“It’s about my pride, my sense of self-worth and self-dignity as a writer”
The Who have announced their intention to release a new album later this year, with the news attached to confirmation of a North American arena tour.
The upcoming new record will be the veteran band’s first since 2006’s ‘Endless Wire’. That record ended a 24-year wait for a full LP following 1982’s ‘It’s Hard’.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, The Who’s Pete Townshend disclosed that he told promoters Live Nation that he wouldn’t agree to a new tour unless they band had a new songs in the works.
“I said I was not going to sign any contracts unless we have new material,” Townshend explained. “This has nothing to do with wanting a hit album. It has nothing to do with the fact that The Who need a new album. It’s purely personal. It’s about my pride, my sense of self-worth and self-dignity as a writer.”
The untitled album currently exists as 15 demos, all of which were written and recorded by Townshend last year. Bandmate Roger Daltrey is expected to record vocals for the tracks later this year, with a 2019 release currently planned.
Townshend described the album as a mixture of “dark ballads, heavy rock stuff, experimental electronica, sampled stuff and cliched Who-ish tunes that began with a guitar that goes yanga-dang.” But the demos were only met with initial “silence from Roger”.
“I had to bully him to respond and then it wasn’t the response I wanted,” Townshend said. “He just blathered for a while and in the end I really stamped my foot and said, ‘Roger, I don’t care if you really like this stuff. You have to sing it. You’ll like it in 10 years time.’”
Daltrey, also interviewed in the same article, responded: “They’re all great songs,. But sometimes I hear them and I think, ‘I can’t add anything to this to make my job as singer worthy of doing anything better than what Pete has already done.’ There’s at least five or six I can lay into and I’m sure they’ll come out incredible. Now that I’m healed up, I’m going to spend time getting into them. Okay, so I didn’t get back to him quickly at first. It doesn’t mean anything! I was deaf for about three weeks. It wasn’t even possible for me to bloody hear what was in them!”
Townshend also reflected on why he and Roger “don’t get on”.
“It’s that we don’t communicate. Over the years we haven’t really developed a dialogue. I don’t think that the fault is on my side,” the guitarist said. “He feels a bit intimidated, perhaps, because I overcomplicate things, but we think very, very differently. We do talk on the phone. That’s the most significant way we communicate, though we don’t decide much on the phone. He doesn’t text and he’s just now starting to use e-mail, but he isn’t very good at it.”
Daltrey agreed: “No, we don’t communicate well. But I’ve gotten quite insular, I suppose. I don’t know why that is, but I accept it. Is the chemistry between us still there? I hope there is. It’s been a year since we worked. We’ll see soon enough.”
The US tour dates have yet to be officially announced but the jaunt will consist of a total of 31 dates and will kick off at New York’s Madison Square Garden in April, with a local symphony orchestra joining the band for each performance.
“I’ll be 75 years old in March and this feels like a dignified way to go and do music,” Daltrey said about the tour. “That’s all we’re really left with. We’re old men now. We’ve lost the looks. We’ve lost the glamour. What we’re left with is the music and we’re going to present it in a way which is as fresh and powerful as ever.”
The first leg of the tour will see The Who play 14 shows from April onwards, with the tour resuming in September and October to visit cities in Canada and the western US.
As for their UK tour plans, Townshend confirmed that the band will play festivals in the UK over the summer, with a possible tour planned on these shores for the end of 2019.
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