An In-Depth Interview with Justin

Posted on 10/22/2012

1. Do you recall what the actual date was that you first joined the Moody Blues? 

I think it was in August I966 that I met with Mike Pinder about joining the band. I met Graeme and Ray after that, and John a couple of weeks later.

2. As fans patiently (?) await the release of your new album, can you share any hints about its content, and will it contain any surprises?

Please be a bit more patient – thank your patience with that so far. Yes, there are a couple of things that surprise me!

3. What guitars did you use in the making of that album? 

My Collings, my Gibson 335, the Tom Anderson, my D28 Martin, and my original 12 String – the one that eventually came home to me 45 years later.…… and some I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

4. Are there any plans that you know of, to add more European dates to the 2013 Spring UK tour? 

Amsterdam for sure.

5. As you will be returning to the London 02 for a second engagement next year, are you starting to miss playing the Royal Albert Hall?

I do miss playing the Albert Hall, it’s a fabulous gig – but the crew certainly does not like it – it is awkward and difficult. But I really like the O2 too.

6. Have you ever worked with anyone who has sang harmonies with you, that you feel sings intuitively what you would sing to harmonize with yourself?

Julie Raggins and Kenny Loggins.

7. Now that several of the supporting artists have been announced for the Moody Blues cruise (Stephen Bishop, Ambrosia, Asia, Greg Lake), are there any of those performers you might like to watch yourself? 

All of them – brilliant.

8. If the band were to do another future cruise at some point, where would you ideally pick for a route to take in the world, if the choice was totally up to you?

The Mediterranean please?

9. What song or songs have you written that you felt have been unduly overlooked?

Mmm – Vintage Wine now that you come to mention it maybe, but in truth I have never felt that way about any song. I’m just lucky anybody is listening!

10. The song you wrote for the 1983 sci-fi movie, “She,” (Eternal Woman), was never released in any other form other than the soundtrack of the movie itself (which contains bits of dialog from the movie running through some of the song, as the song is then relegated to the background). If you wanted to add this as a bonus track to a future solo release, would that song be available for your own use sans the dialog?

Good point – I’ll check it out with Rick.

11. Has Universal been able to locate the Blue Jays quad tapes yet?

Not to my knowledge.

12. A couple of years ago, you were asked about a professionally-recorded live Blue Jays concert tape that Bill Levenson (Chief Catalog Manager of Polygram at the time and later for Universal), had found in Polygram’s vaults during the course of his research for the Time Traveler box set. Tony Clarke was also said to have had a copy of this recording. Have you had any luck tracking that down? All that fans have had to hear all these years is a single abysmal audience recording from one of the concerts, and as awful as it is, there is enough to get a glimmer of just how wonderful a professional recording might sound.

Yes, just a few tracks survived, sadly not the whole show – they sound great. I hope Universal releases them.

13. In a few interviews in the past, you have recounted a story about a woman who left a note for you that you didn’t get in time to see her. At the time, you’d said you would have given anything to have seen her. Did you ever finally get to catch up with her?

No.

14. What guitar(s) were used in the song, “Broken Dreams?”

A nylon string Spanish guitar that I bought for less than a hundred Euros in Nice years ago. Lovely sound.

15. When you recorded a demo of Paul Bernath-penned tune, “Circus Of Sour,” (backed by The Shots), in the same basic time frame, Donovan Lietch recorded and released the song on one of the same record labels you worked with in your solo years (Pye). Did Donovan or the record label itself have anything to do with your decisions to either record it, and/or not release it?

I heard Donovan’s version and loved it. Mine was only a demo – his was a great record. Donovan is a friend.

16. “Fly Me High” was similarly first recorded as a demo with The Shots, presumably before you joined the Moodies with whom you properly recorded and released it. Was the timing of these 2 events so close that the demo was just left on a shelf as you scurried off, or did you first decide the version with The Shots didn’t match your vision for it?

Same as above answer – it was just a rough demo. The Moodies and Tony Clarke loved it, and Tony produced a great version.

17. in 1972, a band called “Temple Row” did a decent cover of King And Queen, have you ever heard it, and if so, what did you think of it? http://youtu.be/AsxmQdaMNXU

I was not aware of it before – nice. Thanks to you, and Temple Row.

18. Have you been in touch at all with Ed Bernstein since your last interview with him in 2007?

Ed is a good friend of the band – haven’t seen him for a while – maybe catch up in Vegas next time.

19. Since you and the band have been basically acting as your own ‘producers’ for many years, do you feel it’s unlikely you will ever work with an outside producer again?

Never say never.

20. On October 9th comes the release of a 3-CD set called, “The Genius Of Lionel Bart” that features your vocals on 4 songs (Now Is Forever, Abracadabra, How Small Can You Get, and Just Given Time). Could you tell us a bit about these songs, and were you called in to assist in any of its production or liner notes?

Oh – I wasn’t told. I’ll try and get hold of a copy.  Lionel and I were very close. I did a lot of demo’s for him, and loved every minute.

21. As your birthday is just around the corner, is there anything that you wish people wouldn’t gift you with, that ultimately you will get?

A card saying ‘age is just a number’!

22. (Nights In White Satin) I have enjoyed the original video of this. My question is there music played during this song that is apparently not showing musical instruments being played. How is the music produced? 

There was no original video, we only did some euro telly shows. Maybe this is one of them? 

23.  What is the most surprising encounter you ever had with a fan?

Dare I say nothing surprises me, and all the Moodies fans I have met are …. surprising and lovely!

24. I was wondering what you do with various items fans give you at Concerts. Such as photos of collections various collectables they may have etc.

They used to be kept with Ivy at Threshold – now they are in the road cases.

25. Its been widely reported that the Octave recording sessions were fraught with tension and disharmony.   It could have been concluded that the separation of several years was validated by the atmosphere of those sessions and that right thing to do would have been to retire the Moody Blues.   What was it that prompted the band to continue on despite this?  Did Mike’s exit resolve the problems, or was there simply a strong, mutual commitment by remaining four to continue on and work through the issues?

The last of your questions is probably closest to the truth.

26.  You have said “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” is your personal favorite of all the songs you’ve written, and that you love performing it.  Are there any plans to include the long-ago deleted verse that begins

The words that I remember

From my childhood still are true, etc, etc. ???

Oh yes, I should put that verse in again.

27.  To Our Children’s Children’s Children has an unusual ethereal, lonely feeling that runs through the entire length of the album. I mean the music, aside from the lyrics. To my knowledge, nothing like it has ever been recorded by anyone, before or since. It remains not only my favorite Moodies album, but conceivably my favorite rock album of all time. My question is, what do you think was responsible for the incredible, unique mood that characterized that particular album?

Tony Clarke’s motivation and Mike’s playing – and the pipe organ I got Decca to install, just for me to play!…. and the experiments with sounds that we all worked on.

28.  Songs you’ve written in earlier days such as “King and Queen,” “Cities,” “What Am I Doing Here,” “Long Summer Days,” and “Fly Me High,” have long remained among fan favorites. Have you ever had an itch to revive any of those in latter-day tours?

Good question. Wouldn’t it be nice? Our problem is what to drop from the set, not what we play. A different show every night?