Tireless performers The Quireboys are headlining the jam-packed HRH AOR On The Road tour across the UK this month. RUSHONROCK Editor Simon Rushworth checked in with long-serving guitarist Guy Griffin mid-run.
RUSHONROCK: You’re making some of the best music of the band’s career right now – can we expect to hear more of the new songs in your live sets soon?
Guy Griffin: We’re always trying to work in as many new songs as we can. We’ve been playing Gracie B and it sounds fantastic. It’s one of the best songs we’ve written in years. There’s maybe one other that I think we could do in the current set – St Cecilia which is the title track from the latest record. On the acoustic tour we did The Promise which worked brilliantly in that situation. Most of the new album does have that kind of vibe – it’s not a record that necessarily lends itself to a full-on rock and roll show. There are only two or three that would fit into the current electric set. But Gracie B has worked out great and I’d love to record that song the way we’ve been playing it live. I’d love to see that happen.
RUSHONROCK: You handle the lead vocals on the cracking Can’t Hide It Anymore – how did that come about?
GG: It wasn’t particularly out of choice –it wasn’t as if I was demanding to sing a song. But I have sung in other bands and I enjoyed it. The thing was we were on a pretty tight deadline making the new record in Sweden and it came to recording that song – I shouted for Spike to do the vocal and he wasn’t there! He was down the shops or something. We were pretty much writing and recording as we went along and there wasn’t a minute to spare. I just ended up singing it there and then and the decision was taken to keep it on the album. It was more out of practicality than anything else but it’s been great to hear some positive comments about it.
RUSHONROCK: Are you working harder than ever to keep the dream alive?
GG: We are. And there are times when the band gets a little tired and things get a bit niggly as they do with any band on the road. It’s just because we’re working so hard and we don’t get a huge amount of time off. But we have to be careful what we wish for. If my 16-year-old self looked at me now and saw me complaining about anything in my life I’d be disgusted with myself. I try not to complain about anything. I’m making and playing music and travelling the world – sometimes it’s tiring but I’ve done plenty of other jobs that are more exhausting and less rewarding so you won’t find me moaning. I’m happy with where we are right now.
RUSHONROCK: Do you ever take things for granted?
GG: I think if you ever dare to take this for granted – and then a year down the line you’re suddenly not where you were – then you realise you never had it so good. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at things objectively. When I do that it reminds me that what we have with this band is pretty cool.
RUSHONROCK: Does the band get the credit and critical acclaim it deserves?
GG: Not at all. I think the Quireboys have always fallen in between different genres. We’ve been lumped in with a lot of the rock stuff and at the same time a lot of the rock community and the rock media have never really supported the band. Back in the day we didn’t fit in even before the band got signed. Then when we did get our record deal all of the rock media knew we had what it takes to be a big band but for one reason or another they just didn’t like us. We weren’t a heavy metal-type band. We were just a rock and roll band.
RUSHONROCK: Did that bother you when you were younger and does it bother you now?
GG: Of course it bothered me back then. When I was a kid and I was 20-years-old and we had a gold record even then it bothered me. That sort of stuff doesn’t bother me at all now. What we’ve done since we’ve got back together has made us even stronger and even more successful. When we reformed the band absolutely nobody wanted to support us. It was ridiculous how unpopular we’d become. I remember reading a full page review of This Is Rock And Roll in Classic Rock magazine and it was the worst review of any album ever! When we re-released it around 14 years later it got a great review in the same magazine. It was the same album…When people critique your stuff it’s water off a duck’s back now. It’s par for the course. You get the same old stuff: ‘The Quireboys – good old pub rock’. If you write that about any of our most recent records then it’s obvious you haven’t listened to them. It’s just lazy journalism from people who haven’t done their homework. I just don’t acknowledge it.
RUSHONROCK: It must be a great tour to be on…
GG: It’s interesting! And it’s brilliant. We’re surrounded by Vikings. Have you seen the size of some of those Bonafide guys? They’re huge. I’ve just been watching the second series of Vikings and it’s a little bit frightening taking Bonafide and Hardcore Superstar on the road with us. But we know the Bonafide guys really, really well and they’re a great live band.
RUSHONROCK: Is the multi-band tour the way forward?
GG: Our manager Jonni Davis does different things. He’s not afraid to break the mould. He organises the Hard Rock Hell festivals and what a success they’ve been. We had a great time again in Wales earlier this month playing alongside the likes of Dan Reed, Tyketto, Joe Lynn Turner, Gilby Clarke and Quiet Riot. It’s a whole different way of doing things. It’s like when we put out our latest album – it came in a four-CD package with amazing artwork and it didn’t follow the norm. With The Quireboys of old we always felt like we were the outsiders looking in. We felt we were in our own little world but now we’re headlining the bigger O2 venues with some headlining bands in their own right supporting us. Hardcore Superstar are a really big band in Europe and for them to be playing with us means something.
RUSHONROCK: Managers often get a bad press but you seem to have hot the jackpot with your current management team…
GG: It’s a different dynamic nowadays. It’s not like the old days when you’d be sat by the phone waiting for a call from your manager to be told ‘right lads this is where you’re going’. Jonni does all of that kind of stuff but we’re very proactive and we manage the day-to-day business. If there’s something we’re not controlling then we’re constantly on the case of whoever is. It’s a collaborative thing and we work with a number of different people who help us achieve what we set out to do. There’s no sitting around wasting time and no record label dictating to us. These days if we decide to put out a record then we can put out a record. That’s in our hands. It’s harder work – I’d prefer not to have the extra jobs – but we’re a company that has to look after the band’s interests. At least if we’re doing it we know we’re doing it right and we don’t have anyone else to answer to. I’m sure it’s the same with most other bands these days. Any band that’s a going concern – travelling the world, dealing with different cultures and coping with all of the different tax laws – has to be right on the button. And somewhere in there you’ll play the odd gig! There’s a lot to organise but there’s a lot of stuff that our management organises: that’s the stuff that keeps us on the road. We know what we need to make us comfortable and make us happy.