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INTERVIEW WITH FRANCIS ROSSI/STATUS QUO AND VIVIAN


Vivian, a Swiss rock band and supporting act of Status Quo, has released a new single: "Wanna Go To Mars". And guess who does the vocals: Francis Rossi! We've met the frontmen of the two bands. Click here to read the interview.

hitparade.ch: The reason we're here is the new single "Wanna Go To Mars". How did that come about?
Francis Rossi: You want me to start? We bumped into Vivian after a gig. We had a look at the stage, saw them and thought: "Wow, they're good!" It was like watching a band that was obviously a very big band in Switzerland. We asked them to join us on the tour and then I would watch the sound check every day. Because I like the band, the material, but I can't watch the show. I was always really impressed with their attitude, their professionalism. They made sure that their amplifiers don't bleed into the microphone. They're really concerned about their sound.

hitparade.ch: Francis, why do you sing with them? Was it you, who liked "Wanna Go To Mars" and asked to sing with them or was it Vivian, who asked you?
Francis Rossi: I wrote them: "Please let me sing on your record!" No! We've been in contact over the years… Roger, you mailed me?
Roger Vivian: Yeah.
Francis Rossi: He sent me a message: "Oh you, baldy", he said. "Would you like to be on my record" and I said: "No!" In fact, I was quite flattered. Because his voice is better than mine. I sang a bit of the track: "Where all the Indians go". And he said: "No, it's aliens" - "But Indians sounds nice!" In the end, I did the vocal, sent it to Roger and he liked it.
Roger Vivian: We did!

hitparade.ch: Can you tell us something about the lyrics?
Roger Vivian: It's not about something I did, but about something I'd love to do: to forget everything and go to mars. It's my dream.
Francis Rossi: It could have been Indians: I wanna go to mars, where all the Indians go. I probably took too many drugs when I was younger.

hitparade.ch: Francis, do you know the album?
Francis Rossi: No! Well, I've heard it. But it's Vivian. I'm a fan of Vivian. I like what they do. Do I know every song backwards? No! I like the band, that's why I'm here. I'm not here because they're paying me lots of money or we're having a bit of a sexual relation. Well, a little bit of a sexual relation. But it's finished now.

hitparade.ch: I see. So it was Roger, who wanted you to cut the ponytail?
Francis Rossi: Yes, it was him. He said: "If you wanna sing with my band, it has to go!" I haven't had hair like this since I'm sixteen. I'm still fascinated with it. I keep looking at me. Weird. It's very weird.
Roger Vivian: To be honest, I didn't expect that Francis says yes.
Francis Rossi: You didn't expect me to say no.
Roger Vivian: I know Status Quo since I'm a kid…
Francis Rossi: That was a bad move, you shouldn't have said that.
Roger Vivian: To be on my record with Status Quo…
Francis Rossi: Stop now!
Roger Vivian: …is a special thing. And I think it fits together. That's what most of the people say. Are you with me?

hitparade.ch: Yes! The song has a rhythm that Status Quo fans like.
Roger Vivian: Right! But the song was not written because of Status Quo! The song was done before with my voice only. And then we thought: "The song fits to Status Quo, why don't we ask Francis?" I'm curious what the radio stations say.

hitparade.ch: We keep a list of radio stations and the songs they play.
Roger Vivian: Interesting. We always have a single, but the radio stations always play the other album tracks.
Francis Rossi: An airplay list? Very nice. Someone said to me, the Swiss market doesn't like guitar noises, apparently.
Roger Vivian: Even "Another Last Shot" was too hard for them, that's why they don't play it.

hitparade.ch: Your acoustic version of "The Only One" could be a song for the radio stations.
Roger Vivian: It's an eight years old song.

hitparade.ch: The fans we're calling for that song, right?
Roger Vivian: Yes, because they couldn't buy the song anymore. The album with "The Only One" was released in 2001 and it's out of stock now. Now, eight years later, the record company gives us back the right to re-record the song.

hitparade.ch: And the fans were calling for an acoustic version?
Roger Vivian: No, they just wanted us to re-record the song, because they couldn't buy it anymore. So we did an acoustic version.
Francis Rossi: If wherever I see somebody, I can't stop whistling their tunes. (Whistles "I Wanna Go To Mars). It should still be Indians.

hitparade.ch: As supporting act, do you play the normal set or some songs which Status Quo fans could like?
Roger Vivian: Normal set. Never change the set because of the people.
Francis Rossi: Right!
Roger Vivian: You should do what you love.
Francis Rossi: Right!
Roger Vivian: Maybe they like it or they don't.
Francis Rossi: You can't be adjusting.
Roger Vivian: Of course, as a supporting act of Status Quo, you can't play four or five acoustic songs.
Francis Rossi: It's your job to make it hard for me. I must have trouble following you. And I do! When I first saw them wherever it was…
Roger Vivian: Huttwil…
Francis Rossi: …we were good, but they were better.
Roger Vivian: But we give our best, that the Status Quo fans at least listen to us and we try to play the hardest songs.

hitparade.ch: Are you going to play "Catch Me"?
Roger Vivian: That's one of the best songs we have at the moment. It works pretty well live. It's always the last song.

hitparade.ch: What about the beginning of "Highway To Hell"?
Roger Vivian: That was a joke. We did that last tour, but we didn't do it on the Status Quo tour.
Francis Rossi: Good!

hitparade.ch: You played it in 2007.
Francis Rossi: This is a Vivian fan. He knows what you're doing.

hitparade.ch: Actually, I'm a Status Quo fan, but I know Vivian because of the Status Quo gigs.
Francis Rossi: Good!

hitparade.ch: Why don't you play the whole "Highway To Hell"? You can play covers. Status Quo shows it: Rockin' All Over The World, In The Army Now, Something 'Bout You Baby I Like, The Wanderer, Bye Bye Johnny…
Francis Rossi: (yawns) We see covers differently. And most people think "Rockin' All Over The World" is ours. People often say: "When you wrote Rockin' All Over The World…" - oh shit! And if it's a live TV show, I would ridicule this man if I said that we didn't write the song. So I just carry on or change the subject. You can't make him feel bad, but you also can't say that you wrote the song. That's life. At least they're talking to you.

hitparade.ch: But you'll have a problem in July, when you play with John Fogerty…
Francis Rossi: I'm not playing with him… Oh, I see what you mean. I think he's gonna come and sing it with us.

hitparade.ch: Cool.
Francis Rossi: Might be, might not be. I'm not very good at that either. I don't like the idea of jamming together. It's Status Quo. That doesn't seem right to me.

hitparade.ch: And you won't sing "Wanna Go To Mars" together.
Roger Vivian: No. Why?
Francis Rossi: I'm gonna walk on his stage and sing with him? That would fuck him up.
Roger Vivian: It would work! But it wouldn't be good for Status Quo. The fans wanna see him on stage when the curtain falls, and not with Vivian. But I would love to do it, don't understand me wrong.

hitparade.ch: Do you have any Vivian songs on your iPod, Roger?
Roger Vivian: Every song. I listen to them every day because I'm looking for faults. And when I find faults, I try to make it better on the next record.

hitparade.ch: And you, Francis? Do you have every Status Quo song on your iPod?
Francis Rossi: Yes. I put most of them last year. I thought I need to have the entire catalogue, certain times I need reference. All the solo stuff, all the demos ever done, everything.

hitparade.ch: The scooter single?
Francis Rossi: I dumped it the other week. But I don't mind this scooter thing! In the early seventies, when I said that I like this or that record, people said: "Oh no, you don't!" But I am just fucking like it, what's wrong with you? I don't wanna marry the act, I just like the record. I never liked the Pet Shop Boys. Very recently they had a single. I was in the bathroom, large bathroom, doing crosswords. And then… Pet Shop Boys on the radio. Fuck it, that's good. But I don't want to like it. So I had to send them a message: "Hi guys, sorry I have to admit this. I don't like admitting, but I love your new single." It was a shuffle (sings). Professionalism kicked him straight away and he said: "Why don't you do a new version of it?" And we don't even like each other. There have been so many things I liked over the years that are obviously not goof for my image to say I like it. I liked Abba. I was in Australia and had a cassette I could not stop playing (sings). A press person took me aside and said: "I heard that you like Abba. I don't think it's good for you to say you like Abba." What are you fucking talking about? Why can't I like Abba now?

Francis scribbles over his notepad.

hitparade.ch: Are you a painter or a musician?
Francis Rossi: When we were very young, Rick and I spent a lot of time with girls. They were twins. Be quite fun sometimes. And one of these girls that I used to know used to do this thing. And when it was finished it looks really fascinating. I like to do this. Just crap.

hitparade.ch: Roger, what's the rest of the album about? The Atmosphere, the sound? How can you describe it?
Roger Vivian: Vivian is a power live band. We try to be a power live band. And that's what we try to put on the album too.
Francis Rossi: I think you do that. When I fist played your other album…
Roger Vivian: That was a bad one…
Francis Rossi: Fuck! That did have energy. My impression was: Fuck, that's good.
Roger Vivian: I have this feeling on the new album. I think this is the first time we got it.
Francis Rossi: When a band has got a new product and they say: "Play the new single". I hate that. We had "Down Down" coming up…

hitparade.ch: And you still don't know the lyrics.
Francis Rossi: I forgot them one night and I had to write them down. Once you write them down, I've got to read them, I'll never remember them again. So we were in France and Bob came and said that "Down Down" was number one in England. They told us to play it live. And it wasn't working. Four years later it worked. And now, it's one of the most popular songs in the set. People said: "My little three years old loves your song!" Really? Fuck! I was twenty-five and this wasn't groovy. But now, I like the idea. Watch the little ones.

hitparade.ch: Which version of "The Only One" do you play live?
Roger Vivian: The acoustic version. But not in August.
Francis Rossi: I'd gonna say!
Roger Vivian: The acoustic version works really well. But we won't play it as supporting act of Status Quo. As supporting act of Razorlight, we played the acoustic version, people liked that. But Status Quo fans don't.
Francis Rossi: Maybe if it was a medium venue.
Roger Vivian: I think every band often changes the setlist.

hitparade.ch: Status Quo doesn't!
Roger Vivian: No?
Francis Rossi: We don't. Well, we changed it in October. But what do you drop? Recently we dropped "Don't Waste My Time".

hitparade.ch: Yes.
Francis Rossi: Say?

hitparade.ch: It's my favorite song.
Francis Rossi: The first time we didn't play it, people shouted: "Don't Waste My Time!" Oh, fuck me, we dropped it.

hitparade.ch: Francis, what are your plans and the bands plans? What about your solo album?
Francis Rossi: I'm in the middle of a solo album. I was supposed to be on tour with my own band. I was looking forward to doing that, but in fact, things have changed. I have to finish the album now. I have the vocal things to do. I've got three girls on stage with me. And other stuff…

hitparade.ch: What about Status Quo in China? Is it a secret or can you tell us something about it?
Francis Rossi: It's a secret. Well, there is something coming in China. It'll be good if it happends and if that does happen, there'll be an album from that... But it's a bit confusing. When I was younger, I said that I go to China. Oh, you're going to China? No, I don't. But you said, you're going to China. Well, I was? When I lie in my bed at six o'clock in the morning, I often think: Oh, I shouldn't have said I'll do this. That boy has too much hair. Get a haircut!

hitparade.ch: I'm proud: I'm talking with a rock legend and I am the one with long hair.
Francis Rossi: What you are saying is you have the same hair as your grandfather. Wonderful. You have great hair. I could kill you for that.
Roger Vivian: Do you play the guitar?

hitparade.ch: I used to play the keyboard, but I'm just beginning to learn playing guitar. I have a Telecaster now.
Francis Rossi: Do you? I have one as well. And I haven't had that Telecaster at home for at least thirty years.
Roger Vivian: The green one?

hitparade.ch: But it should be black, I think?
Francis Rossi: It was black. I did it black for a while, it was ugly. A sit there most night in this music room and when I finished I went to bed. And I never had this one at home before. A thought: I'll better take you to bed. Well, I'm not that kind of guitarist. I put it beside me, just in case somebody breaks into the house. Fuck the children, the wife, in case they take the Telecaster. It's just guitar…

Francis laughs because we are talking German with Roger Vivian.

hitparade.ch: Francis, you know Deutsch. Umleitung.
Francis Rossi: My favorite word. Another favorite word of mine I saw yesterday in England was "Kupplung". I love the word "Kupplung". And Gerdundula. The Scottish think it's an english word. No, it's three words: Gerd und Ula.
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