Doobie Brothers bring World Gone Crazy to Newport

BMS talks with vocalist Tom Johnston about the band's new album and tour

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The Doobie Brothers are back in the spotlight with the release of World Gone Crazy, their first studio album since 2000’s Sibling Rivalry. Currently on the road supporting the new album, the band will swing through New England for a show in Newport, Rhode Island tonight as part of the Newport Sunset Music Series. With that in mind, we caught up with guitarist and vocalist Tom Johnston to discuss the tour and what he calls “the best thing we’ve done in the studio since the seventies”.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): How is the tour going thus far?

Tom Johnston (TH): The tour has been going very well with great response from all the crowds we’ve been in front of.

BMS: You’re on the road supporting a brand new album in World Gone Crazy; your first release in a decade. What’s the inspiration for the album and how was recording this time around?

TH: Because we hadn’t done an album for a while we wanted this to be something special that would add to our visibility in the market and our fans. We had a lot of songs to choose from so we wanted it to be produced by someone with a good ear and idea of what the band was all about. This band that is made up of many musical influences and what we are is the convergence of those musical styles. All innately American music. Blues, bluegrass, a little country, rock ‘n roll, and R&B. But when it comes down to it it was also about the songs we chose to represent where we are now.

BMS: Are there any tracks that you are particularly proud of?

TH: Speaking for myself, I’m fond of the whole project but as a writer I’m very happy with the title track (“World Gone Crazy”) and the song “A Brighter Day”. “Nobody” was a great redo and was Ted’s idea and I also got a kick out of writing a song on slide which ended up being “Law Dogs”.

BMS: Once again, you turned to Ted Templeman to produce the album. Explain the impact he had on the final product?

TH: Ted has worked on all but three albums the band has done, and all the albums done in the 70’s/80’s till ’82. So he definitely has a feel for this band and was instrumental in choosing the tracks we ended up recording. This was a huge part of what the album eventually came out like and, along with some lyric direction, one of the key components to making this a Doobie sounding album with some different directions explored. We didn’t want a rubber stamp of everything we’ve done in the past

BMS: The Doobie Brothers have been together for forty years. When the band first formed did you ever think that you’d still be going strong in 2011? What do you attribute the bands longevity and success to?

TH: I don’t think anybody then was remotely thinking past “today” and what was happening at the time. The band has been around this long because of having tunes that radio keeps playing, touring and putting on a great show, and having fans who have a connection to our music in their lives. It’s also been helpful that a lot of younger listeners have discovered the band and are showing up at gigs.

BMS: How has touring changed since you first went on the road? Do you still enjoy it as much?

TH: Well, we aren’t flying on the Doobie Liner any more. We’re on buses like everybody else. The getting up and playing hasn’t really changed all that much, but the traveling can wear you down sometimes. As Keith Knudsen, our former drummer and close friend who passed away in 2005, used to say, “we get paid for the 22 hrs before the show, but we play for nothin”. That means the playing is still what it’s all about for us.

BMS: What can fans expect from your performance in Newport on Friday?

TH: We’re putting on a pretty high energy show front to back with four new tunes from the new album and songs from various eras of the band. That includes the chestnuts.

BMS: Anything else you would like our readers to know?

TH: The new album is by far the best thing we’ve done in the studio since the seventies, and we are all very proud of it. Hopefully people will give it a listen and find out why it’s gotten such great reviews.

The Doobie Brothers will perform at the Newport Yachting Center in downtown Newport, Rhode Island on Friday, July 29. Tickets the show can be purchased through the Newport Sunset Music Series website in advance for $55 and $75.

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  1. Pingback: Doobie Brothers excited to play Newport | Christopher O'Hare | I Hate Me Too

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