WE ARE A BAND IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD
A CONVERSATION WITH ROGER EARL OF FOGHAT
“You’re in Canada, right? Ontario? We’re related aren’t we,” laughed Roger Earl at the beginning of our Zoom chat to talk about the new Foghat album, Sonic Mojo. “We’re all related whether we like it or not, so we better get on with each other, right? I have been saying it for years, but does anybody listen? No!” I knew this was going to be a great chat with a legend.
When Foghat formed in 1971, they were somewhat of a super group. Three of the original members came from the classic 1960s band Savoy Brown (Roger Earl, drums, Dave Peverett, guitar and vocals, Tony Stevens, bass) and the fourth from Black Cat Bones (Rod Price, slide and guitar). Over the years they achieved incredible success and member changes Now Roger Earl is joined by Bryan Bassett (Wild Cherry, Molly Hatchet), bassist Rodney O’Quinn (Pat Travers Band), and on lead vocals and guitar, Scott Holt, who toured and recorded with the legendary Buddy Guy for over 10 years.
“I’m having the time of my life playing with this band. These guys are just the best. We laugh off stage, on stage, and before we go on. It’s like everyone knows how fortunate we are to be making music and playing in front of people. We are a blues rock ‘n’ roll band, and I know how fortunate I am to play. We don’t have too much fun. That was in the 1970s when I could be accused of having too much fun. But we do have a lot of fun.”
Foghat has a new album out, Sonic Mojo, which entered the blues charts at number one. “We were really excited about it once we made the decision to put it out. We had a bunch of material, but we picked all the songs that we liked.”
And after all these years, Earl has nothing to prove, with Foghat or otherwise. “I never did anything to prove something. I always wanted to play in a band, ever since I was a kid, and I took up drums. The real joy of playing drums is playing in a band. I grew up listening to early rock ‘n’ roll on the Sun label, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, who were my initial inspiration to make noise. And it stayed with me, I love playing. I am one of the fortunate few. I have always played with great musicians through the years and great bass players, which is important to a drummer. I still get it, on stage, especially when we can all hear each other, when you hear everyone playing and going…it is magic. I get tingles and shivers every now and then because it feels that good. It is the joy of making music.
The band, in getting ready to release the album, did some preliminary shows, both of which sold out quickly. It gave the chance to play a great deal of their new album, Sonic Mojo. We just did two shows, record release parties, one in New York and four days later in Southern California. In San Juan Capistrano, at The Coach House. We were brave, we played eight or nine new songs that nobody had ever heard before, it is like stepping on thin ice. I had never done anything like that before, ever. Usually a new album comes out, you do maybe two songs, maybe three if you are feeling particularly brave. But this album, we said, ‘no, let’s play everything.’ The audiences were fantastic. We spent five days in Florida rehearsing the songs, because we recorded the album over a period of a couple of years. We had a CD player, and we would play the song and say ‘do you remember those bits’, and everyone said ‘kind of’. I am amazed at how our lead singers remember all the words to eight or nine new songs. How does Scott do that? But he is only 57 or something, so he is a kid so he does breathe youthful enthusiasm into the band.”
And with the new album, Sonic Mojo, Foghat have earned their first number one. “My manager woke me up and said that Sonic Mojo…was number one! Even if it lasts a week, it is fine. I am going to frame it! I don’t think we have ever been number one at anything. That’s because of our fans, and the ones who have stayed with us over the years or have come along. Without your fans, you are nothing. You can play in your living room, but without people digging your music and finding you and turning up when you play live. That is the real magic of music, playing to an audience. Before I go on stage, I still get chills.”
It is clear from talking with Roger Earl the future looks bright and full of music. “I am not looking forward to the day I have to retire. So I try to keep as healthy as I can and the one thing I have going for me is that I play in a great band. We are a band in every sense of the word. We play together, we go out and have dinner together.” But Earl is nowhere retired. Foghat is experiencing huge success and getting ready for more shows. “I have played with great players. It is fun and I have a great time.”