Review Fix Exclusive Q & A: Andy Fraser: Part Four

HeadshotRF: That’s how I think McCartney was asked to write the song for the first Bond movie with Roger Moore, “Live and Let Die,” and that was done pretty quickly.  So once Robert Palmer heard you use the song, he wanted to sing it?

AF: Actually, Robert and I were great friends for a long time. I remember him when he used to come see us in Scarborough, his hometown, and he was Allen then. Actually, Robert is his middle name, and he came down to London and got a deal with Island with “Vinegar Joe.” Actually, they signed Vinegar Joe, for Robert, and we’ were great friends, and even when he was living in his little apartment in Hampstead, I would go around there and would play music for me.  He was the one who turned me on to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,”  and it blew my mind, and so when he heard “Every Kinda People,” I mean, he saw it as an idea that’s for me, and he did a great job.

RF: What is your writing process like? Do you write on guitar, piano or bass?

AF: Some on bass – the last one that I started last week was actually on bass, and a lot of them were on bass. Some of them were on piano, but quite a few of them are like, this sounds weird, but I’ll wake up and there will be a song on my mind just as you should come into consciousness, and it would be so clear it would be like the control room of the studio and I could hear every sound, and I could even sense other people around me and it’s so familiar – it’s like somebody else’s song that’s already written. And it takes me a while to realize that song isn’t actually written, and I have to run to the tape-record room, put it down and the whole thing is there, and it’s just like gifted to me. Many songs are like that, and I just have to be quick enough to catch it, because it can just disappear just as soon as it goes away, and those I feel are like the purest ones. This is a funny one: I mean, I hate Christmas songs. There’s about only one percent of Christmas songs that have any kind of integrity, even my favorite singers are all like, “Lose all integrity,” and they sing this Christmas song and it’s like they could be singing about, like, a Jiffy Lube or something, and what you thought was soul was actually skill, and it takes all the magic away, and then, one day I woke up, and this was in the middle of summer, and there was this song called “Take Me Home for Christmas,” but with a slight twist to it, and I thought “Well, wow, you’ve got some kind of sense of humor,” but I had to go to it, so that’s probably the only little Christmas song I’ll ever do.

RF: Just getting back a little bit to the past – what did you think of Bad Company as a band objectively?

AF: It’s just too difficult to be objective. I’m glad for their success. I understand it. I know how it happened, they all deserve it, and they very clearly stepped into an opening left by Free. Paul’s (Rodgers-Bad Company vocalist) way of surviving the torturous break up of Free was like “I’m going to go out there like ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy’ and a manager and break some legs,” which is what he would have gotten if he really got Peter Grant. Luckily for him, and perhaps for all of them, Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song’s label was up for renewal with Atlantic, and Peter Grant was with them and said, “If you want Swan Song to resign, add Bad Company. ‘Can’t Get Enough’ has to be number one, not number two,” and they made it happen, but I think “Can’t Get Enough” is the hit song. Mick Ralphs had it, I believe, on tour in “Mott the Hoople,” and they turned it down, so it all sort of fell into place for them, and despite the fact that it is a hit song and they are all great musicians, it’s not even their best performance, but it was good enough. Somewhat earlier this week, I actually described Bad Company as a meat-and-potatoes version of Free, and that rung a bell, which had entered my consciousness before.

RF: Bad Company is a meat-and-potatoes version of Free?

AF: It was his approach that maybe it encompasses Bad Company, which was sort of a kind of meat-and-potatoes version of Free, I suppose.

RF: You know, Free was more of an innovative band in my mind. It wasn’t as standard, straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll. It is a more blues-based, very interesting.

AF: Yeah.

RF: I was just going to ask you: What are the essential elements to a great band? Do you think it is beyond musicianship? Do you think there are other qualities in the members?

AF: I do, yeah. I think of me and Rodgers and, in larger terms, Lennon and McCartney.  I think both me and Rodgers are really different individuals, different types of personalities, and when we find common ground, it includes so many other personalities. Lennon and McCartney are an extreme of that. They are A and Z, and when they find common ground, they could include the whole world, and I think that beyond their skill is what made them so widely accepted by the world, finding that common ground, and that’s a little magical element, which is nearly indefinable, but that may be more important than the individual talent, skills, so the chemistry is really important. Free had chemistry. Everyone is important, how Kossof used his humor between me and Rodgers and how Simon was able to find agreement in three different kinds of perspectives and unify them was a magic element.

RF: Was Paul Rodgers sort of a tough personality?

AF: Yeah, definitely a tough guy.

RF: Was that from his upbringing – where he grew up?

AF: Well, I think, probably, where he grew up (England), Northerners in general probably are a little more hardy. They really are, probably. Likewise the further you go into Scotland, they get really rowdy, but yeah, definitely a tough guy. I mean obviously he had a very sensitive side and that is a lot of the reason I liked it because he was given free reign and I liked to see more of that, and we seem to lose that with Bad Company, and on and on, you really become more protective and it was just his hard outer shell. But underneath it, there is a very sensitive person.

RF: He is a great vocalist – one of the greatest; no question about it.

AF: He was just definitely a natural born singer, and even on an off night he was better than most.

RF: Any new projects that you are working on? Is there anything currently going on right now or in the works?

AF: I finished this latest album, but it keeps being pushed back, while I try to do another song, and that is just what happened over the last two weeks. It was like a month ago, and this new song, which is basically in support of global climate on this thing that is coming up on the 22nd of  the month, where there’s various organizations that are trying to focus the world leadership and the world’s population. We’ve got to focus on a serious issue and this song [“This is the Big One,” you can check it out here] is very much in support of that, and serves exactly of what they are trying to say, but tries to say it in a way that is digestible by an audience and an issue you can make sense about – it isn’t a sexy subject, so that’s quite a challenge, so it has sort of given me a deadline. So I feel like I’m sort of under the clock and I really like what’s happening, and so everything is so focused on that.

About Steve Janowsky 88 Articles
Steve Janowsky is a former co-host of the Rocktologists theme based classic rock show radio show on WKRB 90.3 fm, which was voted the best classic rock podcast in the country by Dave White of About.com. Some of the interview guests on the show were Simon Kirke ( Free and Bad Company), Carl Palmer (ELP), Vince Martell (Vanilla Fudge), Randy Jackson (Zebra) and Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush. Janowsky is also an English and Journalism instructor at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY and is an avid guitar player and songwriter.

1 Comment

  1. Steve, I enjoyed immensely reading this interview with Andy Fraser. I find it interesting
    that he sometimes composes on a bass guitar, considering that it has such a limited and low range compared to other instruments such as keyboards.

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