Read the latest Q&A with Justin Hayward.
1. Q: You seem to have taken more of turn toward at least partially acoustic versions of your songs, even in newer recordings. I know that’s partly because of the needs of working solo with a smaller troupe, but also, as you recorded some lovely songs with a string quartet. Do you see this trend continuing into the near future, or is it not a purposeful trend?
A: That’s a lot of assumptions in one question – you lost me ther. I’ll do what I think is right, when I think it feels good, as I have always done, and hope it’s well received.. I have never really thought of making specific future purposeful trends but thank you for your thoughts. I do what seems right for the song – sometimes with people I meet that are interesting and can add a twist, sometimes on my own. On quite a few solo songs I have been working with a bigger group of people. Often my Moodies tracks were just me and a producer on the recordings
2. Q: Is there any particular meaning to the title of your new compilation, “All The Way”, or is that left to the “audience” to decide?
A: It was an expression that my tour manager suggested on the way to a gig one day that kinda meant ‘just you on this compilation’, and the record company preferred it over any other title.
3. Q: The version of “Gypsy” on this new collection is said to be another tune with the Italian string quartet along with “The Story In Your Eyes”. There seems to be a lot more accompaniment there than just a quartet: a small orchestra, by the sound of it. Were the added instruments overdubbed by the same people, or did you have a small army in the studio?
A: Me, Danilo and Alberto added a few things ourselves in the studio, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
4. Q: It was thrilling to hear that original version of Blue Guitar done with 10CC members at Strawberry Studios (SS) on “All The Way”, thank you for that. You mentioned in a recent interview that a ‘few’ songs were done at that time; were they all your songs, or was there overlap into some of 10CC’s material, even just jamming together?
A: Let’s see. I haven’t listened properly yet….. see continued below.
5. Q: In the same interview you spoke of another recording that was incomplete from SS, more just a backing track, I think you said. As that interview took place a couple of months ago, has there since been any movement on doing something with that track? Are there more that you have yet to mention?
A: So I want to check all that out when I have time. I also saw that some tracks were removed from the original tape after it had left Strawberry Studio, according to the box
6. Q: You’ve told the story about how you were moved to tears by Bettye Lavette’s version of Nights. Have you ever listened to a playback of any recordings as performed by you (with or without the Moodies) that elicited a similarly enthusiastic response?
A: I was always moved by Peter Knight’s arrangements. He was an emotional orchestrator who put his heart into everything he did.
7. Q: Is it difficult to transition between the solo tours and the Moody tours in terms of arrangements of the few songs that would be played in both situations?
A: No, not so far.
8. Q: Have you ever gotten angry at one of your guitars? Or, put another way, can a guitar fall in disfavor?
A: No – I don’t acquire guitars that I’m not sure about, but sometimes, if I find that if I’m not playing it anymore I move it on. I don’t own any guitars that I don’t like though – I have only kept a couple of ‘collectors’ type guitars – the ‘Blue Guitar 335’ that Gibson made for me and the prototype ‘Justin’ model Gibson they did in the 1980’s.
9. Q: The Moodies have played The Hollywood Bowl previously in 1993, 1994 and 1996. The gigs in 1994 are remembered by many fans as 2 especially spectacular performances, for a variety of reasons. Was it as good for you as it was for us?
A: We always loved it. There are always a lot of guests wanting tickets – I wonder why? But that’s always nice too – it’s such a legendary gig..
10. Q: Can we expect any more solo tours this year in USA areas not covered by this current tour?
A: I hope so – let’s see how I can fit things in?
11. Q: “The Wind of Heaven” song is so beautiful and the video of you and the horses is so gorgeous. Might you be writing anymore songs with David Minasian and Alberto Parodi?
A: It’s a definite maybe.
12. Q: Anything in the works for this year’s 50th anniversary of “Days of Future Passed”? What is your fondest memory of recording that album?
A: My fondest memory: Being at the orchestra session. It was only three hours long, with one rehearsal, a 30 minute tea break, and then I it was done in a ‘one take’ recording. I was the only group member there, and it was a lovely session. All the players knew Peter and they knew if he had written the scores it would be good. Happy days.
13. Q: While the playing on your songs can be very muscular; it can also be very gentle. Is it difficult to balance the two in order to get the blend that you desire?
A: It’s always a joy finding that balance. But it often finds itself.
14. Q: We are hoping that because the music felt so good at your solo shows that it makes you want to continue solo touring?
A: You bet.
15. Q: Since you must be very accustomed to being in the ‘lead’ position with the Moodies, when performing your solo shows is it difficult to hold back a little sometimes to let your supporting players shine when it would guide the direction and evolution of the music onstage?
A: Mike and Julie are such good players that it’s a pleasure to listen to them and push them to shine.
16. Q: There’s an amazing photo of you probably shot for a magazine in 1968 dressed similar to a Musketeer in above the knee boots and a short dark cape tied around you; standing alone in Nobody’s Business boutique on Kingly Street, London. Do you remember this shop?
A: No, I’m sorry. I kinda remember the shot, iI assume it was done for a fan magazine, and I remember the name of the shop. I think it was just round the corner from Carnaby Street.
17. Q: Do you like to challenge yourself when you go into the studio or when you create new music and do you still surprise yourself?
A: It’s just so gratifying when it all comes right, and it ends up being more that I could have hoped for. Usually because of Alberto’s input.
18 Q: The Moody Blues’ album “The Present” is quite well-loved; but you always seemed to not favor it much; anything about that album that displeases you?
A: The sessions were difficult, exhausting and much too long. I knew the next album we made had to be handled differently to get the best out of the songs.
19. Q: Being a musician, is it hard to balance what is aesthetically pleasing to you while also being aware of the listeners’ expectations?
A: I have to please myself first.
20. Q: For a veteran band like The Moody Blues do you feel social media has helped you keep in contact with your fanbase and connect you to new fans?
21. Q: You’ve managed to change and grow with the times while also maintaining your own distinct style and sound. Do you stay on top of what is happening in the charts or do you tend to avoid those kinds of influences when you create your own music?
A: I love all kinds of music and there will always be something new that turns me on, and that I enjoy as a listener.
22. Q: Your performance of “What The World Needs Now Is Love” at Burt Bacharach’s “A Life In Song” event at London’s Royal Festival Hall was beautiful. Is it nerve-wracking when the songwriter is watching and it’s also being filmed for a DVD?
A: It was great, and so was Burt. What a gentleman, and of course, a real legend and hero to us all. Also, the other guest singers were great – friendly and respectful I hadn’t actually been back to The Festival Hall since we played it with Hotlegs, the band that was to become 10cc in the early 70’s, and it was a real thrill.
23. Q: Any chance of another solo album of new music from you in the future?
A: Hope so.
24. Q: Was there a longer list of songs chosen for your solo shows or is your current setlist the songs that really spoke to you – or sang to you – demanding themselves to be in your show?
A: We have rehearsed up quite a few more songs – but promoters want 90 minutes , or 2. Hours 10 absolute maximum from me and Mike together. We have to watch the clock (but usually go over anyway).
25. Q: Each song you perform certainly holds a certain memory for you. Are you able to separate yourself from that memory while you’re performing or are you taken back to that moment each time you sing it?
A: Every song has a mind picture for me and never fails to transport me to the time, place and closeness of the original thought.
26. Q: How did you feel about the Moody Blues being pigeon-holed and branded early on as Progressive Rock? Did you mean to align yourselves with that movement
A: We didn’t align ourselves with any movement. So – No. It’s not a ‘genre’ of music that I can honestly say I ever listened to. (But Dave Rohl can do no wrong! See later question).
27. Q: How was the helicopter ride out to the Isle of Wight for the last show of your UK solo tour last year? Did you enjoy it?
A: Loved it. That was a very special day for all of us. Everyone in Shanklin was so kind to us, and it was a day full of joy, tinged with sadness that a wonderful tour was coming to an end.
28. Q: What do you remember most about making the video for “The Wind of Heaven”?
A: It was a very cold day but David did a great job – the owners of the ranch were totally into it, loved the song and the concept, and they looked after us all very well. What a great experience.
29. Q: Was it emotional standing in the midst of the talented musicians, Mike Dawes and Julie Ragins and breathing fresh, new life into some of your most beloved creations?
A: It feels like coming home.
30. Q: What outside of music inspires you on a creative and personal level?
A: Books, places and people.
31. Q: Do you feel that your lyrics were often misinterpreted by fans and critics or did you find their different perspectives refreshing?
A: Both – I think you summed that up very well.
32. Q: Can you tell us what the difference was in the 60s between Mods and Rockers?
33. Q: When you’re out on the road with your solo tour do you ever miss your Gibson 335 electric guitar and its different kind of power to your acoustic stringed companions?
A: It’s usually with me, and maybe on a future tour I will play it if it works for the song.
34. Q: Has your songwriting process changed over the years?
A: I’m more critical of myself now.
35. Q: Is it rewarding that most of your songs are still as valid and relevant today as they were decades ago?
A: I hope they can be heard that way. Thank you.
36. Q: Do you agree with Bob Dylan’s comment “you should thank people who don’t understand you – that’s what makes you popular”?
A: He’s good at thinking up sentences that seem obvious, but that also make you think.
37. Q: What do you hope your audience walks away with after one of your solo shows?
A: That ‘Love will Reign again’ one day.
38. Q: Is a ‘call to solitude’ necessary for creativity with your songwriting and to ‘court the muse’, so to speak?
A: Solitude is certainly necessary. I’m lucky to have friends and family that understand that we all need it sometimes, with no conditions.
39. Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
A: Thinking about working.
40. Q: Justin, can you share the inspiration behind your incredibly moving song “The Western Sky?”
A: I talk about it in the show and I don’t think I can sum it up better than here.
41. Q: I’ve seen The Moody Blues 18 times, I have never seen you do Dawning is the Day. Is it a song you will ever do live?
A: Ah – nice idea.
42. Q: Your track ‘Dawn of a New Day’ on the Mandalaband album is so poignant. How did you get involved with the project?
A: My friend David Rohl.
43. Q: What type of guitar did you use on the recording for Legend of a Mind?
A: My original 12 string, the guitar that I played on Days Of Future Passed. It was ‘borrowed’ a few weeks later, and never returned to me. I purchased it back 45 years later.
44. Q: What is your favorite moodies album and why?
A: Threshold. Everything seemed right – and it was No 1 in the UK.
45. Q: Who inspired you musically when you were young? Who inspires you now?
46. Q: Do you still have that old 50’s Martin acoustic?
A: Yes, it’s on the cover of ‘All The Way’.