10 Rock Around the World November, 1976

Graham Parker and The Rumor are a new band with a melange of styles ranging from contemporary folk-rock to pub-rock (although they would be hard pressed to agree). Parker has succeeded in elevating his status from obscurity to American touree in about one year’s time. Much, in fact, is due to his distinguished traveling companions. The Rumor, a mixture of ex-Brinsley Schwartz, Ducks Deluxe members. These refugees failed to create commercial headways over the past five years, but they’re back to back Parker, a sentient musician with a Dylanesque/Van Morrison approach to composing comfortable rock tunes. R.A.T.W. interviewed Parker and the Rumor during their first U.S. tour late last summer .. .

R.A.T.W.: Graham, just for openers. how did you get into the music business?

Parker:   if I could pin that down, I’d have an incredible memory. It just seems to me that music’s always been there for me. I was always listening to the radio—reading the music papers—just getting turned onto good music. In England, when I was younger. it was performers like Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele and that kind of thing. but occasionally you’d hear things like the blues—American music—on the radio. That was mainly it. Stuff like Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee was incredible . . . an amazing inspiration.

R.A.T.W.: Does it bother you that the British press compared you to so many people?

Parker:   It did at first because these critics just weren’t sure if I was copying these guys or not. I mean. the first time you hear the album it can seem like that. Until they heard the songs a few times and saw that they stood up for themselves, they were worried—they didn’t know who I was. They saw me

an unknown musician—playing with these celebrated “pub-rock” people and they were very suspicious. I can understand writers having to put people into stiff little categories, but you’ve only got to listen to an album, and live with it for a while, to find out if the people on it have got anything to say. Just give it a little bit of time. I think people are doing that with my album (“Howlin’ Wind”).

R.A.T.W.: Do you think you could have become as well known as you are now in England with a different set of musicians?

Parker: If the musicians are good. that’s all that matters. We all have this attitude about what is good, bad, or whatever on record. We’ve grown rather close because of it. I’m sure it didn’t matter whether

they were well known or not. I suspect it helped a bit because now I’ve got some Brinsley Schwartz

fans who are now Rumor fans. That’s a bonus. At Schwartz: some early gigs there were people hoping for Brins-

ley Schwartz, which was a small drawback at the

time. But these folks soon saw it was my songs and

my way of doing things.

R.A.T.W.: To what extent did you environment affect your

songwriting? I mean, how much of the record com-

pany’s story about you pumping gas is true?

Parker:   It’s all true really. I just happened to be working in a gas station when I met the Rumor, It was just a

job. I think my music wouldn’t have been so strong

if I had been out on the road for the past five years.

I would have had the enthusiasm knocked out of

me. The writing—the songs have been saved until I Parker: was ready. I think it was a good thing I was cut off

from the scene—working in clubs and the like

until I felt sure of myself, which was about a year


R.A.T.W.: In line with that, which do you think is more im-   Schwartz: portant: the enthusiasm of just going out on the

road or the experience that comes from being part

of the scene for a number of years?



I think a bit of each really. Now I’ve been on tour a bit and I’m just learnin’ about singing to people. When I first started doing it, I used to stand dead-still behind the microphone stand—like a statue—but pretty soon you find yourself molded to the situation and you loosen up .. .

I think the enthusiasm comes back after a lay-off. I’ve been involved in music professionally for the past seven or eight years, and you get tired of it after a few months of solid engagements. It begins to wear you down. But if you take some time off, I find most musicians get itchy fingers and want to start playing again. If you’re on the road for a long time, you feel you just have to stop, then when you get home, and rest up, you sometimes don’t know what to do, so you go right back out on the road. I’d say the experience is the important thing: the enthusiasm you gain again—it keeps comin’ back to you fresh and exciting .. .

It also makes a difference if the band is progressing. If you’re moving forward, like this band,—musically and reaction-wise, it keeps the meaning important and you get enthusiasm in finding out if the audience likes you or not .. .

It’s when you find yourself in the situation of just travelling around, playing for no apparent reason, apart from making the money to get to the next gig,—that’s when you can lose the enthusiasm. As

long as you can see the point, and I’m not talking just about the enjoyment of playing,—it’s the sitting in the cars, getting the shit scared out of you in airplanes, and the like, then it’s all right. As long as it’s part of a constructive progression, it’s important.

Graham. how did the Rumor get organized? The band was playing in my manager’s studio. Brinsley Schwartz (the band) and Ducks DeLuxe had broken up, the bassist and drummer were just in Bontom Roulette, and they had gotten together to see what would become of it . . . doing sessions .. .

Hanging out . . . talking about Bob (Dylan) .. . drinking wine .. .

. . . and I just sort of appeared. Dave Robinson, my manager, suggested we get together—give it a

try. . .

. . . our own private Bob Dylan walked in . . . we pretended to be The Band .. .

. . . and we rehearsed to see what it was like. And it just got better and better. That was the crux—the more we played together, the better it sounded. It was really positive. So when I got my deal with Phonogram (Parker’s English label) to do an album, it seemed really natural to go on tour, and record, and really work it out. It happened quite nicely.   —Mr. Curt-

R.A.T.W.: Parker:

Schwartz: Parker:

Schwartz: Parker: