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Paul Rodgers - vocalist, Bad Company / Queen + Paul Rodgers / The Firm / The Law
Tues. August 3, 1999 - HP Arena - San Jose, CA

Bad Co., the legendary blues-based hard rock band from the 1970s, known for their flowing honest rock sound and the gutsy yearning vocals of singer Paul Rodgers. Somewhere in the early 1980s the band had finally had enough of each other with touring and being around each other too much. Tensions mounted as they do in any long-standing relationship and the band parted ways with their singer. Bad Co. continued on later through the 1980s with Brian Howe on vocals, charting a few hits here and there, but it was never really quite the same. In the late 1990s, the band was approached with doing a collective box Anthology set of their greatest hits. They got together with Paul Rodgers to do it properly and call it the "Original" Bad Co., the way that fans would remember it best. While they were at the helm of the project, they decided to go into the studio and write some new music. The result was magic. It had been reclaimed once more as though the band had never broken up so many years ago. The songs were just as timeless as the tunes from their first few albums. Thus, to really present a proper package to the fans, Bad Co. decided to tour, in a 30-date short form, in order to bring the true spirit to people.

When Bad Co. appeared in San Jose, we had a chance to talk with Paul Rodgers (along with a few comments from his girlfriend as well), the vocal spirit behind the band, the one who gave the music so much soul and feeling. Paul is one of the most cordial musicians that one could meet - charming and polite and cheerful to talk with. He shared some background information about the band and also about himself. Aside from the Bad Co. tour, Paul has his own solo project with musicians that he loves to play with. He is also one of the fittest performers still around at his age.

K2K: To start with, how old is everyone in the band now?
PR: Well, we've had a couple of birthdays on this tour. Simon [Kirke, drummer] touched 50. I'm looking very seriously at 50. So we're around that mark, yeah. We're still sort of 17 in our minds because we haven't really grown up yet.

K2K: What do you do to keep in shape?
PR: My lady here [his very attractive girlfriend] keeps me in shape. She's the famous excersize lady from TV and she whoops my butt in the gym and keeps me in shape.
(His girlfriend offers the following)
GF: He's actually studied Karate for 25 years, so the discipline is there, and he's meditated since he was 17.

K2K: No Tae Bo?
GF: No. His knees are healthy.

K2K: What did it take to get the band back together finally?
PR: Really, it just took the Anthology. We decided to put an Anthology together and then I said to Mick, "Let's put some new songs on it. That would make it really interesting." That was the test, really. We went in the studio and played together and it felt good, so the next step was a natural thing to do the tour.

K2K: It is a nice collection of stuff. The new songs meld right into the old ones. You can't tell the difference.
PR: I'm glad you liked it. The thing is is the feel. The feel that we've managed to attain is the feel of all those blues and soul records we heard way back when. When you put us together, it's rock.

K2K: How is it that you are still able to do it right while other bands seem to crap out or end up getting songwriters which make them sound like old men trying to be little kids again instead of doing what they used to be good at?
PR: I think as well, we listen to very mature music. I was listening to Ray Charles when I was 13. Ray Charles was singing about... (Paul goes into an acapella version of a Ray Charles song for a few bars)

"A tear fell this mornin' as I thought of the good old days.
Somebody's got to tell me. I've got to know.
Is this the end, because I've lost everything and I have no friends.
But it's no use crying now, no."

And that's real deep stuff when you're 13 years old. That's the kind of influences, the roots are very deep.

K2K: What do you do to keep your voice in shape?
PR: I guess, really, I sing. It's a gift and I thank God every day for it. No smoking. I don't drink. I keep myself physically in shape. It's an overall body thing. I don't think you can sing if you don't take care of your whole thing - mentally, spiritually, physically - the whole thing. I try to do that, keep it all together.

K2K: You've never had any problems with your throat or anything?
PR: From time to time, you know, touch wood though.

K2K: No nodes or anything?
PR: No, no. I don't even like to talk about that. I try to keep everything natural. I've studied a bit of yoga and I got some breathing excersizes down which are incredibly helpful. I have my own secret system.

K2K: For anyone who has known about the past feuding within your band, how long have things been patched up between you?
PR: Well, we're not really patched up actually. We're still beating the crap out of each other every day. It's healthy. It's kind of healthy. Actually, it was never really sort of devastatingly bad. I think when you put people together, even the best of friends, under very high pressure for an extremely relentlessly long time, you get friction. It's human nature, any team, any band. We've had 20 years to get over that now.

K2K: Was it really that much friction?
PR: There was a lot of friction, but what is was for me was that I wanted to get off of the rollercoaster that we seemed to be on. It was very very unreal. It was the rock 'n' roll fantasy come true, but it was getting a little too crazy. I wanted to come off of the rollercoaster and just chill for a while and get real and do different things. I had kind of had enough and wanted to do different things. But I did, I did a solo album and the blue tribute, which was Grammy nominated.

K2K: At least you've kept the soul of it true and everything is real.
PR: That's the essence of it. You've got to do it from the heart and from the soul.

K2K: Are you doing a live album now?
PR: We're recording all of these shows and we'll see how it comes out, if there's a live album there. If we get around to doing it.

K2K: Are you guys planning on sticking together or is this just a one-time thing?
PR: There never has been a master plan. It's just sort of snowballed from an Anthology into the live tracks to a short tour, which was 20 days originally and now is 30 days. Now there's the live album. So, it's got it's own momentum a little bit. I have a great solo band that I love to play with. I will be continuing on with them. Right after this tour, I've got a date in Sturges with 65,000 people coming to that show.

K2K: So, is that a definite "No" then to the continuation?
PR: I'll probably leave the door slightly ajar and see how we go.

K2K: What did you think of the "replacement" band [in reference to Bad Company replacement vocalist Brian Howe]?
PR: Not a lot, actually.

K2K: Did you like the singer [Brian Howe]?
PR: No. I think it's personal and musical. One of the things that did upset me was that it was never made clear that I was not with the band. That's one of the reasons that I'm making it very clear that I'm back as the Original Bad Comapny. It's not fair to the public if they don't know what they're coming to see. I think these record companies and management and the guys themselves have apologized for it. It was something that occurred. This hopefully will set the record straight.

K2K: What's the truth about the big punch-outs that supposedly occured onstage back in the late 1970s? Is any of that true?
PR: Not onstage. No, no, no, no. It's backstage. It's all in the band room. Yeah, we get boxing gloves and a little ring set up in the band room and just go at it. Not onstage. You can't do that. People might go to see a hockey match for the punch-ups, but I don't think that they'd really come to see a band [do that].

K2K: Where you guys the first band to have a hit song and a band with the same name?
PR: I think we were. I think it was the first. To my knowledge it was. That's one of the things I liked about it because the song came first. At the same sort of time, we were looking for a band name and I had written the song. We named it after the song and I thought, "Well, that's great because we have our own theme song." It was one of those things that was different.

And with that, the late night was calling and Paul had to excuse himself and his entourage while the rest were still mingling with the crowd. We can only hope that Paul Rodgers and the rest of Bad Co. will find it within their musical hearts to get back together to write yet another full studio album and perhaps tour again for another generation to see.

For more information about Bad Company, visit: http://www.badcompany.com/
For more information about Paul Rodgers, visit: http://www.paulrodgers.com/

More photos of Paul Rodgers with Bad Company - 1999 / 2001

Written by and all photos © 1999 by Philip Anderson 

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

All rights reserved © KAOS2000™. No portion contained herein, either text or graphics, may be reproduced anywhere or reposted on any other website for any purpose without the expressed permission of the publisher. All violations shall be punished as the law allows.

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