Interview : Robert Cavuoto
John Lodge, the legendary bass player, songwriter, and vocalist of The Moody Blues will embark on his second solo tour of the U.S. titled The Moody Blues’ John Lodge: The 10,000 Light Years Tour on October 12 in Nashville, TN. The tour will support his 2017 live CD, Live from Birmingham, and he will perform songs from his 2015 solo CD, 10,000 Light Years Ago.
To celebrate the tour, John is offering his fans for a limited time, the opportunity to download one of his songs, “Get me out of Here” just by going to http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/johnlodge7
I had the pleasure of interviewing the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, John Lodge, about his upcoming tour and what fans can expect.
Robert Cavuoto: In October, you will be embarking on your second solo tour in 50+ years. Why have there only been two solo tours in your career?
John Lodge: In 1977 I recorded an album called Natural Avenue. After the album was done, The Moody Blues went straight in the studio to record, Octave. I never had the time to tour. So when I put out my last CD in 2015, I made the decision I was going to tour. It gave me the opportunity to play some Moody Blues songs, some songs off my 1975 Blue Jays album, as well as songs from 10,000 Lights Years Ago.
Robert Cavuoto: Now that you have had a taste of solo touring, do you enjoy it?
John Lodge: I really had a great time that’s why I’m doing it again. It was nice to go back to some of my old songs. I will always be a “Moody Blue,” but it’s nice to go back on tour in one bus all traveling together with the equipment. That’s where and how it all began. It’s great to talk with the other musicians about other things than music and not just seeing each other when we are up on stage.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me about the differences between touring clubs solo vs. on a larger stage with spectacle lighting and bigger production for The Moody Blues?
John Lodge: It’s a huge difference. With The Moody Blues, it’s a huge stage, huge sound system, and a lot more people working with us. It’s a different mental approach. These venues are very intimate, and the audience is almost “touchable.” It’s really good because you can get that intimate relationship with the audience. In a way, it’s just the music and you, the audience has nothing else to distract their mind with like a big video screen behind me. It really comes down to the basics of your music.
Robert Cavuoto: Is it fun to revisit and play some of those songs from Natural Avenue after so many years?
John Lodge: We started rehearsing some of the songs from Natural Avenue, but I changed my mind at the last minute, and I wanted to celebrate Ray Thomas [founding member of The Moody Blues/ flutist]. He and I were good friends and worked together since we were 14 or 15 years old. I wanted to do a song of his on stage as a tribute to him. I also wanted to do a song of Mike Pinder’s [founding member of The Moody Blues/keyboards] as a tribute to him. There will be some songs from Natural Avenue to.
Robert Cavuoto: Many people would ask, you are in a highly successful band, why write solo material?
John Lodge: I’m always writing songs. I love music and playing. I recorded a song by Gene Vincent on a tribute album, and people asked why did you cover one of his songs, but he was one of my heroes when I was 14 years old. I love to write songs, and The Moody Blues haven’t been in the studio in a long time. That avenue of releasing music is not there. If you want to be creative, you have to keep creating music, and you need the closure of recording these songs even if no one listens to them. [laughing]. So I do them, by either recording them in my own studio or for real like with 10,000 Light Years Ago.
Robert Cavuoto: Are you planning another solo CD soon?
John Lodge: No, my schedule is jammed packed. We have The Moody Blues three-week residency in Las Vegas in September; then I have my solo tour in October, then a concert in California with The Moody Blues in November and then in February we are doing the Cruise to the Edge from Tampa to Mexico. For the moment I’m just focusing on live performances.
Robert Cavuoto: So many rock bands have faded into history or retired, The Moody Blues are still one of the most beloved progressive rock bands in history. What’s your secret and what do you attribute to your longevity?
John Lodge: I think it is because we never let anyone else infiltrate the band, to be honest. We write our own songs and only had a minimal amount of producers with Tony Clarke in the early days and last few albums Justin and I produced. It’s really about believing in yourself, and I don’t mean as individuals but collectively. We believed in each other and not wanting someone else telling us what to do. I remember our very first meetings with the Decca Records Company and they were talking about having their A&R department involved to come up with ideas. We were like “No, we don’t want someone to say what we should be doing; we know what we want to do.” Whether we are successful with it we, we have no idea? We did it for our own satisfaction. We were fortunate that we struck a chord with the people growing up with us at that time. We had the same hopes and dreams as them. As we have grown older, the new generation has the same aspirations and still able to find that common ground in our music.
Robert Cavuoto: You recorded your 2017 CD, Live from Birmingham, in your hometown; tell me about the importance of recording it there.
John Lodge: It was really important. When I was the 12 or 13 years old, Buddy was an absolute hero of mine. He shone the light for me on the how an English person can be part of the Rock & Roll. I managed to see Buddy Holly at Birmingham Town Hall, and I still have the program. I was in the front row. I was on my solo tour and told the promoter that I wanted to finish the tour at the Birmingham Town Hall. I want to stand up in front of the microphone looking up at the golden circle above me thinking so many years ago there was a young Johnnie Lodge look at Buddy Holly. I wonder if there is a new young Johnnie Lodge looking at me. That’s why I needed to do it. I wanted to record that for my own enjoyment. It ended up becoming a DVD and live CD.