ALL THE WAY FROM… Ian Hunter (Pt. 2)

We continue our conversation with the veteran
British rocker
, whose latest album
When
I’m President was released earlier this
month.

 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

BLURT: In
2009, you took part in a few Mott the Hoople reunion gigs. Sadly, the band
never made it to the States. Any chance that Mott might regroup at some future
point?

IAN HUNTER: That’s not really something I can discuss. It’s
a weird predicament. Mick Ralphs and I have the same management and the others
are managed by someone entirely different. And that person has delusion of
averageness. It’s ludicrous. Usually it’s the singer and the lead guitarist who
are reticent to participate, but in this case, it’s the other guys. And I’m not
sure if anyone really cares to see some old guys replaying the hits as it were.
We were never a huge band to begin with. Nobody’s really paying much attention
these days.

 

Still,
England’s Angel Air label has been reissuing the Mott stuff on a steady basis.
So there’s some visibility out there.

Right, and the internet helps keep the visibility going as
well.

 

 

 

 

Did you
ever expect you’d still be recording and performing all these years later?

I’m just clawing my way back of late, but I believe my band
is getting better and better. In truth, I shouldn’t be doing this at my age.
Actually, I was astonished when I found myself still out on the road at 50 or
52. I woke up one day and said, “Good God, what am I doing?” I’m still not sure
why I’m doing it, but I do it regardless. And traveling isn’t really physically
wearing. It’s really not so hard compared to what some people have to do to
earn a living.

 

What’s
your current set list like? Are you still doing any of the Mott tunes?

It’s about a third solo, a third old stuff, a third new
material. I have to do a certain amount of hits because that’s what people
expect. I know when I go to a show, I like to hear the songs I’m most familiar
with.

 

Out of
curiosity, have you kept in touch with David Bowie after all these years? He
was credited with virtually saving Mott when they were on the verge of breaking
up, so did that give you a special bond?

Not really. He’s a good bloke and we enjoyed our
collaboration. He’s a great performer, but we never formed any kind of social
bond. I was much closer to Mick Ronson. I mean, I admire him and he certainly
arrived during a crucial phase of my life, but no, we didn’t have any contact
after that.

 

The new
album finds you on yet another label. It seems that you label hop quite a bit.
Each of your previous albums has appeared under a different record company
banner, begging the question — why?

Yeah, that’s true. I dunno. The last album was on New West,
but I never spoke to them, not once. The one before that came out on Yep Roc,
which was a very good little label. But I’m quite pleased with the current
company, Slimstyle Records. They’re very up on their computer savvy and of
course that’s a technology that’s always changing. And they’re extremely keen
on the new album; I’m getting more promotion than ever.

 

Were
you surprised when the Drew Carey show tapped your song “Cleveland Rocks” as
its theme song?

I didn’t know that they did that until I saw it on TV. They
changed that theme song six or seven times before they settled on “Cleveland
Rocks.” It was great. It’s so much better when you can get a song on television
than when you get it on the radio. Financially it was a big help to me.

 

Your
book, Diary of a Rock Star, was the
definitive narrative about what life is like for a musician on tour. But it’s
been 40 years since that came out and lots of things have changed since then.
You certainly have done quite a bit in the interim. Have you ever thought of
writing a sequel?

No, not really. It ended at the end of that tour, the final
gig, and that was a natural climax for the book. It’s basically the same way
with every tour — you do the last gig and then you go home. The only reason I
did the book to begin with was because a friend of mine had a publishing
company and he needed two books to reach his yearly quota. I had this diary, so
I offered it to him. It was never meant to be a book. Honestly, everything
that’s happened since then has been pretty much been a blur. Ronno and I always
had this mantra that dictated we would never look back. We only looked forward,
always looked towards the next adventure. I think it’s important to always have
something new to look forward to.

 

So what
are you looking forward to after this album and this upcoming tour?

I’m just hoping to survive the tour! (laughs) I’m just eager
to go out and play the songs from the new album. I think it’s a great rock
album and this is a great band I’m working with. I can’t really write songs on
tour, but this album clicked right away. We had the songs ready to go, so I
told the band that we should just go in the studio and get it down. We did it
in four days and it was all done live. And when you do an album that quickly,
there’s a definite freshness about it.

 

You say
you don’t write on the road, so how do you spend your down time while on tour?

I read a lot. I love books that focus on certain historical
eras, whether it’s the ‘30s, the ‘40s or the ‘50s… anything just prior to the
modern age.

 

Do you
listen to any current music? Are there any current artists that you like?

No, not at all.  I’m
out of the habit of listening to the radio. As with anything, 95 percent of it
is crap and five percent is great.

 

How
long do you expect to be out on the road this time around?

I went out last year, and this time we expect to be out
through December and maybe into January. Some of those later dates are still
being confirmed. I find that getting to the gigs is half the effort. You make
some progress, but then you have to head back out again. I’m not really keen on
the travel part of it, and even afterwards, I find it hard to wind down. It’s
not like when I toured with Ringo.

 

What
was that like?

It was such a weird existence. You find yourself working
with musicians who you’ve never met until get together and rehearse for the
tour. A lot of times you find they’re polar opposites are as far personality is
concerned, and so you don’t really socialize very much. You find yourself on
your own a lot. I mean, Ringo is great, his people are great, his family is great…
but I wouldn’t want to do it again. The operation is a bit too polished as far
as I’m concerned.

 

 

[Photo
Credit: Ross Halfin]

 

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