Status Quo’s Francis Rossi on box sets, gigging and the theatre
- Credit: Archant
As Status Quo look forward to playing at Sandown Park racecourse this month, Matthew Williams finds out how Purley-based rocker Francis Rossi likes to get his local culture fix...
Why box sets beat the cinema…
“I’ll be honest, it’s not often I go to the cinema. In fact, the last time was for Finding Nemo in Leeds. I can’t remember why I was there but I do remember leaving after 10 minutes. It wasn’t for me. I’m more a box sets kind of person. I can’t be hanging around for weeks on end waiting for the next instalment, so I just buy the lot when it’s ready. The West Wing is the best thing ever. I really rather enjoyed Breaking Bad too. Game of Thrones is the big one at the moment. The problem is, when I try to watch these things with the wife, she’s always asking ‘what happens next?’ or ‘why’d that happen?’ It’s in the script, that’s why! Now just watch the thing!”
All the world’s a stage – or is it?
“Theatre isn’t really for me. We have actors in the family, but I just say rude things about them. A couple of years back, I quite enjoyed the film version of Les Misérables, so my eldest son organised for us to go and see it in the theatre. Apparently, I fell asleep. While I can be sucked in by a film, stage stuff is harder for me. I start concentrating on the creaky floorboards backstage and what’s probably going on there rather than the actual performance. I really love opera but I’d never go because I’d probably get myself thrown out for whistling along.”
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I’m currently reading…
“I can’t read fiction at all. Don’t have the patience. My mind wanders and goes somewhere else entirely. I play a lot of games on my iPad instead. One of them I’ve played nearly 5,000 times. I’m easily distracted. I do love the idea of being able to sit there with a glass of wine and a book but it’s just not me.”
It’s all about the music…
“One of my favourite things is that I love a bit of anything and everything musically. It can be blues, jazz, rock, classical, opera… whatever. I remember hearing a song ages ago in the car and really cranking it up. Then they announced it was by The Jam and I was so annoyed. I thought I hated The Jam. Lesson learned. We’d also had some friction with the Pet Shop Boys, but I heard one of their tunes and felt compelled to write to them to tell them how much I enjoyed it, grudgingly. The follies of youth disappear with age. When Sugababes’ Push the Button came out, it used to stop me in the gym. I had to download it (actually, don’t get me started about downloading – I buy the records again nowadays). My record label once told me that I had to stop talking about the music I enjoy because it was bad for my image. I said: **** that!”
Don’t join a band if you want to enjoy live music…
“I often just do shows and then head home. I love music, but watching other people do it isn’t always for me. I did rush to GuilFest a few years back to watch Chas and Dave. They are really talented guys. Round here, they’ve been talking about expanding Fairfield Halls for years, which would be great so the likes of us can play it. I’m not someone who goes around bad-mouthing Croydon. It’s just one of those things that happen: when towns grow quickly, things can go a bit pear-shaped for a while. I have fond memories of the area; being driven everywhere in our family ice cream van – my family were into ice cream...”
Playing big shows…
“Sandown Park should be really fun but it’s just another gig, you know. You can’t think of it any other way when you’ve got Glastonbury, Download etc. You can’t change the way you approach these things. We love the big venues and spent years trying to get out the clubs, so we feel at home at these things. Afterwards, it’s straight back home to Purley to hibernate until the next gig. I’ve got a home studio and I’m very happy mucking about there.”
And a few more Surrey rock tales
• In the four years that John Lennon lived in Weybridge from 1964, The Beatles cemented their status as the world’s biggest band.
• Ringo Starr is a keen photographer and has a house in leafy Cranleigh.
• The Faces’ Kenney Jones owns Hurtwood Park polo club in Ewhurst and singer Mick Hucknall lives by Burhill Golf Course in Walton-on-Thames.
• Status Quo's Francis Rossi is happy living the quiet life in Purley's Webb Estate.
• Discover life down The Farm with Genesis' Mike Rutherford.
• Genesis Publications in Guildford has been creating limited edition hand-bound books mainly about rock stars and bands for over 35 years.
• Queen guitarist Brian May lives with his wife, the actress Anita Dobson, in the West End area, near Woking, where they have an animal rescue centre in the garden.
• Recording studios: the now closed Strawberry South studio in Dorking was opened by 10ccs Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, in 1976, and is said to be where parts of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory were recorded.
• Ginger dreadlocked Surrey songsmith Newton Faulkner once worked at Fanny’s Farm Shop near Redhill.