Pete Townshend is giving every indication that the Who‘s 2019 self-titled set will not be the band’s finale. Townshend is featured as the cover story for the August issue of Guitar Player magazine and spoke about the prospects for yet another Who album with Roger Daltrey.
Townshend explained, “Even to this day, whenever I ring Roger up and I say, y’know, ‘Shall we try to make another record?,’ he says, ‘You’ve got another bloody concept?’ I think also he doesn’t really want to be selling ideas that either are vague or evolving, that are unfinished. But I’m still at a place now where I want to be gambling and taking chances as a studio composer and writer. It could be tricky. And I think it’s partly because we’re getting older, and partly because this lockdown has left us flailing quite a bit.”
Regarding a return to the road after both the Who and Daltrey’s solo shows were sidelined by the pandemic and its aftermath, Townshend revealed, “I think Roger just wants to get out and use his voice. And so it feels to me like what he’ll want to do is play catch-up with touring, which is very much what we did after I took a great long sabbatical from the Who from the end of ’82 right through to ’96, pretty much. But I don’t know the extent to which I will be willing to tour the way we have been touring in recent years, although I have been finding it easy and I’ve been finding it interesting.”
Townshend went on to talk about what it entails for him and Daltrey to join forces and create a new Who album: “As far as a new record, it does take quite a lot of time to put together the 20 or 30 songs that are needed for both Roger and I and any producer that we might be working with to cherry-pick the ones that fit the times. Because you write the songs, and then two years later you’re putting them all out, and you just hope that you’re going to hit the mood of the moment. A lot of artists are now writing songs at home, recording them at home and putting them out within weeks. But our process is the old-fashioned way, and it does take a long time. So, I don’t know, but I am optimistic. And I’m certainly full of ideas.”
Pete Townshend acknowledges how strange it is for two men — now in their 70’s — who have been so closely tied creatively since their teenage years, to remain together yet not be particularly close: “Y’know, my wife often says, ‘Y’know, there’s some kind of karmic thing going on there, because, y’know, you don’t spend very much time together, you don’t talk about what you do, and you just kind of get together when you’re thrown together to do a tour — and then you do your thing.’ And I think that’s they way it’s been for a very long time — and probably since the beginning, y’know? So, we do often feel like half-a-band.”
When we recently pressed Roger Daltrey about the new Who music Pete Townshend has been working on for the band during lockdown, Daltrey sounded positive — but still cryptic: “We did have a conversation about something — I don’t wanna talk about it, ’cause it might never happen. It sounded very promising and the only person that could do it would be Pete, and if he writes it, let’s see where we are. But, I mean, I don’t know what the point of a new Who album would be? I mean, I ended up. . . the last Who album (laughs) cost me money to make (laughs) — I don’t know if I’m gonna carry on for that very long, because at the moment, y’know, we’re all out of work. I’ve got savings, but they won’t last forever. We’re much better off than most, but it won’t go on forever and I can’t go on paying to make music. That’s a fool’s game, y’know?”