Rossi: Let’s do the Frantic Four again – and see if we can do it better!
INTERVIEW: DAVE LING
Francis Rossi isn’t one to mince words. Speaking to Classic Rock, the Status Quo frontman is on characteristically contrary form when talking about this year’s much-trumpeted Frantic Four reunion tour, which featured Rossi and longtime cohort Rick Parfitt getting back together with original bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan for the first time in more than 30 years.
While Quo fans lapped up their comeback shows in March, Rossi describes the shows as “all over the place” – though he’s not shutting the door on more shows next year. If that wasn’t enough, he leaps to the defence of Quo’s much maligned movie Bula Quo!, as well as their decision to hawk mince lamb for a supermarket in an Australian TV ad. Over to you, Mr R…
Did you enjoy the Frantic Four tour as much as Rick, Alan and John?
No. I thought that it was a fucking mess. Spud [John Coghlan] was unfit and kept slowing down and Alan Lancaster obviously has his own problems [the bassist has recently had health problems]. Because of that it was extremely hard work for me and Rick. It made me realise that we have come so far. It wasn’t fair to those two guys who haven’t done much since the late 1970s and early 80s. It was so sloppy at times that I cannot see why the fans loved it. I’m glad that they did so but for the life of me I can’t pretend to comprehend why, other than it’s all about nostalgia, and that’s not really what motivates me. The bottom line is that we could have rehearsed a little more, and I think we will next time.
Was there any tension offstage?
Not really. One night on the bus Alan said: “That part [of the show] was really grooving, wasn’t it?” I replied: “It was fucking terrible, what are you talking about?” Nowadays there’s no friction if I say stuff like that but in the past there would’ve been. Rick arrived and Al asked him the same question. Although we hadn’t seen each other [to collude], Rick gave the same answer, almost word for word. I wasn’t sure if I’d hurt Alan’s feelings. The point I’m making is that maybe what they [Lancaster and Coghlan] expected and what Rick and I were expecting was too different
The crowd reaction was truly something to behold.
Fuck me, I’ve never seen an audience like it. Full blown blokes were crying. They were probably rubbing their willies, weren’t they? Cos blokes are like that. The response was fabulous.
What positives did you take away from the tour?
It made Rick and I much, much closer than we’d been in quite a while. If I was singing then I’d watch his right hand out of the corner of my eye, knowing that it wouldn’t slow down – whereas the main thing that Spud seemed to do was slow down, and he had no awareness of it. I’ve a friend that told me he wasn’t going to see the Stones at Hyde Park because he hated the venue. When I spoke to him, he’d changed his mind: “I had to go – it was the Stones.” But he said it made him realise what I’d been saying about the Frantics; it was all over bloody the place and he didn’t give a damn.