Pete Townshend: Fan Interview (Part 2 of 2)

Sixie: Do you see yourself touring solo in the future?
P.T.: I’m 66. I like to look back at when I was young and I worked like a dog so I could put my feet up when I was 66. I may perform some solo shows (I plan to perform a short acoustic set for the Prince’s Trust this year), but I doubt I would ever tour unless I was starving. So pray for me to starve. Then I’ll have to tour.
Brianinatlanta: I’ve often heard siblings have voices that harmonize better than anyone else (Everlys, Beach Boys, etc.). Since Simon is now onstage for Who shows, why don’t the two of you sing together?
P.T.: Not sure what song we would sing. I’m also not sure how Roger would feel if Simon and I started an Everly Brothers method/system routine in the middle of a Who show. We three Townshend brothers (Simon, Paul and myself) once tried to make an album together in 1987 I think. It didn’t work out, sadly.
Mrgrayson: I really like your solo DVDs, VHS tapes, LaserDiscs and Betamaxs. Not all of your VHS/LaserDiscs/Betas have been released on DVD. There is a few of your pro-shot shows available as bootlegs. Do you think you may release another solo DVD or perhaps a Blu-Ray?
P.T.: Floss might be released in this kind of format.
Zeebo13: Have you read any interesting books lately? Or maybe you don’t have any time?
P.T.: I do read a lot. Of course I have read a lot of interesting books. In the past year I have probably read about fifty books, maybe more. In fact I have been sent some great books by Who fans, and for that – in the words of Ray High – I am truly thankful. On my desk at the moment is Teenage – The Creation of Youth Culture by Jon Savage. This is a book I commissioned from Jon when I was his editor at Faber & Faber back in the mid-‘80s. He interviewed me recently for MOJO and gave me a copy. It’s a stunning book, full of surprises and revelations. Rachel bought me Hadji Murad by Tolstoy, because I enjoyed Resurrection so much. The two books were written at the same time, and the first is considered by Russian critics to be his best, and the second his worst. I just finished Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith. He wrote Gorky Park, all his books are crime stories really, but rich with post-war Russian nuance. His detective is Arkady Renko, a fabulous creation.
The shout: What were your favorite movies growing up? Are there actors or directors that you follow on the strength of their work or because you have an affinity for them?
P.T.: I’m a bigger movie buff now than when I was growing up. I started to get into movies at art school at age 16, and I especially liked Eisenstein, Kurosawa, Fellini and Truffaut. Now, in the art film world I really like Charlie Kaufman’s stuff, the Coen Brothers and Krzysztof Kieslowski. I saw a really great, deeply moving, film about ageing recently called The Death of Mr Lazarescu by a Romanian director called Cristi Puiu. I’m keen on the films of Mike Leigh. Gary Yershon who was the orchestrator for my Iron Man play at the Young Vic in 1993 composes quite a bit of music for Leigh’s films. Angel-A by Luc Besson reminded me that his films stand many viewings. I watched his The Fifth Element many times. I like the work of Edward Norton as an actor – I especially like his production with Naomi Watts of The Painted Veil. When I’m in a less serious mood I like blockbusters, I enjoyed Salt and The A-Team remake – silly films in some ways, but really fun to watch. My favourite comedy of last year was Paul.
Chriscapp: There has always been a theatricality to The Who’s music — in writing and performance — and “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” have been adapted for the stage. I wondered if you get to the theater in London and/or New York often, and if so, what have you seen recently that you really enjoyed?
P.T.: I’ve seen every little theatre lately. I live in the suburbs of London. Getting in and out of London isn’t easy at theatre time. I think if I lived in the country (out-of-town) and had a little apartment in theatre-land or went to New York more often I would see more theatre. I’m still reeling from seeing Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia a few years back. It’s a masterpiece. I’d love to see Warhorse and Des McAnuff’s new Stratford Ontario production of Jesus Christ Superstar that is going to La Jolla soon, and hopefully on to Broadway. Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice were recording the rock backing tracks for Superstar in the studio next to ours in Barnes in London in 1969/1970 when I was in there recording demos I think. They had great musicians and singers on that album. It’s worth a listen today. One of the last musicals I saw was Jersey Boys when it first ran at La Jolla.
Carriepr: I think that your solo albums are wonderful, and rank up there with some of greatest in rock history. Do you have any plans to resume your solo career, and make another solo record?
P.T.: Hey, Carrie. Resume my solo career? Resume my website? Do some acoustic gigs with Rog? Release every demo and out-take The Who have ever done? When can I crawl away and die? But thank you for the compliment. Floss may be a solo album before it is anything else. Not sure as yet.
Lynda: I recently read an interview with Dolly Parton, and she was asked what the craziest thing one of her fans has done, one of her fans left their baby at her front door. What is the craziest thing one of your fans has ever done?
P.T.: I have a baby story too. The reverse. It was 1970, I was baby-sitting and one of our hippy-dippy fans from a nearby hippy commune ‘liberated’ my daughter baby Emma who I had left asleep in her pram in the tiny front garden of our house in Twickenham. The front door of the house was open, and I was sitting close to the door listening to the first Paul McCartney solo album, and I saw him take her. He only got a few yards up the street, but Jeeez. Can I do a Dexter here? He’s lucky to be alive, if he’s still alive.
Greg08: Do you have any favorite guitar you regret smashing????
P.T.: No.
Queenwho: After years of touring, where is your favorite place/venue in the world to play solo & or with The Who & why?
P.T.: For atmosphere it has to be Jones Beach. The sea air, the beach, it’s near New York, and it has a great sound. The best sounding venue I’ve ever played technically speaking is Sadlers Wells theatre in London. A modern opera house, but perfect for acoustic music.
Scruff: Sometime ago it was reported that you had 19,000 bits of music across your PCs, has anyone else heard them and given you an opinion about them?
P.T.: 19,000. Hmmm. I think if that obviously exaggerated figure came from me what I meant was that I have too many to process. I don’t share my unfinished work as a rule. Art really is finishing things.
Burtonanderson: I see you as a man who has had time for lots of retrospection and more than a normal amount of introspection and time to consider what constraints you may have had (or imagined you had) as an artist , a man, a lover, a leader, a seeker….. You’ve changed the colors and the circumstances of your life in so many ways. Do you now feel “free”? Or do those perceived constraints of the past still burden you?
P.T.: Not sure what this means, despite the fact that you’ve put a lot of thought into the question, and it is a straight question. I will never be free. I don’t think that’s possible for me as a father, employer and businessman. But as an artist I look back and see a very clear continuum. This is really the backbone of my autobiography in fact: that I have rarely deviated from my (unwritten) art school manifesto of 1964. You will have to buy the book next year to understand what I mean and see if you agree. In other ways, though, I have changed. I think I am less hard on myself today if I fail, or if I am seen to fail. I’m also relieved that I don’t seem to have any anxiety at the moment about getting old, or getting ill and dying. Life is great, but it is also short. One day I hope I will be thankful for that.
Robinf: You’ve always been/always will be an optimistic, forward-looking person. So, what excites you most about the future?
P.T.: The Singularity.
Suzanity: Did you put in a garden this summer? How did it do? Do you focus on flowers, or vegetables? If veggies, what do you do with the extras?
P.T.: No, I didn’t, but I hired a really cool gardener. I don’t grow vegetables. What I want is a secret garden, with masses of flowers, small trees and curving paths. One day.