An Interview with John Coghlan,
Original Drummer & Founder Member of ‘Status Quo’
on 9th April, 2009 by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: Hi, is that John.
Glenn: Hi, how you doing?
John: I’m fine.
Glenn: Excellent. How's your day been today mate?
John: Well it’s been windy and wet really.
Glenn: That’s same up here. What’s the average day for yourself?
John: Well not much really. I’ve been touring for 20 bl**dy years but I still play with a couple of bands and I still enjoy doing that and I’ve always said that once it becomes a chore, I’ll just stop doing it but I still love playing drums and I’ve played with quite a few different people – obviously still playing the Quo stuff because I can and always have. But I play with King Earl Boogie Band as a five peice band and 2 of the guys originally toured in Mungo Jerry for many many years – Les Calfort – the piano player and the bass player. But yeah – you know – it’s good fun. But really I don’t tour anymore though I’m going to do some stuff in Europe but I don’t think you can really call it touring.
Glenn: Just the odd gig now and again across there as such?
John: Yeah sure.
Glenn: Cool. What was it that turned you onto drums?
John: That really goes back to when I was very small and my mum and dad who were great garter used to take me up to Crystal Palace and there were a couple of great dance bands on up there. I would always for some reason watch the drummer and then sort of picked it up like you do. Like all the drummers did in those old days, I’d just go to watch drummers and listen to records really and try to pick up what they did and I think everyone started that way.
Glenn: What was the 1st kit you ever had?
John: I think the 1st drum kit, oh man, I think it was just a snare drum and a bass drum – I think it was called a Broadway and they were ok but they weren’t the best but it’s what you can afford at the time.
Glenn: Got ya. Did you come from a musical family at all?
John: Not really no. I didn’t no. There’s no musical people in any side of the family which is quite strange seeing as I play drums but like I said. my mum and dad were great garter so possibly the rhythm came from somewhere but no – there was nobody at all in the family.
Glenn: What’s your preparation for a gig – how do you get yourself psyched up for a gig?
John: Really there is no way set form really – it’s just that as long as I know what I am playing and got a set list although ‘King Earl’ never use a set list – we take the vibe from the audience. It depends really – it might be a couple of pints of bitter and that’s about it really.
Glenn: Just getting the vibe of it like?
John: There’s no running up and down the road for 10 minutes. I’m too old for that mate.
Glenn: You’ll stick to walking the dog.
John: Yeah I remember talking to Brian Bennett, the Shadows drummer many moons ago about it all and he said, “Oh I have to practise”, and Gilly my wife was with me and she said, “Oh you never practise do you?”, and Brian said, “I think that anyone who doesn’t practise just before they go on tour is mad”. Then I didn’t see him for ages and then after that we did meet again at a gig over a curry because all the band like Indian and I said (to him), “I was thinking about what you said – ‘You don’t practise’ and he said “I think he was right – you obviously know what you are doing as long as you know what the arrangements are for the songs”. But I think a lot of drummers – they are all different which is just as well really but I think a lot of drummer do practise. Obviously some bands because they are doing a big paying tour then obviously they gotta spend a few weeks reheasing because if you’ve got paying guests who are paying lots of money for tickets – it needs to be right.
Glenn: I must ask you, what are your thoughts of ‘Quo now over the last few years in style because when you were in the band it was more rugged, in your face, heads down, denim and leather sort of things and now it’s become more of a streamline thing – what do you think to the style of ther last few years?
John: I always get asked this question.
Glenn: I bet you do.
John: The other thing is, Gillie (John’s Wife) and me and a few friends went to see them and they played Bristol about last Summer or whenever it was because my wife used to go – that was her boarding school – Weston Burton, Gloucestershire so they were playing in the Arboureton – so I just phoned the office up and they said, ‘”Yeah, come along” and Francis knew I was coming but the others didn’t and they were all surprised and we all got on like a house on fire – it was great and there was only me and Gillian and 2 chums. Backstage. It was an open air gig of course. I think its a bit more lighthearted than it used to be because we were full-on in those days when we used to play with Alan Lancaster in the original band but yeah, it was.. it’s much different now and it’s like – while some people say it’s a cabaret act but I don’t think thats particularly right. I think it’s... the only thing I didn’t agree with was ‘Margarita Time’ – I can’t think why they did that – that’s real country sort of thing and I thought, ‘this is not... and the yellow jackets and everything... I thought that was beyond the pale basically.
Glenn: Well I know Alan wasn’t impressed – he’s talked about that many times in the press and all sorts of stuff.
John: I think that came from David Walker. But when you compare stuff like ‘Down Down’ and ‘Mystery Song’ and like ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’ and stuff like that and it’s really heavy and then ‘In My Chair’ – then you get ‘Marguerita Time’ in yellow jackets (we laugh).
Glenn: It doesn’t work does it?
Glenn: It’s weird.
John: Maybe they’d been drinking bottles of whiskey and stuff like that – I don’t know mate. I suppose if I’d have been in the band, I suppoose I would have had to go along with it. I don’t know whey they did it – I still to this day don’t know.
Glenn: I supposed they wanted it to work at the time and pull another audience in as well and it backfired a bit somewhat.
Glenn: I was watching this programmed a while since– this antique like programme where you were going through your stuff and selling it – it was a BBC programme.
John: Oh that was ‘Life Laundry’.
Glenn: Yeah. How did all that come about?
John: Well basically what happened, my wife was having a clearout and you see these things in the papers, sort of advertising for guests to take part and she said, ‘Yeah we’ll come and do it’, and then they found out about me. Then they sort of said, “Will John be interested?’ and course I got roped into it was obvious it takes 3 days of filming – it takes ages. Yeah it’s sort of airing the linen a bit but they put you up in a hotel and they sort of rummage through this room and get everything outside, and you know, it was alright I suppose but that was the start of those programmes really and there’s hundreds of those on telly now. But that’s going back a few years ago.
Oh yeah, I got a lot of earache about throwing all those albums in that crusher.
Glenn: Oh I remember that (I laugh)
John: Oh yeah haha.
Glenn: When you put that picture it was.... ‘oh man, he’s gonna burn the picture’.
John: Yeah it was some f*ck*n’ bloke who painted a picture of me and Gillie or me or something years ago in the Isle of Man and it was really awful – it was like a horror story.
And I remember when these albums went in the crusher, it was a shot I think of an album cover and it got stuck in the sort of window of the crusher and you could see what album it was. But like I said, they were f*ck*d and they weren’t – you know if they were pristine I would have obviously kept them but I knew what I was doing. But at the end of the day, I got some stick over it and I’m thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, their my f*ck*ng albums – I do what I like with them’.
But yeah – it was ok. The basic room that they did up was fine you know, but you still end up getting more clutter in your house.
Glenn: I have the same problem as I get so many CD’s sent me to review for the website.
John: I think really what happens is like back in the old days with albums and that and if you’ve not got a buzz out of the 1st 2 tracks – you think ‘Well what’s the rest of it like?’ and I used to get that and you’d get some person cd and ‘What do you think of this? And let us know’, and you play it and it’s like just another one similar to what I heard last week and it doesn’t do do anything to you, and you think, ‘Oh well, you know’ and you end up looking in a cupboard or something and there like loads of crap in there.
Glenn: Yeah, I’m the same and I end up skipping through tracks and giving cds away for another of our writers to review – I shouldn’t say that but it’s true.
John: Well I think we all do – unless you are Bob Harris who’ll spend days and days listening to the stuff.
Glenn: Yeah – he was the same John Peel – listening to everything he got sent – morning to night working out what to include on his programme. That’s just so much dedication –it’s incredible to do that.
John: Yeah because we used to know John Peel in the Quo days – in the early Quo days and sort of Lincolnshire Festival and he was a Quo supporter – he loved Quo and he used to play a lot of our records and he was great John Peel. He was a nice bloke John Peel and such a shame that he went because the music industry lost someone great.
Glenn: It was the same when we lost guys like Alan Freeman and Tommy Vance..
John: That’s it.
Glenn: Yeah – the real deal.
John: Yeah. Bob Harris doesn’t live far from from me in Oxfordshire and he’s another lovely guy and sometimes when we are driving home from gigs late at night I tend to listen to him on Radio 2 and he comes up with some good stuff.
Glenn: He plays all sorts of cool stuff like this band called ‘The Hackensaw Boys’ – sort of Zydeco Country Mountain music. What would you say your favourite album material is?
John: What Quo?
Glenn: Yeah or anything you’ve been involved in?
John: Well I don’t know really. I’ve still got loads of albums around in my house and of course the thing as always is that the thing that plays the records – the record player doesn’t work and you think, ‘I gotta get one because everythings on CD now or whatever and Ipods and all that sh*t’. I don’t know – well I don’t know, I could always.. I’ll say to you I’ve always been a Rolling Stones fan, a Beatles fan, I like the Pretty Things because I like it all raw. Oh there’s loads of stuff – some of our Quo stuff I though was great but I donlt think there was one – in fact my favourite best album in the world, because I used to like everything from Jazz to sort of Rock ‘n’ Roll and American and all sorts with the dance stuff and all that from my parents days and Jazz and big bands and stuff – Buddy Rich and that which fortunately I’d met and I’ve got a picture at home here in my house of me sitting on his drum kit with him standing beside me...
John: Because he was doing a gig and I was with Quo then and I wasd asked if I would like to meet him and I said, “Ahh yes – ya’s f*ck*n’ jokin”. It was such a buzz and it was the same with John Bonham – I mean I met Bonzo twice once before Led Zeppelin when he was playing with Tim Rose. Then I met him again when he was playing with ‘Zeppelin and (the 1st time) he gave me his number and he said, ‘Look Tim’s going back to America and here’s my number, give us a ring if you know of any band that needs a drummer’. I was with Mick Avory from The Kinks at the time and Mick got the same thing and it was absolutely incredible to meet these guys because I obviously didn’t know much about John then because although he was this awesome drummer playing with Tim Rose, you know I didn’t know that he was gonna be magnificient with Led Zeppelin – that was much later but.... oh there’s been some great people around.
Glenn: Yeah you can basically go on for days and days talking away can’t you?
John: Oh yeah – that’s right, that’s right.
Glenn: Yeah. Do you have any favourite Quo songs or Quo albums and why would they stand out as your favourites?
John: ‘Mystery Song’ has always been one of my favourite singles and I think ‘Piledriver’ was one of my favourite album. But then... you see it’s always as you go on and on in time and you make another album and thats.. you like all the new songs and you think, ‘maybe that’s my favourite album’ but I’ve always thought it’s different for a bit for someone being in a band to someone going out there and buying them. We see them in a different light to the way the punter sees them – do you what I mean?
John: Because we are living with it and we have to play.. obviously play all those songs all the time – well the majority of them and you find they play on you and they feel like it – the way we sort of see it. I think they... there’s an old saying that if I play ‘Caroline’ one more time I’m gonna go mad.
Glenn: Yeah I was gonna ask you about songs you get sick of playing and they’ll always ask for that b*st*rd!! (laughing)
John: Yeah – I think ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’ as an album track and I used to get fed up playing that because it was a very fast shuffle which I’m good at but it went on for ages and you probably know the song... But the band I play with, we were thinking of doing it because a lot of kids get on the website and they say, “Oh Coghlan won’t play ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’ because he doesn’t like it”
Me and the lads are actually thinking of doing it again just to p*ss people off (I laugh).
Glenn: I tell you one of my favourites of the Quo albums – it’s not when you got really big later in the 70’s, it was the early 70’s and one of my favourites is ‘Ma Kelly’
John: Oh ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’.
Glenn: Yeah. Especially songs like ‘Daughter’.
John: Oh yeah (in surprise).
Glenn: That riff is just absolutely unbelievable – it really is so pounding.
John: Well I tell you what, I play with a band called ‘Predatur’ now and again and Daz Mike singing and we dug that out because he likes that. Yeah we’ve done it at a few gigs and there was a thing – ‘An Audience With John Coghlan’ and we did a couple of dates with that and in actual fact we played ‘Daughter’ – I think it’s an awesome song.
Glenn: Yeah – it’s one of my all-time favourites. It’s one of those songs that’s just slipped by and...
John: You know it’s amazing – I’m sure with Quo it would be good to hear it again – I don’t know why they don’t do it, you know?
John: In fact I’m thinking of re-recording some stuff and putting on some songs but also playing some maybe re-cording some of the old Quo stuff as well.
John: Which it’d be nice to put it out you know?
Glenn: Yeah, I know they’ve been playing ‘Gerdundula’ for a bit.
John: It’s actually Gerd – Gerd was a guy and Ula was a girl and they were both German. They were German fans and they used to help us out a lot in West Germany and they were a lovely couple and ‘Gerdunula’ – we do that as well and it was funny you should mention that.
Glenn: Yeah – while we are on the subject of funny titles as such, what does ‘Umlietung’ mean or however you pronounce it?
John: ‘Umlietung’ – that is German for diversion.
John: It’s like, you know, they dig the road up and they put a diversion sign in – ‘Umlietung’ is ‘Diversion’.
Glenn: Right – that makes sense.
John: Now you know now.
Glenn: Yeah and I’ve wondered that for absolutely years as well.
John: Yeah sure.
Glenn: Do many people as you that?
John: Yeah – Gerundula becasuse they don’t know its ‘Gerd’ and ‘Ula’ – yeah and they sit about a bit like you have yourself not knowing what it means – like its been puzzling us for years.
Glenn: What would you say are you main stand-out highlights?
John: I think doing ‘Top Of The Pops’ was incredible with ‘Matchstick Men’; there was playing at ‘The Royal Albert Hall’ because thats so prestige, I’ve always loved playing ‘The Marquee’ in Wardour St. which now as you know is gone and of course we did the ‘Wembley Football Stadium’ with Elton John that was funny and also we played at 11 o’clock in the morning – I think it was either LA or San Francisco – a football stadium and that was awesome – the gigs are so big you know, it’s just fabulous; then playing ‘Rainwick Racecourse’ in Sydney – that was an open air gig. You know there’s loads of things like that – then of course doing a week at ‘The Whiskey’ in LA in Hollywood because they are all like prestige gigs, you know it was like an honour really to play them.
Glenn: Yeah, excellent. Do you have any favourite support bands that you had, that you wanted yourself or checked out as fan?
John: Yeah, there was Snafu with Micky Moody. There were loads of support bands, f*ck*n’ h*ll, you’ve caught me out there. There’s a book out that lists all the gigs we;ve done and all the supports. Yeah, Snafu was one, The Pretty Things suport us on one tour, there was hundreds of bands supported us, there was a band called Nutz – they were from Liverpool and sometimes we’d go out on our own without a support. Shanghai – a band called Shanghai, Slade – athough we were support for Slade.
John: Oh f*ck*n’ hell – there were loads – ‘Bizantium’ – you remember them;
Glenn: I know the name but I’ve not actually heard them.
John: Another band called ‘Snake Eye’; ‘Stray’; ‘Bullrat Sage’ – yeah loads and loads and loads.
Glenn: You can go on forever. Why did you decide on putting ‘Coghlan’s Quo’ together and what highlights have you had so far of having your own band?
John: Well I think really what happened it came as always.. all these things come from a guy called Pete Barton that is Rock Hard Management as he calls himself and he said, “Why don;t you go out there and put a band together and do all the songs and you can earn good money doing it”, amd I thought, ‘Well I’m not doing anything so..’ well I mean at the end of the day, we’re musicians and we like playing to audiences and it seemed a logical ideam really and it’s one good way for me to earn a living because I played on all those records and the band said ‘We’ll only play stuff that I played on – you know- we won’t do – no disrespect to other drummers but there’s no point doing songs that like ‘Margarita Time’ say or whatever and ... there’s no point. Yeah well we couldn’t think of a name and ‘John Coghlan’s Quo’ just tells you what it is really.
Glenn: Yeah it makes sense as people recognise who you are as well.
John: Yeah and also we are supposed to be doing a week in Monaco in September and we’re supposed to be doing some gigs in Germany and one or 2 in Holland and France so the work’s still out there.
Glenn: Yeah as you know yourself – the oldschool rock stuff is stil massive there and I’m pleased to say it seems to be happening over here as well – we get shovelled all this sh*t over here all the time – stuff they call rock and it isn’t.
John: Well I’ll tell you what p*ss*s me off iff – it’s the fact that they say, “Yeah – we’re an R’n’B band’. Modern R’n’B is nothing to do with lime R’n’B as we know it.
Glenn: I know – that got me.
John: Ohhh no – who f*ck*n’ thought that idea?
Glenn: I don’t know – someone who’s got no idea.
John: I mean, The Pretty Things were ‘R’n’B’ and The Rolling Stones in the early days and you think, ‘Well that’s ‘R’n’B’ and what they gonna say next in 10 years time – Jazz – are they gonna nick that name, you know what I mean. I think there’s not much around really, I donlt know what you think of it all but there’s nothing around that wil actually make me go to a concert. From what I’m saying now, I’d go and see The Rolling Stones but because I’m a Stones fan but I’d never go out and see some of these new acts that are around that are alledgedally supposed to be ‘R’n’B’ – I don't know what you feel.
Glenn: Yeah, there’s no real ‘R’n’B’ bands out there. I think there’s a lot of good bands out – I mean you’ve got guys like say, ‘The Answer’; ‘Heaven’s Basement’ and guys like this but it’s all very much retro isn’t it – stuff that we’ve already heard already – just rehashing and put a bit of their own style in as well but there’s not a lot of new stuff these days that’s worth talking about.
John: I know a record company asked me to go and see one of these bands ‘Would you Go?’ – I don’t think I would.
Glenn: yeah I’ve seen loads of really good bands out there – some are really good and others get a bit tiresome but whatever sells at the end of the day.
John: Well ‘King Earl Boogie Band’ I enjoy playing with because that’s just blues and boogie and it really is a good band and they are good players and there’s two extremely good guitarists and the piano player’s good and the bass player’s good and there’s loads of vocals in it. It really is a good band and we really just pitch up and play – we really enjoy ot and I quite like that way and Dave Peabody who is the lead guitarist or rhythm guitarist, what he does is checks the audience out and picks the songs other than sort of like a Quo concert that’ll probably start with ‘Caroline’ or something as you do but that’s a different story.
Glenn: Do you still get recognised outside of your area as ‘John Coghlan’ who was in Status Quo’?
John: Well occasionally. I’ve got it a coupl of times in my pub when strangers have walked in or other pubs occasionally but I think what happens is that as an everyday event people sort of don’t think of it. Out of character I think is what one would say.
Glenn: I suppose it’s easier as well because you can live your own life and you don’t get people who want their albums signing - all the Quo fans and everyone wanting a photo with you
Glenn: And you have to put a happy face on when really you are thinking, ‘Oh god, not another one!’
John: Yeah and that used to affect us a lot. I mean, I think on tour in the old days we’d been in the hotel eating a meal and they’d find a way in and the road crew would have to sort of get rid of ‘em and ... the trouble is – it works both ways. They think they are just being nasty but then you are trying to eat your dinner and if you’re really tired it really is a pain in the *rs* but I suppose that’s the price you have to pay for it – it must be.
Glenn: To me that’s just rude, you should let them finish their food first – it’s bad manners.
John: Yeah, I know.
Glenn: You wouldn’t do it to anyone else no matter if they are famous or not.
John: Yeah, because I still get it quite a bit sometimes after gigs and people come round for a photo which is fine and they are generally very nice and very polite and genuine fans and they appreciate your time so it is quite nice at times – especially at my age – I’m 62 now. Getting on mate.
Glenn: Well my Mum and Dad are 62 and I’m 35.
John: Are they?
John: Well there you are.
Glenn: What’s your thoughts of electric kits towards standard kits?
John: Oh I think I actually attempted to play one once and I didn’t like them at all and I think I used them on some overdubs once on the ‘Partners In Crime’ album I think but other than that, no I’ve never really used one. I’ve only got 2 kits, I’ve got my Yamaha 9000 and I’ve got my original Ludwig Superclassic which is the same one that Ringo sort of used in The Beatles. I think I bought that in the early 60’s and it’s an original kit, you know an original Ludwig which were very famous in their time and they’ve got a lot of prominence – well the one I have has and I wouldn’t play anything else now.
Glenn: Do you have a certain type of stick that you like to use?
John: Yeah, yeah I do – they are Varta – Varta Session Sticks. I use them all the time now and I use Ziljan cymbals.
Glenn: Yeah – classic stuff.
Glenn: I must ask you – what are your thoughts of the music business these days and als comparative to what it was like for you back in the heyday?
John: I dunno – well we grew up in pop and rock but I think now it’s just all very stagnent and they will use these drum machine type things and this dance crap, which I think there must be 15 thousand million bands or acts rather that use that. A girl singer was on the radio ans she had a lovely voice and behind was this ‘chick, bum, chick, bum (imitates a drum machine)..
John: You know, why the f*ck have you done that.?
Glenn: Yeah – I agree.
John: Why don’t they just do something else – get a band and take it, you know, a different arrangement but of course you know, it’s the short cut isn’t it. The short cut to success I suppose.
Glenn: Yeah, instead of spending money I guess as well because you don’t have to employ a drum machine do you.
John: I just don’t, I just don’t get. I did some recording for a guy called Ian Bramble the other day up in Banbury and he’s an excellent guitarist and arranger and he was writing something for like a christmas single which was coming out at the end of this year . I play drums on it and it’s like a rock christmas song – it was brilliant. So there’s opportunities out there still.
Glenn: Excellent – it’s what you want. So on the technology side of things – so you like to use digital or do you prefer to keep to analogue – what’s your preference?
John: I think – I don’t mind how its done – it’s just keeping time and making the band swing really. I don’t go in studios much these days. It’s also different because when Quo recorded it was all the band in at once and if there was a f*ck up we’d have to stop and start again – that’s how it used to be but I think tightly it’s just moved on so fast.
Glenn: Here’s a question you’ve probably been asked a million times – What are your thoughts of the original Quo band getting back together for you personally?
John: Well it has been mentioned a lot and I think I’m not too sure what Rick (Parfitt) thinks about it. I don’t think he thinks it is a good idea but I know Francis Rossi said in an interview some time back, something about, ‘I don’t think we will but then money speaks’ or something like that – wrapped around the amount of money which was there but would Alan (Lancaster – Original Bassist) do it. I think Alan would but I don't think he’s been that well at the moment. So anything’s possible. It would have to come from them.
Glenn: I remember reading that Alan was dead against it at one point and didn’t wanna play with them at all.
John: Well yeah but I think that was when he was bitter about certain things but I think time moves on.
Glenn: That’s it.
John: And I think it’s like everything else – if there was a large amount of money I’m sure that would change things. Course then you get the people on the internet saying, ‘Well that shouldn’t happen but then you get the people that think it would be great like the old fans – they’d love it. You’ve got both sides of the story and I think the new fans would see that on the internet and say we are not gonna go but they would turn up because they would be curious.
Glenn: Yeah totally.
John: And I think anyone who knows what the old band was like.. and I’d like to say if it all did happen then I’d like to say to Francis and Rick that we’ve got to do all th songs as they were and not medleys because they did a lot of medleys. I know they gotta cram all the songs into a 2 ½ hour show or whatever it is. I’ve never liked medleys I think you’ve gotta do the whole song but then we don’t know. But maybe we could find someone who’s got loads of money but these days that’s difficult. (laughs)
Glenn: Just a bit.
John: You don’t know a good banker do you?
Glenn: (I Laugh) There you go. I mean if it ever happenen it’d sell no problem at all because there’s such a massive audience. I mean, you don’t even need to go into that do you. You’ll sell the gigs out no matter what even in the current state of the UK. I kow it was a bit back but I don’t know what you thought when Francis decided to cut his ponytail off.
John: Yeah – big news. And the thing was – if it did happen then it would obviously be recorded and it would make everyone more money I suppose and I think more to the point it would be more of a collectors item wouldn’t it. But I don;t think the tour would have to be long – I think it could be... I don’t know – a couple of gigs in England, a couple of gigs in Germany, a couple in France and like that and just you know, but I don’t know and like I say, it can’t come from me. I think they’d know I’d do it. I mean, we’re on speaking terms, we get on extremely well, we’ve met Mat Letley the dummer – Mats a good guy, Mats a good drummer and Andy, Andy Bown and Rhino so everyones cool and still doing a job really and enjoying it I hope still.
Glenn: Yep, it’d be nice. I’m really pleased that you all get on well. The friendship is there- from all the longevity that you guys have got. That’s the most important thing really isn’t it?
John: Yeah sure.
Glenn: You can have all the music but if the guys just don’t get on then the odds are stacked up against it taking place anyway.
John: Yeah that’s right. Plus its discourse in the divide because Alan’s in Sydney, Australia and when you’re away from the scene all the time.. I think things might have been quite different if he’d been here still in the country.
John: But you know – things could heal.
Glenn: What other stuff do you like playing apart from your Rock & Blues? You like your Jazz don’t you?
John: Yeah, I did play in a Jazz band for a while about 2 or 3 years ago and it was all brushes really and it was quite a nice change but I don’t think I’d like to do it all the time.
Glenn: It’d get a bit tedious?
John: Yeah and I think I like to lay it out, you know, and play rock.
Glenn: Are there things that you miss a lot from the heyday of your Quo period like things you glad you don’t have to do anymore and others you wish you could do again?
John: No not really, I mean I’m still basically when I’m playing these (Coghlan’s) Quo gigs I’m still playing like I did then. I go in now and it’s still sorta laying it out and making myself heard if you like.
John: You know. I mean it is fun and I’m supposed to be doing an Autumn Tour in Sweden, Norway, Finland, possibly Denmark with a guy called Claes Yngstrom who is a very good Swedish Blues man. He’s played with us before when I was out with one of my bands, (the) Diesel band I think it was in Scandinavia and Claes is one of those very well respected, well known blues guitarists. He’s got his own following and he’s asked me to do some tours out there with him.
Glenn: Nice One.
John: In the Autumn I think that’s gonna be so (I said) “Yeah, yeah, let me know, I’ll come out and do it”.
Glenn: Excellent. Are there any drummers these days that have caught your eye in the last year or 2 or last few years as such?
John: I don’t know – I must be honest with you – I haven’t been to any gigs for years. I mean I still like people like Phil Collins and stuff like that but I haven’t been to any gigs to see some other drummers and go like, ‘F*ck Me, he was great’.
John: No I don’t seem to go much. In fact I’m looking forward to seeing, I’m going back in time, to seeing Cliff and The Shadows because I grew up with all that and Brian Bennett – Brian’s a great drummer. I’ve been a Brian Bennett fan for years. If you listen to a lot of The Shadows stuff that Brian played on it’s excellent – excellent drumming and the sound he got and everything, I mean, it was awesome. But er, maybe I should get out more,
(We both laugh)
Glenn: If you had a chance with a certain drummer, who would that be and why?
John: Phil Collins maybe?
John: Yeah because I just like the way he plays. He’s very straight but he’s very effective and he always gets a very good drum sound.
Glenn: How did the ‘Loaded & Live’ album come to be with ‘The King Earl Boogie Band’?
John: We recorded that down in Cornwall, down in Carnglaze Tavern which was near Lisekeard and it was only like my second gig and listening to it you know I think I’d rather.. I’d liked to have actually got a few more gigs under my belt before we actually recorded it but we took it off the desk and it was actually quite good and I think we got quite a lot of gigs out of it.
Glenn: Yeah, excellent. Do you have a favourite drum solo that other people have done?
John: Yeah – Little B of Brian Bennett of The Shadows was one of my favourites – you should listen to that – it’s on one of the early Shadows albums. It was good ‘Little B’.
John: Bl**dy Brilliant.
John: Some of the stuff that Buddy Rich did of course – but they are my favourite drummers.
Glenn: What songs do you enjoy being part of on the kit and not just typical Quo songs – any songs at all that you enjoy playing?
John: Well in this other little band that I play with, we decided to play all the stuff that we liked and there was like Rolling Stones, Shadows, Kinks, Beatle... Beatle songs I like and it’s nice to play thosae songs and there’s ‘The Rise & Fall Of Flingle Bunt’ which is a Shadows track and a song called JC5B - we couldn’t think of anything else to call it and one of them said, “What about 5B’s?”, I said, “Call it what you like – that’ll do yeah.” And we played a couple of songs up in Shrovesbury – we actually do it down in my local pub and we do that twice a year. Its really a covers band really but playing all the bands favourite songs from other acts if you like.
John: Which is quite a unique idea but of course we have to play a couple of Quo songs but a couple of the lads said, “Let start playing all the Quo stuff all the time” and this came about.
Glenn: Did you enjoy making videos when you were in Status Quo? What’s your view of that?
John: Well it’s just a part of selling an album or a song really.
John: Yeah, you know, it’s just like being on telly really but we did probably more takes.
Glenn: Are there any that you enjoyed that stood out at all?
John: I suppose ‘Accident Prone’ because we did that in Holland I think it was in a scrapyard and I think it was alright. It was quite a good video.
Glenn: How would you describe your style of drumming?
John: Staight and straighter to the pop. Like in the dance halls – that’s what a drummer’s supposed to be. Don’t overplay.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite or least favourite drumers jokes are?
John: Is there any? I think there’s loads – something about not being a musician or something, something like that – whatever it is.
Glenn: Would you ever consider teaching drums as well?
John: No. No I don’t have the patience to teach people. I mean some guys are great and can sit there for hours teaching people but it’s not a thing that I’ve ever been interested in. You’ve gotta know all the rudiments and you’ve gotta be just a good teacher and I think I’m not so no I steer away from that.
Glenn: Yeah. Got ya. Makes sense. How did the conventions start up, like ‘An Audience with..’, how did that come about?
John: That was a friend of mine – he was a drummer. He said I think I’ve got some people who would like to know about your past and what went on and how we did things and he put a screen up and showed loads of photos of me in the past – a lot of photos that I never knew existed and then the band would play in the second half, play stuff like we mentioned before like ‘Daughter’ and those songs and it was quite good but it really needs like a good agent to take it on and someone who is really willing to push it.
Glenn: Got ya. When you got together with Alan Lancaster in ‘Lancaster’s Bombers’, how was that for you and what would you say the highlight that you enjoyed most of doing that?
John: Oh well it made a nice change to work with Alan again but you see we (John and Gillie) didn’t want to live out there so it was only out there for 9 months and the band wasn’t gonna stay a band after that I don’t think. I think they carried on with Pete Hagenburg on drums but I think the best thing Alan ever did, that he left, was ‘The Party Boys’ because that was people from all different bands and, you know, it was like a ‘Diesel’ band in a way and he was earning extremely good money with that I think. He should have stayed with that but he didn’t. But then, you know, my homes in England and I didn’t want... I’ve been back to Australia since – February last when we did the Bon Scott (Tribute) – yeah it was good that.
Glenn: Yeah – Dave Evans informed me about that one. He said all you guys were playing together which I thought was pretty cool.
John: Yeah – it was good. It was February of 2008 and we were there for 11 days and I only had to play 5 songs and the weather was awesome – great you know.
John: And we just had a good time. All the bands that were on, you know everybody went back onto this fishing boat in the harbour and we just got treated like royalty. Everybody got fed and watered and it was a lovely warm evening with loads of wine and loads of food on this guys fishing boat.
John: It was brilliant.
Glenn: Yeah, you can’t fault that and get paid as well.
John: Yeah and flown out there and back business class it made it all worthwhile.
Glenn: Wow! Just a bit. I’d love to fly business class but forget it.
Glenn: I mean, they’re paying for the bl**dy flight and I’d wanna sit there and have all the leg room and that as I go to Florida twice a year.
Glenn: There you go. Talking of playing differnt countries, what places do you enjoy or have you enjoyed playing around the world and what’s stood out for you?
John: Well we’ve done Japan – we did Japan twice, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the States, Scandinavia, most of Europe and of course the Iron Curtain was up then when we did Yugoslavia. It was a buzz going to a different country. I think we enjoyed Ausatralia in those days because we played Groundwick then we did some dates in New Zealand then we did back into Australia and I think we went to Japan. Touring Japan on a bullet train is something out of this world in those days. Going to gigs at 100 miles per hour on a train.
Glenn: Ch**gh*ng Hell!
John: ...And the train would always run on time – never late and they had markings on the platforms and if you stood by that mark where your carriage number was, you’d find that was your carriage and you’d get on and there’s your seat, you know, and it was really well organised.
Glenn: Yeah – that’s brilliant. Do you have certain tours that stood out from either Quo days or current bands that you’ve been part of? Where you’ve thought, ‘Love to do that again’, ‘Love to go back there’?
John: Yeah – the States. I mean we toured with ZZ Top and those days were great days but Quo did so many tours. Most of them were all good. But at the end of the day I found if you do it too on all the time, all the time it becomes a bit boring.
John: That’s the trouble with touring.
Glenn: I know and in those days.. I’ve not long since read the ‘Excess All Areas’ with Rick & Francis and it’s like bl**dy hell – they were just continuous and it’s so demanding isn’t it. Obviously, it must have took it out of you so much – must have wore you out quite a bit.
John: Yeah and you don’t feel well and you just feel f*ck*ng exhausted and it’s just one thing I recommend but some people wanna push the envelope all the time. You’re only only human you know, you can’t expect to be doing it 24/7 you know?
Glenn: Yeah and then there’s all the jetlag as well on top of that.
Glenn: And it’s bad enough flying to America and coming back.
John: Yeah that’s right.
Glenn: For you – what would you say has been the worst regarding jetlag of touring are there any countries that have been worse than others?
John: I think going from, in the early days, going from London to Sydney and that was awful. But then I think a couple of times after we went the record company sent us 1st class on Pontus which was really nice and it made a difference. I think if you’re gonna travel that far it’s worth paying the extra money. Well the record company paid for it but I am sure we ended up paying for it in the end.
Glenn: Are you ever in touch with the keyboard player you had, ‘Roy Lynes’?
John: No, he lives in Australia somewhere. I’ve not spoken to him since he left the band.
Glenn: Wow – long time.
Glenn: What’s your thoughts now of the old psychedelic stuff you were doing? Do you still listen to that and like it or is it something that makes you cringe a bit and think, ‘Man, what were we doing?’
John: It’s just experimentation really and I think it paid off but I wouldn’t sit and listen to it now. But you see things were different in those days. It was erm.. if you listen to most records there’s always mistakes and things but then that’s rock ‘n roll innit?
John: I mean they are gonna re-do all the Beatles stuff and I’m just wondering what that’s gonna sound like. I think they should be left alone myself.
Glenn: Yeah totally. Would you say there are any drawbacks of being a drummer?
John: Not really (we laugh)
Glenn: Well you’re still doing it – full stop.
John: Yeah yeah.
Glenn: Yeah that’s it – can’t be that bad. Do you have a favourite drum stool?
John: No just an ordinary one.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of overall?
John: Being in a band I suppose.
Glenn: And still doing it.
John: Yep. Being part of Quo is something to be proud of I think.
Glenn: You had a book out a while ago..
Glenn: The ‘Coghlan & Quo’ book – how did that come about?
John: Well Steven Myatt found a publisher wanting to do the story on the past but we’ve actually got somebody interested in reissuing it.
Glenn: That’s good.
Glenn: Because I’d love to read that. I’m pleased about that. Do you think you’d ever write an autobiography from when you first started to where you are currently at now?
John: No I doubt it. No. I think you have to write everything in the start in your young days and keep a damn good diary like Bill Wyman did because you can’t remember it all.
Glenn: I hope all the gigs go well when you play over in Germany and that.
Glenn: What are you most looking forward to for that and would you say that fans are different in different countries to where they say here in the UK or America or whatever?
John: I think they’re more sort of rock ‘n’ roll orientated in Germany now. They are more sort of upfront than they are in England. It’s always been good in Germany and I’ve always liked playing there. I’ve got 2 concerts with some German musicians – 2 big shows – one in Dusseldorf and one in Bochum.
Glenn: You’re a President of a Dog Association as well aren’t you?
John: Oh yeah – Westie ReHoming.
Glenn: That’s it.
John: Yeah my Wife and I were asked to be patrons of it so we try and help them when we can.
Glenn: Do you think there’s any plans of you playing up in the South Yorkshire are or further up north for a gig.
John: Possibly – if there’s a gig up there. I’m playing at the Colne Blues Festival and that’s in August I think because I’m doing it with ‘King Earl Boogie Band’ and ‘Coghlan’s Quo’ – I’m doing 2 nights up there. There’s loads of bands on. We did it 2 years ago with ‘King Earl’ and it’s awesome. It’s near Burnley.
Glenn: Right – nice one – I’ll let you get off but it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
John: Yeah – no problem.
Glenn: So in the future you just wanna keep on doing what you’re doing?
Glenn: And enjoying it.
John: Yeah course.
Glenn: Excellent Mate.
John: Okay Mate.
Glenn: Well you take care and it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and I hope it all keeps going well for you mate.
John: Yeah thank you mate and I’ll speak to you soon. Thank you very much.
Glenn: Cheers Mate.
John: See ya mate.
Glenn: Take care.
John: Bye Bye.
Glenn: See ya.
A big thankyou to Gillie Coghlan, the Myspace & Official Website Webmaster and of course the man himself for a Fantastic Interview