Published on April 30th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
George Thorogood On His New Vinyl Records & Recording For The Rounder Label
With over 15 million albums sold among their 20+ albums, George Thorogood & The Destroyers have over 40 years of touring experience to them. Songs like “Bad To The Bone” and “I Drink Alone” remain classics that you hear regularly, while Thorogood covers of “Move It On Over,” “Who Do You Love?” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” have arguably become the definitive versions of these songs. Although he is known to be one of the kings of boogie-blues, Thorogood opted to change it up last year with Party Of One, a full-length release that he recorded solo and acoustic.
Beyond U.S. live shows in April and May, Thorogood and band — which includes drummer Jeff Simon, bassist Billy Blough, guitarist Jim Suhler and saxophonist/pianist Buddy Leach — also have three new vinyl releases to tout. Via Universal Music Enterprises, this month brings the release of 1982’s Bad To The Bone, 1988’s Born To Be Bad, and the 2004 hits compilation 30 Years Of Rock. Previously, all three titles had not been available in LP form in years, and now all come in 180-gram remastered form.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Thorogood by phone last month. Far from a traditional interview subject, Thorogood is full of wit and absolutely keeps you on your toes. More on the Delaware native can be found online at www.georgethorogood.com.
The first thing I want to ask you about is the vinyl releases that you are scheduled to put out. Are you a vinyl guy or is this something the label came to you with?
George Thorogood: I kind of go both ways. I really dug it when the CDs first came out because they were small, you could put them in your pocket, people could travel with them so they could listen to them all the time before the iPods came out and all that. I thought that was pretty cool, because you know in the past when you want to listen to your record, you had to go home and listen to it, whereas when CDs came out you could listen to it right in the car. But I think the sound quality is better on the vinyl because the vinyl is soft. Neil Young said something interesting, he said he thinks that people don’t hear the music the same because the CDs are made out of some kind of metal that hits the bone just below your ear and the vinyl is soft like your ear drum, so you pick up the sound better. It is a more pure sound. He might have something there.
I’d imagine also it’s harder when you’re on the road to sell vinyl in terms of carrying the big boxes.
George Thorogood: You know it was, but at the time we didn’t know any different. That’s why it was made and CDs would be more economical, for traveling, for selling, not just for us but for the record companies as well. They didn’t have to pay for shipping them on planes and buses and trains and things like that. It was easier you know to fit 200 in a small box, where a record you could only put 50. You know I mean?
Speaking of records, your latest effort Party Of One was definitely a change of direction being your first acoustic album. Where did that idea come from exactly?
George Thorogood: It wasn’t really a change of direction, Darren, it was what I did before we put this band together. What I was doing in ’72 and ‘73 and I had plans to make that record at that time, but I didn’t have any record company that was interested in me, but that was what I wanted to do originally and then move on to playing electric music. So it was just a project that has been put on hold for a long time.
When you’re writing material, do you start off on acoustic often?
George Thorogood: It varies depending on the song, you know?
George Thorogood: Well yeah, because there was nothing else laying around, you know? It was a matter of I was just too lazy to plug the guitar in, so I just picked up the acoustic guitar and started playing it and adapted it to the band. I am sure a lot of songwriters are like that… I pick up the guitar and fool around, well this sounds like something, let us see if the band can play it.
Do you have another album in the works? Or are you good for a while because you put one out last year?
George Thorogood: We have a single coming out next month on Rounder Records.
Is the plan to do more single releases because that’s more with the times?
George Thorogood: I don’t know, this just came up, a couple of really groovy tunes that we wanted to get out there, get in the show. I didn’t want to spend all that money all the time digging up 11 other songs or 10 other songs that people don’t want to hear anyway and waste my time and my money. So I said when we play live, they only want to hear two or three new songs anyway, so what’s the point of going in here and banging my head against… I have been doing this thing for a very long time, it is only so many songs I know how to play. I am not like Bob Dylan, writing songs constantly, he is a genius and he is like Charlie Chaplin or [Pablo] Picasso. The creativity keeps flowing out of that guy and he is a one in a billion artist. Whereas I’ll say, “Listen man, how many different versions of Bo Diddley do you want to hear?”
Besides music and baseball, do you have any hobbies or passionates that you wish more people knew about?
George Thorogood: About me?
Sure, about you, yeah.
George Thorogood: Not really, I don’t really want them to know everything about me anyway. There is really nothing to know. I play the guitar, rock like man, I hope you get your money’s worth.
What’s the last concert that you went to for fun?
George Thorogood: Last time we played.
Is there any concert beside a Thorogood concert that you’ve gone to in the recent past that you went to for fun?
George Thorogood: I go to all of them for fun.
George Thorogood: That is my job. My job is to supply fun to the audience, that’s why they come to see us. There’s a good deal of pressure in that, you know what I mean? Like a good comic you know you have to go out there to deliver and I get the first two songs kicked off. I’ve got to read where the audience is going and then it starts to become fun. But I go there with that attitude, the day I go there without that attitude to have fun, then that is the day I stop.
Along those lines, I’m curious when you figured out that your career was going to be based on touring as opposed to singles.
George Thorogood: I don’t have any feeling about it one way or another… From the day I started, I knew that was, because most of the artists that I was looking at at that time, Elvin Bishop and John Hammond and people like that, the records were like almost secondary to going to appreciate what they do live. And then there are some bands that are both, like The Rolling Stones, they’re great recording artists, great live performing. But in some places, people just want to hear the records from and the show is all that, and then some people their records are like, “Yeah, they’re okay but you’ve got to see these people live, the J. Geils Band for instance.”
Sure, so in closing any last words for the kids?
George Thorogood: Don’t grow up to be like me.