While going through almost 50 years of recordings by the Moody Blues, lead singerJustin Hayward found inspiration to make some new tracks on his own.
Hayward, 67, was part of the British Invasion with “The Moodies,” and last year he released the solo album “Spirits of the Western Sky.” Hayward will play an acoustic show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Charline McCombs Empire Theatre. Tickets cost $68.75 and $80.20 at www.ticketmaster.
Q. How did you wind up recording your solo album “Spirits of the Western Sky”? It’s your first solo album in 17 years.
A. I’ve been kind of appointed as the gatekeeper for the Moody Blues catalog. We’ve been remastering and re-releasing a lot of it, and we were rediscovering our back catalog. When I was spending so much time in the studio working on remasters, I thought more about recording some of the songs I’d written in the past few years. Recording the new material became a labor of love, then it just took over my whole life.
Q. What’s it like seeing new audiences discover you online? The video for “Nights in White Satin,” a song recorded in 1967, has 23 million YouTube views.
A. We had a following in the 1980s (with “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”), and we were recognized on MTV again, so I think a lot of our fans come from that era. There isn’t too much of us in terms of archives from our shows in the beginning. I saw our Isle of Wight show from 1970, and I think that’s a valuable snapshot. In a way, that show marked the end of an era. It was a time of free love, then the music business became a business. Right after that concert, it became a money business of selling out arenas.
Q. What was it like being out on your own instead of with the band?
A. I’m not stepping out into something I haven’t done before. The Moodies have been around together for a long time, and there was a time we were broken up in the ’70s when I went on my own. I’ve had seven solo albums, it’s just been a little while since I recorded one.
Q. After decades of performing with the Moody Blues, how is it being out on your own with an acoustic guitar?
A. I enjoy it a lot, because it’s like the sound of my own music room; I can hear every tone and adjust accordingly. It’s not about the show, it’s about the music. With the Moodies, we have to bring the volume level up, and there’s very little chance to do anything acoustic. This gives me a chance to really listen to what I’m playing.
This is more vulnerable and kind of cathartic. A wonderful part of songwriting is just getting things off your chest. For me, songwriting like this is like having a room in your house nobody else can go.
Q. What can people expect from the live show?
A. I hope there’s something for everyone. I’ll play songs from the Moodies and some of my new songs. When you’re up there on stage alone, there’s nowhere to hide, and that definitely makes for a more intimate environment.