The Guess Who

Al­most 50 years af­ter Amer­i­can Woman, they’re “grat­i­fied to know we’re get­ting through to new gen­er­a­tions.”

Classic Rock - - The Dirt -

The Guess Who have a de­cent claim to be the fore­fa­thers of Cana­dian rock. It’s nearly half a cen­tury since their clas­sic hit sin­gle Amer­i­can Woman, af­ter which their glory era ended rel­a­tively quickly, the band split­ting up five years later in 1975. Since then they’ve had nu­mer­ous re­unions, and the new line-up have just re­leased a new al­bum, The Fu­ture IS What It Used To Be. Which, says drum­mer Garry Peter­son, the sole orig­i­nal mem­ber re­main­ing, shows that there’s life in the band yet.

It’s been more than two decades since your pre­vi­ous al­bum, Lonely One. Why make a new record now? I would say this is the first true al­bum we’ve done since Power In The Mu­sic in 1975. All the other records since were recorded to please those in the band at the time who wanted to be seen as con­tem­po­rary, not be­cause we be­lieved in the songs we had. With this one we have the mu­si­cian­ship, the song­writ­ing skills and the rap­port to make it all work. Let’s call this the first proper Guess Who al­bum in over forty years.

How tough is it to live in the shadow of the band’s glory-days past?

What choice do we have? Like any band with a long his­tory, all you can hope to do is add more dis­tinc­tion to what you’ve al­ready achieved.

You have Tommy Shaw from Styx guest­ing on the al­bum. How did that come about?

Tommy does back­ing vo­cals on four songs, and he wanted to be in­volved. Will Evankovich, our guitarist, pro­duced the last Styx al­bum, The Mis­sion, and also pro­duced Tommy’s bluegrass al­bum [2011’s The Great Di­vide], and they’re good friends. I think our ba­sic rock’n’roll ap­proach de­lighted him, be­cause it’s so dif­fer­ent to what he does with Styx.

Do to­day’s Guess Who ap­peal to a young au­di­ence as well as older fans? We are at­tract­ing teenagers, and that’s be­cause our en­tire cat­a­logue is on­line, so kids find it easy to check us out. It’s grat­i­fy­ing to know we’re get­ting through to new gen­er­a­tions.

The new al­bum seems to have a nos­tal­gic feel. With­out ques­tion. We recorded in an ana­log fash­ion, to cap­ture the at­mos­phere of the six­ties and sev­en­ties. We’re also still pay­ing homage to bands like The Bea­tles, who in­spired us in the first place. The Bri­tish In­va­sion left a legacy that’s still at the heart of what we do. In our early days we even played loads of songs from Cliff Richard & The Shad­ows live. They were a huge in­flu­ence.

“We were one of the biggest bands in the world in the early sev­en­ties.”

If Bri­tish mu­sic means so much to the band, why have you never played live over here?

No idea. We were one of the biggest bands in the world dur­ing the early sev­en­ties, but UK pro­mot­ers ig­nored us.

The Guess Who were al­ways a di­verse band mu­si­cally.

We did ex­per­i­men­tal, chal­leng­ing things through­out our al­bums. Peo­ple who only know us for the hit sin­gles have no idea how artistically dar­ing we could be. Our la­bel, RCA, en­cour­aged us to try dif­fer­ent things. We gave them the hits, and that al­lowed us free­dom to be psy­che­delic, garage, pro­gres­sive, me­tal, any­thing. MD

The Fu­ture IS What It Used To Be is out now via Cleopa­tra Records.

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