Search This Blog

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Interview with Andy Parker UFO

Interview with Andy Parker of UFO - April 30th, 2011


Well folks, as you can see this took place a long time ago, earlier this year, but, there was plenty in it that I'm sure will appeal to fans of Andy Parker and the excellent UK rock band UFO!
I can only sincerely apologize that this has been so long coming and in getting it wrapped up!

Yes, I got to interview UFO drummer, Andy Parker on the eve of their US tour, the first leg back in May of this year.
I had hoped to get this up at some point during that tour, but then personal events occurred at that time and I couldn’t get to type this up. Then the various review materials just really started pouring in and then there's still been some reviews that I've sadly had to let go now and move on with others.

UFO then came back to the USA this past September for more dates and I really wanted to get this posted then, sadly the same thing … Limited personal time meant it didn’t happen, but it’s done now!

 Many other interviews I’ve had to turn down as well, knowing how long they can take to get wrapped up, although there are two more already completed over the summer that still need to be typed up too ... They are coming!
This interview with Andy was a long one too folks, another reason why it took so long to play back and type up, so grab something to drink - Whatever takes your fancy ... - maybe even some munchies and read on. Hope you enjoy it!

Anyway, my interview with Andy was due to start at 10am, on a Saturday morning but for some unknown reason, I could not make the connection and I tried a number of times. I guess modern technology does make us marvel at times, but then because we take it so much for granted it really pisses us off at other times!
That day, was just one such day!

Anyway, eventually …, the phone is ringing …

 Andy: Hello?

 AW: Andy! 

Andy: Alun!

 AW: I'm sorry mate, been trying to get through and couldn't make the connection for love nor money mate, got that old message, we're sorry all circuits are busy.

Andy: Really? Where are you?

AW: I'm in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Andy: In Michigan? That's bizarre?!

Alun: Yeah, I know mate, I'm so sorry! (Laughing)

Andy: It's odd 'cos I was just saying to my wife, I'd been going back and forwards with Jon - who set up the interview. - and I was supposed to get another interview today, after yours and then he just sent me an interview yesterday saying, 'Sorry, we'll have to reschedule because the guy can't make it and I thought, I wonder if he meant the 10am one ... (Laughs) As it happens, I was just sitting here emailing, so I'm fine!
So how are you doing?

AW: I'm fine mate. I had just written an email to both Jon (Freeman – who set the interview up) and you, saying sorry guys I just can't get through!

Andy: No problem dude, I was here anyway so ... I'm just getting moving and I expected to be tied up here with you for a while or so, no big deal. I don't understand what's going on with that, I really don't. Maybe something to do with the weather we've had, who knows?! Maybe it took some lines down or something? One of towers or something that they use to beam the signals around with …?

AW: I know, I know ... I thought the same thing mate. I wasn't sure if this was a landline or a cell phone …?

 Andy: No, it's my house number. It's just easier to do it that way, you know mobiles can be a bit fussy but, I used to call people, but now it's just easier for them to call here ... Then people can make their own schedule. I used to call people before and some guy I call was in Italy and he's driving his car (Laughing) and I'm trying to talk to him and it's just insane! (both laughs) You know if you're going to be driving, do it at a different time or something, so it's just better for people to call me now.

AW: Well it's funny you say that, because one of your old band mates, Mr. (Michael) Schenker was doing an interview with me and it was the same thing. I had the interview and he was driving on the autobahn talking to me and I'm thinking 'you're bloody insane!'- Nothing new there I guess! (Laughs)

Andy: Well he is insane, so you're right on that score! (Both laughs) Actually I saw him last December and he looked really good!

AW: You know I'm kind of bummed out because last time he played here, they played in a venue that's in a really, really dodgy area of Detroit and you know friends of mine here that are musicians and stuff, they won't even go down in that neck of the woods and it's like, this really sucks because I'd really wanted to see M.S.G. again.

Andy: Why would he even do a show in an area like that?

AW: Loads of metal bands play there, that's the thing, it's Harpo's music theatre, which used to be a venue that …

Andy: Harpo's?! I remember that show!

AW: Yeah, well it always used to be in the past a very popular venue, sort of middle ground venue. His management actually moved the location of the gig he had originally had booked from another location in Mt. Clemens, much nicer area to Harpo's in a ... Well, just a rough neighbourhood is probably the best description for that.

Andy: Right. Well that's a shame …

AW: Yeah …

Andy: 'Cos you can't carry in Michigan huh?

AW: (Laughing) Well, I'm not a citizen and it might be a bit of a problem …

Andy: I'm not either, but I can carry in Texas!

AW: (Laughing) I guess that's why …

Andy: I already do, I took my C.H.L. a while back and I'm only here on a green card. Are you on a green card?

AW: Yeah I'm on a green card, through my missus.

Andy: Yeah, I don't think it makes any difference, 'cos I can, but I don't know, Michigan might be one of those funny states because like Texas they kind of encourage you .. (Laughing)

AW: Yeah, that's probably why Ted (Nugent) likes it there so much! (Laughs)

Andy: Oh yeah, 'cos he moved from Michigan didn't he? He's in Waco now isn't he? I understand he had a lot of problems with his house there, didn't he? He had that black mold thing going on with his house there, he had to bulldoze it. I don't know, but I got this from Barry Sparks, 'cos he's played with Ted a lot. He had so much trouble, his family, his kids were getting sick a lot and they put it down to this black mold which is a real problem here. You know I started seeing that here back in the 80's in California, when I was working construction. It's really become a huge problem here in America and it's almost impossible to get rid of once it gets in there but you know we don't have it here so much, because it's a lot drier in Texas ... But where are you from originally because you sound English?

AW: (Laughs) I am mate!

Andy: Yeah, 'cos Alun Williams is such a Welsh name ...

AW: Exactly! My Dad was Welsh so my brothers and myself we've all got Welsh spelt names so …

Andy: You've been here for a while though?

AW: I've been here since 2000 ...

Andy: Oh right, OK ...

AW: Yeah, I moved over in 2000, my day job is automotive and I dabble on drums too but not so much since I got this site up, because this site has just swamped me, it's just been ... (Both laughs)
It's nice in a sense, it's good that the site's busy, it's popular so to speak and you know ... I'm enjoying it.

Andy: Right. Part's of Michigan are real pretty too.

AW: Yeah, it has a lot of nice areas here … I'm from Pompey, Portsmouth originally.

Andy: Oh right, OK. That's a rough neighbourhood! (Laughing)

AW: It might be now! (Both laughing)

Andy: Well, only certain parts of it, I mean all them sailors kicking around down there and so on.

AW: Yeah, I suppose.

Andy: What’s the gig we used to do in Portsmouth, the Guildhall?

AW: Yeah, Portsmouth Guildhall. I saw you lot down there a lot of times, I used to come round the back and chat to you a few times. Saw you at Hammy (Hammersmith Odeon) too …

Andy: Right, right … Those were the days eh?

AW: Yeah, indeed! Anyway first off Andy, congratulations on your daughter’s wedding!

Andy: Well thank you so much!

AW: Yeah I saw that up on your site and clearly you’re a very happy man!

Andy: Oh God! It was just such a wonderful day. You know, she’s 31 so she’s taken her time. She found the right guy and I really love that kid, yeah I’m well happy. Couldn’t ask for better!

AW: That’s good, there you go … I guess I was reading up on your site a bit about your bio that I didn’t know, even though I know a lot about the old UFO history and so forth and I’m just one of those sad trivia freaks! (Laughing)

Andy: There’s nothing sad about that mate?!

AW: …, but that’s probably why I ended up starting up my own site, after writing for other people.

Andy: Well, when I did that bio, I kind of wanted people to know that it’s my site, rather than the bands. It has its own site obviously, but I kind of wanted to put stuff in there that people may not necessarily know, that wasn’t totally connected with the music side as such, you know?

AW: Yeah, absolutely!

Andy: So there’s some interesting stuff there … (Laughs) I just did a thing with ‘Metalholic magazine’ that’s an online thing and at the end of the interview he said, ‘I don’t know if you could do this or not, but a lot of others I’ve spoken to have done this. The top ten things you didn’t know about somebody.’ So I had to do a list the other day of the top ten things that people didn’t know about Andy Parker! (Both laughing). So there are a few off things out there now …

AW: Yeah, but I was reading on there after UFO split up, I mean if we just touch on a bit of the history there Andy?

Andy: Right, right …

AW: So after UFO split back in 1983, you headed back to your adopted home in LA … So when did you first move to the US?

Andy: I actually moved to LA in late 1975 I think …

AW: Really?

Andy: It was kind of a long transition, ‘cos I think the first (US) tour we went on was in ’75, we did ‘Phenomenon’ in ’74 and then I think we toured that album in ’75 … But then ’75 / ’76, it was kind of a slow move there, so I didn’t move back to England until ’94 so I’d been there getting on for like twenty years, so …

AW: But you’ve gone back and forth right? I mean, I bet the immigration people love you don’t they? (Laughing)

Andy: Oh right, well you know the thing with that was that as I said, I was there from ’75 / ’76 and I got married for the first time in ’79 and got my Green card. Then I left the band in ’83 and was going through a divorce and trying to get custody of my kid, so I basically just gave up the music and got into construction because it was something I could do to make a living and not have to travel, so I did that and I was really there doing that until ’94, after the earthquake and I’d got remarried and LA had changed a lot and I wasn’t really happy there and my wife wasn’t happy there and so I got this offer to go and work for my family back in England. So I took that, but then right as I took that then right out of the blue came the ‘Walk on Water’ thing. So, I ended up going back to California, just to do the album believe it or not, as I’d just left there and moved back to England and I did that album and it was great doing the album, but I just had reservations about touring with them and I just felt … There was a lot of tension still going on there with Michael (Schenker) and Phil (Mogg). It just didn’t kind of feel right; although I love that album and thought it was great fun doing that …

AW: Yeah, it was a good one …

Andy: So yes, I went back to England and worked with my family for nearly twelve years, until I’d had enough of that …

AW: Doing metalwork eh?

Andy: Yeah, I was running a sheet metal shop! In fact, it’s funny just before you called I was on the guestbook, on the website and there was an entry on there, one of the guys that used to be one of my workers, saying that he’d found my, our website on his iPod touch or something and said ‘You’re still the best boss we had,’ which was nice to see! (Both laughing)
He said, ‘It’s not just me, a lot of the lads think that!’ So that’s kind of nice.

AW: Yeah, that is a nice touch isn’t it?

Andy: I mean as much as that job drove me insane, after nearly twelve years, I just had to get out … The pressure was just ridiculous, but I do miss those guys sometimes. You know it’s funny how you adapt to things, I mean factory life … It was tough, it’s a very different thing but you know I had some good guys working for me, so you do miss it.

AW: Yes, I know, unfortunately I wasn’t as fortunate as you to get A levels mate, but then you took a different path anyway didn’t you mate?! (Laughs)

Andy: Oh yes, did I ever, oh my God! You know my parents really wanted me to do that and my Dad was keen for me to get into electronics and he really wanted me to do that, I mean jeez, this was back in the 60’s! I mean the computer I knew took up like three rooms in the local college, I mean it was huge (Laughs), but he always used to say, ‘they’ll always need someone to fix those things son, that’s the way of the future,’ you know and it turns out he was absolutely right! But it was hard then, doing electronics, there wasn’t like electronics courses to actually get on one. You had to do like science which was like maths and physics and so on and it just wore me out. Then of course I was in a band and I was like, ‘Yeah, this is more fun than studying so until I got my A levels, that was it man I was just out of there and basically I was just on the road with UFO from then on.

AW: Yeah you were, I mean looking at the times, I mean ’69 was when it just like clicked right?

Andy: Yeah, yeah. So how old are you then Alun, if you don’t mind me asking?

AW: I’m a little bit behind you, I’m 49, just turned 49 this year.

Andy: Ah, so you’re ten years behind me then, so that would exactly be the fan base age then, yeah.

AW: Yeah and I’m still gutted to this day that I got into UFO before most of my mates and I guess I picked up the ‘Only you Can Rock Me’ single, as soon as it came out and I thought, ‘Ah, this is excellent!’ and of course I went and bought ‘Obsession’ and I said to my mates, ‘You guys, you’ve got to hear this. You want to check this out …’ and all that sort of thing and ‘They’re playing the Guildhall, let’s go and see them,’ but of course no one was up for it and of course I was like 15 or 16 at the time and we’d already started playing in a band and all that sort of thing and I’ve been dabbling on the drums as I say for years, but none of them were up for it and I thought, well I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next time and of course Mickey (Schenker) left! (Laughs)

Andy: Oh right, oh that’s a shame; he did, right around that time, just after ‘Obsession.’ So you never got to see us with him?

AW: Not the first time around, not until ‘Walk on Water.’

Andy: Oh right, well of course then I wasn’t in the band then, Simon (Wright) was playing then.

AW: I know, I saw that you said that obviously you weren’t happy to do the tour …

Andy: I was just looking to see, you know it was just weird Alun because much as it was fun doing the album and working with Ron Nevison again, which was just great, but it was just this weird vibe going on with the band you know and as I say, mainly between Phil and Michael, because they have so much history in the past and I just got this feeling that it was doomed to failure and of course, unfortunately I was right and I kind had this job waiting for me in England and it was a good job and it was secure and my kid was at school and of course you think, why would I chuck this up? I mean you’ve got a company car, health insurance and why would I throw my lot in with this and I don’t even feel that it’s going to hold together and I thought I made the right decision at the time.
The strange thing is having done that and spent the 12 years in England doing the sheet metal stuff and deciding I was going to leave and move back to the States, it was just a lot of work that job and I was just a bit jaded with it and I decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a factory, so I decided I’ve got to get my Green card as I’d lost it because of leaving America for too long and it expires. Of course after 9/11 everything has got stiffer, so we decided the first thing we’ve got to do is see if we can even get a Green Card anymore, before I upset the boat and tell everyone that I’m leaving and my mother was still alive then and she was going to freak out that I was going back to America and my brothers, as I was working with them so it was just kind of …, you know, so it was go and get the Green Card and we had the house on the market and the day I actually got the Green Card, the house fell out of escrow and I lost the buyer and it was just like, man, it’s no big deal we’ll just put the house back on the market now this is going to happen, so … I still hadn’t even told my family and I was sitting at home and it was 2005 and August Bank Holiday Monday, it was a lovely day and about 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening and I said to my wife, ‘this is crazy, I’ve got to tell them that we’re leaving’ and she said, ‘but we haven’t even sold the house yet’ and I said ‘It’s OK, the house is going to sell, if I don’t tell them now, someone else is going to find out and they’re going to hear it from someone else and I don’t want that to happen, I don’t want Mum to find out from someone else … The house will sell, we’ve got the Green Card, the big thing was the Green Card, so we’re going. I’m going to go into work tomorrow and tell my brothers that we’re leaving.

AW: Right.

Andy: She says, ‘If you really think we should do that ...’ I said, ‘Yep, absolutely. I’ve made my mind up!’ I swear to God, about two minutes after I made that decision, the phone rang and it was Paul Raymond (UFO) and I said, ‘Hey Paul, I haven’t talked to you in ages,’ he says ‘No, Phil says there’s no point in calling you because we’ve asked you a bunch of times before, but we have this gig to do in Spain in November and Jason’s just left the band and gone with Foreigner and I thought I’d give you a shot before I called anyone else!’ (Both laughing!) I said, ‘Man, that’s so weird I’ve just given up my job and I’m moving back to America, so yeah, I’m free to do it!’ I had no plans to do it …
Andy’s wife calls out in the background … Andy says, ‘What’d you say? Oh yeah, I guess the ‘Universe isn’t through with me yet!’ That’s my wife there, so yeah, that was just wild and it’s worked out great and it was such a different vibe when I came back and Vinnie (Moore) was in the band and everyone was just so relaxed and having fun again and I just sat on that stool again … I was terribly out of practice and hadn’t played much in the last 10 years, but …

AW: Just messing around right?

Andy: Yeah! It had got to the point where I was just too busy with the job. I’d played with a local cover band, helped them out with a couple of things they played. They played the ‘Queen’s Jubilee’ at my local pub. Their drummer had got very sick and they asked me if I could sit in and that was probably the first time I’d picked up a pair of sticks in about 10 years and that was OK and then they said, ‘Could you do a couple more?’ So fortunately I had played a little bit, but not enough to do a UFO set.

AW: Right.

Andy: The good thing was most of the songs I knew! (Laughing) there was only a few they’d done with Vinnie that I wasn’t familiar with. I only had to learn 3 new songs and we had a couple of day’s rehearsal so it wasn’t too bad.

AW: Right, even if the covers band didn’t know any UFO songs right?

Andy: Yeah, there you go! That was funny, they were just a bunch of local guys who’d done weddings, granny’s birthdays and things, Status Quo and a few Beatles songs and that kind of stuff, but hey, they’re a nice bunch of guys. I think I do mention them on my website.

AW: Yeah, you do.

Andy: Yes, Jack of Herts they were called (Side note – Jack of Herts, as they were from Hertfordshire.)

AW: Yeah you did mention them there.

Andy: Yeah, nice bunch of fella’s.

AW: Yeah, it was interesting to see some of the stuff that you have done I mean I didn’t know that you had set up a recording studio in Burbank (C.A.), with Bobby (Barth) ….

Andy: Yeah, Satellite Sound! Yeah, I mean basically that was me and Bobby Barth who was until recently, fronting Blackfoot, he’s not now, he’s had some health problems so he’s not doing much there. He had a band for a while that we tried to get signed and never could. Yeah we built the studio, funny thing, because I was in the construction business then and he ran and engineered and produced it and we just started to make money on it when the girl, the girl as they do; You know, rich kids, decided to pull out, she’d had enough of it. She was going to pull out, move on and do something else so we ended up having to sell it, but there you go. It was fun for a time!

AW: Yeah, it was funny ‘cos Bobby used to be in Axe wasn’t he and …

Andy: Yeah, he was in Axe, he was!

AW: One of the guitarists I’ve jammed with, he’s kind of like me and likes some obscure stuff, lesser known stuff and he said, ‘Oh you know, we’ve got to play Axe – Rock and Roll Party in the Streets …’ I said to him, ‘Dave you know it’s a fun track and all, but no one’s going to bloody know it mate?!’ (Laughing)

Andy: But that was their big song though?!  - Andy starts singing the song.

AW: I know right, but …

Andy: You know funnily enough it was embarrassing because when I met Bobby, he said ‘Oh yeah, I wrote that,’ and funnily enough I’d never heard of it either! (Both laughs) I said to him, ‘Oh yeah, oh really, oh I think I know that song yeah …’ Like you do, sort of tugging at your collar, feeling awkward … (Both laughing)
Have you ever met him? Bobby? He’s a great guy …

AW: No, I’ve never met him, no …

Andy: He’s got a fabulous voice and great guitar player. He lives in New Orleans now and I’m not really sure what he’s doing now, because as I said he was with Blackfoot again until quite recently …

AW: Yeah, he’s had some health problems though right?

Andy: Yeah, yeah, he’s had quite a few health problems …

AW: Yeah, I know …So …, after doing ‘Walk on Water’ as we were just saying, you went back to England, left the music industry and all that and then rejoined the band in 2005 …

Andy: Yep …

AW: I mean … Are you really happy in the band now?

Andy: Oh absolutely! I’m having a great time you know?!  Barring them getting fed up with me or things changing, I can’t see why I would want to leave? It’s just great, although there’s a bit of a dark cloud with the Pete (Way) situation, because when I came back he was in the band, I mean it was almost like the old days, I mean other than Vinnie it was the original band you know?

AW: Exactly!

Andy: Well, at least the band that did all the damage and I loved that line up and of course with Vinnie … What’s the word I was looking for … The instability was gone. I mean I love Michael, he’s an incredible guitar player you know … Just never knowing if you’re going to finish the song, the set, the tour … It’s just .., you know I’m too old for that shit! I want to go out there and give the best performance we can and give people their money’s worth!  You know I’ve heard all these stories I mean even the ‘Walk on Water’ tour broke down twice and he disappeared and it was just his history and if he didn’t like things he was just, I’m gone! Much as, alright that’s OK for you (Michael), but you have to think past what just works for you and think about what’s best for the other people and the fans and stuff.
It was just really different with Vinnie, and that was the same deal with Pete. When it got to the point where …

Andy gets distracted at this point and says to his wife, ‘Honey, what are the dogs eating?’ She replies, ‘It’s a plastic flower pot.’

Andy: Oh, a plastic flower pot, oh that’s alright then! (Laughs)

I throw in there, ‘Mmmm, tasty!’ and we all have a laugh.

Andy: I’ve got two new puppies here and they’re just always destroying something. Laying on the office floor here eating a piece of black plastic … That won’t hurt them … Erm … (More laughs)

Andy: Pete's business is his own ... He's not well, I think everyone knows that and he's had problems with his drinking, which is no surprise to most people there.
It's really down to Pete where his future lies with UFO, but he needs to get himself healthy first, then we'll see how things are ...'

AW: Right.

Andy: It’s really sad you know, because I really love the guy! The fans miss him and I miss him, I mean he’s such a larger than life character …

AW: Yeah, he really is you’re right mate.

Andy: I love Pete, you know … And as you’ve noticed we haven’t actually replaced him, we just use who we need to. We’ve used Barry Sparks, Rob De Luka, all great bass players and you keep thinking that Pete’s going to pull it all together, but … We’ll see

AW: Yeah.
Let’s try and move onto better things like I understand that there is a new album in the works …

Andy: Yes, there is and to be perfectly honest, we’d been hoping to be further along with it, but we’ve been wrangling with the record company and … Not that there’s any real problem there, but just ironing out things in the contract and I think Phil was just where, maybe not quite where his head needed to be but, the material’s been chucked into the ring …

AW: OK …

Andy: So we’re heading out, I’m leaving Tuesday to start on the East Coast, but we’ll be sitting in the back of the bus, chucking stuff around, working on arrangements and short-listing and I’m hoping … We’re out for three weeks and I’m back home in Texas on the 23rd (May), I’m home for about a week and then we head to Europe and we’ve got five days rehearsals scheduled to actually finalize the material for the album and then we’ve got a couple of weeks, maybe a little longer of shows and then I’m looking at staying in Germany for drum tracks so I’m hoping by the end of the year we’ll be seeing something.

AW: Yeah, ‘cos I was looking at the tour schedule and everything and it shows that you kick off the US tour next week with Barry Sparks and ….

Andy: Exactly and obviously the second leg is in September / OctoberEd’s note: UFO have just completed as I type this … - but I believe Barry is otherwise occupied for that leg …

AW: Oh right …

Andy: So I’m not actually sure who’s doing that, hopefully it will be Rob (De Luca), ‘cos he fits right in too, but Barry has this other gig he does with this Japanese band called ‘The B’z,’ big gig for him, but he’s said he’s had words, so he’ll be doing the European stuff and I think he’ll be doing the album with us to be honest ..

AW: Oh right, OK …

Andy: I think that’s how it’s going to work, because he’s going to be rehearsing with us the five days before the European stuff, working on material so he’s put in a few songs of his own too for consideration, so that’s kind of interesting. He’s a great guy though, I love him to death, and he’s a great bass player and he’s such a UFO fan too! That’s the funny thing about it.

AW: Yeah?! (Laughing)

Andy: He’s like the walking UFO jukebox, I mean you ask that guy … I mean even songs that I can’t remember, I mean I’ll come up with a title and I can’t even remember the song and can’t remember how it goes and you’ll say to Barry, ‘Time on My Hands,’ or something you know and he’ll get out his acoustic guitar and he’ll start playing it and singing it! (Both laughing) It’s like damn man, how do you do that?! It’s like ‘Stump the Sparks,’ you can’t do it! (More laughter) Nice guy though, have you ever met him?

AW: You know I did very briefly when the last time UFO played in Detroit, was actually 2004 and you weren’t in the band, Jason (Bonham) was …

Andy: Jason was, right …

AW: The ‘You Are Here’ tour and it was a great set that you know, that the band played a nice little intimate gig in a place called the Magic Bag, which it seems to pull a bunch of name acts so obviously the guy that owns it’ got a bit of clout … And Steve Lukather’s played there, UFO, who else … I saw Soul SirkUS there with Neal Schon, Jeff Scott Soto and that, but if you talk to the artists outside the venue, before or after the show, they’ll say, ‘This place is a shithole’ (Andy laughs) because basically, there is no backstage area and UFO basically had the tour bus parked outside …

Andy: Right … And that happens once in a while and in fact, our first show on the 5th in New York, Farmingdale, in New York, The Crazy Donkey? That’s apparently the same. There are no facilities! There’s some sleazy trailer out the back if you dare go in it, so the tour bus will be parked up there, Trust me! (Both laughing) And it does have its advantages, you know it’s difficult because we get the odd big show, you know the odd festivals and stuff; I mean we’ve played some huge ones in the States and you’ve got to do the smaller ones sometimes.

AW: Yeah, when you’re playing in new cities right?

Andy: Like you say, a lot of them aren’t in the nicer areas and they’re shitholes and that’s how people keep them going I guess? I mean there’s a damned recession on and a lot of people don’t have the money.
I’m just glad there are still places we can play …

AW: Yeah, I mean it’s a nice, well ..., a good venue on the other side for the punters. I mean for me to go in and out of there and I took some photo’s, but I didn’t review the UFO gig at the time because who I was writing for at the time, wasn’t interested in me covering it for whatever reason and it’s kind of sad that each time UFO’s toured the US since, that they haven’t come back to Detroit.

Andy: No and I don’t see us being in Detroit this time either?

AW: No, you’re not mate.  

Andy: We’re doing Wisconsin …

AW: You’re playing Chicago and I tried to get …

Andy: Yeah, two shows in Chicago …

AW: Right and I tried to talk to Jon about reviewing the show and he said, I’m sorry Alun … It’s a shame because my missus, she’s like me, she plays the keyboards and it’s how we met …

Andy: Oh right …

AW: She’s really into the music like I am and I said to Jon, any chance of wrangling two tickets for one of the shows, because you’re not playing Detroit, we’d really appreciate it and he said, I’m sorry Alun, I’m really restricted on the number of tickets I can give out …

Andy: Yeah, the Arcada sold out …

AW: Yeah, I saw that …

Andy: I mean I’m not sure how the HOB (House of Blues) is doing, hopefully it will do well, I mean Chicago’s always had a good thing for us. So where else is close for you then? I guess Milwaukee’s not that close for you is it? 

AW: No, no … I think it was Cleveland or Akron that were the next closest in Ohio.

Andy: Well you know if you decide on something that’s less … You see that’s always the problem, because Chicago it’s such a high profile show, I mean our agent shows up there and there’s all these people that kind of crawl out of the woodwork …

AW: Eddie Trunk too right?

Andy: Eddie we usually see on the East coast, I think we’re more likely to see Eddie at BB Kings, probably, I don’t know?

AW: Well, you’ve got on your site that Eddie’s doing a book signing session in Chicago …

Andy: you know I saw that he’s got his book out, but I didn’t know that he was going to be there?!

AW: Well, I’d think if he was signing books in Chicago …

Andy: Oh, he’s signing books there is he, oh I just thought it was his book launch?!

AW: Yeah, yeah …

Andy: Oh, I thought it just said pick up a copy at the book store I didn’t realize that he was going to be there … Oh right!

AW: Yeah …

Andy: Oh, well I guess he will be there then! (Both laughing) Which is probably why Jon’s having trouble, you know …?

AW: Yeah, you know I thought that too. It’s highly publicized and everything, so …

Andy: Yeah …

AW: And I guess the dates that are lined up for later in the year that are showing up on the site for September, they’re all over on the West Coast.

Andy: Yeah, I think El Paso’s about as far east as we go on that run … So yeah, I think you’re right mate! (Both laughing).
That’s a fair old way for you dude!

AW: (Laughing) Yeah, not likely mate!

Andy: Well, you know things always change so we’ll have to see what happens, but the Akron date wouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t know, I don’t think anything else is going to get filled in on that run there, as it’s too close now. Well, it’ll happen at some point Alun.

AW: Yeah, I know mate, it’s like every time we get back to the UK to visit the old family and that, and I’m in a similar boat to you, my old Mum bless her she’s getting up there and it’s actually her birthday tomorrow and she’s going to be 91, so …

Andy: Your Mum’s going to be 91?!!!

AW: Tomorrow, yes.

Andy: 91! Damn man, she’s doing great!

AW: I know mate, I know …

Andy: Now where is she?

AW: Emsworth, Hampshire …

Andy: In Hampshire?

AW: Yeah, between Portsmouth and Chichester on the south coast.

Andy: Oh right, yeah I know that area. Is she on her own? Is your Dad still around?

AW: No, my Dad passed away in 2001.

Andy, Well that wasn’t that long ago, I mean I lost my Dad back in 1987 and my Mum in 2007, yeah, twenty years apart, so yes I’m officially an orphan now … Well wish your Mum a Happy birthday for me! – Side note: And I did in fact and my old Mum said, ‘What a nice chap!’

AW: Yeah, thanks Andy (Laughing).

Andy: I mean that’s great! Do you get back to see her much?

AW: We try to get back once a year, but it’s kind of tough with the work kind of thing, trying to get time off …

Andy: Yeah and flying to England now, it’s fucking expensive now!

AW: Yeah, it is! I mean the airfares are bloody stupid!

Andy: I know and when you go there, you get bloody robbed! ‘How much …??!’ (Laughs) Damn! (More laughs)

AW: I know, I know! (Laughs)

Andy: I mean that’s a lot of the reason why my wife and I laugh because we’re both working these jobs, making some serious money, but we were getting taxed the crap out of ourselves! Yeah, by the time you pay for your gas and your beer over there, there’s nothing left!

AW: Yeah, it’s bloody sad.

Andy: Well that’s great mate, 91, good for her!

AW: Yeah, well my Dad was 86 when he passed on, and I sadly lost a brother a few years ago at 49 to a brain tumour.

Andy: I know, my Dad was only 64, he was six months from retirement and he had a stroke, so your Dad did pretty good in that case …

AW: He did, all things considered … But it’s funny you know, getting back on the subject, you said that …

Andy: I know, we keep digressing don’t we …?

AW: I know, I know, this tends to happen, it’s not very professional …! (Laughing)

Andy: Well, you can pick out what you need can’t you?!  Is this going as a tape, can you edit it?

AW: Well, no I can’t really I don’t have the equipment to do that, so I’ll have to type it up, as there’s so much editing …

Andy: Oh you type it up. Oh good, OK.

AW: I have to mate …

Andy: Oh good, in that case then, you don’t mind if I ramble then?! If I’m getting off the subject, just say, ‘Eh!!’ Come on back!
To me its part of the fun of interviews, you can kind of talk about other stuff outside of the other bit …

AW: Exactly! It just means the longer I talk, the more I’ve got to bloody edit! (Laughs)

Andy: (Laughing) Well that’s your problem! (Both laughing!)

AW: I know mate! No, it’s funny you said there were a few wrangles with the label and I kind of wondered as very often a band chucks out a ‘Best of’ just before they’re departing a label right?! And I just wondered if you guys were about to shift on from SPV

Andy: No, I think the decision was just made this week to stick with SPV!

AW: Ah, OK then …

Andy: There was another offer on the table and I won’t say who, because there’s no point but … SPV went through some problems in recent times and they were kind of in like bankruptcy, but they kind of got rescued and they are still behind us and Olly Hahn is running the show and Olly is a real fan of the band, so I think, hopefully I won’t get proved wrong because it’s happened to me from time to time, but as far as I know we’re sticking with SPV for this next one.

AW: Right and you’re saying that Barry will probably be doing the bass on this one then?

Andy: Well I think so, I mean at this stage it will be Barry unless he has other commitments that take him away, but you know I would say at this stage that there’s a 90% chance that Barry will be doing the bass, at least some of the bass on the album and hoping we’ll have something later in the year, maybe for the second run in September with a bit of luck if we can push it through fast enough. – Ed’s note: Guess not it seems! 

AW: Cool, good stuff. So what about set list for this tour then?

Andy: I’ve already been busted on that because I did an interview, I think the guy from ‘Metalholic’ I’d been told that we were probably going to open with ‘Natural Thing’ and Segway into ‘Out In The Street’ and then we were going to be doing ‘Just Another Suicide.’ Unfortunately that info came from one member of the band and it turns out to be a load of crap, so right now I could get proven wrong again, if I open my big mouth so you know … (Both laughing)  What I’m hearing now is we might be starting with ‘The Wild, Willing and the Innocent …’

AW: Really?

Andy: Yeah, because we have had a lot of people asking for (Paul) Chapman era stuff … 

 AW: Yeah, yeah, that’s cool …

Andy: Now you say ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah …,’ but we did this a while back and we’d had all these people on the website apparently asking for this stuff, so we threw in ‘Lettin’ Go’ as the opening song and added ‘Long Gone’ into the set and we dug up ‘Mystery Train’ as well …

AW: Yeah?!

Andy: Which all three are Chapman era songs, you know he didn’t write ‘Mystery Train’ but it was a song we did with him …

AW: Oh yeah …

Andy: And we died a death!

AW: Really?

Andy: You know we do all that and then they just say … And after about a week of this Phil turns around and says, ‘You know we’ve got too many other good songs that always go down well, this just isn’t working.’ So we took ‘em out and then you get all these people saying, ‘Oh you never play anything from Chapman,’ so …, as far as I understand, ‘The Wild, The Willing …’ is coming in for opening song, also ‘Try Me’ is in the set now …

AW: Awww, man!

Andy: Which we’ve just brought back in, just in the UK, we haven’t played it in the States as far as I’m aware, but we actually did it in Europe last year, so … And it went down very well so that’s coming into the set and we also have ‘Venus’ off ‘Walk on Water’ is coming back into the set as well …

AW: Oh, killer, killer stuff …

Andy: Yeah, so there’s a few new things … You know the problem is Alun, you got twenty odd studio albums to pick from and there’s a certain amount that you’d get lynched if you didn’t do them, you know, that people still want to hear …

AW: Yeah, they still want to hear the ‘Strangers (In The Night) …’ set right?

Andy: ‘Love to Love,’ ‘Only You Can Rock Me,’ ‘Too Hot To Handle,’ and then after a while you’ve only got a few slots left to fit in stuff from ‘You Are Here,’ from ‘Monkey Puzzle,’ ‘The Visitor,’ so it’s difficult to fit it all in …

AW: Yeah, it is, it is …

Andy: Hopefully there’s enough there and I won’t be proven wrong and there will be ‘The Wild, The Willing ..,’ ‘Try Me’ and ‘Venus.’ I hope so anyway because I’ve been learning ‘em! (Both laughing)

AW: Yeah, you’ll be a little be peeved shall we say! 
Aww, you know what mate, ‘Try Me’ is my favourite UFO song, always …

Andy: Oh really?

AW: Yeah, it really is, it’s funny because it’s like we were actually going to include it in our covers band set-list a little while back and we all worked it out and that and jammed it and all that …

Andy: Yeah, it’s got some great harmonies on it …

AW: Right, right …

Andy: ‘Cos I’ve actually been singing on it. Paul, Barry, Phil and me … I flip the snare mic up on that one, because I’m not actually playing on part of the song until the end and I flip the snare to get the four part harmonies going and it sounds really good …

AW: Ah mate, excellent stuff, excellent stuff!

Andy: Good, well you know if you can make it down to Ohio, Akron or something, I mean I can talk to Jon again and see if I can and see how he’s looking, but if he’s told you that he’s tight for tickets then he probably already is, but hopefully we’ll cross paths at some point in the future …

AW:  Yeah, hopefully Andy, hope so mate.

Andy: Please give a nice birthday wish to your Mum …

AW: Yeah, OK cheers mate!

Andy: It’s been a pleasure talking to you Alun.

AW: You too Andy, all the very best mate, good luck with the tour and all that!

Andy: Thanks Alun, take care buddy!

AW: Alright, cheers, bye.

Andy: Bye.


I'd like to thank Andy Parker for his time and for his understanding over how long this has taken to get finished and posted, Andy's a great guy, absolutely fantastic and here's to that new UFO album coming.
Also, thanks to Jon Freeman, a great guy, who's always pulling out all the stops to make things happen. Thanks Jon!

Keep tabs on Andy Parker and UFO through these weblinks:

Jon Freeman is responsible for Freeman Productions:

No comments:

Post a Comment