With two solo albums and the Tommy title role under his belt, Roger Daltrey has built himself a solid reputation apart from the Who. As he emphasized at a press conference the other day, however, the band remains very much his primary concern.
“I would never appear on stage without the Who,” Daltrey told the reporters. “Because everything I want to do in concert can be done with the group. And I just feel that that part of me belongs to them. If we split up, then maybe . . .”
Hastening to add that the Who has no such plans, Daltrey attributed the group’s impressive longevity (11 years with the same lineup) largely to its members’ dissimilar natures. “We really aren’t that close at all,” he explained. “I mean, if I had to choose three people to live with, these would be the last three people. We tolerate each other and we kind of like each other but it’s a weird, strange situation. We use the friction to create and that’s what’s kept us together for so long.
“Also, the Who doesn’t take up all our time. And unlike most bands, this one allows the individuals to come through, to try out separate projects, without causing a breakup.”
Discussing his own solo efforts, Daltrey appeared particularly enthusiastic about his recently completed second movie, Lisztomania (which, like Tommy, was directed by Ken Russell). The trouble with films about composers,” opined the singer, “is that if you’re not careful, they’re liable to be very straight and stiff. They come out sounding like documentaries. But this film is totally extravagant and bizarre.”
After Daltrey mentioned that he plays Liszt in the flick and that, on the soundtrack, the composer’s music is delivered with the help of synthesizers and electric guitars, one skeptical-looking reporter asked, “Would you expect a 60-year-old classics’ lover to like this film?”
“If he likes Liszt, yes,” Daltrey replied confidently. “I mean, I think if Liszt saw it, he’d really like it.”
Daltrey said that he will be in Los Angeles for Lisztomania‘s October 9th premiere. Shortly thereafter, he noted, the Who will release its new album (containing nine Townshend songs and one by Entwhistle) and tour the U.S.
How will Daltrey fit tour rehearsals into a schedule already jammed with promotional dates for Tommy, Lisztomania, and the new solo LP? “We never rehearse that much,” he admitted. “We find all you can do in rehearsal is learn where the songs start and finish. As far as an act goes, the only way you can really learn that is to actually play in front of people. No matter how well you rehearse, everything changes as soon as you get on stage that first night.”
Perhaps partly for this reason, Daltrey seemed somewhat reluctant to speculate about the tour’s details. He did say, however, that he was looking forward to it—with one exception: “The encores, the bloody encores. We hate ’em. If you do a good show, you shouldn’t have the energy to do a bloody encore. But the audience won’t go away until you do one. To stop riots you find yourself cheating them. You just finish one number early, go off and walk back on. I mean, what else can you do?”
Daltrey moved restlessly in his chair; one sensed that he’d covered the subjects he’d intended to cover and was eager to wind up the discussion. Someone asked what member of the band Daltrey was closest to; and after he replied that “it depends where I’m standing on stage,” a woman from MCA came forward to help the singer make his exit.
“Thank you all for coming,” she told the reporters. ”Roger does have to be going, but he will take one last question.”
Even press conferences, it seems, have bloody encores.