be in a reasonably good place at the right time and the collective positive energy made the album what it is, what everybody hoped it might be. It’s only my personal opinion but I agree that ‘The Party Ain’t Over Yet’ album didn’t seem to have quite the same end result as ‘Heavy Traffic’. While I think it’s still one of the bands better albums of the past few years, maybe HT was just always going to be a hard album to follow. ‘In Search Of The Fourth Chord’ has turned out to be quite special and probably their best album of the past few years and it was also very good to see Pip Williams again.

Q2: You wrote a lot of songs with Francis. What’s the process and do you prefer writing songs with others like Francis or Rick, or on your own?
A2: Yes I’m very happy that we’ve managed to write so many songs together over the years and now once again we’ve found that nothing has really changed too much and in the past several years have built up a new catalogue of about seventy plus finished or near finished songs to date. When I was on the road with the band we spent around nine months every year touring so we wrote a lot in the hotel rooms after a show or we’d just keep putting ideas down onto a cassette and finish them when we did eventually get home. There was no real formula then and there isn’t one now. Francis strums, I hum, we’ll both ad-lib a few lyrics and eventually the basic structure of the song comes together and we keep changing things right up to point where we record the demo. Sometimes a song can take twenty minutes total as with ‘In My Chair’ other times it can take forever to complete…or not.. It’s never been something we’ve had to force. Its sometimes a little frustrating and we’ll leave an idea alone if its not working until we naturally feel like working on it again but it’s always very satisfying when a new song is finished. We also have a lot of fun with the lyrics that we bounce off each other. I prefer writing songs with other people and my other main co-writer for thirty years has been ex-Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody ( ). Our ‘Young & Moody’ work together has always been an absolute pleasure and I think we now have a catalogue of about 150 songs. I’m also proud of the several songs Rick and I managed to write together over the years and in particular ‘Mystery Song’ and ‘Living On An Island’. I was also pleased that we managed to complete ‘One By One’ after starting it about thirty years ago. It was Francis who recently encouraged us to finish it and so once again there’s a Parfitt/Young track on a new Quo album.

Q3: When writing a song, do you know when it's done and can you say 'this is a Quo song? ' What is a typical Quo song anyway?
A3: The only time any song is definitely finished is when it’s been recorded/mastered. Until then there’s always a possibility it might change whether in its arrangement or in the fine-tuning of the lyrics. Generally though there’s a point when you know its worth completing although, as I said earlier, often an idea will be put to one side to be worked on at a later date…….or not. I think It’s impossible to say at any time when writing that ‘This is a Quo song’. Only when it gets into the studio with the band playing it together is it known if it’s going to work as a Quo song. Consider the difference between ‘NaNaNa’ and ‘Railroad’ on the ‘Dog Of Two Head’ album, ‘(April) Spring….’ and ‘Everything’ on ‘Ma Kelly’s…, or even ‘Beginning Of The End’ and ‘Tongue Tied’ on ‘Fourth Chord….’. I think this shows that there really is no typical Quo song although I guess it could be said that you can tell a Quo rock song within the first 12 Bars (or maybe 3 chords…..) and there’s also quite a few bands that sound a lot like Quo.

Q4: You’ve mentioned a couple of times that there will be another Francis solo album. Is there any news about that project? And what about yourself? In 1986 there was your ‘In Quo Country’ album… Some twenty years ago....isn’t it time for a Part Two?
A4: Francis has been putting his solo album back many times for over thirty years and even now, because of the Quos commitments over the next two years, he’s resigned himself to the fact that it’ll be a while longer before he gets to record it. One thing’s for sure he won’t ever be short of songs when he does eventually get around to making it. My ‘In Quo Country’ album was something I really felt the need to do at the time. It was a respectful nod to the ‘Country’ element in some of the Quo songs over the years and also an opportunity to record with some of the UK’s great players such as Albert Lee, Micky Moody, BJ Cole and others. Is it time for a Part Two? Yes it’s on my list of things to do before long. I’ve started working on the track listing and if Francis ever gets some time off I’d really like him to produce it. There’s a lot of interesting musicians I’d like to have playing on the next one.

Q5: What about a new book of poems? I enjoy Alias the Compass (1978) very much. Isn’t it time for a follow up?
A5: ‘Alias The Compass’ was, like the ‘In Quo Country’ album, something I felt the need to do at the time. I’d been writing ‘poems’ (or whatever they might be called) down for many years and decided a book of some of them might be of interest to one or two people. I was particularly delighted when the legendary late John Peel agreed to write the foreword and also very pleased and surprised with the response to the book and so always thought a follow up might be fun to put together (I just didn’t think it might be thirty years later…). I have a lot of other poems, thoughts and various other combinations of words from around that period still sitting in a file somewhere so maybe it’s now time to consider a new book. In the meantime I’ll put a few up on my new website and try and start compiling the ones I think could be included in the sequel to ‘Alias The Compass’.

Q6: I also read about an album of original demos. Is there any news on that one? I guess there must be lots of demos, maybe not typical Quo-songs, but very interesting things we’ve never heard.
A6: Some of you may be aware that as a part of the Quo 40th Anniversary Limited Edition book package we included a CD full of demos from over the past forty years ( ). There’s a lot more than these of course so maybe sometime in the future I’ll be given the opportunity to compile another selection of Quo things gathering dust in boxes. I’m going to try and include a few interesting demos of my own on my website and possibly one or two of the many Rossi/Young ones from the past several years so check the site out occasionally.

Q7: You 'helped' John Coghlan with his book. I suppose you also have contact with Alan Lancaster. Has he plans in that direction?
A7: When JC was putting his autobiography together he rang and asked me to jog his memory and remind him of a few things that happened while he was on the road with Quo which I was happy to do. When we toured together for many years he could often be, what can only be described as, dark and unpredictable. He had mood swings which personally never bothered me because it was part of his character and make up and my job was to look after everybody and try and keep a reasonable balance and atmosphere between the band so we could all survive the often tough and grueling trials and tribulations of continual touring around the world. We still keep in contact now and again and usually get together twice a year when we lunch with around thirty musicians and industry friends who were around together in the sixties and seventies such as Noddy Holder, Bruce Welsh, Tim Rice, Roger Daltrey, Bill Wyman, Reg Presley etc etc. Its quite an exclusive invite only gathering and is organized by ‘legendary’ PR man Keith Altham. We all eat, drink, catch up, and talk the usual rubbish but I enjoy these lunches a lot more than many of the bigger glitzy music industry ones for several hundred people. Alan and I haven’t spoken for quite a while so I have no idea if he has any intentions of writing his own book. I believe John and Alan are playing together in Australia in February 08’ at the annual Bon Scott Festival. Maybe I’ll catch up with him if I get to Oz next year……

Q8: When you weren't involved with Quo on the road anymore did you follow the band, hear the albums, maybe see one or two shows? If yes, what’s your opinion about, let's say, the period Live Aid until the mid-nineties?
A8: When I came off the road with Quo we still kept loosely in touch and of course I was always interested in what was happening and I was pleased that I got to play harmonica again with them at the Milton Keynes Bowl on the ‘End Of The Road’ tour in 1984 to 50,000 people. The late seventies / early eighties was the start/continuation of a tough several years for them and I got no pleasure from seeing some of the bad things that were happening to them as a band and in their private lives. Much of the turmoil came, I believe, from the lack of management support and direction at a time when they most needed help and guidance. ‘Live Aid’ was the end of one era and the start of another with John and Alan gone and new management in. Tough times were ahead but Quo, as always, were not prepared to roll over and let it all slip away. Francis and Rick somehow managed to ride the storm with the help of Andy whose now been playing keyboards with them for over thirty years, Rhino on bass for over twenty, Matt for the past several years on drums and also Simon Porter the best manager they’ve had and their ever present agent and friend Neil Warnock. So Francis and Rick continue to carve Quo’s name in the history of music and for sure the party definitely ain’t over yet…..

Q9: There’s a lot of discussion about the Quo set list on the Status Quo Message Board. Some say Quo has to change the set, and not just one or two songs. "Every song on Heavy Traffic could be played live on stage", you once said. Do you talk about such things with the band?
A9: No I don’t talk to them about this. While personally speaking there’s quite a few other old and new songs I’d love to see them play in the live set it’s not my place to say. In this respect I’m just like any other fan with my own opinion and at the end of the day the band, as always, will be the ones to decide what to put in and leave out.

Q10: You manage two Irish bands, and do a lot of other 'things' in the music business. What are your main plans in 2008?
A10: I did manage two Irish bands for a couple of years, Relish ( ) and Leya ( ). Relish had a couple of excellent albums but decided to move on to other things. Leya singer, guitarist, songwriter Ciaran Gribbin also made a decision six months ago that he wanted to pursue a solo career and I’m very happy to say we’re both still working together and making excellent progress. He’s such a talent and I hope you’ll check out his website ( ). JOE ECHO is the name he took after the Leya split. We’re currently in Metropolis Studios in London working on his first solo album with top Producer Chris Potter ( ) whose credits include The Verve, Richard Ashcroft, Blur, Rolling Stones, U2 and many more. So in 2008 I’ll be very much focusing on the career of Joe Echo as a priority while trying to slot in my various other projects. I want to complete and try and release the sequels to both ‘Young & Moody’s Language Of Rock & Roll’ and ‘Alias The Compass’ books and also try and make some progress on the follow up to my ‘In Quo Country’ album. Also Francis and I have a lot of songs started so hopefully we’ll get around to finishing some of those and starting a couple more. I’ll continue my music industry consultancy with The Cavern Club in Liverpool ( I still like to travel and just recently went to China and Egypt with Croatian classical pianist Maksim ( ) and in January my wife and I and a couple of friends will be taking a holiday in Vietnam and Thailand. For Christmas 2008 we’ll hopefully get down to my favourite country Australia.

PS: I guess the Dutch Quo Fan Club is possibly now one of the longest running of them all. I remember Rick and I attending one of your annual Conventions in Holland around 1982 and having a very crazy and funny weekend with the fans. So thanks for inviting me to answer a few questions here and wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2008.

BOB YOUNG December 2007