Andy Brown

Andy Brown

Andy Bown has had an illustrious career in music, primarily as the keyboard player for Status Quo.

He's just released his first solo album in 30 years, and chatted to us about his career, Status Quo and life on the road.

-Unfinished Business came out this week. Were you pleased with how it turned out?
[Laughing] How it came out, you mean? Yes, I'm very pleased with it. I hope that doesn't sound cocky, but I just am. It is the best album I've done, yeah.

-Is it something you've been continually working on since your last one, or just relatively recently?
No, I haven't continually worked on it at all. I was going to do a couple of tracks to make an E.P. or put it on the net. I spoke to Mike Paxman about it, and he said "that's a great idea, see what you come up with."

He came round, I played through a few ideas and he said "you need to make an album, or you're a dick!" I talked it over with my wife, and she said "If Mike things you're going to be a dick if you don't do it, you've got to do it, haven't you? So get off your arse and do some work!"

I didn't realise quite what I was letting myself in for. It's a lot of work, isn't it?

-What makes working on a solo album special, compared to working as a band?
The fact that you have to do it in your space time. It's not your day job. Time is a problem with Quo. We work every hour that God sends, most of the year, so it is difficult.

-Mentioning Status Quo, do you think there'll be a crossover in fans buying this album?
Well, I hope that Quo fans will give it a listen. They will be more aware of it than anybody else. I hope they give it a listen and decide that they absolutely, completely love it and buy ten copies!

-It's quite a diverse record, so where do you draw on for your influences as a songwriter?
Good question. I draw from the depths and bowels of my soul, I suppose. It's pretty personal, a lot of it. I think John Lennon said once that he wrote about himself and his feelings because that's what he understood best.

-Earlier this year, you released the new Status Quo album. How was the reaction to that?
We were very pleased with that. The reaction's been really good. We've had more plays on the radio in the last six months than we've had for ten years! We're really proud of the album, and we're happy.

-What's the secret behind the band's longevity?
I think it's probably living just fractionally beyond your means, so you have to keep working. That's probably the bottom line.

-Quid Pro Quo was initially released just in Tescos for its first week. What was the reason behind that?
That was the deal that Simon Porter, our manager, got. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that appears to be the way the business is going.

I think there's something like six and a half thousand outlets, and there's only about 9 record shops left in the UK. So, it's a no-brainer.

If they were happy to do that for a week, then great. It sold very well. They're happy, we're happy, and now it's in the other 9 record shops.

-With the way the music business is going, with the decline in record shops and a shift towards digital music, is that a positive thing for the business?
I don't know. It's unavoidable, I understand that, but you are talking to an old fart. To be honest, I don't understand the business anymore.

I used to understand it in the 60s and 70s. If you wanted a hit, and couldn't come up with the material, you'd have to spend loads of money and buy in the charts!

You'd all go round to record shops, or send your mum round and she'd buy five copies and it would go into the charts.

I understand that, but I don't understand it now. In fact, I don't even know if there's a chart. Aren't there about 10 charts?

-Something like that, I think.
See, even you don't know! That says it all.

-Over your career, just to name a couple, you've worked with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and Jerry Lee Lewis. Over the years, do any sessions you've been part of stand out at all?
Yeah, lots of them do really. Playing next to Jerry Lee Lewis was absolutely awesome. I've done many things, or many things have happened fleetingly, in my chequered life.

A big highlight was meeting Michael Jackson. I spent fourteen hours on a plane with him once, and I did have a chat with him. I'm such a big fan, and that was quite awesome, meeting him.

-In December, you're touring again with Quo, doing an arena tour, so are you looking forward to that?
Well we're doing the UK in December, but we work all the time. I'm going to Czec Republic tomorrow, then we're doing Switzerland. All sorts of shows. Then we're going away for a month in Germany and France, and then we do the UK.

We work all the time. It's just that people in the UK think, "oh they're playing in December. I wonder where they're putting their feet up now?" We're not. We're working our arses off!

-Is it hard being on the road that often then?
Well, it is hard, but this is what we do. One learns, over the years, what are called road skills, how to actually survive on the road after the first 20 years. It's quite tough, you do develop certain tricks, if you like.

-How's life on the road changed over the years?
On paper, it's become more comfortable. I used to try and save every bean I earned, but now it doesn't make any difference to me if I go to a really expensive restaurant or a burger bar. It doesn't bother me, so that's nice. I'm fortunate there.

Things are supposed to get a bit more comfortable, but then outside influences affect it. Flying is no fun. It used to be the quick way to get somewhere, now it's the long way. It's uncomfortable and inconvenient due to all the security. Things do change.

-With it becoming more difficult, is touring still something you enjoy, or is it just a necessity?
Oh no, we enjoy it. This is what we do, it's our job. If you've got a normal job that you enjoy, you might not enjoy every day, but you enjoy your work.

There's job satisfaction, more so than in any other job. When you see 5,000 people jumping up and down singing more lyrics you wrote, it's really quite cool. It's great. We still get a kick.

-You mentioned how busy you are up until the end of the year. Looking past that, what do you have planned?
To be brutally honest with you, I don't look past Christmas. I'm not going to look past Christmas, until we get past Christmas. Then I'll get a plan of what's going on. I'll probably get one before then, but I won't look at it.

-Are there any plans for live dates around your new album, or are you concentrating on Status Quo?
I was going to do a couple of showcase songs. I decided to do a video instead, and see how the album goes. If it goes well, then yes, I will look into doing some dates.

I would absolutely love to, but from a standing start, no. I don't think anybody would come, because they wouldn't know what to expect, would they? They just think I play the piano. Of course, they're wrong their because I can't!

It's show-business. Nothing is what it seems.

-Thank you for chatting to us. Good luck for the Quo tour.
Thank you very much. We're looking forward to it, because it's the first one we're doing that's just arenas. Instead of 38 shows, we're doing 12 I think. It's quite easy going for us, we just hope it works.

Female First - Alistair McGeorge

Andy Bown has had an illustrious career in music, primarily as the keyboard player for Status Quo.

He's just released his first solo album in 30 years, and chatted to us about his career, Status Quo and life on the road.

-Unfinished Business came out this week. Were you pleased with how it turned out?
[Laughing] How it came out, you mean? Yes, I'm very pleased with it. I hope that doesn't sound cocky, but I just am. It is the best album I've done, yeah.

-Is it something you've been continually working on since your last one, or just relatively recently?
No, I haven't continually worked on it at all. I was going to do a couple of tracks to make an E.P. or put it on the net. I spoke to Mike Paxman about it, and he said "that's a great idea, see what you come up with."

He came round, I played through a few ideas and he said "you need to make an album, or you're a dick!" I talked it over with my wife, and she said "If Mike things you're going to be a dick if you don't do it, you've got to do it, haven't you? So get off your arse and do some work!"

I didn't realise quite what I was letting myself in for. It's a lot of work, isn't it?

-What makes working on a solo album special, compared to working as a band?
The fact that you have to do it in your space time. It's not your day job. Time is a problem with Quo. We work every hour that God sends, most of the year, so it is difficult.

-Mentioning Status Quo, do you think there'll be a crossover in fans buying this album?
Well, I hope that Quo fans will give it a listen. They will be more aware of it than anybody else. I hope they give it a listen and decide that they absolutely, completely love it and buy ten copies!

-It's quite a diverse record, so where do you draw on for your influences as a songwriter?
Good question. I draw from the depths and bowels of my soul, I suppose. It's pretty personal, a lot of it. I think John Lennon said once that he wrote about himself and his feelings because that's what he understood best.

-Earlier this year, you released the new Status Quo album. How was the reaction to that?
We were very pleased with that. The reaction's been really good. We've had more plays on the radio in the last six months than we've had for ten years! We're really proud of the album, and we're happy.

-What's the secret behind the band's longevity?
I think it's probably living just fractionally beyond your means, so you have to keep working. That's probably the bottom line.

-Quid Pro Quo was initially released just in Tescos for its first week. What was the reason behind that?
That was the deal that Simon Porter, our manager, got. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that appears to be the way the business is going.

I think there's something like six and a half thousand outlets, and there's only about 9 record shops left in the UK. So, it's a no-brainer.

If they were happy to do that for a week, then great. It sold very well. They're happy, we're happy, and now it's in the other 9 record shops.

-With the way the music business is going, with the decline in record shops and a shift towards digital music, is that a positive thing for the business?
I don't know. It's unavoidable, I understand that, but you are talking to an old fart. To be honest, I don't understand the business anymore.

I used to understand it in the 60s and 70s. If you wanted a hit, and couldn't come up with the material, you'd have to spend loads of money and buy in the charts!

You'd all go round to record shops, or send your mum round and she'd buy five copies and it would go into the charts.

I understand that, but I don't understand it now. In fact, I don't even know if there's a chart. Aren't there about 10 charts?

-Something like that, I think.
See, even you don't know! That says it all.

-Over your career, just to name a couple, you've worked with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and Jerry Lee Lewis. Over the years, do any sessions you've been part of stand out at all?
Yeah, lots of them do really. Playing next to Jerry Lee Lewis was absolutely awesome. I've done many things, or many things have happened fleetingly, in my chequered life.

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