Rory first comments on Taste. "Well, it was very important in as much as it was the first group in which I was playing the sort of music I wanted to play. Before that I was just playing with odd get-together bands and showbands.." Like Fontana ? "Yeah, and it really wasn't my cup of tea, but it was an outlet and it was a way of playing before people through an amplifier. So I mean by the time Taste got together it was a serious attempt at playing Rhythm'n'Blues cum Rock and Roll cum what have you, so it was serious. But I didn't see it as a platform for my own talent. Everybody's talent has to come across.."
And then at the suggestion that it was McCracken and Wilson who suffered the split... "Yeah, but the thing is, they formed another band called Stud and went on to do different things. It depends on your commitment, your luck; and splits do occur. It's just that some seem to be more traumatic than others and people take them to heart, you know. I mean, no one wants to split up, but sometimes it just happens."
He moves on to discuss the way his music is going now, and responds to an accusation of Motorheadness, "Ah well, I'd be worried if I was bordering on Motorhead. See, you're always caught in a dilemma. You write contemporary material that comes under a Rock banner. I mean, everyone knows I'm a Blues fanatic beneath all that, but I also have other influences, like slight Folk influences, and I'd never write a whole album that's Hard Rock.' Then again, I don't do full Blues albums either, because it's hard to get a classic format on any album. So every album goes right across the rainbow from very Hard Rock to things that are more R & B. But I don't intentionally try to be heavy metal. Its not my style at all, but we have metal fans, which is OK; but we're not a leather and chains outfit. But if you're going to Rock, you might as well Rock Hard. I don't like soft Rock, y'know."
A question of influences brings up Blindboy Fuller, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, and Jerry Lee. "Well, the people you've mentioned, I regard as my influences and idols. But I'm influenced by contemporary people as well, and the groups of the sixties when I was growing up and so on. But Leadbelly, and the legends of Rock and Blues, inspire me because they weren't flash-in-the-pan type people, and it wasn't a pop success they were after. Their music was their lives for fifty years, and they were more Folk musicians in a way. They weren't just in for the big kill and out again. It was a long lifetime work, do you know what I mean, and that's why I like them. They're not on top of the pops today and gone tomorrow. Their solid craftsmen and do it for a long time."
The non-replacement of Lou Martin, and the missing Blues link arises. "I've been answering the Blues question for over ten years now. The thing is that I'm playing as much Blues now as I was ever. Just because you haven't a piano player doesn't mean you're no longer a Blues player, y'know. Having keyboards is a great advantage sometimes, but on the other hand, you go through phases where you're not that keen on it. You prefer the more rootsy sound of guitar, bass and drums."
Photo by John Wainright
Stoke on Kent
Rory ponders the difference in success between Europe and America. "Well, Europe isn't just one huge nation. You go to America and tour for ten years, and still not cross your tracks. In Europe, luckily, bit by bit, we got various countries won over, and being a European myself, you're working form a home base."
And maybe he relates better to the crowd. "Yeah, but by the same token when we play in America, we do the College Circuit. We do clubs. We've done big Rock gigs as well, but we're not a pop outfit; and we've never gone for the big publicity kill in America. We've done twenty tours over ten years. That mightn't sound like it means anything, but that does stand for something in America. We've covered all the States. We've played very well. We've got a good following. We've done very good, album-wise, but we haven't had the big hit album which would really make pop singles. So it doesn't appear we're as strong in America as Europe, but you can take it from me that we're quite strong there, though it does need a lot of polishing."
He denies any real interest in the opportunity to join the Stones. "Yeah, but all that's hypo- thesis now, do you know what I mean ? The Stones thing was just a recording session, really, for a couple of nights. I prefer to do my own thing. I'm a Stones fan. I was then, and I still admire a lot of the things they do, though." He responds to the suggestion of disinterest in doing further Irish tours. "Not at all : we used to do an Irish tour every Christmas up to three years ago. Then we skipped one year and we did an Easter tour, and the next thing we found was that between getting delayed on albums, getting stuck in an American tour or in Australia somewhere, you've got the cart before the horse situation, d'know? The next thing you realise, three years have gone by. It's not a blunt reason we don't want to do Ireland anymore, or we can't do Cork anymore. That's not the case. We did Punchestown last year and Lisdoonvarna this year. But I think we'll probably do a Christmas tour, because one concert isn't enough. We want to do Cork and Belfast and all these places."
On the pop single question. "Well, 'Philby' was a kind of a single for airplay for D.J., 'Shadowplay' was on a ten inch thing. But we never consciously went in to make a single. I don't dislike it. It's a love/hate thing. The point is that most records in the charts I don't like for a start, and I don't want to be identified with that 'thing.' Occasionally, good records can go in. It's just the stuff that goes along with having a hit record. But if I could take a song, like 'Philby; which I'm proud of, and if all the D.J.s would play it, and it ended up in the charts, that's great on paper. I'd be delighted with that. But than you add on all the other silly bits you've got to do to get the records in the charts."
Unpopularity with D.J.s? "Yeah, and a lot of D.J.s won't touch my stuff with a forty foot pole because they can't programme it... You get played on certain stations and certain programmes, but if you're not known as a pop artist, D.J.s shy away from you for a start, then if you happen to do a track that's over two minutes and thirty seconds, they panic, because these fellas are robots, working like Swiss watches, and they get nervous if it doesn't fit into their five minute thing. So, in a way, you're lost. By the same token, I don't worry about it nights. I'm more album conscious."
Finally, marriage. How does it feel? "Slow
to jump the broom, I suppose. Same as every other fella. I mean, what's
the rush?" Is it a case of 'why settle for a crumb when there's a
pie on every tour!'? "Not at all... That's a Rod Stewart attitude, y'know
what I mean, like! This whole marriage question is a pop star question,
y'know. 'When are ya getting married, Rod?; When are ya getting married,
Elton ?: You know ? The world is full of people, and certain people marry
at different stages but I'm not the jet set type. If you bump into someone,
and marriage is the route you want to take; fine, and if not, that's fine
too. But I imagine it'll happen along the way."~
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