Ten Years After 2005 - Interview
with the original - and still active - bass player Leo Lyons

- The first time I saw Ten Years After play live was in January 1971 in the Musikhalle in Hamburg, and in terms of power, precision and wild on-stage-persona you havenīt really changed at all, Leo.

LL: Actually; I remember the gig. We had a bomb scare towards the end of the show, but only we knew about it. Nobody ever told the audience. It was a funny feeling - playing while being aware of that, as I recall. But of course, as you can guess, nothing ever happened.

- During the 1990s, apart from the odd reunion tour with Alvin, Chick and Ric as Ten Years After, you were active with your other band, The Kick. I still own and play your album TOUGH TRIP THROUGH PARADISE.

LL: Oh yes, The Kick: we actually recorded three albums, of which we released two. One hasnīt come out yet, basically because I havenīt mixed it yet. Itīs unbelievable, but I have about 160 tracks in the vaults which havenīt come out yet. Writing and playing and recording is what I do, and whether it comes out is another matter.

- You live and work in the United States now, donīt you?

LL: I am based in Nashville, and for seven years I worked as a staff writer for country music there. I actually like country music very much. That arrangement meant I was on a salary, with a bonus if something sold well. At the time, I also played bass in a country band, which was very interesting. We played the chicken-in-a-basket circuit there around Tennessee and Texas, doing Blues in fact, but I soon realized that I could not really afford playing with them. I used to leave with the band on a Thursday and return the following Monday morning at four oīclock in the morning, completely spaced out. I wasnīt fit to go back into the studios. So this just didnīt correspond with my writing and my engineering.

- Did you ever create something like a big seller?

LL: No, I never had a chart hit, only minor things. Money wise, it works out because I always do the engineering as well. Thatīs my main craft. Anyway, I left the country band in order to concentrate on the process of writing and studio work, when somebody approached me about joining a covers band. Now in spite of previous complications, this sounded right from the organisational point of view. The drummer was going to pick me up for gigs in cities west of Nashville, and I live in the west just outside of Nashville. So it was always going to be an easy ride, no hassle trips to Philadelphia or Cincinatti or New York. I had never been in a covers band, so I had no idea about the Allman Brothers, or Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. Well, I had heard their stuff on the radio, but I had never played it. So with this group, we played all the Honky Tonks, and this is a great way of gigging, because you can tell how good you are by the number of people getting on the dancefloor.

- It sounds like a nice mix of activities: a stable life combined with road pleasures.

LL: Indeed, but all this has now been taken over by the increased activities of Ten Years After. Hopefully, weīre going to play the States in August - some of the dates have already been confirmed and it should all fall into place. In November 2004, we recorded a double live album in Augsburg, Germany, ROAD WORKS. Itīs a bit of everything: We did the legendary numbers that people want to hear, we played things from our studio album NOW, and we also included a couple of new songs that we havenīt recorded yet. So thereīs something for everybody on this set, hopefully.

- Was there a lot of major label interest?

LL: We donīt go with a major company: we sell contingents to different distributors here in Europe. In America, we canīt do it the same way. There, itīs a matter of who will pay you in the end. So our best bet may be to release stuff ourselves and market it, via our concerts for example. NOW will come out in June-July in the USA.

- (By then, there was a backstage discussion about the 1972 Ten Years After sessions in Cap Ferrat. Originally, the plan had been to record an entire album down there, but in the end, only the tracks "Convention Prevention" and "You Canīt Win Them All" were attempted there.)

LL: The album ROCK`N`ROLL MUSIC TO THE WORLD - well, I know it says on the cover that we recorded two tracks at Cap Ferrat in the South of France with the Rolling Stones mobile unit. But as far as I can remember, the sessions there were a complete disaster, and we then recorded mainly in Londonīs Olympic. The thing in France was, in between one person sleeping in, another person going home early and somebody else out sightseeing, you could never get any work done, you couldnīt manage to record anything. Such a project is possible if the discipline is there, but it just wasnīt. In the end, we finished up recording the bulk of the tracks at Olympic Studios in Barnes, London..


Uli Twelker, April 2005

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