Justin Hayward Answers more of YOUR questions…

Posted on 04/03/2014
Justin Hayward

Justin Hayward – Live with The Moody Blues

Here’s the latest installment of a Q&A with Justin…

1. You have often said that you write songs from the heart. Would you say that was true of every song you wrote?

There were a few I wrote before Fly Me High that I didn’t think worked. But Decca gave me the freedom and encouragement to do what I wanted – so after that, from’67 onwards,  I was true to my own emotions.

2. What best conveys emotion, lyrics or music?

Music first, then the lyric must express that inner feeling.

3. Many singers describe their voices as instruments, when did you first consider yours a viable option right alongside your stringed friends for expressing the music inside of you?

It slowly dawned on me that I could use my voice to express myself around ‘Fly Me High’.

4. Did singing come naturally for you from the beginning, or was it something you felt you worked on before reaching its full potential?

I never thought deeply about how to sing, I just did what I felt worked. I’m still working on it. I’m very fortunate to have a ‘recognisable voice’ – just an anatomical bit of luck, nothing more.

5. Before you officially strummed or uttered your first note in the course of becoming a career-bent musician, how did you express your early fascination with music? Air guitar? Singing in the shower? A tapping toe nobody saw?

What – when I was a little boy? Don’t be daft. We didn’t have a shower! And air guitar wasn’t invented!

6. It often takes singers considerable time early in their careers before feeling they have really gotten control of their voices, was there a point where you felt your singing was really coming out the way you wanted it to?

7. Is there any musical instrument you feel best approximates the expressive range and flexibility of the human voice?

Good question – probably not. (Same answer for question 6)

8. As a solo artist in the studio, what was the first song you overdubbed your own vocals, and how much did that affect how you approached recording your songs thereafter?

I think you mean harmonizing with myself, or double tracking? Anyway, I have always sung the harmonies on my songs and on the other guy’s songs for that matter – from the earliest Moodies recordings, and before (on my rather dodgy solo recordings).  If there is a harmony there I’m singing it. I always enjoyed and understood harmonies and I get a great deal of pleasure from working out the harmonies to the lead line. I understand them – so it was just quicker to sing them myself instead of teaching anybody else how to do it.

In the early Moodies recordings it was a nice blend to have the four of us singing a harmony each. But since the beginning, when a ‘close harmony’ was needed I did it myself. – Quicker and more satisfying.

9. Was there a time in your career that you felt you were really pushing the limits of your guitar(s)?

Derek Varnals got the best guitar sound out of my gear (335 with an AC30, or my 335 and Marshall Mains Fuzz). And he probably got the best acoustic sound too – along with Francis Gavet and Alberto.

10. Have you ever written a song (published or non-published) that pays tribute to the guitar?

Blue Guitar’ ?

11. Was there ever a technical question you wished you could’ve asked Buddy Holly?

I don’t have those kinds of thoughts. I was interested to see that his Strat was worn at the 5th fret though, so I knew he used a capo on a few songs.

12. Most guitar players have special relationships that grow over time with their instruments, are there any guitars that you developed an instant relationship with, right out of the case, or can that only happen after you’ve had it him for a while?

I only have guitars that are (were?) ‘instant’ for me.

13. When did you first realize how you felt about guitars, and which type inspired that most, electric or acoustic?

I was in love with guitars since I was about 7 or 8 years old – from the first time I saw a picture of one or heard it on the radio.

14. You are known for your quick wit and humour in select situations, is there anyone in your life that seemed to bring that side of you to the forefront?

Thanks – but like you, I often think of the right thing to say, or a snappy comeback, the day after!

15. As your next solo tour approaches, do you plan to perform mostly the same songs as the previous tour?

Not sure yet.

16. What other ways might this new tour differ from the last one?

Er… not sure yet.

17. Are you getting closer to being able to announce a release date for your highly anticipated live solo DVD?

It’s Eagle Rock’s DVD not mine, so they will announce the release – which I will pass on as soon as I know.

18. It was recently mentioned that the new DVD will be also produced on Blu-Ray (thank you!), have you explored the growing new ‘next’ video format, usually referred to as Ultra HD?

Um…. No….I mean yes…. Oh I don’t know.

19. With the 2nd Moodies Cruise ‘coming soon to a horizon near you’, what portion of it are you most looking forward to?

I hope I find out the ‘thrusters’ are silent (unlike last time).

20. We know Nights In White Satin has long legs, but at this time in your career, what song have you written that you feel might deserve those legs more?

That’s like saying ‘who is the favourite person?’– impossible. Fact is, I don’t see songs that way.

21. Do you remember the first time you held a guitar in your hands?

I remember holding ‘my own’ first guitar when I was 10 …. magic.

22. Of all the songs on your new album, “Spirits of the Western Sky”, which one do you think has the biggest story to tell and why?

‘The Western Sky’. Too complicated to explain. Sorry to not give hard facts in reply to these types of ‘favourite’ and ‘please explain’ questions. Songs are not a way of revealing secrets, or therapy.

23. Is there any truth to the story that keeps popping up that it was Tony Clarke’s ‘insistence’ that your song “Tuesday Afternoon” have the additional words “(Forever Afternoon)” added to its title?

None.  It had nothing to do with Tony. He was a Decca staff producer then. It was at the insistence of Michael Barclay, one of the ‘executive’ producers.  I think Barclay got a share of the royalties too, although Decca have never confirmed or denied his share. Why should they?

24. Is there any possibility of a re-issue of your solo cd “Moving Mountains” or your dvds of your solo show, “Live in San Juan Capistrano” and “An Audience with Justin Hayward” (you acoustic at Cleveland Hall of Fame). So many newer fans are desperately trying to find copies of these and it’s nearly impossible.

Didn’t know they were unavailable. When I get home I’ll look into that.

25. Who taught you how to drive a car?

My brother and I both learned to drive on an old car (a wreck) that was in our garden when we were children. And a local farmer let me drive the tractor (life was different then). I passed my test as soon as was old enough to take it, at 17 years old in the UK. I had two lessons from an instructor, as the important thing was not that you knew how to drive, it was about what to expect in the examiners questions about the Highway Code.

26. Have you seen the UK tv series with the excellent UK actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes?

Yes. A bit daft?

27. Have you any disciplined ritual the night before or in the hours right before a performance?

No.   Julie’s vocal warm up is the best and sometimes we do it together, but she has a great discipline… unlike me.

28. Any tips to vocalists on what you do to warm up your voice?

Try singing.

29. How would you describe a perfect work environment for songwriting?

Solitude.

30. Thinking back years ago when you changed your mind at the last moment about doing that commercial advertisement for “Nights In White Satin” perfume, wasn’t it?  — would you still feel the same about it today?

I wouldn’t even think about doing it now.

31. If there were to be an alcoholic drink named after you, what would be its ingredients?

Ha!

32. How did you find the excellent Alberto Parodi who seems to work so well with you?

I worked for Phil Palmer on a movie that Phil did in Italy at Alberto’s studio in 1993/4. Alberto and I became firm friends and colleagues after that – although he didn’t engineer my recordings at the beginning… then I slowly discovered he was miles better than all those other guys (big shot engineers) who would pitch up at the studio with different producers.

33. One critic wrote, in a complimentary manner, that “Spirits of the Western Sky” cannot be pigeon-holed into one specific musical genre and that you find yourself referring to it as simply “Justin Hayward music”.   Do you approve?

Wouldn’t you? That’s very nice….I think.

34. Are you anywhere nearly as excited as we are about your upcoming longer USA solo tour?  Do you foresee that you may be doing any solo gigs in the UK or Europe in the near future?

I haven’t been asked by any agents or promoters to do UK or Europe gigs – yet….I would love to do some though.

35. What is the most valued quality in a friend?  in a woman?

Don’t you know? I have to hope you find that out for yourself.

36. When you look at the whole of your work as a songwriter, do you see large themes that characterize it or maybe distinct musical ideas that define certain eras?

I thought about this question for several minutes…..then I gave up.

37. Do you prefer — a picnic or a nice restaurant?

Both are lovely of course….when the time is right.

38. Do you feel your guitar playing has changed over the years?

I’m not sure about the answer to this one either. Sorry.

39. Is that ethereal humming at the beginning of the studio recording of “Are You Sitting Comfortably” you?

Yes. It’s me just trying out an idea on the original on the acoustic guitar track. I didn’t think it would be picked up by Derek’s mic – but we liked it, so me, Ray, Tony and Derek left it in. We were the only ones there.

40. Are you a daydreamer or a night dreamer?

A school report once said ‘spends his time looking out of the window and dreaming – could do better’.

41. Are you more concerned with doing things right or doing the right things?

Don’t know what that means. Nice sentence though.

42. When you write a song how much focus do you put on your intended audience?

I think… I think about it when the song is done.

43. Were you briefly seen in a 1972 video of The Four Tops performing “A Simple Game”?

I played guitar on the record (and wrote the B side with Tony Clarke – both of us under assumed names) – I don’t remember a video….Is there one?

44. Thoreau once said that every writer’s duty was to give “first and last, a simple and sincere account of their own life.” Do you feel his sage words have been applied to your songwriting?

Darn! Another thing I’ll have to think about when I write. Didn’t see that one coming.

45. Is there anyone you consider to be a true visionary?

Trevor Huddleston.

46. France or Italy?

Both are beautiful, and both part of my life now. How could you choose?

47. Leather or denim?

Just good taste I hope.

48. Blonde or brunette?

What?

49. Night or morning?

Night… probably.

50. Adventurous or cautious?

I’ve been lacking in both, and done both to excess, so I’m probably not the person to advise you on that!

52. Fantasy or reality?

Are you mad?