MICK RALPHS : INTERVIEW Pt.3

Donrad: Are you still afraid to fly?

Mick: I'm afraid to crash. I've had a few rough experiences in my early days in traveling around America. In my Mott days- in the three flights a day -

sort of thing- it was all Alleghany Airlines, Piedmont and Eastern. It was like "...oops, the one you were just going to catch isn't coming in, it just hit a mountain."

It's really a lot safer than it ever was- though at the moment I don't know if it is- but I mean before THAT (the world trade center attacks) happened. I'm sure it is fine, it's just that I've done so much of it I just get nervous about it all. It's probably like if you're in a car with a wreckless driver and you have to keep going somewhere with him, you think "can I just get out now and have a break here?"

Donrad: Do you still prefer to take the bus when you're touring?

Mick: We do when we tour, that's all we ever travel by. I came back from one American tour- out of many-  on the Queen Elizebeth (the ship), which like aftertwo days got really boring. I would think "I could be home now if I'd have been on a plane!" But I was scared of heights and scared of depth (laughs).

Donrad: What songs of yours are you personallyproudest of?

Mick: Ummmmmm.... I suppose something like "Ready For Love" which I did in the Mott days and then it went through to Bad Company and it still goes down so well at gigs and people still love it, which is very nice for me as a writer. It still has a lot of emotion and it's very nice that people think that way of it. I've got a lot of new songs that I wish people felt the same way about, but they haven't heard them yet. Maybe next time. Maybe they won't be as good, I don't know... it's a different time isn't it?

Donrad: Oh yeah. What's the chance of you getting back with the original Bad Company again?

Mick: Oh, every chance in the world. I speak to Paul quite a lot. I want to do a studio album and he says "well, you write another 'Can't Get Enough' and I'll be there." I say "well I hear that, but I'm older now and three chords don't seem to work backwards" (laughs). So it's difficult, you can't really do that, but I know what he means, something of that calibre of whatever it is.

I send him songs all the time and he says "yeah, well that's ok and that's ok," but I know what he means. He's looking for something solid gold. I've written a lot of songs and Bad Company songs are like a narrow musical parameter if you like. Then there's all the other stuff I like, jazz and blues. Then there's classical and it's like I wallow into that sometimes. Paul says "put your Bad Company hat on and come up with a corker!" Sometimes you can work toward it but sometimes it's hard. You just find yourself thinking like "hang on, this is just not flowing." It's like I'm really trying to make this happen and it's not happening, you know what I mean?

Donrad: Oh yeah, trends change.

Mick: Yeah. It's like you've got to write a letter to your auntie that sent you a scarf and you keep thinking "I must do it," but you never do. Then one day you just rattle it off and you think "well, it wasn't that difficult after all." I just think that if something good like that's going to come along,it'll come and I'll just capture it rather than dwelling on it and trying to make it happen... it'll never happen that way.

That's what I find with any good song, you just have to let it happen. Out of about twenty songs you might write one of any significance. It might be thirty or forty, but I just keep churning them out and churning them out in hope that one of them will stick. I just go through the process of putting down these ideas as they come to me rather than taking one and spending hours on it. If something comes and it comes back to you, then it's a good idea.

Donrad: I've always liked the song "Violence" that you did with Mott The Hoople.

Mick: Yeah!

Donrad: "Drivin' Sister" too...

Mick: Yeah! That's cool, thank you. Well now I suppose it's interesting for people now to hear the instrumental stuff that I've done (on the new album "It's All Good"). It's just another way of expressing myself.

Donrad: I love it. It's completely different. I didn't know what to expect, it reminded me of some earlier Jeff Beck music.

Mick: Ahhhhhh..... cool! I like that. It's just a little bit different and it's something that was done without too much care and attention, so I think it's kind of wild but it'll do. People either like it or they don't. It's no big deal, but hopefully people will like it and see a different side of me and that's the whole point really.

Donrad: What were some of your favourite tours?

Mick: I would have to say- I suppose because of one's age- the last tour we did was great, the (Bad Company) "Reformation Tour." It encapsulated all the tours we did before, but in one tour if you know what I mean? Then you realized why you didn't tour with that person for twenty years, because he was such a pain-in-the-ass he's forgotten (laughs). But we're all like that I'm sure to each other. As you get older you tend to think "oh he's ok, really." You know he's a dick, but he's ok. It's not like "he's a dick and I want to kill him!" It's like "he's a dick, but alright... I like him." You think "well I'm stuck with this guy, so what the hell?" You know it works so let's get on with it.

Donrad: How did you like Mott The Hooples' "Rock n'Roll Circus" tour?

Mick: That was different. That was good. Funny that the Mott things were kind of in a different sort of area than Bad Company. Bad Company was a lot more serious and a different kind of vibe. Mott The Hoople was much more radical, free form, obtuse... you know? Not artistic but whatever, it was more like "whatever" whereas Bad Company was pretty much more cut and dried R&B/Rock you know? Both are good. I enjoyed both. I've still got that wild Mott streak in me, but I've also got the R&B in me so one has to balance the other one way or another.

Donrad: On the "Rock n' Roll Circus" tour I heard you had a fire eater. Where on earth did you find him?

Mick: Well we had a knife thrower and I went to the board on the last gig. He said "well... are you sure you want to do this?" I said "what the hell? You haven't stuck a knife in your wife yet, obviously you like me a little bit better than her, so miss a bit further" (laughs). Anyway I did it and it was like "did I do that? What an idiot I am."

Donrad: Yeah. What were you thinking?

Mick: I don't know, I just do things. I used to ride motocross. I still have the bike and I took it out the other day because my eldest son- who's now thirteen- wants to learn how to ride it and I'm showing him. I thought "geez... did I really ride this thing? I must be nuts, it's like a wild beast!"

Donrad: But you were younger then.

Mick: Oh yeah. Back in my heyday, I used to come off tour and go thundering around the motocross course with my friends. It was like... crazy. As you get older you think "I maybe shouldn't be doing this" but you do it because you want to impress your son. Then you fall off and you think "OUCH!" Then you pretendit doesn't hurt but it god it does. It's bad enough getting old, the worse bit is growing up, you know what I mean? (laughs)

Mick: So where are you calling from?

Donrad: Michigan

Mick: Well be sure you say hello to everybody out there that's aware of Bad Company and Mott The Hoople.

Donrad: Will do.

Donrad: How do you compare Angel Air records with other record companies?

Mick: I suppose they're more in tune. They're a small company but the guy that runs it (Peter Purnell) is cool because he says "Oh, I can't sign Bad Company,there's no money involved here but if you've got some songs or something you did a couple of years ago and you revolve back into Mott The Hoople and you're involved, we'll put it out and see what happens."

There's no advances, there's no money you know? I just gave him the record I made and he gave me a thing that said he agrees to pay me whatever, whenever itcomes in. If it doesn't sell then I don't get any money- neither does he, so it's not like a big deal record company where you sign on the dotted line and you're committed to go on tour tour, etc. I think it's cool because with the internet you can just chuck stuff out and on his site (www.angelair.force9.co.uk) he can play a bit of a track if he wants to. All the records or CD's he's released (on Angel Air) are spin-offs of name bands. The internet society I've figured is why Mott the Hoople's so big again. They're anxious and love anything to do with Mott andthey spread the gospel around the internet like "you know Mick Ralphs has done a solo album?.... cool!" Nobody would really know if it wasn't for the internet and he's just latched onto that which is cool. Angel Air is just saying "hey, if you're interested there's this and that." There's fans saying "well I'll listen to that, that might be cool!" Where a regular record company wouldn't put it out because they'd want you to go in and re-record it, then it wouldn't sound any good anyway. They'd say "oh well, you know you can't put that out, you did it at home. You did everything yourself, not good enough." Then suddenly it's a different deal.

Donrad: I noticed in the Mott The Hoople release of "Two Miles From Live Heaven" (Angel Air Records) that some of the tracks came from your personal collection.

Mick: Yes. That's when my mother passed away. I had to go through her stuff and I found a lot of Mott stuff that was like brand new that she'd saved...photographs, albums, tapes. It was quite amazing and I passed them along to Peter Purnell at Angel Air, which he's combined that with some stuff and put them out. There's more stuff here. We've recently moved out and you know the box syndrome in the garage, you know... boxes of shit.

There's a box that says "tapes" on it and I went in there the other day and it's all cold and damp and it says "Mott The Hoople Live at the BBC" and had a bit of tape hanging out of the box and I'm thinking "this could be quite valuable." Then underneath it is Bad Company master mixes that were never used from the first album.

Donrad: Will the Mott The Hoople at the BBC ever come out?

Mick: Well I think so. What Peter wants me to do is when I get sorted, is to go through the stuff then send it on to him and he'll go through it and figure out what he can use. I found a cassette the other day which was a live gig from Ft. Wayne, Indiana recorded with a hand held cassette recorder on top of my amp. So naturally the guitar sounds pretty damned good! But you can't hear anything else. I think I used to do it so I could listen to it after the gig to see if you could make anything out of it. If you could really have some serious discussion about it, but back at the hotel all you could hear would be droning guitar. But that's the sort of thing they would put out now. It's like on the cassette it says Ft. Wayne, Indiana and there's us talking going to the gig in a van, stuff that people would probably like to hear now.

Donrad: Was there ever any film of Mott The Hoople live other than the Don Kirshner's rock concert footage?

Mick: I don't know. I know there was a guy named Richard Weaver that was an old friend of ours who did some filming for us years ago. Whatever happened to that I don't know, but if you could unearth that it would be great wouldn't it? There was some TV stuff we did. A show called "Big Club" in Germany a place called Breman and that was a regular kind of - like a "Top of the Pops" show. A weekly pop show. All the British bands did that show and I've seen that,  someone taped it and got it to me, it's pretty tacky but it's Mott The Hoople. There's a "Top of the Pops" thing we did, with me looking incredibly thin with like platform boots on and not much else (laughs).

Donrad: What song did you play on that "All The Young Dudes?"

Mick: Yes. We did a heck of a lot of stuff for that. That was our big break really, before that we couldn't get arrested (laughs).

Donrad: I read Ian Hunters book, it was very interesting.

Mick: Yeah. He's good. He's a good kid Ian. He's a pretty straight shooter.

Donrad: I've interviewed him before.

Mick: Yeah. He's interesting. Anyway, I've got to go. I've got another guy calling. It's been lovely to talk with you and be sure and tell all the people in Michigan and all over the states that I still think about them and appreciate their support.

Donrad: Any plans on visiting the states in the near future?

Mick: I might be doing some stuff with the original Bad Company. Hopefully we'll go into the studio and do some recording or some dates in this country (England), but we'll have to see. It's up to Paul Rodgers... that short little gimp (laughs). My wife's going "you can't say that!" Of course I can say it. I know him very well. He knows I don't mean it...he's a good kid.

Donrad: Thanks again for your time.

Mick: Thank you very much... lotsa love. Bye.

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