Andy Powell
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Andy POWELL - Interview - June 6th 2008

(c) Copyright Wishbone Ash (c) Festival du Creusot

  1. Can you tell us where does the name Wishbone Ash come from ?

    (c) Copyright Thomas Dos Santos Wishbone Ash has been a great name for this band because it has been not too specific, so it doesn't mean heavy, it doesn't mean light, it means good luck. Wishbone is from the chicken and you make a wish before your rip the bone. So you could say (on the one hand) good luck with ashes and (on the other hand) bad luck, some of both really, but mostly good luck. It has no real meaning, it's our invention really.

  2. Can you sum up the band history in few words ?

    The band's history, my goodness ! Well, it's a band that has been together nearly 40 years, in one way or another. The band was formed in 1969 by the bass player and the drummer Martin Turner and Steve Upton. We were signed (c) Copyright Le Creusot Blues Festival to Miles Copeland, who became known as the Police manager, IRS records, REM, these kind of bands. We were the first band he managed. Then we were signed to the record label which was also MCA records which is now Universal. So our biggest success was our third album in 1972, "Argus" and then through the seventies we started to tour the world and we went to America and we were signed to Atlantic Records for 3 years, and then we went back to MCA Universal and we lived in America during the late seventies, we recorded there in Miami, many albums "There's the rub" and so on, and then we came back to England and did some more recording there, and the band then made some changes. Through the 80's it was a difficult time, we toured some places like Soviet Union and India. We kept making albums, and then in the 90's we did some dance records, 2 dance records and instrumental album. We reunited with Miles Copeland our first manager for 3 albums and now we are into 2008 and we have this current line-up together for 4 years. My bass player Bob Skeat, he's been with us for 10 years, we've done 3 or 4 quite successful albums "Clan Destiny", the recent one 'The Power of Eternity". So it's a long, long history, very involved and interesting.

  3. In your opinion what makes a band last for 39 years and what can you say as the original member of Wishbone Ash after this so long career ?

  4. (c) Copyright Jimmy Desbrosses Well the first advert that appeared in the British music press when the band was formed, they were looking for a man with a positive attitude and that was me. I came along, I think, having a positive attitude and being into it for the life and music means that is a good reason to being in a band. It's a difficult life style and the music has always come first, and the fans have always come first, for me. So with that, those roots, it makes it very easy to continue. It's not all about the money or a quick hit single, it's about making connections with people and if you like travelling it's a bonus because we are travelling all the time, touring sometimes 200 shows a year around the world so it's very active.

  5. What is your best memory ?

    My best memory, oh..going to some unusual places. We toured India three times, as I told you. That was something extremely unusual for a rock band, great memories you know. The worst memory was having (c) Copyright Wishbone Ash somebody shot in the audience in Texas. We had somebody killed when we were playing on stage, and right in front of us, somebody was killed, that was in 1974. Lots of different memories travelling, some strange things with aeroplanes, nearly crashing, these kind of things . The first show in America was a big memory, we played the opening for the Who and we played to 70,000 people, it was the biggest audience we have ever played to, so playing on big stages, small stages, they are all great memories.

  6. What do you prefer big stages, small venues ?

    (c) Copyright Jimmy Desbrosses I like them both. With a small venue you are close and personal with the audience, and you play in a different way, more intimate way. With big stages, you have to make bigger gestures, you have the whole stage to play with. I'm liking them both you know. The Summer for us is festival time, so we play more festivals in the Summer. In Autumn and Spring we are playing small theatres, that kind of thing. So I enjoy it all, it's great !

  7. Joe Crabtree has replaced Ray Weston on drums in 2007 ? Can you develop ? What can you say about Joe ?

    Ray Weston was with the band for many many years, then he got married and moved to California and his life changed. So we were looking for a new man , and an old friend who played with Wishbone Ash, Mike Sturgis, recommended Joe Crabtree. Joe is the son of Mark Crabtree who is the inventor of the AMS digital delayer and also is the Managing Director of Neve Consoles which (c) Copyright Wishbone Ash are very well-known recording console. So Joe is in the music business, he is perhaps a very very good drummer, he has played with Pendragon, and one of the guys from King Crimson. He is very technical but also a great feel player, but he is also very very much into computers and technical things, so it's a big help to me because he is pushing us into new technologies. We are now using in-ear monitors, we are very active on the internet, we are doing interviews on the internet, we are using the web site a lot, so it's good to have this, he is young too, he is 28 and I'm 58, so he's like my son. It's new energy, we like that, it's good...young energy !

  8. Can you talk about your album called "The Power of Eternity"

    (c) Copyright Rock-Interviews Yes, this is the new album, you see there is a green man on the front there.

    AM : The record sleeve is full of symbols.

    Andy : Yes, there're some symbols there. I mean eternity recalls the tour of the eternity tour because there were so many dates, it went for 6 months but the green man, in Germany we were trying to tour in an environment friendly way and some of the proceeds of that tour went into reducing carbon emissions for example, so you see there the little symbol with the windpower could almost be like the three crosses of Christ for his resurrection, the peace (the hand) the man is coming in peace which is what we always do with music and this green, the green man symbol in Britain is I think in Europe too is a very powerful nature symbol, and the word Eternity in legal term you sometimes say the power of attorney which is if you give somebody the ability to sign on your behalf for things so it's a pun involved, it's a power of eternity and the band has been together for an eternity so that's the symbolism. The tracks were recorded in Finland near Helsinki it was Joe Crabtree's first opportunity with the band, the music was mixed in America in a studio owned by one of the Backstreet Boys, it's a (c) Copyright Alan Fretten coincidence, and I'm very proud of the album, it captures a good spirit and the song rendering I think is very good, all of the songs are stories about our situation and things that have occurred to us and myself. I write a lot of the lyrics but Muddy Manninen and I, it's our lead guitar player, he is from Helsinki in Finland "that's Muddy" (showing the picture), he and I did most of the song ideas on the album and we wrote a lot of the songs around his kitchen table in Helsinki... it's a good album !

  9. Which song do you prefer ?

    (c) Copyright Alan Fretten One of my favourite songs is the song "In Crisis" I think it's got a great groove, it's a great guitar playing has a Wishbone twin guitar stamp on it, and it's a true story. The only track "The Power" is a good song, it's about personal power and your own mojo if you like, and "Happiness" is a good song, "Happiness" is almost got a reggae feel, something different from Wishbone Ash but there're lots of guitar playing, which is what people want from Wishbone Ash, and the twin guitars are right up there, good thing for this album.

  10. Where do you prefer to tour ? Which country do you like ?

    Andy : France is my favourite country.

    AM : You say that because you're here !

    Andy : (laughing) No, I do like France, we don't get enough opportunities to tour France, we would like to tour more, but it's not a real rock'n'roll culture, it's more diverse, which is interesting as a musician to come to France, but the rock sensibility is more difficult. Germany (c) Copyright Alan Fretten is, on the other hand, an easier country for rock bands, anglo-saxon rock and it's always a very pleasurable place to tour in Germany because as you would think everything is very efficient and we like the organisation, so it's comfortable for touring during one nighters you know. Of course we are touring England every year, Britain we've been going up to Scotland quite a lot lately which has been great, we always used to tour and play in Scotland and then for many years we did not go up there and now we are going back so we enjoy that very much. America at the moment is very difficult for bands because the economy is very down and travelling is difficult, the Dollar is very bad against the Euro and the Pound and so it's difficult for bands...but we also enjoy it.

  11. Do you know who are your fans ?

    (c) Copyright Alan Fretten Yes, very much so. I'm very in touch with our fans. This is because of the Internet. The Internet changed everything for bands. We have a very active website, I'm always answering fan letters. Our fans are our life blood, you know, they are the people who keep us going, so I become, I've got to know a lot of the key fans, the big ones and they also are like the people who help us around the world, who make phone calls, they help us organizing some small things, and bringing people on the shows, so I'm very in touch with our fans, yeah.

  12. What are your hobbies apart from the music ?

    (c) Copyright Alan Fretten Me...oh let me see. I just went to Costa Rica and tried surfing, not bad for an old guy, but my main passion in the Winter is skiing. I skied in France in Samoëns last winter. I like these kind of activities, hobbies in nature, involving nature. I like these kind of things and some gardening sometimes in the Summer, I like to play around with plants, Oh...let me see...I don't play too much guitar when I'm at home, a little bit, sometimes I play with the local guys in a club near me, they used to have a blues band for fun, on the side and outside Wishbone, I like bike riding, I like road biking a lot, I have a nice bike, I like to get out on the road, do 50 kilometers in the morning, it's a lot of fun. Active...yeah !

  13. Is it easy to find a balance between life on the road and your family life ?

    Is it difficult to find balance, yes, between the road life and family... (c) Copyright Alan Fretten
    always difficult. I've been married for 36 years, I think. I have three boys, grown up, and I've been very fortunate you know, really been lucky, but it's always the balancing act, very difficult because you're travelling and you come back, sometimes you're back for 2 months and Dad is always around the house, but it's worked out OK, I've always been home for Christmas, and my kids' birthdays, my kids' births and it's been a very difficult balancing act, I have to agree...yeah.