“A Sizzling Session with Foghat”
Article from the July 1980 issue of “Pop Rock” Magazine.
Any band that lasts a whole decade has got to be good. Only the real powerhouses manage to excite the imagination of critical rock fans for so long a period of time, while still being able to create music that doesn’t sound stale and trite. Just such a band is Foghat. On the rock scene for a decade, this bluesy quartet made the transition from opening act to headliners in short order.
Foghat is comprised of “Lonesome” Dave Peverett (guitar, vocals), Roger Earl (drums), Craig MacGregor (bass), and Rod Price (guitar). The group started out in England way back when Peverett, Earl and Tony Stevens (Foghat’s original bass player) left Savoy Brown after that group’s demise and formed Foghat. Price answered an ad in the newspaper to audition for a guitarist and was chosen to complete the band.
Dedicating themselves to playing American blues and straightforward R&B, Foghat thought it best to leave their native England and head for the states, the hotbed of rock activity. Not only would they have a better chance of “making it”, but it was also cheaper, since they weren’t able to afford flying back and forth between countries.
As unlikely as it may sound now, Foghat’s first concert in America was a freebie in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Since they didn’t have visas, they weren’t permitted to have paying jobs. But with their legal problems straightened out, the group was free to get down to business. And that they did- with a vengeance!
It wasn’t long before Foghat began gaining a horde of fans. They opened up for some big-name bands, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with. With their obtaining of a record contract with Bearsville Records, Foghat was firmly pushed into the spotlight. Soon it was a string of gold albums for the group, then headlining status. Their last few albums have gone platinum, and Foghat is now one of the premier rock & roll groups in existence.
They are best known as a touring band, hitting the road at a frantic, non-stop pace. Foghat’s incessant touring and big selling records have paid off in helping them remain fan favorites for these many years. It has also paid off monetarily, enabling the group to build their own recording studio. Their last album, “Boogie Motel”, a late 1979 release was recorded there. Foghat, in lieu of touring went right back into the studio to cut another album. That work should be finished as you read this. Foghat also set another tour, their first in a year and a half, to begin in March of this year.
Not long ago, we caught up with Rod Price at a New York Hotel where he and Dave Peverett were giving interviews. Rod made the perfect subject for the “Super Rock Hot Seat”. He was quite affable and didn’t dodge any questions put to him. The following is the result of the grilling which Rod went through on the Hot Seat…
RW= Rock World
RP= Rod Price
RW: Before Foghat became big, did you ever think of calling it quits when the going got tough?
RP: No. We were extremely lucky. We formed in 1971 and and at that time we got a record contract. The first year we worked on an album. So the album was released in 1972, and it immediately hit the charts, in the first three or four weeks. So there really wasn’t any time to be depressed at all. When we started, we were really happy working with each other. We came over here in 1972, and we’ve been working ever since. The first show, we got like three encores, so we figured we were going to be okay. There are a lot of different ways of doing it, but we did it the best way.
We just went on the road and worked. We used to tour eight months out of the year. And the other couple of months that we were off was just recording.
RW: Did you ever think you’d get as big as you are now?
RP: You may find this hard to believe, but we never really thought about it. It’s rather like if you play, like we did in clubs, and then somebody says, “Hey, I’ll get you a gig”… And then it built up from there. We started touring, backing people like Humble Pie and Edgar Winter. We were just happy to be on the show, playing 2,500 to 5,000 seaters. Within a couple of years, we were headlining those. In certain parts of the country, like St. Louis, Chicago, and New Orleans, we were doing really good. You could just see it (the rise in popularity) as you went around the country. You could see the record sales go up the next week after you left that town. So after a period of about three years, it really started to escalate. We never really thought about it. As long as we were playing we really didn’t mind. This is just a great bonus, we couldn’t ask for anything more. Somebody asked me yesterday what would be going on in five years time. I said it’s hard to reply, but if we’re playing at the Palladium (small NY hall) instead of the Nassau Coliseum (large NY arena), that’s okay- everybody has their day.
RW: What were the main things that helped to accelerate your ascent to stardom?
RP: An extremely good manager, Tony Outeda. He’s been with us since the beginning. A good agency and making sure that the band’s been kept together morally, not let anything happen which causes so many bands to break up. Half the reason, at least I think a lot of the reasons are, they don’t talk amongst themselves. It happened in Foghat, but in very minor ways. What we do so that there’s never a problem, if something’s bugging someone, no matter how little it is, we all get together and say, “Hey, listen, I really think you’re out of line, and they’ll go, you’re crazy, you’re the guy who’s out of line. Then usually that person will go, “You’re right, I’m sorry”. As long as you keep the lines open, everybody in the band is very close. You can’t go wrong.
RW: How has success changed your lives?
RP: I always thought it hadn’t, but in reality it must have. Obviously, I live in a much nicer house than I was and I have a better car. I am not for one minute going to say that I’m not materialistic. I enjoy them, and I feel I’ve earned them. Nobody in the band has gone on an ego trip for the same reasons as I was just saying. We’ve always made sure that nothing like that ever happened, suddenly someone realized that, “Hey, I’m a star, I can do anything I want- I can throw steaks at the best restaurants and I can swear at the waiters”, we never got to that. I’m sure that’s because we weren’t like that to start with. I can see how it can easily happen to bands. I’ve seen it happen. I will not mention names, but people I’ve known, who’ve been tremendous people who’ve had success, and due to, not necessarily the band but the management and everybody around them, have turned into animals from what I’ve heard… We’re not really in that fame bracket of sort of movie star types. The band is big, and we do so good, thank goodness, but it’s not like our lifestyle necessarily goes in that direction. Nobody really goes jet-setting across the country to go to crazy parties and stuff like that. We’re all very happy. The four of us all live different styles. Dave and I are very home-oriented… Roger and Craig like to go out and go to the local clubs and jam and stuff… But when we all get in the studio, then we get on a good schedule. Then it’s work.
RW: Have you accomplished all the things you first set out to accomplish?
RP: I never really had a goal. I just wanted to play. It’s like when I was playing in a small blues band in London, it was great- I was in it and that was it. I never even thought about recording contracts. I thought great, I played like three nights a week, or even two nights a week. And that was fine. I never even thought, “Oh boy, where are we going to go”? I feel the same way now. I just want to continue. I would also accept it if—No I wouldn’t accept it. I was going to say I would accept it if “Boogie Motel” sold about 3,000 copies, but no, that would get me mad- but only because of the work we put into it. But if things did go down, I wouldn’t be bitter or anything like that. We’ve had a real good run. I’m very confident that this will continue.
RW: Are you pleased with “Boogie Motel”?
RP: Oh, yeah, totally, 100%. I don’t know if you know it, but we built our own studio, so we have our own engineer, and we produced it ourselves with our manager. So it was totally up to us, and we just did what we wanted to do. We just kept on working. If we didn’t like it, we threw it out and started again.
RW: How would you compare it with past albums?
RP: Every album, I always say, is better than the last one. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it. It’s not like a publicity thing. I think it’s the best produced, best engineered that we’ve done…I don’t listen to the albums very much. After you’ve worked on them for six months or a year, you put them away. And then usually one cold Winter night, you sit by the fire and you take them out and you go, “Wow, I really like that”. I cannot think of one track that I’ve ever cringed on.
RW: Would you like to take a try at classifying Foghat’s music?
RP: I hate doing that. Obviously, I wouldn’t label us disco-blues or anything like that. The best description I’ve heard, which I think we sort of came out with, not really meaning to, was blues-rock, blues-oriented rock & roll.
RW: Do you think your sound has changed any since Foghat’s inception?
RP: You could listen to the first album and you could listen to the last album and the connections are there. Just everybody’s gotten better in every field. The writing has got a little more sophisticated- and I hate to use that word- just progressed a little. We were a lot more bluesy, or more sort of hard core rock. I would never use the word heavy metal. I think there’s a little more melodic stuff, some even more mellow, but don’t worry, we’re not getting older because we love playing rock & roll. A few years ago we had a lot of trouble doing slow songs. The slow songs were always the hardest to do for us, just technically, to be very precise and clean. With the last couple of albums, I would just say it’s progression, just getting better. It surprises me…. Recently, if the writing’s varied enough, you seem to come up with new feelings. I’m not saying I’ve changed my whole technique, but I’ve found it a lot easier to do the solo work on this album. It probably has to do with us having our own studio and working at our place.
RW: Does Foghat tour so much because you feel you have to in order to remain successful, or do you just love to get out there and rock?
RP: Yes to both. I think you have to go out, especially Foghat- It’s just that sort of band. Just to get out and play to the people. That’s what they like. Financially, you don’t make that much money. The money comes from the albums. I can understand how people think tickets are expensive, and they are. But believe me, when we can, we try to cut the price. When you go on the road you’ve got a crew of 23 people. Three tractor-trailers and two buses. Now you put all those hotel fares together. And with the production and everything, it can really get up there (price-wise), so you really don’t make that much money on the road.
RW: Well, do you prefer live shows to recording?
RP: If you would have asked me that question about a year ago, I would have said yes. I still do prefer them, but recently, I just started to enjoy recording. Now that we have seemed to our niche and are able to produce ourselves and we have a good engineer and a good studio, it’s a lot easier. It’s a lot more fun, but at one time I used to hate recording- I really did. I just tried to get it all together, but things just didn’t work out. Once you go out on the road, it’s second nature just to play, easy when you know how. So you can just go out there, then you can have a really good time. It’s the same in the studio. You do a track, and you’ve heard it all day, or maybe for a month, and then you put a solo down and you say, “I think I’m happy with it. This is great, But then you go, Oh, maybe I’d like to do it again”. I always think I can do it better. That’s the biggest joke going around. But then you take it home and you don’t listen to it for a couple of months, not even a couple of months, a couple of days, and then you put it on, and you go, “Geez, I wouldn’t want to change a thing on that”. Sometimes you do things like you’ve got a set solo in your mind and you’re putting it down and you hear something that you didn’t want to hear, and everybody goes, “Wow, that’s great” and you go, “But that isn’t what I wanted to do”, and they say, “Yeah, but that’s why it’s so good being in a band- a group. You have all the other people saying, “Hey, this is great”.
RW: If you were forced to pick one thing, what would you say has been Foghat’s biggest achievement to date?
RP: The biggest achievement? (long pause and giggling ensue). I don’t know. Staying on the road as long as we have without going insane. I remember a couple of years ago, I think I said, “I don’t want it anymore, give it to somebody else”. I mean I don’t remember too many nights over the whole period where we’ve come off the stage and said, “Oh, what do we do”? For the last tour, we had just come out of the studio after six months and then we went on a four month tour and everybody was pretty tired and we were playing better than we’d ever played before. But mentally and physically we were and we were playing better than we’d ever played before. But mentally and physically we were exhausted, so maybe we should go out for four months a year. But that’s definitely it (touring as biggest achievement).
RW: What do you think of the new wave and those artists representing it, like Joe Jackson, Nick Lowe and other new stars?
RP: Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds have been around forever and they’re good. It’s just that they haven’t got the recognition and now they’re getting it. But I think the new wave, when it first started to come out, was a little confusing. But I don’t believe in knocking other artists. I might not like it, but I know there’s a lot of people who do. I don’t think it’s fair for me to be detrimental to them. I’m not necessarily saying that I would be if you said be frank about it. There was a period where it was a little strange, but that’s because it was new. Everything evolves………I think a lot of good’s going to come out of it. I think for the last couple of years, there wasn’t too much going on.
RW: Well, then what do you foresee in the next couple of years?
RP: I have a feeling, a vision- that in the next couple of years there’s going to be some really good bands coming up. I think it’s just that time. I am not, for example, a Cars fan. But what they’re doing, I think, is good. That’s why I’d make such a great critic. I always wanted to be a rock & roll critic because I would never slam anybody. I would just tell it the way it is. And bands like that (the Cars) who are coming out, I think, are really going to be good and get better.
RW: Could you conceive of quitting the group?
RP: I wouldn’t quit because however bad it gets in any form you’re talking about, mentally, physically, or economically, all you have to do is think about those good times, and I’m talking about musically. I can pick out a night on stage where there was an extra bit of magic working, and that’s worth a million bucks. I couldn’t quit. I would never get out of the music business- this is the only talent that was ever bestowed on me. I thought about producing once, but I think that it would probably be frustrating for me. I’d like to help… Nobody really thinks too far away from Foghat. A lot of people say, “What are you going to be doing in five years?” I’d like to think that the band will still be together- and if we’re playing the small clubs that’s fine. I would never go into a small club with my head bowed and go, “Oh, here we are. This is it. This is failure time. We’ve gone from 30,000 all over down to this. As long as we’re playing and there’s an audience, that’s what it’s all about.
RW: If you were given a theoretical second chance, would you change anything you’ve done over the course of your career?
RP: Musically or morally? (Rod cracks up). Not at all, because when I started playing slide guitar, there really wasn’t anybody else playing slide guitar. Obviously, there were. There was Duane Allman, Lowell George and Ry Cooder. But at that point, I didn’t know about those people. I was in England. I just started playing it from listening to a few country-blues things. I’m glad that I stuck to it. It’s a strange instrument. It can be very limiting… I find it definitely a more emotional instrument than regular guitar as far as my technique goes. I feel that I can be a lot more creative. I’m happy that I stuck to the slide more than anything else. I would like to become a better guitar player. I’m satisfied with the way things have gone, totally. We’re very lucky. It’s a lot of hard work…We all look out for each other, and really, it works. Nobody has any thoughts about anything else. Everybody is always helping everybody else out in the studio, looking out for each other, making sure that things go all right.
RW: Would you like to add anything?
RP: Not really. I’d just like the people out there to know that we don’t intend to give up. I’m not sure if I did mention it, but we’re going right back into the studio. We’re not going out on tour right away…Also we’re going to try and do another live album on the Winter 1980 tour. And we may use a horn section. We’re thinking about redoing some of the old stuff which we feel we can do better. We were happy with it then, but we think we can do better now, stuff like “Step outside”. We’ve been wanting to redo “Step Outside” ever since we put it out. We just always felt that it was really a good single and that it just didn’t make it…. We’ve been talking about it (Live album) and talking, and talking. But usually we talk about something and before we know it, we don’t have the time to organize it. We’re always sitting back. That’s another reason “Boogie Motel” is so good. We had the time to sit back. We didn’t have to worry about going out on tour, we didn’t have to worry about the studio because it was ours. So it’s just getting better……..
1973 Foghat (Rock ‘n’ Roll)
1974 Rock and Roll Outlaws
1975 Fool For The City
1976 Night Shift
1977 Foghat Live
1978 Stone Blue
1979 Boogie Motel
1980 Tight Shoes
1981 Girls to Chat and Boys to Bounce
1982 In the Mood for Something Rude
1983 Zig-Zag Walk
1994 Return Of The Boogie Men
1998 Road Cases (live)
1999 King Biscuit Flower Hour (Live)
2001 Road Cased Version 2 (live)
2001 Extended Versions (live)
2003 Decades Live
2003 Family Joules
2006 Live II
2010 Last Train Home
2016 Under the Influence