The Moody Blues first arrived in America in 1968 and frontman Justin Hayward says he still loves touring across the U.S. to this day.
On Sunday, Aug. 17, the band, featuring original members Hayward, bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge, will make a stop for a show at Danbury’s Ives Concert Park.
The group is one of the highest grossing rock bands of all time, selling more than 70 million albums worldwide. With hits including “Question,” “Nights In White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon,” the English band’s current tour ties in with the recent release of a box-set collection, “The Voyage Continues: Timeless Flight.”
Hayward spoke in a recent interview about the inspiration behind the song “Question,” some of the differences between a Moody Blues show and his solo project and, oddly enough, the advantages America’s vast infrastructure and highway system affords touring bands.
Q: Last year you came out with a solo album, “Spirits Of The Western Sky,” and now you have a live solo DVD and CD coming out on Aug. 19. What are some of the benefits of performing on your own as opposed to with The Moody Blues?
A: I think it’s a chance for me to do the songs as I recorded them in my own music room, in an acoustic format, kind of how I made the original demos for the songs. I think one kind of complements the other, that’s all. The Moodies is a big production. When those two drummers start, man, it’s loud. The Moodies is just fine and I do love it, but the solo thing is a different approach. It’s a more personal approach.
Q: So when you’re performing solo you’re playing the songs more like how you wrote them?
A: Yes, it’s the basic arrangements of the songs before they were sort of embellished or anything like that. It’s as it was in my own mind and in my own music room.
Q: Can you take us through what goes on in your music room and how you go about composing music?
A: I think it’s true what Picasso said, that “inspiration has to find you working.” I feel like if you devote a part of the day to writing then something will come out of it. I play guitar most days just for pleasure. But writing I really have to put my mind to it and dedicate the time to do it and then something will happen.
Q: Can you take us through the writing process of “Question,” and what inspired you to write that song?
A: The night before the recording session it was two songs actually. We had some time in a studio on a Sunday and I knew that the guys were relying on me to come up with something for that three hour session and at about 2-3 o’clock in the morning, I still didn’t have anything. But I had two (partial) songs, and it suddenly occurred to me that they would work together. Even though they were different tempos and had a different feel, they were in the same key and there was something that linked them together. So that’s what I did, I put the two songs together.
At that time, the Moodies were doing a lot of college gigs. The lyrics expressed what we were feeling on college campuses and universities. The sentiments in the song were ones that I was hearing from students.
A: You mentioned that touring in America was easier than other countries. Why is that?
Q: It has the infrastructure which Europe doesn’t have. Europe still is disconnected, the hotels are unpredictable and irregular and the roads just aren’t as good. The buses that we have here are wide and comfortable; you can’t get those in the UK. The infrastructure of America makes it easy for people to travel. Whereas in Europe, even though we have Schengen (an agreement between participating countries in Europe to ease border crossings), we still have borders and 300 miles and you’re stopped somewhere. We were lucky to come to America. We were brought to America in 1968 by a promoter called Bill Graham and it was the best thing that ever happened to us.
Levon Ofgang is a Connecticut freelance writer; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ives Concert Park is on Western Connecticut State University’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Ext., Danbury. Sunday, Aug. 17, 7 p.m. $130-$40. 800-745-3000, Ivesconcertpark.com.
“Tuesday Afternoon” live 2014 video: bit.ly/1u6VjVy