Wishbone Ash are set to play ARC, Stockton this month so Jack Dodsworth caught up with guitarist Andy Powell to speak about their success, pre-gig rituals, and items that have been thrown on stage during a Wishbone Ash gig.
How excited are you for your UK tour? I know you’ve just finished touring over in the US…
Yeah, we’re feeling really good. We just did our first show last night and, with just coming off a tour, it’s like a homecoming heading back to the UK. We know so many of our fans here and we do this circuit a lot, so it’s a really nice feeling.
How different is it playing in the US compared to performing in the UK?
The audiences are just as similar: they’re enthusiastic and they know the catalogue, the band, etc. The biggest hurdle in the US is just the distance between shows – you can sometimes be on the road for 5/6 hours a day so you have to really pace yourself. In the UK, the only problem is the traffic.
Few bands have survived as long or achieved as much as the legendary Wishbone Ash, so what’s the story behind your success? And is there any advice you’d give to other bands?
I’m not sure every band wants to survive as long as us, but for me it was a surprise when we got this longevity. In terms of advice, it’s important to be adaptable. I don’t take success on any level for granted, I keep a sense of general humility and respect for the audiences. I don’t pander to the audience, but I respect the fact that they’ve come out to support our music. Bands of our standing might do 10 shows per tour, maybe bigger venues but fewer shows, whereas we’re doing between 25 – 30 shows per tour. The way that functions is an economic thing; you have to be playing most nights in a month and playing in small venues is something we love. Bands need to be playing all of the time, so my theory is get out there, play smaller venues, big venues, be flexible, have humility, and be proud of what you do – that’s the key.
What’s the most noticeable thing someone has yelled out during a show?
I’ve had strange things yelled out of course, but more shockingly we’ve had things thrown on stage and at me. One of the strangest things thrown on the stage was a dead swan at a show in Norfolk. That was back in the old days, but that was quite shocking.
How do you relax before going on stage? Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
Above all, I make sure my trouser flyers are done up. I do like quiet time before I go on stage though and I like to collect my thoughts; I don’t pick up a guitar and play before going on. Sometimes I might have a glass of wine just to chill myself down because I need to be relaxed because the day is very intense and I also have to look after my voice. I’ll be singing, so I have to take care of my vocals.
Finally, if you could cover any song, maybe live, which song would you cover?
Well, I’m a huge Solomon Burke fan, especially his song ‘Won’t You Give Him One More Chance.’ I’ve never played it live and it would be an ambition of mine to play it live someday.
Wishbone Ash play ARC, Stockton on Wednesday 15th November. Tickets, priced at £21.00 in advance, are available from arconline.co.uk.