After 38 years, the bassist and singer has released his second solo album. He and the Moody Blues play two san Diego concerts over the next 8 days.
Few rock stars can beat John Lodge when it comes to taking their time.
In 1977, 11 years after he joined The Moody Blues, the bassist and singer made his debut solo album, “Natural Avenue.” Now, four decades later, he’s released his second solo album, the aptly titled “10,000 Light Years Ago.” Why such a long gap?
“Um, aah,” replied Lodge, who performs here with the Moody Blues Saturday at Pechanga and Wednesday at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. (Ticket information for both concerts appears at the conclusion of this article.)
“Almost immediately after ‘Natural Avenue,’ we recorded the (1978) Moody Blues’ album, ‘Octave.’ And, every couple of years, I’ve been writing and recording with the Moody Blues. That is what I wanted to do; I am a Moody Blue... But we haven’t recorded an album in, what, 10 years?”
Eight songs strong, “10,000 Light Years Ago” finds Lodge reflecting — lyrically and musically — on his more than 50 years as a musician. The ‘70s styled album reunites him with keyboardist Mike Pinder and flutist Ray Thomas, who left The Moody Blues in 1978 and 2002, respectively.
“When it came to writing the album, it’s about: ‘Here I am today,’ how I got here, and all the influences I’ve had over the years,” noted Lodge, 69.
Thos influences include, on the gently swinging ballad, “Love Passed Me By,” European jazz legends Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.
“One of the first albums I was ever given was by Django and Stéphane,” said Lodge, who earned a degree in engineering before he joined The Moody Blues in 1966. “And when we started touring Europe in the late ‘60s, we did a lot of concerts with Stéphane. It was a great combination.”
Bonus Q&A with John Lodge
Q: Chris Speeding played guitar on your “Natural Avenue” album in 1977, and now he's featured on your new album, “10,000 Light Years Ago.” Can I assume that's no coincidence?
A: Yeah. I always liked Chris' guitar work. He played with Bryan Ferry and comes from the same generation as me, a rock 'n' roll era. He made a fantastic album, years ago, with Robert Gordon. And, also, Chris plays a lot of Cliff Gallup, Gene Vincent's guitarist. So when I discussed these (new) songs with Chris, and said: 'It needs Cliff Gallup or Scotty Moore (style guitar-playing), he knew exactly what I was talking about. And he has the ability to throw in a blue note here and there, which tweaks an emotion that I love. When I decided to make the (new) album, he was the first person I wanted to be involved with.
Q: The CD booklet for “10,000 Light Years Ago" has two very nice pictures of you, one as a teenager, one recent, and you're holding the same Fender Precision bass guitar in both.
A: That bass is my very first real bass. I bought it in 1960. It was in the window of Jack Woodruffe, a music instrument store in central Birmingham, I never knew what electric bass was before that; I had been playing all my bass parts on the bottom four strings of an electric guitar. I never knew what an electric bass was until I saw (the band) The Treniers, and saw a guy playing what I thought was a Fender Telecaster, but I realized it had only four strings. I went into Jack Woodruffe's in Birmingham. As budding musicians, we'd all go in music instrument shops and share the latest chords we'd learned. In the window was a sign that said: 'Direct from Amercia, a Fender Precision sunburst bass. I thought: "Yes! That’s it!" I took the bus home and said to my father: "You've got to come with me, please." He came with me and signed the papers, and I was the proud owner of a Fender Precision. That bass has been on nearly every recording I've made.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE.