John Lodge"We replace songs with similar ones to what's been removed," says a laughing John Lodge; bassist for the legendary rock band The Moody Blues. "We usually encore with "Ride My See-Saw" because that keeps the audience going and let's face it; aren't we all on a seesaw going up and down through life?" The above answers were to the question; "With so many hits; how do you choose an encore?" Lodge had no trouble responding immediately to the inquiry as he recently discussed the Moody Blues and their current tour which kicked off on March 19. The short tour will make two stops in New Jersey; first in Newark at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Prudential Hall on April 3 and then at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino on April 4. According to Lodge, the band is armed and ready to return to the States and they relish the opportunity to perform live. "The tour starts on March 19 and we have two dates in New Jersey then we are kind of all over before we end up at Red Rocks in Denver Colorado on May 10," he enthusiastically stated. "We are a live performing band and we truly do love performing live. We have various reasons to go on the road this time. We have a live box set from the Polydor years, we are working on a CD/DVD but really it's all about, for me anyway, performing for the fans. We continue to write and play Moody Blues music for the fans." Sprung from the ashes of several bands in John's native UK, he and Justin Hayward were asked to join the band in 1966; teaming up with Mike Pinder and Graeme Edge in the process. Little did he know and least of all expect, that decades later they would remain a force to reckon with in the music realm; selling more than fifty five million albums world wide since their inception. "I didn't expect it at all," said a laughing yet seemingly humbled lodge. "I really had no idea what our record sales were until one day I was on a train to London and my pal says to me, "See those out there?" He was pointing to houses as we went along. "You've sold so many records that just about every tenth house may have one of them." That kind of put it in perspective a bit and I thought to myself, "Wow, that's really something." I had no idea what the numbers were being bandied about and certainly never dreamed that I'd still be on tour today; I don't think anyone could ever foresee something like that." The band not only sold their music to millions to the tune of eighteen platinum records but also set the standard for other bands as their 1967 classic album "Days of Future Passed" which contained the mega-hits, "Nights In White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon," stayed on the Billboard charts for more than two years and is widely credited with being one of the first "Concept Albums." The "Moodies" as they're known, were also one of the first bands to incorporate a large orchestral presence or sound into their music; something that Lodge felt was only a natural progression. "What happened was, we had four singers. We had every vocal range covered and we had a flute in the mix and Mike on piano and he found the mellotron and the string sound. Mike had mastered it completely and the make up of the band was such that we followed harmonies and we began to do some intricate things with melody had begun experimenting somewhat; it just seemed like the logical next step to put the orchestral sound into what we were doing. We didn't know at the time of course what exactly we had done but it worked out nicely I'd say (laughs)." Like most bands, one thing or another, be it egos, desired time off or just creative differences leads to break ups or separations and the Moody Blues were no different. Lodge says it was a group decision to take a break from the rigors of the road and that they never really called it quits. "We were so young when we first started," he said pensively. "We started out as five of us and one roadie and we found ourselves with our own touring company, our own record company, record stores and it'd gotten so big. We felt that we were becoming what we weren't about really. We were losing touch and our personal identities so we took a break. We got together in L.A. to do "Octave" and to produce our live album "Live at The Royal Albert Hall," and we thought, "Why are we bothering with this five year old material?" So we decided that we'd like to try and make another record and we literally put it all back together with a phone call and we've been working together in one capacity or another ever since." Each member has also explored solo efforts and various other projects but the band was never far from their minds. Lodge's latest solo effort, "10,000 Light Years Ago" is based loosely on his time spent as a musician and his longevity with a nod to the Moody Blues. "My new record is sort of two fold. I need to keep busy, if you sit in the dark no one hears you; if you know what I mean. I try to remain viable and this album is a reflection of sorts, well at least the title is, to my time spent with the Moody Blues. 10,000 years is how it feels, it seems like a lifetime ago that we all started, that I started in music. Honestly? I never thought that I'd have a career in music, so yeah, it's all very amazing to me." Those going to any Moody blues show can expect a tour of their own of sorts as Lodge says the band likes to take its audiences on a ride that spans their entire career. "We like to set our concerts up like an album; take our audiences on a journey. We prefer to play songs from all of our different eras and run songs together like we would when piecing together an album. We do it that way so that when the audiences leave; we hope they want to come back!" Check out the Moody Blues complete with all tour and ticket information at www.moodybluestoday.com/tour and John Lodge can be found at www.johnlodge.com . That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!