Monday, March 14, 2011

Francis Rossi: Everyone's rubbish

A penny for Francis Rossi's thoughts? You don't even need that, as he spent a chunk of time sounding off to the Metro, allowing a glimpse inside his head without the need to pay at penny.

What does Francis think of modern music?

Not a lot, it turns out:

Look at Madonna – she can’t sing but she can make a decent record. Her first one, they had to slow her voice down and speed it up. She used the system really well.
Oddly, Rossi can sing but hasn't made a decent record in a very, very long time.
pice Girls – biggest pile of s*** to hit the planet but what a great PR job. Can’t sing, songs weren’t very good, they didn’t look very good but they used the business against itself.
I'm not quite sure how the Spice Girls used the business against itself - isn't the pop business about taking some not-very-appetizing ingredients and making them into something that will sell? It's like suggesting that meat is using the butchery industry against itself.

Oh, and some of the Spice Girl songs were really great pop tunes.
Same with Kylie
You might spot that every act Rossi is damning is female here. But, please, tell us about Kylie:
some innocent child off some Australian soap, she suddenly s**gs Michael Hutchence and her bum comes out and everyone keeps buying her records.
Hadn't Kylie already had a seven-times platinum album before she started hanging out with Hutchence?

I'm not sure if Kylie - who apparently owes her career to having a bottom - has come off better here than the Spice Girls, who "don't look very good".

Is there anyone Rossi rates?
I learned when I was younger from watching Little Richard and working with Jerry Lee Lewis, who was so physically committed to his music he made it move you.
Yes, yes, I think the self-regard we can take as read. Anyone else?
Brian May’s very shy but can stand on top of Buckingham Palace playing his guitar.
"You can stand on Buckingham Palace and play your guitar" sounds like something you might shout at a rotten guitar player, I'd have thought. But, yes, Brian May. One of the greats.

There are some younger bands he likes, though:
At my age they’ve got to be around for about five years before I hear of them so I like Muse, Snow Patrol, Killers. I love Lady Antebellum. I don’t understand people who’ll just listen to one genre of music.
Three plod rock bands and a country act. He's practically Andy Kershaw, isn't it?

And the music industry - is that in fine fettle?
It’s 95 per cent bulls*** and the other five per cent is bulls***. I didn’t realise until I was about 40. It’s not real.
It's perhaps a bit unfair to suggest that Rossi is a bit slow on the uptake...
When I was much younger I’d read music magazines and it took me years to work out you never read an interview with anyone or see anyone on a chat show unless they’ve got some product out.
... oh, actually, it might not be.

The Quo, though, Francis. You must like the respect you've earned by being in the Quo?
I understand that people can’t stand Status Quo. There are thousands of people across the world who think we’re fantastic but most don’t, obviously. It’s the same with anyone. Michael Jackson selling 45million records in America – that still means 220 million Americans didn’t like it. But ‘showbiz’ blows it up as important. Mars bars sell better than Michael Jackson records and so do paper clips, envelopes and coat hangers. How come no one’s come up with a song that sells 2billion? Even then, two thirds of the world won’t like it.
How come nobody's ever come up with a song that sells two billion? There's a question that probably keeps Guy Hands awake at night. Sure, you can see Rossi's point - everyone is going to be disliked by someone - but suggesting that Michael Jackson is less good than paperclips sounds like the result of some drug-addled face off, with the victor going on to meet the winner of Love versus Thursdays in the final.

Rossi does admit that sometimes, he's not up to par himself:
[Metro:] What’s the worst gig you’ve done?

Live Aid. We weren’t particularly good. We were under-rehearsed and didn’t bring in enough equipment. It’s funny when you see these programmes about it now because back then no one knew how big it was until you went on the stage – and I’ve never seen so many cameras in my life.
Ah, yes. You were under-rehearsed. Apparently under-rehearsed out of your tiny skull, judging by what you told The Observer back in 2004:
It was crazy. A really crazy day. There were shitloads of drugs - coke, dope, all sorts. Everyone was going bananas. Rick [Parfitt of the Quo] told me recently that he got so out of it he couldn't sing anymore and was so annoyed on his way home that he was almost arrested for kicking road cones. Everybody was just totally out of it and Rick and I were the drug centre. People were saying, 'Let's go and see Doctor Rossi and Doctor Parfitt, shall we?'
Sounds like you took too much gear in. Even if you didn't have enough equipment.

Still, taking part in Live Aid - that must be something to be proud of, right?
But if the West really wanted to feed the Third World it would have happened by now instead of doing some fundraising gigs every 25 years.
No? Oh well.
Live At St Luke’s is out on March 14.
Hey... hey... do you think Rossi is just doing this because he's got something to sell?